Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘webisodes’

rippedbannerThe music/reality television pilot “Stone Cold Sober…In Music City” is picking up steam and it looks like we’re headed into production later this Spring.  I’m excited because this is a project I’ve really wanted see get off the ground ever since Michael Catalano introduced me to Brian Adams and Jared Blake over six months ago.  In fact, it was my trip to Nashville to meet these guys and the band, The Levees, last summer that I decided to open Unconventional South.  I’ve always loved the music energy of Nashville, ever since I was working there doing music videos with Think Pictures (Martin Kahan and Venetia Mayhew) in the late ’80s and early ’90s.  I’m glad to be back.

Check out the Stone Cold Sober Music website and you’ll hear what an amazing roster of musicians creator Brian Adams has gathered for this series.  Anyone that has seen my film “Travelin’ Trains” knows my love of Americana roots music and with this show, we plan on delivering not only the music, but the stories of the struggles to get the music heard.  When talking about “Stone Cold,” I keep referring to documentarian James Szalapski’s late 70’s film, “Heartworn Highways,” which followed artists like Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Rodney Crowell, Steve Young and Steve Earle before any of these guys were household names.  They’re all so young, sitting around the living rooms and small studios, smoking cigarettes and drinking, playing music and espousing the importance of the back-to-basics movement  in Country.  This is intercut with performances by the Charlie Daniels Band and David Allan Coe in sparkly outfits.  I think of “Stone Cold Sober…In Music City” as a retelling, but now it’s thirty years later.  The show will touch on all the dramatic aspects of a musician’s life— including the secrets, challenges, competitiveness, successes and failures.  The struggle to get your music heard has not changed, only the musicians.

Brian Adams has been the catalyst in keeping the momentum of this project moving forward.  Unlike so many good ideas that fall away without a champion, Brian has lead the charge and continues to ignite interest in the possibilities of the show.  Adams comes from a financial background and has always specialized in managing projects from the development stages, but I’ve worked with many that call themselves “producers” and I truly believe Brian has found his calling.

Brian recently brought on Jennifer Rachidi, Owner and Brand Developer for TRUST, to provide promotion and branding.  The plan now is to line up shows throughout the Southeastern United States for Spring 2009.  The reality tour series targets a wide range of venues, sponsors, and fans.  As Brian said in the Press Release, “I felt drawn to expose the public and fans to the secrets and developments of a singer/songwriter on their way to a star career. It’s the untold and unseen sides of a performer that will be exposed.”  Audiences will be able to watch clips and interviews via online streaming, adding comments and ideas, during this phase of the production.  Public involvement at this stage will be the key to the success of the completed show.  Check out the MySpace site to hear the music and become a Friend.  It’s going to be a wild ride.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Last Friday I had to join all the other fans and watch “BattleStar Gallactica” at it’s normal scheduled airing time on the SciFi Channel.  Down to the final 10 episodes, I now have to wait a week to get my next fix.  I’m not use to this, you see I’ve only recently discovered this gem of television.  One of the best written shows I’ve ever seen, even better then “The Wire,” “Gallactica” blends fantasy with issues of religion, politics and human psychology.  It’s nearly an 80-hour, ever-evolving mythology about the few survivors of a nuclear genocide wandering the universe in search of sanctuary.  Heads up, if you haven’t seen the series you may not want to watch the YouTube recap attached to this blog.

Just like Steve Erickson writes in the January 2009 issue of Los Angeles magazine, I discovered the series this summer.  My friend Stefan Rhys had the mini-series and the first three seasons on DVD.  Once I started watching, I was hooked, sometimes watching 4 or 5 episodes at one time.  I couldn’t believe how good it was, with such a brilliant cast and beautiful women.  What the “frack” had I been thinking?  Even though many had raved about the show, I couldn’t get past the original ’70s cheesy show produced by Glen A. Larson and starring the late Lorne Greene.  I also don’t usually like science fiction but like Erickson writes, “Galactica is that thing that always seemed possible in science fiction but for whatever reason hasn’t been: an adult drama, built around adult relationships, that happens to be set in a science fiction context.”

It might have been Glen A. Larson’s attachment to the series that stopped me from watching.  I had never been a big fan of his television shows, (Knight Rider, The Fall Guy, Magnum P.I.) but back around 1997, I was hired as the Assistant Director on a syndicated television show, conceived by Larson, entitled “Night Man,” based on the comic book character.  Matt McColm played Johnny Domino, the misunderstood musician who battled crime as Night Man with a limited amount of super power.  He also drove a really cool car.  We had a lot of fun making the series in San Diego and I was introduced to many of the Assistant Directors that I still work with today, including on shows like “24” and a few feature films.  I also assisted for the first time, one of my favorite directors to work with, Rob Spera.  The problem was the cheesy visual effects and the writing and continuity.  I remember in one episode Johnny’s father, played by Earl Holliman, was eating a steak, even though in previous episodes his character had been established as a vegetarian.  Or when Michael Woods, who played Lt. Dann, was handed rewrites after we had shot the scene.  Funny memories now, but not at the time.  The next year it didn’t matter because Larsen took the whole production up to Canada to save a buck and we were unemployed.  The show was cancelled the following year.  On a side note, another former Glen Larsen television show, “Buck Rodgers in the 25th Century,” is being created as a 20 webisode series to premiere in 2010, as reported in Fan Cinema Today.

“Battlestar Gallactica” has never won a major Emmy, but it is no “Night Man.”  The premise is something we’ve seen dozens of times before, “Man has created robots (in this case Cylons) and the robots get smart enough that they start to be like humans and seek revenge,” but this show puts to question what it even means to be human, to have emotions.  It ties myth and imagination to the political issues of our times.  As Erickson writes, “exposing humanity at its wisest and most ruthless, its most compassionate and murderous.”  Now that’s the kind of television I’d like to be a part of, but for now I’ll enjoy the genius of Ronald D. Moore each Friday night.  For those who haven’t seen it, start with the mini-series on DVD and just try to stop, I’m warning you.  There’s nothing else like it on television, well, except maybe “Lost.” Doesn’t that start again this Wednesday?  Oh man, how am I ever going to get any work done?

Read Full Post »

The amazing musical artist, once again known as, Prince has recently been quoted as saying, “the Gatekeepers must change.”  This was in reference to his frustration with the major labels and the creation of his own record label and his three upcoming, yes three, releases.  The man is prolific.  He’s got a new interactive website, www.lotusflow3r.com, that has some of his new music and soon will carry videos and idea blogs.  It really isn’t that different then what any musician can create on a MySpace site.  He and many musicians have found the Internet to be the best home for their personal creative visions.

There was an article a few days ago in the LA Times by Randy Lewis about music Industry A&R guys.  Don Gierson, a music label veteran that teaches A&R classes at the Musicians Institute in Los Angeles, believes that it is critical now to understand and learn how to anticipate trends and harness new technologies to better serve the artists.  Jeff Blue, another seasoned pro and teacher there is quoted as saying the music industry is “evolving – and devolving-and more and more artists have to be their own record label.”  The article goes on to state that the harsh reality today is that few record companies have the time, money or interest to nurture acts anymore.  As I posted in a recent blog, we all have to be our own distributors.

We’re hearing the same thing in the film and television industry.  A new webisode series, FilmFellas, showcases influential and emerging new filmmakers discussing the challenges of the new independent film scene.  The full screen HD tells the story, it looks fantastic (I’m guessing the RED), a viewing pleasure.  We’re not going to be looking at compressed video much longer on YouTube.

The FilmFella guys and the A&R guys at the Musicians Institute are mentoring us all in how the Internet is changing entertainment.  I try to do this with this blog and the courses I teach at the Maine Media Workshops and with Jeff Seckendorf at One on One Film Training.  As the studios and record labels get bought up by congloms like Time Warner, News Corp., Disney, Viacom and Sony, we’re all discovering that we don’t need them anymore.

Well, okay we still need them financially, but hopefully not for long.  It still seems like the only way to make any money for your Internet projects is through sponsorships and advertising banners.  In these economic times, that money is not readily available.  Look at www.Hulu.com.  It’s television on the Web, with advertising.  It’s a great source for finding a television show or episode we may have missed, but at this point, no one is making any money from the convenience.  Which brings me to the potential SAG strike.  Because of all my actor friends, I promised myself I would stay out of that mess, but as I see traditional production slow down with the talk of another strike, I feel I must speak out.

I’m pro-union, a proud DGA member and certainly believe there are issues that need better resolution in the current contracts.  One of the biggest is how money is to be disseminated to the creative parties when projects are produced for the Internet.  The problem is, at this point in time, the Internet is a creative playground, but few are making any money including the big studios.  I think the WGA and DGA and even AFTRA were wise to table Internet discussions until the next contract meetings.  SAG should do the same.

Now is not the time to strike.  Too many other non-actors in this business will be affected, including Unconventional Media.  Few have recovered economically from the Writer’s strike.  SAG needs to work out their divisions within their own union first.  It’s getting ugly, according to the January 12th, Hollywood Reporter, SAG board member Frances Fisher (Mother in “Titanic“) distributed an email suggesting that SAG members use their upcoming SAG Award ballots to punish nominated actors — including Alec Baldwin, Steve Carell and Sally Field — who have advocated abandoning the strike-authorization vote.  Making it political, not about acting performance – for the SAG Awards.  Come on!  That’s just one example, it’s really become civil war.  Unify first please, before you put everyone out of work.

SAG needs to work with all of the other union members to get through these tough economic times instead of making them tougher.  Don’t sink the ship, Mama!  Go to www.nosagstrike.com for more information or go to the SAG website for SAG’s MembershipFirst side on authorizing the strike.

I agree that the Gatekeepers must change, let’s just be responsible and know what those changes really are going to be first.  As Tina Fey warned on The Golden Globe Awards last night, “there’s this thing called the Internet…”  It’s still in development.  I don’t believe you should set the rules before you know if the actual experiment worked.

Read Full Post »

A quick follow up to the previous blog about webisodes.  I just started watching a series that went up in April that I think is outstanding.  “2009 A True Story”

The story is from two different perspectives, a young woman who has just recently moved to Los Angeles and her brother, a soldier stationed at Fort Irwin.  Martial Law has been declared because of a recent attack on Congress.  The future story seems very real, especially with a John McCain presidency.  Filming devices are incorporated to give the story some interesting visuals but also to give the series a real dramatic tension.  Extremely well done on a tight budget.  This is just another example of how good writing and smart creativity can make webisodes entertaining.

Read Full Post »

I just watched the premiere of my friend Mary Feuer’s new webisode series, “With the Angels” on Strike.TV.  The story is about a young religious Arkansas woman moving to Venice, California and discovering how much she is a fish out of water.  Some fun stuff, good acting and writing, which in the end is the key to good webisodes.  In fact, there were a few webisode shows on Strike.TV that I found better then most other websites.  I shouldn’t be surprised, Mary comes from doing close to sixty shows as the head writer for LonelyGirl15.  She was also the Story Editor for “Buried Alive” on FEARnet.com.

It really gets you wondering where all these web series are headed.  When I did “Unconventional and “Senior Year” back in 2002, there were very few webisodes, now they seem to be everywhere.  The big question is are people watching.  So many of these shows have the feel of failed television pilots, but others hold up on their own.  The previously mentioned LonelyGirl15 continues to be a leading force, building storylines beyond the original character, Bree.  A whole conspiracy theory and underground resistance keeps the show interesting and worth watching.

Most of these webisodes use YouTube both as a server and as an audience resource, a viral marketplace.  In July, five billion videos were viewed on YouTube, was one of them yours?  Now after experimenting for months with long-form, YouTube recently made the announcement that they would start offering full length episodes of television shows.  YouTube also created “theater view,” a larger video player for longer content.  So if YouTube is now showing television shows, what happens to webisodes?

The longer videos will include advertising before, during and after each episode. YouTube has resisted this for shorter videos, which makes sense, but are now looking at in-video overlays.  I don’t know if you’ve seen these, but I can’t stand them.  The overlays resemble the banner advertisements that appear at the bottom of television programs.  As a content producer and director, I find these things distracting and irritating.  But I guess that is the point.  Unless you’re going to pay for the series yourself, it’s got to have a money source and advertising and sponsors is what is paying those production costs, no matter how small.  So even the advertising banners and advertising breaks will resemble television.

I prefer the format of Strike.TV and FEARnet.com.  They have interactive areas that include advertising banners and usually you get a short commercial before the requested video, but once the program begins, there are no interruptions. In fact, the whole interactive qualities of comments, games, behind the scenes documentaries, etc. is really the thing what separates these webisodes from regular television.  I firmly believe that any web series has to have interactive elements if for no other reason then to draw your audience in and remain on the site beyond the short video.  This is becoming the only difference between a series on the web and one on television.  Something to consider if you are creating a new show.

Read Full Post »