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CAN YOU REALLY SELL YOUR OWN TV SERIES (OR FEATURE)?

Dec 15, 2014 1:20PM



At NexTV, we work with artists who are tired of banging their heads against the wall that separates the BUSINESS from the ARTISTS....and we show them the way in.   


HOW TO SELL YOUR OWN TV SERIES

by Randy Becker


CAN WRITERS SELL THEIR OWN TV SERIES?  


Writers? NO.

 

Writers who are reading this article…YES!

 

And I’ll tell you how, if you go with me on this for a few minutes. 

 

What do you do to try to get your material sold…or read...or noticed in any way?  Do you make calls, send emails or letters; are you pro-active at all about putting together your film or tv project?  Because if you are, we have a name for that in this industry….it’s called PRODUCING. That’s right, chances are that you are functioning as a producer, the moment you finish writing your screenplay or tv pilot. And that’s great. But let’s examine how to do it RIGHT, so the energy you are expending on building relationships and moving your career forward, can be designed to win.

 

A few underlying assumptions for you to embrace, then we’ll get into the nuts and bolts of it. 

 

First, you must embrace that YOU CAN TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR OWN CAREER.  This is not a random business where only the lucky make it.  This is a business where billions of dollars are exchanged.  You may not yet know how to do it yet, but it is possible.  I work with writers everyday and see extraordinary results when they build a system that is in line with their specific goals (only) and the reality of today’s entertainment marketplace. Want more specific info? I'll show you how it applies to YOU when you sign up for a Free Career Strategy Session at: www.IdeaToMarketIntensive.com.

 

"SELLING"?  NOT MY JOB!

One of the reasons many artists shrink from the thought of selling their work is the false notion that ‘sales’ is something you do TO someone.  In fact, ‘SELLING’, first and foremost, is about providing a SERVICE. You must look to match your genius, your material, your goals, with the needs, the pain, the absolute ‘must have’ of the people you have determined are essential for your career trajectory. Simply put, development execs NEED to find that next great script or they are out of a job.  If you can provide it, within the context of their particular parameters, oh my….I can’t tell you how grateful that exec will be that you took the time to SELL him/her your script.

 

KNOWING THE INDUSTRY YOU WORK IN

Simply put, you must understand how the entertainment industry ACTUALLY works.  How series and features are ACTUALLY bought and sold.  I make it simple by breaking everyone in this industry into 3 simple categories: MONEY, TALENT, and the PEOPLE WHO CONNECT THE TWO. Understanding that every transaction requires all three of these folks, and that they are all equally as important, will allow you to think strategically.  If I’m looking to finance my film, what does the MONEY need? We all hear (and can get annoyed by) the fact that you must "attach talent".  Well, YOU MUST, unless you have a very specific genre film. Okay, so let's say MARQUEE ACTORS (talent) are the most important factor for assessing the value of your project (not the script, when it comes to the dollars-and-cents folks). Money needs cast….but bankable cast won’t pay attention unless the money is in place.  CONNECTORS are going to bridge that chicken-and-egg dilemma.  If you’ve ever made a cold call to, say, Mark Wahlberg’s agent and tried to attach him to your script…you know that it simply won’t happen.  MONEY, TALENT, CONNECTOR. Building relationships with gate-keepers is absolutely essential.  It's what everyone IN the business does every single day of the week...without fail.  You must as well.  For more info on how YOU CAN LEARN TO ENGAGE EFFECTIVELY IN THE BUSINESS, go to: www.IdeaToMarketIntensive.com.

 

WHO DO I FOCUS ON FOR REAL CAREER TRACTION

Depending on your specific career goals, you'll have to determine the 'targets' you must build relationships with in order to have the career you desire, and, in the short-term, to accomplish the specific task at hand with your material.

If you're looking to finance a feature, clearly you need gate-keepers to high-level talent in your network (perhaps a talent manager), and someone who can accurately assess the ‘value’ of that talent from the perspective of a financier (a foreign sales company). 

 

Wait…writers have to build relationships with foreign sales agents?

 

No, you don't HAVE to build relationships with anyone...and it’s unlikely that execs at these companies (or any companies) will want to speak to writers.  


HOWEVER.... someone looking to put a film together (a PRODUCER...remember?) absolutely needs these relationships. You don’t have to do anything but write great material…UNTIL YOU DECIDE THAT YOU’D LIkE CONTROL OVER YOUR CAREER. Then…well, YES, you must build relationships with people who can CONSISTENTLY bring you to money and talent.  

 

Remember, SALES is about SERVICE, so, once you find those connectors you must understand what THEY NEED in order to activate them….which means you must…

 

….and here’s the next piece of the puzzle…

 

UNDERSTAND HOW TO CONNECT WITH INDUSTRY INSIDERS

How can you provide a true 'service' to a development exec or a talent rep or a financier?  Well, what do they each NEED?  It’s not rocket science, but it’s very rare that a writer actually takes the time to find out...in an accurate and specific way.  "I've heard that it helps to...blank...."  That is not a useful way to do business.  You must learn how to engage with people who can determine the fate of your career. I’m going to start there. Learn more...

 

GETTING STRATEGIC ABOUT YOUR TV SERIES

Okay, so, I’ve written the next BREAKING BAD or GAME OF THRONES or MODERN FAMILY.  Now what?

 

Well, who is going to buy my brilliant tv series? Well, let's take a parallel example....if you had a fancy-shmancy high-heeled shoe to sell, I’m guessing that the first step you’d take would be to identify stores that sell Louis Vuitton or Jimmy Choo, right (I have a teenaged daughter, so my knowledge of shoes is WAY TOO VAST for my liking)? Anyway, places that sell flip-flops are still in the shoe biz and also make a ton of money, but your product would be irrelevant to their mandate, brilliant as it may be. So...

 

YOU MUST IDENTIFY YOUR BUYERS

Knowing WHO your ‘buyers’ are is the only way to identify a roadmap that will get you in front of them, and, for the purposes of selling your material, THE AUDIENCE IS NOT YOUR BUYER.  The company that writes a check for your material is.  That is who you need to provide a ‘service’ to.

 

So, in TV, who is that company?

 

Easy, right?  I want my show on HBO, so HBO is the buyer.  WRONG. Well, sort of wrong.  HBO and FX and NBC, CBS and all networks ARE NOT GOIN TO FINANCE YOUR TV SERIES.  Networks no loner finance series…STUDIOS do.

 

                                    WHY DOES THIS MATTER TO WRITERS?

This matters to you, the writer, and here is why.  Let’s say you have the next BREAKING BAD…perfect for AMC, right?  Well, how do you get to AMC effectively?  Going directly to them is tough for many reasons, so let’s break this down for a moment.  Who financed BREAKING BAD?  Not AMC. Sony TV was the studio, but again…MONEY, TALENT….and those CONNECTORS, remember.  So how do you connect with Sony TV for a project like BREAKING BAD.  Well, Vince Gilligan was the creator, how about him?  Really tough to access the most sought-after man in tv, so let’s see if there is a viable CONNECTOR?  He has a company called Highbridge…a company of ONE.  Not helpful.  His agents won’t connect you because, again, he’s the hottest writer/producer on TV.  Vince Gilligan is going to be a dead end for emerging writers.  How about Mark Johnson?  Also an essential piece of the BREAKING BAD puzzle. He’s big, big.  BUT…..unlike Vince Gilligan, Mark Johnson has a company designed to find great material.  Mark Johnson has an entire development staff.  Mark Johnson’s company, Gran Via, is potentially a place where a doorway exists for you.  Phew! Working backwards from your goal we have AMC then Sony TV then Mark Johnson, then the staff he has hired TO FIND THE NEXT BREAKING BAD….bing!

 

Talk about matching something YOU HAVE, with something a young executive NEEDS…  Imagine that you have 15 scripts to read every weekend and if you don’t find good material you’re simply not going to have a job for very long….brilliant material is ESSENTIAL to that 26 year old exec trying to work his/her way up the development ladder.  So your path to AMC begins with a hungry young development exec.  Sell it or not, this is someone that a writer who wants a career writing “Breaking Bad”-ish material should be building a relationship with...and someone whose time you simply can't waste with irrelevant material.

 

Service?  So what does the 26 year old Dev Exec actually NEED to keep his job and rise through the ranks? Now THAT, readers, is something you can find out.  THAT, is a truly manageable task.  And THAT is exactly what we help writers do every day.  It's fun, it's easy and it's what everyone else who is selling material is doing, so get with the program...or don't.  But if your current plan isn't working, stop banging your head.  The walls are unlikely to give even with the great force you're applying with your skull.  Doors are a better way in.  LEARN MORE and sign up for a FREE CAREER CONSULTATION...Did I mention that its free?  But only sign up if you're serious about considering a whole new way in.

 

AND ONE LAST THING.... NO UNSOLICITED MATERIAL

There are sound legal and practical reasons why companies don’t accept unsolicited material. Similarly, execs just don’t talk to writers who make cold calls.  It’s awkward for many reasons.  But….a PRODUCER who is looking to make life easier for the exec…now that’s a call they will take.   This is why it is so important to a) Know what material is best for you to bring out  b) Understand the business you are in  c) Learn how to connect effectively  and d) Develop high-level material (from loglines to scripts and everything in b/w). Change that mindset and embrace this notion of ‘Sales as Service’.  If you find out what an exec actually needs (no guessing here), and you only present material to him/her that is an actual match, in the way that is actually plausible for an exec to jump at...well, sell your series this time around or not, you will begin building relationships that you can go back to for the rest of your career.

 

Oh, and, by the way, the long-term career success of development executives (your doorways into this industry) WILL BE DETERMINED BY THE DEPTH OF THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH…GUESS WHO…WRITERS!

 

So…to sum it up…

 

Get very real about your new reality as a producer.  It's fun, people.  I've been an artist all my life and I've never been more creative than the last decade or so...playing on the business side of the equation.

 

Remember, to learn more go to www.IdeaToMarketIntensive.com and sign up for a FREE CAREER CONSULTATION.





ABOUT THE AUTHOR OF THIS ARTICLE

My name is Randy Becker and I run NexTV Entertainment.


NexTV gives talented artists a REAL chance to fulfill their potential in the industry, by educating, connecting and advocating for those who might otherwise go unnoticed. 

 

We work with artists who are tired of banging their heads against the wall that separates the business from the artists...and show them the way in.

 

We empower artists to identify their value in the marketplace, connect with the most relevant industry decision-makers, and bring their own material out in a way that ensures long-term career success. 

 

At NexTV we help artists break through on their own terms.



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BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL WEB SERIES: The Problem with Being Responsible for Everything

Dec 11, 2014 6:50PM



Follow along as we see how Jake Jarvi engages the nearly 40,000 fans of his web series, PLATOON OF POWER SQUADRONYou can see all of Jake's work at: http://www.youtube.com/user/pineappleboyfilms

Late DEADLINE is on Dec. 5, for our Writing & Pitch Competition - www.mynextv.com/writers


JAKE JARVI SPEAKS: THE PROBLEM WITH BEING RESPONSIBLE FOR EVERYTHING

 

The video below is a typical Saturday during production. When not shooting, there’s a lot of running around trying to collect as many little pieces of this puzzle as possible.

 

 

The title of this post reflects the fact that I made a really boneheaded producer mistake this week that could have ruined a shoot night entirely if not for my co-producer wife saving me at the last second. More on that when we get to the Tuesday night shoot-night recap.

 

Let’s continue breaking down the episode 9 shooting days.

 

Saturday, December 6. 6pm-11:30pm. There’s always a little feet finding that goes on when you move into a new location. Not only do you have to bring in, stage, and organize all of the gear, but you have to figure out the parameters of shooting in the new location and set everything up. There’s a section of this episode that takes place in a clothing store, and that’s the location we were getting used to for the night. Once everyone was assembled, we started checking stuff off the shotlist and all of the actors did such an amazing job. We paused for dinner from a Mexican restaurant a few blocks over and got two thirds of the shotlist scratched off before calling it a night and stashing all of our gear in the back office. There’s SO MUCH visual interest all over this clothing store. They have all kinds of colored lights strung up and a myriad of colors hanging all over the place. It’s a great, rich backdrop for all of the action. I love it.

 

Sunday, December 7. 5pm-11pm. Another night at the clothing store. I get anxious and fidgety if I have to sit around too long before a shoot, so Eliza and I got there an hour early. We started assembling gear and I got the lighting set up for our first shot. Once the actors arrived, we had about a full hour of wound makeup application before we could shoot anything. We’ve been using these pre-fabricated wound makeup applications called FX Transfers. They look really great, and we’ve had great success with the larger wounds, but we had the hardest time in the world getting this small one attached. It should have taken half the time it took, but it ended up looking great, so what are you going to do? Another night of knocking off the shotlist. That’s pretty much what shooting is. Conversations about shooting and then shooting, over and over again. Dinner was from a chicken place across town that delivers in their truck with a giant chicken head with red glowing eyes attached to the roof. The delivery truck alone would be worth the order even if their food wasn’t so flipping amazing. Really great food. It was another great shoot night. Great performances, really great looking shots. I’m just getting a little worn out between work and shooting and Chicago going through the coldest winter since 1904.

 

Tuesday, December 9. 8pm-10pm. Since I knew we were going to be shooting in the winter again, I did my best to stage as many scenes as possible indoors. We suffered mightily outside in November and December shooting episode 8 and I really didn’t feel like torturing my friends for another series of evenings this year. Of course, some scenes just need to take place outside. It’s the only logical option. This was one of them. Of course, since it’s PoPS shooting, it also starting snowing as we drove down to the location. Little tiny flakes, so they wouldn’t register on camera, but enough to make our footing slippery and dangerous and make all of the proceedings a little more miserable. This is the night the title refers too. One of those things that makes me think—Wow, I really should not be a producer. I spent so much time worrying about packing up all of the gear we could need or potentially need for the shoot that I completely forgot to bring the costume and makeup for our only actor for the night. Luckily, Eliza was travelling separately and left later than I did. I remembered in time to have her stop home and get them, but that is what we call a major oversight, my friends. In my defense, actors typically bring there own costumes to our shoots, so it wasn’t a thing I normally need to remember, but we ALWAYS have this guy’s wardrobe.

 

So, we tried to frame out the grass as the falling snow actually started to visibly accumulate on it. We got a really complicated and amazing shot, a couple of inserts, and we packed it up. That’s an oversimplification of the evening. Let me break it down further. So, it started snowing and it was probably about 30 degrees Fahrenheit, which Eliza, Ryan, Chris, myself, and our actor David were out in for about an hour and a half. We got to a location we’d never been to before, generously loaned to us by some acquaintances who were not at home at the time, so they hid a key for us. I could not get the key to work in the front door. Neither could Chris or Ryan. So I called and got us another, less ideal location, and started arranging to have everyone meet there. Then I tried the key one more time, and it worked. I had to pull it to a certain position and kind of jiggle it to get it to work. So I called everyone back and had them come back to the first location. Then my phone ran out of battery and it started to snow more. The stairs got life threateningly slippery, but luckily the apartment we were borrowing had a cat. Ryan sprinkled cat litter on the steps making them traversable. We set up a couple lights and by then it was snowing enough to show up on camera. We were supposed to shoot two quick little scenes after the scene at this apartment, but the snow that was starting to collect on cars and lawns would have made those two shoots impossible, so Eliza started calling around letting the other actors know that the second half of the night was cancelled. The one actor who’s phone number Eliza didn’t have, we left emails and Facebook messages, but he didn’t get them until after he had travelled an hour to the location, so he just had to drive home again. After setting up all the lights, making the steps safe, and choreographing all of the moving elements of this very complicated shot, I was determined to try and shoot it despite the snow. We got it in about 11 takes, by which point the snow had backed off again to the point where it was no longer visible on camera. It looked amazing and was totally worth it. We packed everything up, I wiped down the floor, because we had tromped snow-wet shoes across it for a couple of hours, re-hid their key, and went to play videogames with friends at a barcade, or “arcade bar.” I’ve got to tell you, there are few better consolations to having to cancel shooting a couple scenes than pinball and arcade games with a group of friends.

 

Yeah. So that’s what one our one big nights outside for episode 9 was like. Just another production horror story for the PoPS archives. Still, we got most of what we came for.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

--Jake


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BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL WEB SERIES: Half the Episode Shot

Dec 4, 2014 2:03PM



Follow along as we see how Jake Jarvi engages the nearly 40,000 fans of his web series, PLATOON OF POWER SQUADRONYou can see all of Jake's work at: http://www.youtube.com/user/pineappleboyfilms

Late DEADLINE is on Dec. 5, for our Writing & Pitch Competition - www.mynextv.com/writers


JAKE JARVI SPEAKS: HALF THE EPISODE SHOT

 

The video below chronicles our visit to a prop master and weapons handler that we know to pick up some props for the show. We also tool around Chicago getting into the Christmas spirit Chicago-style.

 

 

After shooting last night we have wrapped the largest location in the episode and have shot very close to half the episode. 42 pages down. That’s a lot of road. Let’s do some shoot day recaps.

 

Sunday, November 30, 5pm-12am. This was a day for making up a lot of little scenes that we had to grab in each room of our apartment. I’ve been designing a lot of shots to hold as many characters in a frame as possible this episode. Really driving home the groups of people that exist in the show, that they’re connected, and how they relate to each other. It’s been a fun exercise in seeing our apartment in a lot of different ways as well. It’s a pretty small space, and I’ve been trying like all-get-out to vary the ways we see it. We paused for a Chinese food dinner around 7:15 and then kept plugging away. We wrapped most of the cast around 11 and then kept shooting for an hour to pick up some inserts that I’ve been pushing back for time since shoot day 3. Then a couple of us sat around talking about relationships and past roommates. It was a great chill way to wrap up a long day.

 

Tuesday, December 2, 7pm-11pm. Roti Meditteranean Grill for dinner. Friggin’ tasty. Back on November 3, when we started shooting the episode, Eliza and I saw how we looked in the behind the scenes footage compared to how we looked in a video update 4 years ago. We finally decided to take some drastic measures. Over the last month we’ve been avoiding bread, cheese, and pasta, and severely limiting our sugar intake. It’s made a noticeable difference. It’s hard to get to the gym when production is underway because of all the planning that surrounds the nights we’re not shooting, but we also push ourselves on the nights we can make it to the gym. In another month—including some of the weight fluctuation damage the holiday season can do—we’ll be at a point where we can figure out how to maintain instead of actively dropping weight. I know my first celebration dish is going to be pizza. However, this last month has shown the delicious variety of meals you can make with meats and vegetables. Lots. Back to production…

 

I had been dreading this night. There were enough things we were trying to do that we hadn’t done before and I was just hoping it would all go smoothly. It did. The stuff I had theories on how to do, but we had never done, other people brought great ideas to and helped us execute them smoothly. A shot that I thought may take forever to get properly, Ryan and Chris nailed in one take. I had a stand-in oversight where we needed an extra person to double for a character in one shot and I hadn’t planned for it. A major oversight like that is a big rarity for me and I was trying to figure out how to change the shot. Right when we got to it on the shotlist, an actor showed up with a friend in tow who happened to be the same height and build as the double we needed and she was willing to help out. It was AMAZING. We got our whole shotlist by just after 11. Twenty four setups in 4 hours.

 

Wednesday, December 3, 7pm-11pm. Last shoot night in our biggest location and there were 22 setups left in the most complex action sequence in the episode. It was our 10th shoot night of episode 9, but we all agreed that it felt like a lot longer. Maybe it’s being in one location for a month. Counting our actual production hours, that’s approximately 45 hours spent shooting in that location in November.  Granted, that’s only 4 and half real-length production days, but for this nights and weekends production it felt like a long one. For the previous 9 shoot days, we’d been eating from a variety of places with relatively healthy options, but I wanted to celebrate the last night of this location with a tried-and-true PoPS production meal. Frozen pizzas. A staple of PoPS production since 2009. This was super tempting, as pizza in all forms is one of my most revered foods, but Eliza and I stuck to salad we ordered from a pizza place down the street. The irony of ordering salad from an excellent pizza place and getting pizzas from the freezer section was not lost on me. Around 7:15, we started checking off shots and wrapped just a little before 11. Checking off cool action shots is so much more invigorating for the assembled crew than long dialogue scenes. We hung out for a few minutes and everybody headed home just before midnight. It was a great time and it feels amazing to have so much of the episode shot.

 

Now we have a couple of nights before diving into weekend shoots in a whole new location. I have five’ish shoot nights left before we start Christmas break and by then, if everything goes according to schedule, we’ll have a vast majority of the episode sitting in a hard drive. And backed up in another hard drive.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

--Jake


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BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL WEB SERIES: Big Production Week

Nov 20, 2014 6:12PM



Follow along as we see how Jake Jarvi engages the nearly 40,000 fans of his web series, PLATOON OF POWER SQUADRONYou can see all of Jake's work at: http://www.youtube.com/user/pineappleboyfilms

Late DEADLINE is on Dec. 5, for our Writing & Pitch Competition - www.mynextv.com/writers


JAKE JARVI SPEAKS: BIG PRODUCTION WEEK

This week’s video update chronicles our big week of shooting and displays a little bit of the toll production can take on a living space, and personal schedules.

 

 

Ordinarily, we try to limit nights & weekends shooting to two weeknights and a weekend day. Three nights a week is a manageable production schedule for people with full time jobs. This week, however, due to the way actors schedules are all lined up, we did five shoot nights. Let’s break it down.

 

Monday, November 10, 7pm-11:30pm. I continued the trend of offering people who want to show up a half hour early a free dinner and we’ve been ordering from places that are between where I work and our apartment so I can grab it on the way home. That night we had Chipotle. We were shooting a lot of scenes were Carlyn has to play opposite herself, so we had Eliza in a wig for the over-the-shoulders and only about four shots where we had to lock down the camera to have her change outfits to play both characters in the same shot. I color-coded the shotlist at Eliza’s suggestion, which was a brilliant idea. That way we were able to shoot most of one outfit, then the other, and it really saved us a lot of time where the girls would have to be changing. It was a little stop-and-start feeling because of all the back and forth we were doing with her playing both characters. Given some of the complicated things we were dealing with, I’m surprised we only ran a half hour late. A good shoot night.

 

Tuesday, November 11, 7pm-10pm. Started the night off with some Chinese food from right down the street from our place. Awesome portions for the price, I had lunch the next day too. This night was all of the scenes that take place in our tiny bathroom. There weren’t a lot, so we wrapped quite early. Originally I had this shoot double booked with another block of scenes, but when Craig had to go out of town for work, we were shuffling to grab any scenes we could shoot in the apartment that didn’t have him in them.

 

Wednesday, November 12, 7pm-11pm. Soups, salads, and sandwiches from Panera. We started by picking up a couple of things from our first night of shooting. A shot of an actor who wears very reflective sunglasses, this time without catching our director of photography in the reflection. And the really hard Glidecam shot. I finally had to settle for getting most of it in the Glidecam and then cutting to a wide for the resolution of the scene. The integrity of what I wanted to see is still intact and I’m using an inline edit with the wide to really jar the viewer into the changing situation. Then we moved on into the bulk of the pages in the apartment and shut it down at 11pm, since we were at a good stopping point and we were going to be in the same space for two more nights.

 

Friday, November 13, 7pm-11pm. Chipotle again. This time for two reasons, 1: It’s delicious. 2: They have an awesome online group ordering system where everybody can order their own thing from their own computer and I just pay for it once everybody’s orders are in. This was a tough night. I’ve had a couple times when I’ve been frustrated on set because of various factors. This was one such occasion. Since a lot of this episode takes place in the main characters’ apartment, I wanted to try and keep things visually interesting with some good camera moves. Unfortunately, they’re really hard to get in our small space and the rolling of the dolly is very VERY audible on the largely creaky wooden floors of our apartment. After many many takes of one of these tracking shots, I finally scrapped it, but I was obviously frustrated and settling for less than I wanted. That’s a real mood-killer on a no budget set. So we moved on and wrapped halfheartedly at 11. This might be a good time to mention that despite my frustrations, we have a great group of actors who are doing an amazing job. Some new people are exceeding my expectations, and all the old standbys are really going for it and embodying their characters. As far as crew goes, people are trying to work us in to their very busy schedules as much as possible and splitting up different nights so that we at least have one of the core people available for crewing. There are just a lot of projects going on in our group now and PoPS isn’t anyone’s first priority anymore. Still, we soldier on. Not to mention the amazing people we’ve had volunteering for the first time. It slows us down a little bit with people having to learn a new skill set every night, suddenly put in positions of very high priority. I think we’ve taught four new people how to operate sound when they appear on our set for the first time so far. It’s just really nice that people are willing to come help us out.

 

Saturday, November 14. 5pm-11pm. Since it was Saturday, we could start as soon as it got dark and I delayed dinner until about halfway through the night. This was a miracle night. So far in production, we’d only had two nights where we’d gotten everything on the shooting list. In order to get back on schedule, we had to shoot about 13 pages of dialogue in 6 hours. It was about 2 and a half pages of camera setups. After the tracking shot problems of the night before, I woke up Saturday morning determined to cut out all the tracking shots from my shotlist and replace them with meaningful pans, racking focus, and mid-dialogue edits, thereby still heightening the experience and drawing audience attention to relationships and important moments, but without all the never-ending frustration of attempting tracking shots in our apartment with brand new crew members. We hit the ground running just after 5:30pm, paused for a dinner from Noodles and Co. just after 8pm, and wrapped up everything we had scheduled pretty much at 11pm exactly. And just like that, we’re back on schedule. It was awesome. Everyone was really worn out by the end of the night, but everyone perked up nicely whenever the camera was pointed at them, so we were able to get 13 pages in 6 hours.

 

Eliza and I planned to grab one little shoot night this week with Carlyn in the city—a quick 10-second scene that would only take a half hour to shoot—but I came down with a mega cold. Luckily, it’s stayed out of my brain so far, so I can still work and plan and everything, but it’s nothing I want to take with me into a night shoot for even a half hour. I think I’d only get sicker.

 

So we’re down for a week before we get another shoot night, but it’s a nice little section of calm in the middle of the storm.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

--Jake



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BUILDING A SUCCESSFUL WEB SERIES: Listening to the Pros

Nov 6, 2014 11:55AM



Follow along as we see how Jake Jarvi engages the nearly 40,000 fans of his web series, PLATOON OF POWER SQUADRONYou can see all of Jake's work at: http://www.youtube.com/user/pineappleboyfilms

Late DEADLINE is on Dec. 5, for our Writing & Pitch Competition - www.mynextv.com/writers


JAKE JARVI SPEAKS: LISTENING TO THE PROS

 

Every once in a while I thoroughly enjoy one of my weekly video updates. This week’s, on the widespread use of the 2.35:1 aspect ratio in videos created primarily for web distribution, is one I’m particularly happy with. If you want to skip straight to the aspect ratio discussion, there’s a clickable annotation in the beginning that will take you to it.

 

 

Ever since Eliza showed me that the little toggle thing on the iPhone earbuds don’t just raise and lower the volume and act as a microphone for hands-free calling, but that it also starts and stops podcasts or music if you press it in the middle, I’ve become obsessed with listening to podcasts. Or really just one podcast. The Movie Crypt with film directors Adam Green and Joe Lynch. I started listening to it when someone tweeted out a link to episode 34, where they talk to director Darren Lynn Bousman, and said something along the lines of, ‘Anybody who creates anything should listen to this.’ It’s a great episode to start on because the Hollywood hell stories are sooooooo crazy. But I’ve been listening to every single past episode for months and they have over 70 episodes so far talking to all kinds of people from the film industry. Not just writers, directors, and actors, but sound designers, wardrobe people, directors of photography, visual effects people, agents, producers, a studio exec. It’s really outstanding. Their stories are really from the low and mid budget trenches and they’ve guided me to a lot of great people, the two hosts included.

 

One of the things that it’s really drilled into me over the last few months is that I’m probably having way more fun doing my own web series my own way than I ever could working within the film industry. Between the bowing and the battles within the studio system to the compromise and the money raising of the independent route. They talked to a guy who had a small studio actually give him a budget on $8,000 for an entire feature film. We just raised $21,000 for our ninth episode. It really puts things in perspective. I may wish our enterprise was considered more legitimate—YouTube shows and soft core pornography probably share a similar level of legitimacy in the eyes of the studio system—but at least we get to do the thing we want to do and with a better budget than many others. That’s what this excellent podcast has me thinking about.

 

In addition to my Movie Crypt plug, this week’s post signals the return of the PoPS production diary. We had our first shoot day of episode 9.

 

Monday, November 3—Since we were scheduled to shoot from 7pm to 11pm, there was technically no need for a dinner break, four-hour shoot and all. But I think a lot of working people have trouble getting dinner in before a 7pm call time. So I got a big box of sandwiches for the cast and crew and said if they wanted a free dinner to show up at 6:30. Eliza and I threw the rest of the set dressing together after work, and after a quick dinner we got to shooting. Five actors and three crew members. The first night is always the toughest. I had insanely scheduled us to try and get eight pages in four hours with a really complicated, two-minute long glidecam shot at the end of the shotlist. We had some lighting complications slow us down and a couple of tough moves, and we decided to finally call it a night at 12:15am, after trying to get the glidecam shot to happen for over an hour. But we were really close. So I’m pinning it onto the schedule for next week. I had a plan B ready for if we couldn’t get the glidecam shot, but our attempts showed us it will be possible, so why not get the shot that will best convey the energy and intention of the writing, instead of scrapping it for two easier shots. It’s not like I have any executives breathing down my neck. We’re a nights and weekends production, our only luxury is time. Even though it doesn’t really feel like there’s a whole lot of time to spare either once you start trying to synchronize the holiday season schedules of 10 talented people. Also, upon watching the footage there were a couple reflection issues with an actor’s glasses, so we’ll need to do a quick reshoot for some of that stuff. All in all, it was a rough start to episode 9, but the performances we caught we’re fantastic and it just feels good to be underway.

 

Thanks for reading, all y’all.

 

--Jake



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