Boom Squad Production Update

The characters are complete, and the background has been developed enough to move forward with the next phase. Tomorrow, I’ll record the dialogue, complete the lip syncing, and pick out the shots. I’m hoping to have the scene completed by Monday, at which point I’ll start working on a theme song and intro sequence.

Character Design for New Project – Boom Squad

Boom Squad Character Design

I’m working on a new project called Boom Squad, about an inept and dysfunctional police bomb squad unit. Here’s the design for one of the officers from the unit. I’m drawing all the characters in Flash since I’m more comfortable with that program than I am Illustrator. Once the characters are drawn, I’ll take them into Illustrator and separate the layers. From there, I’ll take the AI file into After Effects, where I’ll do the actual animation.

This workflow takes a bit longer to set up, but I’ve found that once the production animation work begins, using AE and not Flash saves me hours.

New Project: Top Shelf Tales

Last week, I started a new Tumblr blog called Top Shelf Tales. Basically, the intention is to fill it with personal stories that gravitate around bars and drinking.

Over the years, I have heard and been party to some amazing stories in bars across the country. The blog is a venue for such tales, but it’s also meant to be a place where other people can contribute.

One of the Tumblr’s greatest attributes is the variety of media that it allows users to publish. My hope is that people will take advantage of this and I’ll receive submissions spanning the whole spectrum, from text and photos to audio and video.

The URL is: http://topshelftales.com

You can contribute your story here: http://topshelftales.com/submit

The Problem With Being Creative: A High Class Conflict

For me, creativity flows in a torrent or trickles down like the drops of air conditioner condensation. There is no in-between state. Thankfully, I’m currently experiencing one of those torrents. The only drawback to times like these is the fact that a person can only focus on one project at a time, yet the subconscious fires off random bursts of ideas for all of my projects, be they writing, music, animation, and more recently, entrepreneurial endeavors.

For instance: I’ve been getting ideas for a children’s book as I also conceive ways to continue the script I’m working on about an author of children’s books, while I’m also working on memorizing chromatic and tonic scales and modes so I can compose more sophisticated music. This all takes place as the latest cut of Old Stud renders out from Final Cut and I’m brainstorming scene ideas for the revision of the pilot script that we’re packaging with the produced version.

It’s like my subconscious is firing a gatling gun at me, and all I can do is try to position my body to get hit with the greatest amount of thought bullets possible.

Oh yeah – I also need to finish my stand up act and start going to open mic’s again.

When It All Comes Together

I was up until 4AM this morning.

It wasn’t my fault. An attempt had been made to fall asleep sometime between 2 and 3. After that failed exercise, I found myself with two options: stare at the ceiling and grow frustrated because I couldn’t turn my mind off or get out of bed and do something useful. I chose the latter and spent roughly the next 90 minutes shifting between tutorials on how to modify/customize iDVD themes, Photoshop, and After Effects.

Earlier in the night, I celebrated a minor victory when I learned that it was possible to disable the Apple logo from appearing as a watermark in an iDVD theme, but I had a feeling more could be done. Anxious to get a feel for exactly how much customization could be done with a DVD menu in what I always perceived to be a relatively stupid program, and ready to output the next cut of Old Stud, I took it upon myself to whip up a simple design, black silhouette objects and characters that would typically be found on a porn set. The design was imported into AE, then manipulated to add some very basic animation. From there, a quicktime movie was exported. Following that, I swapped out the background in the modified iDVD theme with my own video, added one of the original Old Stud music cues, and inserted a blank DVD.

When it finished burning, I removed it from the tray and was struck by the idea that a little piece of plastic with some foil on it contained the results of all of my educational and professional experiences from the past decade. I popped it in the DVD player. Finally feeling productive, my mind started to relax, and I was able to go to sleep a content man.

Old Stud – Post-Production Update

After a month of editing multiple versions of each scene, I’m proud to say that the task of cutting Old Stud together is complete. Additionally, the dialogue sound mix is also done.

Now, the real fun begins. Because Jim and I can now view the pilot in its entirety, we can really gauge the tone and determine the right tone of each music cue.

Old Stud – Production Update

After nearly 9 months of development and planning, Jim Martin and I completed principal photography on Old Stud (Jim produced and I directed), shooting 25 pages over just two and a half days. The cast and crew were amazing, and I think every single person that worked on the project was featured onscreen at some point.

Going into production, we had very realistic hopes for what we would be able to capture, and I’m very happy to report that all of our expectations were exceeded.

Not only did the actors consistently deliver solid performances take after take, but D.P. Nick Tully brought the scenes to life with an expert eye, capturing the universe that Production Designer Ellie Kushner and Costume Designer Lauren Brock created. Mr. Dave Paige, our A.D., kept the machine moving smoothly and helped Jim and I maintain a calm and positive set.

It was the most collaborative undertaking I’ve ever been a part of, and I can’t wait to reveal how it came out. More on that to come…

Los Feliz Survival Tips (In Retrospect)

I recently took on the task of organizing all of my files and came across a piece from 2009. Why I originally wrote it escapes me, but it was possibly a piece for the long abandoned Real Bad Friend blog. You can tell that it’s a few years old because I mention renting Blu-ray discs from Blockbuster (can’t believe I used to give that company any money), as well as Cobras and Matadors (now Umami Burger). For your literary pleasure, I present:

A Return to Los Feliz – Survival Tips

Before this afternoon, it had been almost four months since set foot in Los Feliz. The occasion for today’s return to my former favorite neighborhood in Los Angeles was to be a guide of sorts to my girlfriend, who has resided on the west side of L.A. since moving here eight years ago.

During our walking tour, which covered Vermont, Hillhurst, and parts of Hollywood and Franklin, I once again fell in love with the small town center illusion that LF creates. As I reported how SkyLight Books features readings by local and visiting authors, explained how The Drawing Room opens its doors at 6 AM so that no drunk or junkie is without a place to go in the mornings, and allowed the latest merchandise in Y Que to support my thesis that the designs of the t-shirts are predictable and adhere to a basic template (”SAVE [insert latest celebrity involved in scandal here]“), my head flooded with fond memories of experiencing local culture, getting wasted, and being mildly amused, respectively.

The highlights included remembering how many risk-free movies I saw at the Los Feliz 3 theatre (matinee prices are less than the cost of renting a blu-Ray disc from Blockbuster) and the seemingly endless amounts of stimulation one can experience browsing all of the books, art, collectibles, and miscellaneous trinkets at Wacko.

While these fresh experiences and the memories they dug up elated me, the recollection of some of the people associated with these memories did not. I’ve lived in Hollywood and encountered my fair share of phonies, sycophants, and all around cocksuckers, but Los Feliz wins the prize for the highest rate of worthless people per capita, in my experience [Editor’s note: I would move back there in a heartbeat].

Nowhere else have I experienced at such a frequency multiple series of unfortunate events. Without going into too much detail, let me say that the benefit of the doubt should not enter into the equation when dealing with LF residents that seem to fit the stereotypes of the neighborhood. Here are some helpful hints to enhance your experience in this neighborhood.

  1. Don’t open a tab with a card at [REDACTED] unless you want to buy the free shots that the regulars at the other end of the bar are enjoying.
  2. Don’t hold packages or parcels for anyone. They ARE full of drugs.
  3. If someone does not return a phone call the first time, delete that person’s number.
  4. Don’t take dates to Cobras and Matadors unless you’re definitely going to get some ass or enjoy paying $40 for two beers and some olives.
  5. Don’t let strippers attach themselves to your films as producers unless you derive pleasure from giving out unearned credits.
  6. Don’t give anything but food to the homeless in the neighborhood. Give money consistently, miss a “payment” once, and you will see a human being turn into an entitled pile of shit before your very eyes.
  7. Stay away from the Latin club on Edgemont and Hollywood on Hip Hop/Gangbanger/Random Shooting themed Saturday nights.
  8. Don’t think that you will be a part of Swingers by going to The Dresden Room or The Derby.
  9. Prepare to be barraged with images of nut-hugging black jeans on guys that make the Ramones look like models.
  10. Prepare to see an overwhelming quantity of muffin tops peeking out from under t-shirts for indie bands that no one does or should ever know about.
  11. Don’t be surprised when the girl you met while hammered at any of the bars along Vermont and Hillhurst turns out to be an unemployed, alcoholic, coke fiend who will disappear when her spider senses inform them a line is being cut in a four block radius

If you have any other guidelines, I’d love to hear them.