Thursday, May 31, 2007
1. Bill Cunningham.....149
2. Mark Askwith........140
3. Dave Moses..........134
4. Michael Foster......127
5. Denis McGrath......124
7. Micah Reid...........114
8. Will Dixon............111
9. Larry Raskin........107
10. John Whaley......106
11. Jim Henshaw.......103
12. Mark Farrell........89
Now nothing against Ottawa and nothing against Bill, but for the sake of a nail-biting close finish...Go Askwith Go!
You can check for updates HERE - the pool number you enter is: 53762 and the password is: stanley
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
And I counted 7 (seven!) ads for it over the course an hour of watching Canada's Comedy Network last night (the CBS show is being simulcast on CTV, who in turn owns Comedy Network...you get the picture)...make it stop!
And Canuck pub broadcaster CBC announced its fall programming slate...no real surprises (although I suppose officially renewing Intelligence could be one)...much ado about international buys/co-pros The Tudors and Torchwood (don't you UK readers hate this show?), Little Mosque, lots of sports and lots of reality: No Opportunity Wasted, Triple Sensation, and more Test The Nation and Dragon's Den.
CBC-TV's Executive Director Kristine Layfield puts it like this:
Layfield admitted the schedule is an attempt to attract younger audiences (but) wants to draw all viewers who want more than the "typical American programming that they're going to get on our competition. Television is about trying and risk and experimentation. It's also about doing it in as measured a way as you can," Layfield said.
"We have to try things that are different. We can't just make Canadian versions of American shows. We have to make things that are truly our own."
So, there you go...and while Variety reported the announcements as "light in homegrown drama", the Globe & Mail's coverage of the same event saw CBC head honcho Richard Stursberg promise "a new direction" and he went on to say "they are gunning for their best ratings in ten years."
But as 2006 proved (Stursberg setting a goal no less than 1 million viewers per primetime program and falling woefully short), false promises seem to mean piss all in relation to keeping your job at the Canadian nets (as opposed to say... Kevin Reilly at NBC)...cuz up here, if you fail, you just get to try again the next year.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Fueled by a growing sense of desperation, networks are inserting games, quizzes and mini-dramas into commercial breaks. They're incorporating more product pitches into programming. Two experimental programs without traditional commercial breaks will premiere this fall. NBC has even called on Jerry Seinfeld for help.
This is all being done to stop viewers with DVRs from fast-forwarding through advertisements, or to circumvent those that do.
Adding to the urgency, this week Nielsen Media Research begins offering ratings for commercial breaks, instead of just the shows around them.
"We all need to become more creative in how we incorporate sponsors into a program," said Ed Swindler, executive vice president for NBC Universal ad sales. "No one on the creative side or the business side wants to make commercials intrusive, but we do need to commercialize efficiently so viewers can afford to get free television."
It goes on to say:
The CW is readying "cwickies," a series of five-second ads that, by an evening's end, promotes a longer ad. With a sponsor's assist, TNT will air some series premieres commercial-free to entice viewers. Both the CW and Telemundo will premiere shows in the fall — an entertainment newsmagazine and talent contest — with commercials incorporated into the shows.
One television expert suggests networks need to go back to the future, to when sponsor messages were routinely weaved into entertainment. Marketers also need to make their commercials more entertaining and guard against overexposure, he said.
"A commercial has to be like a DVD extra," he said. "It has to be an added value, not an inconvenience."
Yikes. Tall order. And to go with the above food for thought, this appetizer from Online Video Insider that asks if ad agencies are still relevant.
What used to be created by an ad agency's writers and art directors -- engagement in the commercial message -- is now, according to the networks, the networks' responsibility. At least that's what they were claiming at this year's upfront -- each one selling advertisers on how their programs are better at engaging viewers in the commercials.
Listen to the networks and you would think that the commercial itself -- how it's written, art directed, produced, its emotional content -- is of little consequence to whether people watch or not.
To agency creative types, this can only be good news. After all, they now have a job where they get paid very well and are accountable for very little.
Ad agency types...don't get me started. But like it or not, you know the people producing and the creatives creating the next crop of network television series are having long drawn out discussions about how to seamlessly? implement these new ingredients into the body of their drama's and comedy's.
Let's just hope it's not all at the expense of the shows themselves...
Monday, May 28, 2007
Sort of like principal photography, or principle photography. A colleague of mine got into a big debate the other day with co-producer about which version is correct. He (and I) thought it was principal, she thought principle...and we're still not sure of the right answer.
According to Wikipedia:
Principal photography refers to the phase of film production during which the movie is actually shot, as distinct from pre-production and post-production.
But if you Google principle photography, it comes up everywhere...like IGN:
X-Men Wraps Principle Photography
by Steve Head
February 10, 2000 - We are able to confirm that X-Men has recently completed principle photography. However, second unit photography will continue for the next week or so in various locations.
So who knows...though I still think it's principal.
Anyway, some shameless promotion of something that has nothing to do with me - here is the 2nd webisode/wepisode? of Sanctuary, Damian Kindler's high-end and strictly online sci fi/supernatural series.
Been interesting reading some of the comments on the forums about this ground-breaking venture...fanboy/girls are extremely complimentary but there is some grumbling about the two week wait between the release of each 15 minute segment (or act, I suppose). And I can understand that...we are so used to the 'TV hour' format and structure (42 minutes approx) for this genre of series, it's going to take some time to break viewers of that habit.
The other primary discussion point seems to be about the disparity in the pricing of segments for each territory around the world. Apparently it costs about a third more for each HD ep download in Australia, New Zealand, the U.K. etc. than it costs here in North America. The consensus seems to be sanctuary for all should be 'one price for all'.
I hope (for Damian's sake) they work all this stuff out and begin to discuss the creative and storytelling proper, though I fear that might not be able to occur until an hour or two has been posted and the whole can be digested as opposed to just the parts.
But forge on, good people...may PRINCIPAL photography begin soon on your next slate of Sanctuary WEBISODES.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
Found at Infinite Monkey Theorem, Clark Perry at Clarkblog put together a great recap over several posts of the Breaking Into The Box (as in TV) panels and seminar that was recently held in L.A.. Nice anecdote recounted from moderator Robin Schiff:
My family was my first writers room. Sitting at the table with everyone talking, nobody listening, but the best story always captured everyone's attention. Writing can be lonely. The room has camaraderie, people to bounce ideas off of ... but you can also feel trapped like on Lost, where you can't stand some people and wish the Others would drag them off.
And when you're finished there, read this New York Times article about all things fantasy, supernatural, or science fiction coming to the tv screen this fall...
The networks run a risk in filling their schedules with so many series of the same kind. “People are not looking for a genre, a program type,” said Steve Sternberg, executive vice president for audience analysis at Magna Global in New York.
Rather, what viewers seek are shows “that are like nothing else already on, and nothing like each other,” Mr. Sternberg said, citing three hits from 2006-7: “Ugly Betty” on ABC, “Shark” on CBS and “Heroes.”
Yet the popularity of “Heroes” is widely thought to be the inspiration for the escapist trend for next season. NBC is even hoping that lightning will strike twice; it is planning a six-episode spinoff, “Heroes: Origins,” expected in spring 2008.
Don't the networks do this every year? As in, recognize that viewers aren't looking for a genre and are seeking shows nothing like each other or what's on...and then hope lightning strikes twice.
And it never does. Well, almost never...
Saturday, May 26, 2007
Me thinks I do.
Me thinks he smells it too...
A 200+ million opening weekend stinker mind you, but a turd is still a turd.
From Creative Screenwriting Magazine:
Plot and logic holes and a lack of humor (not to mention just plain fun) leaves Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, the last chapter of Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio's swashbuckling trilogy, dead in the water.
In terms of deficiencies, At World's End bares a strong resemblance to its predecessor Dead Man's Chest. Both are grossly bloated (with this film coming just short of three hours), leave too many plot threads dangling as the credits roll, and feature so many hidden agendas for each character that it's the audience that ends up feeling double-crossed. However, the two also share one large difference: Dead Man's Chest, for all its faults, was fun. The same can't be said for the closing chapter of this trilogy, which ominously begins with a child being hanged before venturing into even darker territory that feels completely out of place in this once-enjoyable franchise.
What's most surprising about the decline of the trilogy is that its architects, screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, are extremely talented and are arguably the masters of that difficult-to-nail genre of all-ages adventure films, with an amazing array of blockbusters and critical faves under their belt (Aladdin, The Mask of Zorro, Shrek, and of course the first Pirates film to name but a few). But after crafting the clever, breezy Curse of the Black Pearl, it feels like the writers wanted to insert as many plot threads into parts two and three as they could come up with.
It's not as if there are a lot of bad ideas in At World's End, but rather there are far too many mediocre ones that never seem to lead anywhere. If Elliott and Rossio end up setting sail for a fourth adventure, the writers (as well as über-producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski) could do with this advice: keep the characters together.
In the previous film, separation was an acceptable idea, with the characters each having to go on their own journey alone. But in At World's End, where pirates across the world are supposed to be uniting against a common enemy, Elizabeth, Will and Jack all continue to have their own agendas to push. We are blessed with three actors who have an undeniable chemistry between them, but by the time the story bands them together, it is far too little too late.
Personally, I never really got the Pirates phenom - the first two films were laden down with some of the laziest storytelling I've ever seen (for movies that were touted as being pretty good).
And I'm not being a popcorn movie snob...hey, bring 'em on. But spectacle aside, in the first two (and from what I've read about the third), there was a whack of tightening and trimming that could've occurred, not to mention some basic logic and clarity and decent twisty turny applied.
But what do I know..."stares wistfully at Elliott and Rossio and Verbinski and Bruckheimer lounging on their personal yachts"...
Friday, May 25, 2007
ARRGGHH...I can never seem to get the Funny Or Die player to embed!
But it's a clip still worth watching...HERE
Love the dissolves.
Because it makes me smile...
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
In fact, comedy on TV is not on life support even now despite the dire proclamations following last week's broadcast network primetime fall schedule announcements. What's happened is that comedies have morphed into a hybrid state, with hours like "Ugly Betty," "Monk" and "Boston Legal" and even dramas like Fox's "House" rendering all previous labels somewhat antiquated. Comedy hasn't actually expired so much as altered its DNA.
It goes on to ask Laurie his opinion on Emmy nods (or lack thereof) and asks him if House will ever be happy...
"I think it's unlikely. Perhaps that will be the last scene we ever do. House on the doorstep of a rose-covered cottage, his arm around Donna Reed, two moppets scampering at his feet, maybe a Labrador. The camera will pull back and back, a helicopter shot, House and Donna waving, getting smaller and smaller. Then House will pull out a shoulder-launched missile ... there'll be a flash of light, getting bigger and bigger, filling the frame, then blackness. ... That's my pitch."
I hope Global's The Best Years will be injecting a little more of the 'funny' into its genes...cuz all the ingredients are there to make it to fit into this new hybrid model, if it so chooses.
From Playback and Variety:
NFL lands on CTV
For the first time, the most-watched sporting event in North America will air on CTV, as the network announced Tuesday it has secured a three-year broadcast deal with the National Football League that includes ratings powerhouse the Super Bowl.
"Securing a strong appointment brand like the NFL is in keeping with our program strategy of generating continued upward momentum across the entire CTV schedule," said CTV prexy of programming and chair of the CTV Media Group Susanne Boyce.
From Global (who lost the NFL rights):
"At the end of the day, however, the business reality presented wasn't one that we deemed economically sound in the long term for our networks or our advertising partners," said programming boss Barbara Williams, adding that the broadcaster will be "reinvesting these programming dollars in the acquisition and production of primetime content."
Production of primetime content?!
Perhaps this is the injection of support into indigenous drama we were looking for from the CRTC...just kinda indirectly sort of you know.
Monday, May 21, 2007
Harrison Ford plays Dr. Richard Kimble who, after being falsely accused of murder, goes on the run from Federal Marshall Sam Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) to try to clear his name and bring the true culprits (the One Armed Man, who in turn had been hired by one of Ford's colleagues) to justice.
At one point, Gerard has Kimble trapped in an aqueduct...
Keeping that in mind, let's jump ahead to the CRTC meetings and announcements of the past several weeks.
Sidebar: I know I appear late to this party, as Jim, Carolyn, and Denis have all already spoken well and loud on this subject, but I started this post on Friday...honestly...it's just that life intervened.
Dead Things has already been highlighting a lot of John Doyle's column's from the Globe & Mail recently, HERE and THEN HERE, both intent on sending a message to the CRTC bosses attending hearings in Gatineau.
This is a miserable time in the Canadian TV racket. Beleaguered by cuts in content regulations and belittled by many, the industry is in dire need of a boost. A few things need to happen to make it more robust and in good fettle for the telling of compelling, entertaining Canadian stories to Canadians.
One thing that needs to happen is this - the creation of a hit one-hour drama on CBC, CTV or Global that pulls in close to a million viewers a week. We need another 'Due South' or 'Street Legal', a show that has a mass appeal and a million viewers. Without that, Canadian-made TV will always be perceived as in the weaker position, looking inept.
Doyle expands on his point in his second column:
As the TV racket here is distracted by corporate machinations, takeovers and CRTC hearings about these matters, the lack of hit dramas is still the gnawing loss.
When most Canadians watch TV, drama is what they want to watch, and the majority of the most-watched programs in Canada each week are dramas. But we're not making any.
Perhaps, as the CRTC attempts to regulate all the takeovers and manoeuvres, it could take a look at its own record and do something positive for the makers of Canadian TV, not just the executives. It could demand more drama be made. Its own figures, and the situation in the U.S. market, make it an obligation.
A tip of the hat to Doyle for telling it like it is...but what is he asking for exactly?
Denis seems to think Doyle's calling for the CRTC to extract from CTV the first plank in a new drama commitment...a first step in reversing the 1999 decision that changed the definition of "priority programming" to that "priority" now included entertainment and reality shows, and that let broadcasters off the hook for making and airing one-hour Canadian dramas.
Fair enough, but is reversing that change even on the table? Is more dramatic programming plans and funding even on anyone's radar besides those of us who want to see it and produce it?
Some commenter at Dead Things stated: The CRTC never flexes its muscle; it's theatre, not regulation. And making a stand for funding more Canadian drama with the goal of some 'hits' involves accountability...and nobody at the networks in this country seems to want to go on record fighting for something that 'if it doesn't hit' means they could be called on it...and possibly (gasp) lose their job.
I'm already getting bored writing this - the broken record quality of it all - so you must really be getting bored reading it...time to wrap up.
Look at it this way...there's this really passionate journalist in Doyle making a compelling case for increasing funding to try to make some hit TV shows in this country. And there's some really passionate creatives/blogger-types making solid rationale arguments for if not more funding, at least eliminating simulcasting. But that bunch of us are also feeling kinda like Richard Kimble...accused of an inability to create and sustain a hit indigenous show (without adequate budgets, resources, opportunities...yes, opportunites is the key).
We need someone in our court...like the CRTC. Like Konrad Finckenstein.
So cut to the end of last week, and what did we hear...the CRTC didn't announce any additional funding and/or support for indigenous dramatic programming, even as payback for allowing all the big corporate/network takeovers and mergers that are going on.
Instead, with the dispassion of a Federal Marshall/bureaucrat just 'doing his job', all we really heard from Finckenstein is that they would be relaxing regulation rules for the Canuck airwaves, like letting the broadcasters decide how much advertising they want to sell.
From the Globe & Mail:
Canada's broadcast regulator announced Thursday that it is getting out of the business of regulating how many ad minutes broadcasters can air each hour. “You don't regulate what you don't have to,” Konrad von Finckenstein, chairman of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission, said Thursday.
“It's not going to make any difference at all to viewers,” said Jeff Wills who buys advertising on behalf of marketers at Wills & Co. Media Strategies. “If these shows are simulcast at prime time – the big shows that people actually care about – they are going to be restricted by how many commercials they can run based on how long the show is from the U.S.”
The shows people actually care about...from the U.S.
In the aqueduct, Kimble faces off with Gerard.
Dr. Richard Kimble: I didn't kill my wife.
Federal Marshal Sam Gerard: I don't care.
But wait, perhaps there's hope. You see, by the end of The Fugitive, Gerard has been convinced that Kimble is innocent and worth helping, and he does so. Maybe Finckenstein will do the same.
But this ain't Hollywood, this is Canadian TV....so I highly doubt it.
And who's the One Armed Man in this little scenario? I don't know exactly, but I betcha a pair of leather gloves he's working for the broadcasters.
1 Bill Cunningham.....148
2 Dave Moses..........130
3 Michael Foster......122
3 Mark Askwith........122
5 Micah Reid...........113
6 Denis McGrath........110
7 Will Dixon............108
9 John Whaley...........106
10 Larry Raskin...........105
11 Jim Henshaw.........101
12 Mark Farrell...........87
You can check for updates HERE - the pool number you enter is: 53762 and the password is: stanley
Sunday, May 20, 2007
Friday, May 18, 2007
As they presented their fall lineups to advertisers in the annual "upfront" presentations this week, the networks went out of their way to insist that online content will be as rich as the productions on the air.
CBS trotted out its head of digital content in a suit and sneakers -- for maximum geek credibility -- to talk about such innovations as a Facebook-style site for " CSI" corpses. NBC announced that it is creating an online magazine based on the fictional magazine in its upcoming drama "Lipstick Jungle." And the CW, following in the path of MTV, is creating a virtual world where fans can visit the sites in the teen soap "Gossip Girl."
It's all time-consuming stuff, but it's getting ahead of the game: Before you go online to "interact" with a TV show, you have to care about the show. And this season, the networks' lineups are most notable for what's absent. Remember all of those plot-driven serials containing deep mysteries? The ones that were supposed to draw hours of online mystery-solving? This season, they're practically gone.
Instead, the new fare fits into a few less mentally taxing categories...
You can read the show by show breakdown here...
But it got me thinking...remember when music videos hit the airwaves? It was soooo cool and exciting to actually 'see' bands and artists that you'd just heard before, or perhaps only seen in magazines. Then they caught on...and networks were created to air these short films set to music...and every band HAD to have a video for their songs. Ahhhh....good times.
And some artists even made some most excellent videos...videos you wanted to see over and over again. But this always presented a chicken and egg dilemma for me...which came first (and which did I like better), the video or the song?
Sometimes both, yes. But mostly, at the end of the day, the music video was really just an advert for the song. The band and the label and the record company weren't producing them to entice you to just watch the video...they wanted you to buy the song.
So even if there was a sexy video, the song still had to rock (Aha's 'Take On Me' comes to mind as one that didn't measure up). And once discerning listeners began to realize that all videos were not necessarily all good songs...yet bands and labels seemed to be spending more energy and focus on the video vs. the song...the thrill was gone. Music buyers backed off, and MTV and MuchMusic are all but unrecognizable today from whence they came.
Same goes for websites devoted to new (and old) TV shows. A commercial for the program is one thing, but there's more focus and energy (and money) getting thrown at these sites than a commercial would get. You can't make consumers like or buy into a show via Flash and Games and Facebook pages for CSI corpses (ugh)...we have to like and care about the show first. Then we'll dig deeper on the internets.
Not the other way around.
David Letterman, Paul Shaffer, Chris Elliot and Gerard Mulligan provide Friday Fun courtesy computer talk and some Mac vs. PC skewering...
"Great. Then you probably won't forget this!"
Because it makes me smile...
Thursday, May 17, 2007
The CW and the Fox continued the upfronts announcements with more reality TV then expected. And series premieres are all over the place...from several this summer to more than a few next January.
Is this a sign of new/old/changing times or just a safety net against a possible upcoming WGA strike?
Nevertheless, pretty tepid group of new shows to look forward to...with CBS shaking the tree more than you'd expect with 'Swingtown' (Jan.) and drama with music entry 'Viva Laughlin'.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
How..how..how..how...in the hell?
So did Hart think: "Hmmm...I want...mmm...Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top to play Angela's father"? Or did the great bearded one let someone at the show know he had a hankering to act?
Either way, they got him.
La Grange cool.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Seems like bloggers are the new "black" when it comes to television networks looking for places and people to promote their shows. This Wall Street Journal article spells it out:
Who says you can't buy love? Trying to tap into the burgeoning power of blogs as promotional tools and fed up with the jaded attitudes of professional critics and TV feature writers, studios and networks are flooding bloggers with free stuff in hopes the flattered recipients will reward them with positive coverage.
Flowing into the trough is everything from fancy gym bags and toasters to video iPods and free trips. Some networks -- in the spotlight this week as they unveil their fall schedules to advertisers -- have even borrowed a term from the technology industry to describe the strategy: blogola.
So I'm putting out the call - Uninflected Images is looking for anything...anything: a The Best Years (Global) t-shirt? Some Across The River To Motor City (CHUM) paperweights? Or a few Blood Ties (CHUM) handkerchiefs? Perhaps a Whistler (CTV) snowboard? Or a Robson Arms (CTV) bong? A Smart Woman's Survival Guide (W Network) organizer?
How about an Instant Star (CTV) nightlight? Or a Second City's Next Comedy Legend (CBC) coaster? Or a Little Mosque On The Prairie (CBC) toque? Hell, I'll even take a box of Durham County (Astral/TMN/Movie Central) killer cereal...
And. I. Will. Gush.
And if the Canuck networks aren't slingin' swag, I'll be chasing after Fox to score some Sarah Connor Chronicles 'Skynet' mugs...after a tour of star Lena Headey's trailer, of course.
But just watch...the Chronicles goodies will probably be sent out from Global or CTV after they spend all kinds of dough buying the series from the U.S. later this month. Meanwhile our homegrown shows still struggle to just stock the craft service table, much less get some decent promotion.
Still, bloggers can't be choosers...swag is swag.
Bring it on...
Monday, May 14, 2007
Damian survives first day his series goes live...barely.
Resuming my email chit chat with Sanctuary creator Damian Kindler, but first let it be known that the first webisode has gone live on the internets. You can go to the official website and download high rez versions for a small fee, or try a free taste over on the Youtube...
Will: So what excites you and inspires you about this particular concept?
Damian: I love the look and tone of the show. The 3D backgrounds just totally rock. And I really really love the cast. Amanda is amazing. Smart, funny, incredible work ethic. Robin Dunne – great guy, talented actor, mediocre defenseman. Chris, Emilie are total pros -- all of them FEEL like a cast that’s been working together for years.
I also love how open-ended the concept is: Monsters. Full stop. It’s an endless font of ideas and stories, visuals, clichés to be broken, etc. I mean Joss Whedon dealt mainly with demons and vamps and Buffy could’ve run for 20 years without getting stale (I think).
Now that said, I am not fit to wax Joss Whedon’s car, and may indeed run Sanctuary into the ground by season two. But god, if I do, it’s because of laziness and a drug habit – not a limited concept.
Will: Whedon's da man. Okay, a quick musical interlude...tunes you listened to while you were writing?
Damian: When I wrote of the first hour of Sanctuary it was mainly Mark Snow's "X Files: Fight the Future" soundtrack.
I would program in about four specific tracks a loop them. It got so I wasn't even aware I was listening to anything. Just white noise. Subliminal stuff. I still zone out like a zombie when I hear certain cues from that CD.
For writing the second hour: Matrix soundtrack (classic), Groove Armada, Patriot Games soundtrack, Dirtchamber Sessions...
Will: Matrix...mmmmm. Did you have to sell the series to anyone and if so, what closed the deal as it were? Or since you are a partner in the entity that's producing it, is it more or less self-financed and so don't have to answer to anyone? (Note to self: cut down on length of questions)
Damian: I think my agent showed Sanctuary to a few companies in the early 2000s with no traction. So while I was working on the Stargates the script sat in my hard drive. In Jan 2006 I started talking with a friend of mine about where the hell the Internet was headed and why visual media wasn’t getting the same traction as Mp3 had -- yet. The answer seemed to be that no one was stupid enough to try it out as a form of mass distribution, despite its massive reach. Oh and no one works for free.
So every time a company like Yahoo or Google experimented with getting Hollywood level content on the web, they immediately balked at the insane money writers/directors/actors get paid to do what they do. (I won’t even go into the seizure-inducing headaches certain unions induced as we did this)
So we postulated the theory that if you took a concept that a) everyone liked, b) was something online sci fi fans would click with, being vital “early adopters”, and c) made key creative people founders of a dedicated media company and gave them healthy back end deals… why couldn’t you make something big and cool and sell it as a webcast?
Answer: You can. It just hadn’t be done yet.
Now this all got started BEFORE Google bought YouTube and all the TV ON THE INTERNET insanity really kicked in. So it was good timing to be in the high-end content game. We all kicked in some of our own money, then got some healthy private investment, pulled in some major Stargate-sized favors (studio space, etc) and bang: We set up a VFX/Web/Post team and shot for a month in January and have been posting like mad ever since.
And now we’re at the doorstep, about to find out if all our blood, sweat and tears were for naught…
Time to start drinking heavily.
Will: Have a drink on me. We worked together in one hour sci-fi/paranormal television and so know that animal...what is the Sanctuary animal? As in, are you writing one hours for future TV broadcast (and then chopping them up into 15 minute webisodes)...or are you writing fifteen minutes webisodes (your primary market) and then will staple them together into one hours for television/DVD down the road? Is it all good or making you mental??!!!
Damian: It’s a little nerve-wracking as there are now MANY ways to deliver content and they all have to work in sync. BUT… it can work in your favor too. Say I pull an all-nighter and the script we end up shooting has a plot hole the size of a Hummer (fictional example, results may vary).
Hey, no probs, I say, when everyone points out said plot hole… I’m just leaving room for “other content” – and then I fill the hole via content in the form of a flash game or online comic book, or… I’m spinning here. Help me.
Seriously, it’s cool to have so many options… I love it. It frees us from cramming the entire world of the show into one format, which is the coolest thing.
Will: So what's your process now? Is there a writers room? Who's on staff? How much story do you 'break' at a time and then write?
Damian: No writers room yet, but there will be once we’re green lit. Stargate method is good: Writers gather, talk about a story idea. If it survives the first discussion, then we put it up on the board, broken down by act. We work that until it makes sense to everyone (well mainly the showrunner and the person writing the ep) and then send the writer to outline. Work the outline till it’s smooth and then draft phase begins…
We plan on having as many scripts on the table as possible before shooting in the fall. We need to, as there is a massive amount of pre production that goes into green screen shooting. More pre-viz we do, the better the shoot and the smoother the posting goes.
Will: So, will you still put sandwiches in the margins of other people's scripts? I tell the story of us doing notes on a writers draft and she kept seeing drawings of a sandwich and asked about them and you replied: "oh....it's when I got bored of the story so went to kitchen to make a sandwich." Ouch. A little harsh, but right sentiment - it's about the audience and keeping them entertained and involved.
Damian: Agh. I am mortified to be reminded of myself as an obnoxious young writer. In my defense, I only did the sandwich thing once. Or at least on one season of PSI Factor. Yeesh, what a shitty way to relate a note. Not constructive or helpful at all. Now yes it is important to keep the pace up and not bog scenes or scripts down with info that’s boring or irrelevant.
Writers often get caught up in their own cleverness, research, or characters and forget they’re telling an entire story. Get on with it, say I! And sandwiches are nice. The key is to make the scene AFTER the sandwich scene contain hot sex or a massive explosion (ideally both) in order to make people run BACK from the kitchen to see what they missed.
Will: What's been some of the challenges of writing for primarily a 'green screen' world? Is it all good, or as you learn more about what the technology is capable of does that impact on the creative/writing? (Note to self: questions getting repetitive)
Damian: As I mentioned, lots of preproduction time is key to shooting lots of green screen, especially 3D environments – not just one wall backgrounds. It does allow for shots and angles that you cannot do when shooting conventionally: Up the actors’ noses, big three sixty moves, etc. But the director (and the crew) HAVE to know what the “set” looks like. And that’s why previz is key – so is realtime 3D computer model tracking, which we prototyped during the pilot shoot and will refine as we go back into production.
Will: Casting...how wide did you toss the net and what kind of actors/characters were you looking for? Obviously, Amanda Tapping has been instrumental in getting series noticed...how's it been working with her?
Damian: Amanda was honestly the only choice for Magnus. She’s a great friend and a smart lady, tons of fun to work with. Always super-prepared, very pro on set. And to be honest she totally relished not playing a geek in army boots for the first time in 10 years. Robin Dunne had worked with Martin Wood years ago and read for the part on video. As soon as he was cast I quickly realized what a “find” he was. He’s totally a star waiting to happen. Chris was an obvious choice for all of us, as his work on the Stargate series has always been stellar – same with the cameos from SG alumni David Hewlett, Kavan Smith, Paul McGillion and Peter Deluise.
But finding Emilie Ullerup… that was just clean livin’ karma, man. She had only been working in town for seven or eight months and as soon as we saw her… it was… Holy Shit. Danish Blonde who can act and does even slightly look dorky when she fights or holds a gun. It was her role from the moment she first auditioned. Call backs were basically a formality.
Will: The big launch this week....What's next for you, and for the show?
Damian: I will be in my hyperbaric chamber for all week, shaving years off my life and plotting how to get into the Russian space program. You know, what all global media moguls are up to.
I will be watching web stats closely. Prepping Wep 2 to go live. Interacting with fans. Preparing to go to London’s Sci Fi Expo at the end of May and then meeting with TV Broadcasters in Toronto in early June. I will be partially sedated during most of this.
Thanks for this Will. Good questions and great to reconnect with you. And remember: "Rock And Roll Hoochie Koo" IS the best one hit wonder of all time. Now, discuss…
Will: Truck on out and light my fuse, dude...
1 Bill Cunningham.....129
2 Dave Moses..........114
3 Michael Foster......108
4 Micah Reid...........103
5 Will Dixon............102
6 Mark Askwith.........98
7 John Whaley...........95
8 Denis McGrath........94
8 Larry Raskin...........94
10 Jim Henshaw.........92
12 Mark Farrell...........82
If anyone besides Moses and Foster cares, you can check for updates HERE - the pool number you enter is: 53762 and the password is: stanley
Sunday, May 13, 2007
Set sometime in the future in a Sin City-like mash up of London, New York, and Gotham City, each webisode of Sanctuary follows the exploits of Dr. Helen Magnus (Amanda Tapping) as she seeks out all manner of terrifying and monstrous creatures in order to either offer them 'sanctuary' from harm or to keep them from harming humankind. She is aided in her quest by her reluctant protege Will Zimmerman and her intrepid, if somewhat reckless, daughter Ashley. Together they are drawn into a frightening and mysterious world populated by beings that defy explanation.
Fusing vfx, videogame technology and cutting edge Web design, Sanctuary takes the viewer into a thrilling world where science meets the supernatural. This fictional online universe fills the void left by traditional network television by providing multiple HD resolutions, immersive interaction and direct communication between the viewer and the shows creative team.
The first of Sanctuary's eight 15-minute webisodes shot in HD and using an XSI pipeline will premiere May 14, 2007 over HERE.
Will: Wow, how you been....long time no see. I still tell stories of you wandering around the Psi Factor offices reenacting scenes from PREDATOR a la "If it bleeds, we can kill it" or "What's the matter, Dillon? The CIA got you pushing too many pencils?" What's the latest 'quotable' movie in your repertoire?
Damian: A municipal by-law enacted not long after I moved to Vancouver prevents me from loudly acting out superfast versions of 80’s action movies. That, and my wife will do that whole “withholding sex” thing again if I start up old habits. I’m telling you, dude, censorship is killing this country!
Will: Okay, let me get the music stuff out of the way - your fav concert list...
Damian: Where to start...Red Hot Chili Peppers - Mothers Milk tour, 1992 -- Masonic Temple - Toronto. Primus opened. Chili's melted the walls. I was wearing Doc Maarten boots. Life was good. John McGloughlin/Paco deLucia/Al Dimeola -- Massey Hall. Mid 90s. I don't remember anything specific. Just that I wasn't worthy to he hearing sounds from God so up close. Tragically Hip @ HOB Sunset Strip -- LA -- 2000. Six feet away from Downie. Old TO music scene pals Chris Browne and Kate Fenner backing them up. perfect set list. Every Canuck in LA was there -- people I knew from high school. A lifeline to home at a crucial time. UZEB -- Alfie's Pub - Queen's University - 1989 -- Maybe it was a 'shrooms in my system, but that show changed how I thought about music. Alain Caron is a living God among bassists.
The Police Picnic -- summer 1983 -- CNE - Toronto -- Blue Peter, King Sunny Ade, The Fixx, James Brown, Peter Tosh, The Police.... I was 14 years old. And it was general admission. A rite of passage.
More recently, Maceo Parker at the Commodore. The Godfather of Soul is Dead. Long Live the new King: Maceo. Beck - QET Vancouver. My alternate life dream jobs are to belong to Stomp or play in Beck's band. Super funky and extra tight. Ben Harper - Commodore. Seen him half a dozen times. Always awesome. Especially in a small venue. Tragically Hip @ Commodore -- seeing the Hip at the closest thing Canadians have to religious revival ecstasy. Gord Downie forgot the words to "Chagrin Falls" and asked the audience for help. The band rocked. And you remembered how nice it is live in Canada. Van Halen -- Pacific Coliseum - 2004 -- Damn they wrote some classic rock tunes! And I've stopped hating Sammy.
Worst? Had to be Rolling Stones at GM Place 2006. Oh god people, stop pretending you can even discern what fucking song the emaciated geriatrics are fumbling their way through inside this $200/seat echo chamber.
Will: "Pa-Na-Ma!" Most excellent list...seems everyone (but me) went to that Police Picnic. So Sanctuary - the series...when did you come up with the concept and what inspired it way back when?
Damian: I wrote the first hour WAY back when we were both in LA. Wonderful, labour-strife-ridden times that they were… I needed a sample that gave people a good example of my “voice” as a writer. Instead I wrote the kind of show I really wished was on TV. Something with the darkness of X Files and the fun of Buffy… but with some seriously historical roots.
I was inspired not just by the X files and Buffy VHS copies certain friends of mine had by the bushelful… but I was also quite taken with Alan Moore’s amazing graphic novel “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” (The movie that came later… ehh, not so much). But the graphic novel was incredible. Also at the time (circa 2000) I was reading Caleb Carr’s wonderful novel “The Alienist”, which detailed the first profiler working in turn of the century New York. The tone of those two pieces really inspired me as I sat down to write the story of a neurotic shrink who is forced to work with his greatest childhood fear: Bigfoot. (You can see the immediate literary connective tissue, right?)
Will: The Alienist was indeed an awesome novel. So what did you write - bible and pilot? What elements made up your creative?
Damian: I banged out a draft of the first hour back in 2000 and showed it my agent. Even though it was basically the same draft we shot in 2007, at the time she wasn’t sure it worked and gave me a ton of notes. Being full of boundless misdirected energy, I did what all over-eager scribes do: I scrapped the first draft entirely and wrote a completely different version of the show. Very serious, action-oriented, huge stunts, VFX, very very Bruckheimer. And then I got mightily confused, because truthfully there were elements from the SECOND version I liked a lot (and still like), but the whole re-envisioning ended up being very unoriginal. Just another action/conspiracy theory type series. Nothing deep or mythological about it.
So at the end of the day I had two complete drafts of two completely different shows – both called Sanctuary. I think I had my agent show a few companies the first version then stuffed them in my hard drive and moved on.
Cut to 2006 and the Stargate cycle was coming to an end and people I’d been working with for five years started the usual chit chat about what we were all going to do next, how we need to keep the band together etc. And I showed Martin Wood (director/producer on both Stargate series) the original draft and he loved it. And that collided with this whole web revolution I got caught up in...think of me as Clive Owen in Children of Men, but shepherding an old spec script instead of a pregnant woman. (Okay that’s lame, but what an awesome movie…!)
Will: Most excellent analogy, my friend. Okay, without giving away the farm, what's it all about....and what happens on a week to week/episode to episode basis?
Damian: Each webisode of Sanctuary will feel like a large overblown “act” of a one hour series – but without the placeholder/stagewaiting filler, I hope. So each “hour” story is split into four webisodes. When we start broadcasting on TV, we’ll recut the hour down to 44 minutes, but the larger “director’s cut”, full on content will be on line in webisode form. And we’ll do other original content for the DVD release too. It’s a full on multi-format media push – which sounds cool to say, but honestly could mean anything…
Story-wise we’ll be doing a nice combo of “monster/ghoul/mutant of the week” combined with ongoing season long character and story arcs. And I’ll try to combine them so it’s not one then the other… but more of a mix during each hour – A and B stories, etc…
Will: "Monster of the week"...I love it. So has it evolved since you wrote it, as new partners/creatives have joined forces with you? Or you pretty much still 'da man'?
Damian: The original script is shockingly close to its form from seven years ago… I’m talking “Million Dollar Baby” close. In fact Martin Wood continually fought off MY efforts to cut or rewrite scenes. When I sat down to write the second hour (which we shot along with the first script in January), Martin was very involved in the shaping of the story. So much so that I gave him co-story on the entire two hours. He was very close to the material and very, very fun to work with. He loves the premise and is very proprietary and protective of it. (Holy crap, nice alliteration…Will, please revise for coherency)
So right now, yes I am, as far as “typing scripts” goes, “da man”. But once we are green lit for a full season (we’ll know by July), I will be hiring a staff.
Will: Director Martin Wood seems to be playing a fairly large role in the creative. Are you directing any of the series, or is that all Wood's turf? Does he tell you what to write? Or do you tell him what to shoot?
Damian: I have recurring nightmares in which I arrive at a shoot just before call and walk on set. Second team and the First A.D. gather around and ask where the camera goes for first shot. And then I wake up in a sweat.
Add the issue of set-less green screen situation and I wake up screaming.
So yeah one day I hope to grow balls big enough to direct. Right now I’m content to ask directors meekly what they intend to cover. And nod in agreement no matter what they say...
Will: Good answer, my son...good answer.
Okay - that's it for today. Thanks to Damian for playing along, and look for part two sometime tomorrow.
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Dam and I worked together three years on Psi Factor, and we then went on to co-write several episodes of syndicated genre television including Beastmaster, The Lost World, and The Immortal. Then he surged forward to spend four years writing and producing for Stargate: SG 1 and Stargate: Atlantis.
Good guy. Fun in the room.
His new baby, Sanctuary, is unique in that its a 'straight to web' series, and premieres (initially for free, then pay per download) only on the web this Monday May 14th with the first of eight fifteen minute webisodes. Described by Mr. Kindler as The X Files meets The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Sanctuary looks to grab those hardcore scifi fanboy/girls that populate the web while capitalizing on the public's newfound taste in all things that are internet.
The concept: To create HD, series-based entertainment using the Internet as the pipeline to a global audience. The pilot project is a sci-fi series starring Amanda Tapping (Stargate SG-1) and Robin Dunne (Dick and Jane vs. The World).
The revenue model: Pay per download. Given the worldwide appeal of sci-fi content, this is hoped to sustain production for a full season.
"We have the benefit of possessing more data about our audience than Neilsen ratings could ever provide for a TV network. Once our audience is in place, advertisers will find that very attractive. We'll be able to pick and choose which products we want to advertise and how - making the ad model for Sanctuary as clever, entertaining and unobtrusive as possible."
The biggest challenge: "Making people understand the huge impact delivering high end content on the Net will have on the media world - period," says Kindler. "Once we prove that millions of people truly want to access their entertainment via the Internet, we think everyone will be forced to reverse their traditional paradigm of TV/DVD first and Internet dead last - and then only as a promotional tool.
"We want to be the first series to nail the web/TV/DVD trifecta - with all three formats pushing back and forth to each other."
Yes, that's right...it stars Amanda Tapping...rowrrrr...
So some links to help set the stage...
The Official Sanctuary website. Here you can view a five minute preview of the series plus a teaser trailer (and links to all kinds of other cool stuff).
A Vancouver Sun article that discusses the logistics of financing such a project and the straight to internet factor.
An interview Damian gave to Gateworld where he discusses the mucho involvement of various personnel from the Stargate franchise.
And another Damian interview with Piers over at Between Pavement And The Stars that nicely covered all bases, from genesis of the idea to execution in the green screen/HD universe...
Stay tuned, our email chit chat begins tomorrow...
Friday, May 11, 2007
Thursday, May 11, 2006
in the beginning...
...there was one, post...to be continued...
Yep - 278 posts later (yeeessh), it's been one year of Uninflected Images Juxtaposed...
Here's the origin story, for what it's worth. Nothing much has changed...still a random mash up of television, film, music and life. And still don't have a really good answer for the... "But what's the point, Will?" question.
Thanks to Callaghan and System Addict for being the first to comment and proving that somebody was actually reading and providing motivation to carry on. And thanks to Denis, Alex, Bill, Jim, Caroline, mef, Juniper, Blueglow, Diane, Jutratest, Good Dog, Lee, and all the rest of you for linking and supporting and inspiring...
Because it makes me smile...
p.s. here is Part One to the above vids Part 2 - it's not quite a home run...but certainly layed the pipe for knocking it out of the park the second time.
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Some sweet moments at the end of Bones tonight (as in, Hodgin's not proposing this time so Angela does, and they hug whilst Booth and Brennan share a home-cooked meal..."awwwww"....) - whereas the night before on House...meh, not so much.
I often find myself lumping House and Bones together...not sure why, perhaps because they're both mysteries with quirky comedic characters. Perhaps because they originally aired back to back. Perhaps because both showrunners are clever funny Canucks. Who knows, but I do.
Bones continues to play the mystery light while exploring the intertwined personal relationships of the 'Squints'. It's gotten more and more Moonlighting and less and less CSI, and to its credit it's working. The mysteries are still twisty and interesting, but other things are happening. Characters and relationships are evolving. And changing.
Here's my buddy Hart on YouTube talking up the show...
There was also an interesting interactive element for tonights Bones episode - guest characters were given MySpace pages and you could log on and try to figure out the mystery ahead of time. I'm not sure how much it was accessed or if it made a difference in the ratings, but I'm sure the fanboy/girl's loved it.
House, on the other hand (and I feel I'm just going to get into a scrap with Diane), is starting to spin its wheels. It's seeming more and more like a season of 'do overs' and 'didn't really happens'. This weeks episode had Dr. House act kinda goofy happy throughout until he finds out Wilson doped him with some anti-depressants or something...and just like his whole addiction through line and the vengeful cop arc, things revert back to the way they were, sort of like it didn't actually happen.
Much like so much of the relationship stuff...like Wilson/Cuddy...or Chase/Cameron...or House/Everyone else...
Changing...but not really.
And hanging over this episode was the 'is Foreman really leaving' issue, and it's already feeling like a bit of a wank. If he is actually leaving, then get him out the door. Don't spend entire episodes talking about the why or who or what with him, just do it. And if he ends up changing his mind or getting his mind changed and he stays, then his resignation will be like 'it didn't really happen' again.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
The Brad Wright's or Rob Cooper's or Hart Hanson's or David Kelley's or Aaron Sorkin's or Tom Fontana's all meet this criteria in spades...and then there are those who are smart and good, but fast...not so much.
Darin Morgan is one of those writers. And though two out of three ain't bad, Morgan's apparently notoriously slow.
Eccentric and reclusive, he's oft been described as the Charlie Kaufman (Adaptation, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) of television due to his knack for turning formulaic TV on its ear.
A self-proclaimed couch potato, Morgan reluctantly joined the staff of The X Files in the third season (via his older brother Glen Morgan) and made a splash over the next two years with four memorable episodes: 'Humbug', 'Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose', 'War of the Coprophages', and 'Jose Chung's From Outer Space' (Final Repose actually won an Emmy).
Then he joined the staff of Millennium for a season, and wrote and directed 'Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense' and 'When Satan Got Behind Me', two of the funniest and cleverest screenplays you'll ever read. These were great TV series scripts, but not necessarily great model scripts for those looking to break into series TV.
Because they were 'stunt' scripts. They took what were givens for the two shows and turned them inside out. Furthermore, Morgan's writing style is severely unique, packed full of literary references, bizarre, memorable characters and quirky humour - yet always a poignant study on the human condition. More often than not, they end on the very depressing yet consistent theme of loneliness. Anything but typical episodes.
They really only worked because they were juxtaposed against what viewers had come to know and expect. And episodes like that can only succeed every now and then, not all the time. If your goal is to land a staff series job, you need to first prove you can 'write the show' before you un-write it.
Nevertheless, Morgan's script stylings were held up on high by me and old pal/colleague Damian Kindler way back when on Psi Factor...and Dam actually wrote a few Morgan 'inspired' eps (same for Stargate:SG 1 as well), but not until later in the series' run. And I'm sure if you asked him, he'd say those were his fav episodes to pen....because they were fun, and they took all the conventions of the show and looked at them sideways.
Since 1998, Morgan pretty much fell off the face of the earth until he resurfaced on the staff of The Night Stalker remake a year and a half ago. Unfortunately, his only script, 'The M Word' remained unproduced as the show was canceled before they were able to lens it.
Via The Light It Hurts, a PDF of 'The M Word'. Thanx Lee.
It's still definitely worth reading...funny, irreverent, cerebral...another sparkling example of taking a tv show and turning it on its ear.
But why art thou a writer Darin Morgan, if you don't like to write? And where do you be these days? Well, he's probably on a couch somewhere...mulling ways to mess with the formula of the next show he decides to toil on. His writing should be admired, but don't expect to see him 'create' a show anytime soon.
He needs something to work with...
ADDENDUM: just to clarify, if you are able to write anything near the quality and uniqueness of any of the above mentioned Morgan scripts, you'll probably be well on your way. But it just shouldn't be for a brand new series. And if it takes you six months to complete it, TV series writing might not be for you.
After several memorable comic turns in supporting roles in films like Adaptation and Elizabethtown, she hit a home run as Kitty the nympho secretary in Arrested Development.
I mean, she pulled a Levy (as in Eugene)...come on!
Then along came Love Monkey, but it crashed and burned. Sigh.
Now I find out Greer's starring in a new series/pilot for Fox entitled Miss/Guided where she apparently plays a guidance counsellor who returns to work at her old high school.
Here's hoping it scores a high grade....
On the Canadian front, another actress I was thinking about is Gabrielle Miller....
She's more than mastered the funny in a sweet and quirky yet attractive kind of way in Robson Arms and as Lacey in Corner Gas...but I'd love to see her try to go edgy and sarcastic in a sassy sexy way a la Sarah Silverman or Julia Louis-Dreyfus.
Just for fun, ya know?
What other comic actresses or actors out there would you like to see get a show or try out a different type of role?
Monday, May 07, 2007
Nothing left to do but sit back and gaze upon the cheerleaders...
Kudo's to those poolies who went with Anaheim and Buffalo...long may you run (and catch Cunningham).
1. Bill Cunningham........109
2. Michael Foster..........98
3. Will Dixon.................94
4. Micah Reid...............93
4. Dave Moses..............93
6. Larry Raskin..............91
7. John Whaley.............88
8. Jim Henshaw.............86
8. Denis McGrath...........86
10. Mark Askwith...........84
12. Mark Farrell.............76
Continue to check for updates HERE - the pool number you enter is: 53762 and the password is: stanley
Saturday, May 05, 2007
It's described on the CTV site as a comedy series featuring bachelor-entrepreneur Jeff Stevens, a nickel-and-dime advertising and promotions "genius" who chases get-rich-quick schemes and women of all types with reckless abandon.
I watched it when it first started up and just didn't 'get it'...but kept hearing people compare it to Curb Your Enthusiasm (or being in that vein), so I watched 'Jeff' again last night. Still didn't get it (translation: I didn't laugh). And am trying to figure out the comparison.
HBO site describes Curb Your Enthusiasm as candid, unsparing and self-deprecating, Larry David has a knack for getting himself into uncomfortable situations that end up alienating him from peers and acquaintances. 'Enthusiasm' shows how seemingly trivial details of one's day-to-day life--a trip to the movies, a phone call, a visit from some trick-or-treaters--can precipitate a "Murphy's Law" chain of misfortune to hilarious effect.
You see, Larry David is a little petty and narrow-minded for someone who essentially 'has it all', but in the situations that arise, he generally has good intentions. And so when things blow up in his face...hilarity ensues. On the other hand, Jeff is just so...I dunno, unlikable? He's intentionally smarmy and lecherous and he seriously tries to nail chicks and scam people...and yes, it generally blows up in his face (like a trick cigar, according to the CTV site), but because the blow up is expected, and because he doesn't really have good intentions...the show, Jeff Ltd. is just not that funny. Or if there's hilarity ensuing, it's not for me.
I sure there's a good comedy 'do and don't' rule in here somewhere, but my little scifi/paranormal action adventure pea brain can't seem to articulate it.
Friday, May 04, 2007
Because it makes me smile...
An aside, I really enjoyed this documentary way back when...a film that tried to show the 'process' of developing a stand up comedy routine. It followed Jerry Seinfeld (juxtaposed against a young up and comer comic) over the course of a year rehearsing and shaping and molding his new act in front of small comedy club audiences.
Entertaining and enlightening, yet still painful to watch at times (Seinfeld 'bombing' as he tried out new material) ...it more than proved that old Steve Martinism: comedy is not pretty.
Thursday, May 03, 2007
It looks like everyone joined in, and would've taken some serious 'direction' to pull it off.
What goes on for fun at your office?
Amp'd Mobile is apparently rocketing up the charts using this and other 'Entertain Yourself' commercials. Still means you're watching everything on a 2 inch screen, but the kids, ya know...they don't seem to care.
But it led me to a cool site called Ypulse (For A New Generation) - which is basically a daily crawl of links to all that is coolness for those that are teen and tween.
If you want to write for the youth market, hang out at this site for a while. There you can learn that email is the new 'snailmail' (texting baby, texting) and 'teen streamies' are teens that download more video than everyone else. You may not quite understand everything they're doing or saying - for example, this Kelly: Shoes vid was hugely popular...
...um, okay...but seriously, go visit - it's a quick and effective way for us old folks to get inside those young heads so you can write 'em. Trust me, betches!
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
According to Wikipedia:
In fan fiction writing circles, many fandoms have a drabble community which sets a weekly prompt for authors to use in a drabble. A prompt can be a specific situation such as ‘someone is bleeding,’ an instruction such as ‘only dialogue,’ or ‘from the point of view of a minor character,’ etc. The resulting stories are more and more often referred to as drabbles, and the meaning has extended in some places to include anything that is less than 500 words.
So McGrath incited a small war over at his place with some Fickle Fanfickers, and even though I think he covered all the bases really well, he still lobbed me a prompt: you want to take a shot at explaining the concept of "the execution of similar ideas" being the operative thing -- like the basis for copyright law and the like?
Here goes nothing (and I'll try to keep it under 500 words)...
Copyright is a set of exclusive rights regulating the use of a particular expression of an idea or information. At its most general, it is literally "the right to copy" an original creation. Copyright may subsist in a wide range of creative, intellectual, or artistic forms or "works" (like movies or TV series). Copyright is one of the laws covered by the umbrella term 'intellectual property'.
The law considers a trademark to be a form of property. A registered trademark confers a bundle of exclusive rights upon the registered owner, including the right to exclusive use of the mark in relation to the products or services for which it is registered. The law in most jurisdictions also allows the owner of a registered trademark to prevent unauthorised use of the mark in relation to products or services which are similar to the "registered" products or services, and in certain cases, prevent use in relation to entirely dissimilar products or services.
So copyright law covers or protects the creative or artistic expression of an idea. Trademark law covers distinctive signs which are used in relation to products or services as indicators of origin.
And fan fiction would seem to be in breach of all these laws...yet it thrives, oh how it thrives.
I've never been accused of 'stealing' any fan fiction writing, but I've certainly been witness to many forum threads by viewers of 'Psi Factor' discussing the similarities of unfolding storylines we were writing on the series to the speculative fiction they'd been writing.
Thankfully, that's as far as it went, and that's as far it should ever go.
Because I don't think there really is anything wrong with fan fic, much like there wasn't really anything wrong with making mix cassette tapes of songs from your fav record albums or cd's (but here's the caveat) as long as it remains in your own home for your own personal use or enjoyment.
You see, it's the internets that are causing the grief....the ability to put it 'out there' for 'anyone to see'. But that said, it's the way it is, and like for those who take existing material and create mashups on Youtube...the concept of copyright infringement doesn't really seem to exist. It's become too ingrained in society's 'fun to do' consciousness to be able to stamp it out with an angry 'yer breaking the law'! rant. And 'busting' some fan fic sites or writers would probably accomplish about as little as all the Napster busts did...
So how to work with it as opposed to fighting it. I'll attempt a plea for reason and compromise...
The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey hitting keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time will almost surely type or create a particular chosen text, like one of Shakespeare's plays. Robert Wilensky once joked, "We've all heard that a million monkeys banging on a million typewriters will eventually reproduce the entire works of Shakespeare. Now, thanks to the Internet, we know this is not true."
I get what Wilensky is saying, and I know he's referring primarily to quality, but in terms of similarity, I think it is quite possible. When you establish an arena (a hospital that admits patients with the most obscure ailments in the world) with a cranky yet brilliant physician (House) and his faithful sidekicks (Cameron, Foreman, etc.) and then set up all the interpersonal relationship possibilities, it's very easy for one of those million monkeys, er...I mean, fan fic writers, to 'unfold' the series in a very similar way.
It's another law...the law of probability.
If you're writing fan fiction and putting it out on the net, then copyright and trademark infringement is taking place and by all accounts, you're breaking the law. These are laws, however, that are next to impossible to enforce. So let's at least all agree that the legal law should only land on one side of these two teams, and that's the side of the original writer/creators.
And to all the fan fic writers out there - we appreciate your enthusiasm, but please consider it an honour and privilege to be able to play with someone else's toys.....and just leave it at that.