What does it mean to be in Production?
As my Skillman Video Group internship comes to a close, I’m left with a feeling of excitement. I will definitely miss going through the routine of collaborating with Chloe, my awesome fellow intern, and revising blogs from the helpful feedback of my SVG mentor, Nicolette. However, I am excited because this internship with culminate with two final video production projects that Chloe and I have created from scratch and will finally be able to show the world. I am proud of all the work I was able to contribute, and I am unfathomably grateful for all the awesome ideas and expertise that Chloe brought to the table. There’s no way I could’ve done it without her, and the the same can be said for the continuous notes given by Nicolette and Christina. So for my last blog, I will break down the process of creating the Office parody video.
What is a Production Shoot?
For any parody video, it’s essential to have noticeable similarities to the source content. It’s also important for a Boston video company to create distinguishable characters. In the case of the Office TV show, one of the easiest ways to do this is to create parallels for iconic characters. We ultimately decided to focus on the Dwight character: driven, narcissistic, and always ready to prove himself to his boss. In earlier drafts of the script, there was more dialogue for the intern character (wearing a red tie) to work with, but due to time constraints, these extra scenes and lines were cut. We also thought about having an incompetent boss in a similar fashion to Michael, but Nicolette proved to be way too sweet of a boss. A list of character models:
- Dwight: My character (Jason) is designed to be like Dwight. He takes the first chance he gets to prove his technical prowess in Boston video production, and is deflated when he realizes Christina will just steamroll all of his efforts.
- Intern: This character, although brief was one of my personal favorites because of all the jokes that were left on the cutting floor. I just wanted him to be a continuous gag character that went with the flow of everything, no matter how ridiculous it was. I think my favorite line of the whole video is, “I know a guy.”
- Pam: Chloe was definitely a great parallel to Pam’s character: reliable, rational, but not one to discourage Jason from his personal crusade.
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One of the first considerations for a Boston video production company is the camera work going into a new video. To reinforce the parody idea, we wanted even this aspect to be similar to the Office show. In the actual TV show, the cinematography often compliments the humor or creates its own, because it is seemingly random, off-the-cuff, and reactive. There is never a meticulous slider shot because it just wouldn’t fit the personality of the show. As a result, we tried to mimic this approach via several tactics:
- Continuous takes- Although we cut on some actions, we tried to keep the camera rolling for as many scenes as possible. This creates a sense of candor and simultaneous chaos because the audience is expecting a cut to happen in moments of extreme discomfort or surprise, but it never does. This is where a lot of the show’s humor derives from, because the audience is forced to sit through awkward moments that the characters on the show experience.
- Whips/Pans- This is another hallmark of the mockumentary-style video. When a character abruptly enters or exits a scene, the camera operator suddenly whips toward the direction of the action. It is a hilarious and effective way of keeping a fast pace, as long as it doesn’t veer into being a jarring camera tactic.
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Of course, even though the video is a parody, we had to bring our own ideas to the table. Here are some ways we made the idea our own as a video production company.
- As mentioned earlier, the boss character (Nicolette) is actually quite competent, unlike her on-screen counterpart (Michael Scott). This creates a different dynamic for the video, because the misadventures of the actual show usually stem from weird situations that the boss gets himself into. By contrast, Nicolette is really nice and doesn’t like enforcing steadfast rules, so the humor comes from the consequences of this kind of personality. In the case of the video, this results in me (Jason) running amok with video ideas.
- Text Humor- This actually came up later when Chloe and I were editing the video. She had a great idea of introducing characters for interviews via a little text graphic that popped up in the lower part of the screen. It actually added a really funny layer to the video, and we had a lot of fun messing around with different descriptions for everyone.
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- Time management skills proved to be vital on the actual shoot day, because we had to stick to the production schedule flawlessly to be able to knock out all of the scenes. Thankfully, we started off with a burst of energy and managed to stay ahead of schedule for the majority of the day.
- Lighting was a problem later in the post production process, because we relied on the normal overhead lighting of the office rooms. This would end up being quite the challenge to fix with color correction.
- Camera angles caused another challenge directly affected by time management, because we had to decide whether or not to add extra angles when possible or keep moving in order to avoid fall behind schedule.
The video projects will be great for YouTube marketing and promoting throughout the Boston YouTube scene, so I’m really excited to be able to release it. Thanks again to a fantastic team at Skillman Video Group, and here’s to great things for the future!