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Friday, December 24, 2010

The Christmas Film


It is the event you have all been dreading, along with getting the roast dinner sweats and having to pick up stray peanuts.

Of course, I mean the Christmas film - my own get-out clause for not sending cards. This year, it is coming to you LIVE on the link below, a world's first.

I hope you have a great break and that 2011 is ACTUALLY news-worthy for you. You'll see what I mean!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Podcast 6: Can you be taught to be a writer?

In this, the sixth podcast myself and script guru Danny Stack look at the subject of writing qualifications. Are formal courses worth doing? What qualifications do you need to be a writer? The full line up is...
You can get a DVD of the Rare Exports short Danny mentioned on this DVD or watch them here.
Thanks to MovieScope.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Scriptwriters Desktop

Here is a nice little tool I knocked up.

Have it as your computer desktop / wallpaper. Put your icons in the relevant boxes and your writing projects will be much better organised.

Just remember to turn off any auto-sorting option that you may have that means your icons stay in alphabetical order.

The space at the left and right should mean it works fine on all the different operating systems too.

It was created at 1920x1200. So it should be able to be shrunk down to fit almost everyone's monitor - or indeed scaled up. Blogger shrinks the image above - even if you click on it. 

The full size version is here - and you can get different sizes here too.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Mr Vista - final series - and lessons learnt.

I've been creating a downbeat comedy webseries for geeks for a few years, called Mr Vista. It is now on series 3, the final series. Style wise, it is in the Jacques Tati / Mr Bean mould - and it is designed to appeal to nerds with it's computer based gags. However, it seems most people get the jokes these days due to the widespread use of blogs, PCs, iPads etc.

The project just about breaks even financially (thank goodness!) and has been watched nearly 2 million times, across the 20 or so episodes. It has also done well in some online competitions and is a youtube partner.  However it's real success has been on Dailymotion, Yobi and others that have supported it and featured it.

Our secret to success has been to have a tight shooting schedule, shooting 6 episodes a day. The current series will be the last as we feel we have pretty much done what we can with this character in the current format and budget range.

Next up (possibly) are the adventures of a girl who can change camera angles at will - it is a visually fun idea that plays with perspectives and angles. But that will take more work than Mr Vista - so it will need more input and support from others.

Coming to the end of a project like this is a good time for reflection. So the key things that I have learned about creating a web series are:

One: you need multiple episodes to really make things work as a business. Only when you reach 10 episodes does it start to work artistically and financially.
Two: chumming up to the gatekeepers at the web portals is a good idea - the people I call the spotlighters. And keeping track of all the web portals is key too.
Three: doing other media and materials (downloads, photos, posters) really helps. Some people prefer these to the episodes.
Four: get a character, get a location and then shoot as much as you can. Using the filming methods of short films will probably make your web series way too expensive PLUS the audience seems to like contained and tight ideas.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Be here now

Large scale ARG (Alternate Reality Games) like the one above would seem to me to be forever capped by the number of people that can effectively take part.

You have to go to certain locations, in the real world, at certain times. This ethos is completely different to every other new form of distribution. The general trend there is much more in the direction of 'watch any story, whenever you want, wherever you are'.

That must be a big part of the appeal of the ARG of course. That it flies in the face of the trend. It is a live gig rather than mp3 download - if you follow the analogy. But it probably goes beyond that, it is more like following a whole tour, rather than going to one gig.

The time isn't so much the issue. I'm 80 hours into playing the PS3 game Final Fantasy XIII. And lots of people happily watch 24 episodes in a box set. However, these fit around other commitments and activities. We chip away at those big stories. The specific time frame that is enforced in an ARG must surely limit the people who can enjoy it.

What would a time-shiftable, real world, ARG look like? Is it feasible?

I found out about this via the Transmedia Storyteller forum - check it out if this kind of thing interests you.