I was my first time heading up an interview. My first time supervising a crew in fact, and I was pretty bad at it. We were filming in a location I'd never been to before. Our equipment was insufficient- I only had one camera (a T4i) and I'd borrowed two more (a 7D and an HV40). They all used different batteries and storage media, and there was only one memory card (the HV40 actually took mini DV tapes) and one battery for each.
Halfway into the interview one of the memory cards filled up and we were down to two cameras. Near the end the battery died on another, so we were forced to shoot the last part with a single two shot. It was a crash course in crisis management.
Looking back on that shoot it's amazing we we'ren't too disillusioned to carry on. Fortunately we already had another shoot lined up. The next week we were shooting the Das Beer Show pilot- an interview with Ponysaurus Brewing Comapny in Durham. Unlike last time we actually had a host lined up (Kyle Hefley of Bull City Homebrew), and this time we were aware of the limitations of our equipment. This time none of the batteries died and we planned the shoot around the amount of storage space we had available for each camera. This time things went much more smoothly.
The Ponysaurus shoot is the one I remember most vividly because I'd accidentally scheduled it for the same evening my wife and I had tickets for the midnight release of The Desolation of Smaug. So after a full day of work and several hours of shooting, I drove from Durham to the IMAX theater in Raleigh to watch a three hour movie. I slept through most of it.
The last pilot we shot was for the Yardcast, which was easy enough since it only required one camera and I shot it myself in my own yard. Plus I could go inside and dump the footage whenever the memory card filled up. Matt, Rachel and I each edited a pilot and all three of them were released a few months later in the middle of February.
You may not remember, but originally each interview was just one long episode and they had commercial breaks. I remember shooting the Ponysaurus commercial on the morning of Superbowl Sunday at Sam's Quik Shop in Durham. We got a lot of weird looks from customers. It was a lot of fun and I'm proud of the result, even if we abandoned the idea of commercials pretty quickly.
After assessing the success of the pilots we decided to continue on. We bought matching equipment (our cameras all use the same batteries now) and plenty of SD cards. We began releasing episodes regularly in June. We've made a lot of other changes since them and finally landed on a format that I think works very well. We've even added a new show and have several more in the early planning stages..
By the end of 2014 TLTV will have released 90 episodes of our four original shows. Viewership started out slow- the site didn't get more than 300 views in a single month until July. In October we crossed more than 1,000 monthly views. In November it was nearly 1,500. We're hoping to continue the trend in December, and if we can continue to grow the next step will be figuring out how to monetize the site so that all the hardworking folks at TLTV- who have thus far been volunteering their time and energy- can finally be rewarded for their efforts.
Just thought I'd share this story in case anyone was interested. It's been a fantastic, frustrating, and extremely rewarding year. We hope to keep growing in 2015, both in viewership and in our number of shows. I've got a few ideas. We'll see how they pan out.
Thanks for a great year everyone!