Voyage Trekkers Premiere

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The Voyage Trekkers Screening Party on Monday was a heck of a lot of fun and a big hit.  We packed the house, screened our short “Zombie Team Building” along with the first three episodes of “Voyage Trekkers”, and ended on an audience Q &A.  We’ve done quite a few of these premieres now, and I have to be completely honest, this was really the best we’ve ever had.  It was just a warm fuzzy glow of yayness.

The event was thrown at FilmBar, which is just a great downtown venue, quickly emerging as Phoenix best indie movie hangout.  Maybe it’s just me, as I’m probably the only one that’s a bundle of panic and nerves at these things, but I must say that the availability of purchasable beer also made the night much more enjoyable.

The event was the launch of the weekly comedy web series, which you can see the first episode right below.  Also be sure to check out more photos from the event!

 

For more of “Voyage Trekkers” check us out at either www.voyagetrekkers.com or www.squishystudios.com!

 

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Prepare to Beam Down

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Almost there!  With the “Voyage Trekkers”premiere bearing down on us, I’ve been burning the candle at both ends, sleeping five or six hours a night, rolling out of bed and getting right back to the computer to get this project ready.  But worry not, for this burning candle is a wonderfully scented … there’s a lot of exciting things coming your way.

From the Squishy Studios website (www.squishystudios.com)

Voyage Trekkers Website.  If you go to www.VoyageTrekkers.com you’ll be redirected to our new Voyage Trekkers page on the Squishy Studios site.

Captain Sunstrike's Personnel File

Character Profiles.  On the site, instead of the boring character bios, we’ve created their Galactic Union personnel files.  These will update as the crew continue their adventures.

The weekly Captain's Blog will at Squishystudios.com / VoyageTrekkers.com; right now the page is slow to load, appologies

The Captain’s Blog.  This is exciting.  Captain Sunstrike will post a weekly blog of his adventures on the website.  This will include adventures both seen and unseen in the episodes.  A good source of expanded universe fun!

Voyage Trekkers Screening Party.  The online premiere is July 18th, but if you’re in Phoenix, come join us at FilmBar at 8PM.  We’re screening the first three episodes!  Admission is $5.  Here’s the link to the facebook event.

Episode 1 – Rescue From the Lizard Men.  Monday morning is the premiere of the first Voyage Trekkers episode.  It’s entitled “Rescue From the Lizard Men.”  This will be the kick off to our weekly installments of our ten episode season, so tune in every Monday for a new adventure.  The episodes will be available on our YouTube Channel.

Just a few more days … can’t wait!  Yay!  

Ode to Big Trouble in Little China

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When asked in the past what my favorite film is I’ve given several answers.  Maybe I was trying impress someone with my knowledge of Kurosawa.  Or perhaps I mentioned how I always get choked up at the end of “E.T.”  Or I could have described the humanity and magic that Hayao Miyazaki brings to his stories.  But my friends they’re lies, all lies.

Because “Big Trouble in Little China” is the greatest movie ever made.

Directed by John Carpenter and starring Kurt Russell, this is what you get when you throw comedy, kung fu films, Howard Hawks’ “His Girl Friday”, and westerns all into a bag, shake it around, and everything manages to come out right.

Did I mention this movie completely bombed when it came out?

An alternate poster by Drew Struzan

One thing it had going against it is, well, the main character Jack Burton is basically a fool.  The film was marketed as a big action adventure, but the fun that Russell (channeling his best John Wayne) and Carpenter had was making his character act like he was in charge, but he essentially the sidekick of the story.  The real ass kicking hero of the story was Dennis Dun’s Wang Chi.  But by shifting the story on to the louder and more charismatic Jack Burton, who thinks he’s the hero but can’t seem to get anything accomplished, you now have a comedy (that doesn’t act like a comedy) on your hands.  Add in kung fu, chinese sorcery, and all the other genre-blending, it’s easy to see that it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea.

This isn’t one of those ‘it’s so bad it’s good’ movies, like Troll 2″ or “The Room.”  No, “Big Trouble in Little China” genuinely kicks butt.  The dialogue is wonderfully hard boiled and extremely quotable.  The action and fantasy are full of imagination.  And the humor is of course the main gem, as the characters never know they’re being funny or foolish.

So why is this movie great?  Because it’s just so darn fun!

Yes, this is me in San Francisco’s Chinatown wearing the “Big Trouble in Little China” shirt

To listen to the Educating [Geeks] podcast I was a guest on, which was all about Big Trouble in Little China, you can check it out here:

Making a Web Series Part 3 – Why?!!

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From our comedy web series "Normally This Weird"

And now for the slightly more esoteric and thoughtful conclusion to my three-part look at making web series … The “Whys.”  So Why Make a Web Series?

Because it’s cheaper.  Web series cost a lot less than a TV show.  Right now Brent Spiner is doing his own web series called “Fresh Hell.”  If you don’t have a TV show, if you don’t have the money to do an indie feature, but dang it all you just gotta dance and sing (er…I mean…film something) then web series is a great way to keep working.

To Tell Stories.  Some of us are born storytellers.  We don’t feel right unless we’re inventing worlds or characters to share with everyone.  It’s a long enduring human tradition.  Sure, it’s fun to do a short film, but the challenge of doing series lets you develop these characters in a longer form.  It’s a meatier and much more in-depth process.  You get to tell story arcs and character development.  You have episode arcs, season arcs, and series arcs.

For the mad “XP.”  Is making ten episode season of web series kinda like making ten short films?  Yeah, it kinda is.  It is not to be taken lightly.  This endeavor will test your endurance, creativity, and skill.  Plus with a short film you can get by on five minutes of flash, with very little substance, as long as it looks cool.  That don’t fly with a web series, TV, or a feature.  If there isn’t a solid character or story to hook into, you’ll lose your audience.  A web series really puts you on the spot to have well developed characters and a story that continues to keep you involved.  You really have to up your game to meet these challenges.

To Create a Fanbase.  Okay, so there’s little or no money to be made with web series … it’s a difficult and exhausting experience … so why does any sane person want to make one?  The biggest reason I can think of, and it’s the reason why I’m making web series, is to create and grow your audience.  To put your stories out there, constantly putting out regular new content, and to make a name for yourself and your work.  As you continue to do good work that fan base will follow and support you on your future endeavors.

The magic kids from "Normally This Weird"

And lastly, some parting tips:

Get a haircut before your shoot.  You’ll be looking at those behind the scenes photos for a year.  Trust me, you’ll thank me.

Feed your crew right.  You’re too cheap to pay them, feeding them a good lunch keeps the machine running and shows that you appreciate their work.  Also, try to plan a special treat every so often.  Spring for cupcakes or something fun every once and a while.

Make your website now.  There may not be anything to show, but now you’ve official planted your flag.  Preproduction is a great time to build hype, with photos, sketches, storyboards, and blogs.

Find time to shoot behind the scenes material.  You’ll be counting on this stuff in a few months, and it’s all gold when you’re publicizing your project.  Get behind the scenes video, interviews of the cast and key crew members, and do a photo shoot of the actors in their costumes for posters.  Also, most still photographers at film school shoot a film set like it’s a scrap book of the event.  That’s great for remembering the experience but the press doesn’t want to see photos of your crew.  What you need are still shots that look like they’re screen grabs of the show but are in fact higher resolution photos.

Over come your shyness and get the word out.  This is a tough one for me.  Over the last few years I’ve learned to be a spokesman for my projects, but I am inherently very shy and reserved.  It’s difficult for me to contact people I don’t know on the internet to spread the word about my shows.  But if I don’t get out there and press the flesh no one’s going to know it exists.

Well thanks for reading.  Hopefully I said something useful.  As I said before, I’m no expert, and I’m learning this all as I go.  If you have any additional questions feel free to leave a comment!

And now the moment of shameless promotion (get over that shyness!) … you can learn more about our two web series “Normally This Weird” and “Voyage Trekkers” here at our Squishy Studios website.  “Voyage Trekkers” hits July 18, 2011 — be sure to check it out!