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Volunteer projects are an exercise in frustration. One of the greatest issues that you face when you try to take on a project without having funding to pay people, is that you can’t guarantee that everyone shares the same vision or level of priority on the project.

It is a real struggle and exercise in self-discipline to keep from becoming too cynical about people in general when you are trying to get a show made. Consider this – for me, the WC Project is a life-changing project. It is a career making exercise for me that is not just about learning new skills, nor is it an amateur weekend project for the heck of it.

I am doing this because I want to break out of what I’m currently doing and into making shows – be it for film, television or web shows. That makes it my number one priority – it supercedes my roleplaying, my other activities – it even informs my decisions at work. If an opportunity opened up at work to move to another country and a better paying job, I am likely to turn it down because I have placed that much effort and focus into this project.

But consider the people who have volunteered to help out on this project. They will have differing levels of commitment. Some are professionals seeking to grow their work CV, some are interested in film – but have other commitments that they place over it, some are helping out of interest in learning about the industry…

Now I can go to these people and lay down the law like I do at work. They are not getting paid, and so I don’t have much authority on the level of priority they can place on this. I have to compromise and not let the frustration overwhelm me or make me get cynical.

Yet I have been fighting that frustration recently because I’m scheduling the rest of the shooting for the series – and there is a delicate balance required between pushing to get the project in the can, and not pushing too hard that the cast adn crew get burnt out or refuse to continue with the project.

It’s at times like these that I fight both the urge to just give up, and the regret that I didn’t fight to keep things simpler as I had originally planned with the project. As the series has developed, it has continually gotten more and more ambitious – to the point that the series is still toned down from what I would really like to do, and yet it is already a case of the odds stacked against us.

One of the issues I’m facing is that there is pressure to take longer with the shoot – yet I have so much more work ahead of me once the series is shot that I want to get the shooting done as soon as possible for a variety of reasons.

  • Firstly, we have a number of professional actors on the project. They have other paying commitments, and I need to get the show done while I have them available. Once they get more work, that can lead up to MONTHS of delays.
  • I have a considerable amount of work to do once the show is shot. My work really begins then.
  • The longer we take to shoot the show, the increased chances that it will never be completed. From my experience in freelance writing, the more you push back deadlines, the higher the probability that the project never gets completed. Because eventually other things arise.
  • Simply, continuity. The four episodes I’ve written occur over the course of about 10 hours maximum. The longer we take to shoot, the greater the chance that we will have increase continuity errors.
  • This is not a film. This is a web project. In the event that the series will lead into a second season – the second season is going to require a tighter turn-around on episodes otherwise interest in the show will disappear.

My current plan involves an actual advertising campaign around Wellington, media packages for TV companies and newspapers directing them to the website, developing a website for the series that will discuss the universe of the series as well as the cast and crew, the writing and planning of the bonus material for the eventual DVD release (one of the key marketing plans for DVD releases of webshows is to have exclusive DVD material…) which will take time to organise and develop as well.

So it can become very frustrating when I get told I can take time with this. But then there is the joy of looking at the finished project after all the compromise and work – and it is the promise of that elation that is keeping me still working on this.

Currently I have re-worked the schedule into something that I think will get closer to a compromise. I look forward to getting the show in the can soon – even though it means that my work will REALLY begin.

It was quite refreshing to have someone at work say to me that after this is all done I will be well and truly trained to handle anything Project Management throws at me. 😀

Conan

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