The video update below features a conversation between myself and
another web series creator as we discuss the minefield of practical
problems and impractical expectations encountered when trying to
manufacture meaningful visual genre fiction in your spare time.
This week we've thrown a production together super fast and it
feels so much like shooting videos in high school. Part of it
probably has to do with the truncated pre-production. The two-week
entry period for this contest started on the 24th and on
the 25th I finally felt like I had a good idea for an
under 3-minute short. I wrote the script and hated it. Scrapped it.
Back to square one. I woke up on the 26th with an idea for
a short little visual story. I've always heard filmmakers talk about
waking up with an idea, but this is the first time it's ever happened
to me. I was rolling out of bed just before 8 a.m. on a Saturday
morning with Eliza saying, “Where are you going,” and me saying,
“I think I've got the short.” Made some coffee, wrote the thing,
and liked it. I printed it, 3-and-a-half pages of mostly action, and
handed it to Eliza. She liked it. I sent it to Craig, who's been the
most vocal about making a unique, contained story for this contest
instead of using a sequence from PoPS. He said: “I think it's
really cool. Definitely give you good opportunity to show your
skills. It doesn't have a lot of that trademark Jake dialogue, but
I'd say if you can pull it off in time it might be the one.” I just
had my email open so I thought I'd throw in the verbatim exchange
here. I shotlisted it, we quickly grabbed some props, cast it from
our regulars and folks we've met during the web series, and decided
to shoot it over two nights in a really cool public location I knew
of but didn't ask permission to use. That's what probably made it
feel the most like high school. Just heading into an public area and
shooting with your friends.
Three nights later we were out piecing it together. It's all
outside in this beautiful ravine and we only had work days available
to shoot it. So, I left work a little early for two days and we'd
have from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., when it would just get too dark to shoot,
to get everything we needed. So about 6 hours total. Last night we
wrapped four of the five actors. I'm going to have to meet with the
remaining actor tomorrow night to get the last half page of stuff.
Tonight, I start editing and I can't wait to see this thing come
together. It all just looked so gorgeous in playback.
Every once in a awhile it's nice to get out there and shoot
something super quickly that has nothing to do with complicated
pre-pro or large overarching stories. It really felt like one of
those dash-and-grab chase movies we used to make after school. Just
with way better equipment at our disposal.
Thanks for reading.
The update below deals with some of the music from the episode as well as posing the question of where brand new viewers should begin watching our series.
In answer to the question at the end of the last video update, it seems like Episode 5, part 1 is going to come out on top, which makes a lot of sense. I wrote the opening to serve as a gateway for the uninitiated and it seems to be doing it's job rather nicely. Quite a few have mentioned that it was their hook into the series and made them interested enough to sit through the lousy quality of the first few episodes.
Despite uploading a video to YouTube every week, I rarely think of myself as a “real” YouTuber. My “real” content—the content I put the most effort into—comes out a year at a time. One YEAR at a time. Internet-wise, that's just plain irresponsible. A recipe for success it is not. It always feels like a success when the episodes come out, because of the amazing responses, but it feels more like releasing a new movie than an episode of a TV series. There's this agonizingly long period of production and post production then a sudden build up and an opening weekend kind of vibe to the release. If the weekly updates or the short instructional videos I do are sprints, the episode is a marathon I'm running for a year. I felt like the slowest person ever. Or like I was proving something about dedication to a particular story that other YouTubers didn't understand.
Then came Rian Johnson.
I've been on a bit of a young directors kick recently. I watched all the Richard Kelly movies again to see if Darko was still the only one that actually holds together. Yup, but only the theatrical version and by the grace of the viewer. The Box came SO close, but he muddled it up in the middle with his water-box nonsense and tied it to the worst Cameron Diaz performance ever recorded. Which is just unfathomable. I like Cameron Diaz a lot.
Then I dove back through the Rian Johnson movies. Fantastic. And now to my point, it took him six years to get the financing to makeBrick. That's a haul. My one year of dedication to an episode is like NOTHING compared to six years of pounding on a project before he even rolled one frame on it. And that movie, you guys... Damn it. It's sooooooo good. The way the script doesn't slow down for you or hold your hand while explaining it. Every directorial choice. Some of the gimmicks don't quite fly but he was swinging for the fences and overall it just soars. So considered, sculpted, and beautifully executed, on like no money. Gotta be one of my favorites. Just awesome.
Anyway, if he can do that for a project he believes in, I can spend a year on an episode I believe in.
The video update below exhibits my absolute thrill over the responses we got to episode 8 of PoPS over upload week and we talk to a very active member of our YouTube community about the nature of internet communication. Side note: The dude lives in Australia, so as we talked it was like 10pm my time, 1pm the next day his time. And summer for me, winter for him. Isn't that weird to think about?
The comments and views are still coming in for episode 8, and it's all still such nice feedback and enthusiasm pointed in our direction. I've only just finished my initial episode-wrap up work. The episode parts on YouTube are all closed captioned, I scanned in my personal copy of the episode 8 script with all my shot notes in the margins for the donation perks where people get a digital copy of it and the few who get a bound copy of it, got the full episode to Ryan to run unbroken on our website, I made and mailed the master discs for the episode 8 DVD and the 1-8 DVD perks to the Harris boys—the wonderful father/son team who duplicate our discs as a contribution to the show, and I made a new Intro to PoPS video for our YouTube Channel. It's 85 seconds long, has less story-spoilers, more show-flavor, and I think it's a better indication of the tone of the show with enough VFX to show what we can do on that front:
Plus, the thumbnail is just B.A.-all-the-way. The B.A. Stands for badass. One of my favorite shots from the series so far. Not just because I'm the one in focus.
I might do a video update about my captioning process in the next few weeks, because I finally got a system together that I think works pretty well.
Anyhow, now that I've done my part on the initial donation fulfillment and got the captioning put to bed, I have a couple days where I can actually take a break if I want to. Like tonight. I may have a quick Skype talk to do for the update this week, but other than that I might actually lounge around and watch a movie. On a weeknight! Before the show I spent A LOT more time watching movies. I wonder what I'll watch? It's so exciting. Being out from under another episode—especially one that's been so warmly received—makes me feel a little adrift. Just untethered for a moment. Eliza told me last night that she thinks I don't really know what to do with myself right now. It's true. I feel like I should be doing something more. Eh. I'll start writing episode 9 in a few days. Until then, Happy 4th of July, Americans!