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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Banished to Purgatory...or Scheduling


Anyone who has had to do schedules knows that they can be a bit of a challenge. This week I have taken that challenge to a whole new level. 

To fully appreciate the predicament, let me tell you just how insane we really are.  When we decided to do the show, we felt that consistency was key to building and maintaining an audience.  So as Season 1 was written, it was created as 13 full-length TV episodes.  That breaks down to 39 webisodes.  Given our launch date of December 27, we will be airing new content every week until mid September.  So we have a massive project on our hands, and an aggressive schedule to keep, given that we only film on weekends and just took a month off for the holidays.

Now factor into the equation that we have more than 40 speaking roles on the cast, and the fact that only a handful of them are local.  Most are driving anywhere from 2-5 hours to get to us.  So we try to consolidate their shooting days into as few weekends as possible, to minimize their travel. 

Here is a taste of how my day played out: 

9am:  Grab a cup of coffee.  Begin entering cast, scenes and availability into the computer.

11am:  Grab another cup of coffee.  Sigh heavily as I realize that there are 44 cast members and 138 scenes to be scheduled on this wave. Stare dejectedly at the computer and try to figure out where to start.

12pm:  Grab another cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate.  Sit back down at the computer and go from dejected staring to scowling.

12:15pm:  The chocolate starts to work and I realize that no amount of hostile glaring is going to make the schedule bow to my will, so I begin sorting and figuring out which characters can be finished in one weekend.

12:30pm:  I get annoyed with the computer and crack out my trusty calendar and begin scheduling directly on it.

2:30pm.  Another cup of coffee and more chocolate as I realize that I need a new calendar…and also that I might actually be making progress.

4:30pm:  Another cup of coffee. Tweaking and juggling has begun.  This character only has one scene left unscheduled, let’s see if we can squeeze it in here….and if I move these two scenes from Saturday to Sunday, these two actors only have to come up for one day, instead of the weekend.  Oh…wait….that one has a scheduling conflict that weekend.  Nuts.

6pm:  The final date has been put on the schedule and all scenes are accounted for.  I head nervously to Clint’s office and ask a question I should have asked in the first place… “How many scenes can you realistically shoot in a day?  Please say 8.”  To which Clint responds with a sigh and says “Depends on the scenes.  Dialog, reaction, establishing shots, yeah, probably.  But fight scenes take a lot longer, and you should probably leave a full weekend for the final fight.” Crap.  Ok, not done.  Back to juggling. 

8pm:  Moderately comfortable that the schedule is sorted and everything is ready to go.  Now I just need to transfer my notes to the computer for Clint so he can create the call sheets.

8:15pm:  Facebook lights up…a cast member who plays a critical role in several upcoming episodes needs to drop out for a family emergency.  Nuts, couldn’t I even have an hour of self satisfaction??

9:00pm:  Another cup of coffee.  This development as well as a couple of other unforeseen schedule changes throw the current schedule into chaos.  While Clint and Marcus scramble to fill the vacated role, I juggle again, bumping some scenes from the current schedule into the next one and messing with the schedule that I had spent all day working on. 

11pm:  The role has been recast, the schedule has been hammered out, and I sit down to finally relax.  Then the news comes on…this shooting weekend’s forecast?  Snow.  Seriously???   I need something stronger than coffee before I head back to the drawing board.


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