How to create an authentic looking vlog (video blog) to hook the audience into an episodic thriller was the task facing Wildseed Studios in making PrankMe for digital subscription service Fullscreen.
Created by Jesse Cleverly and Paul Neafcy and produced by Bristol-based Wildseed Studios, the eight x 10-minute series follows rising social media star Jasper Perkins (Corey Fogelmanis, fresh from his turn as Farkle Minkus in Disney Channel’s Girl Meets World). Perkins is famed for his increasingly mean-spirited pranks on his channel but when a high-profile stunt doesn’t go according to plan – and encouraged by his growing viewership and crowdsourced victims - he blurs the line between audience and accomplice. Hazel Hayes is directing, Neafcy wrote it with Cleverly producing.
“The essential brief was to tell the story as if it were a vlog made by Jasper,” explains Mark Stopher, Production Manager. “Director of Photography Edgar Dubrovskiy had to strike a tricky balance between making it look like an authentic vlog while maintaining the production value.”
Dubrovskiy tested a number of camera options and set ups at VMI before settling on the Canon 5D MkIV DSLR.
While Dubrovskiy planned each shot meticulously, it was Fogelmanis who handled much of the filming to retain the authentic feel. Feeds were relayed wirelessly to the DP on set. Dubrovskiy also used a second 5D to provide coverage in the edit.
Additionally, he selected a set of Canon L-USM Primes and Canon L USM Zooms including 8-15mm; 11-24mm 16-35mm 24-70mm 70-200mm.
Following the format of hidden-camera prank shows, Wildseed also deployed three GoPro Hero Blacks around different locations including a shopping mall.
Rushes were captured on internal media cards supplied by VMEDIA which a dedicated DIT managed from set to post. Acquisition was at 4K and will be output to HD for final delivery, giving room for the team to punch into the pictures as necessary.
All accessories were supplied too including Anton Bauer Digital G90 battery kits; Genus Fader Triple Variable ND Filters and Circular Pola Filters; a HD 7" TV Logic monitor, data cables; Sachtler tripod; Redrock Eyespy shoulder kit for the DSLRs and a variety of lighting kit like Astra Bi-Col Light Panel LEDs.
“VMI has helped us out with lots of different productions over the years,” says Stopher. “Delivery is very easy, nothing is too much trouble and they are always able to help with extra kit. We wanted to mimic the look of a news broadcast for part of the story so we hired a Sony PMW-EX3 and PMW-100 for a couple of days.
“We also shot our title sequence at VMI. We wanted some macro shots of pranking paraphernalia like a chainsaw, clown make-up, fake blood, a glitter explosion and so on in one of their kit prep rooms. It helps that VMI has an office in Bristol because it’s very handy for us to pop in and do tests or pick something up. It’s the little things like that that make production easier to achieve.”