This Wednesday, we wrapped filming on our webisodes (yay!!!). We met at 8:45 to pick up our gear and split up, half going to our outdoor location at Kings Domain and half going to pick up some supplies and costume pieces for our new character. When we got back together, we started looking for areas to shoot and preparing the actors. In order to keep our on set numbers as low as possible (to avoid needing a permit to film), a few of us held down the fort, so to speak, and sat out of the filming. I, as a producer, didn’t have much of a role on set, so I sat out for our first hour of shooting, bringing them supplies at request. We ran into an issue in this first block of shooting, as there was extremely high amounts of pollen in the air that day, and many of our cast and crew suffered from hay fever. Luckily, our second block of shooting was in a less pollinated area. I stepped into the role of first AD for our second block, which went quite smoothly, despite a large group of families coming to picnic nearby. We also ran into some issues with continuity, as we wanted to have our clone character in the background of as many shots as possible, but we also had to make sure it wasn’t confusing for the audience. Our final issue came after the day had wrapped and we uploaded the files. Unfortunately, the pollen had caused more than one issue, and while it wasn’t obvious on the viewfinder of the camera, the pollen had dirtied the lens, distorting the image slightly. However, I’m sure we can work around this in editing, which is currently underway.
It was really interesting how each actor can really bring new light or change my thoughts on what we wanted for a character. Some actors really could shine through the content and bring a character to life, their individual personalities really translating what we wanted to capture when filming this series. Whilst many actors would be very comfortable in getting the job done – several being perfect ‘cookie cutter’ personalities for the traits we were after – we really kept pushing to find that perfect person to really bring the character off the paper! Some roles which were designed to be more point of view and neutral characters have really evolved into special ones now that we have found the actors we wanted, after certain auditions the team and I couldn’t see anyone else playing that role and we knew they were exactly what we wanted all along. It was quite a funny experience as in the beginning we had trouble describing who we needed but after those auditions it all seemed so simple.
(Link to casting call: https://www.starnow.com.au/listing/879874/diverse-cast- wanted-office-style-web- series-comedy- rmit/)
After completing the casting process, I have found myself with an in-depth understanding of the characters in our web series. It was a challenge to try communicate what you want from a character, to put energies and attitudes we have on paper into words to instruct the actors is much more difficult than I thought. By the end of the two-day casting period, I was really effective at explaining what we were looking for from the actors and was able to instruct the actors and draw out new ways for them to portray our characters. Seeing each actor come though and put their own spin on the character was a very constructive process in further developing our characters, after each actor came through there was discussion with my two team members allowing us to refine and tweak our ideas for what we were expecting. Having our project’s Director and one of the script writers present allowed for really diversified conversations on what we wanted, what was supposed to be translated through the script and character and where we think we could take the characters in the future, I know that after this experience each of us can take this useful insight back to the rest of the team and really move the project forward.
It has been really exciting speaking to each actor post their audition and understanding why they were interested in the project, many of them loved the script and really took to the humour. The actors thought the series was unique and something they haven’t seen, they all seemed ecstatic to be there and really believe it had potential. This was both humbling and gratifying to know our work was translating well and people were not only understanding what we wanted, but loving our content too! Overall, it was a really rewarding experience and greatly beneficial to my broader understanding of the future of our project.
Monday was our third day of production. We were shooting parts of both the first and second episode. We began our eight hour shoot early in the morning and it went into the evening. The proceedings of the day flowed very smoothly, most likely because of all the preproduction in place. Our crew began with high spirits, and throughout the day everyone, including our actors, seemed to be enjoying themselves. This made the actors enthusiastic and seem more comfortable around the camera and crew. This was important to us because our series is character-driven and we needed the actors to be confident in their ability to step into energetic roles. Despite us having a good time, we were also maintaining our professionalism because we stuck to our assigned roles for the day. While we selected locations around RMIT to shoot at that were not busy, with our luck, there were people coming in and out all day. It was unfortunate because these sites are usually empty. It was hard for our cinematography team and sound department to deal with the extra chatter and doors slamming in the background. Yet, we managed to reset after each interruption and ended up with multiple clean shots. It was also helpful that the creative team was decisive and open to ideas, and that the technical team was careful about getting precise takes and knew their equipment thoroughly. This was another great experience on a set and working with actors. So far we have not had a negative one, perhaps due to all the planning our group does beforehand. Now we look forward to seeing the edits, and hope that our next shoot on Wednesday is just as successful as today.
This week, we are still currently working on our webseries Human Resources and it is to be completed soon. So far we have filmed a few remainder scenes for the pilot episode to make it more complete and we are still working on our Episode 2. Being in Production Design may sound like an easy task initially but in fact, there is a lot to get done in terms of props, set design and wardrobe. I have to read through the script in detail and visualised each scene and the characters in my mind so that I can make sure the webseries looks realistic. Even missing out the slightest bit of detail could cause problems. For example, one scene where the character Carl is sweating due to a thermostat breakdown, I had to make sure I constantly re-applied “sweat” onto the actor playing Carl to get the right feel during the scene. Overall, I really like working in the Production Design department because I get to control how the set and characters look. I am excited to see the final product of Human Resources as Jen, our editor, will be the one editing them.
Skylar & Helena
During the last three week, me and my group have been working on our web series and we have been making good progress. Helena and I have been working on audio since our pilot episode, I have experience with sound recording before but using a professional sound recorder like the Zoom F4 is the first to all of us. Robin has taught us about how to use it and it really help us to control the recorder a bit more comfortable and confident.
During the actual shoot, I notice a couple of thing that I need to improve and solve. When we holding the boom direct to the actors, trying to find a position that is also capture a good sound level and has to be out of shot frame is sometime difficult, we have encountered this problem couple of times while shooting so we have to compromise to a place that camera operator and sound recorder both satisfied.
For all of four shootings days, we don’t have much issue with sound recording, we are going quite smooth with our schedule and everyone is happy with the result that we have. Overall, I have a blast shooting this web series and meet this wonderful team which we called “dream team” is very appropriate.
The Human Resources pilot episode is almost completed for the This is Serial studio. As an editor I am responsible for cutting together a coherent story from the footage that is provided. The footage that I received this week is to be edited together with some footage that we have already edited together. I was unable to be on set for this shoot, which was a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to have a fresh perspective. I was able to look at the footage objectively and piece together the scene without being given any additional information. I was able to objectively view the footage and juxtapose the shots in an order that made logical sense. This is useful because the audience is completely removed from the production process and being an editor, it is important that the final product makes sense to the audience. I came across some challenges while editing, including the lack of audio on the video tracks, which meant that I was required to sync all of the audio and footage visually, without having an extra audio track to compare the recorded audio with. Overall, our production is going smoothly now, and I look forward to being on set and editing footage from future shoots.
Week 11 was about pre-production of our second episode, while shooting the final bits and pieces of our first. Our group experienced a fair few draw backs, so once we were on track again, we knew we had to keep the ball rolling, smash out the pre-production and do as much filming as we could. My self and my colleague Gianella shot the pick up scene where the character of Carl fixes a broken thermostat. This was my first time shooting, and I enjoyed it, although I did feel a little under pressure at times. Later on in the week we went and blocked out our next location. We will be shooting in a long dark hallway with contrasting light. We did a sort of mock shoot with the Sony EX-3, looking mostly at framing and light. I believe this technical run through will help us on the day.
On Friday I volunteered to sit in with Gaby and Heidi from the writing team for auditions! I have never experienced auditioning or casting from this side of the desk so I was really quite excited to do it! The auditions ran for two days: Thursday 12-6, then Friday 9-5:30! I was impressed with just how many people had signed up to audition, which meant that they really saw something in the script and wanted to be apart of it. So we had these roles to cast:
Overall we had more female applicants, which meant we weren’t too worried about finding our leading ladies. After each audition, we took 10 minutes to discuss what we thought of each candidate, what notes we took. This was great because casting is really hard, to its good to hear other’s opinions and ensure you’re making the right call. We found Arabella on day one, and Liz early on day two. The men were a lot harder to cast, the first male we cast was Carl, then we had two guys we were going between for Dalv, and we knew Duncan when we watched his showreel. While we waited for him, we were pretty much sold but needed to see him in person of course and run rehearsal and shooting dates by him. We also had to consider how the cast would work with each other; whether our Liz would work against Arabella etc. But I’m very happy with the talented cast we’ve ended up with and the direction that the webseries is going in!
The shooting was done within the mid-semester break and we were all quite scattered as there was no organization from the pre-production phase. Thus, we were failing to meet deadlines; like completing the pilot. Prior to the presentation, the majority of the team had a quick discussion about what we were going to present. At the same time, the editors realised that the audio pieces weren’t labelled or linked up to the film footage. This led to a difficult time in completing the pilot, only a few scenes were usable. The presentation itself was successful and everyone in the team realised how well our work was and the test shoot helped us prepare better for the future. After the presentation, we immediately put a production schedule into place and allocated permanent roles.
Right now, our team has discussed with the writers on deadlines for the scripts whilst the rest of the production crew are solely focusing on their roles. The team has also agreed on weekly meetings and strict deadlines.