Monday, January 31, 2011

How Long Should an Episode Be?

Like a blog, the length of an episode of a show should usually fall within certain guidelines.  I generally have trouble adhering to both.

400 words or so seems to be about what someone is willing to read online before moving on to another subject.  Sure you can truly engross them and them keep them longer, unless they're reading at work and HAVE to move on to something else, like...well, work.  Online TV is a bit more tricky.  A lot of people, including myself, won't even start to watch something if they see it's more than 3 or 4 minutes long.  Who has the time?  Our "Jason's Jungle" episodes on "The Weird World of HFP" are generally under 4 minutes, but that's because they were made way back when dial up was king and nobody could really watch a video that was much longer unless they let it load it over night.  (Makes you wonder what that era of internet "adult films" did to the performance times of men).

Some shows I have near total control over, like, "The Simplest Things".  I'm working on an opening for that that will take less than 30 seconds, so that a 2 or 3 minute episode will run less than 4 minutes with opening and closing credits.  But "Cult Goddess Magazine - TV" is another story.  This is a show based on a down loadable magazine.  Interviews that can run for 30 minutes.  It's organic.  There's questions, well thought out answers and banter.  Do I post one long 30 minute episode?  The shows earning potential immediately goes up per episode because we can post more ads, but that's a lot of time to watch stills float around and a lot of stills to come up with to fill that time.  Do I break the show up into parts? 

The advantages of breaking the interviews up are many.  It means that each interview gives me more episodes, which this early in the game is important as we build a viewership and work on fitting producing the shows in with work for outside clients and producing movies.  Shorter shows also mean people are more likely to pass the video around.  Post it to their Facebook and so on.  And then there's the "cliffhanger" effect.  Someone who was interested in the interview will come back next week for the rest, however, there are drawbacks too.  Some of them from the same elements.

If someone isn't enjoying a particular interview, we've lost that viewer for weeks, maybe for good.  Maybe they're the type who likes to see things all once.  For them I've created a playlist that will hold all of the eps right on the Cult Goddess Magazine homepage.  I'm finding that even with breaking a show up getting it under 4 minutes with an opening is near impossible.  With introductions, and answers beyond "My favorite color is blue" an interview is bound to run at least 5-7 minutes per topic.  So, for CGM-TV the goal is to keep each episode under 10 minutes and see how it plays out.  Hopefully people will like it and spread it around a bit.  This week's episode with Debbie Rochon focuses on "Alien Vengeance", contains video of her as Col. Onyx and some never before published photos of her as the character.  All in just about 8 minutes.

We still have 2 or 3 more shows to bring you this year.  "Direct from the Director" will showcase independent, underground, micro budgeted movies with intros from their directors.  That means free movies for you...possibly also in parts.  That will start out as part of the "Weird World of HFP" lineup.  "Alien Vengeance: The Series" is still in production, but will be it's own show coming out simultaneously with WWofHFP each week and I've been tossing around the idea of a guy's cooking show with making simple stuff.  Something even an idiot could make.  Or maybe some grilling.  I actually dreamt about grilling Saturday night.  What else would  you guys like to see?  (Assuming someone is reading this, as we're way past 400 words).  Movie reviews?  A show about cars?  More animal stuff?  Let me know in the comments below.  I'm at your disposal.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Drowsiness and Power Tools.

Shooting things "on the cheap" means occasionally having to build your own camera rigs, props and set pieces. I've got a small workshop in the garage for it, but right now it's backlogged with junk waiting to be converted.

Some of you may know that I'm a bit of an insomniac. Sometimes I'll catch 4 hours of sleep here and there, sometimes I'll get a full 6 at the worst possible of time of day. When I'm on a shoot and have a full schedule I sleep better because it's easy to decide when it's time to sleep. When I'm working on edits and can do them all hours of the day, like now, it makes tough for me to "shut off". Often I feel like I should be doing SOMETHING, even at 4 AM. I miss other people making my schedule for me at times like that.

Anyway, this causes a problem when it comes to making things. The next thing I need to finish requires the use of power tools. Sharp, fast spinning, dangerous power tools. I want to be fully alert when I work with these things, but I can't run them after 11 PM without being rude to the neighbors, or before 8 AM, which would be a great time because I feel wonderful now.

Hopefully tonight I'll be alert enough to build, or at least do the power tool portion, of my new HD 3D camera rig. It's very simple. Almost as simple as Carclopse was, but the 3D effect will be beyond anything I've been able to do up until now and I'll need that for our production the end of this year.

Look for some 3D shorts, maybe this Spring as I test it out. If you need glasses you can grab some from

I may blog again later today. Leave a comment if you want me to post some pictures of the rig and how it generally works.

There was no way to monitor Carclopse in the car, so when it went sideways I didn't know. It may not look like much more than someone taking video of driving, but the perspective is very different. We used it for the opening credits and transition scenes in "Stopped Dead" and I think it added to the scope of the movie.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Online Premeire!

"The Weird World of HFP" has been online for a few weeks now, but those of you have been watching knowing that it is a show within a show.  Sort of a random collection of what I'm working on at the moment.  A testing ground for new ideas and an archive for old ones.  This is partly so that I can keep bringing you new shows every week and partly due to the way the, or current online host works.  Each show should have it's own place on a new channel soon, but some of this I couldn't wait to get out there.

Last week Nancy and I shot this first episode of "The Simplest Things".  I based it on a short film, "Alien Doors", which I made awhile back and which will be retooled as episode two.  There is an earlier blog about it's production. 

An unestablished web series has little chance of making "big money" and with other movies to produce time and budget on this one were severely limited.  You may recognize the helicopter background from "Alien Vengeance" is reused here and when "File Error" is finished this year much of the bridge of this ship will be used as parts of the lab.  Being a comedy (although maybe a bit dark for old Jethro) I felt cartoonish retro F/X would be best...and easiest.

It wasn't easy sitting on my newest production for over a week.  (I'm not a terribly patient man.) I almost unveiled it last night, but the weather here conspired against me having a safe enough connection to the internet for the amount of time needed.

Here is the first episode of "The Simplest Things".  I hope you enjoy it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

How Does Projected Film Work?

Tonight I'm not so much posting a blog as video I found interesting.  We shoot mostly on video now, and digital video at that.  Much of what this old public domain movie explains is actually "simulated" when it comes to video.  The basic principles, however, remain the same.  Tricking our eyes is a fairly simple task for something like an animated flip book, but getting that work with projected film becomes a bit more complex, as you'll see.  Some of the mechanics involved for overcoming the problems involved with creating a clear image are amazing when  you consider the time in which film began and even just how long ago this particular film was made. It all starts with persistence of vision, but you can watch the video to see the details. Enjoy.

All of the original copyright info is there, but the movie has since been passed into the Public Domain. Discuss.  Ask questions. Marvel at old technology.

Review of the Sanyo HD 1000 Camcorder

This is a re-post of a review I placed on Facebook awhile back.  I put it here in my Production Diaries because this particular camera is a great starting point for budding filmmakers with very little to spend on their first camera.

  I'm reviewing this video (and photo) camera mainly because it is available at Best Buy as a refurb for only $189. I've owned the Sanyo Xacti HD 1010 for about a year and wanted a matching second camera. As many of you know I used that camera to shoot a short sci-fi film and the opening of "Alien Vengeance II" while in New York. Mostly to see if I could. It cost a little over $300 and has all the manual control you could want, although it's not very easy to access. The 1000 is a very similar camera. The main difference being it shoots in 1080i, not 1080p. If you're a progressive elitist, there is a 720p function. At under $200 I think it's a great camera for an aspiring filmmaker looking to learn. Let me tell you why.

     The Sanyo Xacti HD1000 is just about small enough to fit in your pocket. The main thing making it too big to carry around comfortably in your shirt pocket or pants is that it has a relatively large lens on the front. I love this lens. 10x optical zoom and a good bit of wait that makes holding the pistol grip style camera steady easier than it's feather weight competition. It's small enough have with you nearly all the time if you're like me and like to capture footage you might use later. It's also pretty inconspicuous.

     The HD 1000 also has a full range of manual functions. This is a MUST for upcoming filmmakers. Auto exposure is great for on the fly shooting, but image control is key to setting your footage apart from the run of the mill home movie. It's a bit frustrating having to navigate the menu every time you want to use the manual focus, but that's the trade-off for such a small camera.

     The camera also has an input for an external mic and a headphone jack so you can monitor audio. The mic input requires an adapter to plug in even a standard mini jack, but if you're buying a $189 camera the chances that you have a high end XLR mic sitting around are probably pretty slim. The on board mic is better than expected, but not suggested for filmmaking.

     A 1/4 tripod mount is on the bottom of the camera for those shots that need some steadying and in a genius bit of design, the SD card slot is in the back, so you can access it while the camera in a tripod. The battery isn't as easy to switch out. However, another feature that gives this camera a bit more bit is a rear mounted A/C input so you can run the camera right from a wall socket if need be.
The screen is large enough to get a decent idea of your focus and can be turned to face front for self-recording. Great for video diaries.

     It shoots MP4, which works pretty well with my Adobe CS5, but software is included if your computer needs a little help processing the footage.
So, if you want to start shooting your own movies, but would like a few bucks in your pocket for when your parents send you off to film school take a look at this camera and its sister cameras the HD 1010 and the HD 2000. Any of them are good for a start, can grow with you for awhile and will make great cameras for behind the scenes shooting when you move up to something more professional.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Let's Talk Teamwork

OK, let me be upfront here, this is not something I excel at when it comes to my movies.  Every other job I've done I think people would say I was team player, but I've also always been pretty comfortable going off and working on my own.  When it comes to my movies, the lower the budget (and some have been pretty amazingly low) the less I like to ask people for help.  I'll ask actors and extras to volunteer, not because their time is worth less, but because I NEED them.  I'll ask for sound people to volunteer because it is not my strong point at all, but camera, editing, location scouting and the like I try to handle on my own.

Fortunately, often, people will just come forward and help.  The Orlando area has a very supportive little independent film community and I appreciate that.  Director Steven Shea's old apartment was in "All Wrapped Up" and my backyard was in "Hoodoo for Voodoo".  I've used his jib.  He's used my guns.  I recently gave away an old set of lights that I hope are doing some good for an upcoming filmmaker.  But the equipment sharing, volunteer working and prop passing is the only way to help.  There's also cross promotion.

Brian Troxell, who has been making films for a few  years now and made quick strides as a director recently asked me for permission to use of my shirts in his movie, "Deep Seeded" ( ).  This was a shirt he had bought, by the way, but it had a logo on it and he wanted to make sure I was okay with that.  I'd be an idiot to say no.  This is good for both us.  My Rabbit logo gets seen on screen and Brian gets to use something besides a blank T-shirt on screen.  After awhile the "no logo" world of independent films begins to look a bit stark.  It's just not real.

Shot from "Deep Seeded"
courtesy Cassion Films

And T-shirts and hats aren't the only things that can help dress a smaller movie.  Artwork, posters, photos, mugs and anything else with logos or pictures that you'd find in the real world and fit the characters can help round a set and get you noticed.

For "Stopped Dead" we made  up wines and beers that used our own logos.  For "Hoodoo for Voodoo" Steven and I got permission for use and some goodies from Voodoo Rum to help fill out a bar set.  A set full of bottles with the labels turned in might have been distracting.

So, you're thinking, "Well, sure I'll promote a rum company, but why promote another movie company in my film?  That's the competition!"

No, it's not the competition.  Not entirely.  Sure, film fans have to decide how to spend their hard earned dollars and if they like indie films then they're bound to be compare yours to other indie movies, but it's not like micro budget film makers are vying for shelf space at the big stores.  The only way your movie competes with another independent movie is if the consumers have heard of both movies in the first place.  Now, let's look at the benefits.  First, you get your company name,  movie, artwork or whatever out there in front of an audience.  Second, even if just by virtue of saving the production money, you've helped to make a better film.  This second one is more important than you may think.  You don't want your film to be better than someone else's because their movie was bad.  You want it to be because yours was good, right?  So forget not helping "to compete".  In fact, talk to any independent film buff who hasn't bought a micro budget movie in awhile and I'll bet he tells you a story about how the last movie was so terrible he's off indies for a few months.  Better micro budget movies means we all have more of a chance at a bigger audience.

So, when it comes to making flicks on the cheap, do better than I do.  Accept help graciously.  Give it when you can (I'm usually a bit scattered here too and I apologize) and spread the swag around.

Now, who wants to get killed in a "Savaged" T-shirt and who has a big red truck they can lend me for "File Error"?

Coming in a blog soon, a small casting call.

Note: I updated last night with new video, photos and links.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Simplest Things Rarely Are

So, yesterday I had planned to shoot TWO episodes of a new web series I'm producing, "The Simplest Things".  It's not as crazy as it sounds.  The episodes are only about 4 minutes long, there's very little dialogue and the cast members all live in my house.  I've done more in less time, but yesterday was not meant to be.

Little things throughout the day conspired to make me start later than I had hoped.  I could have shot well into the night, but my wife was operating the camera for me (and very well too) and I didn't want HER to have to work into the late hours with me.  We did manage to get the footage for the premiere shot though and I just finished editing it today.  Pretty funny stuff, I think.

The basic premise of the show is simple.  An Alien, named Pratt, crash lands on Earth and encounters all of these "simple things" we all see and use every day.  To Pratt these things are, well, ALIEN.

The first short I shot based on the premise will likely be the second or third episode we air in the series.  Pratt can't figure out how to operate the front door of a  house.  Flying saucer doors are automatic and slide out of the way.  Pratt tries everything, including some 70's style Disco dancing.

Jethro undergoes and alien scan.

 But the Premiere was different.  We had to get Pratt to Earth.  Strand him here.  Make it funny.  Keep it short.  And, if possible, fit it to the show's format.

You'll have to wait until Wednesday to see the episode premiere on "The Weird World of HFP" ( to see what happens.  I can tell you this though, there were some special F/X involved.  Let's say that Pratt isn't really all that skilled with the alien equipment either and the human he abducts doesn't have a good day.  In the end, a shot I really wanted to get resulted in my cracking the skull of my plaster skeleton.  I got it on a popular auction site, but for me, it was pretty expensive, so I spent quite a bit of time piecing him back together.  Not to mention we needed him for one or two more shots.

Today's edit took about 2 hours longer than I expected also.  Partially because I had to do some of the virtual set building on my old computer.  My new one can't run the software I used.  I can't see why it's out of date.  I've only had it since 1997.  So, with every production things pop up, but the things that go right make me smile and in the end I think we wound up with a funny first episode of this show.  It's sort of like a live action cartoon.  You don't have to be a sci-fi to like it, but it probably won't hurt.  Might be worth the 4 minutes just to see me play Jethro.

We have more shooting to do this weekend and I have lots of editing to do on CGM-TV and the latest "Alien Vengeance" short, so keep your eyes peeled for this blog to be updated.

Thanks for stopping by.


I'm trying to expand my blogging and I noticed that a few my friends use blogspot, so I thought I'd give it a try.  My Blog over at FearNet has been kind of random and I'm going to try and keep that one more horror related.  Since my next few projects are sci-fi and only a few cross into horror, I figured my production diaries might need a home of their own.  This is it.

This is where I'll update you guys on what I'm working on now and what I hope to be shooting soon.  The magazines we're putting together and so on.

Of course, being me, I'll probably go off topic a lot, so that "Production Diaries" title may change, but for now, that's what I'll be doing here.

My blog under "Adom" over at FearNet will  still be updated on Wednesdays/Thursdays as regularly as possible.  This Blog, however, will probably be updated pretty erratically, so I suggest subscribing if you can figure out how.  I'll be linking this to the "About Us" page at, so you can always find it there too.

So, today Nancy helped me shoot the "Premiere" of  our new sub-web series, "The Simplest Things".  I put "Premiere" in quotes, because while this will the first episode of the show a short film many of you have seen, "Alien Doors" is likely to be recut into an episode as well.  It was, after all, the inspiration for the show.  I call it a "sub-web series" because "The Simplest Things" (let's call it TST) will be part of "The Weird World of HFP".  Around every Wednesday we'll be posting a new episode of that.  Sometimes it will be "Cult Goddess Magazine - TV", sometimes it will be and archived episode of  "Jason's Jungle" and when possible it will be a short episode of  TST.

TST follows a stranded Alien as he tries to figure out how things work on our planet.  He'll have run ins with several people as the show develops, but he'll be spending a lot of time in my house baffling a character I'll play.

The episode that will go online next week deals with the hazards of texting and driving.  How does that fit into our format of an Alien fish out of water?  You'll have to watch to find out, but seeing me in the mulletish wig on an alien examining table should be reason enough to watch.

After that the next episode or two of  "Weird World...." will be a CGM-TV interview with Debbie Rochon.

I'm trying to build  up a few episodes ahead of time because I have some 3D conversions in the pipeline, a three weekend shoot of  "File Error" to schedule and the third installment of the "Alien Vengeance" features to finish writing, fund and shoot.  More on that later.

Meanwhile, check out the latest episode of "The Weird World of HFP" here:

Oh, and for a limited time, you can check out the first "Alien Vengeance" free right at the website: .  It's important for people to catch up with it because a new web series is coming the middle of this year that will pick up after the first feature, but before the second.

Lots more to come, so subscribe.