Sidekicks: The Beginning!
Update post! Filming for Sidekicks has begun! It is really weird to think that after a year and a half of writing and preparing that we’re actually recording it to screen.
In many ways, it’s a similar experience to NaNoMusical. We’re pretty much a rag tag operation who works on it during our precious free time on the weekends. We depend on borrowed equipment and kind volunteers to keep us going and our wallets relatively full. Errol never stays on script.
But in so many other ways, it’s vastly different from NaNoMusical.
For one, we have partnered with another production company: Vigilante Productions! I met one of its founders, Clayton, weirdly enough through a former bookkeeping co-worker and friend of mine (he is her husband). She introduced us when she very quickly realized we were both nerdy nerds. It naturally made sense to ask him if he wanted to be a part of our nerdy superhero webseries. He’s now co-producer, DOP and editor.
One of the results of joining up with Vigilante is that we are spending a LOT more time on our shots. With NaNoMusical we would take maybe one or two takes, from maybe two angles, mostly because we had an extremely tight deadline and little experience.
This time around though is far different. Both our director and DOP are far more willing to spend an hour or two of filming for a five minute conversation. The general rule of film is to get way more footage than you think you need. Standing there repeating two lines about ten times from various angles, I hoped that at least some of it would be usable.
The big plus side though? It’s going to look fantastic. We’re using a better camera this time around which I borrowed from my friend Babara, who was camera op for NaNoMusical and will also be playing a character in Sidekicks. And Clayton and Lyf (our director) have some cool ideas for shots.
Like NaNoMusical though, our budget is almost non-existant, so the fancier shots needed some creative solutions. For instance, one scene had both Errol and I walking down the street. If you’ve ever seen a shot of anyone walking down a street, this is usually done by steadycam or by a dolly so that the camera can be still and move smoothly.
We had neither of these. But we really wanted the shot. Manda’s solution would have been “Well, let’s just stand here and say our lines instead”. Clayton’s solution was “Let’s put the camera in the trunk of my car and push the car down the street in neutral”.
Amazingly, it worked.
The other big difference is that about 100% of the shots are outdoors. It wasn’t meant to be this way. In fact, we didn’t want it to be. Originally, Sidekicks was meant to be set in a diner. After the aggravating experience filming outdoors during even just three scenes in NaNoMusical, we were done with outdoor filming.
Ahhh, how our wishes fall by the wayside. The thing is, it’s pretty hard to find a diner willing to let you shoot in for free. And those that were willing? Were about several kilometres away in another town, which would have required more travel time.
And so two weeks before we were set to film, we decided to rewrite the entire script and make our Sidekicks neighbours instead of diner buddies.
On the plus side, this makes it easier for us timewise. Most of it is in Errol’s backyard or a park, and those don’t have closing hours. We can start when we want. We can end when we want. And since we all live in the same area (save for our loyal DOP), it’s far easier to travel to.
On the minus side…outside. There are many things to contend with. Too much sunlight. Not enough sunlight. Neighbours talking or jumping in their pool. Buzz saws. Lawn mowers. Angry neighbours who don’t necessarily take kindly to two people yelling the same lines over and over again while pushing a car up and down the street. Neighbours worrying there’s actually a domestic dispute (seriously).
BUT despite all of that, it has been a fantastic time so far watching this come to life. The weather has been great (I actually enjoyed having an excuse to be outside). The volunteer crew have been extremely wonderful. It amazes me just how willing people are to help us out on our pet project. The really great thing about being an independent production is that everyone has been contributing ideas, whether they are directing or holding a boom mic, and the vibe at all the shoots has always been one of creative fun. I couldn’t ask for much more from a film shoot, really.
And the footage (what I’ve seen) looks pretty darned awesome. After NaNoMusical we weren’t going to fool around anymore: we rented a proper microphone. The only real downside is that a boom mic tends to pic up every little sound around the neighbourhood.
Even so, it’s a far better sounding webseries. We have almost half the footage we need now. It’s going to take a lot more time to film the rest. But honest? I’m really happy to take the time, and I can’t wait to see the results!
Until the next post (which will probably cover our inability to stick the script, ever)