The only thing left now was the script. All I had to do was to expand the 48 minute pilot into 90 minutes.
After a story session with a half dozen friends and writers, it was decided to trash the script completely and start fresh. The reasoning was that the show had evolved over the years and was no longer the origin story that I needed it to be.
So now I finally had the money and momentum but no script. And I believe that above everything else, you need a solid script. Unfortunately, I was way too close to the story to start from scratch. I needed to delegate and I needed to think waaay outside the box, so I called my friend Tex Wall who lives outside the box on a daily basis.
Tex had written several spec scripts and had gobs of time, whereas I had virtually none. Together with Andrew Helm and more than a few late night story sessions at IHOP, we went through four drafts which took us about a year.
During that time, I worked like a dog on VFX jobs to save up enough money to take time off to shoot the film. Unfortunately, every time our start date got pushed because of rewrites, I would have to find another job, which would in turn interfere with the rewrites.
I also wasn't clear on an exact start date or how we were going to shoot the film. I originally thought we could do this over a span of eight weekends, but keeping a cast and crew together that long could be problematic. No, we had to run this like a regular show, over the course of several six day weeks. And we needed to choose a start date and stick to it.
July 23, 2012. It seemed the perfect time when everyone was free, locations were available, and Jess wasn't teaching. About that time I also decided that I was going to direct the film and Jess was going to produce (which she had never done before). And on top of everything else, Jess and I were married that May...
...so this was going to be an epic year one way or another. I called it "the year of scary".
Sunday, October 7, 2012
What began in the summer of 2001 with an idea to produce a hour long pilot for a cable TV show featuring sword-slingin' vampire slayers, became a decade of developing one of the longest running web shows online, and one of the first shows based almost entirely on user content.
But after 10 years, I still hadn't shot the pilot. My original intent was to shoot a few episodes just to get our feet wet, but more and more episodes presented themselves, many of which were golden opportunities that I couldn't pass up. And the episodes were relatively easy to shoot and cost nothing. And then there was editing, web design, marketing, networking, contests, and other diversions, all of which were extremely time consuming. And life occasionally got in the way which made it virtually impossible to take on larger projects, namely the pilot.
And yes, I was procrastinating big time. I tried. I even held an official casting years ago at the old Westside Fencing Center where over 60 swordsmen and actors showed (which I still have yet to edit into a Hunted episode). But once again, life got in the way and nothing came of it. Ten years later, I still hadn't shot the pilot and it looked like it was never going to happen. I had been talking about it for so long that no one took me seriously anymore.
To compensate, I started shooting longer episodes in HD - the last three were 20 minutes each. And each of them were shot in a single weekend with no budget ("Con Job 2" and "Slayercon"). And they were damn good. It was then I realized that shooting the pilot was within the realm of possibility.
It wasn't until 2011 and the advent of Kickstarter did I realize that I could raise funding for the show, which would allow us to at least pay our actors. I also realized that in order to get people's attention, I wouldn't just shoot a pilot, I'd shoot a feature! It's what every web series aspires to, but no one thinks to take that step on their own. They would rather wait to get "picked up".
I quickly put together an extremely ambitious fundraising video on Kickstarter where I played 20 different versions of myself, and within a few months I had $20,000 and the backing of my friends at New Deal Studios to help produce the show.
Dammit. Now I had no choice. There was no backing out. I had to do this (providing we weren't hit with a major earthquake or meteor). What follows is over a year of development leading up to the 18 days of hell that is known as principal photography directing my first feature film.
Actually, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times...
Posted by The Hunted at 2:03 AM