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Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Inventing Situations, Putting Them On T.V.

(Photo Credit: Jen Cabarrus)

As per my previous entry below, spent pretty much the entirety of the Memorial Day weekend working on the Cherub shoot: three straight 12-hour days full of fun, mayhem, vampires, interdimensional portals, eye-impaling pencils, pirate treasure, witches, evil Santas, haunted rolls of toilet paper, naked Swedish booze twister, corrupt lawyers, teddy bears, tiki bars, and gin-drinking zombies.

And then there was the shoot.

But seriously, these kids make up in sheer moxie, determination and enthusiasm what they lack in knowledge, experience and common-sense (because nobody in their right mind would attempt to pull off what they're doing); and even there the learning curve is so steep that you can literally see the process improving on a daily basis.

I wasn't involved in the first "season" shooting, so I only have the recollections of those who were there to go by, but by all accounts, this second go-round is decidedly more ambitious both in scope and execution. For example, last time, they shot with a single High-Definition video camera, while this time, they're using two, which makes getting all the different setups and angles go much quicker. Also, they've secured the services of a bona-fide Director of Photography, which again, has streamlined the process tremendously, as well as ensuring some really nice footage. And finally, they've expanded the production to include a whole range of support personnel: assistant camera operators, grips (the people who move lighting equipment & scenery around), props managers, production assistants, food services, etc., etc., so not only are there more bodies involved, but there are now people assigned to specific tasks, thus freeing up the cast and director from having to do all of this themselves, which is pretty much how they handled things previously.

So, we've generally had roughly 15 - 20 people involved in each day's shooting, including actors, crew & support staff. That's miniscule by professional standards, but by just about any other measure it represents a tremendous amount of logistical organization to ensure that everything runs smoothly, and that the work gets done on-schedule. Because the producers have alloted a mere 10 days to complete principle photography for a 13 episode "season", there's very little margin for error; one bad session (as happened on Sunday - see Scotto's journal entry for more details) can throw the whole process into chaos. Fortunately, we were able to make up some of the lost time, but as of yesterday when we broke, pretty much all of the cushion of extra time set aside for just this contingency has now been filled, which means the remaining 7 days have to go exactly according to plan.

Which, even by the most optimistic estimation is pretty much impossible.

Still, it's been very impressive seeing what these kids (and by that I mean mostly 20 - 30 somethings) have been able to accomplish thusfar, given the considerable obstacles of nearly non-existent funding, time pressures, and dependence on mostly all-volunteer labor, not to mention the goodwill and generosity of literally dozens of friends, family members and supporters. And despite the extremely modest conditions, even the reporter from Wired Magazine who spent most of Saturday on the set with us seemed suitably impressed (it probably didn't hurt that the producers wisely decided to fully immerse her in the experience by giving her a cameo as an Evil Christmas Elf).

What's even more impressive, however is that when they complete the shoot by (hopefully) the end of next weekend, they fully intend to have the first episode edited and ready for downloading by the middle of June - which surely is going to bring several of the primary participants close to the edge of physical and mental exhaustion, but again, it just goes to show how much they believe in what they're doing that they'd even attempt such a feat.

They've got heart and spirit, drive and will, along with a base minimum of resources, so even though the odds are somewhat against them, I'm glad to make a modest contribution to helping them realize their dream.

Because you know what? I think they might just be crazy enough to pull it off.

Posted byCOMTE on 9:13 AM

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