I've been debating about how to approach next summer when we attempt to shoot the Bimbo Zombie Killers! web series again. So I had to give some thought as to exactly what went wrong and how to fix it for next time.
First off, was timing. Through absolutely no fault of theirs, the grant folks who so graciously gave me the funds for the FX for the web series, the PEI Council of the Arts, had to push back their deadline because of their own issues with outside forces, prompting me to push back mine until we lost about 2 1/2 months. That was the big thing. I was trying to shoot, organize and get the FX ready all at once in a big jumble - it just didn't work and we ran out of decent shooting weather and time. Fair enough, that problem is now solved with an extension of about 8 months.
Of course I am doing a major rewrite which will greatly increase the FX for the series and probably the budget, but I'll whittle away at it at here and there from now until May rather than in a 1 month period. I would definitely say the problem of time has been solved there. If we shoot for May, we have 5 months of decent weather to attempt to do this, rather than 1 1/2 months.
The other major problem was the extras. I should've realized this very early on after how things played out with the first BZK! movie. I had used Facebook to create an event, to which 50 people joined and ultimately only 5 showed. That's pretty pathetic. Extremely pathetic. Now I'll give some folks the benefit of the doubt and say a percentage forgot, 95%? Not likely, more likely 30-50% forgot, the others just lost interest, didn't care what they were agreeing to show up for, never read the fine print, blah, blah, blah. And then there's the regular old just unreliable folks, there's way too many of them. They have the best of intentions, and I'll totally give them that, but when it comes right down to it, they just can't be bothered - and that's totally fine, they're allowed to not be bothered, but their still a pain in the ass.
This time we had a group page created in Facebook to which almost 80 people joined (to be zombies at least) and I'm remembering this number from the top of my head, maybe 15 responded. I recall the last day we were scheduled to shoot I contacted 30 of them and only 2-3 responded. I don't really understand any of that. I don't get why you'd sign up for something then just ignore it, but now I have a list of those people and won't even be entertaining the notion of bothering with them anymore. Obviously their motivation and enthusiasm are off in two different directions.
So, how to fix all that? I'm wondering if Facebook is the problem? It's just too easy to say "Yup, I'm in" to something without any consequences, like the rest of the internet you can just hide in some dark little corner and pretend nothing ever happened and walk away from all responsibility. So I'm thinking, while I might use Facebook to organize the schedule - because it's fairly efficient for doing that, I won't be recruiting people that way - at least not by way of just allowing anyone to join a group, it'll have to go through another stage in the process that requires them to actually communicate their interest first.
We'll see how it all goes. Another option is to rethink large zombie scenes. Is there a way around it? If I do more full face makeups I can reuse actors much easier, and I may go that way. I really want the zombies to look like zombies, the ones you expect to see. Which is yet another reason, partially because of the time thing, that I shut it down. In the end, the zombies just look like they were run over by the Kool-Aid Guy, just red splashed on them. That should never have been allowed to happen, I should not have let that slip and that's totally my fault. I'll be more prepared for the makeup next time around.
Plus, I'm thinking a proper schedule, done way in advance so there'll be none of the usual being put off by everyone at the last minute. People need to know things in advance, as do I. If I say right now we're shooting on May 8th (I picked that randomly, that's not a date) than it's hard for anyone to really say right now they're not available - in fact, this becomes the thing they schedule everything else around. Ideally at least. Things always get in the way.
And I believe we'll shoot in order, possibly doing one episode per shoot, rather than randomly grabbing bits here and there. This was a good test I think, we tried, we got halfway there and probably could've finished, but it would've been a shadow of the original idea. This way, I get to rethink everything, having seen all the possible problems and we should be pretty good next time.