The 2nd Annual DC Web & Digital Media Festival has made "Pay Up" an Official Selection! Join us September 19th and 20th in the US capital for a weekend of the best of the best in web series!
"Pay Up" continues its festival run with an acceptence to the 2014 Miami Web Fest, taking place October 2nd to 5th in beautiful Miami, Florida. Wish us luck!
"Pay Up" has won an amazing SIX awards at the 2014 LAweb Fest for Series Premise, Lead Actor (Richard Glen Lett), Series, Writing (Craig Macnaughton), Directing (Craig Macnaughton) and Editing (Craig Macnaughton). Thanks to everyone who help get us to this point!
"Pay Up" is an Official Selection at the 2014 LAweb Fest! March 26th to 30th at The Radisson LAX Hotel in sunny Los Angeles. We're very excited to be part of such a supportive and innovate festival. Wish us luck!
The updated web site is made live. Five out of the six episodes are mixed and ready to go, and we're looking to get this cat out of the bag within the first two weeks of November, in order to be eligible for various web series awards and festivals.
As all the final pieces come together, energy is put into the promotion of the series, including a re-designed website, character one-sheets and nine individual teasers. The actual release strategy is still in flux, but it might end up being a complete release of all the episodes at once, supported by staggered teaser releases over the course of weeks to get new viewers.
After a lot of creative debate about structure, pacing, episode order, music (basically, everything) the picture is locked. There are a few false starts with the score, as we try to figure out what direction we want it to go sonically, talented composer Adrian Ellis offers his considerable skills to the project. A budding sound mixer from Ireland volunteers to take a stab at smoothing out the audio, and Craig dives into the colour correction.
Toronto-based film collective Filmcoop TO is the first to see the rough cuts during a regular meeting. There's a lot of great feedback, and it's nice to see it in front of a objective audience, but one that can provide some constructive criticism, with creative solutions being offered up. A positive reaction invigorates the process.
Since the shooting schedule was so tight, there was only ever time for three or four takes of each shot, which makes editing a bit easier. The pace for this part of the process is definitely slower, as life gets in the way a bit, but it slowly comes together.
Last day: three locations but only a page at each one. We also had Jess from The Press Pass tag along for some behind-the-scenes interviews and photos. One rooftop, a marina and a sandy beach later, we're wrapped! A bit of a grind, but quite the accomplishment. Three and a half days, 34 script pages and 10 locations = one web series. Time for a nap.
Only two scenes for today. The shoot is up at Yonge and Eglinton in a borrowed house and goes smoothly in the three hour block. This is also a holiday (Victoria Day) so we get the rented gear for an extra day! The second half of the day is a little less smooth, as we have to drive around a bit to find a location, but soon we discover a nice, out of the way rooftop parking garage to get the first shots of the series. We're done by 6pm and call it a day. Almost done.
Again, another reasonable start time of 10am, but it's a Sunday and we shot about 45% of the series the day before, so we can afford to take it a bit easy. One of the reasons we worked so hard to get everything done the day before, was that the lead actor has to go under a physical transformation, to appear three years younger. That meant the shaving of a beard and dying the mustache black. Since this was such a complete change of look, we couldn't reshoot anything we've shot the day before. Risky, we know, but it had to be done. There was such a small window to get this series in the can, that bold moves had to be made.
The first location is at an actor's apartment. We rent a costume for him which had a very strong chance of not working, but just went for it. The feeling is to go for something bold and risk failing as opposed to playing it safe and succeeding, mediocrely. Everyone is a good sport, and we wrap in good time. After a long lunch where Richard transforms himself and Craig hits Honest Ed's for a cheap shirt and tie combo, we set out to get all of the shots for the prologue. The problem is that most of these locations haven't been scouted, so we really have to run-and-gun it. Luckily we have scheduled a lot of time for this part, and after driving from one end of the city to the other, we get what we need. Another good long break before we go back into the office to get the rest of the 'three years ago' material. We get through it all in good time, but the day has taken it's toll, and we're all tired an cranky.
To complicate things further, we need to finish the day with an exterior shoot that night as well and find an empty, isolated parking lot (which hasn't been scouted yet). Out of exhaustion and desperation, we decide just to shoot it across the street in the parking lot of the Salvation Army, and promises are made to have it done in an hour (it was 11pm at that point). The scenario is that a deadbeat has his car remotely shut off, and is trying to weasel his way out it, but the shot is just a guy sitting in his car. Luckily the other side of this scene was shot the night before, so the actor is warmed up. We slap a wireless lav in the car and let 'er roll. Amazingly we finish in a bit more than an hour, and everyone is tucked into bed by 1am.
We head out bright and early (well... 10am) to meet the first actor (who had only committed to the role a few days before) on Queen West. After some coffee and gear fiddling, we find an out of the way part of the street and start rolling. Luckily it's just a walk-and-talk phone conversation, but it allows us to slowly figure out the visual style. For each location, we've given ourselves three hours, which includes travel and set-up. Turns out, it was the right amount of time, and we get to our next location (a second floor apartment in Parkdale) early, and have time for a spot of lunch. An unexpected perk of only having a crew of three is that the craft budget is very reasonable. We shoot throughout the afternoon, and only go an hour over, but it's OK because the apartment belongs to good friend who doesn't mind, and there's a large break before the evening shoot.
After relaxing and fueling up, we dig in for the night shoot, which is where the bulk of the series will be shot. The main character is a debt collector, who calls his 'clients' from his office. We luck out with an actual call centre office and have the run of the place for the rest of the night. We also have about 18 pages of script to get through in about six hours, but luckily that was broken up into seven static locations (seven different phone calls during seven different times, with seven different outfits). Again, our planning saves our bacon, and we plow through the script and are done the interiors in an amazing five hours. Wrap day one.
Richard and Lee reach out to their acting friends in the infamous Monday Nighter's acting workshop. The project is met with a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of 'yes's'. The roles fill up pretty quickly, and the scripts are refined as a result of some new eyes. As it happens with these projects, a few people back out or are unreachable, but word of mouth quickly spreads and soon all the roles are spoken for. The crew, on the other hand, is more difficult. The original DOP had a scheduling conflict, and one after another, other DOP's can't do it or the (non-existent) budget can't afford them. Finally, Craig meets with DOP extraordinaire Matthew Stein, who is on board with the run-and-gun, minimal-gear, tiny-crew realities of the shoot. He drafts his friend Blair Slater for sound and we rent out a lens kit, lights and a lav mic. Craig's amazing, beautiful girlfriend (who happens to be a lawyer with a lot of room on her credit card) helps out with the massive rental deposit and soon everything for the production falls into place.
Almost 30 web series trailers were screened at The Annex Centre for Social Innovation, and "Pay Up" gets a few laughs. The concept for the teaser is a pretty simple one, basically a parody of the "Are You In Debt?" TV commercials, but quickly descends into comedic pathos and paranoia. Richard is great as the headsetted, cheap suit wearing debt collector, and his years in front of Yuk Yuk audiences pays off. We receive a lot of positive feedback, and are energized for the next stage.
Thanks to good friend Armand Cousineau and Stratcom, we secure a real-life phone centre to shoot a teaser in. It has cubicles and phones and headsets and boardrooms and everything! It's perfect. We rent a big LED light, and nice mic and take a few hours to shoot some test stuff. It's half a workshop, to see what works and what doesn't, but it's also an excuse to get something in the can. It also helped that there was a call for entries for the Coming Soon Trailer Festival. Deadline are a good thing! This is exactly the motivation we need to complete this project.
Richard and Craig are joined by old friend Kevin Rees to help them with a first read of the scripts, which Craig has been cranking out. Five of the six of them went on to become the episodes, while one was completely rewritten because it confused Richard. And all references to "chinchilla's" were removed.
Lee, Richard and Craig meet again. Richard brings some backstory, which involves his character "Jack" basically being harassed by debt collectors so much that he flies off the handle and goes down there to... well, you should probably watch the episodes to find out, right?
Craig attends a web series workshop organized by Filmcoop TO and featuring the creative behind the hit web series Clutch, Jonathan Robbins. He picks up some great tips, tricks and strategies, as well as some dos and don'ts.
Lee Broker pitches his idea: a comedy about a debt collector, staring comedian and slam poet Richard Glen Lett, put together by filmmaker Craig Macnaughton. They decide that the web series format would fit this idea perfectly. Six episodes sound good. They shake hands and get to work.