Monday, March 27, 2006

Wires and Light, Episode 5. After School Special, part 2 of 3.

Plot recap: Last week we met Benjamin, a typical high school walking hormone who likes to pleasure himself while admiring his friend Alex's soccer coach. He rides home with Alex and discovers a "Lady's Man" porn magazine has been delivered to his family's mail box. Later that night, after another "pleasure" session, he decides to try calling a 1 900 number listed in the magazine, only to find out that his family's phone bill will be charged. He hangs up, disappointed.

Episode 2 begins the next morning on his drive to school with Alex and her dad.
What we need is a Revolution: taking videoblogging to the next level.

Lately I’ve been a little frustrated about the world of videoblogs. I try to tell my friends about a videoblog’s potential to reach a large audience. They’re all filmmakers and most of them have excellent films that haven’t been seen by enough people. But they all plead ignorance when it comes to the world of video blogging (and blogs in general.)

And, frankly, I don’t blame them.

After a few weeks of checking out various vlogs, I have to question if our culture really needs one more “pipeline” of entertainment. It’s too early for me to throw in the towel. (We’ll see how I feel after about a year.) What inspires me to keep at it is, well, me. I know that I have a desire for great, original (not to mention free) content for my video iPod, and, since it’s in such short supply, I feel like if I attempt to supply a little quality somethin’ somethin’ each week, maybe other artists will catch on and try it out. Especially if it becomes easier to post. And it almost certainly will.

Right now, I think it’s a time issue with most filmmakers I know. If they took a few days to educate themselves on how to post a videoblog, they might do it knowing that they have the potential to reach a whole new audience with the medium. Now that iTunes carries popular broadcast shows, people will get used to using their iPods to watch video and, once they do and they see how much they like it, they’ll start to search for even more sources of entertainment.

What videobloggers need is a little more ambition and creativity. We need a Revolution.

What gets me is how truly bad most videoblogs are. I say this not to discourage but rather to challenge. Think a little deeper, please. A video entry should have a beginning, middle and end. It should SAY something VISUAL. It’s not enough to just turn your camcorder in your car while your stuck in traffic and go off on how stupid your friends are or how your commute it taking too long or how the salon fucked up your spray-on tan (Yes, I actually saw a vlog about this very subject.)

Some of the best videoblogs I’ve seen are ones that show a unique perspective on the world. Chris Ivanyi is one such videoblogger. A self-taught filmmaker, Chris turns his camera not just on himself, but on the world around him. It also helps that he has a photographer’s eye and a great sense of composition.

But you don’t even need to shoot your own clips to get my attention. I just need to see something that I’ve never seen before. In this regard, insanefilms delivers. Besides being an excellent collector of twisted videos, Eggbert Mullins (the name attached to his emails) is also a true vlog character. One entry features him saying goodbye to his dead partner’s ashes. Another features one continuous shot of Eggbert in his apartment (do any videobloggers ever go outside their homes or cars?) filming himself and his dog listening to the most annoying lullaby ever made (sung by an annoying child) that plays on his computer’s speaker. Eventually, you realize that SOMEONE actually posted this lullaby on the web, programming it to play over and over, perhaps for a parent too lazy to sing to their child themselves.

Eggbert sings along to the song which plays in constant rotation and, the more he does it, the more you realize he’s not really the annoying one, it’s the person who posted the damn lullaby website in the first place. His mocking becomes more and more intense and hilarious, eventually inserting curse words, etc. Unfortunately, the ending leaves a lot to be desired.

Eggbert’s intros can go on a little too long, too, but at least he knows how to create an intimacy with the camera – something that any good blogger “host” needs. Personally, I don’t need to be introduced to a videoblog any more than I need a “host” for a movie. Unfortunately, all most videoblogs contain are the “hosts” venting about something that annoys them. Please. I beg you. If this is all your going to use video blogs for, just write your blog and, for godsakes, please construct your argument and use spell check while you’re at it.

Kind of like what I’m doing now.

So, please, Try a little harder to make videoblog’s worth people’s time to check out. We’ll all benefit from it in the end.

Okay. I'm done for now. Until next week.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Wires and Light, Episode 4. After School Special, Part 1 of 3.

Yeah. I know. I’m a day late (and a dollar short) on posting this. I deserve 40 lashes with a wet noodle.

This is the first short I wrote and directed while at UCLA’s graduate film school. Shot on film, After School Special had quite a dramatic birthing process. After four days of principal photography, we discovered that my camera film loader had loaded the film backwards. I had to reshoot the entire four days of principal photography. 2000 was also the last year that UCLA required their first year grads to edit their first year project on a flatbed. (Insert Grandpa Simpson voice here.) Yes, folks, I edited this baby using a little blade and some tape. Not like kids today with their fancy Final Cut Pro. I knew it was going to be pretty intense, so I decided to rent a flatbed for the three months we were given for editing. A flatbed. In my one bedroom apartment in LA. I actually had a great time editing this film – with the exception of a few moments of panic (“Where did that single frame go? Oh, it’s behind the refrigerator!”)

This story has a happy ending. After School Special was the first film I made that was accepted to LA’s Outfest. I have since had two more films at Outfest and I’ve also discovered a great, supportive community of filmmakers and artists through that organization.

Speaking of which, my short PUSH IT is going to screen at Outfest Wednesdays, their weekly screening event at the Egyptian theatre, on April 19. Hope to see you there!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Wires and Light, Episode 3. The Laundromat. Click here to play the videoblog.

So I decided to go ahead with a weekly posting. I'm going to draw from my "back catalog" first, posting the shorts I've made up to this point in my life and, eventually move into producing original films exclusively for the video blog and podcast. I'm in the process of deveoloping the characters and stories that will hopefully form into a more developed cast of characters and relationships.

I wrote and directed The Laundromat about two years ago, the same day I shot Say Yes. It stars Jim Blanchette and Gordon Vandenberg. The great Jonathan Wenstrup shot it guerrilla style at a laundromat in Echo Park, Los Angeles. It was surprisingly easy to do, given the documentary look I was going for. None of the employees seemed to really care what we were doing.

The greenish cast of the location was added in post to emulate a flourescent look to the space. A friend and excellent filmmaker in his own right, James Yuan helped me "time" (or color) the film once the cut was locked. I've since got a couple of fun plug in's myself, as well as a video camera that can hook me up to my own monitor, so I've begun doing my own color correction here at home where I edit everything.