Archive for the ‘online articles’ Category

Guest Post: How to Blow the Minds of SF Fans

July 11, 2013

SF Signal just published the third article in a ‘trilogy’ of articles about Mary Belle from Digital Kingmakers and her theories about SF fans and how best to appeal to them. Her latest lesson is the most disturbing of the bunch. Here’s a taste:

Here’s a little taste:

 

Well, I kept my word and returned to Digital Kingmakers for a third time. While the first time was infuriating and the second time was psychedelic, the third time topped them all by being so outrageous that had I written about it in a story, you would never have believed it.

Before we start, close your eyes. Try and imagine the craziest thing that could happen. I promise you that whatever you come up is not half as crazy as what really happened. I. Promise.

So. For the last time. Here’s what happened.

 

Read the entire article.

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

June 9, 2013

SF Signal just published a new guest post I wrote, called Benedict Cumberbatch, Neil Gaiman, and Guy Hasson Walk Into a Bar…

Here’s a little taste:

 

To be clear: this post is your fault, the fault of SF Signal readers.

In my last guest post a few weeks ago, I told you about how I was approached by Mary Belle, CEO of Digital Kingmakers, and how she offered to make my guests posts go viral.

It was…an experience, which I had fully relayed in my post. Her theories were infuriating. And yet, having done everything she said, the new post got 17 comments (viral by SF Signal standards), while my original post (no less brilliant) got none. (Don’t remember? Check it out.) That post even made the list for top 30 SF Signal posts in May.

True to my public promise, I returned to the offices of Digital Kingmakers. In the email that preceded the meeting, Ms. Belle promised to further reveal to me the psyche of the SF fans in a way that would increase my book sales by 1000% in a month.

Last time the experience was insulting. This time it proved to be…psychedelic.

I wish I could tell you I was making this up. But I can’t.

Here’s what happened.

 

Read the entire article here.

Guest Post at SF Signal: Keep It Stupid Simpleton

May 19, 2013

A new article of mine has been published over at SF Signal. A new trend in high-tech, called GOP (“Guest Post Optimization”), brands SF readers as stupid. Here’s a taste:

 

A few days ago, I got a phone call from an unknown caller.

“Am I speaking to Guy Hasson?” The woman was cordial.

“Yes,” I said, wary.

“I read your guest post in SF Signal,” she said as if we’re old friends. “The one about the zombies.”

“I’m sorry, what?” Strangers don’t usually call me about these things. There’s a reason God created email.

“And I saw no one left any comments,” she continued.

“Yeah?” I said, warier and warier.

“We can help you with that.”

 

Read the entire post here. Oh, and read the comments, too.

Guest Post at SF Signal: The Zombie Apocalypse Vocabulary

April 20, 2013

SF Signal was kind enough to publish a guest post I wrote about the zombie apocalypse vocabulary. It’s a comedy piece. Enjoy.

Confessions of a Science Fiction Author

April 10, 2013

The blog tour continues!

The blog AllwaysUnmended has published a guest post by me: Confessions of a Science Fiction Author. Here’s a little taste:

I got myself in a jam.

A year ago I came across a great idea for a science fiction story. But, innocently enough, since like many of my ideas it could actually be implemented today, I thought to myself: Why should I write a science fiction story about it when I can just create a start-up and potentially earn millions?

Well, that’s what I did, and that’s how the trouble began.

Read the whole thing here.

Guest Post: What Makes a Good Science Fiction Story?

April 6, 2013

As part of The Emoticon Generation blog tour, I guest-posted at Over the Effing Rainbow. I talked about what makes a good science fiction story and how science fiction can change the world.

Here’s a little taste:

There are many, many types of good SF, and there are many, many criteria that make a good SF story. But the more I thought about it, the more it became clear to me that through all the different genres, through all the different stories and books that I love, runs one common theme: Science fiction can change the world.

 

Read the guest post here.

The Indestructibles Film Journal #6: Most Memorable Rehearsal Moments

February 11, 2013

Time for Some Comic Relief

Writing a film journal makes you retrospective. As we’re edging towards the end of rehearsals for The Indestructibles, my low-budget epic SF film, I think it’s time for some comic relief.

Here are the three most ridiculous moments had over the years, rehearsing for theater and film.

The Indestructibles - Poster

The Indestructibles – Poster

Ridiculous Moment #3: Getting Out of the Cage

At third place, we’ve got a moment most of us have experienced, though perhaps not in such an extreme way.
You know how sometimes, when you get very nervous, your brain seems to leave your body completely and things you knew very well for all your adult life are suddenly beyond your ability to grasp? This was the case for the actress we’ll call H.

H was playing a lead role in a comedy I wrote for the theater, The Kid Who Turned into an Egg, playing the little kid. In this scene, she was put in a small cage. Halfway through the scene, she would slip through the cage’s bars and get out. This was never a problem. The distance between the bars was great and she was so small she could fit in her own purse.

One rehearsal, she was sitting inside the cage, when suddenly the show’s producer came in. The producer was kind of a bigwig, which already made H nervous, and, in addition, H wanted the producer to hire her for other shows as well. The second H spotted the producer, her brain left the building.

The director called H to come out of the cage. Now, slipping through a set of bars seems trivial to normal, non-nervous people such as yourselves. The task, however, is not trivial, to anyone whose brain has left the building.
Wanting to follow the director’s direction, H put one leg between one set of bars and another leg between another set of bars, then tried to pull herself out of the cage. She tried this again and again, not understanding why she wasn’t out of the cage yet.

Once I literally picked myself up from the floor, where I had dropped from laughter, I explained to her that both legs had to go out of the same two bars. She then got out safely.

As a small side note, I’ll just add that H indeed became one of the producer’s favorite actresses, and she worked for her many times in future shows.

Ridiculous Moment #2: Turning Around Is Hard

At second place, we’ve got a ridiculous moment, which proves that direction, when given, should be precise, or bad things could happen.

This time, two men were carrying a woman on their shoulders. The woman had one leg on one man’s shoulder and another leg on the other man’s shoulder. They were carrying her like a queen from place to place.

As they were carrying her, the director yelled: “Now, turn around!”

I’ll let you guess what happened next. Go ahead. Take a moment.

That’s right: The man on the right (his right) turned right, and the guy on the left (his left) turned left, immediately threatening to snap the woman’s legs like a wishbone. She screamed, they stopped, and no one was hurt.

Now you see why it’s important to be clear when talking to actors.

Ridiculous Moment #1: Concocktion

This one is my fault. Actually, it’s no one’s fault.

Sometimes things look one way when they aren’t, and sometimes things sound one way even though the speakers’ intentions are completely different. This is one of those cases.

As happens once in a while, since I am a writer of science fiction, I happen to use the word ‘concoction’. It happens. There’s nothing wrong with it.

As also happens once in a while, when using an actress whose original language is not English, even though her English is perfect, a word here or a word there may get the stress on the wrong syllable.

Case in point: When the actress read the word ‘concoction’, she stressed the first syllable (CONcoction) rather than the second (conCOCtion). She was reading the line, I immediately corrected her, and the following dialogue ensued. Neither of us (I hope) was aware of what the dialogue sounded like until after the fact:

She: Line line line CONcoction—

Me: Coc.

She: Coc?

Me: Coc.

She: Coc?

Me: Coc.

She: Line line line CONcoction.

Me: Coc.

She: Coc?

Me: Coc. Coc.

She: Coc?

Me: Coc. ConCOCtion.

She: Ah, coc. ConCOCtion.

Me: Right.

And then, as she read the next line, I thought, “Good thing this wasn’t recorded. I could have been sued.”
I hope you enjoyed this comedy relief moment in the film journal.

Next time, we’re going to go back to talking about what happens when superheroes go bad, how Earth can be saved, and how to film it all with no budget.

The Indestructibles Film Journal #5: The Rehearsals

February 6, 2013

Hollywood Wouldn’t Like the Way I Direct

We’re at the rehearsal stage right now. After deciding to write, direct, and produce an epic SF film about superheroes with no budget (henceforth: “The Indestructibles”), after finding actors, and after shooting the poster ahead of time (with the tagline “Even gods must die”), we’re finally nearing the end of rehearsals.

Most of Hollywood wouldn’t like the way I rehearse.

In fact, they wouldn’t like the fact that I rehearse, and certainly not for months. Not only do they not have time for it, but there is a sense in Hollywood that actors that rehearse can’t give you truth. If they only just learned the text, then when they say it for the first few times, they appear genuine, their acting ‘real’. If they say a line more than a few times, it loses its freshness and the actors appear to be acting.

Setting aside the fact that this approach means that acting in the theater can never be good (of course it can and is), and setting aside the fact that good actors have known for thousands of years how to deliver a line again and again and always find a way to keep it fresh for themselves, my approach is that, as a general rule, delivering lines without rehearsals leads to a lack of depth while good rehearsals lead to complexity.

Complexity Is Anti-Hollywood

Hollywood has a stock of actors that directors know ahead of time what they’re going to give when the cameras are pointed at them. Their first delivery, even when they work hard at home on building a character, can only have so much complexity. Expecting stock acting, you get stock acting.

My approach is different. First, we begin reading the script and adding a layer to the character that appears throughout: an aspect of the character’s personality, a pervasive mood, an important action, etc. Then, when that’s done, I let the back of the actors’ minds deal with it and let it sink while we tackle different aspects that can be found in the text. Then we put in another layer on top of it, then another layer, then another layer.

What you get is a character that can give you conflicting emotions, conflicting actions set next to each other, time and time again in the film. The actor can also show experience with some of the subject matter, as if some things are old news while others are fresh. The actor can jump from one emotion and one mind-set to another quickly, then back again, since both have to do with what the character is going through.

The Indestructibles - Poster

The Indestructibles – Coming Soon

The Indestructibles, as you may recall, is built of seven six-minute one-shots, meaning that there is no editing, no pauses in acting, no chances to do a line twice: The actors have to get complex characters, complex situations and complex text without stopping to shoot again. You can only get that with rehearsals.

Intimacy, Intimacy, Intimacy

When Mike Nichols, who is a master at getting great acting out of actors (and, yes, he rehearses), was a guest in The Actors Studio, he explained his approach. His trick is to tell stories about himself, intimate stories that place him in the emotional place of where the characters presently are in the script. He leaves it to the actors to understand that place and to adapt it to their acting.

A good friend of mine, who is a great theater director, though you’ve never heard of her, has a slightly different approach. She says, “I tell a story, they tell a story.” The first step is what Mike Nichols does. But when she finishes telling her story, the other actors feels it’s only natural to tell an intimate story as well, about the same emotion. The director then uses that honesty to show where the actor should be.

My approach is somewhere in the middle. Sometimes I use the first method, sometimes the second, depending on the person in front of me and what I think they need.

There are different stories that get told for different layers of the same text.  The same line can have conflicting stories told about the character’s emotional place when saying it.

Hopefully, the result is equal to the weight I’m giving it. But you know what? Wait a couple of months and you’ll be able to judge the result for yourself.

The Indestructibles Film Journal #4: Writer Vs. Director

February 4, 2013

Dan: You’re acting like a crazed psychopath.
Roseanne: [snorts] Well, the voices in my head disagree.
Roseanne. “Daughters and Other Strangers.” (1993)

The War Begins

There’s a war going on. And it begins every time a film director is doing his job. If the drums of war are missing, the director isn’t doing his job right. I’m happy to report that this war has finally reached the rehearsals of The Indestructibles, my indy, no-budget, epic sci-fi flick for the web.

The Adversaries

Let’s observe the two adversaries as they get into the ring.

On the one side: the writer.The writer creates an idea out of nothing. He creates a world, its characters, their interactions, the plot, the surprises, the beginning, the middle, the ending, the history of what came before, and the hints of what must come later. The writer creates everything. And so the writer thinks he understands his creation and knows what’s best for the film.

But then his opponent steps into the ring, the reigning champion: The dirrrrrectorrrrr!

The director, being a completely different person, takes the writer’s script, which hopefully he likes and is connected to its different layers, and then adds his own interpretation. The director has a perspective the writer doesn’t have and adds more layers, more depth, and hopefully fills in the holes in the writer’s blind spots.

When a good director takes on a good script, his interpretation improves it in a way the writer never could. But to do that he has to stray from the writer’s vision to create something new.

The Catch

The question is, what happens when the director and the writer are the same person? In previous productions, I’ve never had a problem. When I wrote a script or a play I later directed, I was alone in the ring. When writing the piece I felt like I was king of the world, having no one to tell me my interpretation for the piece is lacking.

But the second I finished the play or the script and put on the director’s hat, the director (me) gave a knockout to the writer (me) and completely ignored anything the writer had to say.

It was a click in the brain. The second I put on my director’s hat, I saw my own script differently, causing me to put different layers than the writer (me) had thought were necessary.

Usually, during a first read with the actors, they would read what the parentheses (the writer’s instructions to the actors, indicating characters’ tone [sadly, haughtily, etc.] and attitude, or even pauses). At that point, I would stop them and tell them that the writer of the script (or play) knows absolutely nothing about film (or theater), and anything that is in parentheses should be completely ignored. The writer’s an idiot, I would say, and I should know.

The Indestructibles - Poster

The Indestructibles – Coming Soon

Case in Point: The Indestructibles

The knockout the director always gives the writer never came. In fact, I (the director) felt pretty good about my (the writer’s) vision. Sure, it bothered me a bit that I agreed with myself, since I knew theoretically it was bad for the process. But since I agreed with myself, I couldn’t find any flaw in my reasoning.

But then, as we slowly progressed towards the shooting, something nagged me (the director), something that told me that I (the writer) was wrong.

Let’s recap what we already know about The Indestructibles. It’s an epic SF film, designed to be filmed with no budget at all and to give almost the full effect of a high-budget Hollywood film. (You want to know how that’s possible? Check out the first film journal.) So the film is limited to one location, three actors (one of which never talks, and another who appears only for two minutes at the end), and is shot in eight long one-shots (thus eliminating the cost of the editor). Sound impossible? Well, there was another element I failed to mention in that first film journal: according to the script, the camera never moves. The camera, in the script, belongs to one of the characters. She puts it down, presses Record, then allows it to record what happens next.

I (the writer) thought I (the director) could actually find a way to do it: shoot a film that gives the equivalent feeling of an SF epic in eight one-shots in one closed location in which the camera never moves. And you know what? I (the director) still think I can. But I (the director) now think I shouldn’t. I finally had enough balls to stand up to myself (the writer) and tell myself what an idiot I think I am.

So a change was made to the script, a change the director wanted and the writer didn’t. The film takes place in the future, after all, which means that the camera has now become a smart video camera that can float. It takes instructions through speech (‘Camera on’ and ‘Camera off’, for example) and has modes in which it can shoot. In ‘personal mode’ it will shoot the person speaking in close-up, as if it’s a one-on-one conversation with whoever’s watching; while in ‘party mode’ or ‘crowd mode’, it will shoot scores of people, constantly turning around to catch more and more people, for example. This allows the director to move the camera during the film, to create action through camera, to add a ‘voice’ to the camera, to free the actors’ movements, and to play more with composition. This should create a much better film than the writer had envisioned.

Three… Two… One… The writer is down! The director wins by a knockout!

Thank goodness for that, because I (the writer) feel so much better now about my (the director’s) film.

Improving English: 12 Ways to Categorize Americans

February 2, 2013

We all remember with fondness the time Americans stopped calling some of their citizens the offensive word ‘black’ and started calling them ‘African Americans’.

Non-American blacks, even those visiting or working in the US, were still stuck with the offensive name, but somehow persevered.

Recently, one of the MSNBC anchors called teachers ‘Unselfish Americans’ and that got me thinking that indeed many offensive categories, like ‘blacks’ or ‘teachers’, could use a bit more protection from the PC police. And so, as a service to the public, here are a few modest proposals that will cause millions of American citizens to live happier, more fulfilling lives.

  1. Models and supermodels will, from this point on, be called Photoshopped Americans.
  2. Farmers, from this point on, will be called Cock-a-Doodle-Doo Americans.
  3. Americans living in the South will now be called Fiddle-Dee-Dee Americans.
  4. Singers of any kind will now be called Tra-La-La Americans.
  5. Jews, from this point on, will be called Kosher Americans.
  6. Asians of any lineage will now be called Kung Fu Americans.
  7. Rapists will now be called Penised Americans.
  8. Women called Edith will, from this point on, be called Dingbat Americans. (That’s for you folks over forty).
  9. People who love Cher will, from this point on, be called Shoop Shoop Americans.
  10. Lovers of Tolkien’s works will henceforth be called Middle Earth Americans.
  11. Children between the ages of 3 to 6 will now be called Potty Trained Americans.
  12. And lastly: Lovers of S&M will henceforth be called Slapping Americans.

If you have any more categories that you want to share, in order to make this a better and less offensive society, please put them in the comments.

The Emoticon Generation by Guy Hasson

The Emoticon Generation