When should the cast start to direct?
Well, the girls of Doris Shades Of Bad completely took over in episode 57 ..... here's the journey.
The day you think you have stopped learning you are in trouble, every day is a school day. But it is amazing how many people who are so new to the industry want to direct. Well, now is the time, there is no excuse. It has never been so easy to start; web is the new fringe theatre.
The two actresses on Shades Of Bad get to do it all - write and direct - for one episode, episode 57 released this week on YouTube. Click here for the advance private Daily Motion link.
Web Theatre. Web is the new Fringe
The web has now made anywhere your theatre, you can film on the street, in the tube, in the woods and do not have to build a set. So, with the world your oyster and the phone in your camera, it is time to experiment. Those with a natural flair will become tomorrows enablers.
I often compare acting to football because it is such a grounding and obvious comparison. How many years is it before you allow a footballer to be either the captain, or the manager? But, do those who work that hard from the start get noticed right from the kick-off and are shaped for better things? Shaped because they are future captains? Yes, it is how our film stars are made just in the same way as footballers. Those who put the time in get the rewards.
I think some actors make great directors and I love watching old colleagues like Kevin McKidd be so successful in the USA where he has been a stand-out regular cast member in the medical drama Grey's Anatomy for many years and is now showing he is an excellent director. I worked with Kevin first on Small Faces, then Hideous Kinky and we crossed paths many times.
Shows that get to run as long as Greys Anatomy, and it has now been running longer than ER, allow the team to learn and then expand by directing if they show the flair to be able to see the 'whole picture'. Shades Of Bad reached that at episode 56, because, Lynn knew she was leaving the show and there was a gap for another episode between 56 and the next.
I suggested they look at the male Hot Crazy Matrix and work out how Wilma (who has stolen Doris's husband) tells her to find a man. Now, whether you like Hot Crazy Matrix or not - don't knock success, learn from it. The main original film was shot in ten minutes for a laugh and has over 15 million views and is in discussion with Hollywood Studios about how this might progress as a film or a TV series. There have been two or three female attempts to parody this, all have failed to even dent a respectable number of views. So, that is what I threw at them..... In our story, Doris is being sent to Barcelona which was to be episode 57, I can delay that a week if they come up with an episode. Plan it, shoot it. I managed to get Buster to come back and do camera and tech crew for them, but let them direct.....
Directing is a tough job managing a huge team of workers and technicians, managing time, respecting a budget (most directors are sacked on day three of a movie because they cannot do that time/money bit). Also they work with story and a couple of actors but seriously one would hope most of that was done before walking on the set. Now is the manufacturing time. It is a tough job to get right, and not until the producer walks on the set looks at his watch and says, 'what's the hold up?' do you start to feel the need for speed. PRESSURE.
The producer might get the answer, 'no, not today, don't have a go at me today!' but, they expect that, they have done their job. As I said, directors who do not head it, find themselves sacked three days later.
I did walk on and say that after an hour of nothing, I was as un welcome as all producers doing that.
So, when you are at work, which are you?
Are you the crew member or actor that stands and chats or the one who watches every department and learns? Are you the next David Beckham who is sponge like; watching and learning. How many Wayne Rooney's are there, very few. How many hours did David Beckham stay behind every day after training to practice placing the ball with passes and shots - it is said 2 extra hours a day. Greatness is thrust upon those whose dedication knows no bounds. If you are an actor who never trains and whose first question when arriving on set is, 'when can I finish only I have a ......' You might not be director material.
So, time and experience are the enemy when you are starting and have neither, and both are your friend to use and abuse when you have credits. Here is where the web series has opened the future. You have a chance to film and film.
How many episodes before you can call yourself a series?
This is a great question and I upset a few people a year ago when I asked this. A series is at least 7 in the real world and that is a test. That is a shot comedy series like Mrs Brown's Boys. 13 episodes is a normal season for drama, 26 episode a more modern number in broadcast for US TV like Blue Bloods and Madam Sectretary. If you have only three or four, or five, that is normally called a 'five-part drama'. A four or five part drama can sit and do, in one week. It is not a series.
Now it is different. There are huge web series out there. A year ago there were fewer web series and very few who could produce content. Now there are huge numbers, far greater than Shades Of Bad which has shot 61 episodes thus far and has started a travel show with more episodes that 61 in a shorter time. Over 140 shows in a year, some great ones, some not so great. The travel show will outlive the drama, see a sample here.
Jean started directing when we lost the initial director Buster Blackledge at episode 43 when Derek Redmond joined. Buster was himself a brand new director and although he had over 40 episodes to his name with two well schooled actresses (and well schooled guests) he did not appear so keen on directing an athlete in his first acting role. Jean Heard who plays Doris was ideal to work with Derek redmond because she was not actually in the UK sections of Shades Of Bad in her house, because Derek sends her abroad to collect a package. Jean's work is mainly in Norway, leaving her free to direct the UK sections as well. See episode 44 onwards for Derek in his first role and Jean directing. Click here.
When Jean started directing episode 43 episode 56 had been shot, like soaps and series we shoot out of order. The Barcelona sections of episode 58 and 60 were shot after episode 6 a year ago.
It is not fun, it is a job. A repetitive job.
OK, so I have been doing it for over 40 years, with a few major credits and over 26 years attached to a daily soap as a creative, so I can suggest that the creation, whilst wonderful is repetitive. That is where experience works. (I get to direct episode 58, the first one I have directed, see next weeks blog)
After 56 episodes, and episode 56 is a return for Buster Blackledge to direct the three girls in the woods on location. An opportunity he could not turn down and perform. Still only him on crew with me assisting moving three lights and car headlights for him. See 56 dumping the dead body by clicking here .......
Hot Crazy Matrix for Girls
There is no doubt when directing, you learn more about your own crafts and how important it is that the team all work together. They did, they are buzzing about how much they did learn which I find inspiring. In Shades the film crew is always one person doing lights and camera, the actors look after their microphones, place them test them and listen to them, then look after props.
Their biggest downfall is marketing. They don't have the marketing thing yet and every actor is first and foremost a marketing machine. 1 for themselves, 2 for the production. Stars are locked in hotel rooms for days seeing journalists every 15 minutes on a film release. Dragged between every TV show, and tweeting to the fan base they have built. How big is your fan base. How important an acting commodity are you?
I do intend to sit them down and do a BTS interview, that is needed. Neither took stills while doing episode 57 so I have none to add. For now, be content with the episode. Click here for episode 57. It is a good one.