Friday, June 5, 2015

Paradox - A New Web Series - We Need Sponsors and Advertisers

This summer, we're shooting the pilot and then two further episodes of a new series called 'Paradox'. Its the story of a time traveller who arrives in 2015 but the process has left him with no memory of who he is, why he's here or when he is from.  Rescued by a random stranger, he begins to piece together the puzzle to find out the answers.  His time machine is clearly ahead of current technology, but it's suspiciously littered with components that date from the past, not the future.  Our protagonist is not left wondering for long as his past (or future) begins to catch up with him.

EDIT>>  Some people have been asking what the 'journey' is for the main character... what is he trying to achieve overall throughout the series. Well, i didn't really want to give too much away, but i guess it's ok and if it helps get it made!  So the protagonist discovers he travelled from the past leaving his 10 year old daughter wondering what happened to her Dad.  For reasons i won't divulge, he can't find a way to get back to her... this is what he is trying to do... this is his ultimate goal. Along the way, he has to avoid countless agencies and organisations from around the world who are trying to steal his technology.

Using the latest in cinematography techniques such as stabilising gimbals, 4K acquisition and low light shooting, we are able to work quickly and efficiently.  We are also writing only key dialogue and then work-shopping or 'ad-libbing' a lot on location.  Talking of locations, we have some fantastic settings for this series which are very much out of the ordinary... 

We are teaming up with various companies to bring this production to life. We have sponsors for most of the key elements, but we are looking for more.

These are the areas we are looking for help with in the form of gear donations/sponsorship:

Digital Storage - SSDs and HDDs for the footage and back-ups.

Lighting - Portable LED lighting solutions for night exteriors.

Handheld Stabilising Gimbal - We want to avoid time consuming track/dolly and jib set-ups.

Lenses - We'd love to shoot anamorphic... 

Audio - Location recorder, radio mics...  windjammers...

Catering - It's a small crew and cast, but we've got to eat/drink. 

Accommodation - A hotel chain tie-in would be very handy.

Car product placement - Our characters travel in a car a lot...  anyone want to lend us one?

Watch product placement - This story is about time. We need a cool looking watch for our hero.

Why would potential sponsors get involved?

We're going to be putting brand advertising at the start of each episode. A short combined ad that says something along the lines of 'This series is brought to you by - ....' and then a flurry of trade marks and possibly some longer explanations of what each sponsor does and how they can benefit you.  This ads won't be like YouTube ads that can be skipped, they will be part of the opening of the episode.

There will be press coverage of the project in broadcast/film publications.

We will also be tweeting regularly from the set and from the post production suite about what we're using and will post web banners etc from each sponsor on the official website.

We are planning on this being a gritty, adult orientated series, with a particular slant towards Sci-Fi fans. That's a huge market... 

Initially, the series will debut online for free. The first 6 episodes will be available on YouTube at no cost to the viewer.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Atomos Shogun - more good news!

Atomos Announce Action Add-on's for Shogun

Just announced today,  Atomos have created a range of add on accessories designed to make the popular 4K Shogun monitor recorder even more battle ready in the field. The new accessories, together bundled as the Shogun Action Pack, include;

Shogun Armor Case. A custom bumper which gives extra protection to the recorder/monitor from knocks and scratches.
Matte LCD protection panel which reduces reflections protects against scratches and diffuses light eliminating polarization. 
Lightweight and durable travel case. The perfect size for a camera bag in cases when you need to travel light.
Custom fit Shogun sun hood (available in yellow or black) which maintains LCD clarity even in bright sunlight 

Available to purchase separately or together as the Action Pack, Atomos are also sweetening the deal by offering the $240 Action Pack for free to users who purchase and register the full accessory version of the Shogun during the month of June. 

“One of the advantages of having sold over 15,000 Shogun units is that we have passionate end users telling us what they need” said Jeromy Young CEO of Atomos.  “The Action Pack accessories are a direct result of Shogun users reaching out to tell us what they want, and of course we listen and act” 

The Atomos Shogun Action Pack is available now to registered purchases up to 30th June 2015, see for details.

About the Atomos Shogun

The latest 4K cameras are arming the Pro Video world with amazing sensors, but falling short when it comes to Recording & Monitoring capability. Shogun completes the solution for professionals, combining advanced Record, Play, Monitor and Edit capability that can be added to existing cameras. Shogun delivers 422 10-bit ProRes and DNxHR/DNxHD for Apple and Avid workflows, a 7” 1920 x 1200 IPS 320ppi monitor with an advanced suite of setup tools (3D LUTs, 2:1/1:1 zoom, focus assist, vectorscope, false color and more), XLR audio monitoring with 48V phantom power, playback capability on screen or out to a larger TV and editing capability on the fly with cut in/out points and favourite/reject tagging.

SJV - This is why i love Atomos...  they listen to the end user and impliment the best ideas into their products and accessories.  If only all gear manufacturers were like this...

Monday, June 1, 2015

Writing a Series as opposed to a Movie

I've been working on writing a Sci-Fi series (Paradox) and it's been really interesting to get my head around the differences of writing a feature script and writing a bunch of episodes of an on-going series.

Obviously, with a feature you have a couple of hours at the most to introduce your characters, your world, get the story told and get out again...  it's a tough gig sometimes to get the audience to like or even just know your characters in such a short amount of screen time.

With a series, you have much longer to develop things, but probably shorter to get the audience hooked enough to come back for more.  Setting up a story that can spread over a series or even a number of seasons to keep the audience interested is tricky and it's important you have your key elements in place.

What do i mean by key elements? Take any well-known TV series.... and there will be a 'thing' the cast have to 'do' in each episode...   In The A-Team, the guys had to help someone out with a bully. This usually involved building a mental DIY tank or something similar and then Murdock would steal a helicopter and Face would chat up the nearest attractive woman... Hannibal would smoke cigars and BA would drink milk and complain about having to get on a plane.  This happened every episode for many years. In The X Files Mulder and Scully would turn up to investigate something weird and then there would be occasional references to the on-going back story of Mulder's missing sister and the mysterious smoking man. Each episode would usually tie it's own loose ends, but leave enough un-answered bigger questions to join the episodes together. Modern series like Breaking Bad may seem to work differently, but really it's a series of small stories that join together with the overriding story of Walter's cancer prognosis and secret life as Heisenberg.

So you need regular characters with goals that can be strived for over a series or five...and then you need regular, smaller problems that be overcome in an episode or two.  The main cast shouldn't be too big and recurring secondary characters are good. The pilot episode should set the tone... the 'big thing' that needs solving should happen and then the 'team' or main character should solve a smaller problem that sets him/her/them on a path that can stretch out for the foreseeable future... never quite getting to the point where they resolve the big problem, but appearing to grow and learn all the time as the series progresses.

In a practical sense, the writing process is pretty similar to how i approach features. I start with Wunderlist. (the app on my phone) I add ideas to the list while i dream up the story. These ideas are simple things like:

  • Opening sequence showing design/build of machine
  • Time travels to present from past
  • Age difference
  • Daughter left behind
  • Amnesia problem
  • Woman rescues him in ep1
  • He remembers more as ep1 moves forward
  • Each episode he is looking for way home
  • He visits daughter - can't stay
  • Meets friends who are 17 yrs older now
  • Need to constantly move established.

So with a few notes on my phone i have the very basic ideas. At this stage i start a new project in Scrivener.  Scrivener is piece of software that allows you to keep all your research notes and screenplay work inside one app. I use it to start fleshing things out. I use the corkboard and index cards to start writing scene ideas down. Then i use the character description section to start getting the characters fleshed out. It's good to come up with some backstory so you know what their motives are and how they are likely to react in different situations... it makes writing for them much easier. 

Once i've got all the scenes for an episode on the index cards, i generally transfer them all to handwritten post-it notes which i stick on a big piece of foam-board. I edit and re-arrange the scenes many times until i feel it's flowing the right way. At this stage i usually begin to stick pictures of possible locations and props etc onto the board to create a 'mood board'. I have tried software for this, but i find a real board so much more useful and it's great to have it on the wall the whole time to keep me in the right frame of mind when working on the screenplay.  Finally, i use MovieDraft to write the screenplay itself. I have tried Final Draft and the screen writing section of Scrivener but i find MovieDraft to be much easier to work with.  We're planning on ad-libbing a lot of this series, but i'm writing the pilot and the first episode so we all know how the characters act and talk and it will set the tone for future episodes. 

I'm looking forward to shooting this as it'll be a different discipline from shooting a feature. Technically, it'll be similar, although we are planning on a mostly two-camera shoot, which i haven't done a huge amount of in drama, so that will be a challenge with lighting and blocking requiring more thought.

Anyone looking for the link to the previous blog about the project as a whole and our search for sponsors, click here: