Creator Q&A - Tom Francis
What were some of your favourite ways of using sound in the series??
We had a fantastic sound design team on Scout! From creating the key specific sound effects through to developing musical themes for the various significant characters – we are very happy with the results. Generally building the world of Scout through sound design was an exciting process! Having various recording devices in the story allowed for a lot of scope for interesting sound design elements through the use of the tape recorder playback, microphone interference, etc – all the surveillance stuff adds a good deal of interest. There was much foley work done to recreate sounds in a studio environment – the fight and strangulation scene was lots of fun to play with.
Did you research surveillance practices before writing the series?
I visited a few surveillance stores to look at what kind of surveillance ‘bells and whistles’ were available. Les is a quirky fellow who is definitely not up with the latest technology trends so it was important to not have him using any devices that were too sophisticated.
What (and/or who) inspired your series?
I was inspired by the real Les when I worked as a bottle shop attendant at a suburban Brissy bottle for a few years. Les’s job was to collect the cash from the bottle shops at the end of each day and deliver the money back to the head office in Paddington.
Before I knew him well I would be conscious of Les parking 15 mins before closing time and either sitting in his car or quietly observe from the front door as the bottle shop attendants sorted out their end of day takings. Most attendants mocked Les but I became good friends with him and enjoyed having our evening chats. Les always played his cards close and I would often imagine that he may live a secret life as a PI.
As a content creator, where do you go to find information about other film makers and web series?
The internet is a filmmaker’s best friend! Recommendations come from friends and professional networks mainly. I use Vimeo as the platform for our corporate video and it’s through Vimeo that I discovered great web series like ‘High Maintenance’.
What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome making this series??
Budget is always a limiting factor, as well as time and collaborators timetables. The hours before each shoot can be a blend of sheer exhilaration spiked with absolute terror. It is the nature of the beast in low budget filmmaking that you must wear many hats. It was always overwhelming to be madly prepping up art department details when all I wanted to do was work with the actors. I am hoping to join forces with a producer for my next filmic adventure.
How do you reach your audience??
Primarily via social networking – Facebook. With some daily marketing we have just released (Mid May 2016) the whole 7 episodes, one per day over the last week. The aim is that friends will ‘like’ and share and hopefully it ripples out from there.
How do you finance your series??
Scout was funded by my slowly accrued savings and a small inheritance from my fabulous aunty Lillie. She was a very creative lady so I am sure she would have been chuffed to see it go towards a film project. The in-kind support of so many cast and crew also helped to get this project up and running on a shoestring budget.
Tell us a quirky and/or interesting fact about yourself or team that’s unrelated to your web series??
A week before we were to begin filming I was madly preparing all of the shoot specifics and finalising script scene details. I swung past a bottle shop to pick up a celebratory bottle of vino and who walks past me – the real Les! It had been over eight years since I had last seen him. We chatted for a short while, he held the end of day cash bags and laughed as I told him that I planned to make a web series based on him. His final comment was ‘I am going to be immortalised on film hey?!’ This little encounter with Les felt like the perfect confirmation that I was on the right track with the project.
Do you have any tips for creating a successful web series??
Work that script! Overall I am very happy with Scout – BUT – if we had some more time it would have been good to focus on the story and the characters more. I think more script editing could have made the story stronger still.
Have you achieved the goals you set for this series??
Given that our initial goal 12 months ago was really just to shoot a few scenes, we have definitely surpassed our goal. ?There is always room for improvement but to put a film together is always an epic achievement and we are thrilled with the results.