The Gamer's spec pilot was my first major undertaking in terms of writing, directing and producing. Let me tell you, it is *not* easy to co-ordinate that many people to make something like this, especially when you don't really have a budget.
Because I produced the pilot through the production company that I work for, I was able to use their contacts to get professional grips, gaffers etc. for half of what they usually charge. We held a short-notice casting session and managed to find some great local actors. In the weeks leading up to the shooting of the pilot, Jared, my fiance Becca and my friend and producer Deanna were driving all over town like crazy gathering props & costumes, securing locations etc.
Shooting was scheduled for 3 days... and man, those were some long days. For example, the big vampire battle scene near the end was schedule to shoot between 5 - 11 PM... and it ended up going until about 3:30 in the morning.
Anyway, one of the things that I took away from making Gamers is to not let others mess with your vision. I absolutely *hate* the first scene in the pilot. Flat-out hate it. The dialogue is clunky and full of exposition, the blocking is awkward and the shooting style isn't in tune with the rest of the pilot.
I'm not making excuses; but that first scene is not even close to how I originally wrote it. Unfortunately I let myself be convinced by other people that all of that exposition was necessary in order to setup the show and the characters. Seeing the finished product, it's obviously not.
Also, I like the shooting style overall... but there are times where I just wish that I had grabbed a f***ing wide shot! This was a symptom of me having to both direct *and* shoot the pilot at the same time... and on top of that, I was essentially managing 20+ people who had been in the business waaaaaaaaay longer than me. Very high-pressure, but I loved every minute of it, and the people I was working with were awesome and very understanding.
So, back to the first scene of the pilot:
We actually shot the first scene twice. I hated it so much that I rewrote it and we went back months later to shoot it all over again. So why isn't my rewrite in the final version of the pilot?
Long story short, a couple of the people who sat down at one point to give me advice on the pilot were very prominent writers. Their past work includes "Dumb and Dumber" and "There's Something About Mary". They watched both versions of the first scene... and suggested that I stick with the original version of it because it was faster paced.
Now when the guy who was a major writer on "Dumb and Dumber" gives you advice on editing a comedy, you take it. It doesn't make me like the first scene any better, but the advice did help me learn yet another lesson about pacing, as the rewritten scene didn't work because it wasn't nearly as fast.
If I were to rewrite and reshoot the opening scene again, I'd take a completely different approach. At this point there is no reason to do so... but at least I know what I would do and I'm confident about it.
Next time I'll talk about the Trade-a-Game scene and the Edwin character.