One Saturday morning, I found myself skimming my Facebook timeline, when my gaze focused on a post from a friend I hadn't seen in years. The last I heard, he was in Oklahoma working on set and lighting design for a web series based on a popular science fiction franchise. The man well-deserves it. I have seen various props and set pieces he has fashioned by hand, and he is truly an artist.
Well, his post mentioned that a script he wrote, a pilot for a web series, had been greenlit for production, the show was cast, and a facility with specialized sets and equipment had confirmed the shooting schedule. He was ecstatic, I was absolutely thrilled for him, and I left a comment under his post saying as much.
After one of my voiceover sessions later that day, I thought about my good friend, and recorded a few samples of characters unique to that genre. I sent him the files, letting him know I would love to support his project, and despite being hundreds of miles away, I could offer my voiceover services for any narration or off-camera dialogue (audio communications, flashbacks, etc.).
Within minutes of emailing him, I found myself on the phone with him, reminiscing about the "good ol' days" when we produced stage shows together, taking in details of his latest project, past trials of getting his script produced, how he connected with this current studio, and a little bit about the team he assembled. He shared several video clips of projects this team recently worked on, and I was amazed at what I was watching.
Then we discussed the possibility of my involvement. It seems he was already trying to develop a scene in the pilot, and had a need for the resources I mentioned. By the end of the call, the discussion evolved from a few sound clips, to several on-camera, green-screen shots which he would direct remotely, then drop over footage of sets from his studio partner. I shared my concerns about some technicalities in order to believably match the footage, and we developed a plan.
The script was a joy to read. Each pass through the pages, I found myself writing more and more notes. Finally, to get all my thoughts together, I started recording them with an audio recorder. This prompted me to try an audio journal...just a verbal log of thoughts, or a stream of consciousness. As I mentioned subjects that were important to the character, I could feel myself easing into a particular demeanor. It really fit. When I listened to the recording, I could hear that evolution.
So, I tried another recording. This time, it would be a message, now that I established a starting point for who this person was, how he sounded, how he carried himself, physically and emotionally. Extemporaneously, I provided a first-person account of a scene that might have occurred just prior to the start of this episode. I made a few more discoveries about the character again.
I shared this process with my friend, and he was intrigued. Although not part of the work he asked from me, I shared those files with him, to make sure my take on the character and the situation was consistent with how the core cast and crew were preparing. I really appreciated the opportunity to participate from afar, and wanted to make sure my efforts fit into the grand scheme.
Those recordings got passed throughout the team, so this was the first impression most of the team had of me. It wasn't long before the chief animator and editor put together a teaser trailer for the web series, featuring a cleverly processed version of one of my recordings. That move was both flattering and encouraging. Now, it was time to focus on the video portion of my role.
I received screen capture images from the scenes I needed to match, along with details of the position, height and focal length of the camera, and position, direction and intensity of the lighting elements on the set. My friend and scene partner, Victor Jones brought custom wardrobe items loaned to us by a local production company, personalized with details shipped to us specifically for this particular production.
To minimize the possibility of having to "re-shoot" this same scene, we did quite a few takes, slightly adjusting camera angles and eye-lines, so the director and chief editor would have plenty of options. My part completed, I remain involved with the production, keeping up-to-date on other elements of the episode coming together. A related web series has plans for a major release by the end of 2014, and we have high hopes that there will be a cross-promotional opportunity with the announcement of this pilot.
To learn more about this series and my involvement, head on over to their Facebook Page at: http://www.facebook.com/StarTrekAnthology. You can also connect with me using any of the social media options in the side-bar.