Saturday, October 16, 2010

ATW: 24 (minutes) (Part Four)

Previously on ATW: 24 (minutes)

(In the bedroom, Nathan is watching the printer. It’s printing too slowly for his taste. His cell phone rings. He sees it is Miguel.)

NATHAN: Stout.

(The screen goes to split with Nathan on one side and Miguel on the other.)

MIGUEL: I just had a disturbing visit from the Ghost of Public Access Past. Thanks to the Ghost of Public Access Present, Chris knows I sent you my script, but he has no proof. I’ve deleted all traces of it from my computer, and from my email. You must clear your email, and change the user information on the file to show that the file is yours, and was created today. Then he’ll have to accept it as your work.

(Nathan opens his email, by typing importantly. He hits some keys forcefully to clear all record of the email transaction. He then uses “Save As” to make the file new and originated on his computer. He deletes Miguel’s version and empties the recycle bin. He sighs as though he’s been through an ordeal.)

NATHAN: It’s done.

(The printer stops printing.)

NATHAN: And so is the printer.

MIGUEL: And with only five seconds to spare. Take it to Chris. Hurry!

(The screen shows the seconds counting down until 7:00. The screen cuts to Chris in the living room knocked out on the couch. His alarm clock on his cell phone goes off, and he comes to. Nathan walks into the room.)

NATHAN: It’s 7:00 and the script is done.

(Chris stands up from the couch.)

CHRIS: I know what you did.

NATHAN: But you can’t prove it.

(Chris walks away. He goes to put the groceries away. Nathan watches him for a moment.)

NATHAN: I don’t know why you have to be so opposed to this.

(Chris doesn’t say anything. He just keeps putting things away.)

NATHAN: Look at it this way, Miguel will definitely want to help out on this one. I know you can’t prove why, but you have to admit that it’s at least a good enough rationalization.

(Chris stops putting stuff away.)

CHRIS: Ok, fine. Let me see it.

(Nathan’s concerned look changes to a wary smile. He hands the script over to Chris. Chris takes it and half-heartedly looks at it a little bit.)

CHRIS: Mind if I make a few minor edits?

NATHAN: Of course not.

(Chris pulls out a cigarette lighter, which is odd because he doesn’t smoke, and starts moving the script towards it.)

CHRIS: I don’t like this part right here.

NATHAN: I can just reprint it, Chris.

CHRIS: And I can keep burning them until you run out of ink.

NATHAN: This is so pointless, this arguing. Don’t you see that?

(Suddenly, Chris from the Future phases in)

CHRIS FROM THE FUTURE: I’m going to have to ask you to put the lighter away.

CHRIS: You hit me over the head. I’m not happy with you.

CHRIS FROM THE FUTURE: If that sketch doesn’t get made the future is horrible: death; war; pestilence; bad pop music masquerading as art. I was sent back to stop you from catching it on fire.

CHRIS: Are things really that bad?

CHRIS FROM THE FUTURE: Yes.

(The three of them look at each other silently.)

CHRIS: Fine. I’ll stay home from the show tonight, and we’ll get this shaped up and storyboarded.

(Nathan exhales relieved. Chris from the Future stands down a bit. Chris sets the lighter down.)

CHRIS FROM THE FUTURE: I have authorization to help you with the opening shots if you’ll go get your camera. If I don’t ensure that there is progress toward the completion, I might return to my own time to find that things are still bad.

NATHAN (to Chris): You up for it?

CHRIS: Yeah.

NATHAN: Ok.

(Nathan turns away smiling. He walks into the bedroom. He picks up the professional grade video camera that Chris has nicknamed “The Jedi Turret Cannon” because of its size. He checks the tape in it, and sees that it contains footage from a previous shoot. He looks to his desk where he sees a blank tape. He walks to it and picks it up. As he turns to leave the room the large camera swings around catching the edge of Nathan’s external hard drive. It falls over and makes a strange sizzling noise. His computer screen goes blank. He sets the camera on the floor and checks the connections on the hard drive. The time pops up on the screen showing 7:05:29. Seconds pass and there is a dawning realization on Nathan’s face.)

(In the living room, Chris from the Future is receiving a transmission in his earpiece.)

CHRIS FROM THE FUTURE: I just received confirmation from the future that all other copies of that infernal script are destroyed. That’s the last one.

CHRIS: Infernal?

CHRIS FROM THE FUTURE: You can’t allow that sketch to be made. I was lying to get Nathan too close to his hard drive.

NATHAN (entering the room): Chris, I need to see the script real quick.

(Chris moves quickly to grab the lighter. He flicks it a couple of times, and it doesn’t seem to want to start. Nathan moves to intercept, but it finally lights and the script burns quickly. Nathan has no time to get to it before it is ruined. The screen goes black and the last few seconds tick until the timer reads 7:06. Then the screen goes fully black, followed by the credits.)

ATW: 24 (minutes) (Part Three)

Previously on ATW: 24 (minutes)

(Split screen. Nathan is on one side still at his computer. Chris is on the other side knocked out on the floor. The digital time layout says 6:52.)

(Screen cuts to Miguel’s phone beeping again. We hear the toilet flush. Miguel comes out and picks up the phone. He looks at it, and dials out. Nathan answers it.)

NATHAN: Stout.

MIGUEL: You called?

NATHAN: You get my message?

MIGUEL: No, couldn’t be bothered to listen. Just called you back. This will give you a chance to expound some exposition.

NATHAN: What are you talking about?

MIGUEL: In a narrative, when a character gives information that is necessary to back story. It’s called exposition. Just trying to be funny. What’s up? Has Chris gone rogue?

NATHAN: What? You’re very weird today. It’s like talking to Miguel if Chris was telling him what to say.

MIGUEL: Maybe he’s over here with a gun to my head telling me not to warn you that he’s coercing me.

NATHAN: I know he’s not, because he’s in the living room, probably delighting in the knowledge that I’ll never get this done in time. Besides, he wouldn’t threaten your life. He would threaten something that meant something to you.

MIGUEL (altering his voice to sound like Chris altering his voice to sound like Kiefer Sutherland altering his voice to sound menacing): Tell him what I told you tell him, or I’ll eBay your Star Wars action figures.

NATHAN: Ok, now I believe it.

MIGUEL: So what’s going on?

NATHAN: Chris gave me until 7:00 to write a spoof of “A Christmas Carol.” He said we’d shoot it if I was done by then. I called you hoping you could tell me something about the book. When you didn’t answer, I tried writing based on ideas Chris threw out earlier. That’s as far as I got. I found “A Christmas Carol” online, but I don’t have time to scour source material and write. It’s a lost cause.

MIGUEL: Maybe not.

NATHAN: Even if you told me some of the story specifics, I’d need to script out three ghost encounters in a little over five minutes…

MIGUEL: No, you don’t. I wrote a script for a spoof of “A Christmas Carol” back in the Sniffles (sniff) days. Let’s just say that Chris wasn’t interested in shooting it. I could email it to you and you could print it. Chris would never know it’s mine. He’d be obligated to finally make my spoof.

NATHAN: Send it.

MIGUEL: Ok. Give me a moment.

(Miguel sits in front of his computer and types importantly. His eyes grow wide and disbelieving.)

MIGUEL: It’s not here.

NATHAN: What?

MIGUEL: It’s been erased. Whoever did this wants to ensure that the sketch never gets shown on public access.

(Nathan holds the phone away from his face and looks at it funny. He puts it back to his ear.)

NATHAN: Stop being dramatic. Are you looking in the right directory?

(Miguel types importantly.)

MIGUEL: Oh, there it is. Ok, I’ll email it. It should be there in a minute.

NATHAN: Ok, thanks. I take back anything I’ve said about you for at least a week.

(In the living room, Chris is coming too. He holds his head as though it hurts. Nathan is sitting there, but like Miguel Ghost, well, he’s Nathan Ghost.)

CHRIS: Are you going to hit me over the head with a bottle too?

NATHAN GHOST: No. I’m the Ghost of Public Access Present. I’m just here to talk to you about the script that my alter ego is working on.

CHRIS: Why?

NATHAN GHOST: Because in my Hell there is no Net Runner.

CHRIS: Ok, fine. I’ll listen. But be quick. I don’t think I’m going to be convinced to do this sketch even if he really did have time to write it. Are you going to show me another scene from my life?

NATHAN GHOST: Yes. A scene from the present.

CHRIS: Ok. I’m ready.

(Nothing happens.)

CHRIS: Um. Ok.

NATHAN GHOST: What?

CHRIS: You’re not funny.

NATHAN GHOST: I wasn’t aware I was being funny.

CHRIS: Right. That’s what I said. So why are you even here? You didn’t have to come here to show me what was going on right now. Shouldn’t you show me what everybody else is doing in the present that will teach me some sort of lesson about why I shouldn’t be so grouchy about doing a spoof of “A Christmas Carol?”

(Nathan Ghost snaps his fingers and we see the split screen with the time log. On one side Miguel is typing importantly. On the other side Nathan is staring at the computer importantly.)

CHRIS (voice over): That’s pretty cool.

NATHAN GHOST (voice over): Thanks. Unfortunately, they aren’t talking, so it’s a little dull.

CHRIS (voice over): Yeah. Did you do that with editing software?

NATHAN GHOST (voice over): Yeah, After(life) Effects.

CHRIS (voice over): Looks good.

(Miguel taps a button on his keyboard in a very important way that indicates that he just sent something. Nathan’s computer beeps indicating that he has email. Nathan looks pleased at something. The side of the screen that showed Miguel now shows Chris standing with Nathan Ghost. Nathan stands up and turns on his printer.)

CHRIS: Wait. Nathan didn’t write the script. He’s a traitor to the ATW. He contacted Miguel and got the script Miguel wrote years ago.

(Nathan starts to hit the printer lightly. He kneels down to see if it is plugged in. It’s not. He plugs it in and turns it on again.)

CHRIS: I have no proof that that’s Miguel’s script cos I never read it. If he prints that…

NATHAN GHOST: Wait, look at the screen. It says, “Super Funny Spoof that Chris, My God, Will Love; by Miguel McGinty/Cruz.” As long as he doesn’t clear that information, you have your proof.

CHRIS: He’s sitting down. He’s about to type importantly, and then print it as is. I won’t have to…

NATHAN GHOST: He’s stopping. He sees the authorship coding, uh, information.

(Chris starts to walk toward the bedroom.)

CHRIS: I have to stop him before he highlights the text and hits delete.

NATHAN GHOST: I can’t let you do that, Chris.

(Chris turns to see Nathan Ghost holding the empty 2-liter.)

CHRIS: Nathan Ghost… why?

NATHAN GHOST: It’s part of my orders for the community service. I can’t go back to an afterlife without Net Runner. And there are those in power that want this spoof made. This goes higher up the chain of command than you know. You saw more than you should have. I was supposed to come and just convince you that it was a good idea, but you’re so stubborn.

CHRIS (menacing action hero voice): I’ll show you stubborn!

(Chris runs to the refrigerator.)

NATHAN GHOST: I’ll show you stubborn? That’s your action hero one-liner? That’s sounds like something you’d say to a four year old before you put them in timeout.

(Chris pulls out a 2-liter of Diet Coke. Nathan Ghost gets a look of fear, and starts backing out the door onto the pool deck.)

NATHAN GHOST: What are you doing, Chris? It’s a desperate man who would betray his soda of choice just to best the enemy. You swore to protect your own personal constitution of life rules and self help mottos.

(Chris follows Nathan Ghost onto the pool deck.)

CHRIS: I don’t like having to take these actions, but there are some things that are more important, like public access freedom.

NATHAN GHOST: But you’ve made a mistake. The 2-liter is not an effective weapon unless it’s empty. You won’t drink the Diet Coke. And you don’t have time to pour it out before I’ll knock you out.

(Nathan Ghost smiles maniacally, and moves toward Chris raising the empty Dr. Pepper 2-liter. Chris suddenly spits out a capsule wrapped in plastic that he had under his tongue into his hand. He twists the cap off of the Diet Coke.)

CHRIS: Alka-Seltzer.

(Chris breaks the plastic on the capsule and puts the Alka-Seltzer into the 2-liter.)

NATHAN GHOST: Nooooooo!

(Nathan Ghost tries to rush Chris, but the amazing power of Alka-Seltzer in Diet Coke empties the bottle quicker than anyone could on their own. Once it’s empty he twists the cap back on, and pops Nathan Ghost over the head. Nathan Ghost staggers backward, finally falling over into the pool. Chris pants, looking as though he’s just been through an ordeal, but suddenly he gets a look on his face as though he’s just remembered he must stop Nathan. He turns and walks into the house. He only gets a few feet into the house when he is hit over the head by an empty 2-liter. He staggers and falls back on the couch. He looks up to see himself in a ponytail. He recognizes Chris from the Future.)

CHRIS FROM THE FUTURE: I’m sorry, Chris. I can’t let you stop him from printing that script.

(Chris pulls his cell phone from his pocket and looks at the time. It’s 6:58. Then he passes out.)

(And we wait for Part Four)

ATW: 24 (minutes) (Part Two)

Previously on ATW: 24 (minutes)

INT – NATHAN’S

(Chris is staring at his phone. He hears a voice speak. It is Miguel sitting next to him on the couch in some sort of ghost like costume.)

MIGUEL GHOST: Do you really think he’s going to finish the script in time?

CHRIS: No. I’m thinking that I’m probably going to take a nap before going to the show anyway.

MIGUEL GHOST: So you’re torturing him?

CHRIS: Not at all. If it’s a good enough idea we can shoot it some other time. There’s just nothing like a deadline. And speaking of dead, you look an awful lot like a ghost. What’s up?

MIGUEL GHOST: I’m the Ghost of Public Access Past.

CHRIS: Are you?

(Chris gets up and goes to the refrigerator to get a soda. All that’s in there is a 2-liter of Dr. Pepper and a 2-liter of Diet Coke. He grabs the Dr. Pepper and a glass.)

CHRIS: I seem to remember having cans in there.

MIGUEL GHOST: Most people are scared when they meet a ghost. You’re being obstinate.

CHRIS: Obstinate?

MIGUEL GHOST: And you’re asking derogatory questions.

CHRIS: Am I?

MIGUEL GHOST: Why are you acting this way?

(Chris pours some soda filling the tall glass. He returns the lid to the bottle.)

CHRIS: I’m irritated. I don’t want to do a stupid sketch spoofing “A Christmas Carol” so instead I have to live it. You know what I have to say about that?

MIGUEL GHOST: Bah Humbug?

CHRIS: No. You can take this 2-liter bottle and go…

INT – MIGUEL’S

(Miguel’s phone beeps its censor like indicator. The camera pans to the bathroom which is still occupied by Miguel. The shot cuts to Miguel in the bathroom. He is reading his book still. The screen splits, and we see Miguel reading on one half and Nathan typing on the other half. It holds for a little while, and then cuts to Chris in the living room.)

INT – NATHAN’S

(Chris is still sitting with Miguel Ghost. He is sulking. He finishes off the glass of soda, and goes about the task of refilling it.)

CHRIS: At least sing “Henry the Eighth” and entertain me.

MIGUEL GHOST: I don’t think so.

CHRIS: Then show me whatever it is that you need to show me, so you can get the hell out of here.

MIGUEL GHOST: Don’t say “Hell.’ I’m doing community service here so I don’t have to go back.

CHRIS: Is it really that bad there? I always presumed that it was custom fit to the person being punished.

MIGUEL GHOST: It is. In my Hell the only Star Wars movie is “The Phantom Menace.”

(Miguel Ghost shudders.)

MIGUEL GHOST: Somebody must have walked over my grave. What I have to show you is a scene from your life.

CHRIS: Does this have anything to do with pizza delivery?

MIGUEL GHOST: Strangely, no.

(The scene fades, and we see Chris without his goatee and Miguel in a wig of long black hair. Miguel is writing furiously in a notebook.)

MIGUEL GHOST (voice over): This is deep in your public access past when you were still working with Miguel on… um…

CHRIS (voice over): “Sniffles (sniff).”

MIGUEL GHOST (voice over): Really? What a dumb name.

(Miguel in the flashback finishes writing. He takes it to Chris who is changing cassettes out in the stereo.)

MIGUEL: Hey Chris.

(Chris doesn’t say anything. Miguel looks expectantly hoping that Chris will answer him.)

MIGUEL: Hey Chris.

(Chris puts away the tape he just removed.)

MIGUEL: Hey Chris.

(Chris pours some Dr. Pepper from a 2-liter bottle.)

MIGUEL: Hey Chris.

CHRIS: What is it Miguel?

MIGUEL: I thought that, you know. That um, because you know your idea…

CHRIS: Spit it out!

MIGUEL: What?

(Chris takes a sip of the soda, and then spits it in Miguel’s face.)

CHRIS: I said spit it out.

MIGUEL: Ok. Thank you for sharing your soda, Chris. I just really thought your idea about doing three minutes of usable footage a day was so good that I would, you know, write a script. I wrote this. It’s ten pages, so we can get three days of shooting out of it. It took me four hours to write, and I won’t be watching the Princess Leia in Jabba’s den scene tonight, but I believe that it will bring the public access glory you truly deserve.

(Chris looks at Miguel contemptuously. Miguel looks eagerly. Chris takes the notebook and Miguel jumps a little and whoops excitedly. Chris flips to the first page, and looks momentarily.)

CHRIS: A spoof of “A Christmas Carol”? Are you an idiot? I’m not shooting this.

(Miguel looks crestfallen.)

CHRIS: Get out of my sight. And forget about the three minutes a day thing. I can’t work with someone who lacks the talent to come up with an original idea.

MIGUEL: But Hollywood is filled with people who write unoriginal…

CHRIS: Professionals? You speak to me of professionals! I’ll go find someone else to do this with. Someone who understands me.

(The scene fades back to Chris and Miguel Ghost. Chris is pouring out the last of the Dr. Pepper 2-liter, and returns the cap to the bottle.)

CHRIS: That’s really not how I remember that happening.

MIGUEL GHOST: What would I have to gain by changing facts?

(Chris suddenly stands and lifts Miguel Ghost from the couch, throwing him across the room. Miguel Ghost tries to stand, only to be grabbed up by Chris and thrown against the wall. Chris has him by the throat.)

CHRIS: Who sent you!

MIGUEL GHOST: I told you. I’m doing community service…

CHRIS: You’re lying! Tell me the truth!

MIGUEL GHOST (whimpering): I’m not lying. Please. I’m not lying.

(Chris throws Miguel Ghost to the floor. Cut to a close up of Chris looking like he doesn’t know what came over him. He presses his elbow to the wall and leans his head against his arm, breathing heavily, looking a bit despondent. Behind him, Miguel Ghost looks at him maliciously. He moves slowly toward the empty 2-liter bottle. He picks it up and runs across the room to smack Chris on the head with it. Chris falls to the ground knocked out. Miguel Ghost leaves the house quickly. The camera pans away from his departure to Chris lying on the floor. The screen changes to the digital time layout. It says 6:51.)

(The Intermission starts. Self promotion of the website and other amazing things.)

(And we wait for Part Three)

ATW: 24 (minutes) (Part One)

OPENING SCREEN (digitized with electronic noises): ATW: 24 (minutes)

CHRIS (voice over): The following takes place between 6:42 pm and 7:06 pm. Events occur in real time.

EXT – HOUSE IN RHOME – DRIVEWAY

(We see the truck pulling in. Chris and Nathan are inside. They seem to be having a conversation. After a couple of sentences Nathan starts to get out. The audio of the conversation can now be heard.)

NATHAN: …costumes would be fun to make, and I could use some of my goofy voices.

(Chris exits the vehicle as Nathan is pulling groceries from the back of the truck.)

CHRIS: What was that? I couldn’t hear you after the bit about costumes.

NATHAN: I could use some…

CHRIS: Eh. Doesn’t matter. Listen, I still hold pretty firm to the fact that too many shows do “A Christmas Carol” spoofs.

(Chris grabs the rest of the groceries. And they walk and talk.)

CHRIS: I mean what are we going to do that hasn’t been done before? It’s just going to be the same crap. I presume that you’ll be Jacob Marley…

NATHAN: The reggae singer?

CHRIS: Have you even read “A Christmas Carol”?

NATHAN: Oh like you have. You hate Christmas.

CHRIS: Actually, I have. It’s a good book. At least until he sells out at the end. Anyway, Jacob Marley is his dead business partner. I’m guessing you’d be dead because I pushed you too hard on eBay for Christmas sales. Miguel would have to be a ghost since he’s creatively dead anyway. It would be more fun to make fun of him on the show if he was actually involved.

(They’ve entered the house by now.)

NATHAN: This is my point though. Those aren’t bad ideas. We could do it, and even if it’s not an original idea, it would be unique because we did it using our jokes, and our inside bits.

CHRIS: Well, I’m not going to write it. I have more important things to do. And I really doubt you’d want to sit down and write it.

NATHAN: I’ll write it.

(Chris looks at Nathan speculatively. He sets the groceries he’s carrying down on the counter. He pulls his phone out at looks at the time.)

CHRIS: It’s 6:44 right now. It’ll take us an hour to shoot a sketch if we hurry. I gotta leave at 8:00 to go support the local music scene.

NATHAN: Yeah, more important things…

CHRIS: You listen here. I’m trying to tell you something, and you should pay attention. If you can get the sketch written by 7:00 we can shoot it before I leave. That will almost ensure that I don’t have time to reconsider my position on this.

NATHAN: Really?

CHRIS: Yes. So you need to hurry.

(Nathan gets a mildly panicked look over his face and runs out of the room, still holding the groceries. He runs back in the room and puts them on the counter.)

NATHAN: Put these away.

(Nathan runs back out of the room. Chris waves his hand dismissively at the groceries. He walks to the couch and sits down. He sets the alarm on his phone for 7:00 pm.)

CHRIS (yelling): Fifteen minutes!

(Nathan is at the computer, waiting for it to load.)

NATHAN (yelling): I know!

(Nathan motions impatiently at the monitor as though it’s going to make the computer load faster. He pulls his phone out and makes a phone call to Miguel. It rings and rings until finally the message picks up.)

MIGUEL (voice over): General Kenobi: Years ago, you served my father in the Clone Wars; now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire. I regret that I am unable to take your call in person; but my ship has fallen under attack and I'm afraid my mission to answer your call has failed. I've placed information vital to the survival of the rebellion into this outgoing voicemail message. If I’m lucky I’ll figure out how to retrieve it. You must see that your message is safely delivered after the beep. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; leaving your message is my only hope.

(The phone beeps.)

NATHAN: This must be why I don’t call you so much. You don’t answer your phone. Listen, Chris finally agreed to do a spoof of “A Christmas Carol” and I don’t really know anything about it. I know there are ghosts and he says “bah humbug” a lot, but I have very little time to write this… just call me back. I’m gonna go see if I have a copy in my collection. Help me, Obi Wan Miguel. This is my most desperate 15 minutes.

(Nathan hangs up. He checks the wires on his external hard drive, just as the computer finally starts booting. He walks away from the computer and walks to the bookcase, preferably in another room so we can follow him. He examines his books carefully, but doesn’t find “A Christmas Carol” there. He picks up a copy of the movie “Scrooged” and looks at it considering and then decides against it. He walks back to the computer and starts typing. The screen reads, “Brainstorm: Chris’s ideas” and so forth.)

INT – MIGUEL’S (for purposes of shooting this can be anywhere that looks like a house and has a bathroom.)

(Miguel’s phone is flashing that there is a voicemail, but Miguel is busy reading about Stephen Spielberg in a book called “Comparatively Scorsese Sucks.” The phone beeps at him, sounding similar to a bleep for cussing on TV, indicating that he has a message. He sighs. He takes his book and goes into the bathroom.)

(The time counts on the screen and we wait for Part Two.)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Making of: Nathan's Revenge

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Several months back we decided to clean out some equipment we weren't using at work. There were a couple of server racks and other stuff (which I can't remember). The taller of the two server racks was empty and I thought it would be funny to use that in some sort of sketch. Anyone can stand in there and 'peer' out while moving it around on it's wheels. I knew I would have to do whatever it was before we sold them so I got on the ball.

The sketch I came up with didn't 100% fit into the story line of Season 2 (since it is something that the Nathan character would do) but I could use it as a 'what if' or a dream segment. Basically Nathan would scheme to break back into the old job where he had been fired from and wreak havoc with the place.

One day I brought the script to work along with the camera and a couple of props including the Joe mask I made. I had my coworkers help me by being camera man here and there.

I will take you scene by scene so watch the video: Click here.

  1. I am 'sneaking' down the hall infront of my real office and the server room.
  2. My coworker Chris Noble is sitting at his desk in the help desk area and I AfterEffect'd a 'security screen' that he appears to be watching. I took several generic shots of different areas and put them onto this phony screen to make it look like Chris is a guard monitoring all these security cameras.
  3. The security system 'box' is actually the control box for the water alarm system for the big cooling unit in the server room. Nathan plugs a cable in (not really) and uses a laptop to alter the security camera system. The cable did not plug into anything. Also the 'room' I reached into was the server room and the room I sitting infront of the door of is my office.
  4. You might notice the footage is sped up in a lot of places. this was to cut down on time so the video would fit into the sketch.
  5. With the security guard distracted Nathan moves again.
  6. In the hall Nathan looks up at a camera (real) and then puts on the Joe mask (my boss).
  7. The far shot that looks like a security camera is my coworker up on a ladder at the end of the hall. I just made the footage black and white to make it look like security video. If you notice when I put the mask on and the scene switch to a long shot I am actually wayyy further back down the hall than I was a moment ago.
  8. The room I move into in the next scene is the little conference room infront of my office. You will see a piece of cardboard on the wall with pin back buttons on it. This is what was left over from what I was trying to sell at Comicon the that year.
  9. The picture behind me as I look at my old office is a photoshop is of my coworker Jonathan's head ontop of a female bodybuilder.
  10. The camera I approach with the handmade card is the card reader for the server room. I simply used Aftereffects to make that 'fish-eye' effect with the shot so it looks like some sort of security camera.
  11. After we see the guard still waiting for the porn I show up in the server rack and move it across the floor. It is very comical.
  12. The next shot of me walking behind the network patch panels was done by putting the camera on a cart and rolling it. The cables in that last rack were put there by me for this sketch.
  13. The Kaution sign is an in-joke about the time my shirt designs on CafePress were pulled because some company said it infringed on their copyright of the word Caution. I redesigned the shirts spelling it Kaushen. Well, it was sort of an inside joke.

The video seems to be well received by everyone who watches it. More so by those who work with me. I had fun doing it and I like the song so that's a bonus. I simply wrote in a sketch around it explaining that Nathan was mad enough to do something like this but in the end he just shrugs it off since he doesn't feel like doing it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Review: Thumb Movies

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Steve Oedekerk (not to be confused with Bob Odenkirk) has my sense of humor. I think he must be my long lost dad or something.
When I was going through a somewhat rough patch I got ahold of a screener copy of Kung Pow from where I worked. I laughed so much I'd thought I'd die. I watched that movie three times in like two days. This movie was everything I love about comedy. There was an interesting review about the movie that sums up how I feel about it:

"An incredibly narrow in-joke targeted to the tiniest segment of an already obscure demographic."
-- Wade Major, BOX OFFICE MAGAZINE

I can only assume that since I found so much enjoyment in this movie that I must be this obscure, tiny demographic. From then on I became a Steve Oedekerk fan.
In 1999 Oedekerk released Thumbwars. A Star Wars spoof using thumbs with digitally inserted faces. I have always ragged on people who 'ride the coat tails of Lucas' but I seem to turn a blind eye when it comes to anyone who is already established in Hollywood. I guess I should be saying I hate 'nobodys who ride the coat tails of Lucas'. What I mean by this is doing stuff (like all the fan films and such) in an attempt to get a career in Hollywood.

Anyway the whole gag of the thumb movies is the freaky looking characters. Using technology that apparently was 'secret' (which I assumed they were trying to patent) they paste a face and eyes of actors onto the thumbs. I am guessing they didn't patent the technology since I have seen this technique used on YouTube in some one's attempt to ride the coat tails of Oedekerk by using it with various inanimate objects (I'm sure with all the hits they have a Hollywood contract is probably in the works). Losers.

Thumbwars is the retelling of Starwars (well, sort of). Steve plays several characters but most importantly Loke Groundrunner. The plot runs somewhat along the same lines at the first movie but skips over stuff (when its funny to do so). Elements of the other movies are blended in as well including Yoda (known as Puppet) in this version. There are some great lines in here including one Imperial Officer who asks Dark Helmet Man (ala Vader): 'Why do we all speak with British accents when we are in space and there is no Britain?' Dark Helmet Man promptly 'de-heads' the offending officer. The story (like all the thumb movies) is secondary to the jokes and visual gags. If you like this sort of silly nonsense then you will enjoy the thumb movies.
Part 1
Part 2

Batthumb is probably my favorite of the thumb movies (next to Thumbtanic). It's a retelling of the 1989 Batman movie with Woose Bain and Vicki Nail as the leads and the real story saving character of Blue Jay and extremely effeminate version of Robin. Once again Steve Oedekerk plays the lead character.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Thumbtanic is probably my favorite of the thumb movies because of two parts. The first is the the rich people making jokes about poor people and this part. I had a real hard time stopping laughing when that unexpected bit happened. The captain is the same effeminate character that plays Blue Jay in Bathumb. Flaming character are always fun to watch. Remember The Producers: 'Keep it gay! Keep it gay! Keep it gayyyyyyy!'
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

The Godthumb is the a take on The Godfather. At this point I am loosing interest since I was never a Godfather fan. Still, like I said earlier, the stories take a back seat to the jokes and visual gags so it still gets the job done.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Frankenthumb is... you guessed it Frankenstein. Like I said with the The Godthumb the story is really ignored for the most part for the jokes (which are still great). I couldn't find the full movie but here is 'part 2'.

The Blair Thumb Project is the last on my list. Of course it is a parody of The Blair Witch Project. Of course it was probably the easiest to make since there were not many sets to build but it still has it's moments... 'mallow!'
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Vacation

By Chris McGinty (AccordingToWhim.com)

Nathan called me earlier to check in, and I explained to him that we have been on vacation; we just had no knowledge of this until it was over.

The vacation started out of necessity, I think. We got behind a few weeks ago, and I went back and filled in the blanks with older writing we had. In my mind, it made the posts official enough, because it was material that could have been posted at anytime during that downtime. Then we fell behind again. This time I don’t have any material to fill in the blanks with, so I don’t think we should try. Getting caught up last time was partly the cause of getting behind this time. I posted up nine posts, and none of them were moving the blog forward, so we got behind.

The way that the ten weeks goals work is that the first ten weeks starts the Monday before January 1 of any given year. There are five ten week periods. Then there is a vacation until the Monday before January 1. This makes for about two weeks of vacation. Although I’m not sure that we would have stopped writing the daily blog during that time, as the ten weeks go, I’m claiming we took one week early.

Listen, I just need something to rationalize, and this seems good enough.

I’m not sure if we’re coming back reenergized, but I think that by declaring, “Game On!” that perhaps we can get back on task where we haven’t been. The first step is something I discussed before. Three is the new zero. We should each have three posts in the draft section ready to go, and consider it to be zero posts ready. We only use one in the draft section if we write one to replace it.

So what were we doing during our vacation? I’m not too sure either. I did something involving Magic cards and the TV show 24. I’ll discuss this later in the week. I’d like to discuss focus, and the good and bad of the concept. Nathan actually stayed pretty busy on Whim stuff, and wrote a few posts here and there about what he was doing.

I need to write my accounts of the haunted house and the garage sale. I need to finish up the “Some Thoughts” posts I was doing. I need to read more Stephen King stuff, and do a follow up there. I think I’m going to do a series of posts in the near future reviewing each of the a-ha albums. I recently discovered that their ninth album came out in 2009, and I missed the eighth in 2005. I have plenty to write about I guess, so no excuses.

Nathan is working on posts about Afghani cooking tips, population control, and zebras without stripes. Not really.

Anyway, I just wanted to welcome us back from the vacation we didn’t know we were on.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More Hangman's Videos

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

So a week or so ago Chris, Miguel, and I took a trip to Hangman's House of Horrors (which you can read about here). Well, about three days later I get another email from Darla asking if I can do another video for them (with the stuff we already shot). The email was a little sketchy on details and I thought she was talking about making a training video of sorts that shows what how to act or not to act. After another day and some clearer emails I finally talked to D'Ann who works there too and she said that twice during the season they have a party after the house closes and she would like a video for light entertainment to play during the party.

When we shot the video of the actual walk of the haunted house I had a camera, Chris had one, and Miguel had one. My camera is the only one that had 'night vision'. Chris' and Miguel's shot in color with Chris' using some sort of low light feature. The video I shot is the only one that looks completely lit. As you would expect the camera had a hard time focusing since I was constantly moving and the smoke effects and strobing lights. For the most part it did well. I got most of the actors focused up and any cool looking props and sets.

Since all they wanted was a 'entertainment' version of the video I knew I could cut out all the shaking camera shots where I was wondering aimlessly around in there. I took the entire video I had shot and edited it down from thirty something minutes to about twelve. This edit cut out most walking bit and focused more on the actors. D'Ann wanted the volunteers to see themselves in the house in this party version. I cut out most of the unnecessary bits so the final video is more of a 'who's who' of the experience of the main house.

For the introduction at the beginning of the video I took what I had built for the 2010 Halloween Special Episode and worked in different titles and some different footage to make it unique. At the end of the video I placed the interview that we shot with Darla and added our website address to it as well (couldn't hurt).

I dropped it off and I haven't heard about it since. I am not sure how well it went over or if it went over at all. Maybe someone lost it or something. I will update you all when I hear something.

Darla and D'Ann are also wanting a short promotional video they can put on their website so I will need to get some more 'professional' footage of the inside of the house. The video will be more of a commercial type video. I am hoping to get the ball rolling soon on that as well.

Monday, October 11, 2010

According To Garage Sales

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Why o why (do you ask yourself) would a public access show want to write about garage sales...

  1. It involves Nathan and Chris (which IS According To Whim's team).
  2. It is about making money (which is something we talk about a lot here).
  3. This is a group/site/show/blog called... According To Whim.

This Saturday I held a garage sale in Fort Worth. I have this love/hate relationship with garage sales. I love them because you can unload of bunch of stuff you don't need or use anymore and make some cash but I hate them because you have to deal with people being cheap.

You may or may not know that the whole Fort Worth thing fell utterly apart. We are moving back so I thought we needed to dump a lot of stuff to make it easier to move back (make some cash, get rid of some unused stuff).

My plan was to open the garage sale at 8:30am. Chris would be there to help me haul the stuff up to the front yard. I was nervous of all the 'early bird' types so I placed a 'closed' sign up there and we did have some people come by then drive on (with one actually getting out for the vehicle before realizing what the deal was). We were at about 8:15 and when I came back up front with a load of stuff and there was someone shopping. Chris turns to me and says that she is a close personal friend and it was ok... he then asked her her name. By the time our official start time had arrived we had like six people rummaging.

Now let me just start by saying that I have good stuff. We are not talking about us selling a bunch of old cracked plates, nasty used stuffed animals, or old pantyhose. We had a lot of fairly new and fashionable clothes, many items still wrapped (like old Christmas presents we didn't use), my DVDs, and brand new Cyberpunk 2020 CCG cards. When I and my wife went through everything and priced it I got a good idea of the great stuff we had and just knew we were going to sell every bit of it.

Chris and I rotated between hanging outside and messing about watching videos on the computer (the videos I was working on for the 2010 Halloween Special and the Hangman's House of Horror's party video). Chris did most of the sitting outside. The house faces the sun and has no trees in the front yard so he did a lot of baking in the sun. People came and went and didn't appear to buy all that much. From what I remember we had only 2 big buyers. Some bought a crock pot and some clothes and kitchen utensils and someone else bought a whole slew of stuff.

Since I purchased all those Cyberpunk 2020 CCG cards a couple of years back Chris and I have been working at selling them. It's tough going. We posted auctions of them. We made an online store for them. We posted Craigs List ads for them. Apparently selling them at garage sales is far more effective since we sold more Cyberpunk 2020 CCG cards at the garage sale than in the last six months of selling elsewhere. Also a surprise was the fact that our Cyberpunk 2020 CCG clientele was of a Latino persuasion. True, it was cheaper than online and these people probably have kids and family that would like to play around with some stuff even if they know nothing about them.

Towards the end of the sale Chris and I did a little shopping of our own and Chris picked up the wife's old Sims 1 games we had bundled together and I picked up a book Chris brought called: Isaac Asimov's Mother's Day. I love short stories. I love sci-fi. It's like Reese's peanut butter cups: 'the two tastes that taste great together'. I love the cover of this book too:

Isn't that swell? Can you just imagine her saying: "Bzzzzt. Have a hot fresh ~ bzzzzt ~ cookie dears. Bzzzzzzzt".

Anyway at about 1pm we closed up shop. I didn't want to be out there all day so I made the end time earlier than most. As I was packing stuff back up people would drive by slow and realize we were closed. Chris would make an offhanded comment like: 'three hundred bucks for everything still here'. He kept doing this at slow passing cars but the further along I got packing up stuff the lower the price would go. This went on until the price for everything was like fifty bucks or something.

Chris was also convincing me to do the whole 'paying off debt' thing while I was packing stuff up. Chris' plan is to have me just let him run my life for three months while we focus on Ebay and paying off debt. I told him I just feel like it wasn't the right moment since I have been so busy i don't have much free time to myself even. He also felt he had this issue. I told him we could save all the garage sale extras and do some Ebaying with it when our schedules were more free.

In the end we made somewhere around three hundred dollars. Not nearly as much as I had envisioned. I guess it was good enough and we got rid of some stuff (which was more important to me). I didn't have too many haggling people to deal with and only one nut case (that went on and on about the government for no apparent reason what so ever).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

2010 Halloween Episode

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

In 2005 I had a dream of making an all-Halloween episode of According To Whim. I liked the idea of doing one once a year. Each year there would be a According To Whim Halloween Special (brought to you by Tide, ok, maybe not). So in 2004 through 2006 I shot a few little things that could be used in a Halloween episode.
Dylan came over one day in 2005 and we shot a couple of horror themed items and even a Halloween episode intro and exit. Infact most of the stuff shot with Dylan (all together) could be put into a 'horror' themed show with the exception of 'Dylan and Cody try to get on the show' and 'the Munchie Shak'.
When I talk about horror themed stuff I am of course talking about horror/comedy stuff. I didn't want to do straight up horror. Later Miguel, Chris, and I would work on part of a sketch that was mostly horror and only a little funny at the end. If any of you have ever seen the Gun Sketch that Miguel and I did you can see how twisted Miguel's sense of horror and comedy mixed together is. My style is much more whimsical and must have a huge element of comedy and not so morbid. Did you go watch the Gun Sketch? I will give you time to go shower off and come back. If you haven't gone and scrubbed yourself clean after watching it, watch this one too. It's horror of a different kind that Miguel did.
Anyway... Dylan and I shot some sketches for the Halloween episode:

Afterwards things slowed down again and not much got done (the story of our lives). Halloween came and went and the episode did not get done.

We were approaching Episode 6 and I needed material. This was the last episode of Season 1 and time was pressing and I couldn't get Chris over to do much. The idea behind the 6th episode was that Chris and Nathan got mad at each other and split up. The problem was that both wanted the show so they agreed to split the episode into 2 halfs (one half would be Chris' and one half would be Nathan's). This split in episode worked well because at the time Chris hadn't been able to come over and do much and much of 'Chris' half' was normal sketches we did together. Since I needed to fill in this episode and I had an uncompleted Halloween episode floating about I simply put the sketches into Episode 6.

2006 came and went and I got back on the ball in 2007 and started working on a new Halloween special. It was somewhat half hearted because I only had one new sketch and new intros/exits, and intermissions. Everything else was old stuff that I reused. The big new sketch in the 2007 version was 'The Professor of Dirt's Halloween Special'. I did a new intro and exit as well as a website promo/intermission piece and threw in stuff like 'The Hair Bitch' sketch from Episode 1 of Season 1. Miguel, Chris, and I started a new sketch called 'let me sleep' but we didn't get much done before giving up. Maybe in the future we can finish it.

In 2010 I wanted to do another Halloween special. I started working weeks before on some nifty Adobe AfterEffects intro credit and exit credit sequences. I then had this great idea, why not contact Hangman's House of Horrors in Fort Worth and try to get an interview? It's good for them, it's good for me, its good for everyone! I did it and Chris, Miguel, and I went there and filmed it. That very weekend Chris was like 'finish a short version of the interview and make a complete episode for public access and have it done in 2 days'. I tried but couldn't. I got close but it was (and is) taking a full extra week to bring it together. I didn't want to do just a rehash of all old sketches I wanted something with a little freshness.

On Sunday I got up and set up a green screen in the garage and put a chair and table with skulls and such on it and draped a black fabric shower curtain over my shoulders for a cape and shot the episode intro, exit, and 'in between sketch making of' bits. I basically would insert older sketches into the 2010 Halloween Episode but have some new segments where I gave some insight into the sketches. All this adds some freshness to otherwise old sketches.

I hope to do another sketch or two to put into the 2010 Halloween Episode before it broadcasts so I don't have to use more of the old sketches to fill out the episode. Once done I need to get cracking on a 2011 Halloween Episode with all new sketches. That would be nice.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

According To Facebook

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)


Well, we went trendy... we went Facebook. I am sure that now we have joined the ranks Facebook will be the new MySpace and people will abandon it with gusto.

I'm not real sure why we put it off so long. There wasn't much reason. I mean everyone seems to use (and give out TMI) on Facebook so it seems like the perfect venue for promotion.

We live in a day and age of the interwebs. One of the things I have become privy to working with marketing people at my job is the use of Social Media in marketing. Social Media simply means websites like:

  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • Twitter
  • Pukebox (I just made that up)

In new contacts and services offered by marketing groups Social Media marketing has become the hot ticket. It is everywhere. Apparently it works too. Its just another venue for promotion (a cheap one at that) so it is SUPER popular. One part of a marketing agreement I saw when dealing with our Bariatric's marketing was the promise that this marketing company would spend 3 hours daily on Social Media. They didn't. How in the world can you spend 3 hours promoting on Social Media per day? I guess they consider farming on FarmFishTownVille apart of their marketing action plan.

I talked to Chris about the whole thing and he made sure I was going to get an actual 'organization' page and not just another 'user' page. He has heard that organizations (shows, bands, groups, etc) who just make a new 'user' account (so people can 'friend' them as opposed to 'like' them) get the ire of other users. People don't like that sort of thing for some reason. When I set up the account I made sure I was adding an 'organization' so people could 'like' use.

I continued to put it off since I liked having our website AccordingToWhim.com the main 'hub' for all things Whim but finally gave in and made the page. I then promptly forgot about it after uploading some pictures on it.

I got back into the page and posted the links to the new video we made at Hangman's House of Horrors as well as the Blogger Post about it. I guess what pushed me to getting back on the whole Facebook thing was the creation of the new material.

Chris has this dream that one day we can have our own Wiki-poo-poo page and you need to be fairly 'out there' to get one. This seems like a nice step in that direction.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Hangman's House of Horrors

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

On October 1st Chris and I (with unexpected guest Miguel) went to Fort Worth's charity-driven haunt: Hangman's House of Horrors. It's located on I-30 and Forrest Park Blvd in West Fort Worth.
About a week and a half (or so) earlier I email Hangman's to ask for an interview for the show. I figured with the new 'secret project' approaching as well as the 2010 Halloween Episode that some new material would be cool. This would give us some footage as well as some promotion for the haunted house.

On the 1st Chris showed up at my place and we played a few games of NetRunner before heading out. Miguel was a 'maybe' (isn't he always?) so we headed out at about 8:45.

When we got there we found Miguel hot on our heels. Apparently the idea of shooting something not confined to a sketch interested him.

In our conversation the Marketing and Promotion Chair: Darla Robinson told me to come on out and she do an interview and we could shoot some footage of the attraction. I prepared some questions for her to answer (of which you will see in the video I will link to later in this post). When we arrived we did some filming of the outside of the location. When Darla arrived she greeted us happily and told us she was also having someone from Dark Sky Films out that night to promote Hatchet 2. She wanted to bring us inside and even send us through the main haunted house. There are several on the property:

  1. Hangaman's (40 minutes)
  2. The Swinery (10-15 minutes)
  3. 3-D Wonderland (10-15 minutes)
  4. Obscurities (15 minutes)

We went into the 'park' and got some shots of various locations then Darla introduced us to Katie Stout (strangely enough no relation). She was the person hired by Dark Sky to promote Hatchet 2. Darla then got us up to the front of the main house's line and we all decided that I should go in with a group of girls (for some good screaming reaction shots) and Chris and Miguel would go together (each also with a camera). I didn't use the Canon XL2 because it doesn't have 'night vision'. I used the older Samsung camera you have read about here and Chris used the Sony and Miguel used his camera.

The theme of Hangman's this year is 'Happy Horror Days'. They take the holidays and twist them into nightmarish scenarios. Hangman's is 20,000 square feet and takes about forty minutes to navigate it. I must admit that I was a little 'disconnected' from the action since I was focusing on getting good shots so the frights weren't as potent for me. I tried by best to follow the group of girls but often got lost (which was how it is designed) and sometimes had to turn the screen reverse to shed some light so I could see which way to go. On at least three occasions I was warned to turn off the camera or I might get kicked out. Once I told them what we were doing I got some apologies and I moved along.

The scenes were well done and actors really interact with the patrons. Darla says in the interview that the house's layout is changed every year to offer something different but I don't see many people being able to tell (unless you went like every day each year). They could probably leave it and do changes every other year and no one would be the wiser. There are also 2 rolling tunnels in the house. These are the long tunnels where you walk across a bridge and the round wall turns. Your eyes make your body feel like you are moving but you aren't. It is very disorienting (unless you look at the horizon) and really neat optical illusion. It amazes me how our mind will interpret what it sees and will actually force your body to react a certain way. Once you exit the main house (though a chainsaw wielding red neck x-mas tree shop) you are in front of the Swinery where your frights can continue.

After touring the main haunted house I got some more shots of activities in the park. There is quite a bit going on besides the haunted houses:

  1. Laser tag
  2. Live bands
  3. DJ with Karoke
  4. Novelty photos and props you can buy
  5. Bungee jumping (at certain times during the season)

There are more and change each year. You can pay for each haunted house you want to go into or pay for the full package and go into all the houses. You can also pay a little more and get a 'fast pass' so you can jump way ahead of the long lines. I am guessing this will be really useful during the peak days of the season.

After getting the final bits of footage we all trooped up to the front of building (which used to be an old auto parts warehouse) and we set up lights and cameras for the interview. We interviewed Darla and two others (which will soon be on our site). We wanted to get Darla's interview up as soon as possible for the promotion value to Hangman's early in the season.

Hangman's House of Horrors donates it's net proceeds to local Tarrant County Charities and that spirit of volunteerism shows in everyone we encountered on the property. A great time was had by all and we really appreciate all the kind help we had from Darla.

Click here to check out the video we made on YouTube.

Go check them out. Click here for the website where you can find their operating hours and more information.