Webseries hopes and fears

Before I opened up the edit again yesterday, it’d been a while since I’d really thought about Project Chippy, though I’d been peripherally aware of it gnawing away on my mind like a hamster on the bars of its cage. I haven’t been able to make much progress with it lately, partly because of university but mostly because of some stuff we/I messed up last year.

Some weird people in Project Chippy.

All I’ll say about Chippy for now is that it’s a webseries, starring me as a detective, Heather as a mysterious girl, and Euan as a mysterious guy. I’ve written three episodes of it, and we filmed most of what we need for them last summer.

I’ve referred to the webseries as a comedy-drama, though this isn’t an ideal fit as it’s not aiming to be laugh-out-loud funny – the “comedy” tag is mostly there so we can get away with being vaguely absurd and pleasantly quirky. (There really aren’t enough genre labels to cover the whole spectrum of possible tones, but I might get into that in a later post.) From what we have so far, I’m happy that we seem to have captured the tone we were going for rather well.

However, we weren’t so good at capturing Heather before she moved to Canada, so we’ve only filmed episodes one and three, leaving a big hole where most of episode two should be. This was silly of us.

Another thing I regret is that in writing the first three episodes I was probably too focused on setting stuff up for later in the series. As I’ve mentioned, I have trouble keeping projects from becoming overly ambitious, and even though this one was specifically designed to be manageable, following the patently unmanageable project I’d been working on previously (which turned into Project Mirror), it still got a bit out of hand. Even if we do end up filming loads more episodes and playing out all the storylines I’ve set up, I’ll still feel that the first few are not as strong as they could have been, had they been written with more of a focus on being entertaining in their own right, rather than setting up every little character detail for later.

A scary young man in Project Chippy.

Ah well. The series was always going to be a learning experience, and I decided early on that we should embrace that and carry on rather than go back and try to fix every mistake. So carry on we shall!

When Heather returns, albeit briefly, I’m hoping we can get episode two filmed – possibly her parts of episode four as well, if I’ve written that by then. That’ll give us a nice 3-4 episode taster, which should help us decide just how appetising the series as a whole looks, and whether we want to continue it when we get the chance.

In some ways I’d love to. Heather’s character is one of my favourite characters I’ve ever written, and has a lot of backstory that I’d like to get out there. Of course, the cast and crew are made up of my favourite people and working with them on silly stuff always makes me feel like I’ve somehow swapped my life for that of someone luckier.

I’m also excited about some of the insane ideas I have for later episodes, though I’m currently in the awkward position of not quite knowing how I’m going to get the story from where it is at the end of episode three to where it needs to be to incorporate those plots. That’s the sort of thing I’ll inevitably end up working out when I’m supposed to be doing something else. Apologies in advance to the Beyond Studios Advent Calendar!

Anyway, one way or another you’ll probably see the first few episodes of Project Chippy later this year. Please don’t stare at my bald head.

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