Fun Singapore Facts

I’m going to have a more pertinent blog about our trip to Singapore and what I hope can come out of the connections we’ve made here. It’s all very interesting and a good step in the right direction for our beloved genre.

That said, I’m tired, we’re about to leave the hotel to get some delicious Indian food, and I’m going to save that blog for later.

For now, however, I’m going to regale you with fun Singapore facts. Ready? Here we go.

1. They’re not as strict as people think they are — you CAN chew gum, you just can’t sell it. It’s weird, yes, and apparently it was banned when someone, 30 years ago, jammed the subway doors with them (I think that’s what I heard?) but, as the locals say, “It was never that big here so, no one cares.”

2. They really are strict. If you carry a gun on you, it’s life in prison. If you fire it, even if you miss, it’s death. Someone graffitti’d in the Subway recently, and was given 6 months in prison and 4 strokes of the cane. Drug trafficking is death. Drug possession is also death. Stealing is 7 years in prison. Everything else has fines worth thousands of dollars.

In other words, it really sucks being a criminal here. Or a gum salesman.

3. It’s really, really, REALLY western. The signs are all in English. TV is in English but dubbed into Chinese. The area where we’re staying — which is like, their main tourist/shopping district — is called Orchard Road and has every major designer store, as well as Starbucks (of course), California Pizza Kitchen, and just about any other western food.

It’s, as I said in my insanely witty Facebook update, only difference from San Francisco is trees and the fact that it has less Asian people.

4. The locals eat at places called Hawker Stands. Which are just little markets with rows of… hawkers. It’s really good, if not kind of intense. Justin and I ate fried stingray, chicken feet and other things people shouldn’t put in their mouth but do.

5. Their coffee is DELICIOUS. First of all, it’s basically espresso but in a full cup. Secondly, they call it Kopi and Kopi Si (or C, or See, or who knows) has condensed milk in it which, by the way, is like having liquid gold in your mouth (but in a good way, not in a, OH MY GOD I HAVE LIQUID GOLD IN MY MOUTH sort of way).

6. Just Shoot Me is on right now on TV. That’s how western it is.

7. It’s got a NIGHT SAFARI. WITH NIGHT ANIMALS. That like… live in the zoo but are free to — THERE’S AN EXHIBIT, hold on, let me catch my breath, there’s an exhibit where bats fly over you wildly. FREELY. They just, fly over you. And you get to try and catch them with a toothpick and throw them in a fryer. And if you do, you get to eat them!

Some of those things aren’t true, but some of them ARE and that’s AWESOME.

8. There’s a huge Indian population. They have a Little India and the food is delicious. Also, you can buy a lot of crap there — which we’re bringing back for our friends.

Crap for everyone!

9. This is my favorite thing in the entire world, so I’m going to save it for last… their icon is… the… wait for it… Merlion.

The Merlion.

It’s a lion’s head… on a fish’s body. The Merlion. It… it’s a LION’S HEAD… on a FISH’S body. Is everyone imagining that properly? Because it’s the best thing in the entire world. I keep wondering if it has gills or if the reason the real Merlion is no longer around is because it was God’s worst creation and they all drowned almost immediately.

The MERLION!!

…I know I should post pictures of all of these things, and I will on Facebook but, you know, for now, use your imagination.

Okay, I love you all, I’m going to go catch, skin, fry and eat a merlion.

Goodbye (but in Mandarin).


Daisy Whitney Interviews a Really, Really Attractive Person

Hey, all —

I’m packing up for Singapore (leaving tomorrow for a fun 19 hour flight that stops over in South Korea — where I will attempt, for that hour, to solve the conflict over there) so not much of a blog for today, however…

Miss Daisy Whitney, a prominent voice in this whole online deal did an interview with me at the LATV Festival about the 7-Eleven Road Trip and some of the international deals we’ve done of late.

Daisy, by the way, is one of the coolest people around and has impeccable tastes in scarves.

Video is here:

Daisy’s article is here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/daisy-whitney/giant-convenience-store-c_b_657011.html

and, if you’d like another place to read it, here:

http://www.beet.tv/2010/07/yuri-road-racehttpnewteeveecom20100503blip-does-it-all-for-branded-7-eleven-racing-series.html

Bon voyage! Or as they say in Singapore — Hey, you’re not allowed to chew gum here, to the caning facility with you!


The Bitter Growing Pains of the Web Series

I was doing a film shoot with Mr. Mark Gantt, recently — Mark, if you don’t know, is the producer, star, writer and I think assistant gaffer on The Bannen Way. The Bannen Way, if you don’t know, is a Sony-funded web series, feature film, action-drama-comedy, all-around good entertainment and, oh, now that I’m thinking about it, I’m pretty sure Mark was also a production assistant on Break a Leg, or something. I forget. I don’t talk to the crew.

Anyway, Mark, along with a few other Break a Leg actors (Alexis Boozer, Daniela DiIorio, Flynn Kelleher, Drew Lanning and myself) are all theoretically starring in a theoretic new series that is written by my brother Vlad and I and produced, as per usual, by him, me, Justin Morrison and Dashiell Reinhardt… you know, all of the same people who did Break a Leg and run Happy Little Guillotine Films.

Here’s my point. I’m talking to Mark about the web series community and I notice this odd feeling welling up inside of me. Part of it is attraction, because Mark looks like a rugged Tom Cruise after life really knocked him around, but the other part of it feels strangely like… bitterness.

Now, I’m not really sure where it comes from because I actually like everyone quite a bit in the community. Sure, I sometimes complain about them being guilty of over-pleasuring one another with their mouths, but I think there’s an amazing group of talented, innovative and unique entertainers who have been creating some fantastic stuff.

So, I wonder — why? Why the bitterness? And then I realized it.

When we started, online video was an in-between, a purgatory for filmmakers who hoped that a TV or film producer would accidentally stumble on their video while doing a sweeping search for porn, watch it, and then pay them millions to get it made. In other words, we all wanted to be the It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia guys and the Internet was one way to get noticed but not the place where our shows would actually… survive.

Every moment of Break a Leg was a fight. We were the David against the no-budget, full-time job, no-real-way-to-make-money-like-this Goliath, who is way worse than the Biblical Goliath in that he comes with more poverty. And as we started getting more and more press and more and more attention, and people like NBC and CBS started calling, we had this feeling of… maybe..? Maybe?! MAYBE?!

…but no.

No one knew what to do with anyone online at that time. They still don’t. CBS Interactive called us because they wanted to fund a series for a very decent amount of money, and then in a week told us they didn’t, in fact, have that money (lost in their couch cushions or something). Other networks we talked to did a lot of, “Call us when you have something.” – “But we have a lot.” – “We have no money.” And for some bizarro reason, even though we were getting press in places like the Wall Street Journal and the LA Times, agents absolutely refused to acknowledge our existence (still do, in fact).

When Break a Leg ended, we were exhausted and a little jaded. Okay, a lot jaded. It took a good half a year to start up the optimism engines again, and then things started happening for us. This blog was a huge help (I know, I KNOW — I’ll write more in it!). Blip.tv was and is our main benefactor without whom we wouldn’t be anywhere. FOX Italy bought Break a Leg. And our branded entertainment campaigns started becoming bigger and bigger and culminated in the 7-Eleven Road Trip (again thanks to Blip.tv) — a new and different kind of branded entertainment beast.

In short, we’ve done well.

So, why the bitterness? Because, I now realize,  somewhere in the corner of my brain, near the part that’s responsible for hitting on women, I still think — after all we’ve done, why aren’t we on TV? This is JUST the Internet.

(The reason it’s in that part of the brain, by the way, is because being on TV makes hitting on women way easier.)

And as I realized that, I also realized what our job is, now, as producers of this content. If I — someone whose career has been made by online entertainment — am still not used to the idea that this isn’t Purgatory but an actual place where entertainment can live, then people who have lived and breathed TV and Film — networks, agents, producers, ad agencies — surely can’t even fathom it.

So, what’s our job? Our job is to not pigeon-hole ourselves the way that people tend to pigeon-hole online content — i.e. only 5 minute videos work, only sketch comedy works, only catering to one loud niche audience works, etc. – but to see this as our playground and to try, desperately try, to show that not only can we, the new breed of entertainment, create fantastic, innovative content on-line (short form and long, experimental and just plain ol’ amazing), but we can also get that content to sell and make money.

Because, we’ve grown up, as a community — I was bitter of the way things were, but that’s not the way things are. We’re at a different stage of our evolution in entertainment, we can’t just be satisfied to make things and release them and say, hey, that was pretty good, right? We have to think like businessmen as well as artists, we have to show that not only can we make great stuff, we can also sell it.

And once we do that, that’s when we reach the next level. Where online entertainment truly competes with TV in every capacity.

As for me and my bitterness. We’ve resolved the conflict. It’s a simple thing to realize — my whole life I’ve hated doing what I was supposed to do in a particular path. I never wanted to write spec scripts, beg for an agent and then be someone’s writing assistant on a terrible show — I wanted to do it my way and this is what we’re doing. This is the genre in which we’re playing, where  our successes and failures are solely dependent on our talent, hard-work, and ideas.

And you know what, bitterness? I’m starting to really like that.

(Okay, that’s it. More blogs to come — I swear, this time. I’ll be in Singapore all week next week and between the 18-hour flight and the fact that we’re doing a seminar on online entertainment and having dozens of meetings with producers/businesses in Singapore just has to be written about.)