Filming Notes: Twitter

Before I dive into my filming notes I’m going to mention two things:

1. I’m going to start updating my blog at least twice a week. So, check back often. And comment — I love your delicious comments.

2. Go buy Twitter Wit — a book by Nick Douglas who played Nick Shiny in Break a Leg and a good friend of mine. I’m also in it, briefly.

Okay, are we on board? I think we are!

Here we go…

So, we’re working with a company to create four short satirical videos about Twitter. It’s the hip thing to do and we’re nothing if not hip, right?

No no, I’ll answer that — right.

Filming anything is a learning experience. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. That said, we’ve spend the last week and a half filming these Twitter videos and — perhaps to save any of you filmmakers trouble in the future — I’ve decided to write a few lessons learned.

Oh, and don’t worry, non-filmmakers. They’re funny and stuff.

Okay, let’s do it.

Lesson #1: If your actress is allergic to gluten, you probably shouldn’t cast her in a scene where she has to devour 8-9 cupcakes in a row. Also, once you realize the footage didn’t work (and killing her love of cupcakes forever — sorry, Daniela), you probably shouldn’t cast another actress… who is also allergic to gluten (…sorry, Sidrah).

In general, just don’t cast people allergic to gluten (sorry, Gluten-Allergic People).

Lesson #2: Always, always, always ask around for locations. Doesn’t matter what you need — if you ask enough people, someone will say yes. Unless you’re in LA, in which case, someone will say yes after you show them your insurance papers and your checkbook.

But I digress.

Ask everyone. We needed a store to shoot in — we asked two places. The first one felt so bad about saying no that they actually gave all of us (5 in all) free T-shirts (I would really, really advertise your store right now but I completely forgot the name. I’ll remember, don’t you worry!) The second one said yes immediately and let us light a corner of the store to get the scene done and even turned off their music.

Just ask.

Lesson #3: Have the nicest person in your group ask. If he has big puppy dog eyes (in our case, Justin — or, if you watch Break a Leg, Chase Cougar), they’re going to get you in.

Lesson #4: If you need a bar owner and the bar manager comes up to you and calls himself Uncle Dan to the point of actually having it written on his business card, run, run away. Don’t listen to him wax douchetic about how much more he knows than you about film.

Lesson #5: If it’s your friend’s birthday (happy birthday, Dashiell!) and he happens to be an integral part of your production team, thank him like this:

a. Surprise him with cake during the shoot, which happens to be his birthday.

b. Alert him that for the later scene, he’s going to have to be in bed with a girl.

c. Alert him that you can’t actually get a girl for the later scene, so you’re using your other friend in a blonde wig and a bra.

d. Alert him that there will also be another actor,  an older actor, who’ll be dressed in chaps and have a whip (thanks Skip).

e. Film it for the best 27th birthday present ever. Ahh, the memories.

Lesson #6: There’s a sexual fetish that’s apparently getting popular where men inject their testicles with saline to increase their size temporarily. I know, it’s not film-related, but, you know, I want to keep you in the loop.

So, saline up.

More blog on Friday, hopefully!

-Yuri


Signed Network Contracts Make Yuri Happy

NOTE: Jamison Tilsner and the guys over at Tilzy.tv were kind enough to do a write-up on this already: http://www.tilzy.tv/break-a-leg-gets-network-deal.htm — thanks guys!

You know what the best feeling is?

I know what you’re going to say, you’re going to say it’s being oiled up by Sinead O’Connor (remember her? She’s bald!) while the large woman that makes people cry with her surprisingly good singing (how can ugly people be so talented?! I thought talent resided in stupid pretty people like everyone on The Hills!) on Britain’s Got Talent croons “What a Wonderful World” to you as she sways slowly in the wind like a mangled Oak Tree.

…but no. That’s not the best feeling. It’s close, but it’s not the best.

The best feeling is when, after a long time of working on a project, you sign a contract that was sent to you by one of the big networks.

It’s a slightly odd contract.

And I’m not quite famous (yet).

But it’s a contract and, when we release the news to the world, will hopefully get a lot of attention for the show and our production company.

So, today… today was a good day.

Except now I have to make sure that they not only send me the signed version back but that they also don’t get our footage and respond with, “What the hell is this? We thought you were The Guild!”

I’ll keep you updated.


The Rant of the Web Series Creator

There are days you wonder why you do this. You sit around, perhaps in your cubicle, perhaps in your parent’s basement, perhaps in your one bedroom, roach-infested apartment and you think to yourself, “I should’ve been a hooker like mom said.”

The thing is, there’s no rationale behind being an artist. In this case, there’s no rationale being a web series creator other than, this is just the blood that you bleed.

There are days where nothing works out. Take the last two weeks in my world: we pitched Break a Leg, Season 2, to a very large advertiser (no names, but let’s just say you’ve shaved your pubic hair while humming their tagline) who seemed very interested. Unfortunately, it took roughly two months for us to find out that they weren’t so much into doing comedy anymore. Shaving, it turns out, is serious business.

I’m tired, I’m underpaid, I’m overworked and every job I do is a risk. Do I shoot a new show? Do I shoot a show for someone else? Do I go back to school? Do I start a blog? Which flying, arching, spinning ball that I’m juggling is solid gold and which one is an old man’s testicle?

A while ago, CBS Interactive was extremely interested in funding Lurker. A show that we wrote that I’m quite fond of. They were interested, they were excited, they were pushing for it — then they realized they probably couldn’t fund it. Which is too bad — I love the CBS brand, I love what they do, and I think Lurker would’ve fit them like a well-manicured, well-written, shining gold glove (and not a shining old man’s testicle). It was a punch in the gut — I really thought that one might work out.

I’ve never doubted that I wouldn’t make it, is it arrogance or is it the reason I’m still doing it? Whatever it is, I’ve gone too far, done too much, worked to hard not to make it, so I’ll either Van Gogh it or I’ll Beatles it and I’m hoping for the latter. God, am I hoping for the latter.

A big Break a Leg deal is in the works and while we’re learning a lot, the preparation to get ‘er done is like trying to swim swiftly through swampland. Every time we push forward, we hit a wall with another problem. So much work and so much frustration and a gnawing, biting, stabbing fear — what if this falls through?

A big Break a Leg deal is in the works and I tread carefully, I tread as if I’m surrounded by mines and I’m John Goodman, I tip-toe and hope and pray and beg and think — just work out this time. Over a dozen of our amazing fans are writing ‘continuity scripts’ for us — a tedious process, with 60 needing to be completed and our team being too small to finish them all. I worry about it not working out, I worry about the deal not being as big as I thought and then I step back and I think — our fans are working on continuity scripts, we’re doing a big deal with a network — these are words I never thought I’d say or think or write in my own fancily-designed blog. And then I think, wow. I never thought I’d be here.

There are so many maybe’s on my desk, in my email, in my brain that it feels like I’m a fish caught on a hook that a fisherman can’t, for the life of him, reel in. We’ve all been here — every single one of us pursuing this career have been here. We’ve waited for emails, we’ve waited for phone calls and we’ve nodded quietly when they finally came with rejection letters — it’s fine, we said, we’ll try again, we said… it feels like being stabbed in the eye a little bit, but that heals, and like idiots, we rush back in and wait, and wait, and wait, because maybe..

I take a step back and I look at the work and dammit, I’m proud. My show still makes me laugh — I’ve seen it a million times, and it still makes me laugh. Can it be better? I wouldn’t be an artist if I didn’t think it could. Am I proud of what we’ve done? The maybe’s and no’s be damned — there ain’t nothin’ in life that feels quite like a yes and it’s worth all the rejection in the world. Unless, of course, that yes is your acceptance letter to a Concentration Camp (it’s okay, I can joke like that, I’m a Jew.)

There are days you wonder why you do this. You sit around, perhaps in your cubicle, perhaps in your parents basement, perhaps in your one bedroom, roach-infested apartment and you think to yourself, “Well, what else do I do?”

And then, only then, you realize you’re an artist.

…and most artists get famous after they die anyway.