Jamie Klotz’s Origins 9: Post-Production

THE 5TH DAY/RESHOOTS

After a fast and fun four day shoot, editing was immediately begun on The Incredible Search for Jamie Klotz’s Diary. Spurred on by the creative energy generated from the shoot, a rough edit was assembled by the end of the week. Almost immediately it was clear that there were major holes in the film. Dorn’s half of phone conversations with “the boys” were still missing and were thus filled in with stand-in shots for timing purposes (with me as Dorn), several scenes had serious audio problems (the library scene behind the glass was unintelligible), and worst of all, the last third of the movie’s pacing was choppy and rushed, jumping straight from Jamie asking Brandon for help to the final confrontation.

It was jarring and felt like there was something missing. So on the next Wednesday, June 5, 2013, Aspen, Garett and I went out to not only patch in a few holes in the opening and closing narration scenes by Jamie, but also add a completely new scene to the movie that had not been in the script, but was perfectly in line with the spirit of the movie’s predecessors. A training montage.

It makes no sense plot-wise as to why they would go do this, but that was part of the fun of the joke. We filmed portions at the HSHS Football field, back at Garett’s house, Evans Plunge, and several other places around town.

A favorite addition to the montage was the junk food scene, one which Aspen to this day still gives me a hard time about. This outtake pretty much sums it up.

On the same “5th day,” we brought Isaiah back in to fix a continuity error I’d caught in editing: in the scene where Dorn steals the satchel from Jamie, Ryan is hit by Jamie with the bag and then it’s stolen from Jamie by Dorn. Problem: these two shots were filmed on separate days, but were from nearly the same angle, and where Isaiah’s character “fell” was obviously empty in the shot with Michael. So we added a quick shot of Isaiah moving out of the frame, supposedly retreating from battle to go assist Sam’s character catch Okoye. Yet another minor fix, but an important one.

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In between takes, Isaiah demonstrates the “Kermit defense.”

EDITING

By the first weekend after filming, Daniel had come in to record his lines for the Sahera Backstory scene, although no artwork was complete at that time. After the day of reshoots, most of June 2013 was spent tightening up what was already there, adding sound effects and learning how to roughly complete the visual effects of scenes like Dr. Lawrence going 2D and making Sahera throw Down out of frame at an unrealistic speed.

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With mostly a lot of trial and error, by July 1, the fourth rough edit of Jamie Klotz’s Diary was complete. This edit still sits on my hard drive today and features a different opening song, very little color correction, rough visual effects (Dr. Lawrence is almost entirely transparent in his 2D form), Dorn’s half of the phone scenes are still missing and the credits have not been added. In spite of what was still missing, the movie was very much in watchable form.

A decision had also been made to axe the scene between Dorn & Lawrence because, in rushing the shoot that day to squeeze in as much with Michael as possible, I missed a couple crucial alternate angles and readings completely, rendering the scene mostly useless, in spite of it helping explain Dorn’s motivations and family connections to the diary and treasures. In order to fill that hole, dialogue would be added to Dorn’s (still unfilmed) telephone calls with “the boys” to clarify.

In late July, Aspen came in to dub the lines for the dreaded library shot as well as a couple new lines during Sahera’s backstory – which still had no artwork and we also shot the bonus end credits music number which would feature additional outtakes/cast dancing and would only be shown as part of the film during the premiere, which had been set for September 21.

On August 22, Michael finally made it back to Hot Springs and we added the crucial shots of him on the phone. Not the ideal scenarios compared to the scenes that had been scripted (in fact, Isaiah to this day has never met him despite their characters having a number of interactions on screen) but it was an exercise in creative compromise and working around limitations. On August 25, Okoye added her lines over the library shot and on September 5, an 8th draft rough cut had been assembled. Credits were added and the movie was essentially complete, save the artwork that was still missing. Enter Deana.

ART

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It’s no secret that Jamie Klotz’s Diary was in part inspired by The Legend of Zelda game series and, as scripted, the scene depicting Sahera’s backstory was always intended to be done in a style similar to the openings of A Link to the Past or The Wind Waker. However, I had no idea how it was done, or where to even start.

A week before the movie was set to premiere, I still had no idea how this scene was going to be done. My girlfriend Deana took a look at the game openings, almost immediately recognized the style I was looking for, and offered to create the prints necessary to finish the scene. I sketched out what I had in mind and she fleshed them out, creating the artwork, carving the blocks and, two days before the premiere, creating the prints themselves, which I scanned, composited & edited into the movie literally the night before the premiere.

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Sahera defeats the 9 wise men. Each of the 9 treasures used to free Sahera is supposed to represent one of the wise men.

She hasn’t gotten nearly enough credit or recognition for the amazing artwork she created, and unfortunately it’s buried till almost the 45 minute mark of the movie. But they’re really fantastic pieces of art that – even if the rest of the movie was blah – that scene was going to look great!

THE PREMIERE

It was a turnaround of only four months between the first day of shooting and the release of The Incredible Search for Jamie Klotz’s Diary. When the premiere date hit, I was so nervous that I hid in the Mueller Center conference room as people entered the theater and made Aspen make the announcement that the program would be delayed 5-10 minutes to wait for the stragglers to come in.

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Would they like it? Would they think it was funny? Would they get it? Was anybody even out there besides friends and family? I was just hopeful anybody would even show up, let alone like the movie. To me, I was still surprised that in spite of it feeling so thrown together, it felt cohesive. Worst of all was the discovery that the Mueller Center’s audio system was cutting out the left audio track. Due to the last-minute completion of the Sahera backstory scene, one of Daniel’s lines was accidentally hard-panned left. Without a real hard fix and completely incapable of re-rendering the whole thing, my quick fix was to load the isolated line as an mp3 on my cell phone and play it through one of the microphones as the movie was playing, cued at just the right moment.

Somehow, it all worked. I don’t know how, but it did. Even more surprising was how engaged the audience was. They were willing to give this slapdash, thrown together project of mine a chance, and during the Q&A, they asked so many great questions of the cast. I was feeling a lot of feelings, but mostly I was just grateful. It was completely unreal and I went home that night wondering it was all a dream.

The question on everyone’s mind, even asked during the Q&A, was: what’s next and would there be a sequel?

 LESSONS LEARNED:

-Don’t be afraid to make cuts or additions based on the needs of the story and pacing.

-Your first edit will suck. Your second edit will suck more. Your fourth edit might be watchable, but it will suck. Be brutal. Keep tightening. Find a flow and go with it.

-Test all equipment, both on set and before you screen the final thing.

-Whether people like it or not, you did it. And that’s an accomplishment you can be proud of.

-Carry the lessons you learned into the next thing you do and make that next one even better.

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“Christmas Heist” An Unqualified Success

While the audience began trickling into the Mueller Center at around 6:30pm on Thursday, December 10, 2015, and began settling in for the first performance of The Christmas Heist, I mentioned to Deana that, strangely, I wasn’t nervous at all.

About the same time the next night, I turned to her again and said “I don’t know why, but somehow I’m more nervous tonight than I was yesterday.” By the preshow on closing night, I was too tired to feel either nervous or excited.

All three nights, there were moments that stuck out to me that I’ll remember forever. The uproar of laughter at Officer Powell’s “Stick ’em up!” entrance in City Hall; the blast of sci-fi music as Act 2 got underway and Zach stepped out in costume; the shiver down my spine during the two minute “Merry Little Christmas” scene – a scene played with no dialogue, just glances and gestures; the even bigger laugh at a “TJ Hooker” reference; the audible gasps and even a “WHAT?!” during the final scene when the twist is revealed; and, for me, the most memorable every night  was the ~ the 3-5 seconds of silence in the middle of the “Catfight” scene.

No scene in the show had been more rehearsed, down to not just the blocking, pacing & delivery of the lines, but the space between them. I vividly remember reading the scene to Deana immediately after writing it, being really proud of it, and then really terrified, telling her “oh man, I might have to pull this back if we can’t find someone good enough to do this. But if we do… this’ll stop the show.”

It did.

And I can’t take any of the credit. These performers and crew stepped up and made this show what it was. And the audience equally so. As I told one audience member  who complimented me afterwards, look, I can write anything and get someone to stand up on stage and read it – but the actors bring their own performances, and the audience brings their own reaction and emotional involvement to it. That’s where everything that was great came from, and it has very little to do with me.

I am still, days later, humbled, grateful and honored that the audience reaction was as positive as it was, and that so many people turned out to see the show.

I’m still working out all my thoughts & feelings, not necessarily just about the show, but about what’s next. Never Been to Graceland is getting a pretty heavy re-write, and I have a few ideas for some shorts, but it’s all very much in a “wait and see” holding pattern. Some things came up in the show that I didn’t necessarily need to learn, but needed reminded of how important they are.

I want to tell stories that mean something, and The Christmas Heist means so much to me in so many ways (maybe I’ll talk about that another time) and so will Graceland… but I was reminded that I need to be mindful of not just saying something, but to think about WHY it’s being said – to make sure the pacing is right, that the motivations are clear, that the audience has a reason to keep watching and caring. Not just doing something for the sake of doing it (although there can be value in that as well, depending on what you’re aiming for.)

Expect some updates about next year’s plans here in the next couple weeks once I really sit down and reassess things. But for now, please enjoy this version of The Christmas Heist. It’s not the finalized version, just a mostly unedited view of the stage during the Friday & Saturday shows… but I hope you enjoy it.

Celebrating the movie franchise that sparked creativity in me!

It’s October 21, 2015. If you haven’t already figured out by the countless Facebook posts and news articles, that’s the day to Marty McFly travels in 1989’s Back to the Future Part II.

Many people have fond memories of these movies and I’m not different. Back to the Future, along with Beverly Hills Cop, were the two movies not branded with Disney or Don Bluth that I watched over and over and over on VHS as a kid, the first two “adult” movies that I only only liked, but understood and appreciated in some way I couldn’t explain. While most jokes and cultural reference points of both the 50’s and the 80’s flew over my little munchkin head, I was thrilled by the idea of time travel; the concept of going back in time and changing things to how you wish they could be. And even moreso by the idea introduced in Part 2 and expanded upon in 3 of what was essentially the butterfly effect (though Doc never uses such a term.) I realized very early on that Back to the Future wasn’t a coming of age story for Marty, it was a coming of age story for Doc. Here was a man who dedicated his life to science and the invention of time travel to the brink of bankruptcy, to the point of helping terrorists, literally laying his life on the line, and learning to stop thinking about the past and the future but instead focus on the present. Fascinating stuff, even for a kid. Back to the Future Part 3 is far & away my favorite of the trilogy, but inevitably I just end up watching all three parts.

I could argue Back to the Future is the movie that inspired me to make movies, or at least write stories.

We had the first Back to the Future film on VHS, but I had to wait to record Parts 2 & 3 from TV before I could watch them on any sort of regular basis. But I very vividly remember being so enthralled with the first film that I sat down with a notebook and started writing a sort-of novelization of the first movie, from memory. I remember taking the notebook to Pizza Hut and proudly displaying my hundreds of words (probably poorly) depicting the first 20 minutes or so of the first Back to the Future film.

BTTF later bled into almost everything else creative I did. The Adventures in Hot Springs’ 7 day proposed themed-episodic structure would have allowed me to experiment with different genres I always wanted to try to film: Night in Hot Springs was suspense, Quest for the Lost Treasures (and later Jamie Klotz’s Diary 1) were the Indiana Jones-influenced adventure/treasure hunt films, 1001 Arabian Gumps was an homage to the Disney Renaissance, War of the Dandelions was a space opera on the ground, and Paradox was shades of Back to the Future through & through. (read: plagiarism)

Bttf.com was a constant web visit through my adolescence, the crappy TV recordings (with dubbed dialogue over the swear words) were replaced by the 2002 “Complete Trilogy” VHS boxed set with bonus features tacked onto the ends of the tapes, which I devoured, then those were in turn replaced with the DVD set, full of commentaries and extra making-of features. I remember reading a report talking about how Back to the Future’s script is one of the best scripts in movie history; not in the sense of quality or cultural value, though one could argue for that as well, but instead that no line or shot is wasted in moving the story forward. Every detail is paid off somewhere else later in the film.

In 2011, when the Back to the Future video game by Telltale came out (pre-their Walking Dead days) I was all in, buying them for PC as soon as I could and was thrilled by the story and world created within that game, what I consider Back to the Future part 4. That Christmas, two different gift buyers got me copies of the game, for Wii and PS3, and I played through both again, happily, and will again on PS4 with the new edition.

I didn’t mention it in the Origins blogs, but the original Jamie Klotz’s Diary script drafts included an element of time travel. The watch that Dr. Lawrence invents originally jumped time, not other dimensions. The movie would have opened with a flashback to the 1880’s and Jamie’s ancestor Jessica and Christoff Dorn’s ancestor, who was unnamed in all drafts, would have been introduced, as well as the idea of the treasures existing even then. There are still elements of this in Dr. Lawrence’s story he tells Kaitlyn & Jamie. Later, when Dorn slaps the watch on Jamie, rather than meeting the Man, she would have met her ancestor in the “old west” a la BTTF Part 3. These scenes were replaced (for the better IMO) with the Man’s scenes due to budget constraints.

Dr. Lawrence in the final movie still very obviously references Doc Brown, but that was as far as I thought the BTTF-Jamie Klotz connection would go…. until the cast asked to do another one. Of all the genres encompasses in the scripts for the Adventures in Hot Springs, time travel was always the one that fascinated me most, because of BTTF, and the influence of BTTF Part 2’s thick-with-exposition story specifically, on me led directly to Jamie Klotz’s Diary 2 and its story of altered timelines, past, present & future.

I’ve said before that if there were to be a Jamie Klotz’s Diary 3 (and there likely won’t be) it would have to be a western, in tribute to BTTF 3.

So long story short (too late), I’m thrilled to be celebrating Back to the Future Day before I leap in to my next big project, The Christmas Heist, which is also slightly inspired by 80’s teen movies like BTTF, and the many many many John Hughes films of the 80s.

Jamie Klotz’s Origins 4: Pre-Production or; Planning a Movie with Nothing

The Incredible Search for Jamie Klotz’s Diary was, as I’ve stated before, a title that had been in my head for nearly a decade prior to actually completing it. But after discussing the origins of the story in previous blogs, I’d like to zero in on the few months leading up to the filming and the days of to discuss how the whole thing actually came to fruition.

In February 2013, after having spent an entire year compiling footage and completing one major firstpostproject that I was very proud of that continues to be left essentially unreleased, I was creatively frustrated after a year of being really productive. I decided to focus my frustrations on a quick, fun project just to prove to myself that I could even make a movie and that my shorts and projects up till then hadn’t just been workshops and flukes. On February 17, I invited several of my closest creatively-minded friends and several young people I had just recently met through Southern Hills Community Theatre to a Facebook event called “The 72 Hour Movie Project” and said, hey, let’s shoot for three days in May and see what happens. It might suck, it might be entertaining… but at least the process will have been fun.

theplotawakensThe original plan was to improvise the entire movie over the course of those three days. In discussing story ideas in advance, within two days of starting to organize the shoot, it became rapidly clear that this was a horrible, awful idea. So, with the ideas for locations, wacky supporting characters, from friends and collaborators streaming in story-wise, I started formulating a basic outline.

The Characters, as described during story development

Image1Jamie Klotz: “Jamie Klotz is your average teenage girl. And by average I mean she falls into absolutely none of your typical cliques.”

“A quirky dork.”

“She carries around a bag and when things get tough she pulls out some odd looking hats and is like ‘lets get our thinking caps on ladies.'”

Dorn:Maybe the villain could be someone who knows the secrets in the diary and is trying to find it O_o”

“Perhaps the diary is one of a pair that are both needed to decipher each other and that the villain holds the second

Kaitlyn: Jamie’s “best friend/sidekick/reluctant partner-Image17in-awesomeness.”

Brandon: “Maybe a boy who is a friend who secretly likes her and that’s why he is so persistent in helping her?”

“A hopelessly romantic young man who writes Jamie terrible love songs.”

Dr. Lawrence: “a Museum guide who later turns into a mad scientist like a Dr. Jekyl/Mr. Hide transformation.”

Other characters that ended up being cut: Jamie’s mom, the ghost of a teenage girl, a museum docent, a thief who thinks he’s a pirate, a crazy old hobo, two bumbling undercover cops (later became Ryan & Eric – sort of), and Jessica Klotz, Jamie’s wild-eyed old west outlaw ancestor.

The location of Jamie's confrontation with Sahera.
The location scouting photo of Jamie’s confrontation with Sahera.

Locations

Suggestions were also taken for possible filming locations and one day of scouting was done by myself and my buddy Jesse (who had played Gump in the Adventures in Hot Springs). Jesse showed me a stunning location north of Cold Brook Reservoir, just minutes north of Hot Springs and I immediately wrote it in as the location of the final confrontation between Jamie and a supernatural sorceress named Sahera.

In this outtake of an unused shot from the movie, we see Ryan & Eric watching Jamie & Kaitlyn from afar, while showcasing the downtown Hot Springs area.

As location suggestions rolled in from participating collaborators and cast members, it was clear from the get-go that one of the most important characters of the movie was Hot Springs itself, a town that lends itself beautifully to the camera. From attractions like the Pioneer Museum, Southern Hills Golf Course and Evans Plunge to the distinct sandstone buildings, murals and sculptures downtown to more obscure locations like Chautauqua Park, I wanted to make sure the film showed Hot Springs’ best side.

Story Counts

903049_10151424493003585_524760918_oFrom mid-February to mid-March 2013, I worked daily on hashing out the details of the script based on my basic premise and everyone else’s suggestions into the first draft of a script. The first outline was typed, the first draft was handwritten and completed on March 26 and I didn’t let anyone read it – I knew there were fundamental issues with the plot. So I called in Daniel Crossman for a story development session and we reworked nearly all the characters, their motivations and simplified the story we had, which had included scenes that would be time and resource intensive, let alone the fact that they weren’t important to the real story about Jamie and her diary; they were setting up a backstory to explain the diary and its origins: a backstory that didn’t need to be shown for the story to work. The amount of ideas and reworking Daniel & I did together more than sufficed for a co-writer credit for someone who truly was “The Man.”

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It was an interesting meeting.

One of the original ideas for Jamie Klotz’s Diary included making it a 6 part webseries that would be bookended during each episode with Jamie stopping time and talking directly to the camera, and filming a number of vlogs in advance of the release of the main movie itself to establish the character.

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One thing that stayed the same almost until shooting was a different spelling of Jamie’s name. Ultimately we reverted to the original “Jamie.”

Another involved solving riddles and puzzles before being able to find the “treasures,” a la adventure movies like National Treasure. This was simplified and discarded in early April to go straight to the treasures (coincidentally aligning it more with the earlier Quest for the Lost Treasures.) This would allow us to go to more locations quicker and add in some visual jokes instead of stopping to explain the significance of a location or a clue.

This wasn’t shared with the group, but somewhere between April and May, I completely lost it and started rethinking the whole project, worrying that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I even reconceptualized the whole project as an interactive “choose your own story” movie which would branch off at points during the adventure – a logistical nightmare for something supposed to be filmed in three days. With the help of my girlfriend Deana and a massive dose of common sense, I chucked that idea and we focused in on a final draft.

IMG_1140On May 18, just a mere week before shooting, I locked in the final draft of the script, which we still had pegged to shoot for 3 days, May 24-26.

CAST: Casting was, for the most part, fairly easy. Daniel, Bridgett, Michael and Matt I’d known since high school, Aspen and Okoye I had met through the Community Theatre, Isaiah was Daniel’s younger brother and brought Sam and Garett along with. Simplifying the script also mean simplifying the cast, so keeping it to a grand total of 10 (including Alex, the kid brought in the day of to play Jamie’s “pony ride” date) and keeping to the three-day plan made coordinating schedules a breeze.

Coincidentally, at one point, Okoye had thought she was going to be unavailable for the shoot, so we had another girl who had been in the community theatre’s first production planned to play Kaitlyn, even at our sole script read-through on May 23! At the last minute the following day, she went AWOL due to her new job and we shot as much as we could without Kaitlyn… but without knowing whether we’d even HAVE a Kaitlyn. The next day, the other girl confirmed she’d have to drop out of the project but Okoye was back in town so she got roped back in.

But I’ll save more about those stories in the next few columns covering production….

LESSONS LEARNED FROM PRE-PRODUCTION:

-If you’re frustrated with the way other things in your life are going, do something you have complete control over.

-Don’t ever plan to improvise. Always back yourself up, even with a loose outline of dialogue to have structure to fall back on.

-Budget: Jamie Klotz’s Diary didn’t really have a budget. We begged and borrowed, paid for special props, water and snack foods to keep the cast hydrated and happy. Sometimes you have the fortunate of investing a ton of money in a project. Sometimes you just gotta roll with what you have.

-Writing a story based on suggestions from a bunch of people is really fun, but also totally maddening and disappointing because good ideas have to get thrown by the wayside to make the story work.

-Know your limits, budget-wise, time-wise and energy-wise.

-Don’t be afraid to admit you’re wrong and start over (or rethink it if you can’t just scrap it and go again)

-Schedule everyone ahead of time and confirm their participation. Confirm it again. Confirm it again. Confirm it again. And always expect them not to be able to show and have a contingency plan.

-If you can, do a read-through with your cast of the whole script, from beginning to end. It not only helps your cast find their character better and improve interactions, but it gives you a chance to get a feel for the pacing of the entire project in a different way than reading it to yourself does.

Refried Ideas; or the Montage Scene.

I began writing scripts with the movie version of “Gibbers.” I clearly and distinctly remember sitting on the couch at Jim’s house after going to see the movie National Treasure. I had already written the main outline to the Gibbers movie, but something about National Treasure gave me a focus. Something about treasure hunting enthralled me, and I loved the setup of the smart lead, his tough love interest, and his wacky sidekick buddy. That’s how the three main characters of the Gibbers movie (Justin, Ruby, and Jesse) ended up being the focus instead of background characters, as they had long been in the comics I’d been drawing.

Jim and I wrote that first draft in one night, I think. I was so ready to just go out and film, I didn’t understand what it meant to do rewrites. I thought rewrites were just fixing the grammar and spelling errors. I learned. Quick.

It’s funny reading all my stuff I’ve written since then in order. I have a habit of reusing some of that older material again and again in hopes that we can eventually use it. The one scene that comes to mind most frequently is a scene that I always loved and wanted to do: a searching montage.

It was covered in the first draft of Gibbers like this, verbatim:

“(Several shots of Ruby & Justin asking people if they’ve seen Chris. They use a pic of SERB. Many of these shots are short sequences w/guest appearances by characters. Make up these scenes later. They come up negative.)”

There was no music meant to be included, I think. Mostly it was intended to be dialog. I got only a few pages into the second draft of Gibbers before I realized what a rewrite was and that things needed changing to make more logical sense. In the third draft, the scene is written as so:

“(Jesse turns on the radio.)

ANNOUNCER: And this is the Del Shannon classic, ‘Runaway!’

(Runaway begins. Insert sequences here as Ruby & Justin ask several people if they’ve seen Slanted Eyes Rice Boy. When they come up empty-handed, they are seen walking down the street.)”

And of course the intention there was to actually use the original Del Shannon version. So I’d found a song, but I kept thinking there could be a better version. Something with some more “kick.” While I searched, I wrote the draft that took the longest time – the fifth draft, which actually fills two notebook (one has the main script, the other additional scenes and modified versions of scenes. The fifth draft version, marked as scene 116 (I was learning to organize the movie by acts and scenes) reads like this:

“(Jesse turns on the radio.)

ANNOUNCER: And here is one of my grandma’s least favorite songs. This is for you grandma! Del Shannon’s Runaway!

(Transition. Runaway. Montage. Justin and Ruby ask the people of the town if they’ve seen SERB. The only answer thye get is no. After the montage, Justin and Ruby are left sitting on a bench. Justin gets up and paces.)”

The sixth and final draft, written to finalize the story after it had pretty much been decided we weren’t goint to film it, was similar. By that point I had found a version of Runaway instead by country music artist Gary Allen with that little extra kick I always wanted. After a year of other videos and script ideas, we did A Day In Hot Springs, which led to the scripting of the other six episodes in the “Week In Hot Springs” series.

We filmed some of the Paradox scenes prior to the script actually being completed, but as I worked out the story, I knew the Gumpmobile was going to get stolen in the first scene, and then a couple scenes later be destroyed. The question was how to transition from one point to another. Back to Gibbers!

The original shooting script for Paradox has this:

“(They both stand up and start walking down the road to town. Fade into a montage in which Jim and Jesse go around town, presenting every passerby with a crudely drawn picture of the Gumpmobile. Of course, no one has, and as they near the end of their search, both begin to get desperate. At the end of the montage, cut back out to Cold Brook, as Jim and Jesse walk up to another outhouse.)”

Of course, we never finished Paradox, or the Week In Hot Springs, but just prior to beginning the Adventures in Hot Springs shorts, I began piecing all of whatever I had from the WIHS together. The only scene from the first part of Paradox I was missing was this. So I called up Gump, and called up Jim and we did finally shoot it. Between the first draft of Gibbers, written in November 2004, and the actual completion of the scene, in July 2009, nearly five years had passed.

Sitting back and watching that scene play out, has probably been the highlight of my experience making short films. It turned out funnier than I ever imagined. I think of all videos I’ve made, even though I really like Kazoo Hero, this one is the one I’m truly most proud of. After all, it’s been with me from the start.

2015 Edit: Well… nobody reads these, but we ended up incorporating this in Jamie Klotz’s Diary 1. Who knew?!

"a little lost…"

I have been really busy lately working with videos, which I haven’t done in a while, and I’m pretty stoked about it actually. Jesse is doing a great job as promoter down at the Hangout (it’s a business downtown) and I’ve got a lot of our older (and newer) vids posted to YouTube now, save for the ones that will either be re-edited or just DVD-exclusives.

As far as new videos go, I’m essentially out of footage at the moment. I never thought I would be, because when that summer after high school ended, I had this huge heap of footage that we had filmed but never put together because I’d given up on the Week In Hot Springs. But this year, I watched it all from start to end, and realized we had a lot more shot than I ever thought we did.

Needless to say, our videos from the past our done, and with one season of filming done for the Adventures In Hot Springs series that Jesse and I brainstormed early this summer, I’m not sure what direction to take.

We’ve discussed doing more shorts, and we are still working on getting ideas for those. For those not in the know, there are two books due out soon, and two more in progress: the Christmas In Hot Springs will be available this winter for purchase, and so will the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style story The Shrunken Gump. I’m still working on the Week In Hot Springs scriptbook, and another holiday story, Halloween In Hot Springs.

But as far as videos go, I’m a little lost…

Jesse and I have discussed actually at length about maybe doing another feature-length video. But I’m very hesitant about that idea, because every major project like that: Gibbers, The Week In Hot Springs, Shards of the Transient Diamond, TurtleSphere Q… all fell through because of a lack of support, especially schedule-wise.

That was the purpose of the shorts. People who were enthusiastic about doing videos but weren’t able to commit to a longer shooting schedule could be involved in shooting a video for a couple of hours or two here or there, but even then, that sometimes fell through.

There’s always been that problem. Whether it was the entire ensemble of Gibbers, or the fact we NEVER had a single person cast as Eli in WIHS, or that one massive character in Turtlesphere could not get one day off the same as everyone else… it’s always been one thing or another. And I am a persistent little fucker, but before we really started making progress with the Adventures In Hot Springs, I never EVER wanted to even THINK about doing another feature-size video again.

Which is the same advice I got from the Linns, who made “Indiana Jed” back in the 90’s and now run a production company up in Rapid. They said not to let yourself get overwhelmed. Don’t make it all about effects or junk. Make sure the story is good, and it works, and everything will pull itself together. Start small, with short sub-five minute videos.

I have about four ideas for long-form videos right now. One (The Boy from Out of This World) is really good, but involves a lot of people. One (War of the Dandelions) is still okay, but it involves people, AND it has a lot to do with stuff we’ve already done. And the other (The Strong) involves just one actor, really, but the story is a great concept, but it’s a long way off from being ready.

I want to lean toward WOTD, but I don’t want to feel like I’m repeating myself, even if most of the material has never been filmed before. The sci-fi one is a remake of a old movie, and it really is different from anything I’ve done with this group of people. And it would have to wait till next spring/summer, which I don’t know if we can do. And like I said, the Strong just isn’t very strong yet. LOL.

We’ll see. Maybe you might see a movie vewy vewy soon from Skeeter Bite Productions. It’s always been our dream.