Archive for September, 2012
This whole year has felt crazy. But good. We’re constantly busy between the show and our real life jobs, we’ve been shooting the 7th episode on and off since December of last year. We feel rich the first few days after payday and poor during the few leading up to the next one, but we manage to save a little money to get away occasionally and we’re happy. My life is nothing like the teenaged me thought it was going to be, but I find it hard to imagine being happier. I’ve got a great marriage, a day-job that challenges me and gives me cause to feel accomplished, an internet show centered around exactly the kind of stories I’ve always wanted to tell surrounded by my creative and talented friends, and an audience that validates the stories I’m telling. The more I think about wanting to be a part of the studio system I’ve always admired, the more I wonder why. A larger stage? Hard to get larger than the internet. A more active marketing machine pushing my stories to the masses? Sure, but tens of thousands of people are already watching and hundreds are talking to me about it and speculating about what my characters are going to do next. A larger budget? More money usually means more compromise. Having a low budget means having to compromise too, but it rarely means sacrificing creative control. To some of these folks, what we’re doing is getting shelved alongside their mainstream entertainment. That blows my mind. I was on a podcast last week and one of our more vocal audience members called in. She said talking to me was “a dream come true.” Are you kidding me? That’s MY dream come true. To have even one person consider the characters and stories I’m telling worthy of ongoing consideration and speculation. This YouTube thing is something else.
In preparation for seeing The Master last week, I watched a lot of interviews with Paul Thomas Anderson. One of them was a Q&A with film students at the Arclight in Hollywood. He said that making his films now feels the same as making those preliminary films when he was just starting out as a kid, trying to convince his friends to come together and help him make a movie. Sure, his friends are a lot more famous now and the movies draw a lot more attention, but it just made me realize that no matter what stage of the game you’re at, the process doesn’t change. It’s all aspiration meets compromise meets accomplishment versus intention. It’s always going to be a group of people focusing a lot of energy into small moments that are recorded onto some kind of media. The bigger the group of people, the more specialized their tasks, the more expensive it gets, the better it looks and sounds. There it is. It’s never going to be easy and it’s as worth it as you make it. It’s very rare that something feels like magic live on the set, but if you put it together the right way and drop as much attention and energy into trying to get it right as you can, sometimes all that focus, time, and work can create a moment that feels effortless and real. I think that’s pretty magical. No matter how small or big the budget.
I always thought I was working toward something. I finally realized that I’m already doing what I’ve always wanted. It’s nothing like I thought and it’s better than I dreamed.
Usually there’s a little breathing room when I start putting an episode up. So my wife, Eliza, and I made all kinds of plans for what we were going to do with my first Saturday of relative freedom; ordinarily I work around 5 or six hours on Saturdays but it had gotten up to around 10 during the last month leading up to release. We were going to bike ride to the Botanic Gardens, we were going to reorganize the apartment, we were going to go out and do a bunch of errands, and I was going to start making good on putting together non-PoPS videos that have been shelved for the last year. Nope. I wanted to do two videos before we began our list of other things to do, this week’s update and a new video for our Indiegogo campaign, raising funds for episode 7. The campaign link is: http://www.indiegogo.com/PoPS7?a=263409 and the video for our page is below, I think it explains fairly well how we use the money we raise:
By the time those videos were done I had put in a normal Saturday schedule. We still had a great evening together, but it wasn’t the triumphant return of free time that I expected. I probably need to stop thinking about free time and just enjoy the process of making and promoting videos as best I can. Enjoying making them is easy, it’s the promotion thing I’m not so great at.
The only other news this week is that we’re also getting ready to shoot our final production day for episode seven. The update from two weeks ago had the footage of our final casting session and we’re all locked down to shoot from Sunday morning into the evening. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Part 2 of Episode 6 went up today. I was worried about the fact that it’s just the first half of act 1, which means it’s more setup, so I thought people were going to start railing on me for the episode not going anywhere. However, they’ve all been really great. Lots of positive comments about the show. Well…a few really positive comments about the show and lots of comments about references to other things they recognize from the show. But I expected that. Every excited comment is a good time.
Thanks for reading.
That audition space from last week’s update is this place in Chicago called Next Door. It’s the friggin’ best. It’s a coffee shop/café with sectioned off areas for people to meet. There are two large-ish meeting rooms in back with whiteboard walls and a flatscreen you can hook your computer into. The rooms are FREE to use. You just have to sign up in advance and they hold the room for you. Coolest ever. Cool place, cool neighborhood, best place to hold auditions EVER! That sounded like a commercial. I should be getting paid.
Today is upload day. I launched the first part of Episode 6 today at noon. People have really been getting into it, which is just so fantastic. I think about the way things used to be before YouTube, when I would work really hard on a video project and then gather everybody who worked on it together and we’d watch it. And that was pretty much it. We’d talk about how good it turned out and talk about sending it out to festivals all the while knowing that it had probably already seen its largest audience with the cast and crew screening. Things are really different now. I put it up this afternoon and—though the counter always freezes at around 300 the first day—if the usual formula of 10 percent of the audience leaving comments holds up, we’re already a few thousand views deep. That’s outstanding. I just love that people all over the world get excited about the work that we do and that I have the opportunity to see the conversation. Days like today are the reason I drop hundreds of free-time hours into a hobby. I was talking to Ryan (D.P., Producer, VFX) and Eliza (Producer, Actress) last night about how I lost the summer of 2012. My June, July, and August disappeared into a couple external hard drives nested in my home office. The audience’s reaction has made it all worthwhile though. Great day. Hopefully, their enthusiasm for the first part will sustain them through a couple of weeks of very dialogue-heavy Act 1 setup.
We still do cast and crew screenings though. We had one last night, and it feels so great to play it large and loud after months in the headphones and looking at a monitor. Hearing the reaction of a group of people all watching it together is something that can’t be beat either. It’s a great way to kick it off. You can kind of get a feel for it at the end of Craig’s latest daily vlog, the PoPS screening stuff happens at around the 3 minute mark:
Thanks for reading, guys. And, especially, thanks for watching.