Archive for November, 2011

Production: Week 1

Posted in Hypotheses 6 & 7 on November 30, 2011 by PoPS blog

Day 1 was on Sunday. I woke up at 8 and started putting things into piles and started uploading the update because I couldn’t sleep anymore. People started showing up at 9, Ryan unveiled our new mark ii, and we hit the ground running. We got 4 small scenes in four separate locations before lunch and hit our big 6-page location at around 1:30. We fought it as hard as we could, but we were never going to be able to wrap those pages on Sunday. It was all outside in the freezing cold, to the point that portions of the shoot occurred while it was lightly hailing and a crew member held an umbrella over the camera. There were too many setups, too many effects shots, and we ran out of daylight. I’m hoping that’s not a precursor of things to come. I realize that Eliza and I scheduled this thing VERY ambitiously, but I hope not TOO ambitiously. Maybe I just need to make my shot lists a little more achievable. I write a lot of setups. ANYWAY, Day 1 continued—We moved to our sixth and final location after dark and shot until 7:30 p.m., where we did wrap a location. I had forgotten to return a dangerous prop, so we had about an hour of driving to do before sitting on the couch and staring into space like a zombie. I was a little down that we didn’t get everything done until I imported the footage. Canon’s 5D mark ii is a BEAST!!! That’s a beast in caps and trip exclamation points, y’all. You better recognize. Everything we had shot that day was the best looking thing we have ever shot. Once I saw that I was pretty much like, it’ll take the time it takes and it’ll be worth it.

Day 2 was Tuesday night. After work I went home and grabbed the piles of things that Eliza and I had stayed up until 1 preparing the night before—set dressing, props, shot list, as well as a bunch of the gear—and headed out to pick up crew members for a road trip to Milwaukee. What? Yup. Why? ‘Cause. One of our new crew members, Amudha, had a cool lab location up there for us. We were at location by 8:30 p.m., signed ourselves through security, and started deciding which rooms to use. We hit it hard, but by the time we got some of the more difficult shots taken care of it was already 10:15. I tossed my shot list, because it was too long and the second location didn’t line up with the one I imagined in my head and we grabbed cool shots in scene sequence until we wrapped at 11. Packing up gear, dropping people off, a way-late, super-overdue dinner, and we were back home by 2. We got everything we needed and it was all awesome.

I’m beat already. Day 3 was supposed to be on Sunday, but we scheduled the pickups from Day 1 for Saturday making it the new Day 3. Nothing to do but just keep on cowboy-ing. I need a little more sleep, but these episodes are going to be unbelievably awesome.

Thanks for reading, guys.

Jarvi out.

PoPS video update 90-Scouts and Prep

Posted in Hypotheses 6 & 7 on November 27, 2011 by PoPS blog

Sleepless nights

Posted in Hypotheses 6 & 7 on November 23, 2011 by PoPS blog

So. It started while we were shooting the last episode. The night before big set pieces, specifically the opening alley sequence and the Super Sorority asides, I had the hardest time sleeping. My mind would just keep jumping to everything that needed remembering. There were so many new people, techniques, and details that needed remembering that I would just worry the night away. This never happened on episodes 1-4. Things would work out or they wouldn’t; who cares? I think the audience just finally got big enough where I was like—A lot of people care, actually. A lot of people care whether this is good or bad so it’s my responsibility to make it as good as it can be. This probably shouldn’t have been as big a realization for me as it was. It started again the night we shot that last update. After a full day of scheduling the episode and seeing the sheer size of what we’re trying to accomplish expressed in a very small number of days and hours written onto a calendar and a 9-page Word doc, I started having trouble sleeping. After two sleepless night and some schedule shuffling for actor considerations I’ve started getting full nights again, but I feel like there are going to be more sleepless nights this time. We’re not even in production yet and they’ve started already. Here we go.

I was thinking about all of this and my attitude about the industry when I was younger. I was supposed to be an overnight success, you know. Every “Lana Turner at Schwab’s Drug Store” and “Edward Furlong getting cast at T2 just from hanging out at the Pasadena Boys and Girls Club” story I heard told me that I could do something effortlessly and be recognized as special, catapulting me into summer blockbusters. After I dropped out of film school, I would sit around at my friend Vanessa’s house at 20-years old saying, “I wish something would happen.” What I meant was that it was supposed to have happened already. I was supposed to be battling T-1000s, jumping off the roof of Biff Tannen’s Pleasure Paradise onto the hood of a flying delorean, or at the very least pickling the beast; not eating Tombstone pizza and watching Jack Frost (Michael Cooney, not Michael Keaton) on VHS…again. It was supposed to be easy, it was supposed to be overnight, and it was supposed to be happening already. Now here I am 11 years later, 31 years old, and it’s my opinion that it takes a hell of a lot of effort to make something look effortless. People aren’t going to hand most of us anything. You want people to think you’re talented? Show them you’re talented. They’re not going to see it in one episode of a web series shot on mini-dv with lousy effects. They might start to see it if the writing is good and it actually starts to look like something professional when the episodes start piling up. They might start to think it’s something if the audience puts $15,000 of their hard earned money on the table to help make the show. You want people to talk about you? Show them something worth talking about. Effortlessness costs sleepless nights.

Plus, luck is overrated. Lana Turner’s boyfriend was stabbed to death by her daughter and Eddie Furlong is out on bail with a heroin habit while he tries to find money for child support.  Luck can run out and it’s easy to waste something that you got for nothing.

Thanks for reading, guys. And see The Descendants! It was really good and one of the writers is Jim Rash. That’s right.  Dean friggin’ Pelton on Community. I can’t believe the dean is going to win an Academy Award.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Jarvi out.

PoPS video update 89-Auditions & Scheduling

Posted in Hypotheses 6 & 7 on November 20, 2011 by PoPS blog

In a Week and a Half

Posted in Hypotheses 6 & 7 on November 16, 2011 by PoPS blog

The title this week refers to the fact that our first day of shooting is a week and a half away. I need to cast some more people, find a bunch of locations, start getting props set up, shotlist both episodes, get Eliza started on some storyboarding sequences, hold a couple of one on one rehearsals, and we still need a camera. I need to stop talking about it. When I list it all in a row like that I kind of start hoping I’ll pass out.

I always think about how much easier it would be to do all of this within the well-oiled workings of a studio system, but that’s probably not true. Sure, they have more experience putting this stuff together then us and we make up a lot of our production processes as we go along, but when it comes to telling a story that you care about, it seems like that’s always a struggle. I was reading some of Clint Eastwood’s quotes on IMDb this week and if anyone should have an easy time getting a movie made, it’s friggn’ Clint. Dude’s been around for forever and he’s been considered a movie icon for over 3 decades now. Check out what he said about getting his Academy Award-winning films into production:

“I liked the Million Dollar Baby script a lot. Warner Bros. said the project had been submitted to them and they’d passed on it. I said, “But I like it.” They said, “Well, it’s a boxing movie.” And I said, “It’s not a boxing movie in my opinion. It’s a father-daughter love story, and it’s a lot of other things besides a boxing movie.” They hemmed and hawed and finally said that if I wanted to take it, maybe they’d pay for the domestic rights only. After that, I’d be on my own. We took it to a couple of other studios, and they turned it down, much like Mystic River was turned down, the exact same pattern. People who kept calling and saying, “Come on, work with us on stuff.” I’d give it to them, and they’d go, ‘Uh, we were thinking more in terms of Dirty Harry coming out of retirement.’”

Even Clint Eastwood. Damn, movie system, that’s cold. No wonder Howard and Grazer cant find a studio for the Dark Tower series. However, on the other side of the coin, let’s take a look at something awesome that dropped this week from the quickly-greenlighted-and-rushed-into-production-franchises-to-try-and-capitalize-on-the-popularity-of-a-sensational-story-already-proven-successful-in-another-medium camp.

Amazing. I can’t wait for The Hunger Games.

Thanks for reading, y’all.

Jarvi out.

PoPS video update 68-Read-through & Reading

Posted in Hypotheses 6 & 7 on November 13, 2011 by PoPS blog

Fundraiser & Read-through

Posted in Hypotheses 6 & 7 on November 9, 2011 by PoPS blog

Man, it’s been a gonesville week already. Our IndieGoGo campaign has now come to a close and we made our goal again. We were looking for $15,000 and we crossed the finish line with only a couple hours to spare with a final total of $15,455. How in the hell did that happen? One reason, two words: Craig Benzine. Our guardian angel came through for us again. Rolling into the last weekend we had a little over $10,000 on the campaign page. That alone is amazing. I couldn’t believe we had even made it it that far. Then Craig (Donald on PoPS, wheezywaiter to the YouTube world) makes a couple of videos on his supplemental YouTube channels encouraging people to donate to the show, not even on his main channel, and in the course of a day about 2 grand shows up. But he wasn’t satisfied with that. So with about 5 hours left before the end of the campaign he started a live show on blogtv where he would perform as people donated to the campaign. He did a dance, he played some songs, and he took us to our goal. That’s right. Dude brought in around 5 grand in two days. Approximately $2500 of which he brought in over the course of one hour, telethon-style. He’s an awesome guy who continues to champion our show like nobody else. He needs a producer credit this time. He should have had one on the last episode too. What the hell, Jake? And a huge THANK YOU to everyone who came out to donate! Wait ‘til you see what we have in store for you.

We had a read-through of both episodes 6 and 7 on Monday night. The next video update will have some footage from that. It was a total blast. The episodes got great responses from the people who hadn’t read them yet. Some things that I was questioning on the page sounded great when they were read aloud, which makes for a hell of a successful read-through if you ask me. Derrick (Damon on PoPS, and our composer) hosted at his place and he and his fiancé Jo were 1,000 times the hosts we’ve ever been for a read-through. Everyone had a great time and the scripts read beautifully. Tonight we’re holding auditions in the city. I’m already exhausted, but it won’t be letting up this week.

Now that production-y things have actually started, it’s starting to feel real again and a little more doable as the production mindset reemerges. It’s going to be a crazy ride this time. 40 new side characters, a ton of locations, and a total of 127 script pages. 6 & 7, here we come.

Thanks for reading, guys.

Jarvi out.

PoPS video update 87-Preparing for Auditions

Posted in Hypotheses 6 & 7 on November 6, 2011 by PoPS blog

Back in the Doldrums

Posted in Hypotheses 6 & 7 with tags , , , , , , on November 2, 2011 by PoPS blog

The title this week refers to my general attitude about pre-production. I’m the worst at it. Episode progress always grinds to a virtual standstill every time pre-production rolls around. I just don’t want to do it. I don’t want to tally script locations, props, or potential advertising tie-ins (which we’ve done none of so far, so what’s the point). I don’t want to call people and try and convince them to let me film on their property when there’s effectively nothing in it for them but a headache. I want to shot list, but can’t convince myself it’s a good use of my time until the other location, prop-ish, casting stuff is out of the way, so I procrastinate in any way I can possibly think of. I actually did the dishes last night WITHOUT bitching about how we don’t have a dishwasher. I wanted it to take up as much time as possible. I find myself more motivated to go out and take a jog to try and get in shape for the coming episode knowing full well that I’m pushing the shoot further away by using jogging as a pre-pro’ procrastination technique. Pre-production is the homework of filmmaking. It’s as close as I get these days to the whiny, “I-don’t-wanna” attitude that I created and successfully embodied during my late-90s, look-how-cool-I-can-make-apathy-look, high school phase.

In other news, right now, as we’re getting down to the wire on needing to buy a camera for production, Canon announces that they’re going to make an industry-altering announcement/unveiling on Thursday of this week. Okay. I guess any decisions we were about to make get pushed back a couple more days. Odds are good that whatever they’re unveiling is going to be out of our price range, but there’s no use buying anything until they cut that ribbon.

I realize that blog entries like this have to be a little frustrating to read for some people. There’s always an element of “Oh, poor thing. He hates planning for his successful web series. He can have his thousands of audience members dry his tears with their glowing comments.” I hear you, theoretical blog-reader. I read this stuff and feel that same way about myself. Obviously. I mean, I’m having a hypothetical conversation here on this public forum with the little internet critic inside my own brain.

Then you’ve got a guy like Joss who uses his free time while directing the biggest summer action movie of next year to shoot a tiny independent version of Much Ado About Nothing with his stable of favorite actors. That’s a guy who just goes and goes.

On the other hand, I also promised myself I’d be honest here. That I’d use it to look back after all was said and done to remember how the whole experience felt. No use doing that if I’m holding back, so…


Thanks for reading, guys.

Jarvi out.