My wife, Jennifer Emily McLean, wrote a blog entry about our show, “and Boris”:
My husband and I are just coming out of production of the third season of our web series “and Boris”. I say coming out of because we still aren’t done shooting. We were supposed to be done shooting at the end of January, that’s what we originally scheduled and had our cast agree to. Then it rained. It hadn’t rained in southern California in months and even then it was light and retreated quickly. Not this. It came down in torrents, wind a gusting (it even ripped the roof off the set of the Tiki Taka in the backyard). Since 85% of this season takes place outside at night, everything got pushed. This meant we had to reschedule everyone; if any of you out there have ever tried to get a bunch of busy people in one room at one time, you can begin to feel my pain. Except for one of our actors was on call for some motion capture for Spielberg and couldn’t be too specific with his availability, another needed to wait till he booked a pilot (which he did), plus most of our actors also work full time and have opposing schedules.
We could have given up at this point; but we didn’t.
We finagled the schedule and through most of February we shot the 100 page action adventure script. We shot it at our house and one other location we got in trade for doing a commercial for them. We made brick walls out of drywall and created an alley in our back yard (actually several, thank goodness for all the junk that was left in the backyard by the previous tenant). We made a roof, we made meditation pools.
A warning to anyone who invites us to their house, we can’t go anywhere anymore without envisioning it as what kind of set it could be used for.
We shot and shot but things kept happening and we kept not getting everything done we needed. Both our car batteries died on the first day of shooting and we had to get jumped losing 2 hours; an actress had a gas leak and can’t come; and an actor didn’t see an email and so didn’t show; the sound cable decided to go berserk and only sometimes worked and only if you hold it in just the right position; David chokes on chili and has to be Heimliched by the star.
We could have given up at any of these points; but we didn’t.
I want to clarify that when I say no budget, I mean no budget. For what will be about 90 minutes of show we spent $500. Most of that on food, tapes, paint, and make up. There was only one crew member, Ava, our makeup artist who truly helped keep David and I going with her glowing spirit. Other than that, it was just me and David: moving equipment, holding the boom, running the camera, making the sets or dressing them, dealing with paperwork, making food. There were days when I wasn’t sure we could physically and emotionally handle it, we were so tired. It is hard to maintain any kind of creative hard line when your body is screaming “just let me lay the heck down!”. I imagine parents of small children will understand the feeling. But we also knew we needed to make this as good as humanly possible, so we did one more take, explored one more idea. And somehow we got most of it in the can… ….now we have to do something with the footage.
We are past the point of being able to quit; and yet part of us would love to.
Post production is the bane of any production experience. Especially with the manpower required. Here’s what I want people to know. Outside of writing the music, everything you see in the show was done by David on our 12 inch, 4 year old, bought it used on craigslist, mac laptop. Every cut, every transition, every title, every sound effect or adjustment, any special effect, every color adjustment was physically done by David. I feel that the monumental nature of this is rarely fully appreciated. David hasn’t had a full nights sleep in weeks and I occasionally get to see him when something is processing and we only have two episodes up so far. David gets down on himself for not being able to get more done. I have to remind him that the credits for Avatar had over a thousand people named, not one guy on a laptop.
It is hard for him to keep going when there are no guarantees that the work will pay off, and yet we’ve come this far. It’s hard to put in thousands of hours on a project and know that for the audience it was a few minutes of their day and then they are on to something else. It’s hard when you know that among the three producers you have over 1500 friends on Facebook and when you put out the call for people to help out and click only 300 do, even though it’s free and they can do it anytime and it only takes 10 minutes. It’s hard to keep going and keeping faith that someone will appreciate the work that went into making something out of nothing. It sure isn’t glamorous.
I guess, in the final analysis regardless of what comes from this experience, it will say that we made 3 seasons of a web series in one year with no money. Not that we thought about making a series, not that we started making one, but that we completed something and offered it to the universe with the best of intentions. We finished something.
Because we could have given up; but we didn’t.