The Long Road, My Expensive Camera, Lives Change Plans Change

The Long Road…

I’m Sick And Tired Of The Damned TV,
I wanna star in the late night show,
Where all I need is my video…
— Def Leppard, Action! Not Words

It’s not much of a secret that I plan on doing movies.  As in writing ’em, producing ’em, and even being in a few.  The long term goal with it is to build up a studio using my money and talents, then pass it off to someone else to manage (and do all those other things I mentioned) and kick back and reap the rewards of the process. 

The market for movie productions is changing considerably.  As much as the MPA tries to keep movies from becoming a free online commodity, it’s still happening anyway.  And while “Free” always implies “profitless”, it’s far from the truth.  A good number of bands have proved that already – and I’m not talking about the multi-million dollar free online tricks that Radiohead and then Trent Resner have pulled off.  I’m talking about smaller bands that put their stuff up, offer the music for free, but offer options for loyal customers for a fee.  It works.  Plus, some of ’em get signed, so they get the added benefit of a record label publishing their music in stores too.

For Movies and TV, it’s in it’s infancy still (well, everything online is really in it’s infancy when you think about it).  But the model for doing it is already appearing.

I’m not going to be doing a movie anytime soon though.  The “team” (as small as it is) is already too far out of practice to pull it off in my opinion.  So about three months back, I had a meeting with Cindy and Harmon (Harmon is my director) and proposed a new plan.  He agreed with me on being out of practice, and the plan was… interesting.

Ya see, I had this idea a while back for something called The Fucktard Awards.  But as a just online website, well… it lacked punch.  It needed more.  So I started developing the idea of The Fucktard Report, which is a uh… well, it’s a parody of The Daily Show & The Cobert Report.  Yeah, a parody of a parody, how droll.  But after some tweaking of the idea, it gained it’s own life and energy, which more or less put it in a similar concept of the Daily Show.

But a one man show is boring, and I could just as easily do a fucking blog like Penn, with me ranting for 30 minutes.  BORING.

So I proposed the plan to Brandon.  When I told him what, how, etc. I think the man damned near had a corinary laughing so hard at what we were about to do.  That’s right, I got a smart ass plumber as a co-host. 

We’ve been working on it for months now, setting the format for the show.  There’s no audience (that’s a strike against us unluckly).  But it’s also just not us two – we’re pulling in a few other people from time to time (Dion, for instance, is going to be on from time to time to cover a more “ethnic” view of our Fuctard Nominees.  We’ll never do the obvious and pick on him about being black though.  We’ll pick on him for being short.  Dion is like 5′ 5″ 🙂

Now, I don’t think I’ve ever put anything on here before about what a “Fucktard” is defined as.  Mental Retardation isn’t a joke, and it’s nothing to make fun of.  Those with Mental Retardation didn’t have a choice in the matter (and Brandon had a brother who died who was mentally handicaped, so while he’ll joke about it from time to time, he wouldn’t be comfortable making fun of people who are mentally handicaped on a show.) 

Fucktards on the other hand, are people who have intentionally picked the most socially and mentally retarded path INTENTIONALLY AND BY CHOICE, often to the detrement of their fellow man.  Typically it’s in business and government, but, nothing is sacred, and no Fucktard is beyond being nominated for the award. 🙂

Each Fucktard Award is named after a known figure in our culture.  For instance, the Michael Vic Fucktard Award is for sports figures who manage to ruin their careers by performing illegal acts.  The Spitzer award?  Well, you can guess what that one is :-)  Then there’s always the Rush Limbaugh award – where you do things like rally against hookers and drugs on TV and radio, and then… 🙂

Oh, did I happen to mention Brandon’s last name?  Limbaugh.  And yes, he’s related to one of our Fucktard Award namesakes, though it’s like 2nd or 3rd cousins.  But it does explain how he must genetically be an asshole.

Needless to say, with a name like The Fucktard Report, this is sarcasm, cursing, and black humor turned up to way beyond TV standards.  We’re not shooting for TV.  We’re shooting for the Internet.  There’s a whole lotta ways to turn a profit, and we’ll be using every one of ’em we can.

This post is just for my contacts, so, please don’t mention The Fucktard Awards, etc. until the show is up and running.  I own all the domains I need ta’ own on the subject, etc. but I’m just hedging my bets.

We’re still a ways from even the first rehearsals.  Like probably another month to two months before we put anything on tape with the intent of putting it up online.  There’s no rush – we’re trying to make sure the whole thing goes off looking good, slick, and professional.

We’re also no shooting for real-world TV.  There’s no need.  We’ll be making fun of TV as much as we can :-)   But Harmon did ask the hypothetical “What if?” question.  Just like publishers are watching online for new music, there’s already two TV shows that have had their start online.  It’s highly unlikely to happen, but it’s not impossible.  But one has to wonder – what in the fuck would you list a show like The Fucktard Awards in the TV guide as? ;-)  And, after the effort that went into creating the concept, the goals (while this all sounds like a joke, there’s a social goal involved), and the idea that it’s “no holds bard fuck you asshole entertainment”, would we bend all of that around to put it on TV?  Hm.  I have no idea.  But it’s a problem I’d love to have someday 😉

Just don’t hold your breath to see us air after The Root of All Evil on Comedy Central 🙂

My Expensive Camera

Now, I told that story to tell a more boring one.  I have to purchase 3 cameras.  Originally I was going to purchase 3 low-end Canon standard definition cameras to start the show on.  Additionally, the cameras will be rented out to friends who are starting a porn company (a second reason why this post is for my contacts only :-)  So, multiple ways to get a payoff on the same inexpensive equipment.

However, a customer threw a bit of a scare into me – they want me to start taking product pictures.  Crap – I don’t want to buy 3 camcorders and a still camera.  The HV-20 did both VERY nicely.  There’s no way I’m spending that sort of money on a camera right now anyway – my budget was $130 per camera!

So I looked around, and found the Aiptek 720p.  It’s an HD camcorder (720p, not 1080i) that also does 8 MB stills.  But the price is insane – less than $150.  There’s no fucking way that camera can be worth a shit at that price.  But I read the specs over and over, trying to find a flaw.  It’s not that it was a flawless concept or anything – instead if MiniDV tapes (which I like) it’s solid state recording an SD card, which means a bit higher compression than I like.

But since we had moved the bar from Movie (which means 1080i just to get in the door with the concept) to Online TV Show, I can get away with slightly lower resolution, and a little bit more loss in compression (let’s face it, if you upload a video to YouTube, their compression system beats the absolute piss out of the quality of the video. *SIGH*)

Fuck it – let’s give this a shot.  I’ve got 14 days to try it, and I can return it for a full refund. 

Well, count me surprised.  It works well.  It’s major problems are with low-light settings.  Uh, yeah, that’s the problem with all camcorders when you want good quality (however, it’s particular issue is a lack of a frame buffer causes frame bending in low light, which is a different problem than most, and less fixable in post production.)  Both the stills and the video stuff I’m shooting is in studio settings, so low light isn’t an issue.

But damn… I like shooting with a circular polarizer.  It makes a nice contrast between the highs and the lows of the light, and also cleans up “muddy lighting” (which I had that when we shot World of Gamer Zone).  But the A-HD doesn’t have threads for filters.  In true cheapskate fashion, I bought a 49mm CP filter, and at stepdown, then went down to Lowes and bught $10 in parts.  An hour later – tada!  I now have a camera that takes any lens or filter I want. 

Testing the camera has been pretty damned good – it way out performs my expectations, and as long as you feed it pleanty of light (what cameras really live off of is light and cash), it shoots damned sharp video and stills.  No divergence, nothing.  It’s also infinite focus, so… nothing fancy either 🙂

I won’t say this is equal to my old camera.  But I can put three of these in service for a little of nothing (BTW – I paid $150 for it.  I discovered later a source for ’em for $120, and a few places apparently sell ’em for as low as $90 during sales! WTF?!?!)  The filters, parts, etc. to make them my little semi-pro workhorses only cost $20 per camera online.  I’m only paying for part of that – I already sold some equity in the show to the co-host (for a good number of reasons.)

If anyone suddenly gets in the market for a camcorder that shoots HD, drop me a line and I’ll give ya the full details on this little bugger.

Fun part – I had this on a tripod with my new filter setting on the end.  I’ve never seen anything as rediculous as that itty bitty camera being dwarfed by it’s accessories!

A Change In Lives, A Change In Plans

Recently there was a death in the family.  Patty, Doc’s significant other passed away this week. She’s been ill with cancer for a bit now, and finally sucumbed.  I wish her safe passage as she goes head of us to the place we all go, but none understand.

I don’t much care for the process of death – no one does – and tend to be a lot more focused on living, and the living.  Patty was part of my extended family.  But she leaves behind Doc, who’s definitely a part of my extended family (that whole ex-in-law thing :-)  Doc is a good guy, and I hate to see him hurting.

Not to be morbid, but, a portion of us won’t go through the process of dying.  We’ll go from living to dead in the span of hours, minutes, or even seconds.  Those we leave behind will feel a sense of shock – having just talked to a person the day before, and the’ll be gone the next.  So many things left undone, so many things left unsaid. 

While I would never wish pain on anyone, there’s something to be said about knowing that the end is in sight.  You take the time to do those things, to say those words.  Doc and Patty got that chance.  I’m glad for that, just not for the pain Patty had to go through.

The universe has a really strange way of working things.  Towards the begining of the year, I was looking for a new place to live.  I’ve had difficulties finding a place, ranging from the place I wanted being leased out, then delays after delays, etc.  I finally find one, but haven’t signed on it, and Doc asked if I was interested in moving in with him.

Doc’s one of those people if he happens to call and say he needs help, I know he REALLY needs help.  Like, RIGHT NOW.  He doesn’t ask people for help often it seems.  And I’m pretty inclined to give the help (well, I’m pretty inclined to give anyone help when they ask anyway 🙂

So, I’m going to be living with Doc for the next 6 or so months.  But to add to the oddity – Lance is going to start working with me April 7th.  Removing $1500 in bills for the next 6 months pretty much garantees success.  For the price of helping one person, I end up helping two, and help my self out also. 

Probably the only real “kink” in the plan so far is what I’m gonna do with The Fucktard Report.  I was originally planning on using one room in the trailer to set up a shooting studio just for the show, that way I didn’t have to do setup and teardown (which means less wear and tear on equipment, better set lighting, and generally a better set design.)  Gotta puzzle that one out now.  But I’ve got some time before it has to happen.

So that plan has completely changed again :-)  This is gonna be yet another adventure 🙂

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