Archive for February, 2011
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the nature of ambition and how much easier life might be without it. Why do people like us pour so much time and energy into our little shows or Youtube channels or music or unpublished manuscripts or any of the projects we’re always working on? What is the ultimate goal here?
To reach the point where you get paid to do it? It must not be, because as writer, director, lead actor, and editor of the show, I’d be entitled to a decent portion of the Kickstarter money that’s going to drop into the production account soon. But I’ve already asked my producers multiple times to put my portion of the money toward expensive equipment rentals so I can get some badass sequences. So let’s suppose it isn’t for money.
Is it to get famous? This somehow seems a more substantial claim to me. But with the amount of people watching my work at the highest it’s ever been, I somehow feel LESS motivated to work on the show. So would an even larger audience make me feel more motivated to work on the show? I’m thinking not really. At the beginning of this year a whole bunch of Youtubers with a ton more subscribers than me seemed to display a lack of direction and overall sense of ennui about their channels and content. It was everywhere. People all over the world who were being watched by hundreds of thousands of people suddenly all seemed to say, “What for?” A bunch of them asked their audiences what they’d like to see, some disappeared entirely in an effort to recharge their batteries, and it seems like people are slowly pulling it together or are at least getting better at going through the motions. So famousness doesn’t seem to be a powerfully motivating factor.
Is it because we’ve got nothing better to do? No. Because all I REALLY want to do after I get off of work is sit around and watch “Burn Notice,” but I still answer the PoPS emails, have Skype meetings about costume design, and generally plan for production, which, if you’re reading this on Thursday, February 24, begins tonight. But I think the answer for “why” lays in this paragraph right here. I love “Burn Notice.” I love “Buffy”, “Firefly”, “House”, “Bones”, “Spaced”, “Avatar: The Last Airbender”, “Community”, “LOST”, “True Blood”, “Weeds”, “Dead Like Me”, “30 Rock”, “Smallville”, “Gilmore Girls”, “Veronica Mars”, “Monk”, “Pushing Daisies”, “The Vicar of Dibley”, “Wonderfalls”, “Arrested Development”…the list goes on and on. And those are just the shows. My MOVIES tab on my Myspace page is pretty ridiculous. You actually have to scroll to see them all.
I think we make things because we LOVE the things other people make. We connect with them, they make us feel good, and we want to be able to create that feeling for other people. If you ask professional writers and directors, “Hey, what do you like to do?” lists of shows, movies, and books are just going to start piling up, because ultimately, I think one of the most powerful ways to connect with people is through a good story. Just think of how long people have gathered around to experience a story together. My guess is since sentences were invented. Now who wouldn’t want to be a part of that legacy? I think that’s why tonight, instead of watching “Burn Notice”, my friends and I are going to start putting ourselves through a lot of hard work to tell another part of our story.
I guess if I didn’t have that ambition, it would probably mean that I didn’t love all those shows and movies as much as I do. I just don’t think I’d want to live that way.
Thanks for reading, guys.
so last Sunday i went down to Wicker Park to be the guest on an episode of the Rye Bread Radio podcast. i had a blast. i don’t know if there’s a much more fun thing to do than sit around for an hour and a half talking about myself and shows and movies that i like. i actually believe everyone would like this if they had the chance to do it. and it wasn’t a job interview or something.
The video below contains a ridiculous reenactment of why I started doing the update videos in the first place. Prior to doing the video updates I would simply post the “Platoon of Power Squadron” episodes in pieces and there would just be radio silence on my channel until the next episode many months later. That’s a good way to lose subscribers. Every once in awhile I’ll go through my subscriptions box on Youtube and if I come across a username I don’t recognize I’ll just unsubscribe from it. Doing weekly updates is a way to keep that from happening to us. At least once a week, our hard-won subscribers are reminded that pineappleboyfilms makes a web serial they like. And then, just for the hell of it, I left it up to audience to determine the frequency of PoPS update videos in the future—they could keep them weekly, they could change it to every other week, or they could discontinue them entirely.
Of course, practically all of the commenters came back saying that they wanted to keep the updates going every week. But, as one commenter pointed out, I was dealing from an obviously stacked deck. I was asking the updates audience to decide on the frequency of the updates, not the entire PoPS audience. The comment said: Take the average number of updates views and subtract it from the average number of views for a PoPS episode; those are all votes for NO MORE UPDATES.
That guy is mostly right of course, but I’m positive that the frequency with which my face shows up in people’s subscriptions has directly influenced our steady growth in subscribers. People like a routine and I’ve become a part of the weekly routine for a surprisingly large amount of people.
My big quest this week involved trying to find some cost effective storyboarding software for download. Dream on. Usually, I just write the shots in the borders of my script and then line up the shots with my D.P. when we’re on set. But I’ve been designing the opening sequence of episode 5 and it’s very visually captivating and quite complicated. I want to get a lot more precise about it. I want to communicate EXACTLY the framing I see in my head and the best way to do that would be to storyboard. Since I can’t draw at all, I was hoping to find one of those programs that let’s you build a little environment and characters out of catalogued stuff and then just move the “camera” around to make the storyboards. The cheapest version of the one worth having is like 300 bucks. And, of course I’d want the 1200 dollar version with the expansion packs and everything. It’s insane. There’s absolutely no way I can convince myself (let alone my wife) to spend that kind of money on making my make-believe a little more precise. I may want to very much, but we’re working people for crying out loud. We don’t even have any credit cards. I guess we’ll just do it the old fashioned way.
Read through of the ep5 script coming up, and Tim and Ryan scheduled shooting to begin really REALLY soon, so I guess there’s nothing to do but dive in.
Thanks for reading.
So, yeah. If I had never started uploading my stuff on Youtube, my father and I never would have had the opportunity to get a private tour of the Mythbusters shop and hang out with Adam. Too cool.
The influx of capital from our viewers has presented me with an entirely new problem that I’ve never had to face before. How does the division of labor work? There’s now a little money that’ll operate as an incentive for people other than me to consistently do some of these jobs for our show. I don’t quite know how to handle that. We’re about to have our first production meeting to go through the script and I can communicate to our producers everything that they need to find and coordinate. Prior to this episode, that entire process was a one-man show. I’d tell the other producers, “We need a this,” or, “Can you pick that up?” or, “Help me think about how to handle this,” but the coordination of everything was coming from me.
Watching behind the scenes videos, I’d see all these production meetings going on and think, “Why are they spending so much time in meetings? What a waste of time.” It never actually before dawned on me that if other people are going to coordinate everything they need to understand what the director is planning to see and wants to have on hand. I don’t know why I didn’t get it. I guess because I’ve NEVER had to deal with it before. This is going to be an entirely new production experience and it’s simultaneously exciting and nerve-wracking to think about. Division of labor, man… Crazy times.
Next week I’ll have some footage from the first production meeting for the video. We’ll see how we handle this.