Community Critique: Generation Z


(Zachary Michaels) #1

Hello everyone! My name is Zachary Michaels and I am the creator of the web series “Generation Z”. I’m primarily an actor but for this project I also took on roles behind the scenes as the producer, creator, and writer (along with 2 others); as well as playing the character of Arthur. I got a new appreciation for all that goes along with film making being there from pre production through post.

“Generation Z” follows the stories of 5 teens as their lives begin to intertwine after they each join this therapy/support group. So far we have only produced the first episode as we run an Indiegogo campaign (I financed the pilot myself) and as we finish up writing the first season. We have 6 more episodes in this season; the 5 main characters will get an episode focused on them with all the stories coming together in the finale. I’d love to come back when the first season is finished and get a review of the whole shebang.

Like I said this is my first time taking on roles in front and behind the camera so I’d like as much feedback as possible. I’d like to know your overall thoughts on the episode and potential for the overall series. Does the pilot make you want to see more of Generation Z? What would you want to see in future episodes? Any technical aspects that need work or that were done well? Anything too confusing? Any other thoughts you have (acting, cinematography, episode length, directing, etc.) ?

Here’s the link to the pilot episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfLy-qH5RdM

And here’s the link to our promo video for the Indiegogo campaign; it explains more about the overall series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8q7UrOYBrg

Excited to see what you all think!

Best,
Zachary Michaels :smile:


(Jaime Lancaster) #2

LOVE the colors! It’s got beautiful lighting in the beginning! Let me finish watching to give my full thoughts though :slight_smile:


(sam lockie-waring) #3

i agree with jcaster- the lighting is tight. i’m a little confused by the premise- how old are these people? college? high school? what kind of therapy is this, and why were they sent to it? these are things that should be explained in a pilot- you can’t just explain things in the indiegogo video, that means your pilot didn’t do its job. you can leave things vague and mysterious, sure, but we as an audience have to know at least enough to grasp onto the story and why we would want to keep watching.


(Jaime Lancaster) #4

Thanks Sam! Just finished the pilot- I agree with Sam in that I wouldn’t have known they were teenagers or high schoolers just by watching the pilot. I also couldn’t really tell what they were doing there together? Was it a group therapy thing, or a weird form of detention, or what?

Your actors and everything were really great, I think I was just left not knowing enough about any of the characters to want to find out more about them. Even the white guy who was a jerk- he came into the room at the end and I think it was supposed to be a big character moment, but I don’t know who he is other than “guy who is white with apparently rich/influential parents.” I didn’t buy his quick character development- it didn’t feel earned. If a character is going to make a major decision or change in their otherwise established behavior, I want to be there for that journey, if that makes sense!

Very very very pretty show, though, so I look forward to your next episodes!


(Bri Castellini) #5

Any thoughts, @WbyWebseriesReviews? Giving some quick critique for this pilot!


(Bri Castellini) #6

I agree with the compliments being dolled out so far- beautiful lighting, solid performances, solid cinematography. The sound had a lot of white noise in it, but I know sometimes that’s hard to remove, depending on what equipment you were using.

I think what I struggled with was not knowing where any of the tension was coming from. I go into a series wanting to root for someone or follow their story and empathize, but I don’t know any of these people well enough by the end of the pilot to do that. Absolutely hold some details back to discover throughout the series, but give us at least one character at first with enough details to care about. Right now it’s just a room of angry and/or quirky people who I assume are teenagers based on other comments in this thread who don’t get along, which isn’t compelling in and of itself. Even as an ensemble show, I would have wanted at least one character to walk away with and know something about enough to care about the rest of their story. And that just didn’t happen for me. I think this series has a lot of potential, it just played it a little too close to the vest for me to really sink my teeth in, to mix my metaphors.


(Joseph Steven Heath) #7

It looks beautiful and the acting is great. The therapist gives me a real Stephen Merchant vibe. I agree with everyone else that it could be a little clearer about what’s going on. Maybe not why they are specifically, but why they are there in a more general sense. It’s very vague about what’s going on. I also think the reaction to the therapist initially doing the mirroring thing could have been tightened up a little bit. The reaction shots were incredibly long for what they were reacting to. There is some good humor here, though. I really liked the Mulan bit.

All in all, I’d be interested in checking out more.


(Zachary Michaels) #8

Thank you all for the kind words and critiques so far! I really appreciate it. And I’ll make sure to let our crew know you all enjoyed their work especially in cinematography and lighting. We got really lucky with both our cast and crew!

What I’m seeing is: the overall premise seems to be a bit unclear and you wish you had some more info on at least one of the characters. These were actually both things I wondered if they were clear enough in this episode. I should trust my instincts! I struggled with finding the balance between saving information and giving enough backstory. I’ll definitely be more diligent on future projects to make sure the pilot answers these questions. As for this series; I think they’re all answered in future episodes. I’m gonna comb through the rest of the scripts to make sure. So please leave any other questions you have that you think may need answering.

These characters are teens in high school; which again becomes more apparent in other episodes. But I think because I knew they were teens I never thought that it could be unclear but watching it back I can totally see what you all mean.

Ahhh the white noise!!! It was the bane of my existence for all of post production haha. Some of the background noise was intentional like the city sounds. But there is some random buzzes throughout that we weren’t really able to get rid of because it became embedded in the dialogue.

Joseph - I’m not sure who Stephen Merchant is but I’ll be sure to look him up! Glad you liked the Mulan bit! One of my favorite parts as well.

I’m glad you’ve all enjoyed it though and will try to address these notes in future. I hope you’ll all watch future episodes. Like I said I plan to post the entire season on here for critique when done to get some feedback on the whole season. Please keep giving more feedback if you have any.


(Simon Paul Miller) #9

I think the slow opening scene does you a disservice, mainly because it breaks the show-not-tell rule. One character is telling us what the other character is like instead of that character demonstrating those attribute and it felt to me that your forcing me to think what this character is like (instead of showing). Which is really strange because, to my surprise, the rest of the episode not only does the opposite, but it does it really, really well.

The therapist is great (love the bit where he methodically counts five attendees) and I dispute what others have said about not explaining enough about what is going on. You’ve created this strange, awkward, but not unbelievable, situation. You’ve established personalities for all the characters and that they are attending a therapy session. I don’t know why they are there, but I do want to know. And you did all that in a very short space of time.

I did like the bit where the therapist asks them to make up pairs and doesn’t seem to have realised five is an odd number. I felt a nice comic moment was lost when the therapist didn’t seem surprised that one person didn’t have a partner.

It’s hard to say, but I think if you took out that opening scene and get straight into the students entering the hall, it would still come over that that those two characters know each other when the guy turns up late. So maybe take it out?


(Zachary Michaels) #10

Thanks for the input Simon and I’m glad you liked the episode!! I think your ideas/thoughts align well with what I was going for. My goal for the episode was to establish each characters personality and in the following episodes explain why each is there in the therapy group. But I do see where I could have given some more information about one of the characters to give the audience someone to attach to. I can see both sides but I appreciate that you think what we did was done well. Seeing the differing opinions was a nice reminder that there is no “perfect” or one way to do this. But I’m loving all the input!

The therapist is possibly my favorite character! Dan who plays him really brought a lot of that character to life even things I hadn’t realized. A bigger moment of surprise could’ve been good I agree; wish we would’ve seen that.

Now the good old show-not-tell rule; that’s something that was constantly on my mind through out writing the episode. I’m glad you think we did a good job of it for the most part. It’s funny you should mention the opening scene though. The script originally started with the second scene (like you suggested) right up until about a week before filming. It was a last minute addition to the script by one of the writers and the only section I wasn’t the primary writer of. But I did sign off on the scene because for me the scene abides by the show-not-tell rule because it shows us who Jessica is. In the scene she’s jumping to conclusions without having all the information about Carter; which is some insight into how she deals with people. Jessica does tell us about Carter in the scene but this is only her perception of who he is not necessarily the real him. Then Carter shows us more of who he actually is when he decides to listen to her and ultimately come to the meeting. Plus it felt like a more concrete way to show they have history.

Seriously thank you for the critique and I’ll make sure to be extra diligent in future episodes regarding show not tell! I hope you continue to watch! :wink:


Question for others who were unsure about the premise; did you get that they were in a therapy group? If not, what would have made that more clear?

I wanted to establish they were at a group therapy meeting in the episode. And explain why each was in the group in later episodes as it’s different for all of them. For Carter it’s more of a required detention like punishment but for someone like Arthur he’s in the group voluntarily.


(Simon Paul Miller) #11

“But I did sign off on the scene because for me the scene abides by the show-not-tell rule because it shows us who Jessica is. In the scene she’s jumping to conclusions without having all the information about Carter; which is some insight into how she deals with people.”

Unfortunately, that doesn’t work for me because I don’t know that Jessica is jumping to conclusions. I think Jessica knows the things she’s saying about Carter because she knows him well. You could argue that you are showing Jessica had some sort of relationship with Carter before and it didn’t end well - I’ll give you that. :slight_smile: But that comes over in their next meeting anyway.

BTW - Forgot to say what a great cast you’ve got in this.


(Zachary Michaels) #12

Ok. I can see that. Just offering my thought process behind the scene. But like you said you’d have no way to neccisarily know that. I think a good take away for us is to make sure to try and view each episode as the audience with no prior knowledge.

And thanks; I love our cast as well. We got lucky with them everyone just fell into place. It was almost too easy. Haha. Luckily for us they’re all talented and great people to work with.


(Bri Castellini) #13

You never really explained what they were doing or why they were there or what vague, general circumstances might land someone in the group. All the characters seem very different from one another, so I couldn’t really figure out what the connective tissue was, not in any specific “oh it’s a therapy group” terms. Maybe a more descriptive sign or monologue from the therapist at the top? He could have talked more about overall goals which would have keyed us into what the purpose of the group was for.


(Zachary Michaels) #14

Thanks. That makes sense.