ESCAPE ROOM - PRODUCTION HINTS

Lights. Camera & you have 30 minutes to escape this room or it will run out of oxygen.

Before you read this blog, I’d request you to check out my latest YouTube video to understand what I am talking about below.

The escape room was the latest video that I released on my YouTube channel. The video was one of its kind because this was the first time I ever tried interactive content. I gave the audience an option to choose the fate of the character.

The video was inspired by Black Mirror Bandersnatch, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, and my time working at a real-life Escape room. The writing of the script was as exhilarating as it was challenging. Part one was focused on setting up the scene while still keeping the eye productions humor intact while the second part catered more towards the actual game.

In this blog, I’m going to focus on just part one of the makings so as to not have any spoilers for part two. (which will be out in two weeks)

Idea

Now that I had my rough concept set, I began casting my net for any ideas that could set the tone for the video, keep the audience engaged, and wanting for more. The idea was pretty simple, Jigsaw from the movie saw shows up wearing the wrong mask and his prisoner isn’t afraid of him. It’s the classic Scary Movie scenario but with a lot of breaking the fourth wall.

Scripting

Having drafted the events in order, I began working on the dialogues. I used proper scriptwriting software ( Arc studio) to make it convenient for my collaborators to understand the beat by beat of the story. I had a perfect idea of the type of people playing the respective roles and molded my dialogues suitable to their personalities. I needed to have the perfect ending for part one that left the audience at a cliffhanger but also was enough to explain to them what was going on.

script

Pre- Production

This is an additional step that I have added for this specific video because this video was more of a prepared and meticulously planned video as opposed to my spontaneous videos. I had not only prepped the props but also sent out the script to my actor friend and a cinematographer well in advance. The camera shot list and lenses were planned in advance. The day was set aside for the shoot. A day before the shoot, I reconfirmed the arrival of the team members and arranged the set in advance.

Filming

On the shoot day, I met the cinematographer for the first time and so did the actors. Luckily, one actor was my sister and one was a school friend so there was already some character chemistry. As for the cinematographer, we vibed with him immediately. After a cup of coffee, character blocking and lights and camera set up, we were good to start. (trust me it wasn’t as smooth as I make it sound, I had to ‘borrow’ the tricycle from the children in my neighborhood and sort out a minor setback I had with my sister )

Anyway, the shortlist was discarded as I found better shots while filming. We couldn’t maintain a logsheet as the cinematographer was handling two cameras and I was focusing on directing the characters and making sure I got the shots I wanted. For the mother-son scene, Param (cinematographer) suggested getting both in the same angle and later split-screen edit it in post. So we filmed separate scenes with the camera in the same position and left the rest for the edit.

The costumes and audio were also paid attention to because of which you can hear all the things clearly in this video. Having actors on the screen and a cinematographer handling the camera helped me direct the scene properly and get the shots I was looking for.

Edit

Once we finished filming the whole video, navigating through the whole bundle of footage was a mess but once the selected footage was imported, the edit was a cakewalk. I first edited the timeline, added the external audio on shots required, and exported it. After which I added the sound effects and background score and color corrected the clips to add the effect. Lastly, with the help of Param, I got the two clips masked out which gave you the illusion that Laksh, the actor was talking to himself in the last shot. The ending was left as an open ending question which the audience could answer by selecting a yes or a no and plan John’s fate.

Yes would lead to part two and no would end with a scene of Jhon dying.

MARKETING and Analytics

For the marketing, I would be accessing the cinema color palette of Instagram, the moving video with the script beneath it, and the post-production screen record with the original clip. Behind the scenes video on various social media platforms as well as this blog and my podcast would do the trick.

And for the analytics, getting external actors and cinematographers on the project, enhanced my views and exposed my channel to new viewers.

How did the video do?

It’s too early to do that so if you want to know how this video did or have any questions, DM me on Instagram and hope you check out this video and my podcast where I discuss the BTS of each video in length.

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