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Hello All -
I have two questions concerning production of my web series. I've written four episodes and will be writing two more before I start production.
1. What are the number of pages most web series shoot per day and do most of you use the classic Master Shot, Med, Close-Up approach? (My thinking is that this can be very time consuming if you're shooting a lot of pages.)
2. How many episodes should you at least have for the first season?
Love this topic. General rule is 1 page per hour. From experience I've learned to shoot close ups first (when actors are fresh) then pull out. We were thought in film school to shoot master first, then medium, then close up... worst advice ever! Instead do the complete opposite... it works!
I have to agree - I usually start with a wide first (I lie and say we are doing a "run through" but film it anyway...you may get some magical stuff doing this) then go in and do my close ups.
Per the second question... If you're just starting out, I would recommend a minimum of 4 episodes for the first season. I've been covering web series since 2007 and I've seen creators boast about a TV-style season and not get past the 4th episode for several reasons. I believe minimum 4 eps/season is doable until you find your footing, then expand to more episodes in subsequent seasons based on viewer demand.
There's no set rule.
How many pages do you have, how many days can you afford to shoot in your budget. Pages divided by days and there you have your average you need to meet. But each day will be different depending on what you need to film. Maybe there's a fight scene or a stunt that is one line in the script but will take an entire day to set up and shoot. Maybe you have 2 actors doing 5 scenes of dialogue and they can do it several pages in 1 day.
You're right, there's no set rule, but you still have to be intelligent and pace yourself. TV and film shoots an average of 8 pages in a 16 hour day. A web series creator can shoot a page an hour (stunts or not). Setting the page per hour goal keeps cast/crew/filmmakers working and moving and encourages activity on set, otherwise you'll find people loafing around and eating. You don't want that!
It is important to have a plan or a shoot schedule. From my experience, I can get one scene filmed in about 30 mins if it's relatively short....and everyone knows their lines.
Our first season has eight episodes, which each subsequent season will also have. I think it's a good number because it's a decent amount without creating so much work that we can't deliver seasons regularly.
The most I've done was on my last webseries, which, granted, was much more amateur. Our second season consisted of 12 regular episodes (6 to 10 minutes) and one special episode (23 minutes).
I did 6 episodes for our first season, but looking back on it all now, I probably would've gone with the 4 episode route being that it's a more manageable number.
I think it all varies depending on your project. How many pages depends on how much dialogue, locations, and scenes. The classic Master, Med, Close-up is mainly used because of the lighting. If you have major lighting setups then you sometimes have to go that route. If its easy simple light setups then you can reverse it. I tend to agree with Rich that actors can get tired the more times they do a full scene. That's the good and bad of shooting video, you can shoot alot, where before you had to break down your shots and only get what you need. You wouldn't be doing a full scene every Master, Med, and Closeup. But I find that some actors need a little bit of takes before they find the rhythm of the scene. Doing their closeups first might get some stiff performances. You would love to have the best takes in your closeup. When you shoot, you'll get a sense of how your actors are.
I do agree with if you're a new creator, then go with 4 episodes. Make sure you can complete the project. But make sure you're telling an intriguing enough story within those 4 episodes. Good luck with it.
For my webseries Consequences, we shot 50 pages in 3 days. We accomplished this by using two camera's, so it depends on what you have access to and the location that you are using. Because we had a small budget we had to be economical (which most webseries creator's have a small budget.)
As far as what is the minimum you should produce? Aaron's comment about telling the intriguing story is what you should focus on. Figure out from there how many episodes you would have. Then look at your budget (and if you don't have one...I highly recommend creating one) and see how many you can do within that budget. You can then cut - rewrite - move things around to make it all work. If you keep that in mind you may find that you can do many more than you even imagined. The more "quality" content, the better.
We average 9 - 10, though on one monster shoot that I recently wrote about for Film Courage http://www.filmcourage.com/content/going-indie-takes-courage we shot 14. I speak to a lot of indie filmmakers who all average around 10, so I'd say that's a pretty good number.
In regard to Episodes I'll leave that to someone else. We have three up, and am in pre-prod for three more. In an ideal world, we would have 22 or so.
Michael... keep in mind that what takes up most of your day is moving locations and setups. Just going from one location to the next and setting up could take up 2-3 hours. If its a one location shoot with minimal dialogue, I'm sure you could stretch it to 2 pages per hour.