Head Writer Darren Floyd, Producer Sian Floyd and Director and co-Writer Ed Sinclair about their thoughts on Anoraks Series One and the future:
Ed: Well, here we are about to embark on Series Two of Anoraks and I thought it would be a great idea to comb through the remnants of the old web-site and pull together a few thoughts from Darren, Sian and myself about how this whole thing even started and why we are still so very passionate about bringing these stories to a wider audience. Some of this material is now two years old, but I'll try and interject a few new perspectives on where I think we're heading in 2018. But first, I want to tell you how I got involved in the first place.
I almost can't remember how it all started, but I've got this vague notion that Darren just ran up to me one day and said, “hey I've got something to tell you later...” and it went from there. I do remember thinking that he'd probably ask me to volunteer as a camera guy on some little pet project - make a short film or something and that would be that, because I used to do stuff like that all the time.
Sian: And of course, I’d heard the idea from Darren over the years in different incarnations, so when he suggested the web series, I thought it would be a great idea. More content is available on-line these days and it’s a great, creative platform for new ideas. When Darren got Ed on board, it was Ed who actually suggested I produce it. I’m always up for a challenge.
Ed: And from our first day around the table at the initial read-through, I just felt there was something special in the air – a real sense of this could be much more than some “little pet project” if we do it right. And I think that as it evolved, I've been proven correct. Actually both Darren and Sian could immediately see the potential to reach a wider audience, though we knew that we had to start somewhere and we felt that by centring it on Doctor Who, it would give us a sort of foundation from which to grow the concept. There are a lot of non-fans out there who secretly wonder what's so special about being a fan, and what makes a fan a fan. Doctor Who fandom is something we know a lot about but the future was always going to be about expanding the field and taking in a lot more variety in fandom.
Darren: The process of shooting the episodes has been hard work, but great fun. It’s been quite a learning curve and I’ve learnt that I’m a terrible Boom Operator!
Ed: That's for sure! At first I was doing simply every task imaginable on the production side – and a single person doing the role of at least four people is not conducive to success - so, here I was, not only trying to direct the actors, but I was also working the camera, arranging the lighting, setting up and sometimes holding the microphones, all the while trying to watch for continuity errors from take to take and failing miserably. The only thing to do would be to go out and get a proper camera operator. And having worked with Chris Davies on other projects, I felt that here was someone with whom I had already cultivated a rapport and wouldn't need to say too much to him because, like all good D.O.P.s (Director of Photography), he is a mind-reader and just knows what I want out of each set up.
Darren: Weirdly, what I’ve enjoyed about the first series is just that - those unexpected problems that we’ve had to overcome - whether that's not being allowed to film in front of Ianto’s Shrine in Cardiff Bay, or having to be fleet-footed to work around people’s schedules, to thinking on the fly and coming up with very last-minute solutions. That has been quite exhilarating.
Sian: I was always aware that Ed was doing so much, so I tried to do anything I could to help him out. And of course, part of my on-set role is to make sure that everyone is fed and watered regularly. I try to learn something every time we film so that next time I can step in and ensure that Ed doesn’t have to think about that little problem the next time.
Ed: Working in a live environment means you have absolutely no control over ambient sound, natural or artificial lighting, and background people who just wander open-mouthed into the shot and stare at whatever is going on! Both Darren and Sian have always been there to help where they can, and as Darren admits, he's not proficient or familiar with the technical duties or methods of a bona fide crew member, but that doesn't mean he wasn't willing to muck in and give it a try. And while Sian is always on the lookout for any glaring continuity issues, our continuing priority on location is for her to constantly ask the café staff to turn off their music so as not to create an editing nightmare later! Surprisingly, aside from one little pressure point, filming in Swansea at a huge convention didn't pose much of a problem at all and filming in the bar actually went smoother than I had expected.
Darren: I think the whole experience has been the most creatively collaborative thing I’ve ever done, which has been hugely satisfying. No one has been precious about their ideas (including me!) and we’ve all made changes at every stage of this process to make sure that Anoraks is the best and funniest web series we can produce.
Ed: This is so very true. The scripts are of course paramount. Without good writing, there would be no series. But what the actors have brought to the lines though has also been incredibly valuable. In the beginning, Darren and I just wrote what we thought was funny and since the three characters of Rob, Mike and Damien were essentially all aspects of Darren, it fell to me to sort of divide up the lines to try and create distinct personalities for the three characters. But by the time we were on the second and third scripts, we had watched the edit of the first episode, and from that point onwards, when we wrote, we both could hear the actors' voices speaking the lines, and so our writing has evolved quite rapidly to reflect the characters that the actors have embodied. This season, writing for a female character, (or actually a number of female characters), has been interesting. I think Darren and I treat Kim as one of the guys, but at the same time, if something the character says or does seems wrong, we'll be called on it and there will be a re-write. Sian is on the lookout for that sort of thing with the early drafts and I am hopeful that she'll contribute some dialogue to the new episodes. We've also got this plan that we will have designated rehearsal time with the aim of developing the scripts a bit more to focus on being as real as they can be, on comic timing and line interpretation, on bringing in a bit more physical humour, and giving the actors more input into the characters.