Monday, October 6, 2014

Crowd-Funding Projects, Chemotheraplay Feedback, Season Eight of You-Know-What

Hello, folks.

As you know, I had three projects that I had written about my interest in producing through crowd-funding.

These were Chemotheraplay, a satirical video game review show (two cuts of the pilot of which are available for viewing on the menu at the page's left side); a satirical film-making walk-through series starring my ridiculous Cameron Shuttersnap character (who can also be seen on the left in 'Film and You'); and a pilot episode for a potential animated action, science fiction (or 'syfy' if you're an asshole) and comedy series called Paulie Frost, revolving around a penguin who's bullied as a child, grows up to be a brutal intergalactic mercenary and becomes a bully himself in the gruesome, action-packed process of taking down psychopathic terrorists.

A few weeks ago, I created a poll asking my fan base what they'd prefer to see. Initially, I was secretly hoping that the filmmaking review show would be chosen, as that's the one that I can see myself both making quite funny and producing with relative ease. However, Paulie Frost was the victor.

Don't get me wrong, I'm stoked that this is the case, because that's the project that I'm definitely most excited about from a creative stand-point, but I'm not sure who I'd get to animate it once I finish a script for the pilot. I had a potential one lined up, my friend D Laz who I've collaborated with in the past, but he's already working for studios that are piling on his work hours, and is insanely busy. It's definitely not a project I intend on abandoning, but it may not be my wisest choice right now.

As of now, I can't help but feel a little bit apprehensive to starting a crowd-funding campaign in the midst of my school term.

I keep hearing from instructors and runners of past campaigns that crowd-funding is an every-day gig, requiring that backers be updated on the progress of the project they're donating to daily, and I only ever update my blog once every billion years -- as I know you're all painfully aware. That means you'll only get two updates at most after this one before the sun obliterates the Earth. If you're looking to kill a billion years, you can always look for an online match on Smash Bros. that doesn't lag like shit.

I'm in the fourth and final year of my film production program, and while I've gained a tremendous amount of practical experience, I'm fearful that it's made me a worse writer; that is to say even worse. I can recall a certain creative energy that I had before I started the program that's all but been sapped away. While the program's teaching me to tap into the true beauty and potential of cinema, I still just want to write about bears in fighter jets and people's heads exploding.

Maybe that's exactly why I need to be in the program. Not that I'm finding the time to write that stuff anyway, being bogged down with assignments that I find unbearably dull, no matter how many times my instructors tell me to "try and have fun with it." Every time I hear that, my eyes roll so far back into my head that I need an ambulance. That, and "five year plan," which makes me grind my teeth into dust.

However, I don't think there's any shame in writing for younger audiences. I'll eternally respect the likes of Klasky-Csupo and Nickelodeon for producing shows like Rugrats, for example, which taught me the very important lesson at an early, naive age that adults are full of shit, and that their seniority shouldn't make them immune to questioning; a lesson that I believe proves quite beneficial throughout post-secondary education, and will continue to be throughout life onward, I'm certain.

I'm also daunted at the prospect of having to produce valuable donation rewards and shipping them all out. I'm not sure what to offer as a reward other than shaving off tufts of my pubic hair. I don't really have a franchise associated with me other than Arby 'n' the Chief, the stars of which are Microsoft trademarks, so I imagine that I can't throw those guys on a t-shirt without getting body-checked by SWAT and getting raped in the bum in prison forever.

That being said, I still intend on giving this crowd-funding thing a shot eventually. The responsibility that comes with it is just daunting, and I'm worried that I won't have the time to keep all of the backers constantly appraised and satisfied.

I've read all of the comments on the Chemotheraplay Pitch Video, and I'm very grateful to all those who checked out the video and provided me thoughtful, constructive feedback, it's useful and much appreciated. Nearly all of it has been great, only a minor number of trolls haven't retreated back under their bridges.

Everybody seemed to like it overall. The preference between one cut and the other seems fairly even. People generally liked the offensiveness and lack of restraint in the first one, but also the clarity and swift pacing of the second.

There's a school of thought that the first cut's opening sequence was far too much, and another that the extremity was appreciable, not to mention personal friends of mine have approached me and said it wasn't extreme enough, and that I should've pushed it even further. Granted, I have friends who are as mentally ailed as I am.

A bunch of people thought that the mask made me look like a complete wack-job, and not in a good way. In hindsight, I don't blame them. Good thing it's on the internet forever now, along with all the other terrible shit I've made. If there's one thing I'm good at, it's driving my career further towards the Earth's core. Things are getting hot.

Recently, I twatted on Tweeter regarding the possibility of doing one more season of Arby 'n' the Chief. I twatted so hard. For those interested or appalled by the idea, I should elaborate.

I'm almost as mentally divided about continuing the show as I've ever been, but not quite; which surprises me, because I was expecting the opposite -- that I'd swear off the show more and more as time went on.

The truth is, part of me misses writing for those characters as they basically represent my left brain arguing with my right, which are constantly at war anyway.

Might as well get it on paper if it's funny.

However, the other part keeps reminding me that I'm halfway to twenty-seven years of age, I'd be lying on my stomach to film myself playing with action figures for an eighth run, and I may as well give up on the idea of procreation and down a bottle of bleach at the wrap party with only myself in attendance, save for the stuffed animals propped up in fancy attire that I provide the voices for in varying pitches.

I'm quite terrified of being that guy who's pushing fifty, big clumps of hair missing from his balding scalp and his Huggies soaked in urine, trying to promote the seventy-ninth season of Arby 'n' the Chief that's 'edgier than ever', with every spoken word including conjunctions replaced with either 'faggot' or 'cunt', and anything resembling even a slightly substantial story replaced with a montage of the toys punching each other in the face and drinking semen.

In spite of these depressing thoughts, I asked my contact at Machinima a little while ago where the show stood in terms of intellectual property control.

I've done all of the writing, editing and the majority of the performing required to bring the show into existence, Machinima is the written owner and distributor who had paid my fees, Microsoft owns nearly all of the characters that mine are based on as well as the software and artwork required to produce the in-game sequences, and Bungie produced those elements.

I gave up trying to determine the true owner of the show a long time ago. Legally speaking, it's a thicker gray area than my great grandmother's bush. I might as well be looking for Tupac or Carmen Sandiego.

However, in the response that I'd received, I was in fact encouraged to create additional episodes and upload them to my own channel, with no threat of legal dispute, so I went on Twatter to ask the fans whether or not they'd like to see one more season.

Based on the twats that were twitted to me in response, those in favor against those who disapprove seems to be roughly seventy-thirty.

I feel I should go into some detail on my idea for an eighth season if I'm considering going forward with it. Spoiler warning; don't read below if you haven't seen the show, assuming you give a shit about the hole-riddled story.

I don't want to nullify the gravity of the toys' death with some 'it was all a dream' thing, obviously. At the same time, there's already a lot about this universe that makes zero sense. Why are the toys conscious in the first place? How are they conscious? Why do they speak the way they do? How can they eat and digest cereal? How can they metabolize alcohol? How do they piss? How does Chief ejaculate when he's beating off? How the fuck does he beat off in the first place with no genitalia? Why do they need to sleep? Why are Chief's subtitles rendered gibberish for no reason other than a visual gag? Why can we occasionally see a finger in the frame gripping the toys? Why am I never fucking home?

Given these toothy, sarlacc pit-like plot holes, I figure it's okay to take a little bit of liberty in the suspension of the audience's disbelief in writing myself out of the toys' suicide, but not so much that it's off-putting. In the series' pilot episode, the toys inexplicably came to life for no particular reason, burst out from their packaging and started fighting one another unprovoked. In the context of the entire show, there's really nothing stopping me from bringing them back in a similar manner.

That's the route I'm leaning towards, and the question of the season would become why they've returned, and their goal would be to finally discover their purpose for being, which Arbiter has been asking throughout the entire show and seems like a fitting final thematic. To maintain the gravity of their suicide, the toys would return with a complete recollection of what had happened.

This isn't to say that I'm now unhappy with the way that I ended season seven. I'm actually still quite content with the current ending, I appreciate the ambiguity of the toys' fate after being vaporized, and I like to look at it as a victory for the pair, in the sense that they finally took some control over their lives that they, at that point, truly believed had no purpose, and escaping their destroyed bodies and excruciatingly repetitive existence.

However, part of me can't help but think now of how cool it would be to pick up the show from there, just when everyone thought the show was dead and gone, and build a relatively short string of episodes that deliver a cuss and antics-filled roller-coaster ride towards a more positive end that I'd be just as happy with, which I already have in mind. I think it's quite beautiful; it would be similar to season six's ending in terms of tone, and part of me wants to see the characters happy. The problem is finding connective tissue for my current anchor points of the story that won't piss everybody off and have me cyber-bullied into hara-kiri.

I've got a good villain in mind too, one who's been established previously. I don't want to spoil it, but it shouldn't be too hard to guess who's been the most despicable villain in the series and could possibly make another appearance given the way he went out. I'm not even sure if I'll be able to get the same voice actor to return.

What I'm going for is a plot that's shorter, but more engaging than what has been seen already that continues to take full advantage of what the game content has to offer in terms of action, and balancing it evenly with isolated, funny, live-action moments with the toys as if they were 'Byte' episodes.

For those reading this who may be new to the show, the complete timeline is a bit of a mess. There's seasons dedicated to a main story line, seasons for shorter, self-contained sketches, and individual holiday specials. If you plan on sharing the show with anybody, please direct them to this blog and have them check it out through the menu on the left which reasonably divides and sorts all of the episodes, rather than click on a random one that pops up in a vague YouTube search, wonder what the fuck is happening and close the window.

There's also a significant jump in the show's tone and form half-way through the main story line seasons, starting around the latter end of season four. That's when I started incorporating super lame stuff, like character development and non-linear story arcs. Some new viewers may choose to start watching from there, I don't know.

The eighth season, should I go forward with it, would also incorporate the afterlife in a funny way, as well as myself as a character. I'm also considering finally executing my idea for a 2001: A Space Odyssey parody with the toys by incorporating it as the pair's subconscious transition from life into the afterlife, serving as their minds' coping mechanisms and a metaphor for transcendence.

I've created a poll asking about whether or not I should try and throw out one more season of the show. What do you think? Would you like to see the characters again? Would you be offended if the toys' deliciously dark end was worked around, and the show was brought to a positive conclusion? Would you think that I was just caving to those who have been desperate for more content, trying to potentially squeeze dollars out of a fatally beaten horse that has no business being given the kiss of life with lots of icky tongue?

I'm not even sure if it's legal to crowd-fund a show like this, with all of the assets and trademarks that aren't mine. I'm going to have to do some asking around if this project is favored.

Whatever you guys think, I'm honestly cool with it. I liked Ignition's ending, and if people think that enough is enough, I'll happily walk away from the series and focus on something else.

Thank you as always for all of your support, comments and e-mails, they mean a great deal to me and I hope they keep coming.

Cheers,
Jon