I didn’t get a chance to do this for the other episodes, and maybe I’ll still, eventually, retroactively go back and do it, but for now I’ll try and do it for the final three.
First thing’s first, the episode:
And now, fun facts:
1. Julie and Drew have great chemistry and were visibly having a blast in their lawyer scenes. It was one of those scenes that, as you’re watching, you don’t want them to stop because you’re enjoying watching the thing too much. Julie was, as I mentioned in my previous blog, fantastic to work with. Very pro, very funny, and just fun to work with.
2. The lawyer’s name is Josiah Lanning. Josiah is a nod to Josiah Bartlett – the President in the West Wing, a series that inspires our writing heavily, especially in Leap Year. Lanning is, funny enough, Drew’s last name, which inspires us when we’re writing late at night and can’t think of a good last name for a character.
3. The photo over Drew’s shoulder, of a colorful Thailand street, is not only really, really cool, but was taken by our DP, Justin Morrison. It’s also hanging upstairs in the main character’s office (seen when Olivia is having her breakdown) – because, apparently, in the Leap Year world, that photo of Thailand is a must-have decoration.
4. The scene with Jack and Bryn is a location we used once before in Break a Leg. It is Chase Cougar’s house. Furthermore, there’s a jacket hanging behind Drew – this is the jacket he wore into “battle” in Break a Leg as Jimmy Scotch (watch the video of him not only sewing the jacket, but talking to Daniela (Olivia) in this completely insane Break a Leg, “Conversation”: Hatman)
5. More than anything else in the world, our actors hated speed-talking through the video conferencing platform line. They all eventually got it, but not after they gave Vlad and I scornful looks.
6. Episode 7 is written by Vlad, Episode 8 is written by me – we split the two therapist episodes. Can’t tell the style difference? Sometimes we can’t either.
7. Wilson (Derek) is afraid of heights and that balcony is as rickety as it looks. The fall is a good 8-9 stories on to the hard, ground floor of an almost comically dark, noir-like alley. He was a trooper and powered through – though, if I had to guess, I’d say his character’s frustrations are motivated directly by his personal desire ot not want to plummet to his death.
8. My favorite scene of Rachel’s (Lisa) is the one with her and Drew. It’s short, but it’s got that fast back and forth banter and they both nail every comedic beat. Also, I enjoy the comedic affect of Rachel being 3 feet tall and Drew being like, 18 feet tall.
9. Yes, we actually were Wii Bowling. And yes, I’m pretty sure I totally killed Rachel in it.
You know that thing that people do online? Which is start a blog, write actively in it, then completely stop? I did that thing. But, I kind of have a good reason, aside for laziness (though that’s a strong one). The reason is that, since February, I’ve been working non-stop on LEAP YEAR.
And now, now I’m going to tell you all about it. See? Aren’t I good blogger now?
Sponsored by Hiscox Insurance, LEAP YEAR is a branded series about five people starting their own, individual start-ups. There’s also a contest. And there’s also a baby.
I was going to do a thing where I was going to write about every episode, but the fact is that I missed the first couple of weeks because we were busy, and then I was behind, so I kept pushing it forward, and now it’s too late to do my master plan. So… damn.
What I’ll do instead, though, is tell you some fun facts that from the last 6 episodes and hope to spur you to go watch them, rewatch them, share them with your friends, and then to comment all over them like some kind of crazy person.
Here we go! In no particular order:
1. Craig Bierko was amazing to work with. Watching him rehearse was a joy. He tried to squeeze every ounce of juice out of every single line. As he was rehearsing, he’d ad-lib something, taste it, try it out, and if it was particularly tasty, ask me to have some. After that, I’m pretty sure that Vlad and I, as writers, made a rule to always, always taste Craig Bierko’s cookies. And I mean that in every weird way that it sounds.
He nailed every line, every joke. It was like an acting clinic watching him perform. After he did the first take, we called cut and everyone stood there for a second, letting his genius sink in. That’s with a page of dialogue. It’s unfair how talented he is.
I only hope that our charm and Chinese food lured him into further projects.
2. The majority of Leap Year was shot in San Francisco. Why? Because at the time, most of our team was in SF, and because filming in San Francisco is amazingly cheaper. We don’t need permits as cops never really care or even ask why we’re filming. Also, most locations don’t charge — they’re just thrilled to be part of film.
To give it the NYC look, as that’s where it takes place, we took a week to shoot a few exteriors (and interiors) in New York City.
3. Drew Lanning (Jack), Alexis Boozer (Bryn), Daniela DiIorio (Olivia) and I have acted together for over 6 years. Our crew has worked together for roughly the same amount of time. Wilson Cleveland (Derek, EP, creator of the series and the main man behind this crazy thing) said it best when he said we operate more like a theater company than anything else. I love that. Only the web show world and being ridiculously famous (Judd Apatow) lets you do things like that.
Plus, they’re all really talented, so that’s a big plus.
4. My brother and co-writer Vlad wrote, performed and recorded all the music with his wife, Monica Baranovsky. You can check out their stuff at: http://www.vladandmonica.com — and yes, you CAN hire them! My brother is also Bryn’s creepy, staring date in the party scene at the end of Episode 1 (my brother’s creepy acting face is renowned) and Monica is the girl who comes up to Olivia and Jack in the sushi restaurant, asking them to rate the food.
5. The Leap Year office was an amazing location. We were thrilled to rent it. So thrilled, that we didn’t realize how echo-ey it was until after we got in there before shooting. What, did we politely ask ourselves, the hell were we going to do? Moving blankets! SO MANY MOVING BLANKETS! We hung up wires from one end to the other and covered the ceiling with moving blankets. Furthermore, Dustin Toshiyuki, our sound man extraordinaire, got covers for the lav mics that specifically kill echo. It was a lifesavior and we managed to still get great sound and use the great set. If you want to know what those covers are called, let me know, I’ll have Dustin tell you.
6. We were ravaged by the plague during shooting. First, Justin (DP, Producer, and “Chase Cougar” in Episode 3) got sick a week before shooting. He was okay after a couple of days. But then we started shooting and it hit Daniela — she got better after a day. Then Drew Lanning got it. Then Dustin and I got it simultaneously and we got a delightful three day fever. After that, it really became the plague. It became bronchitis in Hillary Bergmann, our production manager, it literally infected all of Alexis Boozer’s face, and it stole Wilson Cleveland’s voice. Mark Gantt came to shoot for three days and left with it, bringing it back to LA where it killed 17,000 people (just a guess).
It was Satan.
We had to keep shooting, of course, because well — the show must go on and we had a schedule to maintain. I have to applaud the resilience of the cast and crew because, man, we kept it going and everyone was still great. Looking back through my feverish haze, I’m amazed at how phenomenal everyone kept being while carrying the seed of Lucifer in their bodies.
7. Hiscox is one of the best clients we’ve ever worked with. They wanted a good show. That was our main direction. We want a good show. Through production, through post, they have never, ever done anything that would hurt the quality of the series. If every client was like this, and every brand this daring, we’d be seeing a lot more well-funded, high-quality web series. It’s very cool to see them take the… oh god, I have to do it, it’s happening… take the leap.
8. Yes, that’s Alexis playing both characters in episode 6. We didn’t realize how good of a job Sarah Ashton (make-up) and Daniela DiIorio (also the wardrobe stylist) did with Alexis when we shot the episode. Furthermore, Alexis had to go and be crazy good and the result is that a surprising amount of people don’t realize that’s Bryn talking to Bryn. Also, a lot of people actually think she has a crush on me. She’s a really good actress.
9. There are multiple Break a Leg references throughout the episodes. The most notable? Chase Cougar in Episode 3. Break a Leg, for people who don’t know, was our first project and what got us to where we are. We love that show more than we love puppies and kittens wrestling one another.
10. Julie Warner was great as well. A professional, and just a blast to work with. Hopefully she comes around again!
11. Due to some schedule changes, we lost the original office location in the scene with Julie (today’s episode), so we had to scramble to find another spot. The location we had was a basement in a Yoga studio and had pretty much nothing in there. We also had around 3 hours to make it look good. Realizing the small room had no real good walls and felt claustrophobic, we came up with the smartest thing we’ve ever come up with in our entire lives: that “window” behind Julie? It’s the door to the room. Add some curtains, some lights, and voila — the office came alive. It’s now one of my favorite locations. Out of restrictions, genius is borne. Someone said that, probably, right?
12. Editing is done by the great Dashiell Reinhardt — also one of the Producers. Also, the guy with the beautiful girl-ish hair-do in the bathroom scene in Episode 2. He also did the special effects, intro, etc. Justin, who I mentioned earlier, is responsible for the look of the series as our DP. They’re stupid good. It makes me angry.
Let me finish this gushy blog up with a final gushy comment. I’m very proud of this show — I’m most proud of the cast and crew who despite crazy weather conditions, long hours and evil flu’s managed to create a really great product. I love you all and other really nice things.
That’s it for now! If you guys have any questions about anything, feel free to ask and I’ll follow this blog up with another one! Tune in to today’s episode (Episode 7), “Corporate Cupid” guest starring Julie Warner.
Thanks all! Hope you enjoy! Watch the show on Hulu or on the website and for the love of God, comment and tell us what you think!
So, you know how I keep mentioning that we’re trying to make a new show, and something about Mark Gantt, and things like that?
Well, now I have an explanation!
The show is called LoveMakers — it’s written by Vlad and I, and starring Mark Gantt (Bannen Way), and half the Break a Leg actors – Alexis Boozer, Daniela DiIorio, Drew Lanning, Flynn Kelleher and myself.
Right now, this is our baby, our passion project. We’re furiously (with great force and anger) pitching it to multiple places and feel great about it. Right now, the site is up and it has the promo as well as the basic pitch behind it.
We hope you like it! Check it out and tell us what you think! Also, most importantly, pass it on to EVERYONE!
As many of you know, we’ve been working with Evan Gotlib and the rest of the Blip.tv team to create branded campaigns for the many companies that Blip works with. The 711 Road Trip was a part of that, as were other gigs I have posted in the past.
The most recent job was for Reebok Zig Tech shoes, starring, if you watched Break a Leg, Mr. Dustin Toshiyuki (Mint) himself. Also, you get an extra cookie if you guess who the voiceover at the end is, as it’s another Break a Leg cast member.
Below are the first two videos of the campaign — next week, I’ll share the next two. Just to let you know roughly how the process went: Reebok had a specific idea in mind (trying to get the most out of your workout), we wrote the scripts, they approved the scripts, we shot the videos and voila — you should be seeing them play on various Blip.tv videos for the next little while.
This, as the title properly said, is how we make our money.
Anyway, without further ado…
Let me know what you think! If there’s any interest, I’ll relate how we did the various effects (if there’s a LOT of interest, I’ll get Dashiell, one of the Producers of HLG and our Head Editor/VFX guy to explain it).
As some of you may know, a couple of months ago our production company produced the 7-Eleven Road Trip — a reality series that followed two teams, one on the East Coast, one on the West Coast, as they traveled across the country, ate at 7-Elevens’, and did various challenges along the way, eventually ending up at the INDY 500.
When we got the gig, it was our intent to not make the same awful type of reality series’ that are prevalent nowadays — we wanted to make this show in our quirky, fun and theoretically smart style. Luckily, we had the extreme fortune of working with 7-Eleven and their ad agency, TracyLocke — both of which understood that the Internet does not necessarily function like traditional media and that funny, quirky comedy sells in this space like some kind of delicious, quirky hotcake. They gave us almost full creative power to do everything from having our host, Drew give them each a cardboard cutout of himself to having Mr. Peanut destroy their picnic and steal their stuff.
Thanks to this, thanks to Blip.tv and thanks to all the guys and gals at 7-Eleven and TracyLocke, the series was a huge success. Not only in the numbers and the results (that you’ll see in the video case study I’m about to post below) but also because I think it’s one of the first series of this size and scope that was really open to the creativity and innovation available in online video.
Let that be a lesson to you other brands and agencies!
Another lesson is to hire us.
A third lesson is to also pay us a lot of money after you hire us.
And now, the results of the 7-Eleven Road Trip in a fancy-shmancy video:
So, I may or may not have mentioned that a couple of weeks ago we got a great gig shooting 3 short online commercials for Samsung.
Through Blip.tv, we pitched our ideas to the company — who wanted a super hero theme — wrote up the scripts, and shot this over a weekend (give or take a day of pick-up shots). The videos were originally going to be 30 seconds but, I may have had a bit of fun with the script and they ended up being a little over a minute — for the best, I think.
The end result ended up being less of a 30 second TV-esque spot and more of a three episode arc of a short, very, very branded show. It makes me think that maybe, just maybe, we’ve stumbled upon what commercials are going to look like in a few years – actual entertaining bits of content, and not just bland advertising.
So, you know, we’re like the future and stuff.
Anyway! Let me know if you have any questions about the videos at all — how we shot them, how we wrote them, whatever — I’ll do my best to answer everything to the best of my very tired abilities.
Here we go:
Episode 1, Jumps Slightly Higher Than Average Girl
You see, in the cold Communist stronghold where I was born — the USSR — we weren’t allowed to celebrate any kind of religious holiday. So, what they did was celebrate New Year exactly like you Christian-types celebrate Christmas — we had a New Year tree, Santa Claus (or, as we called him, “Grandfather Frost” — who had his assistant, Snow Girl, which was generally an excuse for a Russian girl to wear a short red miniskirt with white fuzzy trim), presents, songs — everything you guys have, without the messy Jesus thing.
And then we fled Kiev as Jewish refugees (we did! Take THAT, Communists!) came here, and continued to celebrate New Year up until I was 13 or 14. My mom would love getting a tree while my dad absolutely hated it. We’d be that family that would have the tree until July, until my dad got tired of it and threw it out the window.
Like I said, I loved the music, the coziness, the general warmth of it. Plus, since it was 6 days after Christmas, it was far cheaper to buy gifts.
At some point, my mom started reading more about Judaism and became very much into it — realizing that New Year was, in fact, Christmas, and that we were, in fact, more or less, celebrating a Christian holiday. So, we decided to move our festivities to September, for Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year… or Jew Year). But there is no tree, or Grandfather Frost, and we lose out on the warmth that Christmas with it brings.
Ironically, my dad now says how much he misses New Year.
I don’t mind the change — it seemed appropriate somehow. We weren’t really allowed to be Jews in the USSR, so it seems right to throw off the reminder of that oppression. Still, I love the season, I love the music and, thanks to my friends, I get to vicariously celebrate through them.
This unnecessary long post is leading to this: Happy Christmas, New Year or whatever else it is you celebrate. Be happy, be merry, be joyful and relax.
And, as my gift to you, I offer a video that we posted a while ago with two characters from Break a Leg: Tahko and Mint. Who happen to have a band, called: Mint’s Mint Condition Cover Band. Who happen to want to wish you a happy holidays.
To those of you who aren’t Jews — today is the first day of Channukah. You’ve heard of it before — it’s that one that lasts 8 days, has candles and is killing Christmas.
Anyway! In celebration of the first day, I have decided to post a video we did for Channukah a few years back that takes place in the Break a Leg world. This was a favorite among our fans at the time and one of our favorites as well. Ironically, it kind of fits the writing blog below (or at least the one about being a bad writer), so, check it out and happy candle-lighting!
Pass it on!
Oh, and by the way guys — feel free to follow me on Twitter (@YuriBaranovsky) — it’s where I update everyone about new blogs and try to be very funny about things in my life. Very, very funny.