We’ve completed production on our feature film “Circle.” We’re going to write a big recap soon, it’s been a crazy couple of months. A lot of very hard work. Pretty exhausted still.
We didn’t want to give Vault lesser treatment during production and end it poorly, so we decided the best move was to focus on the film and return to Vault when we could devote more attention to it. We know that was the best move ultimately, so that’s what we did. Excited to get back to it.
What does it mean exactly? Well to me it means, a perceived flaw that ends up helping you in some way. I won’t spell out the meaning of “The Vault” for you, I’m not sure that’s my place, but the last episode really gives you something to think about if you’ve been paying attention.
My weakness is that I believe anything is possible. Some people would call me delusional.
Like for example, I believed two guys in a living room with no money could make the best web series. I believed that WITHOUT A DOUBT. If I didn’t think that way, if I wasn’t “delusional,” then something like this never happens:
It happened BECAUSE I was delusional enough to think it could happen.
Let me tell you how I feel today, at this very moment. I want to tell you because it’s exciting if you like us and what we do. If you want to see more from us, you will be pleased to know the following:
I’m REALLY delusional. I believe ANYTHING is possible.
You’ve heard the saying, “Always aim for the moon, even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars?” Well, just know that when I take aim next, I’m aiming at the moon, and I fully expect to hit it. Without a doubt.
We never take views for granted. Our show is an original series that no one finds by accident. We earn those views, and for a little show made by two guys in a 6x6 box to be watched a million times is something to be proud of.
Also hit 20k YouTube subscribers and 6,500 Facebook fans.
As we’ve said before, we have no idea what the ceiling is. We do think it’s a lot higher. 10 million views? Maybe it will happen down the road, maybe it won’t. The important thing is we’re really proud of the product we’ve put together.
It starts on a random Friday night. I went to see a movie called “Safety Not Guaranteed” with my brother and another friend. I loved it. It’s a film made for only $750,000, a very modest budget by typical movie standards.
Now, my personal dream is to make a feature film and see it in a movie theater, and I definitely don’t need a million bucks to do it. Whenever I walk out of a great movie, I get inspired. It fires me up to keep doing what I do. What I do is make “The Vault,” a micro-budget web series on YouTube. Not exactly a million dollar feature film, but very fulfilling for me nonetheless, and the closest I could get to that dream.
A day or two before this particular day, my Vault partner Mario and I had a big argument. I was frustrated by the lack of results our show was having. I felt we weren’t on the same page as far as how we were going about our business. It’s hard enough for two people part-time to make an entire show, but I felt as though we still had to do more. Just because it was a ton of work doesn’t mean it was a guarantee of any sort of success or progress. Things just don’t happen magically. That’s my philosophy. You have to make things happen.
I get home and I check our YouTube channel to see if we gained 6 or 7 new subscribers, which was a typical day. We were up 500 subscribers. Confused, I hit refresh, It jumped 20 more. What the hell is going on, I thought.
It took me 30 minutes, but I eventually traced the traffic surge to a simple post on reddit. It wasn’t anything magic. Somebody simply posted a link to the show there. People were seeing our web series and liking it. Of course, I always hoped that would be the reason we’d get traffic, meaning the episodes being good, but it was still a pleasant surprise to see it actually happening that way.
After a few days we had gained 10,000+ subscribers and had half a million new views. It felt good. It was good to see some tangible results. Suddenly it wasn’t just a good web series, it was a good web series that had a respectable amount of views.
However, from the start of this project I knew that all we really needed was the right single viewer. If the right person saw “The Vault,” it could mean everything. To me, that was more likely than us getting 50 million views. Amazingly we had that happen early on. Billionaire Mark Cuban saw the first episode only days after it was released and invested in our production company. A high-risk investment, which although relatively small, is not one most people would have made, especially in two young guys so early on in their careers.
It had always surprised me up until this point that people in the entertainment industry hadn’t taken any interest in what we were doing. Not that I thought people were scouring YouTube for up and coming filmmakers, but when Mark Cuban invested I thought someone out there would say “hey, maybe I should look into this.” Maybe these guys are onto something. If he believes in them, maybe there is a reason. Didn’t happen.
I look at “The Vault” very simply. This is a show made by two guys, part-time, in a living room with very little money. I thought people in the entertainment industry would respect that. I thought they’d say, “damn, that’s pretty impressive.” I thought they might ask “imagine if those guys had anything to work with.” They didn’t. It was depressing. It made me feel like people didn’t respect what we do, or they simply didn’t care. I felt like what we were doing was important, and it was really hard to learn that maybe I was alone in that feeling.
Fortunately, one person in the industry did see the show through that reddit post. Suddenly we had our first entertainment industry meeting. We were in a door. That’s all we wanted. Just let us in the door. The meeting went great, and suddenly we had a 2nd meeting. This time with a management company. When they told us who their big name client was, we were sold. I won’t say who, but if I gave you 3 guesses based on what you’ve seen from us so far you could figure it out.
At the time I didn’t really know what having a manager or an agent meant other than it sounded impressive and it seemed to be what everyone in the business did, but I learned very quickly what a difference it made. Suddenly we had five meetings. Then 10. Then 15. Meetings with big name people and companies. It was a bit shocking. These people were being shown “The Vault” and other information about us for the first time, and they liked what they saw. I was relieved. I felt like there was hope.
I’ll cut to the chase. Several opportunities are in play. That’s where we’re at right now. We feel very good that one or several of these things will happen in some form. Some of these are Vault-related, some aren’t. The future is definitely bright.
We will update you with specifics as soon as we know. We just wanted you to know that good stuff is happening for us, and if you like “The Vault” and you like what we do, you should be happy.
I’m going to write more about this soon, but I just wanted to record this moment in the history of the project.
Thanks to a Reddit post by a fan, ledhead0501, we’ve seen our traffic explode in a very short amount of time.
In less than 48 hours we’ve had almost 150,000 views on YouTube. Just to put this into context for you, we had 115,000 views TOTAL before this. We’ve climbed from 2,700 YouTube subscribers to over 7,000 now.
It’s still going strong. I have no idea how long it will last, but it’s a great feeling to see so many people getting into the show.
I’ll post more later, but for now I’m going to go back to clicking refresh over and over again.
We’re sad to report that Barry Warrick has passed away. As many of you know, Barry was involved with The Vault from the very beginning and to say he made the project better would be an understatement. In truth, we can not imagine it without him.
He was a great guy - hilarious, kind, dedicated - and he is missed, not just by us, but by the many, many people he touched throughout the course of his life.
Our second hour is about to start coming out. The wait has been long, yes, but it’s how it had to be done. There are a dozen reasons for that, but they don’t matter now. What matters now is the episodes start coming out in July. Here are some things you can expect:
1.)New characters - New people in new rooms. After this hour you’ll have seen about 50 people. FIFTY. FIFTY! It feels like a blur now, but we’ve worked with that many people. That means fifty different rooms. Well, maybe 49 if you saw one of our teasers.
2.) Major plot point - One of the most interesting aspects of this show so far is that people find it interesting and compelling WITHOUT knowing what the show is really about. That’s a great sign, because if you liked the show already you’ll definitely like it now. After the first few minutes of Episode 6 it will start to become clear, and we think the show will take on an entirely new meaning.
3.) Different kinds of episodes - There are 6 new episodes, and some of them are very different. Episode 6 is the most unique in the entire show, and it’s a bit risky, but it’s essential to the story. Episodes 7 and 8 couldn’t be more different. I won’t say much more than that, but just know you are in for some variety.
4.) Clues - Please remember this. Nothing happens in this show without a reason. Everything has a purpose. We start with an empty room and we have to fill it with stuff. Nothing goes in there accidentally or without thought. When you watch these episodes, you can figure things out if you want to. I’m not saying it’s easy or obvious, but it’s there.
5.) Fun AND Drama - This is a drama series that we wanted to also be a lot of fun. I think you’ll get the best of both worlds in this next hour. That’s a tough thing to do, and we think we’ve been able to do it. We’re pretty proud of that, and we hope you love it as much as we do.
We’re not going to do a “Previously on The Vault” segment for the next episode. When you see it you’ll realize why, but it will help you to go back and watch some of the previous episodes if you have time.
I want to tell you a little about Barry Warrick, one of the actors in our show. You probably know him as the bike guy. Right now he is in a coma fighting for his life.
Barry was one of the first actors we cast in the show. The first thing you should know is that Barry isn’t even an actor. He is Shane’s (Henry in the show) best friend. I was introduced to him at a party at a mutual friend’s house. I felt weird about asking him to be in the show, especially given that he wasn’t an actor, the part was a little silly if not embarrassing, I couldn’t pay him, etc. I was embarrassed to even ask him, but when I did he said to me, “Cool. Sounds fun.”
He was exactly what we had in mind when we thought of the bike room. The character was written to be an extremely like-able guy who maybe needed to lose a few pounds. He had to be a little out of shape for the obvious irony of being put in an exercise room, but he had to be extremely like-able so that when he complained, we didn’t hate him for it. Instead, we sympathized with him a little. The key to the part is that even though he doesn’t want to ride that damn bike, we all know that he will. We can count on him, which is why we like him.
He’s the same way in real life. One of the most like-able guys I know. I don’t know if anyone we’ve worked with, and we’ve worked with 50+ actors, has more friends than Barry. Every time I posted something with him it always had double or triple the feedback. Everyone likes Barry.
Barry was one of the 4 actors in our pilot episode that helped get us a deal with Mark Cuban and HDNet. It was a life-changing thing for me. Without him I don’t think it happens. I think about that a lot these days.
I posted about this on Facebook, but when Barry found out he was sick he asked me if he could come in special to shoot his remaining scenes. At that time we didn’t think it was anything too serious. He told me he wanted to start getting in shape, and he was worried that losing 50 pounds would break some sort of continuity in the show. I told him that his health came first, and that the show doesn’t really matter, but he came in anyway. That’s the kind of guy he is. Most of the actors don’t give a shit. They cut their hair, they go out of town for months without telling us. Barry asked me for permission to get a tattoo. That’s Barry.
I went to the hospital to see him a few days ago. There is a waiting list. When you go to the front desk and say who you are there to see, you don’t have to finish your sentence. He’s the most popular person there.
The other night we had to film some of Shane’s dialogue where he is talking to Barry’s character. He is pushing him to keep pedaling, because the rest of the players can’t go on without him. It’s a painful irony.
I really hope he gets better. This place just isn’t the same without him around.
Recently we hit the 50 actor mark in our show. That means 50 different people have been in our little set and under our direction. That’s a lot of people when you take a step back and think about it. It’s been a great learning experience to work with so many people.
Before we started this project I knew that we’d be working with a lot of younger people. I remember thinking, for some of these actors, this might be their first real opportunity, even if it’s a small-time web project. I thought, who knows, maybe one of them will go on to become a movie star and “The Vault” will be their first project.
I was having a conversation with someone recently who asked me, if I had to pick, who did I think would “make it big.” Who could be a movie star someday? I’ll give you my opinion. I put that in bold because it is just an opinion.
Someone who is going to make it big has to have the following traits:
1.) You have to really want to do this. There is too much rejection and disappointment in the entertainment industry, especially for actors, to only sort of want to do this. I think a lot of people we’ve worked with have the desire to do this for a living, but I don’t know if it keeps them up at night. It probably should.
2.) You have to actually be able to ACT. Before we started this I might have said that there isn’t a huge talent difference between most actors. I know there is a difference, but a huge difference? I didn’t think so. Now I see there is a difference between actors, and you can usually tell pretty quickly. Can someone take direction and change the way they are doing something? We for sure have had people that can and can’t. It’s our job to get what we need out of people, but some people are better at it than others. That’s when you realize it’s not a given that anyone can “act.” Maybe people can get a part down, but could they do it five different ways? I think that’s a smaller group of people.
3.) You have to be professional. This sort of kills me. If you can’t show up on time, learn your lines at least somewhat, get back to people in a timely fashion, it’s not a good sign. Personally I’d rather work with someone less talented but went about their business in a professional way than someone who is flaky and unreliable. I’m willing to give people a chance, but there are some people who make a habit of being unprofessional. To them I say good luck, because you better be damn good.
4.) You need a plan. This is where a lot of people screw up. Your plan is to, essentially, buy a lottery ticket and hope someone calls your numbers. What you should be doing is figuring out how you are going to get from A to Z without needing a miracle. I’ll tell you something interesting. There are actors in this show who got in because they figured out how. If you really wanted to, you could get in this show. Maybe not as easily today as you could a few months ago, but it doesn’t take a miracle. I know people have gotten parts in other projects because they were in this show. It all starts somewhere. Figure out how it’s going to happen for you. Give yourself a real chance.
There are a bunch of other things that I think are going to help you, but those four to me are pretty good starting points. Notice I didn’t put things like knowing people or working really hard. You should bust your ass and you should network as much as you can, but I think if you are following the four things I mentioned you’ll find yourself doing that. I could think of a dozen other things, but they probably won’t matter without those four.
So who in “The Vault” do I think is going to make it big someday? Someone. Here, I’ll narrow it down for you:
A new HOUR of “The Vault” is currently in production. We decided that the best move going forward was to film as much of the show as we can and eventually release everything closer together. There will be some wait, but when it comes out you won’t have to wait very long between episodes. Thanks for your patience!
With that said, I’ve been meaning to get to this post for a while, but haven’t had the time. There are so many things I want to cover. Let’s get right into it.
There are four groups of people I care about when it comes to making this show. In no particular order:
1.) The two creators (me and Mario) 2.) The actors 3.) Mark Cuban 4.) Fans
All four of these groups have different priorities when it comes to “The Vault.”
1.) Mario and I want the show to be as good possible. 2.) Actors want to work. 3.) Mark wants us to create a revenue-generating business. 4.) Fans want to watch it as soon as possible.
In a nutshell, it is very difficult to balance these four things. We aren’t a big production company. We are two guys doing this part-time. TWO.
We’ve had to get smarter. When we started, we were motivated more by passion than by planning. We did a tremendous amount of planning and strategizing, that’s part of what has made us successful, but looking back we could have done even more. Going forward, we HAVE to be smarter.
With Mark Cuban working with us now, priorities are different. The biggest thing he talks to us about is that we have to look at this like a business, and in business if you don’t create revenue you won’t be in business very long. We really want to be in this business, and for the long run.
Everybody has a dream, right? I’ll share mine with you. My dream is this:
I want to go to a movie theater and buy a ticket to see a movie that I made. I want to sit in a packed theater for two hours and watch it with everyone else. You can come too. And when that last shot cuts to black, I want to see the look on your face. That’s all I want.
For now, I look forward to more of “The Vault.” Working hard on it. We have 20 shoots in two weeks, including tonight. Can’t wait to show you guys.
"The Vault" is a pretty unique project. It’s unique in that we get to work with a TON of people, typically one at a time. Every actor is different. No two shoots are the same, even though they take place in the same set. It really is great training as an aspiring Director. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from making this show, and I will use that knowledge going forward in my life as a filmmaker.
Every shoot presents it’s own unique challenges. Some rooms are very difficult set-ups. Some rooms are dirt simple set-ups, but have characters with a ton of dialogue. Some rooms have technical questions. Electrical wiring, visual effects. Some actors memorize every line, some actors forget to read the script. We’ve had the full spectrum, and it’s always interesting.
Our shoot last week with Kristi Mahe was one that I’ll never forget. It was a very unique experience, and one that I’m extremely happy I got to have. I think it’s worth sharing.
The Keyboard Room
This room was always in our plans. Initially, we had the room first appear in Episode 2. If you’ve seen Episode 2, you’ll remember that Henry basically tries to do too much at once. He panics at discovering the number of players inside the Vault, and eventually gets a little overwhelmed by what’s going on. We thought, what better way to add to the chaos than someone banging random keys on a piano. We ended up deciding that, in order not to reveal the truth behind the room, we couldn’t really show it. Why would the character hurt the team by making a racket. Also, why won’t they respond to Henry trying to get their attention. We thought it wasn’t an interesting enough way to introduce the room.
We still wanted the room to show up in the episode somehow though, at least over the intercom. It was too good of a room for that moment. We wanted something to really add to Henry’s frustration. Something so annoying that it would get him to shut off all the buttons. That’s when the dog bark came to us. Henry would, nearing the tipping point of frustration, call one last room and hear nothing but a bark. ”Hello?” ”WOOF!” ”Oh you’ve got to be kidding me,” he would say. We wanted the viewers to say the same thing. A dog in a room? Are you serious Vault guys?
Between Episode 2 and 3 Mario and I talked about the idea of doing a bonus episode where we revealed the keyboard room. It would intersect with Episode 2 in a way that people might not see coming. We weren’t sure we wanted to reveal why the keyboard room was so interesting, but eventually we decided it was important.
Casting I knew that the character in the keyboard room would be deaf, but I didn’t initially think about casting a deaf actress in the part. For some reason I thought it would be seen as bad thing, but Mario said something that in retrospect seems pretty obvious now. ”Don’t you think it would be worse if we didn’t?”
I posted an ad on craigslist which said pretty much what you would guess. I got several hits pretty quickly, and eventually decided to go with Kristi Mahe. She had several quality video submissions and a Facebook page with almost 1500 fans, something that is always a bonus for us. I remember when I sent her the pages I was a little nervous about what she might think, but she couldn’t have been more excited.
As the shoot neared I started to worry about how it would go. We’re so used to directing verbally. It’s something you just take for granted that you can just tell somebody what you them to do and they do it. I thought, maybe we should play it safe and get someone to sign. I posted an ad but got no responses, and eventually I asked her if she wanted to bring anyone. She said she might bring a friend or two along.
The shoot was on a Saturday night. Mario and I went over the logistics of it, all the blocking, etc. We knew it would be an easy set-up, so we wanted to make sure all those questions were answered in advance. My friend Bernie also came to the set to help out in any way he could. Typically it’s just Mario and I, so when we get an extra hand it’s a bit of a luxury. We don’t NEED extra help but we’ll take it when we can get it. We had no idea how helpful having Bernie around would be that night.
Kristi arrived with a friend, but not someone to sign for us. No one was in town that weekend since it was the weekend after Thanksgiving. Her friend, also deaf, came to take a few pictures and watch the shoot. They were very friendly and made us immediately feel comfortable. One of the first things I realized was that she had a blackberry and knew how to use it. Texting took on a new meaning that night for sure. She would type up questions and send them to me constantly, or just type in her blackberry and show me. It was actually pretty fun.
The first thing we do when the actors arrive on set is to let them pick out a shirt, which is always a lot of fun for them. Now, the shirts are not quite random (spoiler alert?), but there is room for some flexibility. I had 6 or 7 options lined up for her, one of which was a UCLA shirt I was secretly hoping to use for another actress in a later shoot. After cycling through them a few times, she took the UCLA shirt out and looked to me as if to ask, “can I wear this one?” My head found itself nodding. UCLA it was.
We went into the room with the main set and did a few of the poster photos that we always do. After that we did the first set-up. We were going to be filming everything way out of order, which might be the norm for a lot of film productions but we typically do things in order as much as possible. For this shoot though we figured it would be easiest to go in order of difficulty, starting off easy. Keep in mind we were also filming her scenes for a future episode or two, and without going into too much detail they were much more complex.
Initially I found that my way of directing people who couldn’t hear me was to talk quieter. It just happens, you don’t really do it on purpose. Kristi was very good at understanding what we wanted though, almost to the point that it was a non-issue. She must obviously be so used to that way of communicating with people, but for us it was a new experience.
One thing we did was use Bernie as a go-between to text her some of the more complicated stage directions as we prepared for different set-ups. Bernie did a great job of keeping that going quickly while we were working. He also went behind the set and would control the lights as another way of cuing Kristi to certain timing moments. In retrospect it would have been much more difficult without a third person there, so thanks again Bernie!
As I was watching Kristi performing, I really tried to picture the shoot from her perspective. She is sitting a keyboard that has hundreds of instruments and other sound effects, all of which mean very little to her. There was one moment that she was cycling through the different instruments on her own. It was interesting to see which ones she would pick out. Imagine you see something like a clarinet somewhere. You know what it sounds like and why it’s different from, say, a saxophone. Kristi has no idea what sound it makes. I say this because this is what I was thinking during the scene. This is not only what our character has to deal with, but it’s what she has to deal with in real life.
If you think about The Vault, being deaf is a big obstacle. It’s a game highly dependent on verbal communication. Not to compare the two, but a blind person would have an easier time within this particular context. Once again, another thought that crossed my mind during this shoot.
The shoot was going so well that near the end, we decided to shoot one additional scene. Mario and I had discussed the possibility of this scene, but figured it had a 5% chance of making it into the show. Not because we didn’t want it, but we just didn’t think we could pull it off. We had Bernie tell her via text about what we were thinking about doing, and she wanted to do it.
I have to say, this was something I’ll never forget. Mario and I can’t wait to cut those scenes, and for people to be able to see for themselves. It’s hard for me to get into it without giving away spoilers, but I think when people watch the show and understand that what’s happening is real and true, they will have a similar reaction to what I had.
Kristi would sometimes re-do takes that she didn’t feel like she nailed, even when we thought she did. This is one thing I’ve noticed with some of our better actors. They ask to do certain scenes over if they don’t feel great about them. We always let that happen, even if we feel great about what we’ve shot. She was no different, and at the end she asked if she did alright. I texted her “amazing,” for which I received a lovely hug that I happily accepted.
We wrapped. Mario and I edited much of Episode 2.5 the next day, and we were very pleased with out how it turned out. It was hard for us to figure out how best to reveal the secret of the room, but we ended up with a version that we think works well enough. It’s not an easy thing to pull off if you actually think about it. If you go back, there are a few clues right from the opening shot. For example, she has no blindfold. The rest we’ll let you go back and look for, some of which were her doing on her own accord.
I think my favorite part of Episode 2.5 is the juxtaposition of Henry complaining about how “impossible” the game is for him to Kristi’s own challenge with her room. I hope the idea that comes across is not just that Henry really shouldn’t complain, but that everyone has their own challenges they have to overcome. I feel like this shoot certainly was a new challenge for us, and I’m glad we were all successful. I look forward to challenging myself more and more in the future.
Just some follow-up comments to my previous post for those of you who have emailed us so far:
I’m not auditioning you or going through a hiring process here. I’m giving you the opportunity to join us and create your own opportunity within our company. You can essentially create your own role. If you think you have something to offer that will help us grow our company, you can get on board.
This is a start-up company that is off to a great start. If you are responding to this because you are looking for a salary job today, this is not that kind of thing. Even Mario and I don’t take paychecks, we both work and do this. We are putting the money into the company and growing it, the idea being that there will be a paycheck in it down the road, and hopefully a decent one. It might not be that far down the road really, but it’s not today. It doesn’t make sense yet.
If you want to be a part of this, email me why and how. That’s what I want to know. Why do you want to be a part of this and how do you think you can help?
Imagine you are one of us. We started a production company, we have our first of hopefully many projects up and running, we have a great partner, we have some funding. What would you do with what we have so far? How would you help us get to the next level. Think like you are a third person on board. What would you do?
We started a production company. It’s so new we haven’t even named it yet. And yet, our company has already partnered with Mark Cuban and has a TV deal with HDNet. How can that be? Do they know something?
Yes, they do.
This company is like a rocket ship. Mario and I built the ship. We worked really hard to do that. Mark Cuban and HDNet provided us with the fuel. They believe in the work we have done and will do going forward. The countdown has started…
Here’s the thing though. We have empty seats in here, and the door is still unlocked. You want to get on this ship and take the ride with us, you don’t need our permission. Get on board, it’s an open invitation.
Our only conditions: Don’t get on if you don’t really want to be here. If you don’t want to take the trip. We want people in here who want to be here.
We want people who are going to help us reach our end destination. If you think you can add something to help us get to where we want to get to, you are free to join the party. We would be stupid not to take you. You would be stupid not to accept.
We are a three-man crew right now. Aaron, Mario, and Mark. We are all on-board for the long journey up and away. Where we are going is somewhere amazing.
Why so few updates? We’ve been busy doing production. REALLY busy. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s going great.
Episode 2 is finished. It will be out this weekend. Just so you know, every day that goes by that it’s not out is agony for me. I want so badly for it to be out for the world to see. It’s also our first episode since we partnered with Mark Cuban and HDNet, and I want them to see the result of all our hard work.
The two of us do the work of 20 people. That and we have day jobs that take up a lot of our time. Obviously our goal is to make our production company our only job someday, but it takes time. It will happen. We want our little company to be a big company in the entertainment world someday. I have no doubt it will happen.
But first we have to get Episode 2 out. Four days…
So we just added around 20 people to our cast. We know for a fact that a lot of them are completely and utterly SHOCKED at the news. Why? Because actors are used to rejection. It’s a tough business this acting thing. Tough profession, tough industry.
I sympathize with actors because I know a lot of them are driven by the same things that drive me. I love doing what I’m doing, and I can’t imagine doing anything else. I couldn’t give it up if i tried. I also am trying to work in the same industry and have felt the same feelings of rejection. I still feel like the odds are stacked against me in everything I do, even though I’ve had some things go my way recently.
When I looked through hundreds of casting submissions, I looked for a few things. I opened your email and what I hoped to see was the following:
1.) That you saw at least some of what we do. It lets me know that you understand what you are submitting for. I get that people apply to many acting gigs, but if I see that you know our project and like it, it makes me feel like you really want to be a part of it. I also know that you realize what we are, and there are no surprises (omg you are on the internet?! eew gross!)
2.) A video! Not only a video, but a video where you talk at some point. This is what we look for. Photos don’t really do much for us, we aren’t going to do traditional auditions for this project since there are so many parts. If you have a short film, something on a webcam, whatever, that’s what we want to see.
Now I’m a pretty nice guy. I cast a few people who didn’t submit videos, but I went out and did some research. I found things on people and I liked something about them for whatever reason. Why would I do this? I don’t know, but I did. If something makes me curious, I’ll look around. A few of you have no idea what I found, but whatever it was it worked out for you.
3.) That you fit a specific part we have exactly. This is just luck sometimes, but if I see someone who just seems exactly like a specific part I’m trying to cast, it’s hard for me to get them out of my head when I’m thinking of their scenes. Roy Rosell, I’m talking to you. You nabbed one of my favorite parts in the whole show. I can’t not put you in it after I watched your video, what can I do?
4.) That you were referenced by someone else we’ve worked with. This is the reality, you all know that. Connections help. For us what it means is that we aren’t bringing in a complete stranger, and we can ask about you. We’ve had good luck with this type of casting so far. If you know someone in the project tell us, because it does help in some cases.
5.) Because it’s our show and we can do whatever we want sometimes. I’ll be completely honest here. There were a few people that I just simply liked something about them, shrugged my shoulders and said, “sure, why not?” I’ll give them a shot.
Having said all this, I know there are hundreds of people who we effectively said no (for now) too. Even “The Vault” with it’s many characters can’t cast everyone. Do I feel bad? Sometimes, but that’s the way it goes.
To the 20 or so we’ve just added, welcome to the cast! We are looking forward to working with you. ”The Vault” is a fun project to be a part of, and we are just getting started.
There are a lot of ways to fill a 150-character universe. One way is to have a vote. We had a Facebook contest to see who could get the most friend-support and be voted into the show. Shawn Gray came in first with 150+ votes after just two days. He will be in the show. We didn’t know people would have so much fun with the contest, so we’ll do another for a full week this time.
Little did we know that Shawn is only in California for 3 weeks, which means he really did have to win to get in the show. We have to scramble a bit, but we are prepared for such instances. Oh yes, The Vault has a room for everyone…
We’re going to make this show. It’s going to be great.
Not sure how long production will take, but we’ve given ourselves until the end of the year. We will be releasing episodes as we go.
I can’t wait to one day be able to sit back and watch this whole thing start to finish. I hope we’ll be able to enjoy it. It’s hard when you’ve written every line, cast every actor, purchased every prop, composed every shot, and edited every frame, but we’ll try.
For everyone involved, let’s enjoy the ride. Going to be fun. See you in The Vault!
Creators of "The Vault" partner with HDNet, Mark Cuban
We have some exciting news! We’ve partnered with HDNet, a television network owned by Mark Cuban. The partnership is going to help make “The Vault” everything we hoped it could be and more. We are extremely grateful for this opportunity, and look forward to working together. For everyone involved, thanks so much for helping us get to this point. It’s going to be fun!
We just hit 1000 likes on Facebook. I know a thousand isn’t a million, but you have to cross a thousand to get to a million right? I’m not sure if we’ll ever get a million or if that’s really even a goal we have, but 1000 is pretty cool.
So we decided to make something we’re calling Episode 1.5. For now. We filmed it already and should have it out soon. It’s going to be similar to the teasers you’ve already seen, but it takes place chronologically between the start of Episode 1 and Episode 2.
The problem is, we don’t like calling it Episode 1.5. It’s not truly an episode, but it’s also not a teaser. We always planned to make bonus content that is 100% part of the story, but not required viewing. If you are really into the show, you will want to watch all of the content, but if you are a more casual viewer you can simply watch the main episodes without missing anything critical.
We are trying to come up with a naming system so that this becomes clear to the viewers. We want people to immediately know when to watch which bonus content, and which content is required viewing.
As of right now, the viewing order is as follows:
Teaser #1 Teaser #2 Teaser #3 Episode 0 Episode 1
The teasers are more than teasers if that makes sense. They have some great information in them. We want level 10 fans to see them. We don’t want to make them required viewing.
It presents an interesting problem actually. For example, Teaser #2 reveals very subtly that this story is taking place a few years in the future. That was the point of that teaser. There are newspaper headlines that cover events in the future. Hopefully you got a chance to watch it.
If you noticed in Episode 1, we included a caption in the first 10 seconds that said “April 4th, 2016.” We didn’t intend to reveal the date this way initially, but because it was something we wanted the audience to know and we presented it in the teaser we decided to include it. It was also done as a way, since it’s such a mysterious show, to give the viewer something interesting to latch onto to hopefully watch the entire 11-minute pilot. We realize people have short attention spans, so we thought it only fair to give SOMETHING away right in the beginning.
Several years ago I was watching Steven Spielberg’s appearance on “Inside the Actor’s Studio.” In it he talked about the famous story where he got off the tram ride at Universal Studios and walked around the lot. The next day he showed up, dressed nicely, and was able to get in again. This continued the whole summer, and as legend goes was the way he was able to get his start in the business.
After watching the video and getting a bit inspired, I decided screw it. I’ll give it a shot. I had applied for entertainment industry jobs left and right, never getting anywhere. All I wanted to do was pick up trash at one of these big companies, knowing all I needed was my foot in the door. I could do anything if I could just get in the building.
The next day I put on a suit and tie, put 100 copies of my resume in a box, and drove down to some of the big studios in Burbank. NBC, ABC/Disney. I didn’t have a plan, but I needed to try SOMETHING. I felt deep down in my heart that I belonged there. That I had something to offer to these companies. I can help you! I know I can do great things!. I just needed someone to give me a chance. Give me a mail room job. Let me clean up offices. I don’t care about the money. I just want a chance!
Now I wasn’t completely foolish in this attempt. I printed out some job listings I had applied to with the intention of perhaps getting my resume directly in someone’s hands. It might go from a security guard to an assistant to another assistant and then finally to a person in HR or an executive. I figured maybe they’d see I had initiative and drive and appreciate the fact that I made such an effort. I only applied to realistic entry level jobs.
I show up, and there are a bunch of people in red shirts outside. I’m a little nervous so I don’t pay much attention. I also notice some news crews. A few people are holding signs. I’m really confused. I ask someone, what exactly is going on?
Awkward. These people are out here refusing to work, and I’m right in the middle of it in a suit and tie holding a box of my resumes begging for a job. No one knew this of course, but the irony was not lost on me.
I stood there for about ten minutes a bit confused how to proceed. I ended up walking over to the security guard at the gate and gave them the resumes for the job postings I had printed out. No idea what she did with them. Never heard back.
Not long after this I decided to embark on a new path. A path where I was in control of my own destiny. I wasn’t going to put my life in someone else’s hands. I needed to do something myself and prove that I belonged in those buildings. I did have something to offer, but the only way anyone would ever know this was to go out and prove it. Only then would I get my foot in the door.
Fast-forward to now, after a LOT of hard work and dedication. There are so many things no one will ever know about that I spent weeks on. Months on. All because I believed that if I could make something good, someone might notice for once. Someone might say, hey, this person might actually be good at this.
The door recently opened for me. A big door. A door to a place I’ve long wanted to be in. When it did, I didn’t feel surprised. I didn’t feel overwhelmed. I didn’t feel intimidated. I felt like I deserved it. You know why? Because I do. It has nothing to do with how hard I’ve worked, how much passion I have, or how much I’ve gone through. It’s because I belong in there. I still have a lot to prove, but I never worry about if I have what it takes. I know I do.
Patience isn’t on my list of virtues. I actually like that about myself, because to me, patience and complacence aren’t very different. Patience is often an excuse for laziness. For procrastination. Don’t let anyone fool you. Patience is overrated.
Can I see any situations where patience would be a good idea? Sure. Like right now. Things are going on with “The Vault” behind the scenes that are very much out of my control. Things that require patience. Things that you can’t fast-forward by hard work or determination. It’s agonizing, it’s torture, but it’s the only way to proceed.
In a few weeks, this waiting period will be over and we will be back to full speed ahead mode. The mode I prefer. But for now, we have to wait. Patience right now is going to mean a lot. A lot for me. A lot for our company. A lot for the show. Sometimes great things require patience.
I like to look at the world very mathematically. Even though I dropped out of college Calculus three times, I can appreciate the fact that many things in life come down to simple math.
Filmmaking is no different. It’s a very mathematical process. Making a film is like trying to solve a very complex equation.
"The Vault" is a very experimental sort of concept when it comes down to mathematics. We’ve tried to maximize the variables we can control, and minimize the ones that can get us in trouble. It’s the only way we could see being successful given our limited budget, resources, connections, and even experience.
Let’s say making a film could be represented by the following equation:
A + B + C + D + E = F
If “F” represents your finished film, what are the other variables that go into the equation?
Let’s start with the obvious. Budget, “B”. ”The Vault” is a microbudget production by design. Not only did we not have any real money to put towards the project, but we also decided that this was ok. We didn’t want to have any financial expectations for the project, we didn’t want to take on loans or credit card debt, or owe anyone other than ourselves anything. We’d simply have to make up for it in other areas. That way if we ever had success financially it would only be a plus.
"E." Experience. We were both very opinionated and confident in our abilities, but our experience in actual filmmaking prior to "The Vault" was limited. We’d have to focus on our strengths and try to limit our exposure on weaknesses. For example, we felt very confident in the areas of pre-production and post-production. Writing and editing were our biggest strengths. We would have to choose a project where those two areas would be the focal points. Production responsibilities such as directing, lighting, etc. we were both limited in, so we didn’t want to bite off more than we could chew. Now we feel like we’ve learned quite a bit, but it took some trial and error to get to that point.
"C." Crew. We couldn’t afford to pay anyone and didn’t want to rely on a large team, so we decided we’d have to make our project work with a crew of two people. If you’ve worked on any film production before, you realize a crew of two people is absurd. There is no way two people would be enough for most projects. With "The Vault" we’ve found a way to pull it off. We’ve learned to multi-task effectively on set. Sometimes one of us will hold a light, read lines, and direct at the same time. It can be challenging, but we make it work.
So if we are light on B, C, and E, we’d have to make up for it in A and D.
"A." Actors. If you’ve seen the pilot, you know the big secret about the show. There are almost 150 stars in our show. That’s sort of the defining idea of the project. A seemingly impossible puzzle of people presented before you to work your way through. How can it be? That’s what our main character Henry will face, and it’s what you will face as a viewer. Not only how can Henry solve this giant mystery, but how can we pull this off as a project. You’ll have to watch and find out I suppose.
"D." Dedication. We’ve had to make up for our lack of resources by putting in more time and hard work. When two people have to do everything from writing, casting, directing, finding props, set construction, and about a zillion other things, it takes a big commitment. The only way any of this gets done is if we both max out on this variable. The truth is though, it’s a lot easier to give everything you have towards something when you love doing and and it’s what you care most about.
Watching “The Vault” will be like a giant equation for you all to solve. Hopefully a fun, fascinating, compelling one. Making it has been the same. Looking forward to continuing it.
One of the things a lot of people trying to produce entertainment consistently undervalue is the sustainability of their projects. To us it was one of the most important considerations before we started. Could we sustain what we were setting out to accomplish.
Sustainability means many things. First of course is economic sustainability. If you are making a series or a film, can you financially afford to finish your entire project? Can you do it without going into debt, taking loans, maxing out your credit cards? Can you avoid the awkward family and friends circuit, trying to get people to buy into your silly vision? Do you need to luck out by landing an investment or a sponsorship deal, things that typically come only after you’ve produced a finished product AND built an audience?
Sustainability also means labor sustainability. Can you put in the work? Sure, you are passionate early on, but can you sustain that passion for months? For years? Are you willing to do it all just for the love of doing it, without a reward at the finish line waiting for you? How about your actors, often people who aren’t paid much if at all? Are they going to stick around for the whole project? You better know this before you start, because it’s easy to underestimate the amount of work it’s going to take to get to the end.
There’s creative sustainability. Do you have enough good ideas to fill every episode? Two hours of film? Have you thought things all the way through?
I could go on, but you get the idea. We built our project around the idea of sustainability. We had tons of ideas, but we had to choose the right idea for us. There are things we’d love to do that were simply beyond our reach. They were unsustainable.
"The Vault" is a sustainable model of entertainment. It’s also, we think, pretty darn impressive given our modest budget, resources, crew, and to be honest overall experience. We’ve tried to squeeze every drop out of what we have to work with.
The greatest thing about it is we know we can keep doing it.
So we’ve decided to bring back the old blog. We can also tell you, honestly, why we stopped writing it in the first place. The goal of our original “Series: Impossible” blog was to prove that you could make a quality web series without any real budget, industry connections, or any of the things people say you need. Once we were able to finish the pilot and the teasers, we felt like we had accomplished our mission. We proved to ourselves that is was possible.
Now that the pilot is out and people seem to be really responding to it, we are looking forward to continuing the series. We have a lot more of the story to tell, and we now feel confident we can tell it to the standards we hold ourselves to.
We want to make this one of the best web series ever made. It’s what we live to do. Hand us a million dollars right now and this is what we’d be doing. Maybe a little easier, but hey, we don’t mind working hard. We’ve worked hard for a long time developing this concept and building towards a sustainable model of film production. We feel like we’ve set ourselves up to make a killer show.
We look forward to the journey ahead, and hope you’ll come along for the ride.
Q: What is “The Vault?” A: “The Vault” is a web series.
Q: Um…can you be more specific? A: Well ok…”The Vault” is a web series about a television show that airs in the year 2016 (which you may have noticed is several years after the world supposedly ends. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t). This show, a week-long reality competition starring students from around the country, is one network’s last attempt to reverse a history of programming failures and save itself from ratings mediocrity. Hey, we didn’t say it was NBC! Why would you think that? Like they’d even be around in 4 years.
The name “Vault” itself refers not only to the name of the show, but the name of the place where the show is filmed. The vault is a multi-room complex, location unknown. Each room within the vault contains one individual, a student, whose job it is to discover his or her room’s purpose/function within the vault to the group. To quote my favorite nameless serial killer in the movie Se7en, “I feel like saying more, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise.”
Q: Sounds cool/awesome/sick/interesting/great. Where can I watch it? A: TheVaultShow.com
Q: Are you still looking for actors? A: “Everyday.” That’s Haley Joel Osment at the end of The Sixth Sense. Did you know that? Like the facebook page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in acting in the show.
Q: What is The Vault: LIVE? A: The Vault: LIVE is a REAL version of our fictional web series, where actual students will compete for prizes and a chance to be on a real version of the show. If you are a college/university student and like using your brain, playing games, becoming famous, or just being blindfolded go to www.facebook.com/vaultshow and LIKE us. We will be posting more information there soon.
We feel like we can now label the Series: Impossible project a success. Months ago we set out to create an awesome show. One that, despite having virtually no budget or any industry connections, could compare favorably with any professionally made, big budget project. We thought it would be difficult, but nonetheless possible.
Despite numerous obstacles along the way, we feel like we’ve accomplished our objective. We’ve gotten to see more of what we’ve made than you have so far, and you will see more shortly, but ultimately our goal was to prove to ourselves that we could do it and create something we thought was awesome. There was a point recently where Mario and I were looking at what we had made and we both looked at each other and said, “we did it.” We are really proud of what we have done so far, and we look forward to doing more.
This blog has been about making the impossible possible. Making a show that will look and feel as good as any show you might see anywhere, yet do it on our terms. Our way. We’ve gotten to work in all the phases of production along the way. Discussing concepts, outlining, writing, location scouting, set construction, locating props, casting, lighting, budgeting, equipment selection, production, editing, sound, music…and probably a zillion other things that I’m leaving out. We got to do it all, and it was a lot of work, but we did it. Sometimes it was very frustrating. There were times where we thought it might not work, but we kept at it, and to us it has paid off.
We realize that to the outside world so far we have released only a minute of actual show material, but there was so much work leading up to that minute. So much thought and preparation went into it, and going forward the process is about repetition. We have set ourselves up in such a way that it will allow things to run fairly smoothly from this point on. Production and post-production is pretty easy for us. We designed this project that way. The hard part was getting here, and we made it.
We did it all our way, and now we have arrived at what we feel is the next phase of this project. It’s no longer about doing something impossible. We’ve proven it’s very possible indeed with the right amount of planning and hard work. It’s not about how we are going to do it anymore. It’s about what we are doing.
We want to thank everyone who has read this blog along the way. We appreciate your patience, and we hope you like the product we are just starting to deliver to you. So far the response has been amazing, and it will only get better. That’s our goal. From now on, everything will start from our main site at www.vaultshow.com.
We think we can make “The Vault” one of the greatest shows ever, web series or otherwise. Sounds impossible right?