The New Romantics.

April 10, 2016

Last weekend was epic. About a month ago, Storyhive announced their webseries competition (is that the right word?) was open, and the deadline is tomorrow. The first stage is to deliver a one-minute pitch video for a show along with a bunch of other documents and concepts, proving that you sort of know what you’re doing and that you’ll deliver them something. From all the pitches, Storyhive gives a $10k grant for fifteen projects in British Columbia and fifteen more in Alberta. A few days after the contest was announced, Kelly – from my film classes at Langara – invited me to a meeting with the people she was putting together as a team for this. That’s how I got to meet Sasha – our producer and co-writer -, Nisha – co-writer and art designer – and Jesse – co-writer and art designer as well. Kelly herself was doubling as co-writer and director. I was coming in as cinematographer and, for the time being, editor. On the same day I brought Gonzalo aboard as our sound person.

Our goal: write, cast and shoot a unique teaser that (as the rest of the team) doubles as pitch video by introducing our characters, the crew and the concept for the show. A show in which Vancouver plays itself and we follow the lives of four young people – Clinton, Wallace, Molly and Jackson. I’m not gonna try to explain it by myself, so I’ll just quote the writers (as they’re more numerous and experienced than me) with the plotline: “A post-modern comedy following four friends through heartbreaks, hangovers and (happy) endings in No-Fun City”. If you’re not from Vancouver or didn’t get the No-Fun-City reference, here’s your chance.

One week after that meeting we had a first version of the script with a bunch of locations all around the city. There was also casting and location scouting (which was the moment when I realized the power of sun surveyor apps, but that’s another post). Out of casting the characters came to life through Michela, Brad and Angie… and Nisha (yep, one of the writers!). Shooting was scheduled for the weekend (April 2nd and 3rd). The weather forecast kept messing with us, saying stuff like “cloudy” or “rain” when what we needed the most was clear weather, particularly during the sunset. I was worried to the point that I kept annoying Sasha to switch the scenes from one day to the other because of the sun – and I’m deeply grateful because she did it for our most important scene and the rest worked out perfectly. Meghan, our costume designer, also came aboard during this pre-production time, making the characters look amazing.

It had been the longest time since I’d been on set with a real team – where people do their work and collaborate to improve everyone else’s. It was a truly great experience, resulting in some of what I believe to be my best work. Everyone in the team was amazing, fun not only to work with, but to chat during our long breaks (it felt like a 36-hour shoot with two 5 hour naps in between and a few resting moments while driving to and from location). I mean, we got sunset, sunrise, beach, park, downtown, daylight and night scenes, natural and artificial lighting, improv and scripted, indoors and outdoors, it really feels like something that couldn’t be shot in a single weekend!

After shooting, I edited our pitch in two days and then spent another half day sitting down with Kelly and refining it to perfection. After that Gonz worked on the sound and I got the time to jump in full-on in post-processing: stabilizing, retiming, compositing and grading. That made a world of difference and it was the moment I was able to clearly see that the A7s II was a real upgrade from the 5D3. Our teaser comes out on the 18th and I’m gonna need all your help with voting and sharing it to make sure we’re the most popular project in that competition!

I wanted to enthusiastically thank the people involved, all of you. It was both an honor and a pleasure to work with such dedicated and talented artists. If we win, I know shooting the pilot will be a blast, so bring it on, Storyhive!