Usually this catch all topic is left for the end of a given process. But I'm not doing these blogs in any particular order, and I'll likely come back to a topic more than once. Today, I am driven by questions from some very kind readers. As you will see by my detailed response, I am open to questions – even if I've covered something before.
Improv vs Scripted
One very fine question was about the script. Since web series are not as formal affairs as film or television, and some web series have mentioned that much on the screen is improv, why are we taking such painful care in writing the Demonspawn scripts. The question is especially relevant when we have a lead actor who is a very fine improv actor. Were I to hazard a guess on why other shows use improv is that they are not paying for sets or locations and they have unlimited access to them. The number one reason I can't even consider improv as the main method of acting in Demonspawn is that it takes a lot of time. Ten minutes of dialog per episode is a lot to come up with on the fly even when everyone is on the same page with their characters. It can take hours before one frame is shot. Time is the biggest enemy in any shoot, because it is very expensive. We will have one shot at each location for under the typical 12 hours of time. I'd say that we'd have 8. We may have as much as 10 if we're lucky. Some of that time will be eaten up with setting up lights, make-up and wardrobe. The clock starts the moment we all arrive in the parking lot.
That said, we aren't adverse to improv at all. One of the best moments in shooting Demon Under Glass was standing in the rain with Garett Maggart and Jason Carter re-doing the whole scene where Simon snatches the caduceus (oh, yeah. We need a new caduceus). And then there was re-writing the fight in the isolation tank between Joe and Simon. We were in their trailer firing ideas back and forth. It was really fun and very satisfying creatively. I don't thins could have happened until the actors were really familiar with their characters. That takes time with a script. To refine the script and give the actors an opportunity for input on the dialog, part of the budget will be allocated for table reads (sometimes known as pizza reads) where we just see how the dialog sounds being read by actors. Usually we find out there is too much dialog. We also want to have rehearsals after the script has been refined. This familiarity with the material will speed up the actual shoots, but it will also make improv easier and more effective. The actors will really know their characters having had more time in their heads. It's great for the actors and makes the shoots run as smoothly as possible. Contrary to popular opinion, actors don't like to wing it. A lack of a script or the barest sketch of a script indicates that the production doesn't have a clear idea of where they want to go or how they are going to get there. SAG certainly won't grant signatory status to a production that doesn't have a real script.
Another question has been what music will we use for the series. Will we use the music from the film? Jon says that each new project is an opportunity to do something different. Thus, we will not be using the compositions written for Demon Under Glass. In doing the cooking videos and chatting with other web producers, I've discovered sites like http://freesoundtrackmusic.com that allows for the purchase of a limited license to original music. Searches of this site can be made by composer, mood of the scene or style of music. These licenses are specifically for Youtube. If we take the project to a higher level of distribution, we can pay an additional fee to keep those selections. There are several sites like this. Each one has hundreds of compositions.
While searching for the music sites, I ran across another kind of asset that we may make use of during the Demonspawn shoot. There are companies that offer licenses to use virtual sets. They are 3D computer generated environments into which actors can be realistically composited. The licenses for these assets are very reasonable (from $75 to $450). Fortunately, we are connected to talented people who can do these kinds of composites seamlessly. This gives us some options we hadn't considered for sets and some vampire type FX.
One more question that has come up often is are the actors reading this blog. As of this date, all the actors currently involved in the web series have the link to the blog. I notify them when I put up a new post. Judging from the questions I've gotten back from them, they are reading the blog.
Until next time.