NOTZK - Episode 6: The Awakening
Jaz and Brian team up to take on Darkmoon while Hicks and Danny nurse their injured characters. As morning approaches, Martin makes a critical decision to keep the group together. [WATCH]
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Webseries Hints, Volume 1
March 29, 2011 | David
Andrew offers some advice to webseries creators on how to make the most of our work.
Andrew wrote for GOLD Season 1 (Episodes 0,1 & 2), as well as co-exec-producing, directing and acting as cinematographer for much of that season (he also plays Goldy in Episode 4). He’s one of the three writers of Night of the Zombie King, and was cinematographer and one of the executive producers for that entire mini-series. Even more, he did all of the graphic design and titles for NOTZK, and co-designed the GOLD website. He’s the co-executive producer of the feature “Yesterday Was a Lie,” creator of the upcoming series “Alice & the Monster,” and he’s also worked on a handful of other webseries, including the new show Game Room.
Below are compiled hints from Andrew’s recent Facebook posts about doing your best work when creating these ultra-low-budget independent TV series we commonly call “webseries.” Some of these are random and very specific, others are more general - the product of long conversations we’ve had as a team and what we’ve learned these past three years. We’d love to hear your thoughts on them in the comments.
If you cast fresh-faced 20-somethings to play hardened federal agents with a past, the audience won’t take your show seriously.
Don’t use camera sound. Ever. Hire a sound person.
If you can’t make guns sound and look like real guns and bullet hits look like real bullet hits, don’t do them. You’re just embarrassing yourself and making your series look cheap and amateurish.
Write your scripts in screenplay format. This helps everyone involved in the production process from script supers, actors, assistant directors and finally on down the line to the editor, composer and post-production facilitators. This is one of the simplest first lines of defense your production can make.
(personal gripe) Make sure your credits’ look and feel match the concept of your show. Studios spend a lot of money making opening credits to get you in the mood for a movie; you should be doing the same for your series. Also, don’t use Comic Sans. ;-)
Make a schedule. Create a day-out-of-days. Make call sheets. Make shot lists. Create a full crew address/email/phone list. Do breakdowns. Learn your paperwork. You will thank yourself that you did.
Learn editing software. Learn how to compress/uncompress footage. Learn how a boom pole + mic get the best sound. Learn what an AD does. Learn what a PA is for. Learn which lenses are good for which kind of shots. Learn basic lighting techniques. Learn how to apply basic makeup. Learn that you need copies of certain costumes and why. Learn, learn, learn.
Be honest. No one learns how to do the right thing from yes men. Challenge your crew to do their best by doing yours. Keep your promises and show up on time. When you can, help others to achieve their dreams because you never know who is going to break.
Hold casting sessions for pivotal roles. You’ll be surprised by some actors during this process. People you thought were perfect aren’t. People you thought would never fit that role do. See how they react to direction. See if they prepared or not. Be critical, honest and open to their interpretation of your work.
Ask yourself, “Why would anyone watch this show?” You are in a giant sea of content that is flowing and changing every minute. So, who does it speak to? Which demographic? Which age group? Which gender? Is it a broad concept? Niche? Genre? If you want to work in television, you’ll be answering those questions. Might as well get started now with the business side of show business.
GOLD is dedicated to Jason Groce, Jeremy Groce, Brian Goldschmidt, Chris Nett and Christopher Martinsen (David's original gaming crew), and everyone who taught us to love tabletop role playing games, including John Gieser, Eric Schnabel, Calvin Frank, Chris Holowenko, BJ Engel, Chad Gifford and the rest. You can totally take the hits.