Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Romance of Blind Dogma

Happy post Labor Day, everyone! And if you live in a country other than the U.S., no, it makes no sense.

I of course was supposed to post yesterday, but as it was a holiday and I spent a good portion of the day hanging out with the LFTI cast making secret props for our next shoot, I ran out of time. So you get me today.

I hope you have all enjoyed the new short that went up yesterday, "The Distractionation Index." This is my first writing and directing gig on LFTI, so this is a good jumping off point to talk about the Lou shorts in more detail.

So you certainly understand by now that the first short, "*subject to change," was meant to be a "fake" episode. When we came up with the idea of Lou and who she was and how she would interact with the characters, we decided that instead of a full-blown episode dealing exclusively with Lou's entrance, it'd be fun to do a series of shorts that set up her relationship to each of the other main characters. To start that off, however, we needed Lou's grand entrance.

We came up with the idea that the first short starts off as the most ridiculous episode of LFTI—or perhaps any sitcom—ever. Each character comes into the apartment and adds to the insanity in more and more eye-rolling ways until it's time for Kate's entrance, and then... uh, that's not Kate. "Who the hell are you?" As you know by now, Lou brings the proceedings to a halt (thankfully), reveals a bit of her background, solves everyone's lunatic problems, and then is off in a flash. Oh, except that she creates difficulties of her own, thus fitting perfectly into Mason's world.

The flashbacks are really the core of "*subject to change," and they were the most fun to create. Except my Arby's hat. Eh, I take it back... the Arby's hat was a pain in the ass to create. That's why I'm going to be damn sure to wear it for all future semi-formal occasions.

As pain-in-the-assish as the Arby's hat was, and as fun as the Lou flashbacks were to shoot, I'll leave those subjects for another time. The flashbacks alone deserve a full post. Who knows? Someone else might write about them sooner than you think. Or not. Really, we don't plan these posts out as good as all that.

So this week is the first of the four follow-up shorts showcasing Lou in her escapades with the rest of the cast. Thanks to Lou's character already being so strongly defined, I got the idea that it would be very funny to see Lou showing flash cards to someone as some kind of useless but very serious but not at all that serious test. The funniest pairing for that was obviously Jennifer or Guy, but Robb already had a hilarious Lou/Guy short, so Jennifer it was. Writing the short was actually very easy, because the main ideas were solid, I guess, and so the absurdity of the situation was all that had to be invented. I can invent absurdity well.

I will probably not be asked this question, so I'll answer it to be sure I never am: Do the flash cards have any deep meaning? No. The only questions I asked when thinking up the flash cards were, "What's amusing to put on a flash card?" and "How can the humor of the cards build?" The cards were not thought about in connection with the actual dialogue. Which leads to an interesting psychological puzzle: The cards appear to be random yet symbolic when paired with the dialogue. Since I claim the cards were dreamed up mostly randomly, does this mean my own subconscious mind was at work inventing the proper flash cards for the proper moments in the script? If so, what does this short say about me and my mind? Discuss. 20 points.

During shooting in the side yard of the apartment, we were assaulted with the usual assortment of environmental sounds, including cars and planes and birds. We even got a sample of someone's personal music playlist. Because of this, Robb thought it'd be fun to use those sounds and even add to them. Thus the surreal and faintly distracting noises you may or may not hear underneath the dialogue of "Distractionation." Robb might have some fun and interesting things to say regarding the sound AND MUSIC *AHEM AHEM* he created here.

Not only was the short my first LFTI directorial effort, but it was my first since film school. I love and respect all the LFTI cast, so it was interesting trying to balance my original concept for the short, the new and fun stuff the actors brought in their acting satchels 'o goodness, and the realities of real-world shooting. I know I could have done some things differently, but I'm very happy with the short. I can't wait to direct some more and learn from my mistakes.

"The Distractionation Index" is probably our most pseudo-experimental LFTI video yet, and I'm glad everyone was so supportive of it. I'm also glad it's getting good feedback so far. A british friend of mine was particularly fond of it, which is the best compliment we can receive.

I think the next Lou short is going to be a  big hit as well, and we can't wait for that to go up on September 15th!

Oh, and P.S.: Japanese Noh mask and phrenology chart down, bone with a bow, Red Vines, and romantic mood lighting to go.

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