Living the exile

Today I was thinking that we’re about to enter the fourth year of The Wakefield Variation: the project was conceived in late 2011 when Alessandro and I finally agreed on which previously-written-material should be the base of our creative vision. Soon after we picked up Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Wakefield” I wrote the first draft of the screenplay of what should have become a one-off cutting-edge short film to showcase our filmmaking skills.
The project was developed during 2012 and went through several stages (check out the previous posts!) morphing into a series; the pilot episode was set to be shot on early 2013, involving an international cast, a whole crew of film pros, and the need of a lot of money.
The huge storm that hit us on the last day of shooting should have warned us that 2013 wasn’t going to be easy… and it proved right. All is still stuck, not a festival accepted our work, and the continuation of the series is still in our head.
2014 will see a new cut of the pilot episode, split in three mini-episodes tailored for the 21st century-superfast-casual-websurfer. Will it work? We definetely hope so. In the meantime, time goes by… in a fancy we would expect to see in a future (but currently unlikely) episode of The Wakefield Variation.
I guarantee there will be happier posts :-): for now, Effetto Espanso wishes all of you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a great 2014!

Wakefield is watching you.
Oggi stavo pensando che stiamo per entrare nel quarto anno di The Wakefield Variation: il progetto fu concepito alla fine del 2011 quando I e Alessandro scegliemmo su quale materiale-precedentemente-edito basare la nostra visione creativa. Poco dopo aver scelto “Wakefield” di Nathaniel Hawthorne scrissi la prima stesura della sceneggiatura di quello che sarebbe dovuto diventare un eccezionale cortometraggio per mostrare le nostre capacità nella produzione cinematografica.
Il progetto fu sviluppato nel corso del 2012 attraversando varie fasi (date un’occhiata ai post precedenti!) fino a diventare una serie; le riprese del pilota furono fissate per l’inizio del 2013, con un cast internazionale, un’intera troupe di professionisti e la necessità di un sacco di soldi.
L’incredibile tempesta che ci trovammo davanti l’ultimo giorno di riprese avrebbe dovuto avvertirci che il 2013 non sarebbe stato facile… e aveva ragione. È tutto ancora bloccato, non c’è un festival che abbia accettato il nostro lavoro, e la continuazione della serie è ancora nella nostra testa.
Il 2014 vedrà un nuovo montaggio dell’episodio pilota, diviso in 3 mini-episodi fatti su misura per il navigante del 21esimo secolo, casuale e superveloce. Servirà? Lo speriamo con tutto il cuore. Nel frattempo il tempo passa, nel modo che ci aspetteremmo di vedere in un futuro (ma al momento improbabile) episodio di The Wakefield Variation.
Garantisco che ci saranno post più allegri :-): per adesso, Effetto Espanso augura a tutti voi buon Natale, delle piacevoli vacanze e un fantastico 2014!

Where’s Wakefield?

September has been another month without any post, and we’re the first ones to be sad about this. It looks like things are kind of stuck, with the original series way far from being greenlit (by whom then, that’s a whole other story) and the graphic novel still waiting for a proper debut – as it is not available from major on-line book stores yet. Even more sadly, festival and pitching response has been disappointing so far.

Nontheless, it would be legit to answer the question in the subject with “he’s hiding”, as that’s what he’s actually doing in the series… the one in our minds, the one you briefly tasted in the pilot. He’s hiding so well, that not even us, the series creators, could figure out how to find him. Then we realized that maybe it was all about the proper way to look for him… and ok, now I’m putting it down so it should all make sense: The Wakefield Variation was created with big cable network production in mind, just a little bit shrunk for web audience… if you’re thinking we might have overlooked a few things, you’re smarter than us, as we only got it lately. Well, since it looks like we didn’t impress either of the two above worlds (which often collide, but I digress) we thought about some suggstions and feedback that we received in the last few months… some of them going back to the 2012 Marseille Web Fest. Ok, enough talking: what if we recut the pilot to have three 3-minute episodes?

 

 

Songs in the key of Wakefield

Great news: I’m getting back at writing in first person – for a few posts, at least. And I don’t want to give up on making this place a real diary about everything that happens about this project. I just got back from Rome where I had two things scheduled: attending a screening of the pilot to a small but selected audience at Caffè Letterario, and a business meeting with some important (yet undisclosed) person who might mean a lot to the continuation of our series.

Shortly after I got home, I received an e-mail from Michael Brian, our lead actor, that is Wakefield himself! He was asking news about the project, as it looked stuck from “outside”… and I must say he’s right. There haven’t been any major updates lately, and that is because dealing with development, distribution, funding, etc is time consuming, and being our production company still made of just two people, there is no much time left for promotion, updating, advertising.

And this is bad. It really is. A project like this is kept alive by audience, readers, bloggers, casual surfers too: being born from the internet, for the internet, it needs to be appealing to the people of the internet. I tried to figure out something to change things… and I thought about going back a little bit.. back to the origin of this project, of its story, its atmosphere, its inspiration.
I couldn’t help thinking about music, and I mean way before Michele Bettali, Stefano Carrara and Fabrizio Castanìa delivered their great score. Some specific music was in my head while developing the concept behind The Wakefield Variation, and it provided a lot of inspiration for what I thought this series needed.

So I thought it could be a nice move to share with you the beginning of the creative process through the music. I’d like to start with a song that has long been in may favourite playlist, and has kept me thinking about the lyrics since the first time I listened to it. It’s Time in a Bottle by Jim Croce. In those words lies a lot of Wakefield’s “experiment”…

and THE teaser trailer shows up

We know what you’re thinking: here we are again, with the same old dull teaser-trailer-then-renamed-episode-alpha-then-renamed-a-taste-of-what-is-going-to-happen posted once again just to give the feel of the work in progress while the work is actually not progressing at all.
You might be right, since it took us a lot of time to move to production stage, and that video was the only thing we could show you…until now! The Wakefield Variation (that is, the pilot episode) is almost ready to meet the internet audience, and as our team is polishing the details about music and sound design, we’re happy to show you a new teaser trailer! The first one worth to be called like this, being made from real pilot footage.
It may look like it doesn’t reveal much, but if you pay attention you’ll find a lot of things never seen – or heard – before 🙂
Enjoy the watch, and tell us what you think: we might still be on time to make changes to the pilot, which is due… in a week 😉

Sappiamo cosa state pensando: eccoci ancora una volta col solito trailer sfigato che ha cambiato nome 10 volte, per dare l’idea che lavori sono in corso quando invece non lo sono affatto.
Potreste avere ragione, dato che ci abbiamo messo così tanto per arrivare alla fase di produzione, e quel video era l’unica cosa che avevamo da mostrarvi…. fino ad ora! The Wakefield Variation (cioè, l’episodio pilota) e quasi pronto per il pubblico di internet, e mentre la nostra squadra sta definendo gli ultimi dettagli relativi a musica e sound design, siamo felici di mostrarvi un nuovo teaser trailer! Diciamo il primo meritevole di essere chiamato tale, dato che è stato prodotto dal girato originale.
Potrà sembrare che non riveli molto, ma se prestate attenzione vi accorgerete di diverse cosa mai viste – o sentite – prima 🙂

Quindi buona visione, e fateci sapere le vostre opinioni: potremmo essere ancora in tempo per modificare l’episodio pilota, che dovrebbe arrivare… tra una settimana 😉

It’s a wrap!

I won’t lie, I dreamed of shouting the above countless times 🙂 Now that I actually did it, it looks like we’re coming back to reality, as if the shooting of The Wakefield Variation was some sort of dream… It must say that it looked like it was turning into a nightmare at some point, but with the help of an amazing cast and crew we woke up safe and sound in our beds. In the last week we tasted filmmaking… (I mean, the real thing) and it was a great professional and formative experience, the kind that made us a slightly better producer and director. I suggest you to follow us on facebook and twitter as well to know about all the problems we had to face and get a glimpse of what was going on, while we enter the post-production stage. Oh, and… people who helped us getting to this point: thank you so much!

Brifing with some tea and coffee

Gianluca Olmastroni (series creator/director, on the right) discusses minor script changes with actors Michael Brian (left) and Kelsey Gillis (center). Photo by Lisa Carpitelli (associate producer/script supervisor)

Sarò onesto, ho sognato di urlarlo (it’s a wrap!) innumerevoli volte 🙂 Ora che l’ho fatto, sembra di tornare alla realtà, come se le riprese di The Wakefield Variation fossero state una specie di sogno… Devo dire che in certi momenti sembrava che stesse diventando un incubo, ma con l’aiuto di una fantastica squadra di attori e tecnici ci siamo risvegliati sani e salvi nei nostri letti. Nell’ultima settimana abbiamo assaggiato il fare cinema (intendo, “quello vero”) ed è stata una bellissima esperienza professionale e formativa, del tipo che ci ha reso un produttore e un regista leggermente migliori. Vi consiglio di seguirci anche su facebook e twitter per conoscere i problemi che abbiamo dovuto affrontare e per avere un’idea di tutto quello che è successo, mentre noi ci immergiamo nella post-produzione. Oh, e un grazie infinito a tutte le persone che ci hanno aiutato ad arrivare a questo punto!

The Wakefield Week

Here we are, this week will finally mark the shooting of the first episode of The Wakefield Variation! While we are trying to make every piece to fit in its place (and it’s not an easy task, considering how much every piece is going to cost) we can’t help thinking about how everything begun… and how much things changed in a year. We talked briefly about this in the previous post, but we keep thinking that if someone told us – one year ago – that it would took us a year to start shooting the series pilot… I don’t know, maybe we might have given up. It started as a small project, mainly for showcasing purpose… and as soon as we discovered crowdfunding (ages later than the rest of the world I guess) we decided to give it a try. The rest is history – which is all written down right here on this blog, by the way – but I think that all those expensive and time-consuming issues we’ve been through, they were worth it. Building a cast and a crew for a web-series with a cinematic approach, as opposed to just start and shoot… it truly was an experience, and some… very educating journey. Anyway, we’re eagerly waiting for the next one… which is not the flight Michael Brian (Wakefield) is going to catch in a day or so. Keep reading us 🙂

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Ed eccoci alla settimana che segna le riprese del primo episodio di The Wakefield Variation! Mentre proviamo a far incastrare ogni pezzo al suo posto (e non è facile, anche considerando il costo di ogni singolo pezzo) non possiamo fare a meno di pensare a come tutto è cominciato… e quanto le cose sono cambiate in un anno. Ne abbiamo parlato brevemente nel precedente post (english only, sorry!) ma continuiamo a pensare che se qualcuno ci avesse detto – un anno fa – che ci sarebbe voluto un anno per iniziare a girare l’episodio pilota della serie… non lo so, forse avremmo lasciato perdere. È partito come un piccolo progetto, principalmente a scopo dimostrativo… e appena abbiamo scoperto il crowdfunding (una vita dopo il resto del mondo, immagino) abbiamo deciso di fare un tentativo. Il resto è storia – che è scritta tutta proprio qui su questo blog, a proposito – ma credo che tutti i complessi e costosi problemi che ci siamo trovati davanti, siano valsi la pena. Costruire cast e troupe per una web-serie con un approccio cinematografico, al posto di iniziare a girare così dal niente… è stata un’esperienza e un viaggio che definirei… educativo. In ogni caso, aspettiamo impazienti il prossimo… che non è il volo per l’Italia che Michael Brian (Wakefield) prenderà tra circa un giorno. Continuate a leggere 🙂

Happy New Year (again) and Why (part II)

This blog was started the first day of this very year, which is about to end (UTC+1 time zone!) and the second post was titled “Why” and dealt about the reasons of making a short film. There was also a “part one” in brackets, and one year later I feel the urge to drop a few lines about why this project has become a webseries, why it’s worth making it and why there’s nothing to watch yet.

A series is the only thing in independent film/video production that can have a market in these days, period. We can’t think of a feature, or a single short: being a company, investing a lot of what is still our own money, we have to think this way. I want to make clear that this is not something we regret or we’re ashamed of; considering how much television influenced the popular culture with great shows (even really bad ones, but that’s not what we’re talking about now) we’d be glad to be part of that arena.

Obviously, we must be aware of competing in a different league, but the web and all of its distribution opportunities are making possible something which was pure fantasy only a few years back. With the pilot episode of The Wakefield Variation we want to show the internet audience our take on independent webseries: an international blend of creative talent and professionals putting efforts into a small but ambitious project.
If you think it sounds like a lot of hard work you already know why it takes time 🙂 Happy New Year everyone!

TWV has officially entered production stage!

Tuesday, december 11th marked the beginning of the actual production of The Wakefield Variation, as we shot the title sequence which we hope will keep us company for a long, long time 🙂

We’re not going to spoil anything of the great things that bunnygraphic will make of the footage, so we’ll just show you some pictures (taken by executive producer Gabriele Burchi). Nonetheless, we would like to thank people like Alberto Nildi, who served as camera operator/grip and represented a great asset with his dolly arm and slider, custom built to suit the canon 5D mkII used for the shooting; also Emilio Maio deserves our gratitude for providing the vintage reel to reel recorder, a very precious item for production design.

Last but not least, Spy Shop Cecina gets a mention for providing the surveillance gear… but you should already know that. If you didn’t, just scroll a few posts back!

Shooting the title sequence/2

Alberto Nildi and Alessandro De Nicola (series creator/producer)

Shooting the title sequence/3

generations apart!

Shooting the title sequence/1

Gianluca Olmastroni (series creator/director), Eleonora Tabanelli a.k.a. bunnygraphic (motion graphic designer, head of title sequence design) and Alberto Nildi

Martedì 11 dicembre ha segnato l’inizio ufficiale della fase di produzione di The Wakefield Variation, con le riprese della sequenza dei titoli che speriamo ci faccia compagnia per tanto tempo 🙂

Non vi rovineremo la sorpresa delle cose fantastiche che bunnygraphic farà col girato, quindi vi mostreremo solo qualche foto (scattate dal produttore esecutivo Gabriele Burchi). Nondimeno, vorremo ringraziare persone come Alberto Nildi, che ha fatto da operatore/macchinista rappresentando una preziosa risorsa, con il suo slider e crane autocostruiti su misura per la Canon 5D MkII usata per girare; anche Emilio Maio merita la nostra gratitudine per aver fornito il registratore a bobine, un prezioso elemento scenografico.

Ultimo ma non ultimo, ringraziamo calorosamente Spy Shop Cecina per l’attrezzatura di sorveglianza, ma dovreste già saperlo. In caso contrario, scorrete indietro di qualche post!

Shooting days locked down!

Here is some news I’m sure you were all waiting for: The Wakefield Variation – that is, the pilot episode – will be shot next january, on the 17th-18th-19th. It took a little more than we originally expected, but we’re happy to finally do it. Pre-production is going to hit its craze peak during the next weeks, so keep following us as we’ll tell you a lot more!

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Ecco una notizia che sicuramente molti di voi stavano aspettando: The Wakefield Variation – cioè, l’episodio pilota – sarà girato il prossimo gennaio, il 17, 18 e 19. C’è voluto un più tempo di quanto immaginassimo, ma siamo felici di poterlo finalmente annunciare. I preparativi raggiungerano il massimo livello di frenesia nelle prossime settimane, quindi continuate a seguirci e vi racconteremo molto di più…

Wakefield, or the spy who knew (everything about) me

Ok, it might look to you that we actually took a little hiatus, with no updates in more than a month… the truth is that we’ve been a little busy with something else (more or less unrelated to creative filmmaking) as we were waiting a few answers regarding the future of The Wakefield Variation. Since we’re still waiting, here is something worth a new post: we’re happy to announce the partnership with Tecnologia Investigativa, a surveillance gear shop that is going to provide technical advice and proper equipment (real ones, not props!) for the filming! I guess the episode alpha – see previous post – gave you some hunch about what this webseries is going to be about 🙂

Tecnologia Investigativa - Spy Shop Cecina

Ok, forse potrà sembrare come una pausa, questo periodo di oltre un mese senza aggiornamenti… la verità è che siamo stati impegnati con altro mentre stavamo aspettando un po’ di risposte relative al futuro di The Wakefield Variation. Siccome siamo ancora in attesa, ecco qualcosa per cui vale la pena un post: siamo felici di annunciare la collaborazione/sponsorizzazione di Spy Shop – Tecnologia Investigativa, un negozio di attrezzatura per sorveglianza e investigazione, che fornirà consulenza tecnica e materiale di scena (oggetti reali, non finti!) per le riprese. Magari dall’episodio alpha – vedi post precedente – avevate avuto un indizio sull’argomento di questa serie 🙂 In ogni caso, per chi fosse interessato ad un’occhiata più da vicino, il negozio è a Cecina (LI) in Corso Matteotti 288.