Friday, April 15, 2011

Season 2: Filling in the gaps

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Season 2 is moving along as you can all see in the 'Season 2 Big Fix' series of articles. With the recreation of the series comes the normal issue short running times. As I have said in the past when you have a 30 page script (one page is supposed to equal one minute of screen time) you always come up short. This sort of thing just happens (with amature stuff, I doubt it happens in real Hollywood productions).

With Season 2 I have noticed a trend that my 30 page scripts always seem to come in about 10 minutes short. That even included credits, intermissions, etc). In the original scripts I wrote there wasn't even an intermission but soon I realized that I would be coming up short so I would need to make some 'filler'.

When I began Season 3 I was fully aware of the issue so I made the script longer on purpose. At one point (right before the crash) I had episode 1 (of Season 3) about 99% complete and it looked like I was only coming up about a minute short.

Back to Season 2... Having an episode coming in at 20 minutes is not big deal if you are going to just cut it up and post it online. The problem is the running time on Fort Worth Public Access Television is 30 minutes... exactly. This means that there is 10 minutes I need to fill in each episode. This has required me to come up with additional scenes. These scenes have been shot anywhere from 6 months to 2 years after the initial six day shoot:
  • Episode 1: Nathan and Chris try to write a book.
  • Episode 1: Nathan and Chris find ways to make money.
  • Episode 3: Chris fools Nathan about having 2 guitars.
  • Episode ?: Nathan and Chris talk about the ring Brooklyn made him wear.
  • Episode ?: Nathan gets his revenge on Brainbox Corp for firing him.
There are several more and there are also several more to be shot. In the show there is a character that we refer to names Paul Tygers. The name is a take on our old landlord from our comic book shop days. This character is a 'do it yourself' type. He is simply used as a plot device but now that I need more I decided to write him into a couple of scenes. A guy that works in our department wants to be in the show so I wrote 2 new scenes and a phony commercial for Paul Tygers: Handyman. He doesn't play much more of a pivotal part in the series, but it will help fill in time.

Even after the Paul Tygers scenes I will still need a lot more filler. The one tricky thing about filler is that it must fit into the overall storyline. You also need to make sure the scenes visually match the original. Nathan's hair needs to be short, Chris' goatee needs to be long, you need to make sure the camera is on 4:3, 60fps... all those little things that will stick out like a sore thumb if you goof it up.

One final note on that last paragraph. When we originally began to shoot it was my intention to make Season 2 look really good by using 24 frames per second and 16:9 wide screen. About three hours into shooting I noticed it was still set on 60 frames per second. I cringed at the goof but decided to carry on with the higher frame rate. It just makes the shots look more like video as opposed to that film look. I did fix this issue in Season 3.

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