Monday, August 8, 2011

News: Life, goings-on, school, Sonic the Hedgehog


I haven't done a blog post like this in a long while.  I'd apologize, but I know it's probably gonna be another long while until the next one, so there's not much point.  I wouldn't want to insult you.  I'm just not much of a blogger.  I'm not much of an anything, really.  I'm pretty much constantly just sitting around writing material and working on the show.  I only really ever go out to sit at cafes with my laptop and a coffee, and to eat.  For a couple months my diet consisted almost exclusively of Junior Mints and fucking banana milk, with the occasional burger so I wouldn't drop stone dead from malnutrition.  I have a hard enough time handling my own messed up neurotic brain to take on another one and hold down any kind of meaningful relationship.  I get bored in most social situations extremely quickly, not out of any kind of arrogance but not much holds my attention these days unless it's something I'm working on.  Going out for a drink at a bar is one of the most boring things in the fucking world to me, but most of the people I know get great enjoyment out of it, and that's how it should be.  I really wish I could be like that.  The same actually sort of goes for movies and video games, which I try very hard to make time for but it's a tight squeeze.  I'm a workaholic, I guess.  I'm a gigantic loser in basically every aspect of life save for making films; my outlook is, I suck dick at everything else, I might as well be good at this.  To top it off, my show involves playing with toys and filming it.  It's fucking embarrassing.  When people ask what my job is I sidestep it by being as vague as possible.  'Oh, I write some content for a website'.  Especially if they've just finished describing their own job and it involves heavy physical labor, in fear of getting punched in the face or something if I told them the truth.

"Yep, lots of heavy lifting, eighteen hour days.  Pay's shit and the boss is a major asshole.  So what do you do?"
"I work from home filming toys and overlay it with text and shitty voices."

So there may not be many posts like this, but you're not missing anything, I'm not a very interesting person.

I actually have a term at university coming up in September, finally got into film school.  Haven't been yet.  A few years ago I went straight out of high school into university to pursue a career in game design, and I fucking hated it.  Most of my teachers were idiots and assholes.  And I'm not saying that out of some juvenile lashing out to authority, some of my teachers were cool, but they weren't enough to elevate the experience from being extremely boring and shitty.  I stayed for one
term and then dropped out to take the job with Machinima and I've been doing that ever since, which I'm super grateful for because not only did it make me realize my true interests lied in story telling and not game design, but it also let me develop my skill immensely.  I might not be that great still, but there's a concrete jump in quality in every new season of shows I do, and that really cheers me up, to know I'm at least getting somewhere.

Not to knock what people might enjoy, but if I'm being honest, I detest pretty much everything I've ever written before the latter half of Arby 'n' the Chief season four.  Not that I consider everything after as gold but from that point I felt the stuff I was putting out was at least passable.  The first and second seasons are alright, but that was when the episodes captured a raw, undisciplined energy that I had, and when I started trying to control that energy with drama and structure I just fucked it up, hence the dip in quality around season two and three.  Save for Wedding for some reason, that one just sticks out like a sore thumb.  Probably because I was wasted when I wrote it.  Digital Fruitcakes was a major episode, something clicked for me with that one.  I could finally mix comedy with dramatic structure effectively and I think I've managed to stay fairly consistent since, though there's still highs and lows.

I'm looking forward to school starting, it'll get me out of the house, and although it's probably the last thing you'd expect given what I've written thus far, I'm quite looking forward to collaborating with other like-minded people.  I'm concerned too, though.  I've spent so long outside of the school system and being in complete creative control of my show that I think I'd hate being told what to do.  Not to the point where I'd speak out or be rude or anything, it just peeves me.  I also hear horror stories of lots of pretentious film school students that like to name drop old directors and obscure black and white foreign films from the 1940s, purely for the sake of the reference; I'm not saying those films don't deserve the praise they get, name droppers just piss me off.  2001: A Space Odyssey is probably my favorite film of all time, which could be considered quite cliche to film buffs, but it really is because of what a visual film it is, without being in-your-face about it.  Conversations are realistic, there aren't any cool one-liners, and everything is shown, not told, and it's because of that that it's the only science fiction film that makes me genuinely feel like I'm venturing into the unknown -- the last twenty minutes or so are surreal and god-tier.

Anyway, we'll see how school goes.

Other than that, not much else is happening.  I'm feeling pretty good about season six of Arby 'n' the Chief so far, episodes are turning out well.  I was actually freaking out about it earlier on though believe it or not.  Around episode two or three I was really struggling with the direction I wanted the season to head in, if I want everything to tie up as nicely as possible by episode thirteen and reach certain payoffs I have to be super careful about what I establish at the start.  I couldn't decide how to make it work at first, questioning if I was going about this season in completely the wrong way and I was gonna ruin my reputation by not meeting the quality of season five's end -- and at the same time Machinima sent out a mass e-mail to all its subscribers describing the new season: "It promises to be the most action-packed season yet!"  I was shitting myself, I had a miniature nervous breakdown that day.

Things are okay now though, I think I'm on a good track.  I finally figured out the ending I want for season six.  It's subject to change but I think it's super cool so far, and it's made me feel better about the direction I'm taking knowing what's ahead.  Like I said in one of my video commentaries, I believe knowing your ending is key.  Keeps everything in line.

Other than the show, I'm also working on and off on a side project.  I'm trying to write a short story/screen play based on Sonic the Hedgehog.  That may sound like the lamest thing ever, but it's not some fan-fiction bullshit like some fake ass purple hedgehog that can use the Chaos Emeralds to transform into his super mega hyper form to defeat some retarded spikey metallic death angel or whatever the fuck, or a love story between Shadow and Shrek (yes, Mike-Myers-Shrek the ogre, I'm not making that one up).

I'm trying to write something that's a reworking of the stories in Sonic 3&K and Sonic CD, revolving around the core crew: Sonic, Dr. Robotnik, Amy, Knuckles and Tails, and the antagonists would be Dr. Robotnik and Metal Sonic, but the setting would be more modern, taking place in Sonic Adventure's Station Square (a game of which I'm actually a huge fan.  I hate most of the 3D Sonic games but I love SA 1 and 2, the first one moreso.  They can be buggy, but they have well above average storytelling).

Originally I wanted to try writing my own rendition of Sonic's origin story, which I thoroughly researched, but his true origin story is, I'm sorry to say it, a bit daft.  There are some things I think are cool about it: for instance, Ivo Robotnik was once Dr. Ovi Kintobor (the name reversed), a kind scientist who worked in an underground lab on the planet Mobius and used the Chaos Emeralds to absorb the planet's evil (which is a bit vague but whatever), and Sonic, once brown in color, accidentally dug through the earth and fell into his lab and the two ended up becoming friends.  It was actually Ovi who gave Sonic his red frictionless shoes so he could break the sound barrier without starting a fire.  I like the idea that they were once friends.  But there are things I hate as well: Ovi was actually lean and skinny, but one day, he tripped over some cables or some shit and hit some buttons or something he wasn't supposed to, and the evil contained in the Chaos Emeralds transferred into his body and also 'morphed' his body with a rotten egg that also happened to be in the room, which changed his body into its current egg-like shape, hence 'Eggman'.

Morphed with a rotten egg?  Are you fucking kidding me?

The evil within the Chaos Emeralds also reversed the letters on the name tag on his lab coat, so it read Dr. Robotnik instead.  Boy, how evil is that?  What the fuck.

So I thought, in my reworked story, that he would always have an egg-shaped body, but because he was overweight, not because his DNA was morphed with an actual fucking egg, and that the reason for Ovi's evil transformation wouldn't just be 'the evil contained in the Emeralds made him evil', which seems too generic and vague to me, but rather that Sonic himself did something wrong, like set fire to his lab during a speed test run and destroyed his life's work, something along those lines, but that causes a whole bunch of other issues... I'm still working at it.

By the way, I don't seek to infringe copyright or make any money off this, this is just a personal project I'm working on on the side purely out of love for the character.  It actually devastates me that the character, who used to be a silent, reserved bad-ass in quality sidescrollers with sharp platforming is now associated with extreme campiness and bad, glitchy games, and I want to give him back his dignity for entertaining me immensely as a kid for so long.

I'm trying to write one particular scene of the story, in media res, as a test to see if it would turn out cool.  It involves Amy boarding a bullet train in Station Square carrying a mysterious briefcase, but it trolls you for a while and it turns out it's not Amy but actually Metal Sonic in holographic disguise working under the command of Robotnik and the briefcase is a viral weapon meant to infect people from station to station with mind controlling nanomachines (or something like that, still working on it).  Sonic chases down the bullet train from the rear along the track in a protective visored mask and body armor with an EMP grenade launcher, bursts in and dukes it out with Metal Sonic through the subway cars, then they keep fighting at the next station until Knuckles and the Chaotix burst in in full gear to help Sonic.  They fight Metal Sonic while Tails, being a mechanics expert, is giving him instructions via radio on how to disarm the device.  Probably sounds kind of dumb, but just to give you an idea.  I'd love to do a Sonic CG movie or flash cartoon or something, maybe collaborate with a willing artist on something.  I visualize the action being very grounded, not fantastically absurd like Dragonball Z- style laser fights, and character X dies or something but then WAIT -- the power of the Chaos Emeralds revives him and no longer is he Super Mega Hyper whoever, but Ultra Super Hyper Mega whoever and beats character Y.  Yawn.  I want it to be more subtle and bad-ass.  Like the cartoon at the beginning of Sonic CD.  Fuck, I wish that was a show.

Seriously, if there's any flash artists out there interested in working with me on the likes of that, maybe send me an example of your work and I can have a look.  It would be non-profit, purely for the sake of the character.

I've also tried writing a story based on the characters from the extremely underrated MDK games.  Especially the second one, which kicks a lot of ass.  Nothing solid yet, though.

So yeah, that's what's going on with me at the moment.  The script for the new Arby 'n' the Chief coming out next Saturday turned out pretty cool I think, so I hope you'll enjoy the episode when it comes out.  Thanks for all your support, guys.  If you've actually read this far, thanks and congratulations.