Community Critique: Safe For Work


(Alex Barbag) #1

Safe For Work is a web series I shoot surreptitiously at my actual office. I have to plead with my coworkers to act in it and to hold the camera. Since my boss isn’t aware of what I’m doing, it makes it difficult to record good audio and to get multiple takes.

The concept of the series is that it follows an office worker that gets into trouble with HR but weasels his way out of it. So I guess I’m filming myself goofing off at work (as if I wasn’t actually goofing off at work by filming at work).

I’m a stand-up comedian and therefore each episode is usually centered around one of my stand-up jokes.

I’m interested to know:

  • What people think about it in it’s entirety.
  • If the beginning of each episode is too boring to continue with watching each episode.
  • If it’s obvious the actors are my coworkers and not actors.
  • About the length of the episodes. People are saying to make them short but I want them longer.

Here are episodes 1, 5, and 7.


(sam lockie-waring) #2

really funny performances- comic timing is great. would not have guessed these were coworkers and not actors for the most part. framing is a little off- camera moves are def distracting but even worse is the bad framing when the camera is still. rule of thirds my dude. also production design would amp up some of the single shots because it’s a looot of white/beige walls right now. i guess sneaking around your boss (which is hilarious by the way- stick it to the man) would make production design more difficult, but there have to be simple things you can do to make the frames more interesting. now i’m imagining that show leverage where they decorate empty offices to fake like there’s a totally different business open and then break it down really fast afterwards.

would love to see a sneaky bts vid from you guys- that could be funny. like… strategies to film a web series without your boss knowing. stuff like that


(Alex Barbag) #3

Thanks for the comments.

I really don’t know anything about framing. I’ve read about stuff like rules of thirds and other things like that but not much. I’m too worried about keeping the ‘actors’ motivated to not go back to work.

I have a Behind the scenes episode mostly made where I am telling people to go home so that I can clear the “set”. I will publish it in the coming weeks.


(sam lockie-waring) #4

the thing about rule of thirds is to just imagine a grid over what you see in the camera- try to keep subjects (people or important set pieces) in one of those thirds. it’s worth keeping an eye on- if you’re gonna do something cool and funny, it’s worth doing well. your writing and performances are legit funny- support that material with learning more about camera work.

can’t wait to see the bts- sounds funny. good luck with the rest of your show.


(Bri Castellini) #5

I agree with sam- the writing and performances are really funny. I’m a fan of quick comedy and this definitely delivers.

Sound is a little echo-y (understandable if you’re sneaking around but consider upgrading your mic options), and the camera moves/zooms are very distracting. Especially since it’s inconsistent based on which character it’s filming. The fact that coverage for both characters have that different of camera moves is confusing on its own, but coupled with how distracting the individual camera moves are, it’s just a lot going on unrelated to the great performances the actors are giving. I assume you’re going for an Office-style feel, with fluid camera moves, which makes sense since this is a workplace comedy, but it needs to be consistent and not as shaky. I got a little nauseous during a few moments because the camera was moving around so much.

Also- I noticed your episode titles are very inconsistent- you should decide on a naming standard and stick to it, otherwise it makes the whole playlist look less professional.


(Alex Barbag) #6

There is no intention with the camera - which is probably the root of the problem. There are different angles because we don’t do many takes and I have to stitch it together any way I can. I will definitely try to make sure that the camera angle is the same for the same person during that scene. Thanks!

As for the titles, I will rename them to be consistent. The most recent episode I put (Watch until the end) because someone told me to do that to make it more interesting. But I had the same thought of you that they should be consistent. I’m going to make those changes now.


(Bri Castellini) #7

Even without putting much intentionality into your camera moves (which I totally understand- I hate all that technical stuff haha), if one character’s camera is shaking back and forth like they’re in a hurricane and the other character in the same room is set up on a tripod, that seems like a choice, and it’s distracting and you lose continuity and scene cohesion. The best camera angles/moves are ones that most audiences won’t even notice. The technical stuff should fade into the background so people can just focus on the story. You don’t have to be an expert to do that, either- just make sure everything, from movement to framing, is at the very least consistent. If it’s all the same, people will notice much less.


(Bri Castellini) #8

Psst @samlockie and @afbarbag just so you know, we have an exciting live AMA with the founder of indie film nonprofit Fractured Atlas in fifteen minutes if you wanted to stop by and ask questions about how we can get more support for our projects!


(sam lockie-waring) #9

i’ll be there, thanks for lookin out


(Joseph Steven Heath) #10

I’m just gonna say that I really dislike the (Watch until the end) thing. Seeing something that’s trying to grab your attention like that usually makes me not want to watch something. But maybe that’s just me.


(Alex Barbag) #11

Yes, I felt bad about that. Someone convinced me to do something like that. I took that out shortly after posting this. Thanks.


(Simon Paul Miller) #12

Your central character is great. I love his commitment to the innocent act he puts on despite all the evidence stacking up against him. I get the impression he’s the sort of guy who will put in a an enormous amount of effort into achieving his goal of not doing any work or covering up that he’s not done any work. The acting and quality is fine, it has a fly on the wall feel and at no point could I not follow what was being said or done.

The crude ending to the Ducking section of the first video was a shame, it was a ‘jump the shark’ moment in the episode where the credibility of the scenario was lost and also lacked the charm of what preceded it. Other than that, that episode works really well and is, for me, the best of the three.

Standing Desk is my second favourite. It would probably benefit from some editing down, but it’s a fun episode. Curiously, despite it’s silliness, this episode manages to maintain the character’s credibility/truth all the way through.

Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for ‘Working From Home’. The main character seems to have gone a bit nutty and is not the same lethargic, excuse-generating guy I saw and laughed at in the previous two episodes. Whereas the other two episodes have a story to tell, this one feels like it is being improvised. It has potential, but it feels to me like you rushed this one into filming before the script was ready. But, hey! Two out of three aint bad! Thank you. Overall, I enjoyed watching and reviewing these.


(Alex Barbag) #13

Wow! You nailed everything.

I recently thought about reshooting the Ducking section of the 1st video due to that poor, crass ending.

“Working From Home” was improvised and it didn’t hold to the main character’s character (sorry about that sentence).

Thanks for your input. There are 5 more episodes that have been made if you want to check them out.


(Mile High Nancy) #14

Hi. I think the performances are good. Good timing. Please fix the sound. Get lapel mics or a boom. Too much echo. I’ll comment more in a bit.


(Mile High Nancy) #15

Hi, I would also say the Standing Desk episode could be cut a couple of minutes. I like the joke, it just seems to go on a bit too long. Overall the show reminds me of The Office.


(Alex Barbag) #16

I wish I could get a lapel or a boom but since I shoot it at my actual office and I’m not sure if I can actually do it so I have to do this with as minimal a footprint as possible.


(Melissa Malone) #17

First of all- VERY funny! I’m super impressed that these are your actual coworkers and you’re shooting it all on the sly. (That alone is a great premiss for a web series- ha).

I agree with the sound being echoey. Lav mics would still leave min footprint, even if your only option is to hide them in a few places instead of directly on people it would at least increase the sound value and consistency. Also, do you happen to have any sound editing software? The Adobe Cloud has “Audition” and you may be able to fix some of this in post but that’s always a bigger pain in the ass, to be honest.

I’m also wondering if you could shorten your episodes a bit to drive the humor home.

Overall, I think you’re doing a great job with a minimal budget and it’s very funny. The story is great, the I really love the whole premise!


(Alex Barbag) #18

Thanks for the kind words.

I’m assuming you found the “Standing Desk” episode to be too long. I do regret how long that was. I try to make them as short as possible since my everyone has told me about that. But it’s kind of disheartening that people like extremely short videos - though understandable.


(Melissa Malone) #19

I think people just have different attention spans now for different things. It really depends on the nature of the episode/series. I find with comedies people prefer much shorter episodes (under 5 seems to be standard) where as dramas can get away with much longer (still seems 10 mins is preferred). I know for a fact some of my episodes are longer than people prefer in a web series but do our best to keep them around the 10 min mark. I know with our comedy series, our longest episode is around 6 minutes and it’s the one people always say is a tad too long. lol. :woman_shrugging:t2:

In the end you have to go with your gut. Everyone will have a different opinion!


(Zachary Michaels) #20

Wow! I really enjoyed these 3 episodes! I’m sure yout this all the time but it reminds me of “The Office”! In huge part that it takes place in the office.But also I get that same confused/funny feeling when trying to understand the characters. That’s a good thing by the way.

I have to say I LOVE the fact that you film this at work while sneaking around your boss. It kinda makes me want to do something like this; just because. “I’m too worried about keeping the ‘actors’ motivated to not go back to work.” This sentence made me LOL so much.

Now to answer some of your questions:
Entirety: I enjoy it! Especially the main character Alex. He makes me want to see more. Love his unintentional ignorance.
Beginning of each episode: I think they work for what the show is. I wouldn’t neccesarily want to see something huge and spectacular happen; it wouldn’t fit the show. Which seems to follow this eccentric character Alex and how he handles the mundane world around him. The entire first episode which is my favorite of the 3 definitely made me want to see more though.
Actors: The other actor in the pilot was great same for the actor in the 7th episode. The actors in the 5th episode were a bit unpolished but I don’t think it affected the series in a negative way as it kind of showed more of these rigid characters at work around the loose Alex.
Length; I think the length works well actually as it is. I think the longer episode felt like it dragged a little bu the two shorter episodes unfolded nicely.

Like I said I really enjoyed the series and I plan to go watch more of the episodes. Best of luck to you!