Friday, August 29, 2008

The Best Way To Kill A Fly

I just heard a story on NPR about a study some scientists did on how to kill a fly, how you're supposed to swat a few inches a head of the direction that they are likely to head and I thought, bull, I know how to kill flies--I just killed about twenty of them over the last two days.

The screen door was busted but it's hot, so I cracked the sliding door. My husband came home and went into the kitchen and said "Why are there so many flies in here?" I thought maybe there would be three or four, but I swear there were twenty. "Get me some toilet paper," I said, as I closed the door.

I don't know where I read or heard about this technique but it really works. If approached from one direction, flies will dart off in the other. If you approach them from either side at once, slowly and at an even pace on both sides, their brain is so simple it will short circuit and they freeze. You can catch them between your two hands, but I prefer to use two halves to a napkin to keep my hands clean.

I got to practice this over the last two days, with 90 percent success on the first try. My husband tried shooing them from the kitchen to the garage, and this eliminated half on Wednesday. I killed about eight of the remaining ones this way. However, he forgot to close the door on Thursday when he got his laundry so I arrived home to find at least 15 more. I killed about seven, and shooed most of them out the window.

Try this, you will be surprised.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Onion Takes a Dig at Whedon via Sorkin

The Onion recently posted an article,
"Aaron Sorkin Announces New 'West Wing' Animated Series At SorCon" with a cartoon versions of Jimmy Smits, Alan Alda, and Bradley Whitford in a fictional "West Wing: The Santos Administration"

The article is obviously parodying Joss Whedon's comic "Buffy: Season 8" and his pilot for "Buffy: The Animated Series, as well as his following of Whedonites. It's also got a bit of George Lucas thrown in ("The costs of live-action production restricted me to a set only slightly larger than the actual White House and an ensemble cast of under 15 actors. But animation technology will enable us to provide fans with extended 40-minute walk-and-talks, digitally compressed dialogue for faster delivery, and a cast of over 70 main characters. My vision will finally be presented in its truest, most uncompromised form.").

By the way, would you like to see The Santos Years for real? If Obama gets elected, you just might, according to this video from Slate.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Subtle Art of Retribution on Mad Men

I'm all caught up on Mad Men Season Two, thanks to iTunes and I have to say, there's definitely one thing creator Matt Weiner learned from his time on The Sopranos. Oh, there are no dead girlfriends or cement shoes, but there are still delicious platters of revenge being served up on this show, cold as a spread from the local deli.

New York ad man Don Draper set the bar for exacting punitive damage in Season One. In the episode "Red in the Face," Don brings his boss Roger home for dinner, who promptly gets drunk and hits on his wife. Roger apologizes to Don the next day and Don seems to accepts it. But then you see Don slipping the elevator attendant a few dollars before he takes Roger out for a three-martini lunch. When they return for a client meeting, the elevator has mysteriously broken down. Here's what happens next:


While nothing so far compares to that masterpiece, Season 2 continues the grand tradition (spoilers below!):

Peggy versus Joan

Peggy Olsen, promoted from the secretarial pool to copywriter, berates her replacement for a lack of discretion on behalf of their mutual boss, Don.
When Joan, the office manager, finds the new girl sobbing...


...she figures out the perfect place to put the new, enormous Xerox machine.


Joan versus Paul

When Joan Holloway takes a not-so-subtle jab at her ex-lover's Paul Kinsey's new girlfriend, who happens to be black, he confronts her. "You...falling in love with that girl just to show how interesting you are." Before he can retort, she says "Go ahead. What part is wrong?" Later, a xerox copy of her drivers license mysteriously appears on a bulletin board, revealing, horror of horrors, that Joan is 31.

These last two incidents may not be revenge on a conscious level, but they are certainly payback:

Peggy versus her sister

Peggy's sister and mother are raising the child Peggy had two years ago out of wedlock. Meanwhile, Peggy has compartmentalized her life, ignoring her son and living a seemingly glamorous life on Madison Avenue, which drives her sister crazy. This is exacerbated when the family invites their local priest over for dinner and he takes an interest in Peggy's work, asking for advice on his Palm Sunday sermon. In confession with the father later that week, the sister "admits" to being so angry at her sister for having seduced a married man and having a baby out of wedlock.

Betty versus Don

Betty has been up all night worried about Don. She suspects he has been fooling around, and he has--he's been sleeping with the wife and manager of his client and has had an accident while driving drunk to her beach house. When he arrives home, her anger turns to concern when Don confesses to having gotten in a car accident --due to a bad reaction to alcohol and his high-blood pressure medicine. The next day, taking his first bite of a home cooked meal, Don asks for salt but Betty refuses. Their daughter asks why. "Because we love him," says Betty as she coolly takes a bite of meatloaf.

Have I missed anything? Let me know!

Monday, August 25, 2008

One Degree: Robert Downey Jr. and Tobey McGuire

First, the answer to last week's One Degree: Scarlett Johanssen and Rebecca Hall played the significant others of Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, respectively in The Prestige. Now onto this week.


One of the best parts of Tropic Thunder were the fake trailers that opened the show. Tobey McGuire was perfect casting to star opposite Robert Downey Jr.'s character Kirk Lazarus in Satan's Alley, which kinda looked like In the Name of the Rose meets Brokeback Mountain. But it's not the first time Spiderman and Ironman have appeared together in a movie as lovers. What was the first movie the two actors starred in?

Leave your answers in the comments and check back next week!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Dial "N" for Annoying: When Advertising Goes Too Far

Which webisodes go over the top with advertising? A comparison of N., Foreign Body, The Line, and Gemini Division

I've been watching Stephen King's webi-mobi-sodes "N." over at www.nishere.com. The story is compelling--it follows the psychiatric sessions of an obsessive-compulsive who feels like the world will end if he doesn't adhere to ordering and touching the world in specific numbers and the doctor who comes to believe these delusions are real. Daredevil artist Alex Maleev was a great choice for this motion comic (it's only minimally animated, more like an audio book with pictures); his photorealistic style makes it feel a little more like you're watching a movie or a TV show.



However, I'm annoyed at the ratio of content to credits and commercials. "N." is adapted from a short story from King's upcoming book Just After Sunset, published in November. Episodes last between one and a half to two minutes and that includes a 20-second intro where Scribner, Simon and Schuster, CBS Mobile, CBS interactive, and Marvel comics are introduced and a 14-second end credit for the artists and plug for the website and book. This was particularly annoying when I watched six episodes back to back; now that I'm watching one episode a day, it's not as noticeable, but it's still a nuisanceI'm not the only one who thinks so--here are some comments from the website:
dude! just put them all together into one and show that! enuf with 2 mins a day. stop bein cheap!

Is there any where to watch all episodes at once? Watching commercial after commercial for 2 minute shows are rediculous. I think these clips are cool but my time is worth more.

It upsets me when a major corporation advertises "Watch an Episode of Stephen King's N" - only to show a slim one minute thirty-three second CLIP. JOP!

I wanta see the whole thing..not these short 2 minute series. COME ON!!

LIKE I AM NOW BORED AS HELL, AND THIS LITTLE SHORT S**T DON'T HELP !


In addition, given that this series is already promotion for a book, I'm a little miffed that I must watch a 15-second ad for barely over a minute of content.

In comparison, Foreign Body, a show from Vuguru, is a show with a similar format and length (though with twice as many episodes), and promotes Robin Cook's book of the same name. However, each episode only opens with a brief sponsorship intro by Honda, not a full commercial, and only contains 13 seconds of intro and outtro. Full-length commercials play after the episode and are therefore optional, but the Honda logo is prominently featured in the header of the website. Then again, while the sponsor is totally memorable, that only helps if people are watching the content and apparently the show itself was a relative flop.

The advertising format I'm most on the fence about is the one currently gaining favor for webisodes--product placement. Wired did a story about this becoming the model for a gaggle of new shows, including the comedy webseries The Line (which I reviewed here) and Gemini Division, which I started watching when it started earlier this week. The inclusion of movie posters for several upcoming movies flowed easily into the plot of The Line, since it was about fanboys camping out for the premiere of their favorite sci-fi movie.

In contrast, Cisco and Microsoft logos whack you over the head as soon as you start watching Gemini Division. Yes, it's worked into the plot--agent Anna Diaz uses a fictional Windows Mobile phone to record and transmit to an unseen friend who I guess is watching over a Cisco network. But not since The Wizard, which was literally a feature-length commercial for Nintendo, has product placement been so obvious.

One would think that by securing revenue with product placement, you wouldn't need commercials, but all that money goes to the producers of the video and the networks and portals still need their cut; both The Line and Gemini Division feature pre-roll ads when viewed at Hulu. In general, even though I was an avid TiVo user for almost 10 years before I quit TV, I'm happy to watch a few commercials in exchange for good content. Portals like Hulu do a decent job of balancing advertising and programming--it seems like shorter clips (under three minutes) on their site do not have commercials, while their longer ones do.

However, when the videos of that length are full webisodes, as opposed to excerpts from larger shows, that informal rule does not seem to apply. This would make webisodes an extremely cost-efficient advertising delivery mechanism. While the conventional wisdom says that webisodes and mobisodes have to be shorter for short-attention span that supposedly exist among online viewers, I have to wonder if the density of advertising also has something to do with shorter formats being used for these shows.

No one seems to be abusing this more than the distributors of N. At least www.nishere.com shows a commercial only every other episode--if you watch N. over at CBS.com, which I made the mistake of doing for the first few episodes, you watch a commercial after every episode. Again, given that this whole series is itself advertising for the book, that just seems greedy, or bad site design and business rules.

With original programming streaming on the web, portals and networks are once again in control over the dosage of advertising its viewers get--to an extent. One thing I've noticed is that web series are often syndicated across multiple portals at once and thus viewers have a choice: CBS.com may have a terrible video interface, but, thanks to a tip from one commenter there, I can also watch this series on CBS's YouTube channel, commercial-free, with only sidebar advertisements. I assume this channel probably gets the most traffic of all three venues for N., so they can make up in volume what they lose in attention by having less obtrusive ads.

(UPDATE: But I've discovered that the best place to watch N. is right here--the player above, although small, has the benefit of no commercials!)

Maybe all these methods work financially for these companies, but to the extent their business relies on happy viewers, here's my take on the user experience:
  • Thumbs up to Vuguru for finding less obtrusive methods of advertising during Foreign Body but better luck developing a show that will will let your sponsor get what they paid for.
  • A relative thumbs up to The Line and Gemini Division for trying out product placement. As long as this is not the news, I'm OK with a little product placement as long as it doesn't absurdly modify the plot.
  • Thumbs down to N. for the promotion-laden distribution. If this was a magazine, it would be the PennySaver--very cheap and all ads. Next time try fewer, longer episodes, and sponsors in the side of the page, or bottom of the video, or decide that what you are really trying to promote is future book sales and ditch the ads altogether--if you try to do both, you'll do neither well.

Monday, August 18, 2008

One Degree: Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall

First, the answer to last week's One Degree. X-Men Origins: Wolverine will not only reunite Liev Schreiber and Hugh Jackman, it will also star two co-stars from Lost. Dominic Monaghan who plays musician Charlie Pace on Lost will be Beak while Kevin Durand, who played armed baddie Martin Keamy, will be Blob.

Onto this week's challenge. Even though I'm not watching TV, it's hard to miss the fuss over Scarlett Johansson and her kiss with co-star Penelope Cruz in Woody Allen's new flick Vicky Christina Barcelona. But co-star Rebecca Hall, who plays titular character Vicky, has gotten little press, even though this is her second film with Scarlett Johansson. What was the name of that first movie?



Answers next week! Post your answers in the comments. You can also check out past One Degree challenges.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Goodbye Leroy Sievers

Leroy Sievers documented his battle with cancer in a series of NPR commentaries and by keeping a daily blog, My Cancer, at NPR's website. My husband just called out to me from another room to say that he passed away last night. I just shed a few tears reading what he didn't realize would be his final post, a brief snippet about the small comfort of having dog at his bedside, even though it was a stuffed animal.

By reading his blog last year and a half, Leroy helped me to understand the highs and lows of what my friend might be feeling like as he battled with his own cancer. When my friend finally passed this spring, I wrote Leroy to thank him for his posts.

One of the things that struck me was that TV was not as irrelevant as you might think to Leroy. Yes, he was a TV journalist for Nightline, but he didn't just watch the TV for the news--in fact, a daily reminder of the harsh realities of life was exactly what he didn't need. He was thankful that in the midst of the writer's strike that there were new episodes of Lost to transport him to a distant island so he didn't have to resort to watching American Gladiators.

And even one of his final posts on Wednesday was about TV, this time how it could bring people together:

We watch, we hope, we wait, along with everyone else, glued to the games in Beijing.

It's these games that give us hope, too. It's these little bits of normalcy that let us think that there's hope for all of us.

For a few minutes, here and there, we're not cancer patients. We're spectators, rooting for our athletes.

I almost forgot how much fun that can be.

If TV can connect us in a common experience, the same could be said of Leroy's blog. For him, it was, in his own words, "A daily reminder that none of us walks this road alone. What could be better than that?" It was never soaring or saccharine and yet remained positive, or at least accepting. Those living through cancer, or living with someone with cancer, could hear someone speak about the types of experiences they were having. They could gain and give support to each other.

For the sake of the community that grew up around this blog, hopefully My Cancer will live on in some form and remain a lasting legacy to Leroy, but it will be hard to replace the dry wit and honesty he shared with the world.

Monday, August 11, 2008

One Degree: Find the Losties in the Wolverine Movie

Last week's One Degree asked what movie Liev Schreiber and Hugh Jackman were in together other than next year's X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The answer is a forgettable Kate and Leopold, starring Hugh Jackman as a nobleman Leopold transported to modern-day New York City where he meets Meg Ryan's character, Kate. Schreiber stars as Kate's physicist ex-boyfriend who accidentally brings Leopold into the future.

So who else from Wolverine has starred together before? Well, I saw a couple of guys from Lost in the credits for this movie. Can you name them? Technically, they don't appear in the same episodes, if that's a hint.

Post your answer in comments! Answers next week!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Satirical Olympic Videos Take on Anxieties Over China

Since major sporting events are an exception to my no-TV rule, I watched the Olympic opening ceremonies on a giant screen in our town square with about a thousand other people. There were many Chinese and Chinese-Americans in the audience, with beaming faces and red Beijing 2008 t-shirts. The pageant dramatized the history of China and their hopes for the future on a scale never before seen at the Olympics.

Whereas China is beaming with national and cultural pride, the Olympics only seem to highlight the concerns U.S. citizens have of their Eastern neighbor--of the workforce competition and potential environmental havok their massive population represents. They are also concerned about the Chinese government's suppression of free thought amongst it's citizens, which American's hold dear. Meanwhile, China routinely tells the U.S. to look at the beam in their own eye and bugger off.

It's only fitting that there have recently been a spate of satirical videos online dealing with the intricacies of modern U.S.-Chinese relations--and that even in the realm of comedy, things are tense.

This first one, from The Onion parodies the fear-mongering in the U.S. media and attitudes some American's may actually have.

The Beijing Olympics: Are They A Trap?


Whereas most people who view this at The Onion's website would know that The Onion was a satirical news site, those who find it on YouTube don't always realize what they are seeing and have left some offended comments on the video (even I was a little shocked when I first watched it but the comments about dragons kinda tipped me off). With satire, it is often hard to tell who is being made fun of, as the New Yorker learned from the response to their recent Obama cover cartoon.

"The Chinese Are Coming!" from Scott Blaszak at Slate Magazine, examines the fears of a Chinese medal sweep (as with the Cold War, the Olympics have become a proxy for other types of global competition, and this year economists predict they will edge the U.S. out) It took me a while to figure out that this one was a satire too, perhaps because they look exactly like the alarming "Did You Know?" video series.


This last one from Black20 takes "Welcome to Beijing" the official song of the Beijing Olympics staring a host of Chinese pop singers, and gives it subtitles that poke fun at the Communist party (here, I believe, are the real lyrics).



Again, commenters at YouTube alternately praised and berated the creators. However, while this time the video was a critique of China, I don't think it is critical of the Chinese people. Lyrics like "I would have fled here years ago but they've wired my chest to explode" are a bit over the top, but it reflects the concern Westerners have on behalf of Chinese citizens. Those of us who saw democracy demonstrations crushed in Tianamen Square in 1989 (which many Chinese have forgotten according to this news clip) worry that Chinese citizens are imprisoned routinely for expressing free thought and dissent. While I'm sure the average citizen lives in peace and relative prosperity, arrests for dissent still occur. At worst, the creators of this video are guilty of not politely ignoring inconvenient truths. But I imagine we would not be amused if someone overdubbed "We Are the World" with lyrics about Katrina and Abu Graib.

It's a wonderful moment for the citizens of China and while these videos throw something of a wet blanket on the festivities, I'm thankful none of them are seriously portraying a red menace or yellow peril taking over the world, nor are these videos making fun of the Chinese themselves--well, except maybe for the crack in the last video about one of the singers dressing like Elvis.

Update: South Park debuted an episode on October 8 called "The China Problem" in which one character has a rather vivid nightmare:

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Olympic Humor

Tomorrow is the Olympics opening ceremonies and since we have no reception since I canceled cable, I hope I'll be able to go over to a neighbor's house and watch it. In honor of the summer games, here's my own awards for funniest Olympic-themed video.

Going for the bronze, we have Improv Everywhere, competing in synchronized swimming--in the middle of a water fountain.


Going for the silver, we have Jackie Chan in a Visa commercial, competing in just about everything.



Finally, taking the gold, Phil Hartman competing in weightlifting during the All Drug Olympics for SNL.

Monday, August 4, 2008

If You Liked Christian the Lion, You'll Love This Short Film

The SXSWclick is a year round contest for short-form storytelling via mobile devices and the web. The overall winner last week was Peter and Ben, the story of a loner and the lamb he adopts and raises. Give it some time, it starts off slow but will get you in the end. As the winner of the grand jury prize, it will get shown at the South by Southwest festival next March.

Now You Too Can Relive Groundhog Day Again an Again

My favorite movie of all time was added today to Hulu: Groundhog Day. Not only is it funny, it's probably the most eloquent movie about life and how we choose to live it. If you haven't seen it, it features Bill Murray as a miserable, arrogant, weatherman who must relive Groundhog Day in the town of Punxsutawney, day after day. Here's a clip:



If you have seen it, you might appreciate this analysis from Ken Sanes. You can relive Groundhog Day, until the end of August, when its run on Hulu ends.

One Degree: Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber

Last week's One Degree asked the question--who has played both Will Ferrell's mother and stepmom? The answer is Mary Steenbergen, who played the stepmother to Ferell's Buddy in Elf and will play Ferrell's mom in Step Brothers.

Last week I posted links to the X-Men Origins: Wolverine trailer and had more hits than I have ever had on this blog. I also got two new challenges for One Degree--here's the first one:
Liev Schreiber will play Sabretooth to Hugh Jackman's Wolverine but the two actors have starred together in very different roles. What movie did they first appear in together?
Answers next week! Write your answers in the comments!

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Food Court: The Musical

Watched Dr. Horrible for the 54th time? Here's more musical goodness from Improv Everywhere

Sounds like an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but people really did randomly burst into song at the Baldwin Hills Mall, starting with the Hot Dog on a Stick girl at the food court. Take a look:


Actually, it's an event staged by Improv Everywhere, a movement started by Charlie Todd which stages random acts of art and humor throughout the U.S. Here's their report on how they managed to plan and stage the musical.

I first heard about IE on This American Life, which did both a radio and TV story about an event where their New York "agents" descended on the show of an unknown band to give them the Best Gig Ever.

I've added Improv Everywhere as my YouTube Channel of the Week. They started doing events in 2001 and launched on YouTube on April 2006, where they are currently the 64th most subscribed channel. For now, this is where they will stay. NBC had approached them to do a pilot back in April of 2007, but they passed on it some time in June (though it seems they got to keep the footage that was shot, such as the best little league game ever).

Perhaps it is just as well--IE has both viral and subscription potential, and are therefore a natural for the web. Then again, NBC passed last year before the writer's strike--with a thin fall season lineup, you never know.

Disney's The Princess and the Frog Teaser Out

I was just wondering how this film was coming along, and today I found the teaser trailer--it's awfully cute. Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls) voices Princess Tiana, Disney's first African-American princess. For a high-res version, visit Disney's official site, posted July 29. It's out in 2009.

Friday, August 1, 2008

NewTeeVee Pier Screening of Online "Pilots"

One popular vote winner, one advertising-friendly series, one critical fave, and a bunch of constructive criticism about what makes an effective online pilot

I've become a regular visitor of NewTeeVee because they report on the topics I find myself writing about--online video content and platforms. So when I heard they were conducting a free screening of potential web "pilots" at Pier 38 in San Francisco Thursday night, I was there. I thought it would be like Channel 101, the short film festival in L.A. at which Saturday Night Live star Andy Samberg was discovered. While I don't think we've discovered the next SNL cast member or LonelyGirl, the screening overall captured what creators are doing right and wrong with online series.

Six clips aired, each less than five minutes long, and the audience voted for their favorites at the end of the night. The judges were Martin Sargent, a web program host at Revision3, George Strompolos, content partnership manager YouTube, and Marie Drennan, an assistant professor of interactive media and script writing at San Francisco State University. Each was asked if watching this "pilot" would make them want to watch the next episode.

I think rather than sitting in stunned silence after watching the first clip, the judges were immediately forced into Paula Abdul cheerleading mode, especially since the creators were sitting right in front of them. They all said they would watch the next one, which I thought was overly kind, as did the audience, since they placed it last. The clip, from a series entitled Blank White Cards, was 41 seconds and featured two guys talking about the potential for Axe Mouth Spray. I had no idea why I should watch the next one or what the series was about (perhaps that's why the judges wanted to see the next one --to find out). The next day, Liz Gannes of NewTeeVee summarized it nicely as "maybe too short and context-free."

The next clip, which ended up placing second, was Engaged: Episode 1 and featured Keith and Chrissy, a couple with an uneven enthusiasm for planning their impending nuptials. I don't have to give you a hint as to which half was more excited, but the guy was shot with a bottle of Lubriderm behind him. Because the situation was relatable and you knew this was not going to go smoothly, it did offer some incentive to keep watching. I have, and the next two eps dealing with the sensitive issues of size-- ring size, that is. It also turns out that Keith and Chrissy are played by real-life couple Matt Enlow and Christine Weatherup.

The third clip was decent--Vice 101 goes behind the scenes of some marginal (and occasionally illegal) activities people do for money, ala Dirty Jobs on Discovery Channel. They showed an episode entitled "The Ponies"--the host was game for anything from shoveling poop to being led by a bit and was able to engage his interviewees at the racing track in a funny way (Turns out the host was G.J. Echternkamp, the filmmaker behind the tragic-comic documentary Frank and Cindy, which was featured on Showtime's This American Life).

The most astute comment from a judge was that this series was "advertising-friendly," which cut to the heart of the matter--you're dead as a series if you can't get sponsors. Although this particular audience didn't necessarily agree that they wanted to see more of it (it came in fourth), NewTeeVee said Vice 101 might get picked up. After looking at their list of episodes, I think I understand why--horse racing probably one of few tame vices in the series they could screen for us. This could do well online in a SpikeTV-like portal. It's exactly the type of show that I could kill an entire Saturday watching on TV, which is why I gave up TV to begin with (of course, now I'm watching it online-- for your benefit only, of course).

By the time they got to the fourth clip, the audience was really looking for some laugh-out-loud funny and fortunately Park Bench brought it-- it placed first with 35 percent of the vote at the end of the night. The episode "Tested" featured two young guys sitting in Central Park explaining to a public health volunteer why they couldn't possibly have, well, any "social" diseases. The actor's personalities shone through, you could get a sense of who these characters were. Judge Marie Drennan described the dialog as "hard-working." While I don't know that I would actively seek it out (okay, fine, I did, and episode 3 was even funnier than the pilot), I definitely thought it was the most appealing scripted series pilot of the night.


That being said, what I saw up to this point was in the category of "I might watch another episode" if I happened on it. On the other hand, the absolute best thing I saw that night that I might even pay for was the fifth clip, entitled Visit. It was the favorite of two of the three judges and came in third for the night. Before I say more about it, watch it now. Seriously. Go watch it.

The first thing that drew me in was the acting --the intimacy between the couple is so palpable and casual you feel like they've been together for years. For a while, you think "the visit" might be from their parents, who don't know that they are pregnant and recently married. Then it takes a sharp turn into X-Files/Twin Peaks territory. I wish the link had a full-size clip because even at that size, it's hard to tell what's going on, but the disorientation seems intentional. The effects and atmosphere were visually arresting and the twist had me glued to my seat.

Based on this clip, I not only want to see more, I'm actively hunting for information. From what I've gathered, it's excerpted from a longer film called 2K3. I have no idea if the entire film is as good as this clip, but I'd like to find out--more posts if I manage to find a screening of the full film. However, I can't tell if they were serious about turning this movie into a series or if they just wanted to get their film noticed--director Gray Miller also entered this clip into the SouthBySouthWest Click festival, which was judged best old-school narrative short yesterday and will therefore appear at the SXSW festival next March. So though it was my favorite, it may be fitting that it did not come in first if it was not meant to be episodic.

The final clip of the evening, Font Conference, was arguably the funniest of the night, and was Marie Drennan's favorite. However, it was a bit of a ringer, since it was done by College Humor, which is well established. I had just seen this clip two days ago: the fonts have gathered to decide whether to let Zapf Dingbats into their group. It went over well with the designery, artistic, SF crowd, who caught all the in jokes about Arial and Courier. However, it elicited the only thumbs down of the night from judge Martin Sargent, if only because it seemed too self-contained to be the start of a series about a "legion of fonts."

The night highlighted three themes for successful online web series.
  • One: whether it is scripted or reality-based, you need engaging characters with distinct, personalities to draw viewers in.
  • Two: you can't just put a three-minute chunk of video and call it an episode--it needs to be plotted to establish the characters quickly and introduce a situation that makes you wonder what is going to happen next.
  • Three: the creators need to have a clear sense of who the primary audience is for their show for syndicators to show an interest.
 
Copyright 2008