Filming A Shitty Short then Exercising

I filmed the biggest crapfest ever put together on Sunday. Absent of rest and well beyond sleep deprivation, I decided to push onward and record the material I would need for a new youtube video. This was a mistake.

I had 5 different drafts of the same 1 page script. Each successive draft incorporated different devices intended to enhance the story. The idea was simple – a guy busts into an apartment to rob the place, but finds the homeowner is seated, waiting for him, and armed with a gun. Somewhere during the shit-storming process it turned into “homeowner is a bombmaker for James Bond level spies.” And then the person breaking into the home developed a new motivation – to inform the bombmaker that the FBI was on the way to raid the apartment. The new twist became the homeowner was actually an informant, and the invader who had been purchasing his weapons was going to be arrested. And to put the icing on the shit, the homeowner ends the scene by tossing an orange at the invader. Of course, it explodes.

Well I’m sorry to say the absence of common logic was not enough to dissuade me from filming this turd nugget. I brought out my gear, printed the 5 separate drafts, and set to work. But I noticed an immediate issue – I had 2 characters to play and didn’t have the lines memorized. So I recorded them then played them with a recorder in the background. I would say the lines after hearing them. Easy enough, right? There was a time when I was proud of myself for having this revelation.

Costume time – what would a CIA type home invader where? Well a white undershirt and a short sleeve button down sounded good. What’s that? I only own one short sleeve button down that was a never-used costume for a much thinner actor? No problem. As long as I sucked in my gut I could hardly tell the shirt was 3 sizes too small. I just left the top part unbuttoned.

So I begin filming. Right away I figured out the recorded lines were said too close together. So I left the camera rolling and the audio recording as I edited the lines further apart. Later on, I would discover, I didn’t have takes recorded because the camera had overheated and shut down.

I performed all my lines as Joe, then switched to Burrough. It wasn’t until this point that I realized the true idiocy of failing to memorize the lines – I had no idea what context or emotion applied to my statements. I started repeating the same lines with random emphasis and emotions. Fix it in post, you know?

So I finally upload all the data to my computer to begin editing. Merging the audio and video becomes a major chore because I filmed without a clapper. I have one video clip that, for whatever reason, I have no audio for. And I have an audio clip that I have no video for. And I have another clip that the white noise in the audio is so pronounced it’s unusable. Oh, and about the character Joe –

I was having trouble with his longer lines so I put the script in front of me. “Not a problem, he’s wearing sunglasses”. Bull-shit. A 2nd grader could see my eyes dropping to read each sentence behind my not-so-polarized lenses. And the T-shirt? Dear God. I went on my first run yesterday in 3 months, just to give you an idea of how awful it was. Think Chris Farley in David Spade’s suit.

I was still determined to finish and post it up until I realized the 6 takes I thought I had were really only 3. I’m not afraid of embarrassing myself but I’m also not going to post something when that is all this video will do.

I may rewrite the story for something that makes sense, do 3 drafts instead of 5, and try again tomorrow in man sized clothes. I am slightly defeated but also relieved to have saved myself from putting too much time into the editing room prior to cutting the chord. As a side note, I do have a rock-headed belief in “finish your shit.” That means to not give up on something just because it is bad, and put it out for others to judge regardless. But I also believe everything we do serves a purpose. The final reason I decided not to move forward with this video is that it makes me appear unprofessional, childish, and cringey. The videos are made to grow my following, not dwindle it.

Anyways, hope you all are having a great day. There’s a lot of good things in the works for me right now but this was a definite setback. Hopefully you had a nice laugh at my expense because I’m over here looking at salad recipes. Have a wonderful day.

Conflict: Damien Vs. Ronnie McDee – Round 2

CONFLICT: DAMIEN VS. RONNIE MCDEE ROUND 2

Greetings everyone. Let’s pick back up where we left off yesterday. If you weren’t here, we talked about the importance the role of conflict has in maintaining the interest of your readers. If you’d didn’t read the previous lesson, you’d be wise to go back and take a look, that way you’ll be sure not to miss anything.

Yesterday we wrote three versions of the same scene. In the first, Damien casually left his office building and greeted his wife outside. In the second, we added a ticking clock, which in this instance was (literally enough) a time-bomb. In the third scene we added Ronnie McDee, a sinister clown who was meant to be Damien’s ultimate antagonist, but wound up making everyone feel dumber for ever considering any of my advice by behaving like a cartoon goofball (and I don’t know that there is any higher insult to a full grown man then to consider his comedic fodder goofy).

So we’ll add conflict to what we already have, and observe how the scene improves.

level 1 – an objective (get to his wife)

level 2 – a ticking clock (time bomb)

level 3 – a nemesis (Ronnie McDee)

Level 4 – Let’s get a real nemesis. Someone we’re actually afraid of. So where do we find an antagonist worth fearing? It’s not about we. It’s about Damien. What’s his greatest fear? What are his short comings in life? Ah, you see what I’m getting at?

Adding an internal conflict to this scene. From here on out, Damien is no longer the blank faced cubicle worker, he’s about to become a someone. Let’s cut the shit and get to the scene already.

* * *

Damien watched the circular lights flash as he descended floor after floor in the elevator shaft. He knew the bomb was going to go off in a matter of minutes. He knew his wife would die if he didn’t get to her in time. And he knew the only person he ever prayed to be struck dead was waiting for him at the bottom floor. There was a battle ahead, no doubt. But Damien was having trouble focusing on what lay ahead of him. He was to busy trying to suppress what was supposed to be behind.

The memory felt like it had been branded to his brain.

This wouldn’t be the first time Damien found himself face-to-face with Onaldo. And both encounters involved a woman of his dreams. Only the last time, Damien lost her.

He remembered her light hair, her dark eyes, and the way she kissed his cheek. Every day since her death, Damien felt the burden of his failure. His wife always told him he’d never moved on – and in fact, Damien never did. She was not the type of girl you forgot about.

The elevator reached the bottom floor and the shiny silver doors rolled open. Standing twenty feet away from him was Ronaldo, wearing his typical yellow jumpsuit and red suspenders.

“Good afternoon, sir. Can I interest you in a McBlurry today?” Ronaldo raised a frag grenade in his right hand. “Or perhaps a big and tasty?” He unzipped his orange pants, whipped out his white-and-red member, then began helicoptering it around in a circle by the swing of his hips.

“You’re a sick fuck,” said Damien.

He stepped out of the elevator and clenched both fist so tight his knuckles cracked. He did his best to hide his nervousness, but couldn’t hide his subtle gulp from Ronaldo. The clown caught everything.

“Ah! Now I remember. What was it I served you a few years back?”

“Don’t.”

“I think I know.”

“DON’T!”

“She got a happy meal, didn’t she?”

Damien shook his head as his breath fumed through his nostrils. He heard something beep – no doubt the timebomb, somewhere nearby but hidden.

He winced his eyes closed. The memory was resurfacing. The most painful moments of his life. Her name was Lela.

“What was her name again?”

“You say it I’ll cut out your fucking tongue.”

Ronaldo began tapping his chin with his finger. His eyes rolled up toward the cieling. His painted lips raised in the corners, smiling that sick smirk he always got before he killed someone.

“Ah yes, I remember. It was for your daughter, LELA!”

***

Sorry, but I’m going to have to leave you there, due to time constraints. I’ll try to pick back up here tomorrow, and go into detail about whatever I feel may be of benefit to you. For now, notice all the questions raised throughout the scene. They mostly have to deal with Damien’s fear of returning to his past. (Why is he afraid? What happened between him and Onaldo? Who was this girl? Also, where is the timebomb, and will it blow before Damien gets past the clown?)

Hope this helps!

– Thomas M. Watt

– Script Analyst for SpecScout.com

– Author of A New Kingdom