This week’s #WebSeriesWednesday I chatted with Caitlin Shannon, while watching her Victorian era mocumentary ‘Wimpole Street.’

Wimpole Street is a great example of how constraints affect your production. Filmed in a single location with what Caitlin described as a ‘bugbear budget’ Wimpole is shot ‘Lizzie Bennet’ style in an interview ‘vlog’ like format. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of this choice.

Creator Caitlin Shannon on set

I wasn’t counting them while watching the show, but looking back I want to say there are about three or four camera set ups used in 95% of the show. There are a few odd angles thrown in to help keep things interesting as well. The bulk of the show features a few different sets of people sitting down and answering questions from ‘the inquisitor’ into the camera. It is odd to set a series where the characters talk directly into the camera in the 19th century and also strange that we never hear the inquisitor ask a question but I think I’m just supposed to role with it. While there was a big search for the right period house to film the series in during pre-production, the producers were ultimately able to use a friend’s house to make things even more efficient.

In theory this type of set up should allow for the production of a lot of content but ‘Wimpole’ is just four episodes, and about a half hour long. The idea was to push out the content as quickly and efficiently as possible, find something of an audience and then up the production values and budget in the second season. This idea seems a little backwards from what we usually see and recommend – where a production puts the very best stuff first to get people hooked, and then finding ways to save money on the back end. Of course that strategy is the reason why a majority of series aren’t quite able to fund a second season.

Gertrude & Mathew

Being as minimalistic as can be camera wise is an awful lot to ask of viewers, especially internet viewers and I can’t say I expect ‘Wimpole’ to find an audience because of this. The trade off provided a period location, excellent costumes and tons of sharp dialogue but ultimately the visual style feels like the story would be more at home on a stage. At the same time though, ‘The Lizzie Bennet Diaries’ might be the most successful web series to date and their format isn’t much different.

What the series really does have going for it is a highly authentic feel and some consistently sharp and witty dialogue. Viewers will have to decide if the style of humor and the portrayals of the characters are their thing, and outweigh the simple setting of the show. Ultimately it’s pretty much that straight forward. If ‘Wimpoe Street’ does produce a second season I’d be very interested in seeing where this style evolves. While I’m not sure how long it took Caitlin to write ‘Wimpole’ with the depth of detail in the dialogue I can’t see the lofty 500 or so episodes produced by ‘The LBD’ being a possibility, or even a goal for ‘Wimpole Street.’ While there are always ways to marginally improve a production, many of which can take a lot of time and money, for ‘Wimpole Street’ just taking a little more time and taking the camera off the tripod could go a long way,

Wimpole Street can be found on Blip.Tv – http://blip.tv/wimpolestreet/