Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Social Media Aggregator Meltdown

Gone are the days of social media aggragator, which dispersed updates to more social sites than I ever thought existed. Instead, Hootsuite has all but taken it's place, but because of some unforseen politics which may or may not include a hot girlfriend working at Wordpress, it seems that Blogger has fallen to the wayside along with the rest of the social media flotsam. So it appears that until I can flesh this out, updates will probably go the way of Facebook, along with the rest of the world!

Sunday, October 7, 2012


The only thing left now was the script.  All I had to do was to expand the 48 minute pilot into 90 minutes.


After a story session with a half dozen friends and writers, it was decided to trash the script completely and start fresh.  The reasoning was that the show had evolved over the years and was no longer the origin story that I needed it to be.

So now I finally had the money and momentum but no script.  And I believe that above everything else, you need a solid script.  Unfortunately, I was way too close to the story to start from scratch.  I needed to delegate and I needed to think waaay outside the box, so I called my friend Tex Wall who lives outside the box on a daily basis.

Tex had written several spec scripts and had gobs of time, whereas I had virtually none.  Together with Andrew Helm and more than a few late night story sessions at IHOP, we went through four drafts which took us about a year.

During that time, I worked like a dog on VFX jobs to save up enough money to take time off to shoot the film.  Unfortunately, every time our start date got pushed because of rewrites, I would have to find another job, which would in turn interfere with the rewrites.

I also wasn't clear on an exact start date or how we were going to shoot the film.  I originally thought we could do this over a span of eight weekends, but keeping a cast and crew together that long could be problematic.  No, we had to run this like a regular show, over the course of several six day weeks.  And we needed to choose a start date and stick to it.

July 23, 2012.  It seemed the perfect time when everyone was free, locations were available, and Jess wasn't teaching.  About that time I also decided that I was going to direct the film and Jess was going to produce (which she had never done before).  And on top of everything else, Jess and I were married that May... this was going to be an epic year one way or another.  I called it "the year of scary".


What began in the summer of 2001 with an idea to produce a hour long pilot for a cable TV show featuring sword-slingin' vampire slayers, became a decade of developing one of the longest running web shows online, and one of the first shows based almost entirely on user content.

But after 10 years, I still hadn't shot the pilot.  My original intent was to shoot a few episodes just to get our feet wet, but more and more episodes presented themselves, many of which were golden opportunities that I couldn't pass up.  And the episodes were relatively easy to shoot and cost nothing.  And then there was editing, web design, marketing, networking, contests, and other diversions, all of which were extremely time consuming.  And life occasionally got in the way which made it virtually impossible to take on larger projects, namely the pilot. 

And yes, I was procrastinating big time.  I tried.  I even held an official casting years ago at the old Westside Fencing Center where over 60 swordsmen and actors showed (which I still have yet to edit into a Hunted episode).  But once again, life got in the way and nothing came of it.  Ten years later, I still hadn't shot the pilot and it looked like it was never going to happen.  I had been talking about it for so long that no one took me seriously anymore.

To compensate, I started shooting longer episodes in HD - the last three were 20 minutes each.  And each of them were shot in a single weekend with no budget ("Con Job 2" and "Slayercon").  And they were damn good.  It was then I realized that shooting the pilot was within the realm of possibility.

It wasn't until 2011 and the advent of Kickstarter did I realize that I could raise funding for the show, which would allow us to at least pay our actors.  I also realized that in order to get people's attention, I wouldn't just shoot a pilot, I'd shoot a feature!  It's what every web series aspires to, but no one thinks to take that step on their own.  They would rather wait to get "picked up".

I quickly put together an extremely ambitious fundraising video on Kickstarter where I played 20 different versions of myself, and within a few months I had $20,000 and the backing of my friends at New Deal Studios to help produce the show.

Dammit.  Now I had no choice.  There was no backing out.  I had to do this (providing we weren't hit with a major earthquake or meteor).  What follows is over a year of development leading up to the 18 days of hell that is known as principal photography directing my first feature film.

Actually, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times... 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

SAG New Media Woes - an "Internet Epic"


Hey gang, so here's the latest update in our saga to get this film made, and why the title of our project has been officially updated from "Feature Film" to "Internet Epic".

In the past few months, Jess has assumed the role as our producer and has done an amazing job breaking down the script, organizing schedules, and finding some amazing locations.  It's an extremely tough job when you consider that we're dealing with a professional working cast, and we can't afford to keep them from taking awesome gigs like Monique Ganderton being recruited to work on Iron Man 3 next week!

On top of everything else, we had decided months ago to make this a SAG New Media project.  In the past, I would have never considered SAG for this budget.  However, the New Media contracts are extremely simple and I've heard some great feedback from our affiliates who have shot Hunted episodes using the agreements.  What's more, New Media has made it possible for filmmakers such as Ed Burns (Brothers McMullen) to shoot a feature for under $10K (Newlyweds) and show it at film festivals like Tribeca.  So it seemed like a perfect fit for us - especially since we've been "New Media" for so many years and the film is tied directly into the internet series.

The only real downside to a New Media contract is that your initial release must be on the internet, which is fine by us.  Most folks are watching feature films online these days, especially indie films, through services like Netflix and iTunes.

Unfortunately, four days before we were to begin principal photography, SAG announced that we were not a New Media project and redesignated us as "Theatrical" - a completely different contract with different pay rates, fees and rules.  When asked why we no longer qualified for New Media, our new theatrical SAG rep told us it was because of running length of our project, which made no sense since we knew there was a precedent for feature films shot under the New Media agreement.

And unfortunately, the more we questioned the decision, the more our rep began using other excuses and employing strongarm techniques by telling us that if we didn't sign the new contract, she would make sure our project would never get approved.  And even though we notified our cast that we would be holding off production until we figured things out, she still didn't trust us and called each of our actors (our friends) telling them not to work on our show.  This apparently backfired when several of our actors took the opportunity to blast SAG for giving us a hard time.

Frustrated and overwhelmed, we once again turned to crowdsourcing our friends and fans for support, who responded with a outpouring of helpful suggestions - and lawyers!  We heard a wealth of other horror stories and eventually learned that one of the hidden red flags for SAG New Media involved using the words "Feature Film", which appears in various places throughout our website.  Thusly, we have since updated our website and designation or the project from "Feature Film" to "Internet Epic".

We have also learned that for SAG New Media status, they want to see a plan for online distribution.  As it is, we had already been seen on, FunnyorDie, iTunes, Vimeo and of course Youtube, so we're not exactly sure what this means.  If they're referring to a paying distributor, I'm not aware of anyone who will pay you money before they see a completed product.  My plan is to follow the model set by Ed Burns, who used the aggreagtor to distribute his films to iTunes and VOD.

Just to be clear, our problem hasn't been with SAG New Media.  Everyone we've talked to in that department has been extremely chill and helpful.  Our problem has been one person in the theatrical department who has probably spent too many years dealing with sleazy producers trying to cheat actors out of their due, and doesn't quite realize that we're just trying to make a movie with our friends.

Regardless of what happens, we're still moving forward.  Our goal is to work with SAG to resolve these issues as soon as possible.  But if all else fails, nothing is keeping us from shooting this as a non-union project and letting the press know that SAG is not as indie-friendly as they would have you believe.

Let loose the Chickens of War!

Friday, June 8, 2012

On this date 20 years ago, finished my first script "Ring of Steel" which actually got made! It can happen!

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Hunted $1000 Youtube contest welcomes stunt coordinator Banzai Vitale to our awesome lineup of judges!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Only 2 weeks left to shoot and enter your episode for The Hunted $1000 Youtube Contest!