Otessa Ghadar is a true forerunner of digital media. Since 2007, she has been pioneering the web series format and establishing new ground in the wild west of the web, particularly through her globally viral show “Orange Juice in Bishop’s Garden,” known affectionately as "OJBG".
A DC native, Otessa has fond memories of its grunge-era. Her teen years were spent serenaded by Morrissey, with much singing into her hairbrush and creating new and marvelous mischief with her best friend.
She remembers mix-tapes and Sassy magazines… missing the last Metro, and getting stuck miles from payphones. Her youth was full of teen magic. …and she remembers it as though in Super 8: warm and soft… and potentially set to Donovan music.
These are the things she tries to express in her writing and filmmaking.
Otessa Ghadar started “Orange Juice in Bishop’s Garden” as her MFA thesis at Columbia University’s film school. Now in its 7th season, "OJBG" is the longest continually running show online. The show has an international following in 145+ countries and has been recognized by industry heavy hitters, such as the Telly Awards, the Webby Awards, LA Web Fest, among others. Diving into web series production when the idea was still in its infancy, Otessa had to learn and adapt to new changing forms of new media as they were being defined.
From this experience, Otessa wrote and published the industry’s first textbook last year: "The Wild West of Film." The content is now available in an online course on Skillshare.com.
Otessa is also the founder of the DC Web Fest and the president of DC-based digital media company 20/20 Productions.
Whether in film or fiction, at her core, Otessa is a storyteller. Returning to her DC roots, OJBG is an example of “writing what you know.” It’s part recollection, part urban legend, part pure fiction, and completely inspired by her own memories of growing up on the cusp of the internet era. Her stories embody the rebelliousness of the ‘90s grunge era while tackling social issues that surround youth. All seasons of OJBG are also available in book form — whether in paperback, ebooks, or as a special edition series of “Director’s Notebooks."
Up next, Otessa has a Sci Fi show in the works and will soon be releasing a collection of short stories.
Unbuttoned with Otessa Ghadar
Style icon: Francoise Hardy! Mary Timony. Veruschka. Jane Goodall. 90s Drew Barrymore (yes, still).
Favorite heroine: Lately, Unikitty and Wyldstyle. Always & forever: my mom.
Dream lunch date: Jackie Chan.
Personal motto: You learn more from failure than you do from success.
Idea that changed your life: Don't wait for the "ominous they". If you're complaining that something doesn't exist or hasn't happened — maybe you should make it or do it.
Always trying to improve: Working smarter not harder. Time management... not getting trapped in the mental quicksand online.
Most envious of: Those people who resonate calm at all times.
Most inspired by: Lately, the scent of tomato leaves and the production/costume design in 70s sci fi.
Favorite piece in your wardrobe: Boot chains. And a linked ring by Spinelli Kilcollin which I'm utterly enamored with (plus the jewelry designers are friends, so it feels special to have a piece of theirs).
Biggest extravagance: Books. Both in the sheer number on my shelves and the time traveled and lives lived through them.
Can’t bare to spend on: Anything like basic carpentry or small home repairs that are worth knowing.
Irrational fear of: CLOWNS.
Brains or beauty: Brains are beautiful though.
Audrey or Katharine Hepburn: Audrey.
Jennifer Lopez or Lawrence: Lawrence.
Diamonds or pearls: Pearls. But really, sapphires.