Web series are sneaking up on Netflix’s territory and both are slowly but surely getting ready to takeover cable. If you go on YouTube, you can stumble across any kind of web series you’d like; a romantic series, a dramedy, and even a street based series reminiscent of your favorite hood flick. In between watching clips of Joanne the Scammer, we stumbled across “Pieces” — a web series about a female-lead crew of credit card scammers in Brooklyn that depicts the darker side of getting fast money.
The director and creator of “Pieces” is 32-year-old Brooklynite Kareem Baptiste. After getting his start as a dancer in East Flatbush as part of a crew called “Unexpected,” Baptiste turned his eye towards video and film after curating a dance battle called “Battlefest.” With two seasons of “Pieces” under his belt we asked Baptiste about he how came up with the series and what makes it much different from the rest.
WL: What is your background in film? Is this your first web series?
KB: This is the first web series I’ve ever done. I never went to film school, but I love film. So, I taught myself how to film through YouTube tutorials, watching films, and taking notes on how things where shot.
How long did it take to shoot the first season? Where was most of it done?
Most of “Pieces” was shot in Brooklyn and in the YouTube building. It took me a month and a half to shoot the first season.
How did you finance it?
I managed to produce two seasons with no budget, basic cameras, and used my relationships for a few resources. For season three, we are teaming up with Seed and Spark to create a crowd funding campaign to raise money for production and film festival fees. If we can do what we did with no budget, the things we can do with a little budget are endless. The campaign will launch on PiecesDramaSeries.com.
What is your personal experience with the credit card scam game? What kind of research did you do before you started writing?
In Brooklyn, we all either know someone who is affiliated with scamming, get things for a discount from a scammer, or scams themselves. Fortunately for me, I’ve never scammed. I have some really close friends who have gone to jail for a long time because of scamming.
In a way, I’m just a reporter showing people what’s going on in our inner cities through art and film. I picked a number of people’s brain before I deciding to write the script.
Have you or anyone you know ever been a victim of a credit card scammer? How did you handle it if you did?
I’ve been a victim of credit card fraud. I had to go through a legal process to get my credit corrected. I know many people who have fallen victim to it, as well.
What do you want the message to be with your series?
I want to show people that some of the things that the public glorifies may seem cool, but you don’t know what people have to go through to get what they have. You might hear about “Pieces” and think that we’re promoting scamming, but as you sit and watch the series and what they go through your perception begins to change. “Pieces” shows people losing their lives, friendships, morals and all the things that come with fast money.
A lot of people will compare this to ‘Money & Violence’ but how is it different in your opinion?
“Money and Violence” opened the doors for the street cinema genre web series. No matter what series comes out next, it will be compared to the standard.
What makes “Pieces” different is this we are the first web series in the street cinema genre about scamming from a females perspective, with an all female leading cast. The way we score and blend music with our creative visuals makes me feel like our series jumps off the screen.