The Shoot

So, last week I finished the principal shooting for the pilot of the TV Show I’m developing. There are a couple of pick up shots and a whole lot of post work to be done. but the raw pieces are there. How did I do it?

I am surrounded by amazing people. This is the first creative venture like this I have ever attempted. The last two days of the shoot were grueling. We finished one night after midnight and started the next by 8:30AM and then went all day. no money, no perks. just people giving their time and talent to make my dream a reality. Overwhelming, when I think about it.

I am blessed with gear. This time I rented nothing. I borrowed from friends or the church, or used my own equipment. I had access to a boom mic, a full dolly and a slider, DSLRs and lenses, lights, stands, diffusers, sandbags and more.

There are always challenges.

Getting unpaid extras is the absolute hardest part of the whole deal. I almost didn’t reshoot a scene that was also in the preview project because almost no one showed up. I needed to redo it for several reasons, so I pulled a couple of crew people and used them as extras. Which meant we shot that scene on a skeleton crew.

To shoot on locations for free, expect to be flexible. I spoke with the manager of a local place, and arranged to shoot on a Monday. He said that mondays were normally not that busy, so things should be quiet for us. Turns out that Monday’s are always Mexican Salad Special night. The place was slammed during the dinner hour. but thinned out enough for us to get the two scenes shot before closing time. It would have been better to be able to pay the shop enough that we could be in there when it was closed. And then to bring in our own staff/extras for the shoot. But we couldn’t, and didn’t.

Another location, we were locked out. It had taken until the day before the shoot to work out all the details about how to get in, and then on the morning of the shoot no one was there. We finally worked it out, but there were some moments where I wondered how long it would take. we were shooting four scenes in that location and had to be done by 4:30 PM. An hour delay could have been disastrous.

Gear will break. We started out with four lights at our disposal. By the end of the shoot we had two working lights. One has what we think is a bad ballast. The other blew a bulb in the middle of the last day of shooting. We had no spares, and our time table didn’t allow for stopping to try to find a place open on the weekend. I think I can make everything work, and fix it in post. Luckily that was all that happened.

What’s next?

Post! All files have been converted and imported into FCP. I will be cutting the scenes together, and then finishing the show.

Release! I plan to have the whole show released by mid May.

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Shooting the Pilot This Week

It’s finally here! This week we are shooting most of the pilot for the TV series I am developing.

It has been great. It has been hard. We have two more days of major shooting this weekend. Using volunteer actors is very interesting. I had two parts commit and drop out and get replaced within a matter of days. I’m just praying no one else drops before the weekend. I don’t blame them, they are doing me a favor being in the show. If something important comes up, i would probably drop out, too.

Budget wise i took stock of what we have spent this morning. Amazingly, we are on track to spend less than $200 for the whole show! I want to say that again, production cost of a full length TV show will be less than $200. I can’t believe how blessed I am. I’m borrowing everything. Have not paid a dime for locations or gear or people. Just had to buy a few props and a little food. I’d love to give everyone a T Shirt, but it would cost more than $200 to have them made. (I know, I checked)

What’s next?

Edit, edit, edit.

Then promote, promote, promote.

I may do a Kickstarter campaign to raise money for advertising. If I can get enough people to watch the show, I can get real backers/sponsors. I don’t think I can keep costs this low as episodes progress. Later ones have more roles, and need more extras and more elaborate sets. If I can show potential sponsors that their money would be well spent investing in this series… This could work. Or maybe someone could throw a lot of money at it because they believe in the project. if i was independently wealthy this would be an issue.

But that is the next thing. The current thing is to shoot the pilot. I am working with some wonderful people. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but to have people buy into your vision, and come alongside you to do something this big… I am overwhelmed.

Accomplishment

Coming off of the World Series of church work, also known as the Easter season, I thought I’d lay out exactly what the media team accomplished last week.

First, let me say that there were a lot of other people working very hard to accomplish the work set before us. Also, please don’t take my small joke about Easter being the World Series of church work seriously. You could also call it the Superbowl, but that’s closer to Christmas time, so… In reality there is a reason why churches normally have a big emphasis during these two times of the year.

So, this year the biggest, most intense production schedule I’d ever been a part of was laid before us. Not only did we hold our multi-night Easter drama presentation, we also had our Easter worship in the Amway Center. The challenge was to execute the Easter presentations with excellence, while simultaneously planning for, and loading in a massive “show” in an unfamiliar venue with limited budget.

Because I work with some very talented and hard working people, Passion week was amazing. The Easter Presentations went great. One night we had a major power outage right in the middle of the drama, and my team calmly reset and and restarted the scene when the power was up.

During the presentations we loaded as much gear into the arena as we could. And after the last one, we marshaled an army of volunteers to load out lights, audio, and orchestra. And then load it into the Amway center. It was a long night with very little sleep, but the service was great. It’s something I will always remember.

One of the things about it I will remember is a team that figured out how to do the near impossible.