So we just wrapped on Season 1 of Vote Z, minus our final episode which will be filmed with a special new actor at a later date. That’s right, we shot twenty four episodes in two weeks. I’ve found that when you are working with a new medium and established actors, you need to work fast and be very efficient. The second you lose you’re plan, it’s hard to keep your actors on track.
When Kate and I were writing Vote Z over Christmas, we very much were writing with an eye toward a quick shoot and a very limited budget. Very often writers of new media find themselves waiting to have the budget to meet the vision of their imagination. This, I believe, is the wrong to go about producing work. Web series, like everything else, are going to have to start with a small budget and very big dreams. Here’s six steps to getting a web series made on a shoestring.
1. Start with a tiny cast - Trust me, a cast of six is more than enough, and it’s hard to imagine [at this point] going higher than that. Make sure every single character has earned their role. Avoid using characters who won’t be there for a while. NO EXTRAS!
2. Location [not: Location, Location, Location] - As much as possible, shoot in one place. If you can shoot in one room, even better. The time you you spend driving across town is time you could be telling your story.
3. Tell, don’t show - Yes, it goes against everything your writing teacher ever told you, but if you really want, say, a zombie on a budget, you’re gonna have to bend the rules. Figure out what we need to see, and what you can tell us about. It’ll save you a lot of dosh… and time!
4. NO MONTAGES! - There’s a reason why they are easy to write… Because they can be a nightmare to film. Do your work as a writer and avoid the time suck in production.
5. Figure out why this story is best suited to a web series - Why is your character filming this. Do they want to be a Youtube star? Are they documenting their research? Is this part of a dissertation? Make the medium part of the story.
6. Don’t be precious - This is a biggie and very hard to do in an age of big budget film making. Get your work out there. Own your bad edits as part of the process. Don’t wait for perfection as you will not get it on a budget. This is the time to be exploring the medium as none of us know what we’re doing yet. We’re in a media revolution. It’s a brave new world out there. Every Day.