Wednesday, 9 March 2016

25. 7th Annual Indie Series Awards Best Guest actor nominee killed

7th Annual Indie Series Awards Best Guest actor nominee killed ... a woman scorned.

The 7th Annual Indie Series Awards were held on Wednesday, April 6, at the historic El Portal Theatre, hosted by Eric Martsolf and Jen Lilley. The nomination for the female lead web series Shades Of Bad was for Richard Beaumont as best guest actor at the start of Season 2. 
So the female leads killed him off. That will teach him.

This is truly is a landmark end of Season 2; episode 40 of Shades Of Bad which sees 'the lady serial killers in training' peak and leave the kitchen and house for the very first time! They have to dispose of their first dead body. The dark humour is at it's darkest in this special episode. Doris fires out suggestions as to what they should do with the body as Wilma ponders becoming a romantic author.

While the Dexter-like characters develop, remember it is Doris's house, so visually the garden is over-the-top Desperate Housewives! Buster has LED strip lights all round the pool in the garden which has a lit fountain. Watch and share.....

Where next?

The serial may appear to have peaked, but will return after a few weeks of celebration with Season 3 which is all but shot. Here is a teaser with one of the new stars, Olympian and World Champion Derek Redmond playing the gangster Drek who headhunts Doris for greater things and sees the ambitions of the show escalate along with her greed for personal success. Season three will start in a couple of weeks.

So Season 3, with Shades Of Bad's very own version of Idris will commence in a few weeks as the Rio Olympics get nearer - funny that (a line he comes out with when referring to 'white powder').

24. Shades OF Bad director's cut, cutting 3 minute eps into long form.

Shades Of Bad is a story of dark wit, misunderstanding and innuendo. 

It has a new format and a new beginning, now is the time to start watching 

Doris is a strong woman, not to be melded with. But, she wakes up one morning to find her husband has not come home. She knows he is never coming home. Not because he has left for good, but because she has made a decision. She has decided he is no longer welcome. It is one of the hardest decisions any woman makes, far harder than saying yes to a proposal, then getting married. The end of a relationship is a huge decision. Moreover, it is a huge turning point in anyone’s life, not least Doris’s life. Everything changes for she is now alone. A woman against the world, and she is not, never has been, never will be a loser. Doris is a powerful woman.

The question is how to move forward, what to do, how does the new Doris Shades develop? Jean's blog on playing Doris is insightful. It might be worth coming back for after this blog on how the three minute format is so different when played in longer form which is now available.

Doris the character starts determined to kill her husband and ensure she does not take the blame. She plans and the reveal cuts deep. The second part, not taking the blame, is as important as the first but life never works out exactly as planned. 

The best laid plans go wrong and Doris Shades accidentally becomes a serial killer bringing to the kitchen the zero remorse decision making that her neighbours commute to the city each morning to work, she begins an incredible ‘work from home’ business. The thing about a suburban housewife like Doris is, that no one will suspect her. Released in three minute coffee break or bus stop size episodes that entrance to the story took five weeks or five episodes to tell. And whilst that format has it's place our largest request was for longer episodes. 

We did a test months ago and discovered the show played so differently it was not a simple request. Here were our first bullet point findings from the initial internal viewings of the longer show.

1. Wow, it plays so much better, so much more powerful.
2. In longer form we will have to throw out junk. It demands harder reductive edits especially episodes 10 to 15.
3. There is an opportunity to make this so much better by adding new content in the form of another dimension (see below)

The desire to improve what was there, and that it was possible has long been on the cards but the work on the TV Channel's new content still consumes Jean's working day and edit suit. However the first mega episode is done and released for public reaction. Please leave comments.

The 'smart' annotation, if it works on your device slips you back to the coffee break episode 6 and for the time being you will have to continue with the three minute episodes because the edits require time and consideration and are not a simple function. We would like to see your comments. The great thing about the web is that the audience can be inclusive. 

If you have never watched the show then now is the time to start.

This new first episode may yet change again because the team really wanted to give it new life, that new dimension. However the release was forced by Stuart being on BBC's TOO MUCH TV last night with Emma Bunton and Rufus Hound (Tue 8th March) and giving Shades Of Bad web series just a glancing mention. We decided to release it without the added dimension.

The second and third mega episodes need considered editing and then a music re-score, though we are now more in control of that if you have seen Jean's HOW TO video on how we now put music on the showThen the ambition of the new dimension has yet to be considered and I guess there is no harm in sharing the idea, but first let me explain where the series has gone in three minute bites. In a character development curve of good to bad found in Breaking Bad, Doris moves from Desperate Housewives  to Dexter. Guess that sums it up. She descends into remorseless crime and reflects the nastier side of a society we have grown to accept (yes it is subtly political). Doris has started a brothel exploiting her elderly mother in law by telling her she has facial recognition dementia and it is her husband coming back over and over again. No one has dementia it is a con. She has a drug business she runs from her cellar and that all gets her noticed and head-hunted by DREK, who sends her to collect his package in NORWAY, which she drops in the sea and has to send down four skin divers for …. oh well ….  (that is the shot and soon to be released season 3)

So, the three slightly odd women have killed their first man, cut him up with a chain saw and put him in a wheelie bin (episode 40, finale of season 2), and the bin man finds it (season 3). All these are coffee break 3 minute episodes and that was the show's remit and challenge. To make every episode interesting, different, climb, peak and end on a crescendo. Sometimes, many times, we achieved it.

We have discovered that the 10.5 minute versions view so differently. The story becomes more engaging and inviting. That demands more of us. So much so our ideas were to make the whole series a reflection of the past and Doris, now incarcerated is in therapy, that being the now. We had a new opening to episode 1 that we never shot.

Why does it have to wait? Just back from shooting in Dubai there are between 4 and 6 travel films in the edit. We leave for the Caribbean in a week to shoot three or more travel films, are back for a April to edit then are pencilled to travel to Toronto and then down to Niagara Falls for another travel film or two in May. June we cruise up the Baltic to St Petersburg with maybe 10 stops from Denmark onwards and more Doris Visits.

Given that spread alone we would not be shooting Shades the drama again until July, so those new elements cannot be shot for some time. Season three coffee break episode releases will start either next week or the week after and we will schedule them to auto release so we can forget about 'transmission' until the fall.

Please watch, share and comment. 

PS Traditional broadcast episodes are 10.5 minute sections. Two make a 21 min 30 second commercial half hour. Shades has around 200 minutes of drama shot excluding titles.

Monday, 7 March 2016

23. Laying music on film or web series

Shades Of Bad is a continuing TV web drama series with 40 episodes live (two Seasons), and the third Season about to start and almost fully shot. It has fully scored music.

The scored music from the very talented Mark Blackledge of Tamborine Music, and is done for us as his son Buster has directed Seasons 1 and 2 of the show. That looks to have got him his first movie.

Mark has provided us with both he sound mix and music composition up until about episode 38 but he is now doing a major TV cartoon series and a movie, so we have lost him. However, he has supplied us with a library of music cues from the first ten episodes and now Jean lays them on after the edit. The music totals over 30 minutes and obviously fits the dark and comedic nature of the show. Sinister, funny, sad, surprising.

Jean and the team have had to learn a lot more about sound in FCPX sound as before they just handed it to Mark. So, the tricks she has learnt will be shared, but it will mean the sound on all the films that never went to Mark like Ask Doris and the Travel show will be much much better.

Jean is currently editing her trip to the Dubai Mall. With 2 hours of rushes from Dubai there is no telling how many films it the visit will produce, but whether they are completed before she leaves for the Caribbean is a tall order as three episodes missing from Season 3 will be shot this Sunday. So the pipeline is crammed at DorisTV but the How To Film series has started and by far the most popular film of the first three is the one on placing music.

Jean has worked the music into the Season 2 finale episode 40, and here is how she uses the music library. At the end of this film there is an annotation to go to Episode 40, but if it fails to be as smart as it should, come back and click here.

Friday, 4 March 2016

22. HOW TO FILM a web series - after 60 episodes they show how

A very useful web series on how Shades Of Bad is filmed and other films are made.

SHADES OF BAD web series comes from a team which have made a few movies and where one member spent 26 years attached to the UK daily soap, Emmerdale as a creative advisor; from plane crash to train crash is my pub line.

When Jean asked to make a web series, Shades Of Bad was born and although we planned to be
continuous I guess the odds were against us, however, the last of season 2, episode 40 has now gone live, and for the first time the three women have left the kitchen to dispose of their first dead body. Below in a film on placing music Doris shows how the music was placed on episode 40.
Season 3 is all but shot and it is far more ambitious with episodes in Barcelona, Norway, on board ship and in the woods. Although we can't wait to show it to you, before Season Three starts we will spend next week launching the HOW TO FILM series.
It will go from page to screen then onto marketing. We will touch on the organisation it takes to put out 6 daily episodes of a broadcast soap a week and how those plans and deadlines were enforced at Shades. Kicking off these films is one of three reasons we have planned a slight delay in airing the already shot Season 3.
Reason two is that is stars Olympian and World Champion Derek Redmond and we aim his episodes to lead up to the bug affected Rio Olympics. Eventually we will share videos on marketing and monitorisation. The How to series is a celebration of 40 live drama episodes and numerous Doris Visits films and what the team has learnt.
More films on how it is filmed will appear in the weeks as Season 3 plays out.

The third reason is that we do intend to start Shades Of Bad over. But they will be different. WE will have at least one, but maybe three re-edits of the start of Shades Of Bad in 10 minute episodes. However the urge to add new material still fights with a busy team (who are in Dubai filming and saw Carlos Santana with his amazing wife and drummer Cindy Blackman).
On our return we have the
week to engage the new ideas that have been around since mid last year.
Mega Episode 1 is kind of done and will follow the start of the How To Film web series, then Season 3 will start to air mid March.

It was important to INDYUK to keep the feature film making side separate from the web series and the web TV channel, so SHADES OF BAD TV was set up with their own kit and I guess Jean and the crew were lucky that they had what they asked for. First up in the How To series, Jean starts with the organisation of the kit.

There are a number of hard lessons the prospective film maker learns apart from 'you have to clean muddy cables and boxes', and 'no, not everyone can be a director'.
A great lesson is, 'if you want better pictures, improve the sound'. I love this ironic juxtaposed position of film, because on set without a doubt you are shooting pictures and the sound person or sound team is often not given what he or they require. Shades does NOT have a sound person at all. The actors have to learn to do there own microphones and check them, or they have to do ADR. Here is a great film from Jean on how to place a Lavalier in which they have conquered clothes noise.

But, sound is what makes a film work, in horror, romance, or drama. You can imagine it as you read this blog. You know the difference. Sound is important and in post it saves pictures and stories. See Episode 16 when Mark invested an unwritten character that chatters through the whole episode, it is marvellous. We start with the sound from set; in the next film Jean explains how to take the sound rushes and sync them back to the picture rushes using Puraleyes. For those of you who have to do this you will know the nightmare.
The reason Shades Of Bad does not record sound in the camera is not because sound professionals may suggest the digital recorders are far better than the camera digital recording which may add possible automatic limiters that make the background sound vary. It is that Shades Of Bad the drama uses more than one microphone and as we have NO sound man on set to mix the multiples into a single source as happens in much broadcast TV.
That is worth noting that TV sound recordists are often pre mixers, film sound recordists can be a different art form, sound recordists with no dream of mixing but looking for many multiple sounds and atmospheres they can record and supply.
In Shades Of Bad the multiple microphones have to be mixed in post production. You cannot plug multiple microphones into a camera and record them separately. (not yet, no doubt that will change).

In Doris Visits, the travel show spin off the radio microphone does go straight into the camera with no problem. We have a single source.
I guess if a drama had a good sound mixer on set then maybe he could use a radio link to send to camera via a radio receiver so avoid cables.

But forget that, Shades does not have a crew. Buster has done it all for 60 episodes now and he is ready for something bigger and may have a movie to direct. So has it been worth it. Ask him in ten years.

Most industries have condensed over the years and as students grow up being one man YouTubers and FilmMakers we could be heading towards THE SINGULARITY EFFECT.  I love that term, which is used by Ray Kurzweil to explain the cross over between robots becoming human, and humans becoming robotised. Each industry likes to think it will not happen to them but we have already seen news crews and documentary crews go as the reporter uses his phone or some other device to do a 'selfie'. Actors now work from home in their own studio doing voice overs. One cannot say it will not happen, the web has proven the inevitable, but we should ponder will crew learn to act or actors learn to be technical, or will just the smart ones survive doing both with ease?

Moving on, we highlight the demise of the musician and the orchestra before you feel I am picking on any particular group. For years, the digital orchestra or bedroom band has been mixed on a lap top whilst in a train or a plane. I am lucky to have as one of my best friends and collaborators Mark Blackledge. I have willing given his very talented son Buster the chance to direct Shades Of Bad and I have sat back and blogged for them occasionally.
Mark has provided us with the sound mix and music composition up until about episode 38. We now have a library of music composed for the first ten episodes and Jean and the team have had to learn a lot more about sound in FCPX. Wow, that has been an experience and now she has to choose and lay in the music from the library. So, the following films Jean working the music into episode 40, making choices on what works and what does not.

It reminds me of a lecture I went to years ago by John Hegarty of Bartle, Bogle and Hegarty, I see they are still around. It was the Levi commercial, the one where the sex symbol male model puts the Levis in the fridge.  It was conceived and created with a piece of music in mind. Hegarty played it with that music and the commercial looked rubbish. The room was amazed at the difference the new music track made, the one the viewer saw and heard. So do you see music and sound - you bet!
This is a great film from Jean.

In closing, there is one thing I mention when lecturing and that is TRUST. How film making is assembling a team of EXPERTS and letting them do their thing. On Devil's Gate Mark Blackledge had been working the score and I had been keenly asking to hear it. I heard sections but he asked if I would mind not asking to hear the end, he had an idea that he felt could only be seen and heard in a full viewing. He had my full trust. He added a French opera and the end destroys you to tears - spoiler alert.......

So thanks Mark for the music library, and thanks Jean for the films showing how you achieve the rightly award winning and recognised Shades Of Bad.

Jean is editing Dubai travel then more How To Film films.