Friday, September 3, 2010

According To Whim: Episode 2 FAQ

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)


Episode 2: Indenture -------------------------------------------------

Air Date: May 2005
Production Start Date: February 2004
Production End Date: May/June? 2004
Revisions?: Very few if any. Minor spelling error correction for broadcast.



Sketch 1: "Comedy-Tron 2000".
Sketch 2: "Wagons Ho! Nathan sits atop heavy equipment reenacting old western movies.
Intro: Speedy writing with hand written titles.
Sketch 3: "Channel 46 Mayoral Race 1". The start of the Fort Worth race for Mayor.
Sketch 4: "If You Listen To NPR You Know There's Truth Here" An NPR sketch (Windows media download).
Sketch 5: "Channel 46 Mayoral Race 2" Lewis Cannon's first ad.
Sketch 6: "Weekly 'Poor' Report" A Channel 46 News report.
Sketch 7: "Channel 46 Mayoral Race 3" Greenly Meadows' first ad.
Sketch 8: "Temp Worker" Nathan, a hard working lad meets Mr. ass-head.
Sketch 9: "Channel 46 Mayoral Race 4" Lewis Cannon ad.
Sketch 10: "Chris' 5 Minute In-Camera Edited Sketch" The name says it all.
Sketch 11: "Channel 46 Mayoral Race 5" Greenly Meadows ad.
Sketch 12: "Did You Wash Your Hands?" Nathan catches Chris outside the restroom.
Sketch 13: "Channel 46 Mayoral Race 6" Lewis Cannon ad.
Sketch 14: "Channel 46 Mayoral Race 7" Greenly Meadows ad.
Sketch 15: "Every Customer We Have Ever Experienced" (Windows media download).
Sketch 16: "Channel 46 Mayoral Race 8" Lewis Cannon ad.
Sketch 17: "Channel 46 Mayoral Race 9" Greenly Meadows ad.
Sketch 18: "Hello, My Name Is ID 2" Chris' turn to meet his creative side.
Sketch 19: "Mayors Race Results" Greenly Meadows has to read this bit of depressing news.



Nathan's Notes:

1.) The majority of this episode was easy to finish, but it was just a few little things that kept this episode from being completed as quickly as the first. In this episode I kinda got what I envisioned for the show; a series of quick sketches, not as many long drawn out sketches (like the ones Chris likes). His balance of longer, more dialogue oriented sketches is balanced by my sillier, shorter stuff. Episode 2 is more of my kind of stuff.

2.) The opening of this sketch is a mixture of very short stuff culled over a few months time. First off you see the Comedy-Tron 2000. This is a series of bitmaps I made in Windows Paint then added sound effects. The sounds you hear are all me. I distorted my voice with GoldWave to achieve the humming, buzzing, and computer sounding voice.

3.) In "Wagons Ho!" I am sitting on a series of tractors located in a huge area in North Fort Worth. There were so many that I decided to shoot myself sitting on each one and uttering that line. The final it is Chris sitting in my mom's car (on our trip to my family's lake place in Mexia) and filming a can of Diet 7up and a can of Dr. Pepper. Chris then remarks that "one of us is having fun" then next is a shot of a car passing us while Chris is zooming in on it.

4.) The opening credits feature a hand (mine) drawing the credits in super fast motion. I did this by setting the camera tripod on the desk and pointing it down and drawing normally. Then I sped the footage up in Adobe and also placed some title screens on top of the footage that had funny sayings at the bottom like: "No batteries required", "Made with 100% more cats" etc...

5.) The 2004 Mayoral Race sketches came naturally as we brainstormed for ideas for sketches to do while sitting at a desk. It had been my idea (or want) to do news sketches and somewhere along the lines we decided to do a race for Fort Worth mayor using the newscasters. Chris (created the name and) became Lewis Cannon (say the name 3 times fast and you will get the joke) and I became Greenly Meadows. O.K. Greenly Meadows isn't as funny a name as Lewis Cannon, but I got the idea from a screenplay Miguel wrote where the name of the main character was Nick Meadows. I just thought adding a 'greenly' infront of Meadows would make it a bit funnier. This intro sketch is perhaps the most important to pay attention to in all the Mayoral Race sketches since it sets up the big joke for the end. Also you will notice the name Collin Allcars as the campaign manager. Collin Allcars, get it?

6.) I am not really proud of this next sketch (in my acting that is). The joke of the sketch is great. NPR annoys me. It annoys me alot. Don't get me wrong, I like NPR a good part of the time. I just hate the way those guys are just so great. What false humility! Anyway it seems if you work on NPR you either have a strange name or speech problem. This was the basis if this sketch. I did this adlib and you can tell! I was reading this 'abandoned' letter (see the info for episode one where I talk about the 'abandoned music company') and all the while I am trying to make up the dialogue. Oh well. Anyway you might notice that although NPR turns me down and suggests I get a speech impediment I do infact have a speech impediment. Oh well, you can't write Shakespeare all the time. Anyway we shot this in like 4 minutes in that 'abandoned' place I spoke of earlier. It was right there at the mailbox wall, right next to the room Chris shot his copier and postage machine sketches in (from episode 1).

7.) The first mayoral ad is Lewis Cannon's civil introduction. He played it fairly straight and soon you see the real Lewis Cannon (jerky head movements and all) appear in the next few sketches. The real problem we had shooting these and the regular news segments (we shot them all in the same night) were twofold; my dog Auggie (RIP) was barking all night and you can often hear him in the backyard yapping away and we were going to try blue screen so we had to do a lot of overlighting (and it still didn't work) and the picture looked crappy.

8.) The Weekly 'Poor' Report was intended to be in each episode. This seemed like a great way to take up some time with no actual footage being shot. I simply took pictures with the video camera and edited them in Photoshop. I removed and added windows, duplicated walls and signs, and changed features so no one could 100% for sure name the buildings. (if you are curious you can find these buildings off I-35 in North Fort Worth). I then did a voice over and couldn't think of a good line and stole some of a line from the Truman Show; "Good evening, and good night."

9.) Greenly Meadows makes his bid for Mayor of Fort Worth in a very civil tone. My glasses had no lenses and there is a earbud in ear for that 'official' newscaster look. I am also wearing a white shirt and a tie (with shorts underneath). Let me say now that I am NO actor. I don't pretend to be. These lines (that Chris wrote) were very hard for me to remember. Many times I simply had to look down at the lines infront of me. It was very bad. But hey, this is public access!

10.) "Temp Worker" was Chris' brain child (as you can tell from the reams of dialogue). Chris and I went to Mexia one day in 2004 (I can't remember when) and we decided to shoot some stuff down there. We got a goodly amount of stuff done that day and this was the big one. I was in the middle of working on this run-down mobile home so Chris came up with the idea of a real punk who has come to work for a temp service even though it is way beneath him.

11.) O.K. Things get just slightly less than civil in this Lewis Cannon ad. For Chris' costume we used my stepdad's old suit, Chris' hair pulled back, and the Greenly Meadow's glasses. Lewis is also brandishing a hypodermic needle to show the tools of Greenly's trade. This is one I think I got from my vet for the dogs.

12.) One of the more creative, less technology reliant ideas for the show was the edited-in-camera sketch. This is Chris' and we assumed I was going to do one myself but for some reason I never did. We see Chris come up with some stuff totally on his own here.

13.) In the next installment of Greenly's political ad has a bit of an interesting blooper to go with it that you might never see. You see, Chris and myself are writing these sketches pretty much as we are doing them. I would be infront of the camera and Chris would be in the bedroom on the computer writing more to bring out to me. Well this one bit of dialogue was written by me but I had kinda forgot about it. All that night I was having a hard time keeping a straight face and remembering my lines so I was pretty much looking down at the paper then reading my lines right off of it in a news anchor type fashion. The bit started out very serious then right in the middle of it I say something like: "Lewis Cannon eats babies for breakfast..." Well, I forgot I wrote that bit and I was all serious and such then I started to read that bit and exploded in laughter right in the middle of this serious stuff. I couldn't stop laughing. I lifted the line wholesale from Balckadder 2.

14.) "Did you wash your hands" came out of a true story that Miguel told us once. Apparently Miguel does not wash his hands after he goes to the restroom and once he got called out for it by some stranger. The exact wording was different I believe, but the short sketch was pretty much as it happed. The room Chris walks out of is actually an empty office (in that abandoned place) and I simply added a toilet flush in post.

15.) Now the ads are starting to get nasty. The gloves are really coming off and this sketch provided another blooper bit. Chris found that Lewis Cannon does a lot of jerky sort of movements. It's rather funny (not in a 'turretts way' sort of funny) and gets laughs. Well Chris decides to break up one of his lines with one of these exaggerated movement and I wasn't expecting it. I of course blew the scene with my laughing and we reshot.

16.) "Every customer we ever experienced" was our attempt to immortalize our dying shop. Chris and Myself owned and operated a small (very small) comic/collectible shop in West Fort Worth. You can read all about it in Shop Week by starting here. We wanted to shoot something there before we ditched the business. The idea for this sketch formed itself from years of retail experience. We wanted to capture that and the customers we have had in the shop as well. I played the customer and Chris the shopkeeper. Everything that happens in that sketch had happened in that shop (well, except the hat flying off the guy's head). At the beginning of the sketch there is something on the computer screen that can been seen for only a second as I walk in the shop. Chris can go into more detail about it. For one scene where time is passing slowly I used 3 (or 4) layers of footage and laid them ontop of each other in Premier and had them run to the tick tocking of a clock to denote the passage of time. The effect was a little on the dark side but it worked fairly well. For some odd reason before we were done with this sketch we got the urge to do something wacky. So we reshot the scene where the customer asks what the price of a high-dollar item is. When he is told his hat shoots off and he exclaims; WHAT!? This was greatness. We simply stapled a string to my hat and Chris got on the counter top and yanked it at the right time. To make the illusion better I used a crude split screen to obscure the string tight before the pull to. I was so great that we used it in the intro to the show for episodes 0 and 6.

18.) Lewis Cannon shoots the first nuke in the all out final segment of his mayoral run. Chris wanted us to act like wrestlers in these final bits.

19.) Next Greenly Meadows gets nasty. I remember Chris making me redo this bit and had me act more mean. I also remember I had to redo this bit over and over again because I could not get the line right; "Who's calling who second best man?!"

20.) "Hello, my name is ID 2" was a bit more accomplished than the first attempt. This time Chris spoke with his creative side. In several shots you can clearly see me reflected in the window behind Chris. Oops. I also had to slow down several of Chris' reaction shots to match his other self's dialogue. You can notice this by the flickering effect you can see in the miniblinds behind the original Chris. The part of the sketch where one of the Chris' sets down the Dr. Pepper and the other one picks it up, all in one shot, is fantastic. I honestly don't know how I did it. I mean, I could if I really thought out how the effect was accomplished, but I just can easily figure it out. I must have been some of that split screen trickery I was becoming so good at.

21.) The final sketch in the mayoral race is the punch line to the joke in the first mayoral sketch. After all this junk both candidates loose and their campaign manager wins. Ho ho ho. The voice at the beginning of the sketch is mine but slowed down a little bit.

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