Consequently, I had to answer some questions from the intrigued...
Surprisingly, after explaining the idea behind Found Footage, the main question people had was "How are you making money out of it?". I also had a meeting with my exec producer on 4 O'Clock Club last week, and he also advised, when he learned how much I'd spent: "You are allowed to make money out of it you know..."
Thing is... when all is said and done, I probably won't make a penny out of Found Footage. Well, not directly - unless it becomes some sort of viral sensation, which seems unlikely given that it's weird and niche. I'm very happy with Ep 1's 11,000 views.
Making TV shows is expensive and hard and time-consuming - especially at the level we're trying to do it. Were I not doing the animation and editing myself, and had so many people not offered their time free of charge, our budget would probably be at least four times what we raised on Kickstarter. I'll probably end up out of pocket when all is said and done.
But the thing is... making money on this isn't important to me. I've got my day job to keep a roof over our heads, just about. Weirdly, it never bothered me that Biffovision didn't get green-lit for a series, because I so love the one episode of it which exists. I never did that show for the recognition or any sort of ambition, or for money. All I wanted was for that one episode to be exactly the sort of thing Tim Moore and I wanted it to be. Which it was, more or less.
Thanks to all of those who backed Found Footage - and those who have helped spread the word - I'm getting to make something I love, that feels entirely true to me, that I believe in. The process of making it is proving to be one of the most rewarding things I've ever done.
We've been utterly blessed in that every day of filming - as exhausting as it has been - has been full of laughs. Everyone involved so far has committed above and beyond, and the atmosphere has been joyous. No tantrums, no snappiness, no prima-donna behaviour.
It's the sort of experience that money can't really buy. Though I've been keeping the Kickstarter backers updated on progress, I thought I'd share with everyone how it's going, and what we've been doing.
It feels like our location filming happened a month ago, but it was only just over a week back. I've now got a lot of shots to sort through to put it all in some sort of coherent order, and I'm now trying to do as much of that as I can before we move onto the next batch of filming.
We got lucky on the Friday, thanks to our backer Dave Culley, who responded to my call for a speedboat by asking a colleague if we could borrow his. Currently planned for the first episode in the full run, the speedboat footage will give the show a widescreen feel that has upped our ambition for the rest of the run.
As with everything shot so far, our performers - my friend Jesse Ross and his friend Matt played the lead characters brilliantly - went above and beyond. We've got to do some reshoots and pickups for it, as we ran out of time, but that in itself taught us a lot; don't schedule too much into a single day.
The footage we shot on the Saturday, thanks to Steve and Tori Baker - who got us use of Royal Derby Hospital's training facility and a local paintball site - will be peppered throughout the series, and culminate in the final episode. The Xenoxxx conspiracy will be revealed...
On the Sunday, Sanya and I were stuck on the sofa scarcely able to move. We had to gather ourselves for the studio shoot on Wednesday at Spacehouse Studios - a full recording studio built almost singlehandedly by a friend of mine in his back garden. It's a brilliant place in which to film.
Stuart Ashen came down for the day - and will somehow likely end up in every episode - along with the very talented Yiannis Vassilakis and Tom Webster. The latter some of you may know from his work designing the CD sleeves for the Big Finish range of Doctor Who audio dramas.
After the lessons we'd learned the previous week, we actually managed to film more than we'd planned to. Which was good.
A few years ago, I considered doing a directing course, but Found Footage is proving to be the best training ground I could've hoped for. Not least, because I'm getting experience in every area of production, from directing, to producing, to editing, to effects, to animation - it does make me yearn to create something that won't be degraded with VHS glitches in post-production, but... that's for the future.
For me, this is the ultimate expression of creativity; this weird, surprising, ADHD-afflicted, stream-of-conscious, blend of comedy and sci-fi, that does feel rather like realising the inside of my head. The UK doesn't tend to produce the sort of random, surreal, stuff that you get coming out of the US, with outlets like Adult Swim. At least, rarely these days.
When I produced the videos for the Digifest last Autumn, I realised that the choppy, slightly vintage, Adult Swim style - as used by the likes of Tim and Eric, and Eric Andre - was a perfect way to depict Digi-esque funnies on screen. However, as time goes on I'm moving away from that, and not using it as much of a crutch to fall back on. As I go, I'm learning my own style of filmmaking, I suppose.
Preparation is everything, and though we're winging most of the filming guerilla-style, and I'm also making most of the props and scenery myself (though thank you to Sanya for building the Cheese Holes...), again... lessons have been learned.
Steve Horsley - teletext graphics guru - is now an important part of our production team, and his experience running an award-winning school film club has been invaluable. Likewise Jesse Ross, who clearly learned a lot from making his fantastic short film, The Other Side of Home, a couple of years ago, and had plenty of much-heeded advice on the first day's location shoot.
Something I've learned about myself through this process is that I'm not the frustrated control freak I always thought I was. Partly, there just isn't the time to be one - at the Derby hospital filming, I dressed one set, and was blown away when I walked out of the room to find a corridor transformed by everyone else into a scene of post-apocalyptic disaster. Plus, I know my limits. I think I know when to listen to advice. I guess it also helps to have people around me that I trust. I've been truly blessed in that respect.
WAY TO GO
So... a lot has been finished already - Ep 3 and 4 are more or less completed - but we've a way to go yet. I'm pretty sure we'll be ready to premiere the series in June, but I'm hesitating to make any firm promises until we've got most of the footage in the can, and put together in some degree of coherent order. I'll keep everyone updated on Kickstarter, and from time to time on here.
But wait...! We still need a few things from you!
As I've said before, we're particularly looking for post-apocalyptic or Cold War locations - both interior and exterior. We could also do with somewhere that could double as a computer server room - somewhere very high (but retro) tech if possible. We're also big into our interesting-looking corridors.
Other locations we're potentially after: a farm, a school, a supermarket, a cave, a castle, a posh mansion/stately home... but really... anywhere that is very visually distinct. We can usually find a way to accommodate it, and - of course - there's every chance you'll end up an extra.
Also, if anyone has access to a helicopter (I know, I know... but you've got to ask) or a drone with a camera - that'd be amazing. Or, indeed, you've got some expertise or a skill, or even a unique prop, that you think would benefit the finished product.
We're happy to exchange filming in return for a Special Thanks credit to any businesses that can help us out, and we're willing to travel. If you think you can help in any way to widen the scope of the show, please drop me a line at email@example.com
Oh, and I've asked before... but if you're able to keep spreading the word of the episodes to date, it's a huge help. We're really looking to boost the Digi YouTube Channel's subscribers so that we can keep people up-to-date, so if you haven't subscribed already... please do so.
Anyhoo, to tide you over... here's a gallery of shots from the filming. Speculate away!