DARK/WEB Wednesdays: An Unsung Hero In The Production Process – Interview With UPM Eric Salberg [AUDIO]

Photo Credit: Eric Salberg

Photo Credit: Eric Salberg

Welcome to “DARK/WEB” Wednesdays, a (mostly) weekly column where we bring you the latest news, photos, set videos, and details from the upcoming digital series, “DARK/WEB,” which is set to hit the site in 2017! In case you’re new to the column:

“DARK/WEB” follows a group of young adults navigating a near future where everything’s online and everyone’s connected, whether they like it or not. 

When Ethan (Elerding), Sam (McKissack) and James (Nardelli) find themselves the target of cryptic emails from someone posing as their childhood friend Molly (Gonzales), they assume she’s been the victim of an all-too-common hack. After they reach out to alert her, however, they discover that Molly’s been missing for months and no one has any idea what happened to her. As the emails keep coming, each containing a tale written by Molly, her friends realize that this may be more than just a sick joke. Someone has hidden information in the stories, details pulled from real life that point them to people and places from Molly’s past; clues that may lead them to their missing friend. “DARK/WEB’s” unique structure combines the classic, standalone stories traditionally found in an anthology with an overarching, season-long mystery. Each episode consists of two parts:

  1. A portion of a serialized tale that continues week after week.
  2. A stand-alone horror/sci-fi short, presented in the form of stories that Molly left behind; each written and directed by a different filmmaker.

When thinking about the production of a film or series, it’s really easy to look to the folks making the more creative decisions — the writers, directors, executive producers (at least on a TV show), and so forth. That’s an understandable thing to do. After all, more often than not, it’s those more creative decisions we as fans cling onto. 

But, of course, no project can be completed without a decent amount of logistical help from the likes of the producers and everyone working under them. One of the most important — and most underrated jobs — comes in the form of the unit production manager (UPM)? So what does a unit production manger do? Well, like many roles in filmmaking, there are often very blurry lines when it comes to differentiate the responsibilities of these roles, so it’s hard to say.

But speaking with Eric Salberg, the UPM of our upcoming exclusive digital series, Dark/Web, we were given a bit of a lowdown of some of the responsibilities he had on the production.

“I guess the better question is, ‘what don’t I do?’… It’s still more of a ‘what do you need from me?’ [kind of job], and ‘this is what I can provide.’ Whether it’s helping out with getting a schedule together, or crewing up an entire film crew, negotiating rates with crew, locking locations, looking at locations, scouting locations…basically anything under the sun that is before the production actually starts. Most of my job is preproduction.

“And I would say that during production, it’s more making sure everything’s running smoothly, and if anyone needs anything, they usually come to me first. Whether it’s gear, supplies, a third meal, different things in the food area, a budget question, they’re usually going to come to me. I’m kind of the mouth and ears in between the strict producing side of it — like the line producers — and the actual crew.” 

With a unique digital series like DARK/WEB, there are certainly bound to be some real challenges. It’s a different kind of format that mixes serialized storytelling with anthology storytelling, and in terms of Salberg’s job, that was where he found some real challenges.

“The fact that we’re going into four or five different directors. So it’s kind of like this balance of dealing with scheduling restraints, picking solid dates, locking the scripts, tightening them, and with five or six different people doing that, it gets pretty complicated, because we all want to be on the same page. It’s not just the same group of people who are working on the projects. It’s different people. So when you start adding and subtracting crew, it becomes difficult to either get someone in your groove, or for you to get into their groove. And with different directors, I think that becomes unique.”

Finally, we asked the process of production they are in:

“We are currently in the process of finishing up our B-stories… which are going to have guest directors, and different actors and actresses. So it’s a bigger production in terms of there isn’t one just one director for the whole thing, because now we’re dealing with actually five or six directors, and we still have five more stories to shoot.”

We’ll be hanging tight as things wrap up, and once the production itself officially wraps, you’ll be sure to hear it here first. 

While DARK/WEB may be the latest project from Salberg, it’s by no means his only darling. If you take a listen to the audio form of the interview, you’ll hear that he’s also had his hand in directing, and one of his shorts entitled #whoisBeverly has won some awards on the film festival circuit. You can check it out for yourself below:

Look forward to a lot more insight into the filmmaking process behind DARK/WEB in the coming weeks!

DARK/WEB hits LRM Online in early 2017!

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Joseph Jammer Medina

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and contributor at LRM Online. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.

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