Community Critique: The Uncanny Upshurs

(Jules Pigott) #1

Posting this at midnight because I’m busy pretty much all day.

Hello folks! My name is Jules, and I co-created/co-directed/co-wrote/co-edited the web series The Uncanny Upshurs, which is today’s community critique!

The Uncanny Upshurs is a collaboration between me and my good friend Ingrid Nixie Greep. It’s the story of British twins Agatha and Wally Upshur who begin making video blogs when Wally moves to America for university and get caught up in the magical world that they never knew existed. The show was made with $1,000 that we managed to raise on IndieGogo. Ingrid and I are both students, her in university, and I about to begin college. Agatha’s videos were made entirely in the UK, while Wally’s were made entirely in the US.

I hope you guys enjoy it!

(Bri Castellini) #4

(Bri Castellini) #5

I love the conceit of this show: it’s probably the best example of how long-distance collaborating can work. Reminds me a little of the way the book Will Grayson, Will Grayson was written. I think having two writers/film crews individually producing back and forth parts of the same story is fun as heck, and I would absolutely love to see more people trying it out. Perhaps after meeting here in the forum??

I also think many of your actors really thrive in the found footage: both Upshurs and Jake have great on-camera presence, which is important for this style of story.

Some critiques:

  • It definitely starts a little slow, especially considering it takes several weeks (in original upload time, I mean) to get to the supernatural stuff at its core. The characters themselves are cute and fun, but it feels like them and the story are just treading water until the big magic stuff starts getting revealed, and I would have liked either a stronger character story earlier on (sans magic) or I would have wanted the magic to happen earlier.
  • The pacing within episodes also tends to drag a bit, which is of course partially due to found footage (I had this difficulty in my own show), but also I think many scenes could have been edited down in the writing before it even got to the actors. Sometimes, the characters will spend two or three minutes just chatting or saying things that in no way move the story forward, and just serve as atmosphere or world building where we really don’t need it.
  • In that vein, the story and characters tend to be pretty passive in regards to the plot and to the unfolding mystery, in ways that can be frustrating for a viewer. Even as crazy things start happening, we don’t really get a plan, or an action being taken, we just get lots of exposition and people discussing that something crazy is happening. We don’t actually get to see our protagonists DO anything, just a lot of talking. We know they can move around with the camera, which they do very early on (stuck in the library// Central Park episodes), so I definitely wanted to see them DOING more, rather than just talking. Talking is fun and has a time and place, but it definitely drags down the pacing of the story and the show, and it’s frustrating that two such fun characters (Wally/Agatha) are sort of trapped in a very long series of expositional episodes without much movement.

Side note: I’m still furious that this is your fourth web series and you’re literally just today graduating from high school. It’s not fair and I resent your success (and also congrats on graduating!)

(Sunny Larkson) #6

Yeah it’s a cool idea, everyone is cute and charismatic… some of the diversity is kind of on the nose tho. Like, the ace character? Why tell us that? It didn’t serve the story really… and that happens a couple of times. I’m glad for the diversity, of course! But maybe find a story reason to reveal the less obvious ones? Otherwise it’s awkward.

Was Wally actually British?.

(Jules Pigott) #7

Nope, the actor’s not British!

(Sunny Larkson) #8

His accent is really good then!! (and he’s cute!)

(Meg Carroway) #9

I agree with a lot of what has been said so far, on all fronts- the likes and the critiques. I would echo the sentiment that it’s a bit slow, and the lighting is kind of rough, which makes the footage as a whole look a lot lower quality. I got pretty far before coming back to write, and even when there were more magical things happening, I was still kind of bored? There’s obviously talent in the writing and acting, but it’s like there’s still something missing in the production and I’m not sure what. Maybe it’s just stricter editing of the scripts and tighter directing of actors so that the pace keeps up even in longer takes.

You guys being so young is probably one part, and good on you guys for offering yourselves up for peer review! It’s so important, especially early on.