Archive for the ‘Web Series’ Category

2013: Year in Review

January 6, 2014

Hi everyone. Let’s take a look at the last year and what’s coming up next year.

 

Tickling Butterflies

During 2013, I serialized at this website my epic fantasy novel, Tickling Butterflies.

Tickling Butterflies – 128 fairy tales rolled into one.

The book follows King John, who was born with a prophecy of death over his head. King John struggles to save The Land of All Legends by finding out all its secrets. In doing so, he follows the fairy tales back to their source: the magical planet Earth.

Tickling Butterflies is made out of 128 separate fairy tales that together form one epic story.

 

The Indestructibles

In 2013, I finished work on The Indestructibles, an independent, underground science fiction web-series. The Indestructibles premiered in UtopiaFest 2013 as a short film.

The Indestructibles

The Indestructibles

You can see all 7 episodes at The Indestructibles website, here.

 

 

New Worlds Comics

In 2013 I started a comic book company called New Worlds Comics. New Worlds Comics should premiere by February, 2014. The plan is to create some of the best fantasy and science fiction around, in both story and art. Four different series are in the works. Here are some teaser covers from the first two series: Wynter, a dark SF story, and Goof, a superhero comedy.

Wynter, Issue #1

  Wynter, Issue #1

Goofiest superhero ever.

Goofiest superhero ever.

210e7-goof232-cover_ipad

Wynter, Issue #2

Wynter, Issue #2

Goof, Issue #2

Goof, Issue #2

 

Stories in Russian

Hatchling, which has already appeared in four languages (I think), was translated into Russian and won Best Translated Story category in the Today Is Tomorrow competition. This led to two more stories that have appeared in Russian and more on the way.

 

Digital Kingmakers

The online magazine, SF Signal, was kind enough to allow me to publish a trilogy of 3 humorous SF stories, masquerading as non-fiction articles, all having to do with a high-tech company called Digital Kingmakers.

Each of the posts was chosen by the magazine as one of the best posts of that month. And recently, 2 of the 3 articles appeared in SF Signal’s list of Top 25 Guest Posts of 2013.

Here are links to all 3 articles in order:

Keep It Stupid, Simpleton

Benedict Cumberbatch, Neil Gaiman, and Guy Hasson Walk into a Bar…

How to Blow the Minds of SF Fans

 

What to Look Forward to in the Beginning of 2014?

  • We’re going to launch New Worlds Comics.
  • Tickling Butterflies is going to come out in hard cover in Israel.
  • In 2014, in a few weeks, I’m going to serialize my science fiction novel for young adults, Life: the Video Game, which was originally published by Bitan Publishers in 2003. You’re going to love the premise.

 

 

The Indestructibles is now online!

October 7, 2013

The Indestructibles is a low-budget, underground SF film. Some of you have followed the progress of making it through my film journal.

 

As promised from the very beginning: the film is now online for free, split into seven parts for easy watching.

Independent, low-budget, underground science fiction film

Independent, low-budget, underground science fiction film

Here’s a short synopsis:  For over 200 years, superhero battles ravaged the earth. Once they were defeated, hundreds of thousands superhero bodies littered the streets. They are living, breathing vegetables that cannot die and do not grow old. One day, the superheroes come back. Only Rachel Gardner, a high school teacher, can stop them.

 

If you enjoy it, help spread the word to people you think will like it.

The Indestructibles Film Journal #9: Murphy’s Law

April 11, 2013

Murphy’s Law: This Time It’s Personal

The weekend in which we were to shoot seven of the film’s eight scenes was upon us. And then Murphy’s Law struck once, twice, three times, and kept on bombarding us.

The climax was four hours before the shoot. Tamara Pearlman, one of the two leading actresses, was to wear a certain top to the shoot. We chose it months ago, one of her personal shirts, and when we did I said clearly: “From this point on you’re not wearing this shirt until the shoot. You’ll keep it stored, no one will touch it. It can’t get any stains on it, it can’t get torn. It needs to stay in the closet, safe and cozy and safe.”  She said, “Sure.”

That was months ago. Four hours before the shoot, I get a text from her: “My husband tore the shirt in two.”

And the great battle of The Indestructibles crew versus Murphy’s Law began.

Coming to a website near you

Coming to a website near you

Arming Yourself against Murphy’s Law

I’m not going to talk about the things that went through my mind. I’m not going to mention the image I had of her husband, standing in a King Kong pose atop the Empire State, holding the shirt in his two hands, then tearing it in two, screaming, “You’re not going to participate in this stupid film! Ooga ooga!” Sure, it went through my mind. But I know him, and I know that didn’t happen.

We’re not going to talk about any of the scenarios that went through my mind, imagining how a shirt could be torn in two in the morning before a shoot. And we’ll get to what really happened. But in the meantime, what you need to know is that in my few years in film and my twenty years in theater, I’ve learned that Murphy’s Law strikes, and strikes hard. I came prepared.

Before we proceed to see the vile and violent attacks by Murphy’s Law, let’s recap: The Indestructibles is an attempt to create a massive, epic science fiction story that would ordinarily cost hundreds of millions of dollars, with absolutely no budget. With today’s technology, it’s much easier to shoot film. And the need for CGI goes out the window if you tell your story well. If you tell the story right, if you direct it right, and if you use good actors, I’ll be able to give the viewers almost the same experience. That’s the goal. To read more about how I think it can be done see the first Indestructibles blog entry.

Here are a few salvos from Murphy’s Law, representing only the bigger attacks, not the smaller ones:

  • A few days before the production, I discovered the soundman I wanted had decided to go to Paris. Solution: I did the sound as well as shot the film. It was a gamble, and anyone who comes from film would tell you you should never do the sound yourself. But now that it’s over, I can say that it worked. Problem solved!
  • When I came to collect the equipment I had ordered for the shoot (lighting equipment), they couldn’t find the order. We quickly found it under another name, but during that time I was completely prepared, since the location is an abandoned parking lot, to shoot the film with my car’s headlights. I had actually planned for that eventuality the night before. The equipment was found. Problem solved!
  • I had ordered two different lights, and before I put the equipment in the car, I checked that they worked. But when I got to the location, one of the lights no longer worked. The solution: The shoot only requires one strong light. I had ordered two just in case. Problem solved!
  • Natalie Klein Selle, the other lead actress, has quite a long part in which she lies down as a vegetable and needs to breathe through her nose quietly. This breathing through your nose part of her job sounds trivial, but it became unbelievably important when she showed up with a cold and a stuffed nose. Fortunately, knowing Murphy’s Law was lurking, I had taken that eventuality into account and had bought nose spray the day before. She took it, her nose cleared, and we could shoot the film Problem solved!
  • Finally, Tamara Pearlman’s husband tore her shirt in two. It was done innocently enough. There were knocks at the door while they were sleeping, and the husband jumped out of bed, not noticing that he moved the chair the shirt was on, dropping it to the floor next to the door. Then, still dazed, he tried to open the bedroom door. It resisted (because of the shirt on the floor). So he pushed. Hard. The door opened and the shirt became two smaller shirts. Solution: On her way to the shoot, Tamara went to the store in which she had originally bought the shirt and bought another one. Theoretically, we had another solution, because we had prepared two alternatives for her to wear. So, either way, problem solved!

In Conclusion

And now we’ve shot most of the film, and the dailies look so much better than I had imagined they could look. Murphy’s Law lost this time, though it will no doubt return again, having learned the lessons of this battle, and ready to try again. My guess is I’ll need the actors to wear body armor next time. Just to make sure they don’t break anything on the way to the shoot.

Are you listening, Murphy’s Law? We’re ready for you! Do your worst! Come on! Let’s see you try!

The Indestructibles Film Journal #8: War of the Worlds

March 4, 2013

Two Worlds, One People

Every so often, I am starkly reminded that I live in two different worlds.

One is the ‘real’ world, the regular world, the one where most of you, the readers of this blog, probably live. Everybody lives in the real world. Everybody except crazy people and… There used to be a name for those people… What are they called? It’s on the tip of my tongue… Oh, yes: Artists. In particular, actors, actors in theater and film.

During my first year at the university I majored in Mathematics and took one course in Theater because I missed writing. It was a short walk between a talk with a genius who shared with me his contemplations about what multiplication really is – and walking into the Theater department, where two actors were reenacting Romeo and Juliet in the cafeteria to everyone’s delight.

These two types of people do not live in the same world.

When Worlds Collide

Here’s where my two worlds collided while rehearsing The Indestructibles, my low-budget epic SF film. On the one hand, I write books, plays, and work on films. But that sometimes earns decent money and sometimes it doesn’t. I have to help support my family, so I have a real job in high-tech with people who live in the real world.

The Indestructibles

The Indestructibles

Seeing as The Indestructibles is a low-budget production, we rehearse where we can. A couple of weeks ago, I suggested one of the conference rooms at my job, since it’s big and has a big carpet we can use to rehearse on (part of the film takes place on the ground).

It was nighttime, and most of the office was empty. However, it wasn’t completely empty.

The collision began innocently enough when I let the two actresses in, and had to walk with them through a long corridor, getting stares. The next day I would get quite a few questions, with a wink-wink here and a nudge-nudge there, about who those two beautiful women were and what was I possibly doing with them, wink-wink, nudge-nudge.

But that’s nothing compared to what happened when the rehearsal began.

It was just the three of us in the room, and we started to set up the scene. The two actresses were on the floor, one was lying down, the other talking to the ‘camera’. Then the actress who was talking bent down to kiss the other actress, who played her sister, on the cheek. I was a foot away, on my knees, staring intently at them. That’s when someone walked in to say good night.

Feeling very comfortable in rehearsal-world, I told him good night, and continued with the scene.

A few minutes later, one actress was hugging another, the two of them still on the floor, and me on my knees next to them, when one of the vice presidents of the company stepped in to say good night. I told him goodnight.

But as soon as he stepped out, the three of us realized at once that the scene he saw, which felt natural to us, would appear utterly strange to a real person who lives in the real world. The three of us broke into simultaneous laughter. And I thought to myself: “Lucy, you’re going to have some ‘splaining to do.”

And once again I was starkly reminded that I live in two worlds, and that jumping on tables to portray a character, breaking into a dramatic monologue, purposefully bumping into doors to get a laugh, and spending time with two women on the floor, are all things that belong to one world and not the other.

I can tell you with confidence that one of these worlds is a lot more fun than the other.

The Indestructibles Film Journal #7: Inventing Something New

February 13, 2013

Has Everything Been Done?

The question I keep asking myself as I plan the shots for the film is: Is there a new cinematic language to be invented?

I have a problem with the old cinematic language. It’s built for budgets. Everything we see falls under the scale that has Hollywood on one side, goes through almost-Hollywood, down the scale to not-even-close-to-Hollywood which is only a step above just-pure-piss.

As you recall, The Indestructibles was born out of the fact that these days I have the technology to create film. There’s no need to beg for big budgets or to kowtow notes from executives who know nothing about story or art. I have a writer, director, and cameraman at home (me), I have a camera, and I know great actors who would be willing to participate. There’s no reason I shouldn’t be able to create new, original SF films at home! In fact, there’s no reason not to create epic SF films with absolutely no budget… if you know what you’re doing.

The Indestructibles is an epic SF film about superheroes, designed to be created with everyday means. In this film journal, I’ve talked about how I created the story in a way designed to give the full SF epic experience, about how I got rid of the editor by shooting in one-shots (editors are expensive and the budget is zero), choosing the actors, the rehearsals, and about the different choices I had to make along the way.

But one thing still haunted me. I didn’t want to make the mistake I saw repeated around me.

What Are Others Doing?

Look around at the absolutely best web series that exist today. Some use ordinary shots and look homemade. I don’t want to be that. Others try to create a look that’s as sleek as a Hollywood movie, trying to hide the fact that they had a budget that’s only in the thousands of dollars or, if they’re lucky, in the tens of thousands of dollars.

What you get then is a shot that’s taken out of a professionally sleek Hollywood film, followed by a shot that’s trying to be, but clearly didn’t have the budget for it. The switch from one to the other is bad for the film. It takes the viewers out of the film and magnifies the not-Hollywood issue rather than hides it.

So the question that keeps haunting me is this: Is there a way to create entirely new language that is completely different from what the viewers have ever seen? Something that tells you how much it cost and at the same time looks artistic and professional? Something that when you watch it doesn’t feel like it tried to be something it couldn’t be? Something that is so authentic it doesn’t get you thinking about how cheaply it was done?

Has everything been done or can I find something new?

The Solution

It starts with the credits.

Credits are something we’re so used to seeing, we never really think about them. Today, almost any editing program gives you a way to show the credits in a way that seems to be taken out of a Hollywood film. They give you the same fonts, the same effects of the credits in the beginning of the movie appearing and disappearing. The goal is to look professional. You know, like Hollywood.

But, as I said above, I don’t want to create even a whiff of Hollywood so as not to create a dissonance with the rest of the film. The credits had to be different, too. Could I find an alternative to the credits that fits all the criteria I’ve mentioned above?

The Indestructibles, as you recall, is about superheroes, but also about superheroes that are brain-dead but just can’t die. One of the characters is, somewhere during the story, just such a female superhero (played by Nathalie klein Selle, whom you’ve seen in the poster below). Part of the film is about how these ‘almost-dead’ superheroes are abused by regular people, and their bodies treated like trash.

The Indestructibles

The Indestructibles

Here’s my solution for The Indestructibles. I’m going to write the credits, in handwriting, on Nathalie’s (the ‘dead’ superheroine’s) body. So you’re going to have a shot of her foot with the text ‘Old Man Productions Presents’, then you’re going to have a shot of her bare legs with the name of the film ‘The Indestructibles’. You’re going to have her name written on her face, as she plays a vegetable with eyes open. You get the idea. (I’ll do my best to avoid it looking sexy, since the film isn’t about that, and make it about the credits and the body-is-garbage theme.)

It’s not something you’ve seen before. It’s inexpensive but doesn’t appear to be created from a lack of budget. It’s jarring. It’s emotional. It’s not Hollywood, but it doesn’t make you think: These people couldn’t do Hollywood.

That’s the new language I’m trying to create.

In planning the shots for the film, I’m trying to create the same effect. I won’t reveal any more than I have now, but I will say that the point is to make something that was shot by an unprofessional (a character in the film) and to suddenly fall into great moments of art without meaning to, then to snap back to the regular composition.

Will it work? That’s for you to say.

Speaking of which, the film will be released on the web, but at first it won’t be released publicly. It will only be released to a small audience. If you want to be part of that audience and you want to see it before everyone else does, please email sfonweb@gmail.com with the subject line, The Indestructibles. You’ll immediately be added to the list.

 

The Indestructibles Film Journal #1: The Indestructibles are Born

January 21, 2013

(As promised, I’m reprinting The Indestructibles’ film journal here at my blog. I’m going to republish about two a week, until we catch up. This was originally published at the Apex Blog.)

 

The Indestructibles - Poster

The Indestructibles – Poster

A couple of months ago I decided enough’s enough. It’s time to embark on a new adventure.

It’s time to create a science fiction epic film.

I just needed to find a way to do it with no budget. Why? Well, allow me to show you my reasoning through a series of flashbacks.

Flashback: It’s seven years ago. I’m sitting in a café in front one of the country’s most influential producers, trying to convince him to produce a horror mini-series for TV I wrote and wanted to direct. At the same time, he’s spending more than an hour trying to convince me to change aspects of the script to something he can produce. Why couldn’t he produce it? His bottom line was (I’m paraphrasing): “I can’t put your show on TV because the audience doesn’t like horror. How do I know that the audience doesn’t like horror? Because there are no horror shows on TV.”

This was said by a serious and powerful producer, who failed to see that by his logic, nothing new would ever get done.

Problem: Producers find it hard to do something new. Producers really like projects that are the long the line of things that are already popular. What I write, however, is almost always experimental or new in some way.

Conclusion: I should stay away from producers and their logic. I should just produce things on my own.

Flashback: It’s six years ago. I’ve found a backer to back the horror series, I’ve held auditions, found actors and a crew, started rehearsals, and a production company has even started filming a documentary about the production’s unique journey. We were going to do the entire mini-series on spec (making the entire thing as a pilot), working under the assumption we’ll find one TV channel willing to take a high-quality finished product. Then the phone rings. It’s my backer. He’s transferred the first part of the money a couple of months ago. Today was the day he was supposed to transfer the rest of the money. But he’s decided to back out of the deal. A month before we start shooting, the production falls apart. I spend a few more months trying to find more backers before giving up.

It took more than a year to work on a project that never came to be.

Problem: My state of mind is a writer’s, not a director’s. This means that spending seven years chasing one project that may never be doesn’t sit well with me. I like to sit at home and spend that time on seven new books, plays, or scripts that will be %100 finished, because I’ll finish writing them, whether they get produced or not. I can try and get them published or produced while I’m working on writing the next project.

Conclusion: I should stay away from projects that cost a hefty sum of money. How about projects that cost a paltry sum of money? Is that possible?

Flashback: It’s four years ago. I walk into a children’s toy shop and buy a toy slate for $3. (A slate is the thing that snaps shut in front of the camera when the direction says ‘action’. It’s used to mark scenes easily. Its lack of use makes the editor’s job almost impossible.) I was about to direct an experimental feature-length SF film I had written. I’d found a way to avoid almost everything that costs money in film. The film had a budget of $25,000, and stuck to it. Low-budget means low-budget: I got our slate from a toy shop, and it worked just like a real one, except that it was more colorful.

Conclusion: The film was made and premiered in Israel’s SF film festival, ICon 2008, which was great. Sure, having funds for your feature is great, but chasing backers does a body bad. Was there a way to make things for absolutely no money?

The Low-Budget Solution

There actually is a way to make a film with no money. Today, you’ve got cameras at home, so you can use those. If you use one-shots to shoot your film (meaning that you don’t ‘cut’ and shoot in one continuous shot), you can forego the editor and edit the film on your computers. If you happen to be able to shoot the film, you can cut out your DOP (‘director of photography’). Use actors that want to do something artistic just as much as you do. Write a story that uses the world itself, as it is, as the background, sets, and perhaps even lighting.

So far, so good. My aim is to write something (hopefully amazing) and just shoot it, edit it, and release I to the world without any hassle in the middle. It looks achievable! The problem is that this time I wanted to tell the story of a massive science fiction epic: with superheroes, super villains, a showdown, a fantastic history spanning hundreds of years, and a story that spans many exotic locations.

So: Can I do that for no money, please?

The Ancients Who Solved the Problem

The Greeks did it before, you see. It was around 2,600 years ago, when they created the theater. They told massive tales of fantasy, borrowed from their mythology (or, as they called it, ‘history’). These were tales of epic wars, gods’ wraths, journeys into mystical places, battles with monsters, and more. These tales were done without a Hollywood special effects team, and were still told in such a powerful way that the same tales are retold again and again through the generations, to this very day.

Here’s the gist of it: If you put a few people in one location and tell the tale through their eyes, then there are writing techniques that will cause the story to be just as powerful and just as evocative as the best special effects you can muster.

If. You do it. Well.

The Script

So I wrote the script.

It’s a 45-minute film for three actors. One character appears almost all the time and she is the character that talks. A second character also appears in all the scenes, but she does no talking whatsoever. A third character (a man, for a change,) appears only in the last two minutes. Through this structure I tell an epic tale about superheroes. The story spans hundreds of years and even has a superhero showdown towards the end, just like any other superhero script. The film is called The Indestructibles.

When we’re done filming, editing, and scoring, we’ll be spreading it in the most immediate and democratic way we have at our disposal. We’ll set up a website and put the film on that website as YouTube clips. The film will be constructed out of seven YouTube clips (shot in eight one-shots (see one-shot explanation above)). Since a forty-five minute YouTube clip is way too much for a YouTube format, The Indestructibles is written in a way that breaks it down into seven separate segments that follow each other consecutively.

What Next?

This is a personal project and this film journal is about a personal journey. I hope to share the journey and the adventure of creating something amazing (hopefully) with nothing more than a metaphorical gum wrapper and rubber band.

Join me next time, as we cover the auditions.

The Indestructibles Film Journal #9: Murphy’s Law

December 12, 2012

The day finally came to shoot the film, but Murphy’s Law attacked us in full force. Here’s an excerpt:

The weekend in which we were to shoot seven of the film’s eight scenes was upon us. And then Murphy’s Law struck once, twice, three times, and kept on bombarding us.

The climax was four hours before the shoot. Tamara Pearlman, one of the two leading actresses, was to wear a certain top to the shoot. We chose it months ago, one of her personal shirts, and when we did I said clearly: “From this point on you’re not wearing this shirt until the shoot. You’ll keep it stored, no one will touch it. It can’t get any stains on it, it can’t get torn. It needs to stay in the closet, safe and cozy and safe.”  She said, “Sure.”

That was months ago. Four hours before the shoot, I get a text from her: “My husband tore the shirt in two.”

And the great battle of The Indestructibles crew versus Murphy’s Law began.

To read the full entry, click here.

The Indestructibles - Poster

The Indestructibles – Poster

The Indestructibles Film Journal #8: War of the Worlds

November 2, 2012

The Indestructibles is an indepndent, low-budget, epic SF film I’m writing and directing. The latest installment of the film journal has just been published over at the Apex Book Company blog. This one is called War of the Worlds. Here’s an excerpt:

 

Every so often, I am starkly reminded that I live in two different worlds.

One is the ‘real’ world, the regular world, the one where most of you, the readers of this blog, probably live. Everybody lives in the real world. Everybody except crazy people and… There used to be a name for those people… What are they called? It’s on the tip of my tongue… Oh, yes: Artists. In particular, actors, actors in theater and film.

To read the entire article, click here.

 

The Indestructibles film journal #7: Inventing Something New

October 3, 2012

The seventh installment of The Indestructibles film journal has been published at the Apex blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

Has Everything Been Done?

The question I keep asking myself as I plan the shots for the film is: Is there a new cinematic language to be invented?

I have a problem with the old cinematic language. It’s built for budgets. Everything we see falls under the scale that has Hollywood on one side, goes through almost-Hollywood, down the scale to not-even-close-to-Hollywood which is only a step above just-pure-piss.

The full article can be found here.

The Indestructibles: Coming Soon!

The Indestructibles Film Journal #6: 3 Funniest Rehearsal Moments

August 30, 2012

This time, in The Indestructibles film journal, I took a break from the serious job of rehearsing with actors how to save the world from dangerous superheroes and reflected back on the three most ridiculous rehearsal moments.
Here are the top contenders.

Want to see it first? Email sfonweb@gmail.com


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