A human’s super filmmaking experience of making a super low-budget web series about superheroes. The experience was just as tricky as that first sentence was wordy, and I would do it again in a heartbeat!
I am a fan of the many superhero movies and shows where the comic book is brought to life on the big screen, like the Avengers from Marvel Comics and the TV show Arrow and The Flash from DC Comics. I enjoy the stories and have the occasional fan-aches when things are missed or ignored from the original stories, but I deeply enjoy when a story adds something new and exciting or old and familiar.
While these well known superhero films are being made there are many other new super human and superhero stories created each year in the form of short films and web series. However, without the extensive budget of Hollywood blockbusters. One of these superhero web series is The Super Alliance where a team of superheroes recruit a TV show host, with recently discovered superpowers, to help them go public. In this show I play Rob, the Alliance’s fearless and compulsively lying leader.
When I was cast as Rob in the early spring of 2013 I was thrilled to be a superhero in a story like this and I wanted to do the character justice. Two years later I can reflect on how little I understood about film acting, this was my first independent film project ever!
While its fun to look back on filming this first episode and the triggered flood of memories, I remember the challenges of filming this episode. Namely the scheduling, sound, and some of the amusing set locations.
In the world of filmmaking there is an understood rule: paid work comes before unpaid work. Everyone needs to be able to pay rent and in Vancouver the rent is too damn high! Scheduling was an obstacle the producers eventually solved. This doesn’t just include the cast but also the camera operator, lighting department, sound department, make-up and hair artist, director, and writers. It is no surprise that the episode was not put online until August 31st 2013.
The first scene I was in was when Rob and John first meet and it was done in a bathroom in the farthest corner of the arts school that the show’s three producers were graduating from. This bathroom was also located near the metal sculpting department of the school. It was a gem of a location! The graffiti in the bathroom seemed not only untouched but encouraged. Which makes perfect sense for the type of institution. We spent a good amount of time reading it all in between shots. Most of it illegible.
Filming involves very sensitive sound recording equipment and everytime something loud interrupts the audio we either have to stop and wait for it to pass or cut(end) the take(angle we are filming) and try again once the sound is resolved. Sounds like metal sculpting and automatic bathroom flushing make for a long day. It was made even better when students would stumble into the one bathroom with a “Filming in Progress” sign.
Another point that took up time, which I think has occurred on most independent sets that I have been on, are when actors forget their lines. Silly actors!
**Warning!! This blooper video has some harsh language**
Originally in the story the Alliance’s base of operations was a secret underground building that they threw a couch and chair into, but we couldn’t find the exact location that the writers had in mind. The location seen at the end of episode 1 was Amber’s garage, she is one of the show’s initial producers. It didn’t look a whole lot like the initial vision so the story changed the locations backstory. The Super Alliance’s base of operations was the basement of Big Boy’s mother. Big Boy lived at home.
Now where do you think he gets his name?
While the big name shows get a lot of attention I still think the super awesome experiences of the low-budget filmmaker trying to make a fun story about superheroes should be heard. The Super Alliance just completed crowd funding for season 2 with an end amount of nearly $4,000 ($3,400 after fees). Our goal was $7,000 and while we may not have reached this it has only forced us to forge a leaner and meaner season 2, which we are so excited to bring to viewers.
If you are interested in donating to our project you will receive a special perk for your generosity and a warm place in our hearts.
Click here for the donations page and the list of perks we offer.