Why We’ll Never Look Pro

You guys know that I Google search our show every once in a while to see if anyone is saying anything new. I did that this week because we didn’t get into a web series festival I submitted us to. I wanted to look at what people we don’t personally know have said about our product to see if I could get a little insight into why we wouldn’t be accepted. I probably would have just let it go, but I saw a few shows on their acceptance list that are unimaginatively rehashed generic web-blah with a fraction of our audience. Seeing that I was like… Ooooooookay. Now, I may be just overthinking it. Maybe they’re tired of web series about super powers, or maybe the voice of the show isn’t their cup of tea. These are entirely possible. It’s also possible that I think too highly of our storytelling, given my very intense personal investment in PoPS.

But one thing stands out in every review of our show, even from the people who apparently like us a lot and are reviewing it to try and get there friends interested. Phrases like “It’s not the best looking show, but…” or “It may not be very professional looking, but…” or “Despite the look and the questionable VFX…” or, allow me to quote directly from one I found yesterday:

“I will say the acting and special effects are not award winning (although the show has won numerous awards). But what would you expect from a show where all the people making it are doing it for love not money and really all the shows pitfalls just make it all the more love able like a scruffy dog who has a penchant for rolling in mud.”

Our show is the equivalent of a scruffy dog that likes to roll in the mud. And this is from someone who is trying to get people to watch it. In that same review:

“It is genuinly funny and has some actually really intense story arks…”

So… I’m going to say we get passed over for some competitions because of the fact that no matter how much better we make the visuals and the VFX, it’ll never look pro. Let me tell you why.

It’s my fault.

Even if my director of photography sets the exposure levels perfectly so the darks aren’t noisy and whites aren’t blown out, I color correct the episode. Unfortunately, I do it quickly. Meaning, in order to get the actors to where I want them, sometimes I pull up the overall levels too much, blow out the whites, or overcompensate in contrasts. If I sat there for a long time, dicking around with power windows, isolating sections of the frame and specifically adjusting three or four distinct grades within one shot, I might be able to make it look as good as it should.

Conversely, if I wasn’t moving the crew at a thousand miles an hour during production, they might have more time for switching out bulbs, flagging hot walls, key lighting the actors, and generally sculpting those frame isolating elements on set. But I can’t spend people’s time like that. I’ve always wanted to keep set moving. That’s why I so intensively plan ahead.

We got this shot, boom, next is that shot. We’re seven shots from wrapping.

You don’t like something about the lighting for this set-up? Can you fix it in less than five minutes? No? Well see how far you can get in five minutes. It looks great, let’s shoot it.

Always. It’s only gotten worse as our crew has gotten busier. I want shoot days to be as short as possible, and I want there to be as few of them as can be. I don’t mind spending copious amounts of my own time on my projects, but I don’t want to impose too much on the lives of others. That’s why I do so much of post by myself.

That’s why I try to spend as much of our crowdfunded money on the time people spend on set. Because set is hard and I NEED them. I appreciate the time they spend on set so much, I want it to be as financially rewarding as I can make it.

Time spent on set is so much harder than sitting in a comfortable room by yourself, on your own timetable, doing VFX, editing sound, finding music, color correcting, all of those post production things. So, even though I’m not a pro, and I’m not going to make it look as good as a pro, I feel like throwing a big chunk of the budget at any portion of post-production isn’t right. That’s why we’ll never look pro. That’s why PoPS will always be a muddy mutt. Because of me.

Thanks for reading.

–Jake

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4 Responses to “Why We’ll Never Look Pro”

  1. MY opinion is that. It’s just not fair for content creators this days. It’s not fair at all.Even if you get 4k’s, professional lighting a Red or an Alexa ,record Raw to have this ridiculous Dynamic range they would still say the same thing. I think this people are comparing you to Marvel movies where there isn’t one guy behind the movie it’s a freaking army of CG effects guys. You are like that Tank man that stands in front of the row of Tanks to stop them. Film is heading to a heavy CGI usage and even if they are good. General consensus about what is Good or bad is being manipulated by it, not letting any chance to Indie productions.

  2. Very thoughtful! I’m a fan of good writing and good stories and good humor, which is why I adore PoPs. It’s creative, fun, and approaches the subject of super powers from a real life vantage point instead of stepping into a comic book world.

  3. I commend you for your choices, Jake. You can tell just from this blog post that working with you must be amazing. You like to get things done, and you respect the people you work with. But your closing sentence sounds like you are blaming yourself. Don’t blame yourself! Know that you are doing the right thing! We care about PoPS because of you, Eliza, Craig, and Carlyn. And we always have your back! =)

  4. It’s crazy to me that people would say this?! PoPS is gorgeous now! The production values freaking skyrocketed after the first few episodes, because you actually had resources and were able to get better equipment and dedicate more time to it. Why wouldn’t people make that clear, especially when recommending it? That genuinely makes me mad.

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