This week on #WebSeriesWednesday I developed a craving for a delicious jelly doughnut from ‘Jelly Modern Doughnuts‘ in Calgary Canada. Too bad southern California is slightly out of driving distance… I also learned a bit about using branding to produce your series.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about ‘branding’ being the future of web series and this week’s show is a definite point in its favor, although not without bringing up its fair share of limitations.

imageU Jelly‘ is a show about two awkward detectives attempting to fight off their mutual attraction to each other at the doughnut shop. The shop ‘Jelly Modern Doughnuts’ is a sort of trendy, downtown looking place – and just about every episode features a doughnut!

The show was shot in one day, mostly while the store was opened. Despite that limitation there are never any noticeable audio issues, but there were a few things that stuck out.

  • There aren’t any artful shots that sell the location to me. I would’ve loved to see a tracking shot of the doughnut case, or a ‘Pairings’ style montage of the food preparation. Of course this would start getting the production in the way of employees and customers.
  • There are very few wide shots of the place; most of the scenes are shot rather tight and off in a corner somewhere.  The last episode takes place at night and was shot (I assume) after the store closed. The opening shot of that episode is wide, showing the entire location and is my favorite shot in the entire series. The wide shot should have come at the beginning to give the audience a better idea of the location.
  • Shooting tight keeps the production out of everyone’s way and prevents customers from getting in the shots – it also makes continuity a lot easier. The downside is that it detracts from how a director would naturally shoot the scenes.
  • The location is on a corner, and is pretty much all windows. This blows out the backgrounds in most of the shots facing the front of the store. This is something you would like to avoid, but when you shoot an entire series in a single location you need to show the windows to give some variety to the shots.

Still the show made me want a doughnut! Haha. So now I have to wonder if working even closer with the locations management could have created an even stronger desire? From the perspective of the location owners I would see this as a missed opportunity to really show off the place.

imageWould shooting after hours have worked better? Perhaps pick a few more spots for wide shots and aim for some super shallow depth of field?

I’m not sure – the Hollywood answer is to close down the shop and shoot during business hours as if the place were opened. Obviously that would not work here.

This likely comes down to the producers ability to convince the management of all the potential benefits of access. In the case of ‘U Jelly‘ it feels very much like a compromise that could have worked out a little better for both parties.

That said, this is not the first series I have watched to highlight a location yet this is the first time I have really felt compelled by the product or brand in question. While ‘U Jelly’ is far from perfect in its execution it is most certainly an example of branding working in web series.

You can find the ‘U Jelly’ show on Youtube and at