It's been a banner year for Eastsiders creator Kit Williamson and John Halbach. The pair celebrated a year of marriage; and Eastsiders celebrated the premiere of its third season at the Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival.
The Emmy-nominated web series, which centers on a gay couple in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, has survived and flourished throughout the years on a variety of platforms, including Logo, Hulu, Amazon, Fullscreen, and Netflix. Its third season, in which partner Wolfe Video is now serving as co-producer, will be released on VOD this fall.
At Outfest, The Advocate asked Williamson and Halbach for advice on launching an LGBT web series as well as keeping a long-term relationship alive in the process.
1. Make a plan — and be specific.
"Write your press release before you go into production," advised Williamson. "It’s no longer enough to say, 'It’s a gay story, and there are two gay leads.' We need more than that now."
2. Have a hook.
"Think about how you’re going to attract attention," said Williamson. "How are you gonna get the attention of gay press? How are you gonna get the crossover attention of mainstream press? Look at it objectively like that and say, 'Is there enough of a hook here?'"
3. Recruit fans through social media.
"[Social media is] incredibly helpful and powerful and necessary in getting the word out, especially making fans ambassadors for your project and giving them the tools to help spread the word," said Halbach, who went on to work in social media on Broadway after promoting Eastsiders.
4. Create shareable content.
"You’re never going to have the budget of a real-life TV show. But you can hopefully create cool content that people are going to want to share with their friends and align themselves with your project, which will help get the word out there," Halbach added.
5. Build your personal brand.
Halbach (@JohnHalbach) and Williamson (@KitWilliamson) have built sizable followings on Instagram, which in addition to promoting their productions allows them to travel. "It’s been really fun and opened up a lot of great opportunities," Williamson said.
6. But be attuned to the brand you broadcast.
"Your Instagram enters the room before you do. And people have a lot of preconceived notions about who you are and how you’re gonna be and what your life is like and what your relationship is like," Williamson said. "A lot of them are wrong. Because everybody projects what they want to see on people on the internet. That’s what they do."
7. Never lose sight of the importance of LGBT representation.
"It’s definitely something that’s important to us — growing up in Mississippi, seeing LGBT representation of any kind was really, really meaningful to me," Williamson said. "I’m glad that we can be a small part of putting that out there and showing the reality of being a gay couple in 2017."
8. Get a pet.
"It’s a lot of the cat. The cat is really most of it," Williamson said of the secret to their relationship's success.
9. Treasure what you have, not what you don't.
"You gotta take a moment and recognize and remember how #blessed you are," Halbach said of his relationship with Williamson. "It’s easy to get bogged down in what you don’t have and what you wish you had and what you wish you had more of. But it’s important to recognize what you do have and really treasure that and value that."
Watch the full interview below.