Ardant followers of THE-ACTORS-PAD may remember a Guest Blog we published a while back promoting the advantages for practitioners of all kinds to be more proactive in their careers and produce their own work from the ground up rather than always waiting for some unqualified office lackey to give you the ‘Green-Light’.
Well, a recently completed web series by husband and wife duo NEIL DOCKING (Writer) and MAXINE EVANS (Director) proves just how rewarding it can be to cut out the middle men and produce your own work exactly as you envisage it.
In the days of old there was obviously a huge problem with producing your own work – camera and editing equipment was incredibly expensive which meant, unless you were Howard Hughes, it was necessary to pitch for commissioning by a big TV/FILM network. Over the last decade, two things have happened to remove this hurdle; cameras and powerful home computers are cheaper than ever, and the popularity boom for crowd funding campaigns has meant bagging yourself several thousand pounds to get things started is a very realistic possibility.
After many years as a writer of mainstream soaps like Casualty, Emmerdale and Coronation Street, NEIL had become fed up with their formulaic approach to story telling;
“Most people working in soaps want to stick to proven formulas — so as a writer you are doing the same thing over and over again. If you suggest something different, it’s knocked back.”
The stifling experiences NEIL endured in the world of soaps gave him both the impetus and concept for his new series STORYLINE which follows the creative team behind a radio soap as they struggle with plot lines, actor egos and the media;
“I really wanted to make it after all of the hilarious things I had experienced working in the world of soaps. I knew it would be a fun project and would be a great piece of original writing. It is a show that laughs at an industry from the inside — created by people who have experienced it.”
Teaming up with his wife MAXINE, an experienced director and actress currently starring in the hit SKY1 comedy STELLA, the duo were ready to go with what would seem to be the full package. But, as is so often the case, the broadcasters were having none of it;
“No one wanted to commission a behind-the-scenes-style series, despite shows like Extras, The Thick of It and The West Wing being successful,”
NEIL and MAXINE took matters into their own hands, enlisted a top notch cast of well known TV stars including former Casualty actress Jane Gurnett, Mark Homer — who played Tony Hills in EastEnders — and Steve Speirs and Terri Dwyer, both from Hollyoaks. They then set about raising more than £11,000 on Kickstarter for equipment and insurance, finding an office in Finsbury Park where they shot the comedy over 14 weekends, before spending the rest of the year editing it. The finished product was posted online earlier this month and has been watched nearly 2000 times already.
So, follow in NEIL and MAXINE’S footsteps, take our advice: Don’t wait for someone else to give your idea the go ahead – be your own producer – be your own boss.
“Doing this project shows what you can do if you let the mental patient run the asylum — and it’s worked out quite well.” NEIL DOCKING
Having just watched the entire series of 4 episodes back to back, all of us here at The Actors Pad were in fits of laughter at what has to be one of the most hilarious, imaginative and original comedies we have seen in a long time.
You can watch Episode 1 of STORYLINE below: