Archive for April, 2013
Okay. I admit I was the first to stand up and cheer when the Veronica Mars movie Kickstarted themselves. Of course, I love that show. It finished without a resolution, I’ve always wanted more from those characters speaking in that rarified voice. So now when Zach Braff launched his Kickstarter for his Garden State follow-up, I was suddenly conflicted. I LOVE Garden State! Obviously, I want Braff to make more movies with that same wistful tone filled with quirky wonderful characters and simple elegant imagery.
–Side note: Have you seen how the final frame of that flick centers the two main characters in a BOX OF LIGHT caused by the opening of an automatic door and it’s reflection in the floor? AMAZING! Like…ridiculously amazing. I didn’t mean for this side note to turn into a thing, but LOOK AT IT! Jump to 1:50 in the timeline to see the end shot:
–But I digress. Suddenly, as Kevin Smith began warning his podcast listeners as soon as the VMArs Kicksrtarter happened, in my minds eye I saw the pool of crowd sourcing money drain into the budgets of established industry player’s projects. I watched Braff’s hilarious and inspiring Kickstarter video and I started thinking, how much money can I put into this?!?! I’m going to miss out on the private city screenings because I have to wait until payday to donate, but of course I’m going to donate. With people with Twitter followings like this Kickstarting their movies, how the sweet bejesus are guys like me going to fair when we bring our little projects to the already tapped out crowdfunding community? Sure, we only need 10 to 20 thousand for our project, but if Rob Thomas, Zach Braff, and Melissa Joan Hart–yup, Clarissa the teenaged Sabrina jumped in just before Braff–are all asking for 2 mil’, we’re moving down the priority list pretty quickly. Crowd sourcers are folks like me. We want to donate our own money to see folks who are passionate create something we’re excited about. But like I said, I gotta wait until payday to get in on Braff’s project and then my project donation income is tapped for a while. The folks who like my show like a lot of the artists I like, when they’re all getting my audience’s money, I’m afraid we’re going to have to go back to everybody working for free instead of just me working for free. I hope that’s not the case, because I like my cast and crew to feel appreciated, and nothing says ‘you’re worth it’ like some money, but if I have to go back to out of pocket to see this thing done, you know I will. We started with nothing, and we have a lot to show for it. I’m just happy our audience shows up to watch, let alone the generosity they’ve shown us financially over the last few episodes.
Head to this links to check out the Zach Braff and Melissa Joan Hart Kickstarter projects, each running for the $2 million dollar goal that VMars hit and then surpassed. The Braff video is especially good.
Thanks for reading.
A co-worker at my magazine job asked me “Did anything come from that web festival you went to?” And it took me a second to figure out what they meant. It was the “Were you discovered? Are you going to be famous now?” question. The fact that it took me a second to figure that out means that my expectations have finally aligned with reality. So many people–and a few of the interactions I had and overheard at LAWebfest only served to confirm that the numbers are large–launch their web series as a means to get into the traditional industry. That’s exactly why I started my web series. But now I’ve come to realize that this thing we’re doing isn’t a means to some kind of larger end. PoPS itself is the result. The fully told story that we’re slowly unveiling is the end that I’m working to achieve. It’s stopped being a calling card and become a project of its own.
As I work on visual effects I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts; Nerdist, Smodcast, The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith, The Kevin Pollak Chat Show, and it’s all long conversations with writers, directors, and actors. Great stuff. And one thing has become abundantly clear. Even people with amazing track records in the industry aren’t able to get their movies made anymore. The few-million-dollar indie movies are gone. There’s the tent pole studio films which they’re not handing to web content directors, the boutique studio and production company star studded relationship dramas and quirky concept’ers which are going to the industry directors who aren’t getting the tent pole flicks, and the find-the-funding-yourself straight-to-streaming passion projects which are getting their stuff done the same way we’re getting our web series done. I’m obviously oversimplifying, but if we, as web series creators, are still doing what we’re doing to be discovered, guess what–that time is over. If you have a story you want to tell, you’ve got to find a way to tell it yourself. Either adjust your scope to what’s readily available (Rodriguez’ing it) or start crawling slowly across the bed of nails that is raising money (The Raimi and Campbell method). Every studio has a pile of properties they’ve acquired that they already quasi-believe in, and each person at that studio then has a handful of concepts floating in their mental wishlist that they know would make great movies, they’re more interested in seeing every one of those properties and daydreams hit the screen before that spec you just sent them. Specs are basically mined for talent to then be plug-and-played onto the roster they’ve already assembled. I’d love to get in on developing any one of those properties to see a project happen on that scale, but I have no delusions about any of these entities dropping their yearly budget into a project I make up. That’s why I’m making it myself. People say, “You must love the creative control of producing it yourself,” but I’m less concerned with the “creative control” than I am with the “seeing it actually happen.” I can’t tell you how many lost in development stories I’ve heard in the last few months. My series lives because we go out and make it. It exists. And over the last few, it’s finally become what I want it to be. Each episode is a destination of its own. And it’s a great place to be.
Thanks for reading.
Within last week’s Cinematic Study Guide are clickable links that YouTubers use called annotations. This might be an over-explanation for many, but I think annotations are brilliant. The annotations can be used as links to other videos, the main channel page, or to immediate subscription to the host channel. They finally added the ability to link to fundraising campaigns on sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo, but those are the only off-YouTube sites you can link to within the videos. The annotations interface is a little rough around the edges, but it’s specific enough. It’s usually used to put little boxes in the upper corners at the beginnings of videos so people can easily maneuver to the previous or next video on the channel. Then people started making end-screens for the end of their videos where people can maneuver to other relevant content from the channel. I mostly use the spotlight version of annotations to frame objects I already put in my video and then make them clickable links. Such as in the last Study Guide. I edited the Evil Dead posters into the video in Final Cut, framed them with spotlight annotations, and they deliver you to unlisted videos that you can only access through that original gateway video. Not only does it give the viewer the ability to choose their own experience, giving them a better feeling of control. It makes them an active part of your channel. My buddy Craig uses it to wonderful effect in choose your own adventure videos where the viewers have to guide him through many dangers by choosing his route, like helping him get off a isolated desert island:
Not only is it a fun way to be a part of what you’re watching, but that gateway video gets many more views by virtue of the fact that people have to keep going back to it to make the other selections. The view count gets inflated and it makes that particular video look more popular. The Evil Dead Study Guide already has a much higher view count than the other Cinematic Study Guides.
Also handy is the new ability YouTube gave all channel creators to have a clickable link to your channel or playlist of your videos always present in the corner of every video, like a watermark. I don’t have to do a thing for that to work. Eliza went into Photoshop and monochrome’d a small version of the PoPS logo, I uploaded that in my channel settings, and it appears on every video I make, allowing people an easily accessible gateway to my main channel where I have the PoPS in 77 seconds intro video and they know what I’m all about. YouTube is some smart folks, yo. Smarties indeed.
Thanks for reading.