Progress and Pontification

I’ve made significant progress this week and have settled on a 23 minute run time for episode 1. I have 20+ minutes fully animated and am now working on the climax.

It’s time for me to get more serious about the marketing and building a sense of anticipation for episode 1. I have been releasing weekly web comics that are generally scrolled over but have nonetheless received 1-7 likes on social media, which in some circles is called “going viral.”

I am convinced youtube algorithm can be successfully maneuvered through purposeful planning. Releasing videos in batches, posting Youtube shorts, and live videos are known methods to attract viewers to your channel. Finding your way into the “suggested” pile is a surefire way to get a long form video viewed.

Starting this week, I plan to begin releasing short 1 minute scenes of Paramedic Robot that have nothing to do with the episode I’m currently working on. They will likely feature 1 perspective, a basic background, and sketch so funny viewers will have no choice but to keep scrolling and forget it ever existed. The key here will be the amount of time required to complete the scene and the amount of viewership this can gain.

I would like to employ the use of a stopwatch during editing at some point in time. I find I can be relatively quick when it comes to backgrounds and the physical actions of animated characters. When it comes to designing watches or more minute (My-nute?) details of a character I am prone to wasting large sums of time until it looks just right. After this first episode debuts, I must make a set of ground rules for myself in order to keep production efficient. Have you ever seen those videos about Middle Eastern bakeries? The workers never stop! They move like clockwork until they are soaked in sweat. That is what it takes to turn a profit in the private sector, and creating a successful film production company should be no different.

*Below is an internal discussion I’ve been having with myself regarding the audio mix. It doesn’t really belong here but I already wrote so I see no sense in deleting it now. Hope you have a wonderful day.

I ordered some new gear recently – a 2 terabyte nvme card, 64 gb of ram, and my first set of studio monitors and a subwoofer. The first two items were necessary so that I could edit on my desktop computer. Since the completion of the last episode of Mountain Cult, I have not had enough room on my C drive to operate any programs. I literally had to juggle programs like After Effects, Adobe Audition, and Ableton Live in order to work with files on a separate drive.

I am determined to complete my set of speakers so that I can edit in surround sound. Unfortunately, that will also require me to order more cables, 2 standing monitor stands, another desktop stand, and a TV stand. It’s not cheap and I do not have enough room for all that equipment. I am willing to work extra shifts for the gear, in fact last week I worked a 36 hour shift to pay for the aforementioned items.

Surround sound – multiple independent streams of audio coming from various speakers. This provides a more immersive environment that allows the listener to hear background noises independent from the dialogue coming through the center front speaker.

Stereo – Sounds are limited to 2 speakers (left and right). A subwoofer may be included to promote frequencies generally at or below 80 hz.

One simple solution that I have all but decided on is to improve my abilities at stereo mixing before ordering the additional speakers. Paramedic Robot will debut on Youtube – which does not support surround sound anyway. Many modern day streaming services do, however, and that is why I’ve been wrestling with doing it in surround (it’s easier to downmix from surround to stereo than vice versa).

Another advantage of working in stereo is that the music we listen to comes from stereo files. This means any songs I create in Ableton may be uploaded as downloadable tracks on a site such as spotify. If I decide to mix the film in surround, I will have to export what is known as “stems” so that I can send different instruments/tracks to the Left Side and Right Side speakers than the Left Front and Right Front.

Ultimately at this point in the game I feel I would be much wiser to mix in stereo. Episode 1 of Paramedic Robot will be lucky to break 1000 views on Youtube. Preparing for the future is generally a smart decision, but in this case I feel the effort will not be worth the reward. One additional component of my consideration is that mixing in surround now will help me mix with more efficiency in the future. I may even able to find work in sound design for a legitimate film with that experience.

Tone & Premise

Still from “Mountain Cult – Doctor with the Red Houseware”

As I set out to write my next project, one writing element comes to mind as the dominating cornerstone – tone.

Its importance is oftentimes understated, but I believe it plays an enormous factor in the viewability of a story. We enjoy watching films that satisfy a certain longing. It is the same reason we may return to a barbershop with sub-par barbers – if the music is “cool”, the workers are “chill”, and the “vibe” is right, we may still have an enjoyable experience. We can learn from real life experience that people are drawn to power and certain moods. It is the reason why radio stations play garbage disposals on repeat instead of music.

The second major element I intend to exploit is premise. This contains the basic idea behind the story – and what most viewers are considering when they search a film to watch. Think “Aliens land on earth to impregnate cows and form a competing intelligent species.” Within the premise you may find a motivation for watching.

I have some early ideas and routes I would like to go down, but nothing is cemented yet. I will take my first crack at a short draft on Monday. I’m hoping to produce a short film that contains the essence of a feature length story. From there I will solicit funding and distribution. It’s a long, treacherous road ahead, but the well paved roads are too boring to skate down anyway.

Film and Early Marketing

We finally began production on Mountain Cult episode 5 this week. It’s obviously been a long time coming, so I’m thrilled to finally have completed a day of footage. From first glance everything looks and sounds great, but I won’t know for sure until I’ve had time to sit down and dig deep into the edits.

Too say I’ve been overburdened is an understatement. Our major film date is July 19th. In order to get everything in order, I’ve had to cast 4 actors, order necessary props and wardrobes, assemble a crew of 2-4 assistants, and order additional equipment. These expenses obviously add up, but I’ve done well to save throughout the year and have a proper expectation for how much the entire project will cost me.

I will launch a 30 day kickstarter campaign in August. My initial plan was to launch it in July, but after some thinking I feel it would be more wise to wait until I can give it my full attention. There is a good chance we will be filming for 1 more day in August, but that shoot requires much less preparation. I’ve set my target goal on Kickstarter for $3000. That will cover my budget along with the cost for the merchandise I plan on offering. I have learned how to apply graphics to T-shirts and coffee mugs -two items which I feel may incentivize willing investors.

Another major goal of mine is to release the film for an audience of 1000-10k on youtube. Episode 4 has amassed over 500 views. That’s really a pitiful number in the grand scope of youtube but getting random internet strangers to watch your short film certainly isn’t easy. I’ve come out with 5 episodes of film journal as of now and so far the experiment has proved embarrassing, waste of effort, and almost exactly what I anticipated. The key concept behind the “show” is to use it as a platform to discuss myself and my films – neither of which currently have any marketing attraction. My theory, however, is that by remaining consistent, entertaining, and informative, I will gradually develop an audience over time and that audience will look forward to the release of the film being routinely discussed.

I have been strongly considering releasing videos about various conspiracies because I feel that is my target audience for Mountain Cult. The major drawbacks for this direction are 1) In order to add value to the topic, I will have to do research and spend more time than I am willing and 2) Doing “reaction” type videos puts you in danger of copyright strikes, which could effect monetization down the road.

I have created a discord channel for the show as well as an instagram page for “TMW productions.” It is so funny to me that I’m learning all these social media platforms because I hate them so passionately. I already know I likely won’t utilize either of these two mediums but I do know that I should. I am so pressed for time as it is, but I am convinced that devoting 1 hour per day to marketing will make a bigger difference in viewership than simply pouring in more hours in the editing room.

On July 19th we will perform our big shoot. I must go into that day prepared beyond anything I have done before. I desperately seek to film 9 pages, which will definitely be a record for me if I accomplish it. I will survive if we need to return for a second day, though I will be greatly disappointed.

Anyways, I miss writing here and hope to do so more often in the near future.

Brief Update – Film Casting

Mountain Cult Episode 5 is well on its way to development. Last week I reserved a date with the local antique shop that we will film the majority of the episode at. I have selected the date and location for a few scenes in the beginning of the film. I have an idea of where I want the one other location to be.

Casting began last week. Today I have to go through about 1000 different demo reels and select the actors and actresses who will move forward to the auditioning process. After that I must return to the script, find a single page, and send it out for them to perform a monologue. I must hammer down the script one final time and begin to analyze my needs and angles. I will be making a shot list. I must order any additional equipment and props I need well ahead of time.

This part of the process requires me to comb through the script and address all obstacles. For example, there is a creature from another dimension in the final scene. I have to figure out how I will distinguish this character from being human. Rather than focusing on how I want the character to appear, I must pursue the most effective portrayal that I will be capable of. One option is to use makeup and costume, another is to use compositing in after effects to alter the characters appearance digitally. Most likely I’ll be combining both methods. With digital effects I will need to know the lighting and shot type required. If attach 3d elements to the character I should film his scene on a tripod in order for the software to have an easier time tracking his movements (imagine attaching an object to an object moving within the frame. If the frame is moving simultaneously it adds another layer of movement that must be interpreted).

I spent far too long this week working on the graphic for T-shirts. I’d like to launch a kickstarter page and offer T-shirts for any person who helps to fund the film. I’ve come across a website called “Dafont” where individuals post creative fonts for other users to download. Most fonts are available for personal use. I need one that can be used for commercial use so that I can stick with it for the long term. For this reason I am currently using a stock font, but am highly interested in learning how to create my own. A great way to sidestep copyright issues (for music, graphic design, and general production) is to learn a new skill and do it yourself. My youtube videos lately have been featuring background music that I created in Ableton.

I would love to post here more, but I feel like I’m working 2 full time jobs. Gone are the good old days of getting blasted and playing RDR2 for 3 hours. This entire month is going to be a never ending shift. I’m really hoping to launch a kickstarter pre-launch today, but don’t know the first thing about it yet. Will write here again when I can. I should attach a picture of the current MC graphic and T-shirt but I don’t have the files on this computer.

Hope you have a great day.

Same Story Different Lens

I’ve finally received my first feedback regarding episode 5. Pat, one of the members of my meetup group who has been a regular at our weekly zoom meetings, was kind enough to read the script and provide feedback.

She felt it would be easier to communicate over zoom and boy I am happy to have done so. Though she proclaims that she is “not a writer,” her feedback was more helpful than any I have received in the past.

We went through script event by event and discussed the different issues she had and items she liked. We deconstructed the climax and worked together to find a better one. She dissected the opening and explained why my main character was a dick. It was awesome.

I’ve spoken on here before about how I feel we are limited in our creativity by the mechanics of our brains. I am logical minded so I that every action my character takes winds up being motivated by practicality rather than true empathy. I’ll provide an example from my story to show how she opened my eyes.

Episode 5 begins with a memory:

My main character, Ryan O’Hara, is at home dealing with a plateful of bills at the kitchen table. He is on the phone trying to finalize a major sale, presumably to help himself out of debt. His wife, Melanie, enters in the background. She is armed with a gun staring out the window blinds. Ryan is forced to end his phone call prematurely in order to calm her down. When she tells him that “they are coming after me” he treats her with apathy and returns to his phone call. He wakes up from the memory with a sense of regret.

In my mind this was an effective scene. It included a sense of suspense with Melanie holding a gun. There was a sense of irony in Ryan failing to take his wife seriously when he returns to the present day and suffers the same anguish by others not believing him about the mysterious cult. I was ok with Ryan choosing business over love because it amplified the guilt he felt by failing to be a caring partner.

But Pat saw things differently. When she read the script, she never got a reason to care about Melanie. Melanie seemed like a crazy person that Ryan was merely putting up with and not loving towards. Further, there was no indication that Ryan even cared about her. She felt it would be more effective to have Ryan tend to his patient’s discomfort and allow his phone to ring in the background.

I would still like to work in Ryan’s regret over not having been a better husband, but if I have to choose I’d rather make him more likable. I feel strongly that the first scene of any story either reels you in or pushes you away. If I can provide a character that audiences relate to and empathize with they will stick around for the ride. Furthermore, my opening scene in Episode 4 portrayed Ryan as self-centered, singularly focused prick. It worked for my character arc and internal change at the climax, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t turn viewers off and cause them to stop watching a minute or two into it.

I have also had the lead actress read the script and she will be providing her feedback this afternoon. I am excited to hear what she has to say and discover whether she came across some of the same issues.

It takes patience to complete a script to satisfaction, but it is worth it. Everything that occurs regarding the actors, props, events and location are born out of the story that is created. Producing 4k video with high quality audio, an emotionally moving score, and flawless special effects will always add to the quality of the story you are trying to tell. But at the end of the day we remember how stories moved us, not how great it all looked.

On the positive side of my conversation with Pat, she felt that the story was captivating and the ending packed a punch. The answer to the riddle was a shock to her and had strong payoff. I am very pleased to learn the bulk of my story will work. There are several items we still plan to discuss later this week, but overall I am excited and grateful about the feedback I have already received.

Rays of Dawn

Finding a location for episode 5 has been a source of tremendous discouragement for me. I have discovered some good news, however – Riverside Film Studios offers their studio for use (at a price of $850/day). I came across another website that was displaying establishments that had agreed to allow their venues as filming locations. I initially believed these to be free for public use, but after speaking with 1 agent it looks like it would cost me ~ 550 a day for use.

It’s funny, I have spent a solid year learning anything and everything I could find as it relates to film production, from pre- to post-. I have no issue learning a new program, studying new equipment, or reaching out through social media to market the videos. But for some reason finding an adequate location has depressed me.

I know why – it’s a certain feeling of helplessness. It greets you as soon as you set outside in search of a new path. It pesters you when you’re sleeping and eats at you when you’re not.

A huge concern of mine is obviously the price. Not to sound frustrated, but what kind of a fucking idiot would I be to pay that amount for a production as low budget as mine? One of the reasons it has affected me to this extent is because during my conversations I have received discounted offers – and they are nowhere near what I am willing to pay.

On the upside of all-things-perspective, I have not been reaching out and contacting other potential venues/agents/services as much as I can. Part of the reason is that they are used to dealing with legitimate, established production companies. I absolutely detest having to explain how inferior and new my company is. Another great area of frustration for me has been discussion of future plans – or “making it in the industry.”

This area of frustration does not make logical sense, and I’m aware of that. But for some reason it drives me to befuddled introspection when I spend any time considering my lack of interest in pursuing a Hollywood career in any sensible way. It’s as if I’m obsessively improving in a field for a job I have no intention of applying for. It’s kind of a sign of insanity… I just would like to tell good stories, and that’s the source for everything that I do.

But I’m awake early today and determined to take action. I believe when you set out to do everything in your power in order to accomplish a goal an unseen pathway reveals itself. I also believe that if you keep trudging along blindly the rays of dawn will gradually appear.

Not that it’s of any real relevance here, or to this post, but I have spent the better part of the past month working with pro tools by remastering episode 1. I finally have a working understanding of what it means to “mix audio” for a film. I successfully exported the stems yesterday and enjoyed watching the film with sounds, music and words that were was cared for, EQ’d, cross-faded, and leveled (though not perfect). I still have to figure out how to export each track as mono (rather than stereo) because I believe this is required in order to export for surround sound from premiere pro. Maybe I’ll do a post about everything I learned tomorrow.

Anyways, just wanted to type up an update here. Enjoy your day and the journey that awaits you.

Balls are rolling – 8/1/2020


I finally did it. I finished a bare-bones version of Episode 4 script and submitted for casting on a legitimate acting website. I offered to pay $50/day for each role. I also went ahead and scheduled a “zoom” meeting for my Riverside Film Network group.

On top of all this, I’ve had to make a rent payment, purchase my mom a $700 bike, and pay $1300 to get a blown head gasket fixed. I’m working roughly 5 days a week to pay for all this %$^&.

But the best part is, I’m excited. Yes, I realize it’s insanely stupid to be paying people for a production that will likely amass 1,000 views at best. Yes, I’m aware I have no idea what I’m doing and any actors with experience are going to be appalled by how little I know. And yes, I know that I should be more focused on getting married and saving for a home. But I feel this weird tingling sensation in my brain every time I start to involve myself with a production, and I’ve come to like that feeling even more than the constant question every great ambitious action attracts – what the fuck am I doing?

So I lay myself down before ye, cast your judgment and step on me if ye so desire. I’m finally moving ahead with plans I’ve had since the beginning of the year, and by God I’ve got to say I’m finally excited again. Life is a strange thing – how nice it must be to have a brain that operates on a “how to make money 101” basis. Unfortunately for me, I prefer to live in la-la land.

I’ll post a link to the script here for any person willing to provide feedback. I’m going to continue reworking some things and tinkering with it, but please share your thoughts if you have any. I want episode 4 to be pretty damn good now that I have some financial resources, 3 different lenses, and the knowledge and tools to film correct exposure in practically any conditions. I bid you adieu.

Staying Busy – 4/23/2020

Riverside Film Network logo 5

A beautiful image from a failed shoot. 

My last post here was pretty somber, to say the least. I felt beyond defeated after cancelling my friend’s involvement – the only person who I had to use as an actor at the time.

I spent much of Friday, or Thursday, or whenever it was, lying down with my eyes shut allowing defeat and despair to consume me to the point of a peaceful nap (am I the only one who sleeps the best when all hope is lost?).

But alas, ideas began to pummel my head. How can I consider myself devoid of actors when I’ve only contacted a few friends who don’t want to be actors? How can I possibly be the only independent filmmaker in my area who is having these problems? Why did I all of a sudden forget about Matt, who acted superbly in my first short film and more importantly somewhat enjoyed it?

Questions determine your path ahead – and the decision to avoid answering them is also known as “procrastination” and leads to that heavy, sinking feeling called “overwhelmination” (fuel for my peaceful nap).

I spent all of Friday night visiting various websites and “connecting” with people online. I put connection in parenthesis because an online relationship is the equivalent of downloading a robot that will press your star every time you press theirs.

I set up an account on a few official casting websites. I haven’t posted a job yet because I’m slightly terrified of offering no money, no chance of distribution, and no union benefits. Not to mention some repped actor is going to show up and see me holding a camera, a microphone, and a slate board. Followed by my explaining that I’ll be the lead in this worldwide exclusive. “You can add this to your reel!”

Anyway, I came across one of my favorite websites that I haven’t visited in years. It’s a website known as . The way it works is you enter in your zipcode, search for a hobby or interest (writing, screenwriting, hiking, yoga, getting drunk on the train tracks) and voila! You discover you are not actually an alien sent to earth by accident, but you were sent here with other aliens to be outcasts together.

I started out by contacting others in similar groups, but that proved inefficient. The big hang-up was that I had no filmmaking group in my immediate area (!) Now, I’ve never organized anything before nor have I ever had the desire to. I do, however, wish to continue producing films. So I decided to create a group specific to what I wanted to accomplish – with the knowledge and expectation that nobody would join it.

Well, fast forward to today. There are currently over 25 members with our first event planned this week. Due to the corona virus lockdown we are unable to meet physically. Instead, I created a challenge for others to make a 60 second introduction video. I finally got around to creating mine last night. I’ll leave a link below if you’d like to check it out.

On top of that great news, I also contacted Matt, the actor from my first short film. He was down and available to do some shooting this week. The only obstacle was that I had also begun a weekend project of creating a dolly. I was pressed with time, but I managed to complete the build before filming began.


That is Kelly’s sock, my girlfriend who refuses to participate in any video unless she gets to play a homeless extra in the background. There is also a film dolly.

I was able to get some awesome shots with the dolly, a few of which I’ve included in my introduction video below. And moving along with the theme of good news, I had another friend who said he would be happy to spend a day filming with me, and even offered his wife up to participate in an acting job.

I’ll try to continue updating here more frequently, but for now it’s time for me to drain 5 beers in 10 minutes so I can fully immerse myself in the universe of Red Dead Redemption 2 (I should clarify that I’m writing this at 2 am and not at the time of Thursday’s posting. I haven’t had a drink that early since April 22nd so relax.) Here’s the video link to my intro video below.