IAWTV, THE PICKS: "BEST WRITING (COMEDY)" & "BEST DIRECTING (COMEDY)"
The end is near, at least for our category blogs. And on December 14th, we'll learn who the nominees are (we're keeping our fingers crossed). But before then, we still need to talk about our picks for three categories.
Our two previous blogs talked about the talents of Jo Bozarth and Josh Heine. Today, Andy will be blogging alone about the "Best Writing for a Comedy" and "Best Directing for a Comedy". Not because Avi is unavailable or too busy, although his dance card is full, but because these two categories are about Avi's contribution it would be difficult for him to blog about himself (unless he were a Kardashian – lol).
Andy's picks, after the jump.
When you watch one of our episodes, or a movie or a television show for that matter, you are seeing all the production components come together – writing, directing, acting, cinematography, production design, costume design – a cornucopia of creative collaboration. But everything starts with a great story (the writing) and then through the directing, the vision is transferred from the pages to the film (or video for us). Without good writing or directing, the final film can fall short no matter how good the other components are.
THE CATEGORY: "Best Writing, Comedy"
THE PICK: Episode 8, "No Good Deed..."
SEE IT HERE: www.cupidanderos.com
As the producer, I got to work closely with Avi on the script development. The great thing about Avi is that he had thought about storylines not only across episodes but across seasons. It’s hard enough to come up with the story just for one episode but when we first started discussing the arcs in episodes 1 through 3, Avi could talk about the growth of these characters all the way through episode 9. Avi also had the brilliance to take a storyline and cover it over three episodes, giving more time and presence to bring a complete story together.
For all of the episodes, the script development process was the same. Avi would write the three episodes that cover one storyline and I would read, giving feedback from a producer’s viewpoint (did the interaction seem natural, was the arc complete, could the scene be tightened, could we shoot the scene within our budget, etc). It was amazing to me to see Avi’s knowledge of mythology because when I would ask a question about how a mythology component, be it dialogue reference or diety, related within the script, Avi could give historical reference and how this history effected the action on the page. This showcases how a great writer knows this history and how it effects his characters.
Avi’s decision to make Olympus like Earth was key from several aspects. Not only would it ground our gods between the two worlds and make it easy for them to move among both, it also made production easier because we could play earthly locations for Olympus. The mixer is a great example of this – the auditorium including decorations can be found at any high school dance. It’s the people, i.e. gods, that would look out of place if on earth (a bartender with horns, only during Halloween). And since the emotions experienced by mortals and gods are the same, the trials and tribulations become universal.
Another thing that impressed me as I was recalling reading the drafts for all the episodes, Avi did a wonderful job of bringing unique characteristics and growth to the page. When we are first introduced to the characters, we have a clear sense of their strengths and commitment to their duty of bringing love to everyone. As the episodes progress, we see that even the strongest character, Eros, is only human in some respects. Whereas Cupid, who has many vulnerabilities in the beginning, draws on his strengths in caring and sensitivity to overcome obstacles and in the process, allows Eros to grow as well. To me, storytelling is not only about the action but about the growth of the characters as they maneuver through life’s obstacles, which Avi does exceptionally and because he knows these characters so well. I can only imagine, and somewhat know, how these characters will react and grow in future seasons.
But the action of the characters is also important and here, Avi does a wonderful job writing situations that reveal and compel the moments forward. From the first storyline that reveals the two agents at work along with their true friendship – Eros wanting to save Cupid from a failed relationship. In the next storyline, episodes 4 to 6, the godly world is just as dysfunctional as the mortal world. We end season one, episodes 7 to 9, with some intense action as Cupid learns that going rogue has its implications from his superiors and his relationship with Eros. And as our hero’s resolve the obstacles, they learn something about themselves.
Which brings me to the selection for this category. Again, hard to decide, especially since I was got to see how each script changed, sometimes slightly, into what you see on the small screen. So why did I choose, episode 8? To me, this episode highlights Avi’s ability to write a relatively large number of unique characters that not only play well off each other but also takes the viewer on an emotional ride. From Cupid’s excitement and anticipation about bringing a love connection to Achilles - to Ero’s loneliness at being rejected by her best friend - to the final chaotic action introduced by another minion sent by the gods. It’s a rollercoaster that keeps you engaged and empathetic while wondering what will happen next.
THE CATEGORY: “Best Directing, Comedy”
THE PICK: Episode 9, “Love Conquers all, Bitch...”
SEE IT HERE: www.cupidanderos.com
I’ve often been told, and agree, that the best directing comes when the writer steps into this role and brings the vision forward. And for Cupid and Eros, this is no exception. I knew as we worked with the scripts, that Avi would have no problem bringing the pages to life. He knew these characters and during rehearsals, Avi was able to concisely convey the motivations such that the actors could easily embody these spirits. Avi had experience directing but let’s be honest, it takes years to hone this craft in such a way that you can get the performance you want in one or two takes. But since Avi had really thought these characters and the action through, he knew the emotion for the shot and was able to get the performance in three or four takes. From a producer’s standpoint, this helped keep our production, somewhat, on schedule.
It’s not to say that Avi didn’t have his challenges during production. As mentioned in the blog about Best Cinematography, we were block shooting because of the limitations in crew and equipment. This is not easy for even the pros but Avi was such a professional in this challenge. He thought the situation through, worked meticulously with the keys (especially Erin Connarn, our script supervisor) and the actors to get shots that edited seamlessly together. I know it was exhausting for Avi and in the future, we will try to make allowances so we don’t have to use block shooting again.
The director’s relationship with the actors is very important too because the talent must trust the vision. And at all times during the production, I know the actors had complete trust in Avi. This had to be because of his ability to convey the emotions of the scene, the past and motivation of the character and his ability to listen to what the actors had to say if they didn’t feel the line or moment was right to them. These are professional qualities that Avi brought from the beginning.
The crew also takes on the energy of the director. If the crew feels the director does not have a clear vision or there is a problem at a key level, it will be reflected in the motivation of the crew to do the job and do it at their best. But Avi has a natural knack for interacting with everyone on set. And because Avi always brought a positive energy to set; if he didn’t, it wasn’t apparent; the crew never had adverse feelings toward one another or between departments. Yes, the producer brings an energy too but in this production, my energy at times was slanted toward the administration side whereas Avi’s carried the creative.
Which brings me to my selection for this category – episode 9. Come on, the opening scene with the jousting and fighting is kick ass. And since we block shot this, directing the fights so that the final edit comes across realistic, is difficult but Avi pulled it off with flying colors. And in the middle of the conflict, we get a very touching scene between Eros and Cupid, you can see the tears start to form in Eros’ eyes at one point. And I love the montage as Eros confronts Neikea to break her influence giving Cupid the opportunity to retract his love connection. Avi then takes the performances to a loving place, slowing down the pacing and allowing the viewer and the story to breath. Talk about a performance rollercoaster.
So yeah, I guess overall I am biased in my opinion of Avi as a writer and as a director. But I’ve learned in this business that it is hard to find people that you respect for their abilities and love working with. In Avi, I found both.
I hope you enjoyed my selection for these two categories and my candor about each. Our intent is to give you, our fans, a glimpse into what it’s like to bring this web series to fruition. Yes, it’s difficult and there are many steps that people generally don’t realize go into something that seems as simple as a webisode. It’s a combination of energy, creativity, and passion. And along with it, a lot of love.
-Andy (& Avi in absentia)