Friday, March 8, 2013

The benefits 'Outnumber' the challenges

Directors of student web series reflect on the production process

by Rachel Diebel and Camille Adams, A&E Writers

For two TV-loving nerds, entering Student Media as first years was like walking into a wonderland of opportunity.

The cameras are named after superheroes and shipping battles, like Damon vs. Stefan of "The Vampire Diaries," are subjects of whiteboard debates.

We started out as journalists for The Mast, still looking for a section to call home. Then, we were assigned our first video story. We were whiling away the first of many glazed-over hours of editing in the Mast TV room when Storm Gerlock, the TV station manager, asked us why we decided to write for The Mast.

As English majors, we both hope to one day use our degrees for something other than working at Starbucks.

Rachel aspires to work in publishing though she is also interested in directing, while Camille’s interests lie in screenwriting.

Storm suggested we further our work with Mast TV, and in fact, take it to a new level, perhaps by creating an original webseries.

Thus "Outnumbered" was born.

We decided to tackle the easiest and most recognizably structured genre: the romcom. "Outnumbered" is a college romantic comedy about a boy who goes to great lengths to get a girl's attention.

Camille whipped out the script in under a month, and we shelled out money to Amazon for storyboards to make us feel like legitimate show runners.

We held auditions in Hinderlie Hall, and the read-through took place a week later.

It was at the read-through that we realized how much fun this was going to be. Rachel immediately donned her director’s cap, and Camille was shocked to hear people laughing at her jokes.

The first scene we filmed was a 30-second clip where we learned that dorm room lighting is the bane of a college cinematographer’s existence and that 30-seconds can take half an hour to film.

When we filmed a scene with all the girls in the cast, we learned how quickly scenes can devolve into conversation and laughter.

The blooper reel formed twice as fast as the actual script.

We learned the logistics of booking buildings on campus, maintaining outfit continuity, avoiding Washington rain and dealing with fire drills. We moved from taking excessive shots with two cameras to more well-planned footage with one.

We loved working with our wonderful and flexible cast, making lasting friendships in the process. We got a kick out of our "professional" photo shoot of the cast and crew and sneaking in cameos when we could.

We spent weekends editing in the Mast TV room and learning how best to mesh our creative instincts. Then we loved watching the views increase on YouTube after we published our very first episode.

As we moved into post-production - which consists primarily of editing - without our amazing cast, we experienced the loneliness of withdrawal and began to plan for a new production.

Storm began something that cannot be stopped.

Next year, we hope to work with returning cast members as well as new talent. We plan to tackle the more challenging genre of mystery in a longer, feature-length presentation style. We hope you have enjoyed watching "Outnumbered" as much as we have enjoyed making it.

If you would like to get involved with acting, song writing or post-production for next year, please contact us.

Thanks for all of our supporters at The Mast and Mast TV for giving us a shot to chase our dreams.