I am happy with the outcome of Deadline, and during production I was able to make a lot of progress on my script writing skills and organisational skills. I will be addressing what went well, what went wrong, and what I’ve learned to take forward into my future projects.
I am very happy overall with how the script turned out. I was not confident in my script writing skills when I begun the project and this was the aspect of production that was worrying me the most. I have also only ever written comedy one other time, and I don’t watch comedy on TV often, so I was concerned that I wouldn’t be well-versed into how to write something like this. However, I’m happy with how it turned out. As it was aimed towards an audience similar to my age, I was able to use my own sense of humor and events that have happened to me as inspiration for my writing, and this also meant I was able to relate to my characters more. They were also a similar age to me, which meant that I could tune into how they might feel in certain situations, and therefore better predict a likely response to events.
Basing my characters on people I know is a technique I definitely want to use in the future. This helped me to figure out who the person I was writing was and the things they might say that make them unique. In my Script to Screen script, I felt that my writing made the characters robotic, because I didn’t know anyone like my characters. However, with this project, I’ve felt they’re better-rounded and relatable people rather than tools to carry a narrative.
Further on characters, I’m really happy with how they turned out on screen. I got a lot more responses on the casting calls than I have for previous projects, and I think it’s because it requires actors from the same target audience age, and so they want to act in something that they want to watch. The actors were very professional, we never had a problem with them learning their lines and they were keen to get involved. I would be interested in solely using Mandy.com in the future rather than Starnow.com, because I’ve noticed that profiles on Mandy seem to be a lot more professional and the actors that I hire from it are more understanding of the production process. Also, I feel that the costume design also was quite lucky, and was very in-keeping with each character. Using charity shops for costumes worked well and saved a lot on the budget, so this is definitely how I’ll be getting non-specialist costumes in the future. It meant that I could have more of an input creatively on how the characters are portrayed on screen, rather than relying on what the actors own themselves, which I have done for previous projects.
The organisation of the project went well too and we used Google Drive to keep our files available and edit-able by everyone at all times. This was especially useful for the script, as everyone needed to refer to it for their different pre-production paperwork such as shot lists.
We unfortunately had an actor drop out on the day of filming, but this couldn’t be helped. Luckily, the character wasn’t key to the plot of the film and this didn’t cause too many issues. It was a good test of the team to work on our feet and move and change some shots so that it wasn’t affected. It was a shame to lose the character, but it didn’t really cause too much of a problem.
We also should have allowed ourself to put more effort into the makeup for the zombies. It really stands out as a negative when watching the film and I think if we had planned this better then it would have made some of the shots easier to get, because we weren’t trying to work on avoiding their faces. I think we could have worked around this by using extreme close-ups, especially as at this stage in the film it hasn’t been confirmed that they’re zombies. In the future, I will definitely be making sure I allow plenty of time for special effects.
What did I learn?
From this project, I really developed my organisational skills. I worked really hard to stay on top of pre production, and I did everything I could to streamline production, from putting all the paperwork into individual folders for the actors to clarifying and re-clarifying the details of the shoots in every email. I wanted to ensure that all of the actors were as up to date as the crew were at all times and I think I succeeded in this.
I also learned how to grow my responsibilities and be a showrunner. I really enjoyed the responsibilities of a showrunner, because I liked to have the creative input in how my writing turns out on screen. This role worked really well for me and the rest of the crew and we worked really well together under this dynamic. I took more of a step back during production, mainly taking on behind-the-scenes photography, but I also had the responsibility of giving my input on each scene which was really useful for me to be able to look at the production from both a managerial and creative perspective at the same time.