[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.]
Just as we began loading out, the rain started coming down, soaking the pizza box (aka craft services) that was melting into the gum-stained sidewalk. How much more of that would I be able to overlook later when I contemplated stuffing the gum-infused pizza into my mouth? Probably a lot. I was starving.
We carried equipment from our shoot location to the corner of 31st and Newtown, seeking the meager shelter from the rain provided by the tire shop awning. The train, a mere 20 meters overhead, screeched and thundered while the rain pelted us. As we waited for a Lyft, our cardboard boxes bowed sullenly to the rain, threatening to spill the arbitrary contents of an indie shoot: fake glasses, a lot of my own clothes (aka wardrobe), juices and sodas that doubled as alcoholic drinks (aka prop department), a hair-building fiber spray (to rectify a hair length continuity issue), etc.
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We must’ve been a confusing sight for Astoria’s passersby. Were we moving to a new apartment? We we grad students? An indie rock band? Homeless people? It was anyone’s guess.
“This is a lot less glamorous than I thought it would be,” I mentioned to Dane, my DP.
I wasn’t sure what shooting a web series would be like, but I didn’t think it would entail so much carrying. I was always carrying something. I carried tripods, lights, cameras, props, wardrobe, sandbags, and other film miscellany. I carried bagels, bananas, snacks, other sundry perishables, coffee, an industrial-sized Brita filter, garbage bags, paper cups, paper towels, sandwiches, and wraps. Sometimes I carried more interesting things – dry ice, a strobe/laser FX LED light, a skull with glowing eyes – but I was always carrying something.
“It’s always like this,” said Dane, who had experience with bigger productions. “It doesn’t matter how big the production is. At the end of the day, equipment has to be moved and actors need to be on their marks delivering lines.”
That revelation was at once demoralizing and exhilarating – demoralizing because apparently it would not get easier any time soon, but exhilarating because the people whose success I sought were doing some of the same unlovely things I was doing.
This is a lesson I have to learn over and over again: There’s no single magical moment where you suddenly become what you want to be. It’s the same lesson I learned when Dane told me that I was a director. You toil, struggle, and carry stuff until one day you look back and think, “That was pretty good!”
Or at least I hope so. Until then, I’ll just keep carrying stuff.
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 featuring a brash gay dude and a nerdy straight guy. He hopes it’s funny. By some inscrutable alchemy, his scribblings have wormed their way into The New York Times, McSweeney’s, and Slackjaw.