Archive for September, 2013

PoPS update 174-A Full Week

Posted in Hypothesis the 8th on September 29, 2013 by PoPS blog

FUNdraising

Posted in Hypothesis the 8th on September 26, 2013 by PoPS blog

If you’re like me, the thought of asking people to give you money creates pretty much the same feeling in your stomach as a decisive kick in the balls. If you’re a girl, I’m told the feeling is similar to severe menstral cramps. Like someone took your stomach and squeezed it like a wet sponge. My, oh my, isn’t this a graphic blog post? So, how do we make crowdsourced fundraising a less stomach churning experience? We here at PoPS are basically trying to make it fun.

Starting with our Indiegogo video. This is my fourth time making a fundraising video. The first couple were just me sitting in the office like in updates, like this:

That was for the episode 6 fundraiser. Simple, heartfelt, but pretty low effort. If someone hasn’t seen the updates there’s not a lot for someone to connect with there. One shot, not much happening. Just a bunch of talkedy talk.

By the episode 7 fundraiser I tried to up our game by doing two videos. The first one was really thought out and took the majority of a Saturday for Eliza and me to orchestrate:

I really liked that one. I thought if we did a second video during the campaign, it would help keep people motivated. So I did, but I didn’t have as much time to devote to it and it replaced the original one. In the end I don’t think it did much to inspire further participation.

The episode 8 fundraiser went live on Sunday. This time, Lize and I spent another full day on the campaign video and we used the 5D and the GoPro to make it more visually satisfying. I also made the decision to up the antics to try and make it the whole thing more fun and run the show’s sizzle reel at the end so that our regular audience didn’t have to sit through it again if they didn’t want to. I think it’s the best we’ve done so far.

This time we also added new prizes and every few days I’m going to remind my subscribers what’s going on with a single shot video checking in on the campaign like this:

Hopefully, it’ll make everyone feel more involved in the campaign and keep everyone spreading it around. We’re also considering doing a raffle option. Anyone donating at the 20 dollar level will get entered into a drawing and we’ll randomly select someone to get the $500 perk. Things like this might keep it fun and help us stay a part of the conversation. Only a few weeks until the campaign is over. Here’s a link to the Indiegogo page for episode 8:

http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/platoon-of-power-squadron-episode-8/x/263409

And we start shooting episode 8 in 9 days. Here we go again.

Sorry there’s so much video this week. Thanks for reading.

–Jake

PoPS video update 173-Fundraiser and Spinning Wheel

Posted in Hypothesis the 8th on September 22, 2013 by PoPS blog

The Indie Schedule

Posted in Hypothesis the 8th on September 19, 2013 by PoPS blog

The advent of pre-production for this episode presents its own set of challenges. The gorgeous, creepy warehouse we use as the villain’s lair is pretty much a daylight location. There’s no power, no climate control, no anything. As we slink into October in the Midwest, that means a severely truncated shooting day. We are a VERY small budget show. We don’t have a lot of lights, so we can’t light huge environments. In a massive warehouse location, a lot of our background light is ambient, so when daylight goes, we’re done for. That means I rushed to try and get the warehouse stuff on the schedule as soon as the script was finished.

That brings me to true indie scheduling. Not just trying to get a bunch of actors together for a couple of the same days, but shooting your scenes in bizarre sequence because some actors can’t even stay all day. This is when precise shot-listing comes heavily into play. Say one actor has to leave early on a shoot day with a big group scene. You get all his coverage that involves him in shots with the full group or portions of the group—down to just sections of speeches where you want the guys in the foreground. Shoot directly for the edit. No extraneous coverage. Get all of his stuff but the singles. Then you can get everything from the rest of the group. If you have to come back the following weekend to just grab his singles, then you only have to schedule one person to come back. See, when you don’t have any money you have to be particularly aware of people’s schedules. They have to make money and they have personal obligations. It’s wonderful that they want to be in the show, but it’s also your responsibility to try not to abuse them for it. I try to be as flexible as possible with the schedule, but sometimes things get tight. It’s hard enough just trying to nail down time commitments from 13 main cast characters and 6 main crew. Now I’m trying to beat daylight savings time too.

Thanks for reading, guys.

Oh, and here’s a link to that other podcast that I mentioned last week. We had a great time talking to these guys, maybe my favorite podcast I’ve done.

http://proactiveslackermedia.com/shorts-and-series/2013/9/13/the-shorts-and-series-podcast-episode-48-pops-interview

–Jake

PoPS video update 172-Finished the Script for 8

Posted in Hypothesis the 8th on September 15, 2013 by PoPS blog

Podcasts

Posted in Hypothesis the 8th on September 12, 2013 by PoPS blog

I’ve been hitting the laptop hard this week, trying to whittle away at episode 8. The first draft is coming out pretty long, so I’ll have to see what people make of it when I have a finished draft. I just need to get it done so that we can move into production before it gets too cold. Aside from it being long, the script also includes some really funny scenes. It’s one of the things that I get nervous about before I sit down to write an episode of PoPS. “What if I can’t think of anything funny?” But if I just get the characters talking to each other and try to keep them true to themselves, everything seems to shake out just fine.

As I’ve been dashing headlong into the writing process, we’ve also had a few podcast appearances creep up. It falls directly into one of the primary paradoxes of making no-budget internet content. In order to make stuff, you have to sit down and dedicate the time to it. In order for people to know about your stuff you make, you have to find ways to push it out there and promote it. There’s only so much time in the day. There’s even less time in a weekday after work. So you have to try to balance the two halves. I’ve always been better about the making stuff than I have been about the promoting stuff. I keep our YouTube channel active with updates, I maintain the PoPS Facebook page, and I submit to festivals, but that’s about it. The only other promoting I do is when people ask me to be on their podcasts. It’s great. It’s basically talking about cool stuff for an hour. Sometimes the cool stuff we talk about is directly about our show, sometimes we just talk about the cool, geeky stuff we like.

This is us on the Super Geeked Up podcast, which uses the Google Hangout format. This one was less about the show and more about our opinions on pop culture and super hero mythologys. It was a lot of fun, and the first time the whole PoPS main cast has been on a podcast together.

Thanks for reading, guys.

–Jake

PoPS update 171-At the Renegade Craft Fair

Posted in Hypothesis the 8th on September 8, 2013 by PoPS blog

The Weirdness of Casting Your Friends

Posted in Hypothesis the 8th on September 5, 2013 by PoPS blog

In one of the first blog posts I did here, when I was going through all of the elements of making a no-budget web series or short and listing the tips I’ve picked up after doing it myself for so many years, I talked about casting your friends. I still stand by that. (The part about making friends with good-looking people because they look better on camera still stands too.) When nobody is getting paid, your friends are still apt to stay with a production longer than actors you cast off the gigs section of Craigslist. Even if they become disenamored with the project itself, they’ll still be tethered by that sense of loyalty built on your friendship. This may sound mercenary, but presumably they signed up because it sounded like fun. As long as the project stays either fun or worthwhile despite becoming large and difficult to produce, you shouldn’t have a problem with people jumping ship.

Elaborating on my thoughts from the video update I wanted to talk about the weirdness that is bringing real people into fictional lives. The main cast were friends before the show. So now let’s talk about the beginning of episode 4. In regular life, my wife and I would never have cause to flat-out make out in front of my dad. Not only is it socially inappropriate, it would just be weird. However, if my dad is operating a forklift that we’re using for a makeshift crane shot, somehow it suddenly becomes justifiable.

Let’s take my friends Craig and Carlyn. In regular life, if I invited them over to my house and said, “Okay, guys. Why don’t you two climb into our tub and make out like the dickens intermittently for about a half hour while I watch and offer instruction?” They’re probably not going to stay for pizza. I’d also probably drop to the top of their call screening list. However, if I add, “No, it’s cool. Our friend Ryan will video tape it.” Still not great. A little weirder. But if I add, “No, it’s totally fine. You guys aren’t you. You guys be characters in a pretend story I’m making up for fun and we’ll put it on the internet for people to watch.” Somehow that actually does change everything. All of a sudden, it’s acceptable. Carlyn even had a boyfriend at that point. Can you imagine that conversation?

INT. CARLYN’S GOTHIC CASTLE ON CHICAGO’S NORTH SIDE — NIGHT

Carlyn drifts into the room, petting a cat. Her boyfriend sits at the long, hand hewn, oak dinner table in an ornately carved wooden throne. He casually presides over a homemade DJ station, two turntables, blasting Swedish 80s synth pop. As Carlyn sets the cat on the table, he turns down the phat beats, disentangles a pair of gigantic, 80s, hipster glasses from his long beard, and puts them on.

CARLYN’S BOYFRIEND: What should we do tonight? Movie? Leftovers? Blood sacrifice?

CARLYN: Can’t. I’m going over to Jake and Eliza’s to make out with my friend Craig at Jake’s insistence.

CARLYN’S BOYFRIEND: Whoa. That sounds pretty much like you’re going to be cheating on me a little bit.

CARLYN: Babe…babe… It’s a web series.

CARLYN’S BOYFRIEND: Oh! Acting! Solid.

The two high five.

FADE OUT.

At least I’m pretty sure that’s how it went. And the way web series interact with real life was the only weird thing about that night.

Thanks for reading, guys.

–Jake

PoPS video update 170-At the Drive-in

Posted in Hypothesis the 8th on September 1, 2013 by PoPS blog