SHOWGIRLS is a five part comedy web series that takes audiences on a hilarious rollercoaster ride with two girls and their not-so-average boss, in an eccentric luxury cinema.
We talked to SHOWGIRLS web series director and producer BEN LEGG.
Where did you get the inspiration from?
The writers (Alex Casey, Summer Gribble and Lisa Sorensen) came to me with the script. At the time, they were all working as projectionists in a beautiful art house cinema in Auckland (The Lido www.lido.co.nz ). They wanted to share some of the unbelievable stories and characters that they were experiencing, so they had put pen to paper and SHOWGIRLS was born! They had gone through an immense writing process (I think they were up to eleven drafts?) which had really sharpened the stories. I’ll leave it up to you to work out what bits are true!
What was the biggest challenge?
A couple of things. We started – and finished – as a zero budget project. So we really had to make do and be creative with what we had…not to mention begging, borrowing, and stealing. We had a DSLR Camera, a shaky tripod and a microphone gaffa-taped to the end of a broom handle! Necessity truly is the mother of all invention though – and with enough thought and creativity and you can solve almost any problem.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned?
Prep, prep, and prep some more. The more time and thought you can put into pre production, the smoother the shoot is going to go. Visualise being on set, and identify issues before they happen. We kept communication open with production meetings, and had test shoots on location to iron out anything unexpected…and it meant that we could really work like a well oiled machine. There was a lot less stress on set and we were able enjoy ourselves a lot more!
What would you do differently?
Because we had to do everything with literally NO cash, we had to request a massive favour in securing our main location, the cinema. That meant we had to film entirely outside business hours… hello, night shoots! That was really tough for everyone; because most people had day jobs they still had to go to work every day. Even though we may have been filming till 4am that morning, and starting again at 10pm that night! We were utterly shattered. Next time we’ll have the budget to be able to pay the location, and actors and crew for their time and talent.
Funniest moment on set?
You know that time of night when you hit the wall and you just become drunk on tiredness? We were constantly living like that, and had so many giggles on set – not least because Brian Gibb (who plays Willie Johnson) is a total crack up. Half the time we’d just let him improvise while the camera was rolling. I remember one particularly difficult take with Summer and Lisa and we were halfway through the scene before I realised Sophie (Sound Recordist) was there, holding the boom, plain as day, directly between them. Right in the middle of the shot. We were all just too tired to notice. I’ve saved it for the blooper reel.
Best advice for young filmmakers?
Don’t let a single excuse stop you from making your project. If you have an idea and you’re willing to put the time and energy in, you can make it happen. Constantly ask yourself – How could I make this better? Surround yourself with your best and brightest and put everything you have into your project, everything else will follow.
At the moment we’re working on taking SHOWGIRLS to various web festivals around the world, but beyond that, we are working on a bringing out a feature film, which I can’t say too much about yet – secret squirrel!
>> Watch the trailer here: http://webserieschannel.co.nz/webseries/showgirls/