Marsnesia Teaser.Still001

Masnesia Teaser and Casting Call!

KSF next Feature Length Production is taking us the that nearby solar neighbor, Mars! Marnesia is a sci-fi drama about a lone astronaut’s struggles on the surface of Mars.

 

Watch the Teaser Now

 

Filming is expected to start in March and take place evenings and weekends are we are starting our Casting call as we have to get costumes fitted for the actors.

 

CASTING CALL:

Non-Union Volunteer – Please Indicate Interest with email to film@hayphoto.ca with the Subject “Mars – ROLE – Your Name” and include a recent photo [Please keep the size reasonable] and a link to your Demo reel if possible. Slides will be sent out and a video audition will be required for initial screening of Candidates with a follow-up Physical Audition of those short-listed in Late January/Early Feb.

 

SAM (LEAD) – Sole Surviving Member of an expedition to Mars, waking up on the planet in a crashed Capsule, he is suffering from Retrograde Amnesia and doesn’t even know he is the sole person within 225 Million Miles! Adult Male – Good Physical Shape ~28-45

 

JACKIE (Co-Star) – Is she an alien or a figment of Sam’s troubled mind? Adult Female – Average to Thin

 

JACKIE YOUTH (Supporting) – A younger version of Jackie, this is Sam’s Daughter. Female Youth – Average to Thin – Will Match looks to Adult Jackie.

 

TOM (Supporting) – Tom didn’t make it to Mars, well not Alive, so he slowly stinking up the place, but is more lively in the flashbacks. Adult Male – Good Physical Shape ~28-45

 

RADIO VOICE (Supporting – Mainly V.O.) – Although Sam can’t communicate with earth, he keeps getting fragments of communication from earth. Will Space command be able to guide Sam to his salvation or doom? Male or Female – Adult

 

 

[More Roles will be Announced after we have finished Casting the Main Cast]

Webseries Research: Part II

In Webseries Research: Part I, the discussion was about the length of each episode, in Part II its about the various elements between episodes, specifically Intos/Credits/Cliffhangers and overall proper Season Arcs.

 

Intros/Credits

 

The Guild is the most popular and well known web-series in existence at this time. And is a good example of what to do for a web-series. The episodes are in that sweet spot of around 5 minutes of story content per episode. However if you look at the overall length of each video its around 6-6.5 minutes as there is the intro (20 seconds) and credits (25 seconds). Which makes up around 11% of the viewing experience. This would seem to be the longest I would suggest (10% viewing) from my experience, if we go back to “The Inspector” for a comparison its 1.75 minutes of intro and credits each episode, and given that the episodes are shorter in season 1, you are talking ~40% of each episode isn’t story content. What ends up happening is you find yourself skipping from episode to episode jumping over the credits cause they take forever… a viewer shouldn’t have to do that, just sit back and relax and watch all the episodes.

 

Cliffhangers

 

There are, in my humble opinion, 2 types in webseries; the intentional cliffhanger and the time-forced ones. Both are very similar and found almost at the end of each episode in a web-series, a hook to keep you wanting to come back to see more. However depending on the writing they are actually different.

 

Intentional Cliffhangers are written into a story to provide a point of pause in the story for each episode, where there is a twist or shocking discovery. Time-forced ones are where you have a cut to the next scene that sets up the next conflict but then cut short to keep the episode time in check. Both have their purpose and use, but if you over-use one or the other (or both) it can be annoying; especially on the shorter run-time episodes.

 

A few more intentional cliffhangers is okay, but I find that in a few web-series the time-forced cliffhangers become more prevalent as the story itself gets too complicated and in reality the web-series has outgrown its “time-slot” per-say. This comes down to good writing at the start of a web-series or season arc whereby the story is kept into check by the length provided by each episode.

 

Season Arcs
A good web-series starts at the writing phase, and believe it or not, you need to definitely write with the ‘long term plan’ in your mind. Sure things will change along the way but you really need to ensure your story is continuous. Otherwise you’ll end up scrambling or destroy the series.

I found that most web-series I watched (generally the first & second season) maintained a steady schedule of 6-12 episodes per season. Not sure if this is written somewhere as “good form” or it has just been what the successful web-series have done… best to learn from their example.

Also at the end of each “season” the arc should finish or come to some sort of low-point. A few webseries I found left huge ‘cliffhangers’ at the end of the season or just stopped in the middle of the story… I think this is bad form, and although again its the web, suddenly going to season 2 or 3 (generally a wait of a few months or year) really kills the audience appeal and viewership; again looking at stats you can see the viewcount on some youtube web-series drop at season cut-offs. So its important again that the end of the season is either a clear finish of a conflict, or a Intentional Cliffhanger which is going to stick in viewership’s mind; similar to how television series do it.

Webseries Research: Part I

In 2014 its our hope that we start a web-series or two; and reduce our short-film productions. The reason behind this is simply, we love making films, and short films are nice when you want to try something out, but they are unfortunately short lived (no pun intended). So to that end I watched several web-series to learn and decompose what makes them good, what makes them bad. Although each had its various charms and quirks one area I noted really defined a web-series was time; the length of each episode.

 

Original thinking of Web Series timing was based on successful YouTube videos of 3-5 minutes. However its hard to tell a continuation story (series which builds on previous episodes) in only 3-5minutes, so eventually episodes in later seasons got longer and longer. Now a days it seems some episodes in web series go upwards of 45 minutes (a normal TV episode); this I feel is too long to be consider a “web-series” in its pure form.

 

In the end It was found that most successful webseries tend to end up playing just over 5 minutes of story each episode (story is plot vs intro and outro credits, but more on that later). Reason it seems 5 minutes is the shortest an episode plays is that any shorter and you’re basically splitting the story into too many sub-episodes that end up getting interrupted by “next video” without really moving the plot forward. A GREAT example of this a spoof of doctor who, http://11thinspector.wix.com/theinspector

If you watch the first season, its a little painful because nothing really happens the whole season with all the really short episodes ~3.5 minutes each excluding credits… BUT when you watch the Season 2 prelude with is a lot longer ~7.5 minutes excluding credits something actually happens, in fact more happens in that 7.5 minutes IMHO than in the whole season one of ~20mins of episodes.

The +5 minute mark seems more reasonable for anything that is not ‘skit’ related (which were generally found to be 3-5 minutes; perfectly acceptable for most episode is a single joke). EDIT: It appears that their is another reason for the 5-8minute block (Thanks Kat Gracie) in that many ‘web-series’ award festivals consider only series with episodes within that running time.

 

Looking at longer episodes, things like Video Game High School are set-up like a normal TV or mini-series plots with each episode spanning as long as a normal television production. There is a clear trade-off though for the longer episodes; they cost a lot more, they take more time to make (and release!). That said, for the longer web-series (over 10 minutes per episode) most were good and generally involved more mature story-lines or in-depth characters.

 

Snow Wars Shot

Snow Wars – Short Film

Here is my holiday special. This short is about a very troubled woman and her appeasement for Snow Men; which is fine until people start talking about sending her away and then the snow men strike back!

 

All in all its pretty silly murder-humor, with only a quirky title that allows for endless puns on set…

 

I hope you watch and enjoy.

PIA16078-br2

Marsnasia

So…

 

HayPhoto.ca Film Productions in Association with Kevin Straw films has started pre-production work on the feature film… Marsnasia (or Marsasia – still working on how to spell that exactly). Now you may be wondering what the film is about, well I’ll give you a hint for now… it happens on Mars :)

 

Stay Tuned as Casting Calls and Crew Calls etc will hopefully be out by year’s end.

 

Best!

 

KS

Kevin Straw - Digi60 Cover

THE KEY – Digi60 2013 Film Festival

A Short Film we made for Ottawa’s Annual Digi60 Film Festival

 

Its a very abstract film about a young homeless girl named Samantha and her search for the Key to a Door Way of Discovery.

Frame Capture

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