Centralized Workspace, Script Breakdown, Shot List, Storyboard, Episodic Production

Black Card Productions

A limited budget didn’t stop Black Card Productions from completing their Amazon series Ringside.

The limited series Ringside is available to view now on Amazon Prime. While the look and feel of the series might suggest otherwise, Ringside had a total budget of just £1000. To find out how something that sounds so incredible is even possible, we spoke with Producer/Director James Twyman about how Yamdu helped him complete the project with such a small team and a limited budget.

James Twyman - Producer and Director at Black Card Productions

Key takeaway

"Yamdu managed to take the crazy out of my crazy because I honestly felt that I was able to do the work of 10 people as one individual with ease."

James Twyman Producer and Director at Black Card Productions

What can you tell us about Ringside

Ringside is a 6-part series available on Amazon. It follows Chad, a troubled teenage boy who finds a family of a kind when he starts working at a boxing gym.

Production still of Producer/Director James Twyman on the set of "Ringside."
Production still of Producer/Director James Twyman on the set of "Ringside."

How did you first start working on Ringside?

Ringside had a budget of £1,000, which is obviously nothing. I initially started working on it in 2018 and actually spent a couple of days in production but it turned out to be a false start. I had tried to do everything manually – all of the scouting, casting, props and costumes – with pen and paper, but it just didn't work, it was too overwhelming. I had to tell the cast and crew that the whole thing had to be rethought and needed a different strategy.

And that's where Yamdu came in?

Yes. I had tried other software like Celtx and Studiobinder but they were too expensive and ultimately lacked the suite of features Yamdu provided. Once I found Yamdu, I loved it. I had what I needed and I will always use Yamdu from now on.

What advantages did Yamdu provide that ultimately made it possible to complete the project?

It helped in so many different areas. I was able to break everything down properly and sort all of the costume changes and locations. Then I organised the shoot by location which provided structure and made scheduling so much easier. I was able to create a shot-list and a storyboard and it gave me a sense that I finally had control over the production and could focus fully on the creative aspects of the project. Over 6 months, I broke everything into 6 shooting phases and organised everything so that I could take care of one leg of production, complete it, and then move on the next one.

I could manage all of the incredibly complex elements of production as one person. On paper, Ringside shouldn't exist. If you told anyone in the film industry what we wanted to achieve and the money we had to achieve it, they would have said 'no'. Yamdu managed to take the crazy out of my crazy because I honestly felt that I was able to do the work of 10 people as one individual with ease.  It was so well planned and I knew exactly what I wanted, I knew what coverage I needed, I knew who had to be in what costume.

Poster for "Ringside," the 6-part series is available on Amazon.
Poster for "Ringside," the 6-part series is available on Amazon.

Were there any scenes in particular that Yamdu was particularly helpful with?

For our big boxing scene, we had 4 hours to film and I was able to plan everything out to make use of a real live boxing event and get all the shots and the angles and the coverage I need. Prior to using Yamdu, my stress levels about capturing this were incredibly high and I honestly thought 'I can't do this', but once I was able to plan everything out and order things, it just happened. I don't think I could have finished Ringside without this piece of software.

How did the cast and crew find Yamdu?

It was incredibly helpful because I was able to have all this information in one place. We didn't use paper very much at all, we just had our call sheet with the breakdown, shot-list and storyboard all in one place. My assistant was able to track the information and the paperwork and make sure we didn't miss anything. I sent everything out to my cast so they would have a clear idea of how each day would go.

We did a radio interview recently and Joseph, who plays the lead character Chad, said "James always knew exactly what he wanted" which was funny as it was not so much a case of me knowing exactly what I wanted but that the planning I was able to do in Yamdu made it look like I knew what I was doing. And because I had that security of knowing what was required, it stopped me from getting flustered and gave me the headspace to focus on the creative process fully. The one piece of advice I would give to anyone in this industry, whether it's one dude with a camera or a full crew, is plan, plan, plan.

With Yamdu, I'd walk on set calm. And every day I'd walk off set happy.

Do you plan on using Yamdu on any upcoming projects?

Yes, I will. I'm currently looking to raise a million pounds for a feature. But I would say that whether you are working on a project like Ringside, or something with a budget of £50,000 or a film with a million-pound budget, Yamdu is not even a cost, because the value of having a system like that is invaluable – and especially now with COVID where it will not always be possible to have everyone together in one room. It's a no-brainer. As I've already said, I've trialled other systems, but Yamdu was the best.

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