October 21, 2014 at 2:24AM

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Failed Web Series pilot – Feedback please

Back in March I released a webisode pilot with high hopes. Hopes that it would break 3000 views, hopes that there would be interest in turning into a TV series, hopes that it would start my (better paid) directing career.

As of now it is a failure with 800 view on YouTube and less than 80 on Vimeo. I’m not sure what I did wrong.

I worked my butt off on this thing and gave it everything I had. I must be blind to its flaws.

So I’m asking for feedback. Please harsh as you like. It's eight months old now and I have some distance.

https://vimeo.com/89907774

Thanks.

8 Comments

HI. I watch the pilot and see the facebook page. I see two things.

1.- First before pilot is build your audience. I am doing right now a movie web and before have at less 500 likes in the page, i don't put video content. The people don't will watch.

The percent the people en facebook see a video es short so, you must have a big number, for making sure that is success.

2.- The story is good but you must put the problematic think in the story. The bad guys. Less conversation and more action.
I hope that will be enough. I can help you more... my mail is cremadesfilms@gmail.com

October 21, 2014 at 2:48AM

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Ragüel Cremades
Film producer and director
7252

Hey Daniel. It's a brave move for you especially since it seems you put a lot of effort there.

The good points:
-Great production value (locations, graphics)
-Good acting

The not-so-good points:
-There is no much drama in the story, all we see is talking heads
-Too dialogue heavy.
-You need better coverage (more angles) so you can make more cuts in the dialogue scenes, which brings us to
-Needed a faster pace

Possible solutions:
A treasure hunt, although cliche story, if done right can be very entertaining. However you need to make it much more interesting. For starters, don't name it "Treasure Hunt", it's way too obvious. Some alternatives could be "The hunt", "A billion to find", "How to find a billion and not get caught", "Dollars in NY" but I'm sure you can think of much better choices.
Your story is very specific, meaning it concerns mostly New Yorkers. Outsiders cannot follow the plot since they don't know what the clues are about. So why not adress it to New Yorkers? Find ways to intrigue your audience in an interactive approach. Engage Asian-American community but not stick to them. Expand from there to broaden the audience. You can even put the pilot to platforms like kickstarter and see if it gets attraction.
Another thing, it seems you are wearing too many creative hats. Pick just a couple of them (e.g. director and editor) and find some talented collaborators (a scriptwriter and a DP for start) to partner with. You ll get a ton of help and perspective, you ll focus more and in the end you ll have better results.

Hope it was helpful.. wishing you the best of success!

October 22, 2014 at 5:52AM

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Stel Kouk
Filmmaker
3109

Please don't take this the wrong way, but I think the treasure hunt premise is a little too tame for today's audiences, especially in the younger crowd. If your series is to be episodic, then I think you have to give your audience a good reason to come back to watch the rest of the story.

I would also look at the type of content on YouTube that is extremely successful, it knows it's audience, what they want to watch, so they try and deliver that with every episode.

Your production value is very good over all, though I'm not a big fan of the deep focus daylight shots. ( where everything is in focus, when what you want is really just your main characters )

I would consider this pilot video as "experience", and keep moving forward with other projects. You have to keep playing the lottery if you ever want to win.

Good-luck.

- Guy

October 22, 2014 at 8:04PM

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Guy McLoughlin
Video Producer
30582

Feels too video-y. I admire and totally relate to the amount of effort put into this, but in this oversaturated day and age we live in, we (filmmakers) really need a dedicated and consistent marketing approach to our projects.

November 3, 2014 at 2:37PM, Edited November 3, 2:37PM

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Jake Keenum
Filmmaker
1981

I genuinely applaud you for giving it a shot, and even more so for opening it up for critique.

A lot of folks here will comment on the physical look of your video (a lot of which could use improvement... ie, more believable actors, snappier editing, pulling back on the high contrast CC) but really, the business side is what kills these things before they start.

We all 'hope' we can just make a nice video, and SOMEONE will come along and buy it from us, giving us financial security for the rest of our lives, but it's just not realistic. It has to not only be a killer product, but needs the legs to move it. BIG TIME marketing and distribution.

Spend an equal amount of time getting your product into the hands of studios and people in the biz that can make things happen, as you spend making your film (or more). You've got about 30 seconds into your film for them to to make up their mind, would you buy this project from someone if they presented this to you?

Just some things to think about...

November 3, 2014 at 4:33PM

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Jordan Mederich
Documentarian / Filmmaker
1155

I think you should take it down and start trying to fetch investers and a medium to publish it on.

I mean, there most be a site out there that's interested in this concept who are willing to pay you a little money for it and publish it to there readers, you just got to be creative and mail ALOT. Don't give up!

November 4, 2014 at 11:29AM, Edited November 4, 11:29AM

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Viktor Ragnemar
Director/Cinematographer
1291

Daniel, your show isn't a failure. We always hear the overnight success stories, but in reality those are the anomalies. I have a good friend who has a very successful web series. One of the main things that it takes for a program to succeed is consistency. With 800 views you had a chance to grow your fan base. Those people might have expected other episodes. When those episodes didn't come they moved on to other things. It takes a while to develop a strong web presence. Everyone's notes regarding your production are valid. Still, it takes more than one episode to get something like this moving. You could try to warm this back up or you could try to develop a smaller idea that is easier to shoot with only a few characters and accessible locations. I wish you the best.

November 6, 2014 at 12:21AM

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I hear you brother. First of all: don't ever ever think about giving up if this is what you're passionate about.

I'm sitting with a short that's been rejected by every festival it was submitted to. While I believe festivals are becoming less and less essential for shorts, I felt like this particular film was a good fit for the circuit and wanted the festival experience. Boy was I wrong :)

Because festivals generally don't give you reasons for rejection, all you can do is speculate. I think length (15 min), lack of genre status and a quite narrow niche audience all have a role to play. Rejection sucks, but you can't take it personal and you must try to learn for the next go around. We live in an increasingly democratized industry, which over-saturates the market with content - including great content to compete with. I'm not even mentioning the absolutely massive role politics plays in finding success.

As for your pilot, I think you need to spend time further learning how to mount a film. What immediately took me out of the story was the look. Spend some time networking and find a passionate cinematographer to partner up with. Look for raw talent. Find someone who freelances and that owns or has access to grip and lighting gear. This means they're serious. Most importantly, find someone who respects you as a person. Talent takes a backseat to this big time. Talent increases, but crappy personalities rarely change. Of course, make sure you're somebody worth respecting.

The editing in your pilot felt a little awkward. While a believe any director should be able to write and edit, it might be a good idea (depending on your situation) to look for an editor. Same for composers. There's loads of talented composers out there looking to make their name in film. Same for sound ops/editors, vfx artists, colorists (don't underestimate their importance!), etc. Diligently look for crew that supplement your weaknesses. In your case, a production designer might prove valuable.

Building a solid, talented and reliable team you work well with is probably a decades long process, but it's absolutely essential. This is probably the only remaining benefit of film school. You can totally network online, especially using nofilmschool's revamped community oriented site, but it helps spending time alongside people on set.

Attention to detail is paramount. Using times new roman for the engraved clue on the statue doesn't exactly scream attention to detail. Hand-drawing the inscription, scanning it in and compositing it would have been more effort, but it would feel more authentic. Same for the newscasts - adding a subtle grid over the footage would make it feel like it's playing on a device like a tv or a phone.

I like the Indiana jones inspired maps, but I would suggest adopting a visual theme for those that connect with the treasure hunt theme. Do the same for titles, etc. A motion graphic artist would mean tons here.

Acting can make or break your project. And good actors need a good script. Be relentlessly harsh with yourself when it comes to dialogue. If dialogue is not your strong suit, record table reads with your actors and allow them to improvise their lines. If they sound good, incorporate them into your script.

Don't cast your friends because they're your friends. Find the right actors and be picky. Auditions are OK, but I like watching completed films to see the talent of an actor. Put out casting calls and ask for actors to provide links to completed films, or at least scenes.

Once you have a handle on your craft, then you can begin working on getting your work seen. This is a challenge for most of us, but until then it's important that you get your craft to a level where you can compete. And then keep improving, obviously. The good thing is that you will begin to attract talented people.

Keep making small stuff to hone your craft. I spent too much cash early on because of ambition. Unless you're independently wealthy :)

Apologies for this super long post, but I hope it helps a bit! Good luck, don't give up and keep improving!

November 6, 2014 at 2:19PM

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Jon du Toit
Writer / Director
184

I just watched and enjoyed the webisode. Lots of good advice here. i think in particular Adrian Neely gave you good advice in building on the views you had with the first episode by producing the second. I realize some time has elapsed now but i hope you continue. If not with this project then another. You showed great promise with this first prodution. As others have mentioned good production values. I have done quite a bit of wedding and event videography and have dabbled with some short scripted projects and it is much harder than I imagined. Pacing in particular can be tricky.

March 13, 2015 at 11:30PM

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