[Editor’s Note: Welcome to Diary of a Web Series, the column that offers you an entertaining look into the machinations of a zero-budget web series made possible by an idea, fortitude, and democratized tools of production. For all the background on why we started publishing Diary of a Web Series – and why we think it’s great – check out the first installment right here. You can watch the web series the diary is about, too. It’s called STRAY and it’s good. Click here to watch it. And you can catch all the installments of Diary of a Web Series right here.]
My expectations were a little unrealistic when I set out to make a web series with no experience. Delusions of grandeur plagued me early on, but experience humbled me quickly. Even shooting two guys in a basic apartment with simple over-the-shoulder shots was challenging for such a small production.
But before I learned the unflinching truth about budgets and logistical limitations, I had conversations like this with Alison, director and executive producer of STRAY:
Me: Let’s open up with a continuous Alfonso Cuaron-style shot from Rich’s POV walking through Crown Heights as it morphs from the 1800s to present day.
Me: Early 2000s.
Me: Children of Men-style shot?
Alison: That’s also Alfonso Cuaron.
Me: OK, no morphing, just present day.
Me: Just a simple Goodfellas-esque tracking shot on the way into a bar?
Me: Let’s shoot the whole thing in natural light in the Calgary wilderness.
Me: OK, let’s just go to the Calgary wilderness with your camera and see what happens.
Alison: This is a show about two roommates in New York.
Me: Imperial Walkers.
Alison: What’s about them?
Me: I like them.
Me: How about a Crazy 88 fight sequence?
Me: What about a passing Crazy 88 reference?
Me: …while in the middle of an epic Mad Max: Fury Road chase sequence.
Me: What about a scene where everything is shot super close up, like in Dexter’s opening credit sequence?
Me: OK, how about shot from super far out, like from Earth’s orbit?
Alison: That makes no sense.
Me: What about a scene with an ensemble cast and some Tarantino-esque repartee…
Me: …and boatloads of cartoonish gore.
Me: What about Tom Hardy?
Alison: What about him?
Me: Let’s get him.
Me: Not for a lead, just a cameo.
Me: *racking brain*
Alison: OTS shots in a normal New York City apartment.
Alison: We can use the dolly if you want.
Me: How about a drone?
Me: They’re not that expensive.
Me: Seriously, you can get one that shoots in HD for like $1,000.
Alison: You need a permit to operate a drone.
Me: That’s stupid.
Alison: Have you even gotten our shotgun mic yet?
Me: *spends entire budget on drone*
Pablo Andreu is not a creator or a scriptwriter. He’s certainly not a filmmaker. He’s just a guy who decided to make a web series called STRAY. It’s a bromantic comedy in which a brash gay dude and a nerdy straight guy talk sex and relationships while reconnecting in New York City years after college. He hopes it’s funny. By some inscrutable alchemy, his scribblings have wormed their way into The New York Times, McSweeney’s and some others. Usually, you can find him babbling here: https://medium.com/@pdandreu
Photos by Alison Bourdon.