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Creator's Corner » Completely Normal Activity - Adrienne Dawes
Tell us about your sci-fi web series
Completely Normal Activity is a nine episode improvised paranormal comedy web series that follows Richie Cunningham (no, not the guy from Happy Days) a twenty something slacker who desperately wants to be a ghost hunter and discover paranormal activity in the apartment he shares with his girlfriend Relle Ryerson.
The entire creative team and cast all have a background in improv comedy, having studied together at Second City's Training Center, iO (Improv Olympic) and The Annoyance which allowed us to develop a unique process of collaboration to develop the web series characters and story.
Where did the idea/concept for your web series come from?
Producers Ward Crockett and C. Dylan Plummer had recently seen Paranormal Activity 2 and that had got their gears turning on films that could use or expand on the reality-show style. While I'm not a big sci-fi/horror genre fan (aside from Battlestar Galactica and Shaun of the Dead), I am a big process nerd and contributed to creating the workshop structure for developing new material borrowed from my work as a playwright of site-specific and devised theater.
Name some of your sci-fi influences. Any favorite movies, TV shows, novels?
Films: Aliens, The Shining, The Haunting, Cries and Whispers, Fanny and Alexander, Broken Flowers, Dead Man, Shaun of the Dead
TV: Twin Peaks, IT Crowd, Arrested Development, Cheers, Lost, Star Trek, Garth Merenghi's Dark Place,The Mighty Boosh, The State, Kids in the Hall, Strangers with Candy
Novels: The New York Trilogy, The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Winter's Tale, The High House, Dubliners, Fight Club, Cycle of the Werewolf
Tell us about the technical production of your show. What camera & equipment did you use? Editing software & hardware? For visual effects, etc?
Cameras: Canon HFS200, three Kodak Zi8, Flip Mino, laptop camera, two 8mm video cams.
Editing: Adobe Premiere CS4 running on an AMD Phenom II X4 with 4 gigs of RAM.
Visual Effects: Premiere CS4 and After Effects CS4
Can you tell us any interesting facts or trivia about your show? Any funny stories?
We had surveillance set up for each shoot so it was rare that we actually had a cameraman in the same room as the actors (the producer-directors monitored footage from a central "control room" aka my bedroom; Richie/Bryan Beckwith operated most of the hand-held camera). This gave actors the freedom to move around the set and improvise blocking as much as they improvised lines. This also meant we could make fun of the actors behind their backs and monitor them whenever they were on break.
We shot two episodes a day over the course of 2.5 months on Saturdays - in one of the producers' apartment. Despite all the screaming involved with the shoot our neighbors thankfully NEVER called the cops (our set was kind of in a rough hood).
We were a two man, one woman crew and literally shared every single job throughout the process. Season 1 was completely self-funded and with volunteer talent, borrowed/refurbished equipment and donated craft services. Our budget is less than $5,000 total for all stages of the process.
All of our actors can SING! They did their own vocals for the scripted song that is performed later in the series. The song lyrics are the only scripted part of our series, written by the producers with me performing and recording the music.
Martha Hearn (who plays Judy Amethyst) wins the award for actor most likely responsible for breaking another actor. We surprisingly had very few breaks during filming but every time we did Martha was behind the joke. Her character will be introduced Episode 6 and we have some additional promo footage that we'll release with her soon.
Ward, Chris, and I met in Level 6 of the Core Writing Program at Second City. Bryan Beckwith (Richie) was cast in their sketch show Smokin Hot Zombie Tots.
The song sequence in EP 9 (final) was done in one take.
Completely Normal Activity - SciFinal Page
More behind the scenes from Completely Normal Activity below:
Shooting Completely Normal Activity.
Cast and crew of Completely Normal Activity.