[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.]
When I first set out to make my web series, Trump wasn’t president. Trump wasn’t even the Republican nominee. He was still just a real estate tycoon-slash-reality star. Then, he became president. And, then, right before I launched my web series, almost as if he had planned it that way to thwart my certain rise to stardom, the Donald was sworn in. It was all Trump all the time. It was like we were all in the audience of a 24-hour cable news show, and Trump was producer, guest, host, cameraman and the question that came in via Twitter.
How could a little web series-that-could get noticed in this kind of Trump-saturated climate? A Trump episode, of course. But we faced a challenge. His sweet voice.
We wrapped the season of the series months before, but we had scheduled a shoot for promos. On a whim, I shoehorned in a last-minute Trump episode. We found his first press conference as president on YouTube and threw it up on the TV. We filmed the picture without audio to use as inserts, fully expecting to find the audio later. Big mistake.
Finding the press conference in question was easy, but isolating the corresponding audio for our quick inserts was tough. It essentially required lip-synching and cross-referencing over an hour of press conference footage. The close-ups didn’t make things easier. Instead of banging our heads against the wall, we came up with a creative solution: Find a voice actor who could do a good Trump impression.
My friend Chris, who also works on the show, sent me a voice sample of one of his actor buddies, Brendan Goggins. Within seconds of listening to his voice sample, I knew he was the guy. We solved the problem. That’s what you call “producing.” Actually, I still have no idea what that means.
We did some bad lip-reading of the inserts and delivered a script from which Brendan could read. He gave us some solid options, so we turned the audio over to our sound designer, Mike Eichstedt. When I got the audio and corresponding MP4 back from Mike, I was like a kid in a candy store, or like Trump backstage at a beauty pageant.
I watched the episode to see Brendan’s handiwork in its full glory, only to be confronted with a travesty. Brendan’s audio just could not match the cadence and idiosyncrasies of Trump’s speech patterns. After all that, our creative solution had failed. Or had it?
The result was a bizarre, unsettling, off-kilter alternate reality. Sounds about right.
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
Bio photo by Alison Bourdon.