This column is written by Sally Hassan, the creator of Ghetto Nerd Girl. I talk about how to get through the vital steps of making a web series as smoothly and painlessly as possible.
“Show Don’t Tell.”
This is what I’ve been told in many of my filmmaking classes in college. The problem is that as a low budget creator, you become limited. Many web series consist of talking heads and not much else. During pre-production of my web series, I knew I had to include a dance routine somewhere.
If there’s anything I’m confident in it’s dancing (and writing perhaps). Am I formally trained? Heck no, but it’s something I always did to have fun growing up. I entered the lip sync contest at school every year and loved every minute of dancing to my favorite songs. From there it evolved to mimic the moves in various pop music videos from Britney Spears and *NSYNC. Yes, I’m showing my age but I don’t care. Since Ghetto Nerd Girl is based on my life as a teenager there was no way it was going to be without dancing.
I call this move Mermaid Arms; performed by Melissa Damas in GNG Ep 1.4
I put my experience to the test and brought my dance skills to production. Did I fully know what I was doing? No, but I rolled with it and it worked out pretty well. Dance is an effective tool to tell a story so why not use it in your web series?
1.) Pick A Song – Use a snippet of the song so you don’t have to make up an extremely long routine. Feel the music and let it speak to you. I used a friend’s song, Super Lover by Saxon Blu.
2.) Choreography – Break the routine up into verses and/or lines. Write it down if you have to. Practice each “line dance” repeatedly before adding on. Perform the dance number in its entirety to the music.
3.) Rehearse – Bring your actors in & show em’ what you got! Perform the dance once in front of them to music. Much like how you created your dance you’ll teach your moves to your actor(s). Once they get the hang of it, turn the music on and dance to the beat. Repeat as necessary.
4.) Showtime! – Film the dance routine much like you would a music video. Play the actual song on set for the cue. Get a lot of angles. This is your opportunity to get creative.
5.) Edit – Use your master shot as the base & sync your track to the sound on your footage. Cut to the beat when switching the angles and voila! Use effects to make it dreamy if you wish!
I made throwing punches a dance move; performed by Melissa Damas in GNG Ep 1.4
I cannot begin to tell you how fun it was for me to include a dance routine in my web series. It was one of my favorite experiences on set. It’s a low budget way to wow your audience. All you need is a good song, some moves and a willing actor or two. If dancing isn’t your cup of tea, find your fun activity to incorporate into your show. It will reignite your passion during the tough times of filming. If you can move, you can dance!
Watch our full dance routine in Ep 1.4 Buzzed Off Boys N’ Beer.