El Paso Music Scene

How Not to Make a Sketch Video

I made my first sketch video, Nuclear Blue, a few days ago. While I knew I would make some mistakes the first time around, I made a lot more than I thought I would, especially for a one-minute video. I probably should have trashed the whole thing, and re-done it with whatever actors I could get, but I felt I owed it to the people that had acted in it to release it. I am probably going to fix the things related to the timing of the still shots. I will just have to chalk up the rest to experience, and try and not repeat the same mistakes in my next video.

Here are the mistakes I noticed:

1) When Nuclear Blue is walking up, Laurie is behind Danny and Keith. When they get to Melissa and I, Laurie isn't there. A few seconds later, she's there. The reason for this is because I was adding cast on the fly; at the time we shot the scene with no Laurie, we had nobody playing Laurie. I was hoping to have either a Laurie or the mother (I was going to call her Mrs. Cartridge).

2) At the very end (the scene with the guy that wants to pee), it is very dark. Right after that, the scene with me signing off, the lighting is much brighter. Ideally, both scenes should have been better lit, but having the second one much better lit than the first was not good. Also, after I exited the scene, the still shot with the camera focused on the 'No Ins & Outs' sign should have lasted a few seconds longer.

3) I need to only use actors that are committed to coming back a second day, in the same clothes, so I can re-shoot if necessary. There were a number of scenes that should have been re-shot, especially due to positioning, lighting problems, etc. It would have been impossible to get all of the same actors to come back for a second day, but a second day's shooting was obviously necessary. At this point, I'm always going to find mistakes when I go to edit what I've already shot.

4) There was way too much background noise. I need to shoot on a location without different people milling around, background noise, etc. It is hard to understand some of the dialogue.

5) Lighting problems: some shots had way too much sun. I should have had a tarp or something to block out the sun, or maybe shot at a different time of day. When Melissa says, "Keith, it's a battle of the bands," my face is yellow from sunlight. We shot that scene three or four times, and that was the best one we had.

6) Between my sign-off and the first epilog screen, I need a couple of seconds, maybe some kind of fade-out. Same between Laurie's line about their cabron manager, Ruben, and the 'Later that Night' screen.

7) You need to know the El Paso Times story to get some of the jokes. Particularly, Danny McDaniel, speaking on behalf of Atomic Pink, who is being parodied, said "How many parents are going to let their 16-year-old girls go play in a bar where 35-year-old guys are drinking?"

8) The script needed to have been more robust. It probably should have been twice as long.

9) The script should have been written out, as well as everything else, so I wouldn't have had to figure stuff out on the fly. Some of the other problems might not have cropped up with better planning.

10) The still caption, "Later that night," should have been shorter in length.

11) The two guys sitting on the ladder as Nuclear Blue passed by: they actually had lines, but somehow the lines didn't end up on the tape. Either I never pushed the record button, or I erased their part. Although this is hard to see, if you pay attention, you can also tell that too much time passed in between when Danny, Keith, and Laurie passed them and when they stopped at the next scene. The ladder was about six feet from where they stopped, although you really have to pay attention to catch this.

12) The third epilog screen, "playing oldies at weddings," should have been capitalized.

I was quite pleased with the acting, except maybe my own. If any of those guys wants to do another sketch video, I'll gladly have them. Look for my next one in about three weeks.

- Charles Hurley

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