Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Press, Stress and Egress

I said “egress,” not Egrets. “Egress” means the action of coming or going out. To burst forth, spill over, be released, etc. Wikipedia has an entry on “egress” all about signal leakage from coaxial cables which isn’t near as compelling—or gross—as it sounds. An Egret is a kind of Heron (see photo). A Heron is a kind of waterfowl. A waterfowl is a bird that lives on or near the water. Water is that wet stuff we need to consume in order to survive.

Clear? Yes? Well, it doesn’t matter anyway because I’m going to talk about some press we got recently.

LFTI has been mentioned in this article from The Times of London (Online Edition):

Read the article!

So we’d like to thank Francesca Steele (the journalist) for the nice mention and attention she’s given our show! It was a pleasant surprise. We only found out about it through a Google Alert, so it was completely unsolicited and, well, surprising.

You know, I say “unsolicited” as if we have ever gotten press that was solicited. We have never solicited anyone for press. And that last statement isn’t near as compelling—or gross—as it sounds either. Not that we’re above soliciting people for press. But who has the time for that? We have a show to make! There’s no time left over to make sure that people actually watch it!

Anyway, check out the article for yourself! It’s complimentary. Francesca likes the show. Otherwise, why would she mention it? There’s no shortage of Internet stuff to write about. Therefore I will not take umbrage with the two opening sentences; “It seems anyone can make movies these days. Or sitcoms at any rate.” Even though, it is true. We are “anyone.” It was not a judgment of us specifically, I’m sure.

It wasn’t, right?

No. It wasn’t. Definitely not. But one can get a little gun-shy in this whole Internet sitcom business. It requires a tough skin at times. However, we always have our fantastic subscribers to carry us through. Over 1000 of them on YouTube! We just hit that number recently. It was a big milestone for us. One that we are sublimely proud of. A true source of comfort.

Which brings me to my next topic:

We no longer have over 1000 subscribers on YouTube!


A glitch! It was all a glitch! Evidently YouTube was having an issue with their subscriber counting mechanism. It seems that people who “unsubscribed” were not being deleted from the count, which meant that the number of subscribers given on people’s channels didn’t match the actual number of subscribers.

Well, YouTube went ahead and fixed that little glitch.


We just need 12 more to get back to 1000. We lost about 42. That’s actually not as bad as some poor YouTubers out there who lost hundreds. So we’ll take this little hit if it means that we won’t be deluded anymore in the future.

Tell your friends to subscribe!

Now to the “Egress” portion of this post (see definition above):

Episode 7 has been a great success! And I have absolutely no doubt that it is entirely due to my music. Now Tanya and Steve may tell you differently, but they’re more deluded than we were when we thought we had over 1000 subscribers. (Sorry, I’m having a hard time coping.) It’s all about my music!

And I’ll prove it to you! I’m going to post a little something here, and you just watch, it’ll have over 6 hits before tomorrow!

Here’s Dixon’s Theme from Episode 7. The full version. The episode never contains the uncut version. So I thought that I would post it here. Hey, why not get 5 of your friends to listen to it too and help me prove to Tanya and Steve that I’m right and they’re chumps!

Get those 5 friends to forward it to 5 other friends each and you may find true love! Who knows?

It’s been a while since I pulled out the old saxophone, so, if you happen to be a skilled sax player, don’t criticize me too harshly (as a saxophone player myself, I know what restraint that’ll take and I appreciate it greatly).


Tuesday, May 27, 2008

True-Life Lemons to Lemonade Tale

We got lots of complaints about the length of my post last week, so I'll keep this one short.

HA HA! Not really! We got no complaints. Therefore, I intend to make this post even longer.

HA HA! Not really! I'm just gonna write and it'll be as long as it'll be. And I'm going to add tons of pictures.

HA HA! No, really. I'm adding pictures. Like this one:

In Episode 7 part 2, there is a bit o' schtick where Guy lunges at Ashleigh through stacked cups of lemonade. Physical comedy. Subtle humor. Always welcome. Well, it just so happens that the scene was not originally supposed to be that way. Circumstance and nature colluded to give us a shot that ended up being funnier than we'd originally planned.

As it was written, there was no lunge over the lemonade stand; Robb added it during rehearsals. Then, since I had been toying with Guy stacking cups out of boredom, we decided I should lunge through them. (I am a fan of prop humor. It was I who demanded—with measured reason, of course—that there be something in that basket when Olava grabs Guy's ass. The butter cookie cups make no sense, but it sure looks great.)

Once we knew that I'd have to go flying over the stand, Robb and I had to design it to be incredibly sturdy. We had meant to buy handles to attach to the underside of the stand so someone could hide underneath and hold it down when we shot the scene, but that would have cost us a whole $7, so it was nixed. The person underneath would have to make due.

Shoot day was incredibly windy. The stand blew over at one point (only Murray, the stand-in plasterer, was hurt, but he's recovering nicely now in the south of Torrance), so babysitting the lemonade stand became a full-time job. If someone wasn't sitting behind it and holding it down with their elbows, other methods of anchorage had to be utilized.

The blowing wind also created problems for the cups. Whether they were just coating the stand in a single layer or being stacked upside-down into a little fort, the wind would take them out at every opportunity. So we had to tape the cups down to the stand and to each other.

When the time came to shoot the crashing through the cups scene, it was obvious that taped-together cups were not going to fly apart in the proper aesthetic manner. There was definitely no way they were going to stay stacked up without tape long enough to shoot the shot. So I came up with a plan to turn the cups right-side up and fill them with enough water to keep them stable. This meant that, suddenly, Tanya and I were going to be getting all wet. It also meant we could really only do the take once. Okay, actually, it meant we only wanted to do the take once since getting wet twice on a windy day was not a wholly desirable activity.

Everyone was fine with the plan and with the wetness factor, but we were way behind schedule, so we had to hustle. We quickly removed the tape from the cups and re-set them with water inside. We did a couple rehearsals, making sure we knew when the lunge would have to happen, how I would get through the cups for optimal scatterage, where the camera would be, and when to stop the take if it was obvious the whole thing was going awry.

During one of the rehearsals, Tanya, who had to run around the front of the stand, accidentally bumped it. Some of the cups got upended, and Kathy, who had been the fortunate person recruited to hide underneath and hold the stand down, sans handles, yelped with surprise when the water came pouring down the back.

After some drying and some pouring and some final reassurances, Robb rolled camera, and we were off. The lunge went perfectly, and the resulting struggle in the muddy grass between Tanya and I was a ton of fun. Tanya couldn't stop laughing!

And that, gentle readers, is how necessity can create a funnier moment. Without the windy day, we would not have had our watery deluge, and I think the watery deluge adds a great detail to the scene. For episode 8, we're hoping for tornadoes. Who knows what kind of hilarity will come out of tornadoes!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I’m a Fan Fan

Let me start off by saying that, in case you’re reading this blog post in a vacuum, Episode 7 (Part 1) is online! Check it out here, here and here. As always, rate, comment and subscribe if you haven’t already (or do it again. Why not? Live life on the edge I say!).

Now, let me get to the point:

I love our YouTube subscribers. Not romantically. In a friendly way. You shouldn’t love your YouTube subscribers in a romantic way. It just gets messy. Things go sour, your subscriptions disappear and you find yourself alone, making videos purely for self-pleasure while your old subscribers – who said they’d always read your bulletins – are off insincerely LOLing at every contrived non-joke uttered by that freak Daxflame just to make you jealous!

Well…I mean, that’s just one of many possible outcomes.

But I do love our YouTube subscribers. I love all of our subscribers. But the YouTube subscribers are the most vocal (textual?). And that’s what’s so great about them.

See, we didn’t have very many subscribers for a looooong time. Then we got featured on the front page of YouTube and our subs quadrupled. A bunch of great people were introduced to the show. It once took 5 months to collect 3 comments on any given video (no kidding), one-third of which were…let’s just say “slightly critical of our efforts.” But, now we get quite a few comments right away. And they’re GREAT! Supportive. Appreciative. Because people actually wait for us to release new videos (albeit, not always patiently, but I’ll take the impatience as the compliment that it’s meant to be). It’s nice to know that there are those out there who look forward to seeing LFTI.

And I love them. Our subscribers.

Not that way!

No! I’ll not endure your unspoken accusations! I saw the snide way in which you read the penultimate sentence! I want to reiterate that my loving feelings toward our YouTube subscribers is purely platonic.


I just want to be their friend. Maybe go out and have a loving yet friendly cocktail with them. And then who knows? Maybe come back here, put on a purely platonic Miles Davis album and see in which completely companionable direction the nights goes…

But I swear to god, if I have to hear about Daxflame one more time!

Don’t forget to watch “Life from the Inside” Episode 7 (Part 1)!

Oh, and one more thing:

Since it’s not a post from me unless I indelicately shove the music from the show down your throat…here’s some music from the show!

This is Mason’s theme from Episode 7. Actually I just wrote it the other day. Really. It was a late addition to the episode. I had some crappy music in its place before, but I said to myself “should I write good music here or just leave in the crappy stuff?” For some reason I decided to cut the crappy music. So here’s the new tune I wrote to replace it.

It’s based on the tiny palindrome jingle I sing in the show, “Dog no poop on God.” So, I might want to give credit to the man who actually wrote that little diddy, Steven Rowley, the writer of the episode.

I said I might want to give him credit. And I would give him credit if I were in the mood to credit someone with writing an arpeggio…which I’m not. So tough luck, Steven! It’s an arpeggio!

Here it is! Mason’s Theme from LFTI Episode 7. Now you can hear it unobstructed by the noise of our “acting.”


Monday, May 19, 2008

Viewer's Guide: Episode 7, Part 1

Episode 7 is here, at long last! I was so excited all weekend knowing today was the day to unleash our latest creation upon a (mostly) unsuspecting universe!

If you are reading this, you are probably not part of that unsuspecting universe. You have already watched part 1 over and over, and think you're going to die with anticipation waiting for next week, when part 2 comes out. I know I feel the same way when, after eating a particularly yummy meal at a nice restaurant, I have to await the arrival of the separate dessert menu. With a separate dessert menu, the choices are kept secret throughout the meal until this moment. Will there be cake? What kind of cake will it be? Will it be chocolate? Flourless? Seven-layer? Dainty?

In the hopes of making the week pass quickly for our most avid and, some say, rabid fans (that is an unsubstantiated rumor), I am presenting a handy Viewer's Guide to Episode 7, Part 1. I hope the following tidbits will provide an expanded and enlightening enhancement to your part-1-watching pleasure.

If for some reason you are reading this and have not watched Episode 7, Part 1, you may want to do so first. There are aggravating spoilers below!

* * * * * *

Episode 7, Part 1

The red vest was originally going to have four arm holes... Yes, Guy is wearing a seeing eye dog's vest. Alas, we ran short of time, so there are only two arm holes. This also explains the gaffer's tape trim instead of a sewed hem. The vest was added to the show to create one very specific visual joke, which was later cut. I can divulge no more until after part 2.

Lemon-Tyme was supposed to be called Aspar-Tyme, which Corrie came up with, but Robb forgot when he sat down to make the label. We had no tyme to change it.

The Lemon-Tyme label looks more Lyme-Tyme-colored because the ink jet printer ran out of yellow the night before the shoot. 7-Eleven does not carry that particular brand and model of ink cartridge.

Peach cobbler does contain lemon juice. At least in some recipes. Maybe not all recipes. Who knows for sure?

Can you spot the beet-flavored batch of lemonade?

Guy's Chococat bracelet is missing! Or is it...?

The lemonade powder is mostly sugar. No, I mean... yes, I know that's normally what lemonade powder is, but our concoction is mostly granulated sugar with a bit of real lemonade powder for color. And yes, Tanya had to drink a little bit of that during each take.

At the very first read-through, it was apparent that I could not pronounce "Worcestershire" correctly. It became a guaranteed laugh during all read-throughs and rehearsals. How do I do in the show?

Say, is that a new title sequence? Why, yes it is! Robb came up with it one afternoon while simultaneously balancing sound levels, correcting color, writing music, taking online traffic school, and applying for the In-Home Peace Corps.

Though you can't see them, the batteries have fake labels as well. I made those myself. The batteries are PowerTrip brand. I'll post the label itself here in a few weeks.

Jennifer's slo-mo close-up was accidentally shot in 4x3 instead of our usual 16x9 anamorphic. The accident carried through the rest of the day's shooting, causing us to have to re-shoot a whole scene. You can read a bit about that here. The Jennifer stuff was okay to use since she had to look soft-focus anyway.

Our shooting style has evolved a lot since Episode 1, but Robb had some very specific ideas on what to do beginning with this episode. We shot scenes farther away, with a longer focal length, and we tried to "dirty the frame" with foreground objects. This adds a nice depth as well as, ironically, instilling a but of agoraphobic claustrophobia.

The original line was, "Do babies wear many hats?" I liked that one better, but Robb liked, "Do babies wear a lot of hats?" Both are funny, but we each had our own ideas on which one was funnier. This kind of nit-picking of minutiae is what helps us craft a better show. It also is making us all prematurely grey.

The lemonade stand was, of course, modeled after Lucy Van Pelt's psychiatry booth. We made this one ourselves using plywood, 2x2s, and lauan. It had to be sturdy enough to support people sitting on it as well as— well, I can say no more until after part 2.

Our goal was to have short chairs and a slightly taller booth so that we all looked like bored little kids sitting behind the stand.

Why is the lettering on the stand so... so... NOT amateurish? Well, because Robb's a perfectionist. But it was easy to sell in this way: Jennifer is lousy at maintenance, but she's much better with lettering signs. (Her signs in Episode 6 were hurried, you see, so they do not reflect her usual sign-making skill.)

The original script did not have a Babies in Hats parade, but we loved the "Do babies wear many/a lot of hats?" line so much that we decided to actually show babies in hats. A simple idea, a lot of work to pull off.

The baby hats were meant to be as ridiculous as possible, but of course the toddlers were not at all in love with wearing them, so they got simplified on shoot day. The only one who didn't care so much was the true baby in the group, Declan; he was unfazed by my gaf-taping Styrofoam balls to his little blue beanie.

Kathy came up with the spitting the lemonade back into the glass while we were on set. As you can see, it added another dimension to Mason's gulping, which was in the original script. (The footage you see here, however, was part of the 4x3/16x9 snafu reshoot.)

Can you sing "Dog no poop on God" to the music under this Kate/Mason scene? I'll bet you can! Give it a try.

The line, "When he reverses them and tries to sell them, his jingles will be just as flat and uninspired as mine" is left over from Mason's second plan. In the original script, Mason was going to also have a set of jingles he re-transcribed backwards, so Dixon could steal them and reverse them in to Mason's jingles. But one plan was enough. The palindromes were perfect.

There's a very good reason we chose to use a red file folder for Mason's stealable jingles... Bonus points for anyone who can guess why.

* * * * * *

Thank you for trudging through this handy and intriguing Viewer's Guide. I might do another one next week... or I might not! That's the fun of low-budget projects like this. We are not working for da man, so da man can't make me do this ever again.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Writer Type Stuff

As Episode 7 nears completion (Part 1 will be up on Monday!) I thought I would turn my attention to the writer of the episode, Steven Rowley.

Steven is our first non-cast member to write a script for us and it has been a truly enjoyable experience.

As we are all extremely protective of our show, it can be hard on us to bring in "outsiders" to work with us. We haven't always been the easiest going people because of this, but we've tried to learn from past mistakes and use them to grow as producers. There's that learning curve thing again.

So that being said, we approached the idea of an "outsider" writing for us with a bit of hesitation. Would this person really understand us? Would they be able to write for our characters? Would we have a hard time giving him notes? Would he have a hard time taking notes? Are we ready to give up this much control?

We decided we had nothing to lose, Steven was a fan and a friend of Steve Lekowicz's (I know, there are a lot of Steve's hanging around here), plus, it was flattering to have someone approach us about writing for us.

Now's the part where my memory gets a bit fuzzy. I can't remember if the first time we met with him he already had ideas, or if that came after our first meeting. Either way, Steven came with several script ideas (at some point), we picked our favorite and off he went.

And then, of course, as per life, things got complicated. Steven sent us his first draft. We had a meeting to discuss our notes. But before we met could meet with Steven again, we had some internal changes to deal with as we lost Kathy as a producer.

So, poor Steven had to wait and wait for our notes while we figured out what end was up. When we finally got around to meeting with him, he was very gracious about all of the changes we were dealing with.

Turns out, Steven Rowly takes notes like a champion, which is very important when you're a writer (and actor and just generally in the entertainment industry, but you would be so surprised at how many people are not good at that).

So fast forward a little while later and we were ready to begin filming. Steven graciously offered to help out on set and we accepted, since we are not people to turn down free help.

And help he did. I will never forget the first time he heard us filming a scene and it was all he could do to not laugh out loud. There's nothing better than seeing a writer so pleased at how you've brought their script to life.

So, here we are, on the cusp of introducing the world to Episode 7. I can't wait to see what people think, it is definitely an episode that we are all proud of.

The best part of the whole thing? Steven is already working on his next script for us.

Oh yeah, and we've made a new friend. A new friend who makes some kick-ass cupcakes.

Those are definitely the best kind of friends to have.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Episode 7 Maxi-Sneak #1 (of 1)

Way back in March, following the shooting of episode 7, I began a series of Mini-Sneaks on Twitter. (You are following us on Twitter now, right? I mean, after Robb's pleading plea and all, right?)

Okay, so you're following us on Twitter now, but you probably missed the Mini-Sneaks. Which is such a shame.

Well, shame no more! With episode 7 a mere week away (Did I just say that? YES I DID!), I thought it'd be helpful to reprint the Mini-Sneaks here, just so you feel like a true fan. Granted, if you're reading this blog, you're already a true fan, but still, please, indulge me.

Here, for the first time in one convenient collection, are all Episode 7 Mini-Sneaks! These sneaks give nothing away while being almost too-powerfully tantalizing.

#1: "Do babies wear a lot of hats?"

#2: "That's ABSRD."

#3: "Can I get a free boost?"

#4: "Jenny! Your frizzie!"


#6: "Today, it's a workout whistle."

#7: The accent!

#8: "A man, a plan, a canal: Panama!"

#9: "It might be corn..."

#10: "No soup for you!" [This was later found to be from the wrong sitcom. —Ed.]

#11: "Look, there's a fire hydrant!"

#12: There was no #12. No, really, that's not from episode 7, there really was no #12. #7,832 and #90,765.04 were out of order, and it got us all confused.

#13: "I love peach cobbler!"

#14: "...That lived in the house that Jack built!"

#7,832: "There's nothing wrong with my face, Kate."

#90,765.04: "Why would a cat come in soy?!"

Oh, wait... what's this? A bonus Mini-Sneak? No friggin' way! This is such a find!

#90,766: "Literally or figuratively?"

Literally! It's such a find. Really.

So with that and the visual sneak peek from last month, you should be so far on the edge of your seat that you're not even on your seat any more. You should be on the floor, gasping, your eager brain ready to receive that which is Life from the Inside episode 7: "*do not duplicate."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Save Me, Grocery Delivery Dude!

GDD sure can pack a bag of groceries! Don’t believe me? Why not watch the short “Bagging?”

Seriously, someone needs to watch it, it’s our least viewed video on YouTube! (followed, for some inexplicable reason, by Episode 2 Part 2). I guess that groceries don’t hold the public’s attention like they used to. Even with the price of groceries in the news so much these days! Hmm. One might say that “Bagging” is our most topical video! Yet, there it sits, being ignored.

And it shouldn’t be ignored! Nobody puts Bagging in a corner!

Watch it for many reasons. Fine performances by Corrie Meyers, Steven Lekowicz and the incomparable Jimmy Bopp. Smashing camera work and direction by Adam Hodge. Outstanding boom operation by Yours Truly! Groceries! Oh, so many groceries.

Watch it for the music.

Really. I put a lot of time in on the score for Bagging. It was fun for me. I was going for a sort of 50s edutainment vibe. I think that for the most part I pulled it off. But judge for yourself.

Watch Bagging.

Or…just listen to the score. Here it is:

I took all of the music in the short and kind of crammed it together into one piece. Not included in that score is the little intro and outtro theme that I wrote. You’ll have to watch the video to hear that!

Why am I posting music for the second week in a row here on this blog? Well, why not? Plus, I’m finishing up the music for Episode 7 so I’m in a kind of musical mood.

Episode 7 is coming very shortly! VERY SHORTLY!


Monday, May 5, 2008

Iron and Nine and Cinco de Mayo

While watching Iron Man last night during a late show, I was struck by the similarities between that already-blockbuster film and our own little corner of the entertainment world, Life from the Inside. I thought it might perhaps be useful to share some of these strikings with you, our gentle viewers, to help you appreciate the value of entertainment you are receiving while watching our show.

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, all topic numbers will be presented in Spanish.

One-o: Just as Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark ends up doing his best work while trapped in a suit of his own creation, so is our main character, Mason Evan Harris, equally talented while trapped in a lifestyle of his own creation.

Two-o: Hummers figure prominently into the fabric of both Iron Man and LFTI's episode 6, "*some restrictions may apply."

Three-o: A bold and dramatic chiaroscuro brings the vision of Iron Man to vivid, hyper-real life. A bold and dramatic application of ceiling-hung 100-watt light bulbs erases any hint of the vivid or the hyper-real from the apartment setting of Life from the Inside.

Four-o: 85 filters were used extensively in both Iron Man and Life from the Inside. (Both used cameras, too.)

Cinc-o: Iron Man's winding plot of pulse-pounding action and international intrigue echo LFTI episode 2, "*store in a cool dry place." Replace L.A. with Mason's apartment, Afghanistan with homeless man alley, and Stark's arc reactor with Guy's swirling lollipop, and the plots are nearly identical.

Six-o: Iron Man's daring yet entertaining criticism of the American industrial–military complex mirrors LFTI's very own daringly entertaining critical commentary of the average American's reliance on pharmaceuticals and philters to gain acceptance and love.

Siet-o: Iron Man relies heavily on complicated sequences of computer-generated imagery to tell its story. Life from the Inside relies heavily on complicated sequences of computer-generated dialogue to tell its story.

Huit-o: John Favreau, the director of Iron Man, was in the movie Open Season with Jack McGee. Jack McGee was in The Paper with Geoffrey Owens, who directed LFTI episode 5, "*side effects may include night terrors."

Nueve-o: Taking into consideration the cost of a movie ticket in these modern days and the monthly cost of a high-speed Internet connection, it costs about the same to watch two hours of Iron Man as it does to watch two hours of Life from the Inside on Revver. Er, so much for value, I guess.