The brand new comedy series, “P’s in a Pod,” has opened my world of acting in front of the camera to the daunting task of being an Executive Producer.
Our series about the messy, yet endearing, pair Pete & Polly comprise the “P’s” who comedically explore the overlooked nuances of platonic relationships, dating, multidimensionality, ethnic confusion, along with the universal frustration of “adulting”.
Sounds like a mouthful, doesn’t it? Believe it or not, that one sentence took both myself and Alex Pires, the creator of the series, at least four revisions and one completely new rewrite for the synopsis of the show.
When you are thinking about creating something that you care about, something that means a whole lot and you desperately want it to be good…
…be ready to exhaust yourself from rewriting the same line five times, drive yourself crazy rehearsing the dialogue in twenty different tones…
…and work harder for endless hours with the hope of bringing your masterpiece to life all the while trying to sparking the passion you have into in your audience’s eyes.
It was a good opportunity to help my fellow acting friend as well as a good way to meet new people who are living in New York also trying to “live the dream.”
Of course you are there to help your buddy who you admire because they are a phenomenal talent and you want to see them succeed but you see this is how it’s done.
You take a job that doesn’t pay hoping that they feed you and praying some way or another it will get you further along.
From the moment I arrived on set ready to play my part to the time we agreed to make this thing, I noticed how Alex and Stephanie worked together.
Stephanie is the vibrant woman playing Polly and as the costar of the show had a great deal of input as another creative mind. Alex brought me on to the project to help bring his new series to life.
The pages filled with ideas and text began to form into meaningful conversations and experiences as emotions were exhibited through Alex and Stephanie’s chemistry. They had a great back & forth as well as a promising vision. That’s the key…vision.
For an entire year the P’s crew had its fair share of twists and turns. From raising 80% of the total money we needed to find a way to inspire people to see our goals.
We wanted everyone who would consider helping fund the show to understand why we wanted to make the show in the first place.
This show was our dream, I wanted to make sure every contributor knew they were putting their money toward a worthy cause.
As an actor, I genuinely understand that we all have a role to play. The sound person records the dialogue and makes sure that nothing interferes with the overall noise that could potentially be distracting.
The cinematographer is responsible for the right shots according to what is asked of each scene as well as making sure the camera is steady.
The director has to get the right feel for the scene and motivate each actor with a catalyst to help people want to watch what is going on.
The extras role is to make the scene worth watching and not be noticed. The executive producer handles everything when something is not right.
As you may have guessed, with so many professionals working on one project, things go wrong from time to time. But, without mistakes we would never learn.
There were many times when I wanted to voice my opinions about the political climate or the regular climate for that matter. I felt muzzled because there was not a way for me to speak without harping on other people’s real life experiences.
As a producer, I finally got my shot to talk about something I deeply care about…race. Throughout the series, Pete feels stifled and misunderstood. The same way I feel everyday, but with one key difference. Pete is African American.
Why Do It?
I think the true question I face nearly every single day of my life is, what is going to inspire me to be better? If you want to create and produce your own content, you will inevitably ask yourself this.
When shooting episode 6 of P’s in a Pod “I Don’t Work Here” as per usual, the skeleton crew that we could afford were overworked, tired and facing the demon that is…time!
Remember, no matter how much time you give yourself to shoot (usually 2 hours for every page written) there is bound to be something that needs tweaking.
This episode jumped from one dilemma to the next. From having people on the street walk into our shots to losing the continuity of light to constantly getting on-lookers to see what is being filmed.
Just Breathe! People are stressed and you don’t need to fan the flames. In fact, everyone is looking at you to be concise and clear with how to fix it. So fix it and give yourself room to be wrong, you will never be completely right.
You will be seen as the rock, unmoving and unflinching, if you control your anxiety & give people enough of a morale boost to get what needs to be done, done.
Don’t take yourself too seriously
I’ve come to the understanding that you will get better as well because you have to. After all we don’t know nearly as much as we think we do, our job as the producer is to recognize our misgivings & pursue change.
Never excuse yourself for not having an answer and make sure that inquiry is handled with the utmost care.
Oh, by the way nothing is so dire that you should treat others without kindness. It’s much better to convey your feelings of frustration without the aggressive tendencies I see way too often on major sets.
Yea, the pressure is on you and things aren’t going well, it’s not the poor crew’s fault for a ship rearing off course. You have to be the winds of change by building relationships and you as a producer have to consider who you are speaking to.
Hire the Right People
You will save yourself so much aggravation if you do the research on who you need to hire. Sometimes hiring your friends are not the best option.
The benefits of hiring your friends are obvious from how they work for cheaper to the fact that you trust them and how they can could use the work. However, what will happen when something does not get fixed properly?
It could lead to you being angry that you gave them money to do their job that can easily lead to them resenting you because they feel like you don’t appreciate their work and you both will sit in an unhappy stew possibly ruining the friendship. Don’t Do It!
But if indeed you both come to an agreement with NDA’s and contracts ready to be signed clarifying what the responsibilities are of each person then it can build a strong foundation of faith and trust that is vital to making your vision a reality.
Be Ready to Adapt
You will take on jobs that you may not think is yours to do. Granted! You’re right and you’re wrong. Every job should have some person to do it but when the resources are scarce and it’s an indie project we all are expected to pick up the slack.
This means when the light is not set correctly and the cinematographer needs you to hold the reflector, it is up to you to help out.
Be mindful that everyone around you is taking your lead. This show needs someone who can step off his pedestal and be there as the support cog in a very fragile wheel.
Use the Social Media
Instagram, Facebook, IMdB, twitter and many more are yours for the taking. Use these as your way to keep people aware that your show is here to stay. Gain your followers and remember the audience is the most important thing.
Making a TV Show – Conclusion
You are never ready to take on something of this magnitude but how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Take on the script, take on the people you think can help you and most importantly choose to believe that your work is worth it.
Article written by Richard Wingert, Executive Producer, P’s in a Pod Comedy Series.