Peer Production: The Trials & Tribulations of Shooting Your Own Series Pt. 1

munchman NOTE: And this is just the first day of the first episode! (Hey, nobody said this kind of thing was easy.)

odds of winning

by Josh Hudson

Man, talk about a headache.

As most of you probably don’t know, I’m Josh, or The Hudsonian for those more familiar with me TV reviews. I wrote a web series called Odds Of Winning and we just filmed our first episode. Or, better yet, the fourth episode. It’s a long story. Our first day of shooting was scheduled for December 4, 2012.

And then it wasn’t.

For anyone trying to film their own projects, if you’re lucky (or unlucky, depending on how you want to look at it) enough to have an awesome establishment allow you to film on their property for nothing, you take it with all it encompasses. Again, it’s free.

But you can’t always be prepared for unexpected business trips.

Yep, we had to reschedule our Pilot shoot for the following Tuesday, while we were still on schedule to shoot episode four Thursday (the 6th of December) and Friday (the 7th of December). Two and three will not be shot until mid-January. Super fun.

Production can be chaos if you’re not prepared, or even all that experienced. A lot of the guys and girls on my crew are breaking into the production industry themselves, and for some, this is their first gig. Growing pains will happen. And since this is my first production, I knew as much as I prepared, something was going to bite me in the ass.

When we showed up, the bar wasn’t prepared for us. See, what’s cool about the bar we’re shooting at is that it wraps around like a horseshoe. So we can shoot on one side, and not interrupt anything on the other. But they have an outside bar that’s stored inside, and it was, unfortunately, placed on the side of the bar we were to shoot on.

After finally getting everything moved around, we then had to set up the camera, lights, the DJ booth (it’s a New Year’s episode, so not having a DJ would just be weird), and coordinate with our extras where they were to be throughout this shoot.

And then, the disorganization hit its tipping point.

My Director didn’t assist with my Director of Photography on creating the storyboards, so all we had were what kind of shots we wanted. No one really knew where those particular shots took place within the script, so we pretty much had to guess what we were doing.

By the time we finally rolled the camera, we had one hour left before we needed to leave the bar because of their regularly scheduled hours (we were only scheduled for three hours this day).

We got two shots in one hour.

And that’s not even the worst part. Those two shots didn’t correlate with the script. At all. So we had two shots with no presence in the script. How was this a productive day?

Trial and error, to be exact. I’ve been known to be a little passive at times, sometimes even to a fault. With this being my first major production – and this is still rather small scale by comparison – I felt the need to look on from a distance to survey the situation before harping down people’s throats when I wasn’t entirely sure what each person’s job really was. But I brought my crew on because they convinced me they knew what they were doing. I noticed that some were doing their jobs well, and others not so much. We had a meeting later that night via Google+ to hash things out. (By the way, an absolutely brilliant means of communication. It’s a virtual conference room. It saves people gas money, and it’s easier to correlate times with people. Try it if you haven’t.)

We were able to air out what went right (nothing) and wrong (everything) and went into the next day with a much clearer idea of what we needed to do to have a productive day. Because we knew we wouldn’t be able to get the extras again, we were just going to have to take that footage and make it work.

For any fellow creators out there, I applaud you. This can be a daunting task to bring your work to life, and playing multiple roles (I am the creator, writer, producer, and I’m even acting in this production) only makes the task more arduous. If you are out there doing the same, you have my full support in any and all your endeavors.

Stay tuned for a synopsis of Day 2. It’s only slightly better than Day 1.

EDITED BY LB TO ADD: 2 shots in one hour and you’re complaining? That would be a miracle of speed in the pros. Congrats on getting through this, dood!

About The_Hudsonian

An aspiring TV Writer. A love for comic books. Huge sports fan. Bleed Orange and Green (Da U!) That's all for now. I'll update when I make more noise in the writing world. Follow me on Twitter @The_Hudsonian for all kinds of brilliant nonsense.