Four Years of Weekly uploads
I touched on it a little bit in the last update, but I’ve just kept thinking about how 4 years of doing weekly vlogs has changed my life. Not just the quality of the show or my relationship with the internet, both of which have profoundly changed, but my whole life. The same goes for writing these weekly blog posts. I uploaded the first video update on February 14th, 2010 and the first weekly blogpost went up on MyNexTV.com on September 10th, 2010. My first posts were little novellas where I spilled my theories on low-to-no budget web series construction. Some of those notions have changed and been improved upon in the subsequent three and a half years, and production of five more episodes, but I think they still work as a little blueprint for someone who’s interested in starting out down the web series route.
Perhaps the two biggest additions to that small arsenal of suggestions would be about casting.
One: Ask to be informed of medical conditions of brand new cast members. We had a guest star go all wonky halfway through one of his two nights on the show. He was just stumble’y and out of it enough that it seemed like he was drugged up. He would mostly respond to direction, but just be a little off. It seemed like he’d stepped away and dosed himself, it came on so fast. We rushed through the rest of shooting, some of which I actually had to maneuver him like a puppet, my hands just out of frame, guiding him to his marks as he semi-slurred his lines. In retrospect, I probably should have called off shooting, but I kept asking him if he was okay and he’d say “Yeah, no problem. I’m fine,” while the rest of us exchanged skeptical glances. Right after wrap I sat him in my car and drove him straight the to train station. I wanted to get him away from the rest of the cast and crew as soon as possible, I thought he was totally riding the Horse or something. I gave him this whole speech about professionalism and working on a set and everything. Found out later that the dude was having a diabetic bottom out. None of us knew he was diabetic. It was awful.
Two: Don’t do casting sessions over Skype. You need to see how someone does in an unfamiliar room, in front of strangers, with the pressure of a camera rolling. My one episode of Skype castings brought me quite a few great actors and then one or two actors that probably wouldn’t have been cast if I’d read them in a room. Lesson learned.
But mostly what the last four years of twice weekly uploads has brought me is a deeper understanding of storytelling and a new feeling of satisfaction with independent filmmaking. It forced me to think about filmmaking and the way we tell and consume stories at least twice a week. That’s something I wasn’t previously devoting conscious thought to. Sure, I’d think about the practicalities of production and how I wanted to tell the story of PoPS using a lifetime of subconscious indoctrination through consumption of A LOT of media, but I wasn’t spending as much focused attention on the foundations of storytelling. That’s improved my abilities as a creator immensely.
Just the act of sitting down and writing to a deadline every week has made it that much easier to just start writing when I’m in front of a keyboard. Less thinking about what I’m going to do, more just doing it. To be fair, that also has to do with it being a large part of my day-job as well. Gotta pack words into sentences and stack them into paragraphs if I wants to get paid. And I do.
It’s also made me a lot more comfortable talking to other people with aspirations, asking people for help, and finishing what I start. Just the constant act of expressing myself and realizing that everybody else is trying to do their best too.
Most of all, it helped me stop waiting. My whole life I’ve been waiting for someone to open some door to the industry for me so I could make movies. Even the first five episodes of the show were about trying to knock on that door. Now, I’m much more satisfied in the small victory of being able to tell a lengthy original story with full creative control to a group of people dedicated to watching it. It took me a surprisingly long time to understand what a privilege that is. Listening to podcasts with folks in the Hollywood trenches has probably helped in that regard too. It showed that no matter the level, it’s just going to be hard to get a vision onto the screen. More money, bigger canvas, bigger committee, less control. Watching movies from guys like Wes Anderson, Tarantino, the Coen Brothers, and Paul Thomas Anderson makes you forget that the studio system is primarily about telling stories that other people want told. Guys like Fincher and Spielberg sure make it look good though. I know I won’t ever REALLY stop tapping at that industry door; looking for 310s, 818s, 323s to show up on my caller ID. But these last four years have really helped me stop waiting for the next thing and enjoy the fact that I’m getting to do this thing. It’s been great.
Also, here’s some fun stuff. These are two fan-made collage videos celebrating character relationships in the show. One about the bromance between my character and Craig’s character. Another about the romance between my character and my wife’s character. That one’s almost weirder because we’re real-life married. I just love so much that this dude spent his own valuable time making fan videos for our show:
YouTube user SarubE005 is super cool for doing those.
Thanks for reading.