The show's many kindly backers have been getting regular updates that they're all probably sick of, but I thought I'd inflict some of my enormous waffling on all of you for once.
To bring you up to speed, Found Footage: The Series is almost complete. We've a couple of sequences left to shoot next month, and then all the material will be "in the can" (so to speak). I suspect I'm going to still be editing in the days before each episode goes online.
I'm not sure how many eps there are going to be once September arrives... but it's likely to be more than six, due to the overabundance of material.
However, next week we're filming Found Footage: The Finale (final title TBC), a 30 minute sci-fi movie, that I hesitate to call a sci-fi comedy, due to the fact we're taking it seriously. Consequently, we've put together a team which includes actual professionals - real actors, real crew - and the production values are a major step up from the homespun approach to the rest of the series.
I mean, within reason. Don't go expecting this to look like Avatar, or something. The budget is literally a few grand, though many of the talented people involved are doing this as a favour - something for which I'm eternally grateful.
So why conclude a strange, surreal, sketch show with a 30 minute sci-fi movie? I shall attempt to explain.
When I first started with Found Footage last year, I wanted to do a post-apocalyptic sequence. This isn't quite that - it has evolved into something quite different, that pays off the little hints and not-so-subtle clues scattered throughout the series. There are deliberately overt homages to certain sci-fi movies of the 1980s, but I'm trying to give it a visual identity of its own. It feels like "80s sci-fi homage" has been done as a genre now.
Of course, nobody needs a 30 minute sci-fi movie which explains a stupid sketch show, but as I started to conceive of the series, I began to wonder where the found footage came from. Why was it so weird - other than the fact it had spilled out of my head? Maybe there's part of me trying to explain away my own weirdness by doing that, but it became a way to rationalise and justify it for me.
Though most of Found Footage is shot in a deliberately lo-fi sort of way, one of the episodes is a ten-minute narrative adventure show, and it went well enough that I started to wonder whether we could do something even more ambitious. Something - as a way of challenging myself - that would pay off everything that had come before.
I wanted to push myself, and those working around me, as well as reward everyone who has shown faith in the project by supporting it in some way - either with their generous financial backing, or by giving up their time. I've still no idea whether we're going to pull it off, but that leap into unfamiliar territory is what makes it exciting. We're ditching the lo-fi look, and want this to be as glossy as we can achieve on the budge.
Also, I've loved the world-building that has gone into it. I used to do it all the time as a kid, when I'd play with action figures, or develop campaigns for my role-playing game buddies. This is basically that writ large; creating a world and a universe that feels like a sandbox I could revisit again, to tell different sorts of stories. A way to have a lived-in, post-apocalyptic universe, which doesn't simply rehash all the thousands of post-apocalyptic stories we've all become numbed to.
Found Footage will work just fine if you don't see the finale. And the finale will work as a standalone thing if you don't watch the series. Together, though, they will hopefully complement and enrich one another; things in the series which seem like tiny, throwaway, gags, will be expanded into major plot points.
Pulling together all the threads of the series has been hard work, and occasionally stressful, and very financially challenging, but I've loved every second of it.
Serendipity has smiled, and most of my day job deadlines have been met for the summer - which means that this week I'm now able to focus exclusively on Found Footage for the first time since I started it.
Which is just as well. Though I'm being ably assisted by Steve and Sanya - as they have done every step of this journey - there's a lot which has to be done this week. We've a cast and crew of around 30 people to organise, costumes to finish for four principal cast members and around 15 extras, set dressing, props and practical effects to complete, and working out a shooting schedule that can fit 30 scenes into two days. Then I need to break the script down into the shots I want to get,
And on top of that, I've got two kids having a birthday, and a dad who has just had major heart surgery. It never rains, and all that...!
Throughout the process of making Found Footage, there have been tons of happy accidents. People have volunteered their services unexpectedly, or fate has given us opportunities I could never have dreamed of. I've worked with people I couldn't have imagined, I've made new friends, I've learned new skills, and I hope - I think - that everyone involved so far has had their life slightly enriched by it.
If you were one of our backers, this is the real gift you've given - not just to me, but dozens of other people. And fingers crossed that the show will make your life a bit better too. Once again, thank you.
Stay tuned. Watch out for that vortex...
If you work for a magazine or a website, and fancy coming to the set, or covering Found Footage: The Finale in some other way, please drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org