Creating stuff

Well, friends.  It’s been an adventure.  Since I left you at the beginning of the year, I reevaluated some of the ways I wanted to spend my time creatively.  I knew I wanted to create more content and push myself as a writer/producer/actor.  I came up with the goal to create bimonthly sketches throughout 2018, and so far, have held strong.  They’ve varied from large casts to just me, semi-pro crews to again, just me.  I’ve learned a lot so far and am really enjoying the process.  I thought it might be a good opportunity to check in here and share some of what I’ve experienced.

 

Sketch #1: Awkward Catchphrase

 

This was super fun.  I had the original idea for this sketch a few years back, scribbled on a tiny red notebook I carried around with me.  The concept made me giggle, and I met with an improv friend of mine to flesh out some more situations to round it out.  Filled with the vigor that only comes from your very first venture, I had this baby cast and crewed up, and organized to a T.

An old DP friend, Ash, brought her amazing skills and equipment with her (which is why it looks so great) as well as Nick, who ran sound and made the evening so much easier.  I budgeted 5 hours for the shoot, including dinner, and we wrapped this puppy up in 4.  I was really amazed at how quickly it went.  The cast was filled by improv friends and actors, as well as Luke, my costar in The Last 5 Years.  Each and every one of the cast was super talented and funny, which made the whole night go oh so smoothly.

We shot on 4k, so this greatly reduced the amount of setups/shots necessary.  When I edited the sketch, if I wanted a close up or a medium close up, all I had to do was zoom into the shot.  The resolution is so high with 4k, it allows you to combine a wide, a medium and a close up all in one.  Super nifty.    And time saving.  We allowed for some looser improv and a few retakes so that each actor got to bring their best to the table, but mostly, every angle was done in one take.  That’s how we do.

Editing was fairly breezy.  Since the sound was good, I really didn’t have to mess with it much.  We shot with a flat profile, so all color correcting/grading was flexible and not a time sink for me.  What I mostly had to do was choose whose reaction I liked best, adding b-roll and awkward faces throughout.

Lessons learned:

  1. If you shoot in 4k, you SAVE TIME
  2. If you make detailed shot lists and organize the crap out of a shoot, it SAVES TIME
  3. If you hire good actors who are also really funny, you SAVE TIME
  4. If you make dinner ahead of time for everyone, you SAVE TIME and MONEY
  5. If you have a DP and sound guy who are pros, you SAVE TIME and learn a lot from them
  6. Wood flooring is not friendly to sound when people are slapping their knees and bouncing their feet.  It was hard for us to paralyze our lower bodies, but someway, somehow, we did it.
  7. Having lights on that are actual lamps is called a practical light.  It sets a nice tone and gives a reason why you see things lit (even though the real lighting is coming from large key lights in front of the cast)
  8. A really nice, cinematic looking shot can be achieved by lighting one side of the face, and having the other fall off into shadow.  I ended up using this on the next sketch.  (and for photos)

behind the scene notes:

Lynn (curly blonde) had an awesome improvised take where she admitted to the hookup, but then backed out, fabricating a story about how funny that joke would be.  I cut it for time, but it was great.

Jill is the most egregious breaker I’ve ever met.  She will crack you up because she cracks constantly.  Prosciutto was particularly hard for her to say without laughing and we did around 10 takes of that line.  So funny.

 

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