Submitted by Kian Ahmadian
I was standing in my kitchen, when I looked down at six cotton balls stuck to a piece of white paper on my counter. They didn't work as art and had been there for months. Suddenly, and slowly, names began to occur to me, and individual personalities began to form. It was then that I realized I had a show to do, called Meat Insomnia.
The first step in making your own show is having a good idea. Ideas are the most mysterious piece of the puzzle. They can't be manufactured - but when you have a good one, you'll know it.
The second thing you need is a collection of smaller ideas for stories. In the beginning, murky pieces will come to you, but the better you get to know the characters, the setting, and the atmosphere, the more stories will come out from around every corner. Now it's your responsibility to organize all this into individual episodes that will flow and work in a satisfying way.
The third part is finding the right actors for the roles. I was lucky - my actors had been living in my kitchen for months; all I needed to do was work on impersonating their voices. Being able to look at and hear your actors at work will lead to even more ideas. Some things won't work, and will have to be thrown out, while new and better things will come naturally in the form of "accidents," as the best things in life always seem to do. Nevertheless, it's all gravy.
Now it's time to make the show! When you're working with actors without audible voices, you may need to pre-record the dialog. In my situation, I drive over to the all-new Evil Troll Studios in sunny Southern California, where owner, operator, and engineer Paul Calder is happy to lend his expertise. Paul records my dialog sessions onto a hard-drive, using Digital Performer, one character at a time. The tracks are then burned onto a CD, and imported to an audio editing program, where they are broken down line by line.
The fourth step is the filming itself. Although most sitcoms are filmed in traditional three-camera setups, when you're working on a small budget, and your actors can't move, a single digital video camera would seem the way to go. Scenes may be shot in sequence, or character by character, whatever feels right for the mood of the show. Footage can then be transferred into a computer, using a method such as firewire, for use with a digital editing program, such as Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro.
This brings us to the fifth step, editing. The great part about non-linear editing is that picture, dialog, sound effects, and music can be moved and shaped easily and with freedom. Thoughts are able to flow. Things suddenly begin to take shape, and each episode blooms, right there, in front of you.
So that's it. That's all there is to it. You can see the fruits of my labor for yourself at www.meat-insomnia.com. Meat Insomnia just started a run of eight episodes, with a new episode premiering every Friday night. Totally free of charge, of course. So check it out, and see the show spawned from six cotton balls stuck to a piece of white paper.