Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Feelin’ Low Down

Not really.

It’s the Wednesday one week after the latest video went up, and you know what that means?!

What do you mean “no?!” If it’s Wednesday then it means that I’m (Robb) blogging! And if it’s one week after the latest video hit the net then it means that I’ll be posting the music from that video.

That’s what!

Of course, I’m speaking to you specifically.

You know, they say that a good blog should speak in the singular. “You.” “Me.” “Us.” As in, “I’m going to post new music so that you can hear it, and we should give me all your money.”

The reason for the singular personal approach is so that you can make a better connection to the reader. That way a multitude of people can feel as if they’re being addressed specifically. It helps to bond the reader to the author. Especially if that author makes a furtive request for cash.

However, in this case, I’m actually talking to you. The one person still reading this blog.

So, thank you. You’re the reason that I’m avoiding putting the finishing touches on our next video (which will be up Monday! And, yes, I did “finish” the music!).

Okay, so let’s get to the music.

I’ve been causing myself some undue headaches lately. See, I’ve been temping the videos with Apple Loops.

Perhaps I should clarify that last sentence. “Temping” means that I’m using temporary music to help me edit (something that I don’t usually do as I like to cut to the rhythm of the dialogue normally). And Apple Loops are little pieces of music and/or parts of pieces of music that come with Garage Band or Logic or Soundrack that can be mixed together so that anyone can have professional sounding scores on their projects. Apple Loops is not – I repeat – not a cereal.

I’ve been using Apple Loops “jingles.” Small “complete” musical phrases for various purposes. If you’ve ever watched a podcast or an online show you’ve most likely heard some. They’re very popular. And for good reason. They’re good.

And handy.

But I’m a snob. I want our show to have completely original music. So I avoid using the Apple Loops Jingles. I use plenty of Apple Loops, but they’re usually drum parts and fairly well hidden. The last thing I want people to do is recognize any of them.

I used an obvious one to score the “Mizz Chi Workout Video.” But that’s because Mizz Chi would have used it. I also used a bunch for the “JC Joe” video from episode 3. But you never really hear it so… (speaking of JC Joe, I can’t wait to get the LFTI DVD out there! Why did JC Joe remind me of it? Who knows…?! Hmm.).

But for the most part, I avoid any of the Apple Jingles. However, as I said, I’ve been temping the videos with them and they fit so well that I want to emulate them with my own original music. Alas, as I have also said, the Apple Loops Jingles are really good. They’re written, played and recorded by professionals.

So me trying to emulate them is a bit like asking my little nephew to “repaint the Mona Lisa…but as a dude.”

It’s hard, and a bit above my resources. But I’ve been trying. And what you’re about to hear is my first attempt. It’s a bluesy little number. It doesn’t really go anywhere (it’s a blues remember, they never go anywhere), but it fit the video nicely. So, it did its job.

No loops here!

Lou’s Blues:

Thanks for listening. And don’t forget that the next video will be up on Monday!


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dropping Balls

There’s been a lot of ball-dropping going on around here.

I don’t know why that last sentence made me think of Junior High School.


I don’t know where your mind is, I simply meant that in Jr. High School I played on the school basketball, football and baseball teams. And I was terrible at all of those sports.

Okay, I take it back, I wasn’t on the school basketball team. They actually made cuts. Needless to say I was one of those cuts (but I played pee-wee basketball before that …Okay, that last sentence made me think of college). But I was literally the only extra player on the Junior High baseball team (not counting pitchers). I was the sole substitute, and yet I still managed to be considered “third string.” Seriously. And I was only on the football team after my mom convinced the coach that I just HAD to be a member of the team…halfway through the season! Mortifying.

So, that’s the reason that the “ball-dropping” sentence made me think of Junior High School.

No other reason.

…Oh, and I also went through puberty at that time.


It gets complicated…

I sometimes still think I’m going through puberty. I mean, when will my voice get deeper?! I sound like Carol Channing on helium for god’s sake!

Anyway, as I was saying, we here at Life from the Inside: Blog Edition, have been sorely remiss in our duties as internet “publishers.” And for that we apologize. You see, Steve is in Australia and Tanya is…

So, we’re sorry.

I’m even more sorry since I’m going to leave you with this lame post today. See, I’m having a hell of a time with the music for our next video. I mean a colossally hard time. It’s taken me longer to get this music right than it did to edit, write and shoot the short! I’m not even exaggerating.

And I’m off to work on it some more right now.



Oh, and I might have been the worst right fielder the city of Spokane has ever seen, but by being on the team I got to wear the cool team windbreaker! Sure, my windbreaker was made in the 70s and everyone else got new ones, but I still got to wear it! And I didn’t even have to do anything!

I was so cool.

New video out on the 29th! (Maybe it'll even have music)

Friday, September 12, 2008

Speaking of G'Day...

What's my sorry excuse for not posting Monday like I was supposed to?


I wasn't on vacation yet, but still... I'm leaving on a pretty big trip, so I've been distracted all week getting ready. I'm going to Australia. It's going to be marvy fun. Thanks to a plentitude of miles, I get to fly there in this fancy seat:

Er, well, yes, it looks like one of those Japanese capsule hotels, exploded for easy viewing, but this is going to be my seat. Indeed, this First Class Travel Pod will probably afford me more room than a capsule hotel. I think it includes a sound- and fellow-passenger-drunk-on-free-booze-proof forcefield.

So I'm off tonight on this exciting adventure. I'll be gone until September 28th. If I find any time to post about LFTI while I'm away, I shall! But I plan on being off the grid for most— er, I'm sorry, I meant "off the grid." That is a phrase that deserves quotes. I plan on being "off the grid" for most of the trip.

In the meantime, enjoy Monday's new Lou short! It's great. And Robb outdid himself on the credits.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Who’s the Bossa?

or: Blame it on the bossa nova.

Bossa, bossa, bossa.

What’s all this bossa talk about? Well, it’s about bossa. Duh. Do want me to be clearer? Okay. Fine.

It’s about the bossa nova.

More specifically, it’s about “The Distractionation Bossa.” A little tune I wrote for our last video, The Distractionation Index.

Since the theme of the short was somewhat “clinical” I wanted to write background music that had a “Doctor’s Office” feel. You know, Musak. Just a little ditty to invoke feelings of sitting in a waiting room.

Easier said than done.

First of all, say what you want about musak or “elevator music,” the truth is that a vast majority of the music we all try so desperately to tune out is in actuality composed and played by very highly skilled studio musicians. Very highly skilled. In fact, in a lot of cases it’s played by the same people who back up big name artists. Because, let’s face it, a gig is a gig, dad.

Now, at one time, it could have been argued that I was – on my way to becoming – a good instrumentalist. Those days are gone. Now I’m a sometimes saxophone player trying desperately to remember all the correct fingerings. Which is tough enough when I’m paying the saxophone. When I’m trying to play the flute I’m a…well, a saxophone player trying desperately to remember all the correct fingerings.

Lucky for me they’re pretty much the same fingerings. But I still play the flute like a hack saxophone player. Though in my defense, I never really played the flute anyway. Only when the music called for it in jazz band (which was rare).

But my mother bought me a cool vintage 60s flute so I thought I should use it (my aunt gave away my mom’s flute; the one I used in college. But I’m not going to complain about it here in this blog. That would be petty. Even though I used it for 5 years and it had sentimental value. Besides, I’m sure my aunt’s son’s wife’s cousin deserves it more than I do. Awesome.).

The other hurdle I encountered was that I had never written a bossa before.

I listened to a lot of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao and Astrud Gilberto before I started, but that only made things worse since they pretty much invented the genre and no one has done it better since. Big shoes.

By the way, I think the biggest injustice in music is that “Girl from Ipanema” has been dubbed the ultimate elevator tune. My god that song is great! Seriously. I know I’m not helping to sell myself as a “hip and fresh” writer of internet “content” by saying that, but I don’t care. The kids today, with their Jonases and their girl-on-girl kissing, wouldn’t know good music if it were played over the PA system at the local Chico’s!

But I digress. I struggled to write a good bossa. It was tough. However, I persevered. I fought through. I made it out of the dark Brazilian jungle to the shores of Rio. And I did it all for the show!

So, without further ado, I’ll put down my cross and present The Distractionation Bossa:

I’m no studio musician sure, but then again, I don’t have a studio.

So there.


Oh! Don’t forget that our latest video is going to be posted on Monday! Hooray!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Holiday Speciality

We're in the middle of prepping to shoot this weekend. Should be fun and weird - now I understand when actors talk about how odd it is to shoot holiday stuff way before it happens.

See, we're getting ready to shoot a little holiday special - which is going to be very funny, but still, it's like 87 degrees here today and we have to get in the mindset of the holidays. Which I guess shouldn't be too hard since it's always still around 87 degrees here during the actual holidays. Ah Los Angeles, sometime I really hate your lack of "weather".

One of the hardest parts of getting a holiday special ready was trying to find all of the correct food type stuff without getting hosed on the prices. At least all of the stores already have decorations in stock. I know everyone makes jokes about the stores getting holiday stuff in earlier and earlier every year, but Costco has Christmas decorations up already! And while that may make Robb really excited, it just makes me sad. Of course you don't see me complaining when the Halloween candy is in the stores early.

Also, who knew it was so hard to find someone that owned a gravy boat? I mean, I don't own one, but I figured I must know someone who does?! Of course, I only asked 2 people, but still, I thought my odds were pretty good.

I will be able to tell you more about the special after it airs. It's been fun to get ready for this one, we even had a cast bar-b-que on Labor Day to hang out and make some props. Yes, we can multitask with the best of them! Unfortunately Corrie had the stomach flu on Labor Day, so she was sent home from the last rehearsal with supplies and told to make her own prop. I can't wait to see how it turned out!


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Not Just for Hippies Anymore

Let’s talk about flashbacks. Why not? After all, Steve suggested in his post yesterday that I should mention them (or someone should). Let it never be said that I’m not a puppet.

When we learned that we needed to replace Kate’s character, one of the very first ideas that came up was to bring in another agent for Mason, one to which Mason was “willed” so to speak. Someone to pick up the mantle and carry on for Kate who was off doing…well, whatever it is that Kate’s doing (what is Kate up to anyway?!).

Since we needed the new character to be able to jump into the fray feet first, we worked out the idea to reveal that she’s been there from the beginning, hiding in the shadows, taking notes, biding her time until she was needed.

Yes, she. There was really no question about the fact that the new cast member would be a woman. We liked the dynamic we created, and wanted to keep that. Plus, most sitcoms out there are male-dominated. And the ones that aren’t seem to be very…well…vagina-centric (though, nowadays, most male-dominated sitcoms are penis-centric, so…). We like the idea that our show has more women in it, but isn’t a show focused on gender. I guess that’s what I’m trying to say.

Anyway, the idea that we would have to put our new character (Lou) into some of our old scenes was something that appealed to me from the start. I like that kind of thing. I thought it would be fun.

And it was!


Why did Steve want me to tell this “story?” there’s really not much to it after all, is there? We restaged some old shots and put Lou into them. Here, end of story.

There were a few stumbling blocks, sure. Tanya and Corrie seemed to have pawned all of their old clothes (probably to pay for drugs). So we had to dress them in “reasonable facsimiles” of their former costumes. However, due to my genius camera work, it went mostly unnoticed.

Sure, you could freeze-frame some of the flashback scenes and see that Ashleigh isn’t wearing the same shirt in the alley scene that she was in Episode 2. That it is instead one of my white dress shirts with the collar tucked under and that her hair is actually tied up in a bun being that it’s about 20 feet longer now than it was then.

You could (if you had the “eaglest” of eyes) also see that Jennifer’s shirt is a different color in the party scene from Episode 1, and that, in actuality, the geography of the scene is all wrong.

You might also see in the fumigation scene from Episode 4 that Guy’s jacket is not the same, and that the “puppet” laying in front of him is really Tanya wearing a red shirt and with very “color-corrected” blond hair (Sam, the Puppet, was off having adventures with Kate and could not participate in the re-shoot).

It’s possible that you’ve already noticed that “Eric” fleeing from Mason’s apartment in the night-vision camera from Episode 5 is not played by Joel Bryant, but is in actuality…me. I say that you may have noticed it because it’s a bravura performance. It really stands out! Even with my face covered by napkins, you can see the talent (and that, Joel, is how it’s done)!

We were able to bring Stephen William Moore back to reprise his role as Sid though! Which is good, because no one poops like Stephen! He’s a natural. Some say he’s been doing it all his life!

And it shows!

There is one thing though that will definitely not stand out. And that is Mason in the laundry room from Episode 3. Yes, I had to recreate the pose and the costume. But, seeing that I don’t need the drugs, I still had my costume. And seeing that I’m a brilliant mimic, especially when it comes to imitating myself, something I do nearly all the time, I was easily capable of recreating the pose.

It doesn’t hurt that I have literally not aged a day since we shot Episode 3.




And something else that you can’t tell from the video is the fact that – seriously – the weekend following our shoot in the laundry room, the apartment managers replaced the old laundry room door with a very different, black, hobo-deterring, security gate. And would have replaced it the week before we shot if it weren’t for some kind of worker confusion (the only time worker confusion has ever worked in our favor around here).

So there were cracks in the veneer of our flashback shoot, but like I said, you’ll never see them because only a moron would point them out.

And only a complete moron would tell people to watch the video on iTunes or the “Hi-Resolution” version on our site to see it more clearly.

Thankfully, I’m not a moron.

What I am is a composer. And, while you won’t have to suffer through it now, I’ll be posting the “Distractionation Bossa” from our last video here, in its entirety, next week! Look (listen) for it! I play the flute (thanks for the flute, mom)!

What I also am is an editor. An editor working on our next short. And I’m about to give you a preview!

Here you go:

The short will hit the internet on September 15th! And it’s funny.


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.