The Final Days of Episode 8; 24 and 25
Before I rundown the last two shoot days of episode 8, let me once again mention how AMAZING it is to have people loyally support our work. In the last video update I asked people to go to the NexTV website and vote for me in the director’s competition. About a quarter of the people who watched the update obliged me and got me more than 500 votes so far. That’s almost 10 times more than anyone else has. Plus, 25 percent click-through is REALLY good. Usually you can expect about 10 percent of a viewership to help you out, on a good day. And lately, with the YouTube community kind of waffling and mildly imploding, one would expect less than 10 percent follow through. Our peoples are the best peoples, people!
Also in the last update I asked everyone how they were doing and I got a bunch of replies. Quite a few people feeling good, quite a few people feeling stressed as finals approach, a few people feeling poorly, and a couple people really going through some hard stuff. Having asked everyone how they were doing and telling them I was genuinely interested, I made it my business to read and respond to every comment that came in. I wanted them to know that I wasn’t just messing around, that I was genuinely interested. It took awhile, but I got through everyone and I’m keeping an eye on it to make sure I respond to all the stragglers still coming in. I heard from a lot of creative folks planning a lot of different projects. Music, novels, web series, vlogs, all over the place. Everybody was determined to make good on their aspirations. I loved it. I also got to offer some advice to people feeling overwhelmed, and I hope my comments were useful to the people going through really heavy stuff. But just the in-depth conversation on the boards felt like old school YouTube community stuff. Even though the creator-viewer conversation has continued the entire time we’ve been cultivating our little plot of the internet, this week it felt real and personal. Person to person to person, people commenting on other people’s comments, commiserating and connecting. A real community space, and I was a part of it. It felt really cool.
Now, about our last two shoot days:
Day 24-Monday, March 17. After work, we assembled at our house to start knocking out the last nine pages of episode 8. After a full month away from shooting, it felt good to get back to it. On my lunch break I had reconfigured the living room to PoPS appearance (the Squadron can’t afford the big TV that Eliza and I have, so every time we shoot in the living room I have to wheel out the big TV—which is an old rear-projection deal that only fits through the doorway to its hiding space in the bedroom if we take the door off it’s hinges—and bring the old 80’s model television in from our bedroom) and then I referred to all the footage we shot back in January to match the lived-in apartment clutter and the hands of the clocks. Once everyone got there we were shooting within the hour and worked through until 11pm. No major complications. We didn’t have orange gels to make the kitchen fluorescents match the living room, so we had to change all the living room bulbs and camera lighting to better match the kitchen blue. Everything looked good and we got some really funny performances. As it was St. Patrick’s Day, we celebrated wrapping with some Guinness. We’d bought it to steam potatoes with for a corned beef meal the night before and had plenty of bottles left over. Really delicious.
Day 25-Tuesday, March 18. We started the night by heading outside. In a stupendous miracle, most of the snow had temporarily melted to the point where we could shoot our two remaining exterior shots—as long as we carefully aimed our camera to exclude the patches where the snow still remained. I hadn’t even allowed myself to HOPE that we’d get to shoot these shots until mid-April with the way the weather’s been this year. So, we started the night with those and ended up getting to our scheduled shooting about an hour and a half late. Despite that, we slammed our way through the pages and wrapped a half hour early at 10:30pm. With EVERYTHING. I’d scheduled a third night, to be on the safe side, but we completely wrapped episode 8 that night. I still kind of can’t believe we’ve got everything. We’ve been shooting since the beginning of October. But it’s all done. We had some chips and salsa and introduced everyone to the first episode of The IT Crowd.
I realize that I always skip over all the filming bits in these production day blog posts unless there’s some kind of complication, but that’s because shooting something is very piece meal and boring. You set up a shot and shoot it until all the dialogue, blocking, and camera elements line up right. Sometimes that means shooting a shot once, sometimes it means shooting it 30 times. Then you get your next angle and wait for all the elements to align the way you want them to, then the next, then the next, for hours. Author John Green said it best when he visited the set as his novel The Fault in Our Stars was being made into a movie. “I thought a movie set would be glamorous, but it’s just a construction site.” He nailed it. It’s a construction site with a lot of boredom and technical moving pieces. It’s a construction site obsessed with emotional nuance. It can be really involving and exciting when you’re in front of the camera, or if your a camera op or the director, but for a lot of the others it’s exceedingly time consuming and boring and there’s a lot of time spent sitting around. That’s why I tend to jump from the start of the night to the end. The rest is just a work day.
Thanks for reading.