Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Devil Boxes, Set Secrets and Updates

Warning: If you find yourself here via a google search for such things as TV shows or films, recipes or cities, this blog has some facts. However, this blog is one author’s very twisted musing on many weird things. It is sometimes graphic in content. If you read on, don’t write to yell at me.

The Devil is in the Desktop

My dear friend, Nicholas, calls PCs devil boxes. Yet he is one of the most prolific posters of ephemera that I know. He often complains about the devil box swallowing up his time. However, it's proven to be very useful to him in his numerous and nefarious pursuits. I admit to many frustrations with my computer and the interwebs. A couple of weeks ago, I was pulling my hair out trying to edit the pilot presentation for The Privateers into appropriately sized chunks for Youtube.com. Then I spent a long time posting the four parts on Youtube, Myspace and finally facebook. I lost a whole day in getting that done. Last week, I'm not sure how many hours flew by as I was putting together a voice over and animation video for Blood Oath. It was the first time in years that I've done anything that extensive with editing (images, voice audio and music). I even threw in some primitive visual FX. Yesterday, I had a few tasks to do on the PC related to the promotion of our various projects. Six hours later, I wondered where my time had gone and why I hadn't done any writing.

The thing is that these website are simple to use in theory but also very frustrating. I don't think any of the amazing minds that designed these social networking sites know how to write their FAQs or help sections in simple, plain English. When Nick first started using his devil box, he called tech support. And in that way only an articulate hoodlum Jersey boy can, told the tech that if he failed to simply define any of the technical terms he was about to use, Nick would find him at his place of employment and rip his spine out. The call went swimmingly from there, and Nick went on to become legendary in some circles for his posts. I'm trying to get him to blog. At any rate, I am certain that calls like Nick's have resulted in an inability to reach live tech support for these sites. I have never been satisfied with the results of submitting a trouble ticket. The answers generally involve repeating what was in their FAQ or unhelpful help centers. Thus, the simple tasks of creating a fan page for Blood Oath and uploading things onto it, then inter-connecting it with other pages took six hours (and included much in the way of cursing and wine consumption).

I know, I can hear the question swirling out there. Why bother? Networking is the long and short of it. Putting up videos like The Privateers and sites like the many Blood Oath pages allows Industry people to see that we are, indeed, active filmmakers. This past weekend, I've had some really cool Industry types friend my pages. These people can help us make better films or get our projects to people who could see them made or distributed or both. Connecting with potential fans is not a bad thing either. Currently, there is a month long discussion forum on a European discussion board about The Privateers. They found the videos on Youtube after becoming enamored with Karl Urban, Aran Dravyk in The Privateers among other things. As this project has yet to be produced, We have images and stories never seen or heard by most of his growing fan base. It is also heartening that those who've recently discovered The Privateers found that they liked the concept enough to want to see it made with or without the original cast. In the case of Blood Oath, there is a large audience for Yaoi and a larger one for Yaoi that we need to reach prior to pitching the pilot presentation to the Suits. These pages give them something to look at and even subscribe to. All these hits – especially repeat hits do a lot to help us sell the project. So these things are necessary until I get a brilliant assistant willing to do my cyber-bidding.

Keep it Secret, Keep it Safe

The kind fold running the month long forums have been quite inquisitive about the happenings on the Privateers shoot. And therein lies one of the biggest dilemmas of direct interaction with fans. Actors share a lot about what happens behind the scenes on any given shoot. This is particularly true of actors who do the convention circuit. However, they never share everything that happens on set.

I must pause here to point out something disturbing I
just saw on television. –
tweens wearing pork pie hats.
I've long felt that there are many heads already out
there that are ill suited to wearing such hats. When
tweens start wearing them, it is time for everyone to
stop. I also reiterate my on-going objection to tops
or dresses with empire waists They only look good
on toddlers.

Where was I? Ah yes, Set secrets. The set is a close, often very personal environment where the cast has to feel comfortable letting their hair down between takes. Relaxation can take the form of all sorts of silliness and sometimes, sexiness. There is an understanding amongst cast and crew that most of what happens on the set stays on the set. Now, we all share things with colleagues – mostly the horror stories or how a horror was averted. That's shop talk. And there is sometimes gossip amidst colleagues about each others' sets. But there is an understanding amidst these colleagues that the gossip doesn't filter out to civilians or the press. And I'm not saying that there was anything worth press interest on any of our sets. But there are events and conversations that I have never talked about from all of my shoots. There are lots of things I've never talked about from my travels with actors to Cannes or to conventions. And heaven knows there are things I have never talked about involving the wrap parties. The wrap party in particular is sacrosanct. Everything that I and my production company have shared has had the permission of the actors or crew involved. And I tell my peeps that they are to take the lead of what they can say from the actors. Once they've blabbed it (and sometimes they blab an awful lot), we can share it.

Thus, even though I think these fans are the bees knees for being interested in and supporting all of our projects, I can't tell them why Craig had an issue with one of Karl's more private body parts or even how he came to know about such an attribute. I sure can't share the insane conversation that ensued or the extrapolations within that conversation. And while there is a perfectly innocent explanation as to how I ended up on Karl's bed in that Atlanta hotel, I just can't say what the explanation is. Nor can I explain why Randy is still waiting for Karl's promised serenade of him for his personal services (and that's really funny), I can't tell anyone outside of the business. Forgive me if I seem like I'm being a tease. I'm just making a point.. I'm even more protective of actors that I've maintained a close relationship with over the years. I seldom take photos of their visits anymore unless they are looking particularly yummy. And on the plus side, I no longer feel the need to be dressed up around them. Though that's true with most actor's I've worked with. No one is pretty at hour 14 of a shoot. And even if the actor is still gorgeous, at a certain point in the day, you are really sick of looking at his or her face until after I've had some sleep (though I still love all my actor boys and girls).

Updates and Countdown

We're all preoccupied with Central City Studio's first shoot at the end of this week. After it's up and running Ralph and I can turn our attention to where the pre-production plans are for Gunslinger and Luv U 4 Ever. I also expect to set a date for the screening of the Blood Oath Pilot Presentation. Gabriel Koerner very kindly help Jon with some compositing issues and even did an FX test of Rik using his energy channeling power. It looked really neat.

On the personal front, the countdown to the trip to Philly is only 4 days away. The suitcase is half packed. I have about five different lists to check off by Thursday morning. I tried the short rib recipe I plan to spring on the family last week. It was delicious. Even Jon liked it. That's a coup. I am taking the pie bird and my tart pan for the apple pie. I may get a set of regular sized aluminum pie pans. It seems that there are a lot of relatives coming to the family barbecue. I don't want to be short of pie, and I want to take one to the gathering of the grad school chums. I can't bring any of my demi-glace from home for the short ribs, but I think I can find it at the Reading Terminal Market. That place remains one of my favorite places anywhere to buy food. And I understand that there is a warehouse type market near Dad's place. It'll be fun. My next experiment that I plan to spring on the family is sweet corn bread. Jon loves the stuff, and it will go with Dad's supper spicy barbecue. In fact, I need to get on that right now.

Next week, I will try to blog from Philly. I may only be able to do some snippets to hold everyone over until we get back. I'm sure there will be photos and lots of stories.

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