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Andrew Lee Potts | WIRELESS

Written By:

Martin Unsworth

A well-known face on TV thanks to his portrayal of Connor Temple in ITV’s much-missed Primeval, Andrew Lee Potts has always had a passion for directing; his short Photo Finish won the Grand Prix Award at the Reed Short Film Competition. With his web-series Wireless – the futuristic story of cop partnered with a car with Artificial Intelligence named Unit White – getting more and more successful, we had a chat to find out what’s driving this self-funded project…

STARBURST: Tell us a little bit about how Wireless came about…
Andrew Lee Potts: I work a lot with Alex Moss, who writes a lot of the stuff we make together – we basically create the ideas together. I’ll ring him and say, I’ve had a wicked idea, let’s start to put it down on paper. He starts that, then he comes to me, and I’ll say ‘this is right, that’s not right, let’s swap and change those bits’, so we created quite a lot of things together including the short films. We’ve been working together a while, he actually helped me produce The Making of Primeval, which they asked me to do for Series Two, which was fun! So we have a lot of experience working together and towards the end of Primeval, I was shooting in Dublin and we were talking more and came up with this idea of this AI and this cop that we wanted to stick together. It’s gone through loads of changes over the years and that’s to do with how we bring it to screen, really. We really like this idea and I wanted to use what I’d learn with being in Primeval. I’d learnt that the humour is massively important. The British love it when you just don’t take it too seriously. You have a serious situation, but there’s an edge of humour to it. You do get out-and-out dramas, but that’s not how we’d handle things! You often have to crack a joke, and it does help the mood. It brings you back to ground level and you say ‘let’s try to deal with this now’. We wanted to create this high concept show, that was character driven, and also had a lot of drama and humour equally.

It’s quite an unusual approach putting the show on YouTube for free; do you think that’s sustainable?
Don’t know! All I’ve ever done is put my stuff out free on YouTube. I know a lot of people enter into festivals, this that and the other and I’ve never done that. I’ve always just wanted the audience’s opinion, that’s all I’ve ever done. It’s been brilliant – I’ve got a donation button on my website, and I couldn’t believe the donations that I was getting to help me make it, which was so lovely. In the first year it was up, it was just awesome. People were being just so unbelievably generous and coming back and going, ‘listen, I’ve wanted to help you for so many years, I’ve enjoyed what you’ve done and now I’ve got an opportunity, I’m really chuffed and stuff’ and that was really, really cool for me. So I never put it out there to make money or anything. It’s starting to change for me as I entered Little Larry into Virgin Media – got to the final, entered Photo Finish into Reed and won the Grand Prix, so I’m starting to go, ‘oh maybe I should enter into stuff’.

As for the YouTube thing, I kind of like it at the moment. Obviously, it costs me money to make – I don’t make any money from it – so down the line, it would be awesome if we had a sponsor or something to help us make it. But at the moment, I’m so passionate about it; I enjoy putting it out there for free.  I don’t know whether it’s sustainable or not, but you never know, maybe the right pair of eyes will spot it.

It can just be a simple set-up, and it all is in the edit…
Yeah, and with Wireless, it’s ALL in the edit, which I do! Which is great, but obviously, it’s amazingly time consuming to do all the digital effects and that kind of stuff. And also, because I’m self-taught, I’m learning every single time I do an episode. The world’s growing bigger with Wireless, and I’m trying to push it further and further. It’s great though – I prefer to be learning than not!

What’s the end goal for WirelessTo tell the story! In this season, the episodes keep pushing on, and getting a bit longer and longer, so we’re having to cut and change them a little bit. The original plan was about 15/16 episodes to tell the first season story. We know where it ends, and really want to get to that point. The audience is growing quite consistently, so that’s cool. And obviously, I do some comic cons and try to spread the word around country which really helps – kind of the old school way. I’m totally happy to spread the word around about Wireless.

And people respect that, rather than some big studio forcing it down their throat…
Exactly! It’s their choice whether they want to see it or not. Sometimes people say ‘you’ve got to watch this, this is good…’ and the response from people I’ve given a card with the website on to, people come back to me and go ‘actually, to be fair, I really enjoyed that’.
We wanted to flashback before the title sequence, so you get that little bit more of the world, and then you’re in the day it’s set on, and at the end there’s always a hook that’s hopefully make you want to go ‘I have to watch the next one now…’

They’re very bite-sized, so it’s not too much to take in…
Yeah, it’s like a show you can watch on your iPhone* (*other makes of phone are available) – it looks great, so you can watch on the way home from work or something like that. It’s being able to dip into that, with the episodes being between six and nine minutes. Some of them might have to be a little bit longer just to do the story as it unfolds, but then some might be a bit shorter! Each one’s very different from the last, which is cool.

Is there a timescale for when the next episode will be up?
I hope it doesn’t get too frustrating for people! There could be a month or two months between episodes; the reason for that being is that I use actors for free, and they are all really successful, and all really busy. For instance, we were just about to start filming episode seven, and I’ve lost my actor to a film in L.A. at the moment. So what we’ve had to do was jump out of sequence and shoot something else. So it’s all to do with their availability, and also mine as well, because obviously I’ve got to do the day job!

The world of Wireless is getting bigger, I’ve got more and more people – prop makers, costume designers – as it gathers momentum, and this is what I was hoping for it, and people see it and enjoy it, they want to be a part of it and offer up their services. It’s happening nearly on a weekly basis. People are getting in touch and saying ‘I can help’. With that in mind, the world of Wireless is actually getting bigger! It’s funny, because I kind of sit there and go, ‘ooo… I made this!’

Catch up with the previous episodes of Wireless on YouTube, or through the Wireless website.
You can follow Andrew and Wireless on Twitter @andrewleepotts and @wireless_web.

Watch Andrew’s award-winning short Photo Finish here. 

Martin Unsworth

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