Monday, July 2, 2018

To Script or Adlib, Minisodes and YouTube

It's probably pretty obvious if you have visited my YouTube Channel or This Is Space Force, that I often adlib the shorter videos I produce.  Lots of improve and stream of consciousness going on there.

I do this for a few reasons. First, I usually have the concept for my YouTube instructionals and T.I.S.F skits living inside of my head for quite awhile.  I'm "writing" them during yardwork, eating, red lights, etc.  Of course, none of this gives me the opportunity to actually "write" anything out.  Second, I like the natural flow that stream of conscious gives my YouTube videos and I think the awkwardness adds to the humor in TISF.  ( I may be alone in that.)
 Third, I often shoot multiple videos at a time.  It's easier to shoot when I'm inspired and find a few moments if I don't have to memorize rigid scripts beforehand. My studio is usually a light change and seat movement away from being able to shoot either of these types of episodes now.  One of my small cameras lives down there. Memorizing key points, like in a speech, is much quicker than memorizing an entire script, especially when you've lived with the ideas for a few days before shooting.

The new problem I'm facing is that now I want to include other people in the T.I.S.F minisodes.  For one thing, it's making them longer, which I like.  But the other thing this will require for most of them, is a script.  The actors will need to know what they're signing up for and not everyone I'll be working with is an improv master.  In fact, I'm not.  I'm terrible it at.  The difference between adlibbing and improvisation is that with improv you need to anticipate and react to the other actor.  I can barely do this in regular conversations with real people, no less with trained professionals while trying to get a political idea to be funny.

I've been trying to script out a half dozen This Is Space Force minisodes, but they just don't read funny.  They're kind of stilted and definitely paced differently than previous episodes.  I guess with doubling the cast size, that should be expected.  So, I'll need to keep working on that.

The good news is, although we only have 99 "likes" for the page, we  have surpassed 101 "followers", so we will be launching Commander Guy Ramrod into space this week!

See you over at the page, gang.

Comment below with topics you'd like "This Is Space Force" to tackle.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Prepare or Pounce? "This Is Space Force"

Recently President Trump announced the historic creation of a sixth branch of the military, the "United States Space Force".  Naturally the kid in me was super excited to think about laser blasting space ships protecting earth from giant meteors and flesh eating aliens.  The creative in me wanted to do something with this idea.

Of course, the whole world wanted to joke about or make a movie about the idea of  "Space Force" and when I checked IMDB I had found that a TV movie had been in made in 1978 titled "Space Force" and a film was announced in development "Space Force: The Sixth Branch".

Anybody who has ever made a movie or Television show, or any performance art, really, will tell you that preparation is the number tool to get you to a great end product.  Fortunately, I sort of live this advice day to day, so that when something like this comes up I can pounce, while still being somewhat prepared.  And thus, "This Is Space Force" (T.I.S.S.) was born.

You see, I already had a space suit.  It was on sale and I worked in a Halloween store.  I had a space helmet (several) and I own blue and green screens (sort of) .  I have been collecting NASA and public domain space footage as well as shooting miniatures for "Alien Vengeance" movies FOR YEARS.

First day I had photos and a phone shot video produced.  By the third day I had a Facebook page set up to get the title name in place and three more 1 minute video skits (of varying quality) produced and scheduled to publish.  I hope to shoot two or three more this weekend.  I'm needing to squeeze these in between day job work and classes, but the time is now or never on this project.

Meanwhile, I'm setting a tone for what I hope to be a popular web series of short episodes where the space force characters actually do things.

So, I pounced.  I could have done more if I had taken time to prepare, but the "newness" of this is already wearing off.  The world moves fast nowadays. You've got to be ready.  Whatever your genres of interest are, keep a closet full of props and playthings.  I won't have to search for spaceships or aliens or monster suits to make ThisIsSpaceForce season 1 happen.  I'm hoping some of my friends will want to participate as cast members and do cameos.  We'll see how my "networking" over the course of other movies has worked. I plan a "This Is Space Force" and "The Simplest Things" crossover for the end of "The Simplest Things" 3rd season.  Meanwhile, during all of this, I still have a lot of marketing and promotion to do for "Jack vs Lanterns" in order to get that movie to pay off and justify the third and final feature.

So, please watch, share and follow "This Is Space Force", rate "Jack vs Lanterns" on Amazon Prime and give the "The Simplest Things" a watch so I can keep having an excuse to buy endless costumes and build paper spaceships.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Amazon Video Direct Channels - What Do You Need?

Basically, I started talking about Amazon Channels because someone asked me why I didn't have one.  I remembered wanting one, but there were a few reasons I don't yet have one.  I discuss the basic reason in this previous post.  After that Vlog, someone asked me more questions, so I decided to look it into more deeply and found more reasons why a "little guy" like me may not have a channel.

The requirements of 200 separate titles OR 50 seasons of a series (or multiple series) seems like a pretty goal, especially at my stage of life.  Rather than just write it all out here I made another video.  After all, you can read Amazon's guidelines is reading the basics is all you want.

Also, take a look at "Jack vs Lanterns" on Prime Video while it's still Included with your membership for summer viewing.

And search for my titles at Midnight Pulp to find out which of my movies you can see
truly FREE with that new service.

Want to learn more about indie filmmaking?  Head over to the BCinemaTV Talks Podcast to hear interviews with people in the business.

If you, or someone you represent, would like to be a guest on the Podcast
or interviewed for our Cult Goddess Magazine Blog
please contact me through our website:

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Why Don't I Have An Amazon Channel?

Someone asked me the other day why I don't have an Amazon Channel.  I had planned on one.  It was a goal for awhile, but the short answer is, they keep moving the goal posts and I haven't been able to keep up.  The long in the video below.

Here is a video about the way the targets moved last time I tried to get a channel approved.

See "Jack vs Lanterns" on Amazon Prime for a limited time.
Jack vs Lanterns:

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

When Wearing Many Hats, Life Can Get Confusing

I recently attended the wedding of an actress I have worked with a few times.  I have always considered her a friend, but mostly my wife and I only see her when we're working.  This is likely due geographical differences to a degree, but it made me hesitate when people would ask, "So how do you know the couple?"  The answer, "We're friends" didn't seem specific enough and "She was in a couple of movies I made" makes me sound like I make more well known movies than I do.

I've never been one of the great "friend makers".  With me the places I would meet people were school and later work.  When I started working mostly for  myself I didn't interact with many new people on a regular basis.  Casts and crews would come and go.  Most of those people I would consider friends, but I never know how to gauge whether that feeling is reciprocated.  And when I am friends with actors or crew members it can make it tough to know when they're helping because they like a project or when they're doing me a favor they'd rather not, like  helping me move a refrigerator.

So, those two hats, filmmaker and friend, are already a problem.  Add to that the property manager hat, podcast hat and all of the hats I have to wear to keep Hocus Focus Productions running, and at any given moment I have to decide which job I'm working and which one I'm not.  I find it easier to break it into days so that I can get a groove going, but that's not always possible.  I sort of miss having a regular "day job" (and I'm looking at remedying that) where someone else makes a schedule for me every two weeks.  I found last October, while doing retail work, that having those immoveable blocks in my schedule made me better at managing my other time.  You would think the loss of free time would make things harder, but it really just helped bring things into focus.

For instance, right now I'm writing this blog while waiting for it to be time to log onto BCinemaTV Talks and interview Thomas Ryan about "The Theater of Terror Anthology".  I also sort of "double booked" myself as I have someone coming to do work around the yard.  He's a great guy and won't ring my doorbell since he knows I record on Wednesdays, but I should have timed this better.

I have guests at the cabin, so I need to talk to them later today and right after the interview is over I'll be making copies of the "Jack vs Lanterns" DVDs for the cast, and you, if you'd like to buy one.  (Please want to buy one. )

I have to promote the upcoming landing of "Jack vs Lanterns" on Amazon Prime, shoot an informational VLOG for my YouTube channel and eventually mow my back lawn because it's starting to look like a jungle out there.  Meanwhile, I have started taking some night classes (or I tried to, but the first class was rescheduled).  I'll talk more about that if it works out, but it would be me putting an old hat back on. One which I've missed for quite awhile.

So, if at any time you talk to me and I seem out of it, please, remind me which hat I should be wearing.  Are you talking to me as a director, property manager, cleaner, landscaper, blogger, vlogger, podcaster, salesman or friend?

Thanks in advance.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Change is Not My Strong Point

A lot of people might think that my reaching the very middle of middle-aged is why I'm so much like a dinosaur that hates change, but the fact is, I have never liked change.  It takes me a long time to become comfortable with people, a situation or just about anything, except a dog.  Dogs I take to right away most of the time.  Sometimes more quickly than they would like.

But, I digress.  When it's for work and a new situation comes up I usually adapt pretty quickly, but inside I'm hating it.  And in today's climate change comes hard, fast and often.  Most recently, the very simple software I have used to print on my DVD faces for years has become obsolete in my household.  I never do fancy Disc faces from the home printer.  I leave those to the On Demand companies that will be selling the bulk of our DVD-Rs.  For my cast, crew and the few people who buy directly from me, I do a simple text on white printing.  Clean, easy to read and a bit of a collector's item if the movies ever find popularity because they'll be from the "short runs". Also, there's plenty of white space left over to autograph if you run into a cast member.

I recently had to replace my tried and true printer of many years.  Ink was becoming too difficult to get and the print head is slipping.  The new machine does so much that I find it annoying.  It's wireless, so loading it manually means I get a lot of exercise because it's in a different room.  I'm fat.  I can use the steps.  Switching trays from paper to disc is like working with Legos or some other kind of connecting building block.  But the part I really hate is that it will not recognize my old software.  All of my old disc face layouts are defunct.  I have to learn new software, which gives me less control over fonts, sizes, colors, etc and leaves me feeling "bleh" about the result.   Normally I realize that the hatred for something new is a character trait and not the actual fault of the new device or software, but in this case, I'd like to know why I had more control and options with my ten year old, outdated software than I do with this new interface.  Why am I being forced to go backwards?  Why have options been lost to me?

This happens a lot with graphics and editing software.  To make it more accessible to everyone, they take away features that only "advanced users" wanted, but there's no advanced choice that I know about here.  Normally I would be glad for things to be made easier, but this just makes them boring and makes it more difficult to match the DVD to the cover, which I'm pretty happy with, BTW.  I did have to relearn this printer's sizing idiosyncrasies for the case overlay. I always include a border to make cutting DVD covers to size easier.  On first printing, this didn't print the border at all.

Next month I get to play with all of these things for the Blu-Ray.

I'd say next week, but I have some other major life changes coming  up that I'll be looking forward to until I'm going through them.  That journey starts Tuesday, so I'm trying not t stress about it at least until then. (Not entirely working.)
This may look a bit oversaturated on your screen. 
That was an adjustment to help it print brighter.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

I Admit It. I'm a Bit of a Cheap B*st*rd

There is a line in "Jack vs Lanterns" which has Jennifer Wenger's character, Jody, shouting at Jack that he's a "cheap bastard!"  When coming up with my first sale gimmick for the DVD-R of the movie, I decided to capitalize on this line, much like I did with "Stopped Dead" and Joel D. Wynkoop's recurring line that "There's a bathroom on the RV" and the "Alien Vengeance" trailer tagline, "...and Tentacles!"

I had the covers for "Lumber vs Jack" professionally printed.  This, of course, meant that buying in bulk brought the cost down.  It also left me with quite a few printed covers and posters (had them done at the same time) left over.  Once a movie is out for awhile sales shift from my website to Amazon and other platforms.  In fact, as a time saving device, I generally let DVD sales, except when I have a promotion going on, re-direct to CreateSpace or Amazon in order to save me from having to do print  on demand from my home office.  I save those DVD-Rs for appearances, which I don't do many of after a movie's first year out.

Being the "cheap bastard" that I am, I hate to waste the covers, even if they were less expensive because of how many I bought.  I also want to make sure that as many people as possible who watch "Jack vs Lanterns" do so after having seen "Lumber vs Jack".  I think the movie can stand on its own, but some of the jokes are going to land better if they have seen the first movie.

So, using that catchy line, the idea of giving away something for free, saving myself and my buyers on shipping and using the old cases to sell new product, I came up with the "Cheap Bastard Pack!"

Both features, all of their extras on two DVD-Rs, in one case for the price of one.
Available just by ordering "Lumber vs Jack" from the website while supplies last.