Listening to the Pros

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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