Archive for May, 2015

PoPS video update 259-What’s at Stake?

Posted in Uncategorized on May 31, 2015 by PoPS blog

Pre-production Never Feels Like I’m Getting Anything Done

Posted in Uncategorized on May 28, 2015 by PoPS blog

As I’ve mentioned in past weeks, we have quite a few sequences in this episode that take a lot of preparation for very little final screen time. Which is fine. They’ve been turning out great and the preparation we put into each set-up really sells each scene. But they require a lot of running around collecting things and I never feel like I’m actually getting anything done.

For me, working on VFX, editing, sound, music, or color correction feels like progress. Then, I feel like I’m actually landing puzzle pieces in place. Instead, tonight I’m taking two dudes down to a costume shop in the city for a costume fitting. Both these guys are doing me a favor playing non-speaking roles on Saturday afternoon, and this is the first time in the show I’ve had to full on rent costumes. We’ve had Carlyn fabricate a few costumes and we’ve done tons of thrift shop costume assembly over the years, but now we’re heading into costume rental territory.

When I’m done with that, I should either take apart an old computer tower to grab some parts from inside as props for Saturday; work on delivering materials to IndieFlix, who is adding PoPS to their stable of content; or work on completing a 15-second VFX shot that I’ve already poured about 5 hours into. Depending on Craig’s schedule though, we might catch a late show of Ex Machina. I’d really like to see it before it’s out of the theaters and I think time is running out. So, you can see how ridiculous I’m still being about wanting to go out to movies when I should be working.

Speaking of Craig, he and Chyna came over last night and we watched about three quarters of the episode. It played better than ever. Craig is always such a great PoPS audience. He’s really into the show and his enthusiasm is completely infectious. He kept saying that it was the best PoPS episode ever, and it really made me want to get this thing done.

And we’re perilously close to doing so. There’s about one minute of screen time left to shoot before we have the entire episode in the hard drive. I know we’re going to do one night of reshoots in our apartment, but after a shoot on Saturday and a shoot on Tuesday night, we have everything we need for a complete rough cut.

Still plugging away.

Thanks for reading.

–Jake

PoPS video update 258-A YouTube Talk

Posted in Uncategorized on May 26, 2015 by PoPS blog

Showing Some People

Posted in Uncategorized on May 22, 2015 by PoPS blog

I’ve been cutting on episode 9 for many, many months now. Last weekend I had the first request from someone to see something. It was Derrick, the guy who plays our main villain, Damon. Out of the blue he just asked if he could see something. So he came over to take a look. It was awesome.

Things that I thought weren’t working worked like a charm. He was so invested in the scenes as they played, even without their proper sound mixing and a complete lack of music.

I was already deep into a “let’s get this thing done” mindset, but that was mostly out of a sense of obligation and a persistent mental pull that starts to happen when I realize I’m nearing the end of the rough cut. But watching him watch it re-lit my passion for the thing. This is a fun episode and it’s time to reel the sucker in.

Then, the actor who plays Precious, Tommy Martin, came out for an hour-long shoot with us, after which we had lunch and watched a large swath of the episode. He seemed more put off by the unfinished nature of the episode, but his reactions also fueled the fire, and cued me in to some subtle pacing issues.

On Tuesday, Carlyn, who plays Sebastian, and her boyfriend, Sean, came over for a night of eating pizza and watching The Lost Boys.

–SIDE NOTE—

There’s this amazing video edit of the world’s buffest, oiliest saxophone player from The Lost Boys. Someone re-cut it to make it look like Michael is obsessed with him instead of with Star. And here, for all of our amusement, is the video:

–DOUBLE SIDE NOTE—

Apparently they say the word “Michael” more than 180 times in The Lost Boys. There’s one scene where Keifer Sutherland only had two lines of dialogue; the first line he ended by saying “Michael” in a growly, creepy way, and the second line he began by saying “Michael” in a slightly condescending and creepy way. The Lost Boys, man. And watching it on Blu-ray you can see that the dried vampire blood on the Coreys sparkled like glitter in the sun.

Anyway, Carlyn and Sean watched pretty much everything I had edited so far and it was great. It definitely sealed in my mind the pieces that had pacing issues and we talked them out a bit.

Of course, Eliza watched it with everyone as well and it’s always nice to get her read on the episode progress. She settled me down about certain things that I was thinking needed to be reshot.

Last night I buckled down again and edited another big sequence, but then the program froze and kicked me out. I lost about an hour of work, but that’s the first time that’s happened this episode, so I count myself lucky.

We’re heading out of town for Memorial Day weekend, but I’ve got a couple VFX shots on my laptop I can work on while we’re away. Obviously, I‘m going to prioritize having fun with Lize out in the real world and only spend a few hours a day working on stuff, but it’s nice that I’ll still get a little progress in over the weekend.

Thanks for reading.

-Jake

PoPS video update 257-If You Like PoPS, You’ll Like…

Posted in Uncategorized on May 18, 2015 by PoPS blog

Being a Good Friend and Why It’s Bad for Your Web Series

Posted in Uncategorized on May 15, 2015 by PoPS blog

Before getting into the detriments of friendship, I want to mention how happy I am whenever an ad for a show I love shows up as pre-roll on my YouTube videos. It makes me feel like somehow the algorithms equate our shows, like the audience crosses over. In reality, it probably just means they’re casting the widest possible net, but I don’t care, LET ME HAVE THIS! The last time I loaded up the “We’re Going to Webfest” update, the pre-roll ad was for True Detective season 2. I can’t wait. It just looks so dire and hopeless. I used to get little butterflies in my stomach whenever ads for LOST showed up next to our videos. Ah, the good times, before the LOST finale.

So, we went to a show that our friends were putting on last weekend and as our friend Kat gave us our tickets—and our swag feather’y pens—she said, “You guys have been really great at showing up to stuff lately.” I quickly played back the past few months in my head and thought—Damn it. She’s right. We’ve been really good at supporting our friends’ endeavors lately. Shows, album releases, birthday parties, dinners, movie nights. No wonder we’re so broke all the time. But what the whole thing really boiled down to was one perfectly crystalized panic package. This episode is never going to get finished if I don’t start staying home more.

Take a look at this video update from exactly four years ago. From :55 seconds in to the 2:07 mark is a two-angle time lapse of me sitting in our tiny home office on a weekend and working on episode 5 for 13 hours.

And that’s just a fraction of the time I need to spend if I want to get this doggone thing sewn up. Still, last night, instead of working on VFX for four hours, I worked on VFX for an hour and a half, shot part of a freelance video project, and went to Mad Max: Fury Road with my friend Craig. Tonight, I could prioritize episode 9 and get at least a solid two or three hours of VFX work done. Instead, it’s looking like I’m going to go to the gym and have some dinner before going to celebrate my friend David’s birthday at a bar and a midnight screening of The Room. So…

It’s easier to make a web series if you’re surrounded by a group of dedicated and like-minded friends. But socially engaging with that group of friends doesn’t make it easier to get that episode accomplished in a timely manner.

I hope you guys have a good weekend, and that I have a productive one.

Thanks for reading.

–Jake

PoPS video update 256-We’re Going to Austin Webfest!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 10, 2015 by PoPS blog

We Got Into Austin Webfest!

Posted in Uncategorized on May 7, 2015 by PoPS blog

We got into Austin Webfest!

I can’t wait. Couple things. When I was 15 years old, my family moved to Austin and started playing in coffeehouses as a family band. We called ourselves Rhythm ‘N’ the Doghouse, because, obviously, we were the coolest people in the world. Here’s the family playing one of our biggest hits many years later in a dark living room as captured by a cell phone camera. The glowing specter in the mirror is my lovely wife. Probably playing spider solitaire on the computer.

It was one of the most eventful and memorable years of our lives and is often rolled out and reminisced about. That’s when I realized you could completely reinvent yourself if you wanted to. My sister and I went back for a visit in the summer of ’98, but I haven’t been back since. That’s 17 years. I can’t wait to head back for a visit and to check out all of the festivities with Austin Webfest.

Perhaps most exciting of all—The screenings happen at the Alamo Drafthouse, the mecca of movie theaters for genre and revival cinema fans. I’ve been hearing about this place for eons and I can’t wait to see it with my own eyes. And see our faces on their screen. I’m just… SO… excited, you guys. Everything about this. I can’t wait. We’re getting our plane tickets today.

How about a little more catch-up on production days? This episode has a bunch of tiny little scenes in one-off locations that last about an eighth of a page. I’ve talked about the Simpsons-cutaway before. 30 Rock also uses it to great effect. It’s a tiny cutaway scene that’s a nightmare for production but lands really well in the pace and flow of visual storytelling. Usually in service of a joke. So, we have a few of those and that’s pretty much all that’s left to shoot at this point, so I’m trying to line up all those ducks. And shoot them. Poor ducks.

Thursday, April 16—Eliza got off work at 9pm and we booked it down to the city. We shot a one shot scene that took about 20 minutes. Then we shot another one shot scene that took about 15 minutes. Then we got massive slices of pizza and had a beer at the Logan Hardware barcade. It was an easy and fun night.

Satuday, April 25—We drove all the way up to Kenosha to shoot a series of scenes with new actors. We had a whole new group of volunteers helping out, letting us in to their locations, and generally helping us facilitate the day. It was great. It was a ton of fun and we got fantastic footage. The day was full of that “new activity” energy when a group of people are interacting with production for the first time and none of the chore-like aspects have sunk into their mentality. We arrived at 10 a.m and shot ‘til about 5 p.m. before driving home. A great day.

Sunday, April 26-Again, one shot set-ups in locations that take up and eighth of a page each. With a lot of travel. Grocery stores to shoot in are a little difficult to find. Then I called up my favorite produce place, really close to our house and the guy said sure. Just like that. He was like, “Sure, ask for Pete. Take it easy.” That was pretty much the whole conversation. Then we drove down to the loop in Chicago, where the building are tall and the el’ is visible for an impressive looking background. After that we hung out in Millenium Park a bit and had lunch at the original Billy Goat Tavern. It was awesome.

I think we could pack the rest of shooting into one really organized half day. But we’ll probably end up doing it in two semi-organized quarter days for the sake of easy scheduling. Hell, we could do it in three poorly organized hour-long shoots. We’ll just have t see how it lands.

Thanks for reading.

–Jake

PoPS video update 255-Avengers: Age of Ultron Chat (No Spoilers)

Posted in Uncategorized on May 3, 2015 by PoPS blog