The Making of Artistically Challenged
First, we had a lot of writing meetings. When we weren’t able to meet in person, our writing meetings looked like this:
(L-R: Aleks Arcabascio, Jeremy Boros, Michael Deigh. Sometimes we got distracted with the toys Google Hangout provided.)
Once we finished writing the series, it was time to create a shot-list and storyboard every shot. We purchased a square-shaped whiteboard so that it matched the dimensions of an Instagram video. Here are a couple examples of the storyboards Aleks drew:
Episode #4 - Second-Hand Art
Episode #6 - The Commission
After writing, storyboarding, and dozens of pre-production meetings, the series was ready to shoot. The whole cast was ready to go and we’d locked all of our locations. We shot in a ton of amazing places all over New York–more than locations in 20 total!
We shot an Episode in Tony’s Di Napoli, located in Midtown Manhattan (Episode #11 - Dinner Special):
We shot in a Dentist’s office (Episode #21 - The Dentist):
We shot in Bushwick (Brooklyn) near the Jefferson L train, where entire blocks are covered in graffiti (Episode #15 - Hard Bargain):
We were also on a boat (Episode #22 - The Boat Captain)
The entire series was shot on a Canon 5D, which has a built-in 16:9 widescreen aspect ratio. Since the series was conceived to be shown on Instagram, and we storyboarded for a square frame, each of our shots was composed in camera with that 1:1 ratio in mind.
Here are a few examples of how we used frame guides to get the shots perfect for Instagram:
Episode #2 - 2 Weeks Earlier
You can see that we’re bouncing light right from the edge of the shot. This part of the episode takes place in Queens, at a pizzeria called An Italian Affair. That’s its real name, not its movie name.
Episode #7 - Golden Boy
This entire episode was shot at the Martin Lawrence Gallery in SoHo. In widescreen, we would have been able to capture more of the physical size of the Gallery. Since we had to keep our shot within the square, we chose to create a sense of claustrophobia for Nick since he’s surrounded by several people in a tight frame.
Episode #13 - Wake-Up Call
Like the previous examples, sometimes being able to cut off the sides of the frame was a nice tool since we could light closer to the actors. Plus, it made sure that Matt Ahl (Assistant Camera, pictured left of frame) didn’t make it into the shot!
The entire shoot took two full weeks and when we were done, we had material for over thirty episodes! We are so pleased that they are now up on Instagram for the world to see. Hope you enjoy watching the entire series as much as we did making it!