Peer Production: The Trials & Tribulations of Shooting Your Own Series Pt. 2

A 2 day shoot! We certainly hope Josh is proud of himself and his team.

odds of winning

Day 2

by Josh Hudson

To put it bluntly: a somber cloud on an otherwise successful day.

If you missed my experience on Day 1 of filming Odds Of Winning, click here. Day 2 definitely went smoother. After our Google+ chat to iron out the mishaps, set up was seamless. There was a higher sense of urgency amongst the crew – a pep in their step, if you will. I felt this was odd since two of my crew members were unable to make it due to their conflicting class schedules. And no, they weren’t the “bad apples” by any means.

Because I’m acting in the series, it was my turn to sit in the make-up chair. Our Director was running lines with our lead actor, camera and lights were on schedule, and we were on schedule. I’m just about done with my make-up when my 1st A.D. approaches: “I think one of Katie’s friends just died.”

Some things you just can’t prepare for.

Katie is the manager at The Other Bar, the location of our series. She’s one of the coolest people I’ve ever met, and she’s worked closely with me to make sure this series takes off in a timely fashion. She found out via Facebook that one of the shift managers at the bar, who was also a close friend of hers, was killed in a hit and run accident on his way home from work. I did what I could to comfort her and even told her that if she wanted us to pack up and go, we could reschedule, because this type of event takes precedent. She was gracious enough to allow us to continue shooting despite the tragedy.

I huddled my crew and informed them of the happenings. I told them we would be able to continue shooting, but at any point in time, we could be asked to leave, and we were to be respectful of that request. The key is to work diligently and get the shots we came here to shoot in a timely fashion.

In between takes, I made sure to check on Katie. I’ve lost people close to me (as I’m sure many of us have) and sometimes a shoulder to cry on is what the doctor ordered. Some of the employees of the bar were called in so she could deliver the horrific news, and throughout the day, the other side of the bar filled up.

With a crowd comes the noise.

Boom mics pick up everything. That’s kind of the beauty of them. It’s also why we hate them. Going into this series, filming at this bar was going to be a challenge with sound because of the ambiance of the bar: the refrigerators, fans, outside noise, etc. We can’t exactly prepare for a gathering of people mourning the loss of a loved one. According to my DP, the lavs saved us on sound. In no way am I complaining because if I were in the mourners’ shoes, I probably would’ve acted similarly. But man, was that a challenge.

We finished ahead of scheduled, and even packed up the equipment and were out the door before our allotted time expired. Not too many issues on set aside from a little too much chitchat amongst the crew, but things went well enough that it was definitely a win in my book.

I met with Katie and one of the co-owners after we were done to express my condolences, and also expressed my appreciation for letting us continue our shoot. I told them I would dedicate this episode to their friend because it’s the right thing to do. I then reminded them about our shoot for the upcoming Tuesday. Then came another adjustment.

The bar was scheduled to undergo some interior renovations, and they were scheduled to begin – you guessed it – Tuesday. They asked us if we could stay and shoot it that (Fri)day, but unfortunately our lead actor had to be at his everyday job. We tried to work in some other days in between, but couldn’t find a common day, so I just decided it would be best to hold off until January and call this episode the Odds Of Winning: Holiday Special. Its New Year’s themed, so we’ll go with it. Plus, it gives me time to gauge the timing of the post production process. With everyone away for the holidays and having day jobs of their own, I needed something to go off for when we pick up the bulk of production after the New Year.

Until then, my life is all about looking over footage, scheduling, planning, planning, and more planning. Oh, and saving money. Feeding a crew is not cheap.

Thanks for listening! I’ll fill in everyone on the post production process once we’ve completed it. If I’ve inspired any of you, awesome! If I’ve scared any of you, better now than from an executive who couldn’t care less.

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!

The Hudsonian Sees 1600 PENN

1600-Penn

Presidential Shenanigans at 1600 PENN

by Josh Hudson

NBC Thursdays has a new address: 1600 Penn.

The new comedy from Josh Gad, Jon Lovett, and Jason Winer is a cross between New Girl, Modern Family, and the Obamas. You know, if they were white and had a reality show or something.

Josh Gad stars as Skip, the eldest son to President Dale Gilcrhist, played by Bill Pullman. Skip is a quack. He’s clumsy, not all there, and is in his seventh year of college. Very Van Wilder-esque, yes, but Skip doesn’t resemble any of those suave characteristics outside of tenure post-high school.

Jenna Elfman stars as Emily Nash-Gilchrist, the first lady. She’s very chic, well mannered, and could easily be on one of those World War II posters campaigning for woman’s rights. She’s also the “evil” stepmother to the four children. Yes, Mr. President was a busy bunny pre trophy wife.

Becca, Marigold, and Xander are the other children. Becca is in her late teens. The good one of the bunch. Diligent, hard working, and always on her toes; some might call her a suck up or a brownnoser. That reputation goes down the crapper when she finds out she’s pregnant. Guess she’s a real kid after all.

Marigold and Xander are the youngest. Marigold is hitting puberty, while Zander is a few years younger. They don’t actually say in the show, but it’s a reasonable guess. Later, we find out they have a crush on the same person. Have fun with that one.

Much of the episode centers on Skip’s attempts at getting daddy’s attention. But he’s too busy with trying to close a national trade with some Latin American countries. Skip inadvertently intervenes, and for it to be comedic, he would have to blow things up rather awesomely. Or get drunk on tequila. That’s not stereotypical or anything.

Emily works on trying to connect with her stepchildren, first with Becca, and then with Marigold and Zander. Like most stepparents with their stepchildren, it doesn’t always go as planned.

I have to say; I was pleasantly surprised by this show. I didn’t really know what to expect, honestly. Pullman has been president before (Independence Day with Will Smith) but wasn’t really comedic. Elfman is a hilarious woman, but her shows don’t always hit, unfortunately. Gad is someone I’d never heard of until recently, and yet, he somehow got his own show on a national network. Clearly, we’re all doing something wrong, and he’s doing something right. The writing is quirky enough to entertain; childish enough to be delightful, and still sophisticated enough for the parental units to enjoy and have something to talk with their kids about.

Putting it on Thursdays is a bold statement by NBC. I’ll be watching. And hopefully others will follow.

The Hudsonian Sees ARROW

Arrow Hits a Bullseye – by Joshua Hudson

***The pilot episode originally aired on the CW on October 10, 2012 at 8 p.m. EST. What follows is a love triangle between myself, the CW, and Oliver Queen.***

When a movie based on comic book characters makes $1.5 billion worldwide, everyone wants a piece of the action, right? Especially when you have your own catalog of cool characters, and you have yet to make that much. Being shown up by your competition is never a good thing.

Suffice it to say, Arrow is a television show, so it’s not likely to make that kind of money. But, and I can say this with the utmost confidence, Warner Bros. and the CW have themselves a hit TV show.

Arrow is based on the DC Comics character Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow, and details his journey from being a notoriously spoiled playboy – Tony Stark, anyone? – to a hooded vigilante who’s out to protect his city from those that stand to corrupt it.

This show is everything you want not just as a fanboy, but as an introduction to a character that may get you excited about comics. I personally have never read a Green Arrow comic, but I’m ready to pick up DC’s latest trade paperback featuring Queen. And I read comics every week.

Oliver Queen was aboard a boat with friends and his father when a hurricane tore it apart and he was left to float away in a life raft until stumbling upon an island in the Pacific Ocean. Everyone on the boat died, including his father and his date for the trip, Sarah Lane; who also happened to be his girlfriend’s sister.

When Queen is rescued and returns home, everyone is shocked, surprised, elated, and/or disgusted. Depends on whom you ask, really. Living a life of debauchery will create jealousy amongst peers, but in the case of Dinah “Laurel” Lane, it’s simply anger because he survived and her sister did not. Oh, and she’s hooking up with Queen’s best friend, Tommy Merlyn. It’s the CW. Would you expect anything less than a romantic love triangle?

Queen takes the last dying words of his father to heart, and sets out to help his city become what his father helped destroy. He is targeting the wealthy aristocrats that siphon funds from the poor and manipulate the system only to benefit themselves. To make life easier, Queen turns his father’s old factory into a “home base” of sorts where he trains and plots his next move.

He takes down Adam Hunt in the form of $40 million dollars, and closes Laurel’s case against him. (Oh, she’s a DA, and doesn’t know how to turn down a fight.) Of course, he’s not the only one on the list. There are many others, which will essentially make up the basis of each episode. Luckily, it’s a pretty long list.

There’s a little twist at the end, which I won’t spoil, but it involves Queen’s mother and trying to find out what her late husband told her son. Too much? Do yourself a favor, and watch this show. It’s a good mix of story, action and romance, and will make you appreciate Wednesday nights more than you did before.

My only gripe? Arrow should be paired with Nikita to create the best action-packed two hours on television. And this is on the CW. Who saw that coming?

The Hudsonian’s New Web Series

 by Josh Hudson

Hello everybody!

For those that have read my reviews, you can probably guess that I love TV. You may also know I’m hoping to one day write for television. Two extremely obvious statements since you’re reading this on TVWriter.com, but still.

In hopes of creating a catalog for myself that doesn’t revolve around reviews for shows that are too terrible to be on television and make me bitter that my great ideas aren’t on TV, I created a web series to bring my voice to the masses.

Odds Of Winning is a web series centered on a struggling bar in Las Vegas. There’s no poker or slot machines and not coincidentally, no customers. Jimmy, the owner, turns to his friends – Larry and Roosevelt – for help in his efforts to jumpstart his establishment before he’s forced to sell it to one of the many hotel & casino owners looking for more land. Unfortunately, Roosevelt’s the only competent one in the bunch.

There are laughs, love, music, pretty people, mean people, and a lot of alcohol. I’d like nothing more than to bring my characters to life and show you why. My team and I have put together a crowd funding campaign to help us fund this project. I’ve written 12 episodes, and the bar we’re filming at has graciously donated their time to us if it doesn’t affect their business hours. The filming is being stretched over four weeks to accompany these requests, so food and equipment are at a premium.

EDITED BY LB TO ADD: Sounds cool, Josh. I’m really looking forward to this. Just one word of caution: So is munchman. In fact, he just told me how much he can’t wait to review it. Good luck, dood!