Monica and Alex suck.

And Monica makes bad jokes. And for some reason she resents me just because of my vodcast.

Well, Monica, fellow film major, I CHALLENGE THEE to make a film that puts me to shame. By next Thursday. That’s just over a week, and to level the playing field I’ll do one at the same time. You can even use my equipment if you want.

So, Monica, the only question remaining is: ARE YOU MAN ENOUGH TO ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE?

Hamlet @ CSU

I went to see the performance of Hamlet at CSU last weekend, and overall it was pretty great. I encourage anyone to go out and see it these following weekends, as tickets are reasonably priced.

The important thing is, that the actors got lil’ biographies in the handy-outy-thing, which listed their previous works in film and theater. Let me read you a snippet of Second Grave Digger, Soldier’s bio.

“… He appeared recently in CSU’s production of Cyrano de Bergerac, and also participated in the local short film, TERMINAL PHILOSOPHY*, this past summer”

Ho ho! A blurb! A blurb I say!

Yes, none other than Austin Hall, AKA Odin, was in Hamlet as the second grave digger.

CSU also plans to perform Picasso at the Lapin Agile, a play written by Steve Martin. Yes, that Steve Martin.

So go see it if you’re still in Colorado, (sorry Andrew) and congrats Austin!

*Capitalization added for efffect

In which I start panhandling

Well, I’ve threatened to do it before, and now I’ve finally gotten around to putting up a button asking for donations. You can see it now at the top of the sidebar, under the link to the new Exploding Forums. If that’s too much of a trip for your cursor to make, you can also make a donation by clicking here.

The process is fairly painless, and you don’t need a PayPal account to donate.

Here’s why I’m asking for donations:

As recent events have shown, EXGfilms has outgrown the sort of service that our current web host can provide, and I’ve made the decision that it’s time to move elsewhere. The problem? Parcom, our current host, has just about the cheapest rates you can find anywhere, about $30 per year for hosting and a domain name. I’ve found a couple good-looking alternative hosting plans, but they’re all in the range of about $7 per month. This may not seem like a lot, but let me remind you that I’m a film student.

So here’s the deal: my first goal is to raise $100 to cover the cost of the first year of hosting with a new provider, and then I will take the plunge and switch.

What you’ll get out of improved hosting:

Most importantly: improved stability. I’m sure you’ve seen those WordPress errors occasionally when trying to get to this site; this is an issue with our current host’s servers and would disappear entirely if we migrated to another service. All in all, it’ll be easier for you to get here.

Your own e-mail address @exgfilms.com: the hosting plans I look at come with an unlimited number of POP3 e-mail addresses. Knocks the socks off Gmail. With a new host, simply ask and ye shall receive.

More reliable vodcasts: Archive.org is great, but their servers are slow. With an improved hosting plan I’d have plenty of room to host all the vodcasts locally, meaning faster and more reliable downloads.

More media content: One of the things our current host has trouble with is dealing with media file types. I’ve got plenty of video and audio clips I’d love to upload for you all to enjoy, but haven’t been able to. Add to that enough server space to store them, and you’ve got yourself a winning combination.

larger web presence: Remember WholesaleSouls.com? It’s a HUGE traffic generator for this site. Our current hosting plan limits us to two domain names per account. A new host would let us have, well, a host of domains and project-specific sub-sites.

A sonnet. Yes, you read that right. Anyone donating at the preferred level of $10 or more will be personally thanked on the vodcast and I will write you a Shakespearean sonnet. What more incentive do you need?

Again, as soon as I raise enough money for a year of hosting (approximately $100), you will get all this and more! Please donate today!

…pretty please?

You Explode Filmmaking: Phase 2

OK, voting has closed on the production concept and WE HAVE A WINNER:

#4: A love story with teeth.

#4 received 5 votes, followed by #2 (A man is paid to tempt an honest person into sin, and then kill them, thus sending them to hell), with 2 votes, and #3 (a contradictory adaptation of a parable). #1 didn’t receive any votes, which sort of surprises me.

The next step is to…
WRITE THE SCRIPT!!!

This is your biggest job and I’m not sure how long it’ll take you or even if this will work, but we’ll just play it by ear.

The first thing you need to do is go to www.celtx.com and download the free screenwriting program Celtx, a tremendous tool if there ever was one. Make sure you have the latest version (0.9.8) and sign up for a free account.

Once you’ve got Celtx installed, you can click the “download a project” button on the main screen and download the public script called “You Explode Filmmaking.”

Then you can start writing. Don’t worry too much about formatting for now; I can take care of that if you have problems. No, I want your ideas. Start developing plot elements, characters, dialogue. When you’ve got a chunk done, save it and then upload it to the Celtx server so others can download and work on it.

Remember to re-download the project every time you sit down to work on it, and re-upload it every time you change something. Otherwise, unfortunate overwrites ensue.

I encourage you to make lots of script notes and also discuss with your co-writers in the You Explode Filmmaking forum.

At this point, there’s two things I want you to focus on: FIRST, I want you to start playing around with actual scenarios and characters and bits of dialogue. SECOND, I want you to write synopses and pass them around in the forums stealing bits and pieces from each other until you arrive at one you can agree on. A synopsis should basically summarize the characters, their backgrounds, and the events that occur in the film. For a partial (and partially helpful) essay on the ART OF WRITING A SYNOPSIS, go here.

If you’re really dedicated, the same site also has an essay on the structure of the romantic comedy (It is after all a LOVE STORY. Get that part down, and the TEETH will come easily enough), and several other essays that look like they might be helpful, depending on your level of writing experience.

Have fun, start writing, and if you have any questions or want advice you can e-mail me or post in the forum. I’ll be hanging around the forums to leave my comments and provide guidance, and I’ll be back in about a week with more specific tasks (possibly sooner or later, depending on how productive you are).

The Exploding Forums are *LIVE!*

Exploding Forums, the *OFFICIAL* forums of Exploding Goldfish Films and the Exploding Blog, have gone live today. Click the link below to be transported to a realm of interactivity where people ACTUALLY CARE WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY!

www.EXGfilms.com/forum

You have to be logged in to post on the forums, but you can use the same account as you use for this blog (and if you already have an account here, it will work on the forums).

What eventually moved me to bring a forum to this site was the You Explode Filmmaking project, which needs a method of collaboration and discussion more fully-featured than this blog can provide. I also think the site as a whole can benefit from the forums. I want to hear back from you. I want your ideas, feedback, stupid jokes and yes, even your insults. Hopefully this will be a way to foster user-directed content and discussions. I wait eagerly to see what becomes of this forum.

Your moderators are Parker, Sean, and Evan. BOW BEFORE THEM AND DESPAIR! Of course, I’m still the grand-high dictator and if they do something irresponsible, they will feel my wrath.

Who wants awesome power?

A CRIME OF OPPORTUNITY: I awoke this morning to find that the people behind WordPress, the wonderful software that powers this blog, have just released the 0.72 public beta of bbPress, which is essentially a forum driven by a WordPress backend.

In the interest of expanding the EXGfilms community, in preparation for the impending collaborative You Explode Filmmaking script and the inevitably endless discussions it will hopefully spawn, and because I was bored during art history class, I now have a functioning installation of bbPress on the site. Here’s where you come in.

I need forum testers. I would like the forum fleshed out quickly because I want it functional enough to go live on thursday or friday for the collaborative writing project. If you would like the opportunity to poke around in the pre-functional forum, starting threads, populating forums and just generally kicking the tires a couple times before it’s ready to roll, this deal is for you. If you’re prone to cackling fits and looooove to be drunk on power, this deal is also for you.

In return for being conversation-starters and getting everything ready for the general public, I will promote you all to MODERATORS when the forum goes live! If you’re interested, just e-mail me and I’ll give you all the information you need to get started.

Sleep Paralysis

In Wholesale Souls, Inc., I included a scene in which James, the main character, suffers (and I do mean suffers) from sleep paralysis. This is something I found out about in AP psych class last year and was so captivated by the idea that I wrote it into the script. However, since it had never actually happened to me, I wrote the scene from research rather than personal experience.

Last night I got my first taste of how terrifying sleep paralysis might be. I woke up out of a deep sleep and I swear I saw Dick Cheney darting through the shadows, coming to kill me. Luckily I got a big enough jolt of adrenaline that I could roll over and try not to think about it.

Let me say this: I was terrified. The thought of Dick Cheney sneaking up to me and killing me in my sleep is one that will haunt me for decades. The movie doesn’t do it justice.

Exploding Shorts Rock Boulder!

Teamed up with Vincent Gagnepain of Henceforth Productions, the Fort Collins division of Exploding Goldfish Films, Exploding Shorts, participated in The Boulder Shoot-Out this past weekend along with Sean Cummings, Aubrie Hendryx and Ethan Holbrook. Together we wrote, filmed, directed, acted in, and produced a roughly seven minute movie in twenty four hours. That may not sound like much, but… well… it is.

Not only was this insane time limit imposed on the groups, but the teams were also restricted to editing only on camera. This means no computers, no pretty time-lines and that everything must be SHOT IN ORDER. You can’t shoot scenes or cuts out of sequence and if you want to redo a shot, you have to rewind to the precise point at which you stop recording previously, and then do it again. Oh, and there were mandatory locations and props. You had to use five out of eleven of these, which may have been easy is there had been more than one prop and if the locations weren’t all 10 blocks away from where we were at any given time. It was hard, but it was oh so fun!

The film that we did was tentatively titled, “Selfless Self-Indulgance”, and concerned two characters, Ben and Amy. The two friends are discussing altruism when Ben makes the claim that no one can be truly altruistic, and bets that Amy couldn’t be truly altruistic at all for half a day. Amy points out that the very fact that he made the bet makes anything altuistic they do that day selfish, but he does it anyway and Amy decides to have no part in it. Thus Ben begins doing selfless things for selfish reasons and Amy won’t do anything selfless so as to not be selfish. For the rest you’ll have to watch the film at 4:40 at the Boulder Public Library next Saturday, or online sometime soon.
– PARKER OUT

UPDATE: Well, Michael Conti (Executive Producer and Director of The Shoot Out)called me last night to personally inform me and my team that we won the Best of 17 and Under age group. Our film will be on the Top Ten DVD and will probably be available for purchase at the Shoot Out main page. Who knows what the prize is, but we’re getting it on Saturday so come on down! :D

You Explode Filmmaking: Phase 1b

OK, so you’ve submitted some concepts for your big break in the business. Here’s what we’ve got so far (I have added my comments—in italics—to each idea, but remember that this is ultimately YOUR decision):

Mikhail gives us the first idea:

1) The main character is reliving conversations or events in their life in an introspective grey void. Maybe he/she died.
This could work, but the visuals in this film, being so spare (there’s not necessarily anything wrong with that, though), would be entirely subordinate to the story. This one would require a highly effective script and powerful performances.

Ethan has two ideas:

2) A man is paid to tempt an honest person into sin, and then kill them, thus sending them to hell.
This could be interesting, but the spiritual angle gets old after a while. I’ve been working on movies dealing heavily in spiritual iconography for a year and a half now, and quite frankly I’m tired of it. But if this one is what you guys want, I’ll do it, of course.

3) A contradictory adaptation of a parable.
Ethan’s idea originally specified this as a biblical parable, but I’m broadening it to include any parable, fable or other moralistic tale. I like the idea of rebutting a story that we all see as being unerringly true, but again, the script will need to be tight. Not as tight as with idea 1, necessarily, but tight nonetheless.

I was hoping to get more concepts than this, but since you didn’t deliver I’m going to cut loose and offer up an idea of my own:

4) A love story with teeth.
I suppose I should have offered up an example concept such as this at the beginning, but this is a learning process for us all. I put this up because I think there’s great story potential here, and yet is open-ended (remember that YOU ALL will be writing the script, not me). If you pick this one, you’d better have some ideas about the actual plot.

So there you go. I was going to set all this up with a nifty poll, but the plugin is having seizures so instead I’ll just have you vote with your comments and I’ll tabulate them by hand. One vote per person. Also, please feel free to use the comments to lobby for a particular concept, either by expounding on its merits or pitching your script ideas. Try to avoid threats, unless they’re constructive (and yes; there IS such a thing as a constructive threat. I should know because I’ve used them).

Vote away! And please, invite your friends, family, and distant relations to join in the fun! The more people we have involved, the better the end product will be!

(If you don’t understand this project, please take a look at “You Explode Filmmaking: Phase 1” for more details. And then come back here and vote.)

BIG NEWS: Terminal Philosophy music deal

Ladies and gentlemen, I am thrilled, proud, and a little bit stunned to announce that Exploding Goldfish’s upcoming film Terminal Philosophy: The Somber Tale of Leonard Noblac will feature the music of the uniquely talented singer/songwriter Dan Goldman. Music featured will include tracks from his album Through a Revolution, including “The Pacific Sun,” “Swamp Frogs and Cardiograms,” and the album’s title track, which sports lyrics eerily befitting of Leo’s predicament (not to give anything away…).

I have to credit Parker for discovering Dan’s music. On his most recent tour he came through Fort Collins and Parker went to see him (I, being incredibly hip to the local music scene, had no idea this was going on and wasn’t invited). Parker was impressed and picked up a copy of the album. A few weeks later, while we were just starting to cut the very beginnings of the film, we were searching for a track to cut the opening scene of the film to (in which Leo walks to work while terrible things happen around him). We had been cutting to a very intense, moody temp track that we wouldn’t have been able to obtain rights to, but we like to experiment and keep our options open, so we were trying a few different songs to see if anything else worked better. Parker originally suggested the track “Swamp Frogs and Cardiograms” for the beginning of the heaven scenes. That track seemed to fit so perfectly with the mood of the scene that we started exploring the CD and discovered the versatility of the music. We plopped “The Pacific Sun” underneath the opening scene and the whole tone suddenly became ironic and darkly humorous, much more so than “playing it straight” with the darker, more brooding temp track we’d been using. Soon we were finding places everywhere in the movie that would work wonders with these tracks.

You can find out more about Dan Goldman at dangoldman.ca (that’s right, he’s Canadian), where you can also listen to a few samples of his work. You can buy his album (you all should) by e-mailing him directly, or with a credit card here.

Also, you can see the new Terminal Philosophy teaser trailer here in two resolutions: HD 720p (55 MB) | iPod 640×360 (15MB)

Finally, I just want to say that it is an unending honor to be allowed to work with a musician I so respect, and a joy to share with the audience of this film some of my favorite music.

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