Brad wrote up a small post last week on how we're shooting a pilot episode for "Dead Harvey TV" and if you missed it, click here. Anyhow, we thought it would be cool to document the whole process and share what's going on with you, our dedicated reader. Much like everything else on this site, maybe others can learn from our mistakes. Before I send this over to Brad, I would like to duly note the three legends on set there! From left to right, you've got Brad Paulson himself, then Chris Watson and, finally, Aaron Burk. What you can't see is the hoards of screaming fans outside that window who kept disrupting the set... now, on to Brad.
This time it was really easy. Unlike the previous movies (The Bloodstained Bride, The Van, Evil Ever After) we wisely decided not to have multiple locations and actors. No-budget filmmaking is a bitch enough as it is without making things worse. Instead, we followed the five people, one location formula of the last short we did, "Reservoir Drunks".
The first episode of Dead Harvey TV has roughly five characters and takes place 80% in one set: our apartment, which we decorated to look like a public access style TV set. Our DP kept telling us to put the emphasis on production design. This is something we seriously neglected on previous projects and I had no idea just how important that was until we did this one. Since we were spending out of pocket on this one (and have no money to begin with) we resisted this but were convinced by several people it would make a big difference.
It made so much of a difference I felt like a complete asshole for neglecting it so much on the other movies. For a couple hundred bucks we were able to coat the apartment in production design and when you see how filled the screen is in all the shots it takes your mind off the fact you're watching something micro, and you're more prone to get caught up in the atmosphere and the world the characters live in.
The other elements fell into place as well. We didn't audition anyone, instead picked the people we knew would work the best and haven't screwed us over.
We spent one night introducing everyone, having some beers and doing a readthrough/blocking session. That helped tremendously in getting everyone comfortable with one another and building a comraderie. So much so that, when we got around to filmmaking it felt like we were in summer camp together.
Another important aspect was also covered: we scouted the two locations outside of the main one before we shot there. This turned out to be very important because the bar were were going to shoot in had a skylight which we wouldn't have known unless we scouted it before. This allowed us to change our shooting times in advance.
It's amazing that we let such simple things that make so much of a difference to the wayside on the other projects. We spent so much time concentrating on other aspects that we forgot to take care of the most important ones first.
Lastly, we got ourselves a great dp. We spent so much work on the other projects getting everything into place and ready for the shots, but we're not dp's... so it failed. You can spend a million dollars, but if the shot isn't exposed properly it will end up looking twenty times more unprofessional. Why did it take us so make movies to learn these few simple things? I have no idea. I'll just blame it on the excessive drinking for now.
The next post will cover day one of production. See you then!