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I’ve talked before about the ever difficult balancing that is being a Producer on a volunteer project like The Winding City. While I don’t have a huge amount of experience in film-making, I have worked on television before, in a very minor capacity. Enough though to know how demanding an industry both TV and Film can be.

It is very rare for actors to get call sheets more than two days out from shooting, rehearsals often happen on the day of shooting, sometimes the cast haven’t even seen the episode’s script until the week before shooting.

Part of this is due to television’s tight turn around – episodes are often re-written after polls from the first episode, and even with a few months schedule advance on the screening episodes it is still a high pressure experience.

Film has some benefits – often actors get a read-through and some rehearsals in before shooting. But this can raise other scheduling issues, such as The Winding City is suffering.

I’m currently regretting the weekend shoot format I ended up with. I should have taken a full week out and shot the series in one hit like most other projects. Most other webshows do this – they shoot their episodes in one hit, then release them as they are edited.

This will definitely be my approach with the next project I do. Mostly because of the complexity of trying to schedule people. Already I need an actor to be available on Saturday to do some choreography training for a fight sequence, and he has only now advised me that he is unavailable – apparently having missed my e-mails for almost a week.

This puts me in a very difficult position now as I am now effectively short two trained actors.

I have had another actor advise that he can’t do an entire weekend because it is too much work to ask on top of everything else he has on his plate. Which I appreciate, I have been pushing the cast hard over the last two shoots – because I am aware of how much we need to get this into the can soon.

See, I have a lot on my plate at the moment too. There is something developing at work that I can’t really comment on yet, but it could see me under a LOT of pressure in about two months time and I want this show well into post by then. On top of this, I have to be looking for a new flat for Nick and I – which is a lot of work as it is – and now I have a possible medical condition to deal with too (most likely due to stress and dehydration.)

Sometimes it can get very frustrating trying to organise the show and feel that all I get is “I can’t/I wont/I didn’t…”

It’s not the reality, but the usual kind of sensation one gets when trying to organise large groups of people. I do often feel that many people don’t grasp how difficult it is to arrange these kinds of projects. As the director of the Nines said in an interview – being a showrunner is really a job that is logistically impossible for a single person to do. I know exactly what he means.

Essentially everything ends here with me. If we don’t have the right props. My fault. If an actor is not on set. That’s my responsibility. If we don’t have lights, catering, costumes, scripts – it all falls on my shoulders to organise. It is very easy to get frustrated, and I would be lying if after the last few days I have seriously contemplated just pulling the plug.

We are running out of days to shoot exteriors, and I am currently stressed about what to do if it rains next weekend as the two main actors are not available for over three weeks after. (And by time they are free, I really wont be in a position to manage such a large set of shots.)

But despite all this, when I watch projects like The Guildย which started off not that much more than we have set out to do – and when I look over the footage we’ve shot… I know that I have see this project through to the end. Because when it is completed, it will be worth all the pain and hard work. But I also know that if I work on another season of The Winding City, it will be the last for a while. My next project is likely to be less visual effects heavy, or at least less complex a series.

One idea I’m working on should be still fairly visually challenging, but I will be aiming for shots all set in the real world rather than having to create an alternate reality as well. ๐Ÿ™‚

I have included the behind the scenes video that I put together using iMovie ’09. (Which, by the way, is not as good as iMovie HD, which is a superior editing suite for a first timer. iMovie ’09 is a bit simplistic and lacks a lot of the useful tools for editing audio. (I found it very frustrating trying to get the audio balanced across the entire video as it was shot on two different cameras.)

In other news, I e-mailed The Guild crew for tips on developing a website for a webseries- hopefully they will come back with some good advice.

And here’s hoping that we have great weather next weekend and manage to get all the shots I need done. I just hope it works. I’m already having to look at ways to generate some more capital for next weekend as my medical bills will be cleaning me out tomorrow. As you can see, it never ends as Producer. There is always something else you need to worry about. ๐Ÿ˜‰


ย 
Conan

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So The Winding City is slowly moving forward as a project. I had a fantastic talk today with Stacey from Film Wellington, and arranged some permits for our next shoot. While I was talking to Stacey, a couple of things occurred to me.

Firstly, the next project I do will be a lot more organised. Don’t get me wrong, The Winding City Project has been organised and is far from the chaotic mess that some film projects have been. But I am making note of where I, personally, can improve my productivity. Permits and timelines. The next project – be it Winding City Series 2 or some other web production – will be a much tighter ship.

Which leads me to my second realisation today. I want to do this on a regular basis. I love the entire process, and if The Winding City can generate enough capital, I would like to leave my job and work on web shows or the like full time. Of course that is wishful thinking, but I will definitely be doing another project once The Winding City has hit the net. I have two series in mind, both are less ambitious in some ways and more ambitious in others.

Talking with Stacey has been very educational. It is interesting to hear how various film crews approach on location shooting. Many are professional and organised, others are film school students who seem to not realise that complexity of organising exterior shoots.

I have to admit, there is this desire to just get out there and shoot the piece – but due to the potential inconvenience and trouble to the public, you need to make sure your ass is covered. That’s kind of what permits are about – it’s about letting the council and public services know what you intend to be doing. Film Wellington does a great job of making sure you get suitable locations and support to ensure both a successful shoot and minimum hassle to the public.

It would appear that some crews believe that 25 people for a shot on a footpath is a small crew. But there are logistics that need to be considered – where are these 25 people going to be standing? What about public wanting to use a public walkway? How many cars? Are there going to be trucks? Who will be making sure nobody gets hit by a car?

We’re going to be facing these issues, and I have ย a potential cast and crew of eight people at last count.

And I still haven’t finished organising exteriors… so much work and so little time. ๐Ÿ™‚

Conan

For those who have been somewhat out of the loop or are not big followers of this blog, I’ve been slaving away at a web television concept since the end of the 48 hour film challenge last year.

This has been a real eye-opening and strengthening experience for me. Firstly, I have a new found respect for the amount of trouble and time that goes into producing a show and I really now understand why some shows can take decades to be produced.

One thing that has always bugged me about producers is that it is never really clear what a producer does and how they go about it. Well the reason is because a producer really does a little bit of everything and has to spend a lot of time looking at the real logistics of a film.

It does surprise me how many people I have met who kind of think that saying “oh I want to be in a film” don’t realise how much work making a film is. Like I said – new found respect.

I’m not sure who coined the phrase, but it is very much a case of herding cats. Particularly when you are making a production on a zero-budget. Relying on volunteers means you have to be skilled at balancing compromise with control. You need to get everyone together and keep them pumped about the project, but at the same time you have to make it as little hassle as possible for them because they are not getting paid for the work.

You can’t rely on the promise of “if this becomes big…” you really need to make sure that the people involved are as committed to the vision as you are.

For me the big challenge isn’t so much the compromise, nor the frustration when people aren’t available – these are par for the course and I expect those things. It’s about me being able to give the design, director and actors room to interpret my script and world in a way that works for them.

This is tough when you’re trying to stay true to a vision, but also be open to new ideas. And it is one I find I constantly berate myself over. Sure, there are important things that I want to ensure make it into the series, but I have to make sure that everyone is enjoying the project – and they need to be able to express their own creativity when doing this. Which means I have to be willing to say “cool, not what I really wanted, but let’s go with it.”

Like I said – compromise.

We’ve recently been doing casting calls for the series – which has been a fantastic experience for me. Norman, our director, is really good at guiding actors and while he sometimes has different ideas about the characters than I do – he does a good job in auditions at getting the actors to try out ideas.

There is something cathartic as a writer to see people reading your lines and bringing the characters to a semblance of life – and it really helps to push me further with the project.

But the best part to date is how everyone who has auditioned has genuinely laughed at the jokes in the script and commented on how fun the characters are. I had some doubts about how humourous the script was going to be – but after watching some of New Zealand’s prime time “comedy” out there – I think our show is going to knock people’s socks off.

While we are still to finalise who is playing what roles, we have found some very talented actors who are keen to just be in the series and love the characters. Now, more than ever, I really find myself genuinely believing that this project is going to be something that people are going to talk about and want to see more.

That pushes me to work harder and get everyone organised and ready to shoot this sucker.

Why WebTV and not a short film or national television show? Well I have a bit of a strategy here. Firstly, Web TV doesn’t require as much in the way of resources to film and distribute. Secondly, every man and his dog in Wellington is shooting a short film. It’s easy to just get lost in the sea of mediocrity and fringe film. There is an increasing demand from television companies for local web based content. What we’re doing with our show is ambitious and has the potential to be news worthy once it is released. Thirdly, a television show allows for more time to tell your story and focus on characters. It also means you can release a feature length story in fifteen minute parts. I find this preferable.

Although it does mean that we are effectively filming six short films as opposed to one! ๐Ÿ™‚

I am so excited! This is proving to be a very eye-opening and educational experience. It also has the potential to lead to some very big things, and that potential also excites me.

Love and Huggles

Conan

May 2019
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