30 January 2006
Here are a few more episode summaries for you to pour over and steal ideas from!
(BTW - so far only one person has voted for me to post the pilot script and storyboards. [Thanks, Mom!] Seriously . . . I'm not going to go to the trouble unless it's wanted. Should I post the pilot script and storyboards? Email me: email@example.com.)
“SWEET CHILD O’ MIME” - Mimey sends away for a ventriloquist’s dummy. He patiently waits the six-to-eight weeks. Well, patiently for him, anyway.
Around the fourth week, the stork accidently drops off a baby at the Svelte Felt Bachelor Pad. Mimey signs for the bundle, mistaking it for his dummy.
Wackiness ensues. Mimey discovers the truth, and tries to “parent” the little munchkin. Finally, the true parents show up.
Mimey Jr.! Come back!
. . . in subtitles, of course. This makes Mimey happy. (Inspired by Charlie Chaplin's "The Kid" .)
“SOFTBALL, OR THE MANOS NINE” - It is time for the annual Casa de Manos vs. The Palm softball game! This year, the Manos denizens have a secret weapon: Kabuki. She’s a world class softball coach who leads the home team to victory.
Oh - and Mimey comes up to bat three times over the course of the episode, each time using an air-prop bat. The first two times, he strikes out. The last time, bottom of the ninth, bases loaded with two outs, Mimey knocks the ball out of the park. Yes, with his air-prop bat.
“MIMEY JOINS A BAND” - The goth band that practices in the basement needs a new lead singer. They see Mimey doing laundry, and convince him to join up (he’s the palest guy they’ve ever seen.) He does so, of course not making any actual noise. The band argues about it, but decides to keep him . . . “It’s just part of his mystique!”
“NOBODY LIKES A TRADER” - A Send-up of “Wall Street” and “Boiler Room.” Pupsumoto takes on the persona of Gordon Gecko, and Mimey goes through a “Trading Places” situation. They meet up in the middle.
“CHECKMATE” - Pupsumoto and Mimey play chess. Pups puts Mimey in check. Mimey protects his king with an invisible box. This leads to an argument about whether or not air-props are allowed in chess. Pups puts an end to the discussion by cutting the invisible box in half with his sword.
“WHERE ARE THEY NOW?” - Mimey and Pupsumoto watch the Cable Music Show “Where Are They Now?” about washed-up rock star Gerry “Mad Dog” Steve. Knock-knock at the door. It’s Mad Dog and his new manager Peppto Jople (Pronounced “Pepto Yoplay.”) Mad Dog is staging a comeback, and is hocking his new CD door-to-door. Pups and Mimey resist. It just deteriorates from there. Mad Dog and Peppto refuse to give up on the sale!
28 January 2006
I am currently cleaning up and finishing up the writing for "The Felties: Season One." I ran across this in my notes, and thought I'd post it here.
I can't vouce for the accuracy of these descriptions. Things change as I write, you know! But the following should give you a taste of what is in store.
(I am thinking about posting the pilot script and some of the storyboards. What do YOU think? E-mail me and let me know if I should: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
PILOT EPISODE: “I CAN’T STAN IT” - Pupsumoto’s dedication to Bushido and Mimey’s sanity are put to the supreme test. Stan’s apartment is being fumigated (to kill off whatever has been killing his cats) and so Stan needs a place to hang-out for a few hours. Pupsumoto is honor bound to extend shelter when requested. Mimey is unable to voice his disagreement. The boys are in for a rough night.
“FELT IS THICKER THAN WATER” - Mimey’s cousin Clownie shows up, deserted by the circus and beaten up by all who meet him. Mimey, out of a sense of familial duty invites his loser cousin to stay with him. Mimey takes this oportunity to school Clownie on the ways of the world, in a very “after school special” kind of way.
Meanwhile, Pupsumoto’s sumo wrestler cousin Cuzumoto has just arrived from Japan to break into American wrestling. Deciding that Cuzumoto is too uncouth and barbaric, Pupsumoto tries to introduce his cousin to the ways of Bushido.
Frustrated in their attempts to change their cousins, Pupsumoto and Mimey figure it’s best to push Clownie and Cuzumoto out of the nest . . .
. . . and into an empty apartment upstairs where the two co-exist in a psychotic mockery of Mimey and Pupsumoto.
“KABUKI AND DULLY, OR BEAUTY AND THE BLECH” - Pupsumoto’s sister Kabuki is in town from Japan to study cosmotology at an American school. Whoops! Pupsumoto forgot that her plane is arriving and he is honor bound to go on a blind date with Dully, Stan’s granddaughter. Mimey grudgingly agrees to “babysit” Kabuki and discovers a new found feeling: love.
On his date with Dully, Pupsumoto discovers a new feeling as well: nausea.
“PUPSUMOTO AND THE SPIDER” - Pupsumoto’s only fear crawls on eight legs . . . and it’s out to get him! Luckily, his best friend and roommate lives a double life: Mime by day, CAPTAIN ANTI-ARACHNID by night (or whenever the “Pupsumoto’s Being Attacked by a Spider” alarm goes off).
Pupsumoto’s awe of Captain Anti-Arachnid turns into obsession over the masked stranger’s true identity.
Mimey, tired of having to change into the costume takes drastic measures to rid their apartment building of spiders.
My home computer is . . . gulp . . . a Bondi Blue iMac.
I'll just wait a moment for you to stop laughing.
Okay, that's enough. You're starting to hurt my feelings.
Look: I love this crappy little computer. It's so much better than the Windows 95 hunk of junk I used to have. Also, it's pretty, and has Nanosaur.
The only problem with it is everything. I can't upgrade it . . . no expansion slots, I'm stuck with two USB ports, OS 9, etc. Pamela has to load her iPod up at work. Heck, I have to use her computer at work to do anything involving uploading or downloading! (She has a sweet HP "media center.")
I guess I'm just as stubborn and hard-headed as my grandpa Travis Moore was. I don't see the point in replacing something that works "just fine." Of course, "just fine" doesn't cut it anymore. Grandpa Moore could get away with using the same Craftsman tools his entire life. I need to upgrade my computer every couple of years -- at least!
For The Felties to work, I have to upload quality content weekly - at least!!! The field is quickly thickening out there. (Just take a look at the frequency with which Andrew at www.puppetvision.blogspot.com blogs about new videos online!) It's enough to totally introvert me!
Back when mini DV "prosumer" cameras hit the market, I recall a filmmaker (probably Robert Rodriguez or Rick Schmidt) saying "The great thing about digital is that anyone can make a movie. The bad thing is that ANYONE can make a movie." Indeed, the number of movies made in any given year is steadily on the increase. More artists are making their voices heard! (Good luck competing with all of them for attention.)
Fortunately (I hope) we have the story of the "Tortoise and the Hare." Slow and steady wins the race. Consistently putting out good content is what wins the day. Look at my heroes: "Homestar Runner" (www.homestarrunner.com) and "Glove and Boots" (www.gloveandboots.com). To put it another way, as someone far brighter than I once said, it's better to be a distant, flickering star than a shooting star. Sure, the shooting star gets more attention. The distant flickering star burns on through the eons, a comfort and an aid to travellers. Sorry to get all mystical, but I hope you get the point.
So, in sum, I need to upgrade. I need to bite the bullet, and join the 21st century. (Oh man, I'm stuck in last century. That's not good.)
So, uh . . . anyone want to loan me a few thousand dollars?
26 January 2006
How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Video Blogging
My wife explains this project here.
Most people celebrate the holidays with family, food, and fun. We run around Hollywood with a video camera and a sock puppet!
So Pam and I talked it over and decided to just go ahead and do something. The result: Timmy Tubesock. The video is version 1.0. We're planning on a Chinatown trip in the near future for version 2.0. This is our way of learning while doing.
WARNING: This is very rough. We set some harsh limits on ourselves that were positively Dogme 95-ian. (What is Dogme 95 you ask? Essentially, minimalist movie making. Check out the Dogme 95 "Vow of Chastity.")
So tell me what you think! I have a whole message board set up (and gathering dust)!
24 January 2006
Once upon a time, in the city of St. Louis Missouri, I found myself writing a screenplay. I needed to do a bit of research into the wild world of independent comic book publishing, and so found my way to a cool little comic book store hidden away near Washington University. I scanned the shelves and flipped through a few comics. Feeling the eyes of the clerk boring into me like Cyclops' laser vision, I decided to buy something. I looked for the best value, and found AMAZING CRAB #1 by David Stevenson. On the cover of the comic someone had handwritten:
"Bonus Free Ottomen CD!! 25 tracks of Ottomen fun!!"
Score! I have a fondness for scrappy indie musicians. So I paid my $2.50 and went back to work.
I popped in the CD, and found myself a new favorite band.
Okay, here's the deal. This is not a polished studio band. The songwriting is not exactly Lennon/McCartney. It basically sounds like three dudes got together with a four-track recorder, and didn't stop laying down tracks until the neighbors finally called the cops. I love this band. I used to be in a band like this, but we never recorded anything.
And I just admire the heck out of these guys. They started out in Kansas City. Half of these guys up and moved to St. Louis, and the band went into mitosis; so there was "Ottomen - St. Louis" and "Ottomen - KC". I'm a bit fuzzy on what all happened next. I think the principle members now live in New York and have formed up as "Paper Fleet". Apparently, they did an Ottomen reunion show not that long ago. Past members are still very much in communication with each other (even the guy who now lives in Japan) and they just seem like the nicest bunch of folks who ever all belonged to the same few bands at different times.
Uh . . . you should probably just check out their website.
(If I had more courage, I'd be a musician full-time.)
Update, 4/21/17: You can listen to the magic on the Ottomen Bandcamp page.
23 January 2006
Twenty-four hours ago, I was chowing down on pasta from Vitello's in Studio City at the official "wrap party" for Torrid Affaire. Well, it was sort-of the wrap party. We may bring the show back in March or shoot it as a movie. Not too sure. I may just chuck it all and go back to Harvard to finish my English Lit degree. We'll see. (For further info on the "what next" conundrum, see what my wife/co-producer wrote in her blog entry entitled "The Morning After.")
The show went very well! We came very close to a full house (47 out of 48 seats filled!) The audience was alive and engaged, really having a good time. My cast spurred on the audience and rode off into the night on a mad bull of laughter. (Yikes. My metaphors are usually better than that.)
At the close of this show, I feel a bit sad and empty. I always get like this. First, there's the period leading up to the big moment, full of running around and getting stuff done -- whoopee! And then FUMP. The high-speed activity ceases, and I'm left passed out on the couch with my dog and a half-empty cup of lukewarm tea. I hit the "shiftless" period where I just don't want to do anything. That lasts about a day and then sure enough I'm back on track, building back up. I think I mentioned this sort of thing in an earlier post (11 November 2005. Yep, I'm back at "point C".)
The neat thing is, getting stuff done leads to getting more stuff done. Or, to quote Thomas Jefferson: "It is wonderful how much may be done, if we are always doing." Here, here!
* * *
Directing note: I ran into this quote from Buckminster Fuller during the rehearsal process:
"When I'm working on a problem, I never think about beauty. I think only how to solve the problem. But when I have finished, if the solution is not beautiful, I know it was wrong."
I took this as advice and applied it as a director. It really holds true!
* * *
I love being an artist. I am exactly where I want to be. I just closed a play in Los Angeles California, to a packed house. Yeah, my rent's late, my gas and electric are all way past due, and I need new tires. So what? This is the life I chose. And I feel so much richer for having made the decision to throw caution (not to mention common sense) to the wind and make a go of it out here. It's nights like last night that make all the other garbage worth it.
To end off with another neat quote: "You can save yourself with art to some extent. With art, you can cull all your answers into a magnificent synthesis." - Anne Rice
She may be a total whack-job, but she's right.
18 January 2006
Yeah, yeah. I know. This is supposed to be a blog about The Felties. So why am I wasting your time with some play I wrote and directed?
Before launching headlong into producing weekly episodes of The Felties, I needed to learn a little bit about producing. Heck, before doing this play, renting a soundstage was unconfrontable.
Also, I needed to flex my writing and directing muscles (I hate to admit it, but they have been a bit flacid lately.) Well, I pounded out this script in three weeks. Also, it is the longest dramatic work I've ever directed. That makes writing and directing 5 minute-long episodes very doable.
Finally, sometimes the best thing to do when stuck in a rut is to blow, do something else for a while, and come back. Yes, I was stuck in a rut on The Felties. I have been mired in the technical mumbo-jumbo. It's been nice to switch over to good, old-fashioned analog entertainment. So much so, I'm contriving a live puppet show for one of the upcoming Puppet Slams the L.A. Guild of Puppetry produces.
In the (underrated) movie Center Stage, there's this great part where a dance instructer tells a talented young dancer:
"Whenever you reach a plateau and you need to bring the passion back into your work, you must remember to return to the bar."
The instructor here is referring to the ballet bar dancers use while practicing their basics. Theatre is and forever shall be my "bar." From time to time, I know I will have to return to it.
Ahhh . . . the eye of the storm. My play opened Sunday Night, our next (and so far last) show is this coming Sunday. Today, the Wednesday 'twixt the two, I am well rested and ready to bore you with lessons thus far learned.
First, I must say my wife has done a far better job than I of chronicling this mad adventure. What the heck. She kept a journal as a little girl. I kept He-Man action figures.
Five young women, each with a secret to share, reunite for an evening of sexy fun. The eponymous "torrid affaire" refers to:
1) the reason for the gathering (a "Torrid Affaire" party; think a Tupperware party with "marital aids") and
2) an extramarital affair from one of the ladies past that comes back to haunt her during the course of the play.
As I've said before, it is risque but not trashy. On the promotion, we are stating very openly "no one under 18 admitted." If it were a movie, it'd be rated "R" for language and content . . . but don't get the wrong idea. It doesn't go quite so far as the most "explicit" episode of "Sex and the City."
For the curious, here is the script. Beware: this is not the final version. One of the joys of being both writer and director is I get to "workshop" the script as I'm directing it. There have since been some pretty severe edits to the dialogue.
Why did I devote so much of my time and money to a play? A play in Los Angeles, of all places?!? Why not shoot a film or spend that money on headshots and lipo?
Well, I think I can trust all 14 of you readers out there with a secret: I did it for street cred. That's right. Street cred. I've lived in this town for a few years, have done some cool things, but have not even begun to scratch beyond the surface of the industry. Earlier this year I began to feel disgusted with myself for being "all talk and no action." So I spun the roulette wheel and picked something to get my name in the paper.
That's not true. Doing theatre was not a "chance" decision. It was coldly calculated: I had a fantastic liberal arts education under the tutelage of one Allen Partridge, and feel equally at home in the scene shop, on stage, or focusing lights from a teetering ladder. My biggest resource . . . and I can not emphasize this enough . . . is my education. Perhaps if I had gone to film school, I would've made a movie. Well, I went to theatre school, so I made a play.
Generally speaking, L.A. is at best ambivalent when it comes to theatre. Who was it that said he or she'd rather go to a bad movie than a good play? It certainly seems to be the prevailing attitude. It's an attitude not without merit: good theatre is hard to do, mediocre theatre is easy, and bad theatre is easier still. Also, for some reason when playwrights are confronted with the idea of putting their words on a stage, the inner preacher pops out to beat the audience into submission. In the movies it is said "if you want to send a message, call Western Union." It could just as easily be said "rent a theatre and produce a play."
So Pamela and I figured that it wouldn't be that hard to produce a play that is just plain enjoyable entertainment, market it virally, and hopefully get some work (acting and writing) as a result of our efforts. We decided to stage the thing at the beginning of pilot season (when casting directors are looking for new talent). We should know in the coming weeks if this mad experiment worked.
As for me, I feel that I'm on my way to getting that "street cred." I'm on the map. Granted, I'm a little hick town right now, not a major city, but as the great director and acting teacher Milton Katselas pointed out in his book Dreams Into Action, a career is a voyage. You chart your course, hoist your sails, and career headlong into the great unknown.
17 January 2006
Today: Fellow "Renaissance Man" Ron Yavnielli.
Animator, cartoonist, actor, puppeteer, stand-up comedian, voice-over artist; he slices, he dices, he feeds a family of four!
Whenever I have a question about animation, he's the "go-to guy." He knows his stuff . . . and he's simply the nicest guy-who-looks-like-he-could-kick-your-ass-without-even-trying I've ever met.
We met shooting a pilot (Groovy David's Dance Party.) He performed "D. J. Beat" and I performed . . . D. J. Beat's right hand.
Update, 4/21/17: Ron is the genius behind DreamWorksTV's Gorillaville. And he's still one of the nicest guys I know.
13 January 2006
Torrid Affaire is coming right along. This coming Sunday (January 15th) is the first of TWO performances. I'm shifting gears from "Bob Ross" style directing to doing run-throughs followed by notes.
"Bob Ross" style directing: Remember Bob Ross? Well, Google him. His style of painting is very interesting: Take a big brush, load it with paint, and beat the hell out of your canvas. Go back later and add fine details. "Bob Ross" style directing is where you beat the hell out of your actors, and go back and add fine details later. It's also like sculpting: remove the big parts, and go back in for the fine detail later. Get the idea? I may tell an actor to do the scene like he's King Kong. That puts in the broad, big strokes. They see how far something can be taken. When you run it again, you have them do it as per usual, but there is residual King Kong in the performance (or whatever.) You stretch out the actor, let go, and they'll settle into a routine more like what you want. THEN you go in on the detail work. "Build to this line, pause, and just let the bottom fall out."
I'm sure this is somehow applicable to directing puppeteers. No time just now to ruminate on it. Come Monday, I'll have more time to espouse such things.
05 January 2006
I ran across this posting via Seth Godin's blog (a blog referencing a blog referencing a blog. Wow.)
What caught my eye was this quote (also quoted by Godin):
"Sometimes I use this as an example when I'm at client sites. I tell them the moral of the story, too: 'If you can't change the little things in your methods, you'll never change the big things. Pick something, make it better. Don't worry if it is just a little thing. If you lather, rinse, and repeat that a few times, you will have made a big difference.'"
Sometimes in life, it's not a matter of resisting change, it's a matter of overwhelm. You just don't know where to start! Problems flame up, and next thing you know, you're staring at a Gordian Knot. In real life, you can't just cut out your problems in a Herculean fashion. Problems require solutions, not surgery. (It's very "American" to wait until problems mount up well into "Gordian Knot" territory and then go for the "quick fix." i.e.: gastrointestinal bypass surgery, war, etc.) It can be frustrating! The thing to do, I find, is to latch onto one thing you can fix, and fix it. Problems begin to solve.
I feel this way about directing. In rehearsal, just watching the performance before me, I may see nothing but problems that require fixing. I tend to latch onto one problem and solve the hell out of it. When the scene is run again, I notice other problems not even touched on have magically disappeared.
Is it any wonder that the derivation of "solution" is "solvere - to loosen?"
(If only I could take my own advice more often!)
04 January 2006
So, if you browse through previous posts, you'll get a pretty good idea what The Felties look like.
Or, you can look at my Flickr Felties slideshow here.
Designing these characters, I was going for simplicity. Jim Henson once said something like "Puppets are pure character." No complications: This one's a high-strung frog, that one's a sad-sack bear, that other one's a weirdo. So I decided to make very solid, strong types: The easily agitated mime, the honorable samurai, the woeful clown, the tired old man, etc.
Ourmedia.org isn't too much better.
Why is it so freaking hard to upload video to a free server?
Timmy Tubesock cometh . . . as soon as I can get the video uploaded.
03 January 2006
(I wish he had more of a portfolio online!)
I know Chris Meeks through my wife, although we ran in the same broad circles when I was in high school in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Back then he mostly drew black-and-white, one-off comics for local zines and the local community college paper. He has a viciously whimsical style, and he has influenced my own 2D artwork more than anyone else.
To the left is a Photoshop painting he created.
Update, 4/21/17: You can check out more Chris Meeks at DeviantArt and Behance!