You might not have seen Kayla Hammett on-screen in SideQuest Production's premiere web series, InterVallum, but behind the scenes, she was hard at work making sure the production ran smoothly. Get to know InterVallum's indispensable stage manager and some of the challenges that were faced in managing a live virtual production!
How long have you been a Stage Manager?
I have been a professional Stage Manager for about five years. I started Stage Managing my junior year in college and I have been pursuing it ever since. My main focus is theatrical stage management but I am looking to branch out into other types of creative project management.
I am really interested in TV/Film and live events. Ultimately, I want to use my production skills in different capacities, I love the challenge of being challenged. Working on InterVallum gave me the opportunity to transfer my Stage Management skills to a scripted web-series project.
How did you get involved with InterVallum & SideQuest?
This whole project began during the 2020 pandemic. One day some friends/colleagues of mine were chatting over Zoom when the idea of doing something together online came up. We all wanted to find ways to continue making art while being in a quarantine. There was definitely a want for creative collaboration and exploration in a world where live entertainment was not possible. So SideQuest was born. Our first project InterVallum was introduced and we were all very excited. The team read the script, written by the amazing Dani Maupin, and everyone loved it. Each company member took on different roles that were suited to them and mine was the Stage Manager.
How was the rehearsal process for InterVallum different from the rehearsal process for an “in-person” performance?
The biggest difference for this rehearsal process was that we were doing everything on Zoom. Rehearsals, meetings, techs, costume fittings, and performances all took place through Zoom.
The time it took to rehearse and put together these episodes is also different from "in-person" productions. We usually rehearsed about 3 to 4 days a week for about 2 hours each day. Each episode took about two weeks to put together. Most in person productions usually rehearse 6 days a week for up to 6 hours and take about 4 to 5 weeks to put together.
The amount of prep work before and during rehearsal was also different from other productions I’ve worked on. Before rehearsal began, our director Sam Sintef made storyboards for every episode. Those helped the whole team visualize what the look and feel of each episode would be. During this process we discovered that you have to come in with a good sense of direction so the design team knows what to build and the actors know where their focus should be. We were able to get a lot of the audio and visual elements early and use them in rehearsal, which was helpful for the actors and myself.
Although there are differences there are still similarities to in person productions. I still had my typical reports and paperwork as well as scheduling and script tracking. I still had pre-show checks, they just changed from things like check the prop tables to make sure everyone’s mics work and is our stream coming through on Twitch.
Once the first episode was finished the team had a better understanding of how to put these episodes together and the process became second nature.
What is the biggest challenge of calling a show that is being streamed “in real-time”?
There are a few challenges that come with calling a show that is being streamed live. You have to take into account the delay that naturally happens when streaming as well as hoping everyone’s internet stays strong throughout the performance. When you record something you have time to go back and do things again or stop and go as needed. When you're doing it live, just like with theatre, anything can happen and you have to stay on your toes. When calling something like InterVallum you have to take into account that everyone is dealing with a delay in some way so you have to anticipate and give your operators time to react. You also have to find different ways of communicating with the actors and technical team. If something happens in real life at a theatre I can typically communicate with my actors, backstage crew or ASM through a com system or face to face. Being online I have to type in the zoom chat, use hand signals, and talk on a phone call in order to communicate.
Which episode of InterVallum is your favorite?
That is a hard question! I would probably say it would be between Episode 1, Episode 5, and Episode 6. I enjoyed doing every episode but those three stuck out to me. Episodes 1 and Episode 6 had a lot of cool effects and sequences to call while Episode 5 was more focused on the characters' relationships.