Saturday, January 3, 2009

Starting with an Idea

So what would you do if you could create your own web series that would simultaneously air on a Video On Demand channel? I have been given just that opportunity and this blog is the beginning of the coverage that I want to give to the subject. Part of promoting any movie is a website, and part of that flow of information should be a production blog. This is mine.

If any of you have been reading my filmmaking blog Film Flap, you know that I'm a big Twilight Zone fan. No, that's not a Stephanie Meyer forum, but the original black-and-white TV series hosted by creator Rod Serling which always had a weird setup with gotcha! twist ending. It's the inspiration for several of my short films.

First, the criteria. The show has to have a run of short episodes. They will be five to seven minutes each. Long enough to satisfy character development and story, but short enough to satisfy the ADHD crowd. I tend to be more old school in my filmmaking, so I hope I can please both audiences. I plan on 12 episodes debuting weekly for a total run of three months.

Next, it has to follow the classic serial format. This means each episode must put our heroes in danger, and there must be a real cliffhanger at the end of every episode. I can't tell you how many web series I've seen where they ignore this tried-and-true storytelling hook. Often, they just end with TO BE CONTINUED without giving us any real reason to come back. I don't care what brand of milk Tommy will drink, I want to see Tommy putting the poisoned milk to his lips! Cut away to TO BE CONTINUED! Now I will come back!

I also want to get the show up fast enough to be available to the high school/college crowd before they depart on summer vacations. Get 'em while they are supposed to be studying, I always say! It's also a much better way to create buzz when kids can talk to each other about a show they just saw. Not so easy when they are at the cabin by the lake.

Chapter 1 is slated for Friday, March 13, 2009...

Okay, enough about initial marketing ploys. How about the story? You can market all you want, create buzz and generate interest, but you had better deliver with something worth watching or all that work will be in vain. Don't forget to create a good show! Very important! The web is overrun with unwatchable tripe, so it's important to stand out with a quality show. It's a tough thing, I know, but don't forget how critical it is.

Back to the idea. My show is entitled Midnyte (the funny spelling is not just for search engine optimization and an easier domain to register, but those are part of it) and comes from probably four sources, three of which are old Twilight Zone episodes.

They are:
"Five Characters in Search of an Exit"
"Where is Everybody?"
"Stopover in a Quiet Town"

And one non-Twilight Zone source that was definitely inspired by the Twilight Zone, James Mangold's Identity.

I'm not going to give you links to any of these. If you're really interested you'll find them yourselves, but most people won't even try, which just protects the possibilities of my story. Speaking of which, I think I've prattled on long enough. I've got an outline to work on.