Episode Three and the long view

the long view

What to say about Episode Three? First, the obvious: it’s here, finally. Please go watch.

But other than the obvious, we’ve been having a hard time figuring out what commentary to add. So instead of talking about why the turnaround time between Episodes Two and Three (which we originally anticipated to be fairly quick) ended up being equal to the gap between Episodes One and Two, we thought we’d talk a bit about the state of The West Side as it currently stands.

As you know by now, we decided to undertake this project on our lonesome—not because of a refusal to work with anyone else or to accept outside funding, but because we took stock of our resources and discovered that, other than a DV camera and two talented friends—one a musician and one an actor—we didn’t have access to much else. So here, after more than a year, with nothing but a camera, a few friends, and some talented actors willing to work for free on a project they believe in, we’ve managed to complete three episodes of The West Side and get them out there for the world to see. And really, whatever else we say about the project, it’s a source of intense pride for us, and the fact that we’ve managed to spring forth a story such as this, from nothing—when we could’ve been merely working our day jobs and casually kicking around ideas over the past year—is something we wouldn’t have any other way. Our imagined world of The West Side exists, the episodes are tangible, and you can click a play button; sometimes we’re giddy about that alone.

But when we say “for the world to see,” for the most part, the world hasn’t really seen The West Side. Not that we haven’t had any viewers—we’ve had many thousands of visits and have been more than happy with the commenting—but by world wide web standards where home videos of cats get millions of views, we’re not even a blip on the radar. We’re not really disappointed: as we stated on day one, we weren’t interested in gunning for viewership statistics or advertising revenue. But if The West Side can be considered our calling card, pretty soon we need to start handing out cards to a lot more people. And we’ve always had a plan in place for doing so: to initially keep our cards close to our chest, and only after we have a certain number of episodes up—likely four—will we lay all the cards on the table (enough card analogies?). By then we’ll have enough content to get viewers hooked (four episodes will add up to roughly half an hour of viewing), and our abilities as writer/directors should be more discernible than after only one introductory episode. This plan is one of the reasons why, to date, we haven’t farmed out our content to other video sharing sites, despite being contacted by a few (thanks for the interest—we’ll get back to you in an episode’s time).

So bear with us: Episode Four’s a doozy. Though… it might take awhile. While we already have scenes from Episodes Five and Six in the can (due to shared locations with Episode Three), we’re starting from scratch on Four. Which is both good and bad: good because it’s difficult to smoothly transition between scenes shot a year apart, as we had to do in Three, and bad because, well, we’d like to finish this show while we still have hair on our heads. But as ever, we promise it’ll be worth the wait.

On a final note, we’ve also upgraded the web site in a number of ways, and while most of the changes are back-end related (which we’ll post about in the future), some of them will be more readily apparent to you, such as click-to-play. First-time visitors (tell a friend!) don’t necessarily want to jump right into Episode Three, so we’ve added a feature that allows you to either start playing the current episode or pick from our oh-so-extensive back catalog.

And seeing as how we hope our episodes are worthy of more than one viewing—especially once later themes in the series come into focus—we hope you take the chance to revisit older episodes. As always, thanks for watching.

2 comments | tweet | share on facebook
  1. Frank Corley 5 Apr 2008

    Zack:

    Congratulations. The continued high quality of the show is a tribute to your efforts. A splash is easy to make, a consistent flow of good material is march harder, and this looks good. As always, we’re waiting for future episodes, and I want to go back and review all the parts as a whole.

    -Frank

  2. Can you gerrymander the internet? at No Film School 8 Apr 2008

    [...] according to the New York Times. With only two episodes up (as we just posted the third this week), we somehow bested 80 episodes of the Michael Eisner-backed Prom Queen—along with some other [...]

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The West Side is an urban western. Learn more... We won a Webby Award!