[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.]

We had done our “due diligence,” as they say in the corporate world. We put out a casting call, reviewed hundreds of Backstage profiles, scheduled 20 auditions, printed sign-in sheets, enlisted help for the auditions, and set up a camera. We had a plan.

Well, Alison, the director, had a plan. She’s one of the most meticulous people I have ever met, a meticulousness that compensated for our lack of experience. Neither of us had created a web series before, and neither of us had held auditions before.

The morning of our first audition, we were ready. We checked our schedule and reviewed the profile of the first auditioner. Five minutes late. That’s OK. We worked some cushion into our schedule. Ten minutes late. Fifteen minutes late. Totally fine. Our first no-show. That’s part of the process.

We moved on to the profile of our second auditioner. Five minutes late. Ten minutes late. Fifteen minutes late. Now, all of this formality, this organization, started to feel silly. We were kids playing grown-up. It’s OK, I consoled myself. This is the worst that could happen, right?

The buzzer sounded. Finally, our first customer. A friend of ours greeted the actor and had him fill out our paperwork. Alison and I straightened ourselves up. We adjusted the camera, had the actor slate (we were so official), and held our first audition, not without some nerves, but we did it. We took our notes, and prepared for the next appointment, who showed up on time.

Having gotten our perfunctory hard knocks out of the way, we were surely on our way to fame and fortune.

Then, Alison’s car was impounded.

Will, friend and colleague helping on the production, told us that the car had been parked in a tow-away zone. They would have to go and pay the fine within two hours, or incur a hefty fine for overnight storage. Alison had to retrieve her car, leaving me to handle the auditions.

I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know how to give “notes,” whatever the hell that really means. I’m still not entirely sure. Just say “feedback,” people, what the hell. So, I sat there looking solemn, taking pregnant pauses and saying things like, “Let’s run through it again with some more levels.” Again, no clue.

But it turned out all fine. Alison recovered her car pretty quickly. She missed only a handful of auditions. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was a lesson that insisted on being taught over and over in the production process: The unforeseen always rears its head, tasking you to react and think on the fly. There’s no way around it, even if you’re as organized as Alison.

But, surely, this was the worst that could happen, I had thought when Alison left.  (Cue ominous laughter.)

pablo-andreu-headshotPablo 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

Bio photo by Alison Bourdon.

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