Thursday, December 24, 2009

News: Some videos, holiday cheer

'Sup.

Machinima put a little Arby 'n' the Chief sketch that I wrote for them that can be viewed here.

People think I'm "psychic" because of the Arbiter's line "ten bucks says this video will cause a heated religious debate in the comments underneath."  I'm not psychic.  I'm just good at predicting human behaviour.

It was supposed to be a funny observation and get people NOT to get into a heated religious debate, but that's people for you.  Some people will always find a way to unleash their wrath on each other.

Also, Hard Justice S2: Episode 12 is available and can be viewed here.

By the way, there's not gonna be a Christmas special or anything, contrary to what I once thought.  All I'm doing over the holidays is some script writing for the future episodes of Arby 'n' the Chief in LA.  Sorry if you were expecting something.

 Merry Christmas!
Jon

P.S.  Check this out.  It's awesome.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

News: New Hard Justice on its way

Hey,

So I'm currently halfway through the production of Hard Justice S2: Episode 12.  The finale is here.  I consider episodes 12 and 13 (coming later) to be two parts of one finale.

Season two of Hard Justice failed pretty hard in the middle/last third, collapsed on its ass mainly due to piss-poor story structure.

However, I've always had a very good vision of what the finale was going to be ever since the first episode of season two.  This upcoming episode, episode 12, is what I consider to be the best episode of Hard Justice I've done yet.  Shit really hits the fan, and it's very action heavy.

Episode 13 I plan to make just as compelling, except it will be very dialogue heavy instead.

So yeah, stay tuned for episode 12 this Saturday.  If you gave up on the show halfway through this season, I don't blame you, but if you've ever even remotely enjoyed the show at all, give this episode a shot.  It's one I'm actually proud of.

Oh, and watch the end credits.  About a third of the way in I put the coolest music ever.  Personally, it reminds me of Sonic CD.

Thanks,
Jon

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

News: Writing for ANTC

Hey.

So yeah, as I said before, Arby 'n' the Chief is now in the hands of a new production team, but I'm going to be in charge of the writing and voicework (not the subtitling though), and over the past couple of weeks I've really been working at creating a compelling season outline for the remaining 10 episodes of this new season (13 in total, first 3 are already out but don't follow a season outline), and that means following the formula for story structure as close as I can.  An inciting incident, the turning point, the midpoint, the low point, the climax and the plot twist, all a lot harder to lay out than people think.

I've also written a little Arby 'n' the Chief sketch for Machinima.com's upcoming mini Christmas montage, probably no more than thirty seconds that you might get a kick out of.

For the upcoming fourth episode and each one after, I'm also working with the production team via e-mail to get it as close to the original show as possible each time.  Don't think I haven't caught on to the millions of little things wrong with the first three.  You'll probably notice a big difference in the fourth episode, most noticeably a slower pace and a 24FPS cinematic film framerate.

Also, this new outline will be introducing some new characters (hopefully), so stay tuned.

Thanks,
Jon

Video: One Life Remaining S1: Episode 7

Yo,

Episode 7 of One Life Remaining's first season is available and can be viewed here.

Thanks,
Jon

Saturday, December 5, 2009

News: Arby 'n' the Chief: in LA S1E03

Episode three of Arby 'n' the Chief: in LA is out, and can be viewed here.  All I've done for this one is the writing and a little advice with the editing, though the script itself was a bit rushed as I was asked to whip it up in an evening for a quick shoot the next day, before I really had a chance to develop a story outline for a season.

I'm not going to regularly link to these in my list as I'm still not quite satisfied with the way they're turning out.  I notice a million little problems in it, even though that makes me sound like a turd who thinks fucking "Arby 'n' the Chief" of all things was an untouchable masterpiece (it's not).  But it at least my older episodes had some humble charm in it.  This one... not so much.

I thought the script would save it kind of, but it really doesn't.  A script is only half of what a film needs (obviously).  The script dictates what is said, and the filmmaking determines how it is said, and both are equally important.  One without the other is a failure.  That's why you can never have a good series without both a good script and a decent production.  All the great ones had both, like Seinfeld.  Not only was it superbly written but it had the right minds working behind and in front of the cameras who had incredible, bubbling chemistry - Larry David, Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, if just one of those people were taken out of the mix the show would collapse.  It's all a delicate balance.  Like I said a while ago, you just have to cross your fingers sometimes when it comes to filmmaking.

Like that one Seinfeld episode where they see the pilot they wrote airing on NBC, with alternate George, Elaine and Kramer with the butler sentenced to clean Jerry's house.  If Seinfeld had that cast instead, would you have laughed as much?  Less laughs = less ratings = less success, the example has nothing to do with the writing.

Not that I'm claiming I know shit about working a camera, but I do believe I had a little knack for it to make my stuff stand out.

However, the improvement does not end here.  It's my job to executive produce and write this entire season, and I will be working with Machinima.com to improve each episode one after another in an effort to match the original feel, so feel free to stay tuned for the fourth episode to see if there's any improvement.

Thanks,
Jon

Thursday, December 3, 2009

News: More stuff, Arby 'n' the Chief production info

Yo,

Today alone, I've received a ton of e-mails of concern and sympathy from fans regarding my last, lengthy blog entry, and I found that really touching.  I don't have the time to respond to them all, so I figured I'd respond to them all at once here.  I've read each one, and I'd like to thank you for taking the time to type out what you all had to say (some of you really went all-out).  To those that relate that have a similar condition who found some hope and/or comfort from what I had to say, I'm really glad.

Also, regarding Arby 'n' the Chief in LA, since I couldn't make it to the US, I will not be filming or directly... directing... the show.

I will, however, be handling all the writing and the voices.

So here's the deal I worked out with Machinima: I took over the story creation aspect, and I'm creating a season outline for the show.  I'm also handling the writing of each script.  Not only that, but I'm also handling the synthetic voices of the Arbiter and Master Chief (many of you must have noticed how the voices in the first two ANTC in LA episodes sounded fucked).

When I am done with the script and the voices for an episode, I send it to Machinima, and a film crew handles the production.  Filming, editing, subtitles, music, credits, all that shit.

After that, I will be given a rough cut, basically their version of a finished product, that I will examine and hand back with notes on how to tweak it (for example, if a certain scene needs to be a few seconds longer or shorter, if there needs to be a longer or shorter pause in a conversation, if a particular scene needs to be re-shot, etc).

Once the film crew and I are happy on both ends, the finished product will be released on YouTube.

So hopefully, this will mean a dramatic increase in quality in the coming episodes starting from the upcoming third episode, and will come extremely close, if not match the show you've all known and loved (or hated).

So yeah, for some of you, that should be some great news.  I will be the writer and executive producer of the show now.

I have to say I'm looking forward to it, too.  Not having the production side of shit to do, I can focus much more on the writing and try to make it as funny as I can and not get bogged down and worn out from overwork.

Stay tuned, and thanks again for your kind words!

Thanks,
Jon

P.S. I made the blog text larger, as requested by some of you.  Don't forget that you can also hold CTRL and roll your mouse wheel up and down to manually change the text size on the blog, or for any web page for that matter.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

News: About me, and other stuff!

Hey.

You may have noticed there's a stunning lack of creativity in the titles of my blog entries.  I hate having to come up with witty little titles for every one of these, especially since I'm trying to update this blog a lot more frequently now and actually make it worth visiting for a change.

Regarding my last post about my experience at Vancouver International Airport with US Homeland Security, I've been getting numerous heartwarming e-mails from Americans feeling for me and hoping I don't hate them.  I don't hate Americans at all.  I hate stupidity.  It's just unfortunate that many Americans seem to fall into that category of stupidity -- but don't worry, you cool Americans know who you are, and I love you.  You're great.

There's not really a central purpose for this entry, or probably every entry from now on, other than to get a few little things off my chest.

Hard Justice sucks, seriously.  I mean, there's a few episodes here and there I'm proud of, but seriously, looking back on it, it's such shit.  Most of the reason lies in the fact that I'm given so little time to plan out an interesting season's worth of events and develop the major plot points of the episodes that make up that season.  Before season two of Hard Justice started, I had most of the season's events summarized and I figured when the time came when I actually had to write the episodes following those events, I'd come up with some clever shit, but that really just didn't happen.  I'm now stuck with the events I previously planned and I've just gotta plow through 'till the end with mediocrity because I didn't do a good enough job planning.  Thankfully it's almost over, and I have a few good ideas for the last episodes that'll make them worth a watch.

One Life Remaining I'm pretty proud of so far, I think I've showcased some of my best writing on it.  It's also very much from the heart, as I base Anthony's character and the scenarios he's placed in very much on my own life.  Things that happen to him have more than likely happened to me.

It's just a shame that it's all done in Halo, really.  Even in the comments for the episodes, I noticed some people are curious as to why the show isn't a live action show, and they're right; I think it should be, and it would be much more effective.  However, the fact of the matter is, I work for Machinima.com, which consists of... drumroll... machinima.  Plus, machinima is just flat-out a lot easier to produce than live action.  It's a quick and efficient way to tell a story.

A lot of people ask me where I get my inspiration.  I'll tell you, but it's nothing magnificent.  In fact, it's rather grim.  All my life I've lived with depression -- and not "boo hoo I'm depressed pay attention to me" depression, I mean "near-suicidal punching holes in the walls in tears" depression.  Most of the time it's tolerable, but there's some days where it's fucking horrible.  It has gradually made me a very pessimistic and cynical person, which, on the tiny bright side, has helped me develop an ability to find humor in just about anything, because without laughter, I'd have probably shot myself by now.  That, combined with my above-average English skills, has made me a half-decent writer, and my quite literally constant daydreaming growing up developed an ability to visualize great and dramatic camera angles, which explains my cinematographic skills.  Sounds kind of lame, but growing up (especially throughout school), I'd always daydream and imagine myself as some kind of superhero, saving the day or saving whoever girl I had a big crush on at the time, and so on, kind of like the TV show Doug where Doug imagines himself as a superhero saving Patty Mayonaisse from Godzilla or whatever the fuck, except I'd take it a step further, imagining an entire feature length film's worth of scenarios.  It's a bit childish and embarrassing, but there you have it.

Depression is very misunderstood.  Personally, I think people who don't have it have no idea how bad it really is, and it makes me uncomfortable to talk about it among my peers because I'm afriad they'll come to the conclusion that "I'm just a pussy" or I'm just not "sucking it up" enough.  Sitting alone in silence can be a depressive's worst enemy -- thinking about every single moment you've been embarrassed or wrong, feeling like you're being taken advantage of, except magnified many, many times, to the point where things going on around you are drowned out by bubbling, screaming despair and rage until the only thing that can get rid of it is breaking something with your fist.  So I always try to keep myself occupied and do my best to turn it in my favor, writing down shit that really pisses me off and deriving humor from it, which has led to most of my success.

I used to drink in an attempt to get rid of it.  Heavily.  Jack Daniels, unmixed, straight from the big bottle.  Did more harm than good; it's not something I recommend.  However, doing nothing made me punch a cupboard door off of its hinges one night, so I was on anti-depressants for a while, Cipralex to be specific, 20mg, but it made me feel dizzy every morning and sometimes like throwing up.  The side-effects of the drug were also ridiculous, and due to an eventual hatred for the horribly corrupt pharmaceutical industry, I eventually weened myself off of them.

I then began taking something else that so far, has done an incredible job of keeping my depression at bay.  I'm not really comfortable with saying because I'm not quite sure of the implications it can have if it's laid out in the open, but let's just say I'm glad there's a reason Vancouver is nicknamed "Vansterdam".

I am NOT condoning the use of drugs in general.  I'm merely announcing my methods of handling a bad mental condition.

So yeah, for those wondering how I am where I am now, I hope you've gained some valuable insight, and if you think you've got what it takes to do what I do, fucking go for it, at least give it a shot.  The world sucks balls and writing can be a great job and a creative outlet than can make you happy.  As a joke, I might often say that I hate kids' shitty machinima, but the truth is, I have a great appreciation for kids' willingness to tell a story to entertain others, there's something about that that's really, really cool to me.  It's how I started out too, so I'm really bashing myself whenever I joke about it.

I gotta get some sleep, so I think I'll leave things there for now.

Also, you may have noticed the blog has been revamped and cleaned up a bit.  Hope it looks cool and it's easy on the eyes.  I'm not sure if the text is too small on other people's computers, but if it is, someone drop me an e-mail and I'll get it fixed up.

That's another thing, I hope you don't get offended if I don't respond to your e-mail.  The truth is, I don't respond to like 80% of them.  Sounds bad, but I just fuckin' don't have the time.  I'm sure some of you know how it is.  However, I do read each and every one.  If you have ever e-mailed me, your voice has been heard, so at least know that.

A lot of the e-mails I get though are just flat-out stupid as fuck, which is why I don't respond to those ones at all in particular.

So yeah, to all fellow depressives out there, stay strong, you're not alone, and for the rest visiting here, thanks much for checking out my shit and supporting me one way or another, I greatly appreciate it, even though it seems like I don't most of the time.  I do.  High five.

Peace,
Jon