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.


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.

GCB: A “Good Christian” Review

(I use a particular word a lot in the post. Consider yourself warned.) I am watching the pilot of this show. I wanted to speak from knowledge, not speculation. A little over 30-minutes in I’m almost convinced it represents everything wrong with TV. Find a group to vilify, then use them to cover up lame humor and poor character development. Let controversy drive the ratings until you can fix what’s wrong with the show. ABC did change the name from Good Christian Bitches to Good Christian Belles and then to GCB. But there is still plenty of controversy.

What is the one group in America TV execs think they can mock on with impunity? Christians. I’ll bet quite a few good Christians end up watching this on a regular basis, if it doesn’t get canceled soon.

Pick another demographic… Good Black Bitches, Good Jewish Bitches, Good Muslim Bitches? Good Scientologist Bitches? Would that ever be allowed by any network? Nope, it’s Christians. What other group could be portrayed like this without immediate, public backlash of sponsors? No, Christians will organize boycotts and petition drives that do little harm and keep the public interested in knowing more about the show. And many Christians will watch it, because we don’t live life differently than non Christians. (That’s another post.)

I have been in church all my life and never met anyone like the Christians depicted in this show. Nor have I ever been to a church that would put up with the antics displayed in the services. I know that some Christians have done stupid things, and acted wrong. I know that the writers are trying to create an extreme character set for humor and to set up long term antagonists, with plenty of room for growth, but really?

The show would be easier to stomach if there was at least one decent Christian character. I don’t know if the writers ever met any decent Christian people. But they have yet to introduce them into the show. Could they not have the pastor have a backbone and put a stop to the mess in the service? An older church member who could show kindness to the protagonist?

The problem with this whole mess is that the controversy, that we religious types will unwittingly perpetuate with good intentioned boycotts, will actually end up keeping the show on the air longer than it would be if it just had to stand on it’s writing and acting. There is a chance that enough negative backlash could come that ABC would pull the show, but that’s unlikely. But, eventually the controversy will die down, and the show will stand on it’s own merits. As it is right now, it won’t stand long.

Update:Heard tonight, and double checked. As of now, GCB is cancelled for next season.