Friday, January 9, 2009

Official Midnyte Site Up -- Blog Moving There is live! It's pretty cool to see well-done promotion for a project you are engaged in. There is a lot of potential the site will offer me to add content and push the mystery of the piece.

This also means that this Blogger page will go dormant after today. I'll leave the countdown clock running (a version of which is on the main site as well), but all blog posts will move there. Why? The biggest reason is that if Google screws up and the blog disappears there is little we can do about it ("After all, Blogger is a free service..."). is totally under our power and is much easier to repair if anything should happen.

So, go to the site and bookmark it! Tell your friends! Enjoy the show!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Marketing Midnyte: Facebook

As much as I am concerned about getting all the scripts finished, finding a cast, shooting, post production and delivery, there is an equal piece that I can't ignore: promotion. I don't care how "small" your movie is, no one makes movies not to be seen. It's the old tree falling in the forest adage: If filmmaker X makes a great film that no one knows about, will anyone care? Nope.

YouTube has definitely become the great distribution equalizer for short-form content, but there is a glut of material on that site. If you are not already a hot property (featured, lots of views, many ratings and comments) how to you get people to sit up and take notice? It's tough, especially if you are starting from the bottom, as we are.

Much has been said of social networking and I belive in this. Sites such as MySpace and Facebook have lots of potential of spreading the word about your project, which is why I got involved in Facebook awhile ago. I knew that when a project came along, I wanted to have lots of Facebook friends to tell about it. The time has come, and when I created the Midnyte group, I invited all my friends and so did my wife.

The nice thing about Facebook groups is now you have a list of contacts that are interested in your movie that can invite their friends into the group. Your potential list of fans could be huge. You can also send a message to all of these "followers". There is a forum, and people can upload pictures and videos. The down side is that any activity that happens in your group is not reported to everyone in it. You have to send them all a message. My plan is to only report big events (new trailer, casting info) so I don't come off as Spammer Scott.

Facebook will also accept HD uploads, so we can put the best quality stuff up as possible. YouTube will as well, but it's nice that more sites are accepting this higher quailty format.

Facebook is proving to be a great tool for promotion, but you have to keep at it and use your friend list wisely. I think I'll go add something right now...

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Press

Okay, I'm feeling the pressure. After meeting with Chris today about the story and the tweaking of the first five episodes, I have to admit it is overwhelming. I mean, who in their right mind makes a series under these constraints (time, money, resources) featuring five main characters? Most people would go for maybe 1-3, but not me, oh no!

It will work out, however. Chris and I had a very good conversation and I am excited about the project. This is usually the stage where you are most excited, because it hasn't had time to become stale or boring. It's still a fresh, pliable entity and a real brain-filler.

Casting is a concern for both of us. Not only finding the right five people (nine, if you include the entire cast), but coordinating them and getting them to show up week after week. I feel like I'm pretty good on selling the project so people stay excited, but you can never predict what people will do, especially when you can't lure or keep them with pay.

Anyway, our initial schedule is something like this: get the first five episodes finalized by the end of next week or the week after. Hold auditions. Start shooting on February 13, with the intent of the first episode airing on March 13. I want the first 5 in the can before Episode 1 airs.

It will be tough. It will get done. Right?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Midnyte Improves with an Important Three

An important lesson I try to abide by is to work with talented people and don't try and do everything yourself. It's a given that if you are in charge of any indie production with a low-low budget, you are going to be wearing many hats. You will only be helping yourself, however, if you can pass some of that headgear to others who know what they are doing. The more projects you work on, the more people you will connect with who know what they are doing. Here's a few that have agreed to help on Midnyte, and I am very grateful to have their help.

Tye Nelson is an actor and working casting guy here in Salt Lake City. I met him when he showed up for a little audition I was holding for my short from two years ago, Middle of Nowhere. He was so much better than anyone else I auditioned, that casting him was a real no-brainer. While he has continued acting in both the paying and non-paying world, his bread and butter has been as a casting assistant. He recently worked on High School Musical 3 and has agreed to help me find talent for Midnyte. I couldn't be more thrilled.

Seth Neuffer is Tye's cousin, a film composer living in California. Upon Tye's recommendation (who else was going to score my movie, me?) we hooked up for Middle of Nowhere via the Internet and it was a great experience. We corresponded about what kind of mood I wanted. I sent him video files and he put music down and sent them back. After some back and forth, I was so happy with the results, I used Seth again on The Payoff, which I created for my film production class at the University of Utah. I have yet to meet the guy, but his talent and ability make all the difference in the world.

Doug Clift is not only a good friend, but someone I find invaluable on any production. He is the guy who will do any job, do it well and enjoy himself the entire time. He is easy going, supportive, and comes with a seemingly inexhaustible well of positive attitude. It doesn't seem to matter to Doug what the project is, as his first response is always "Sounds great! When do we start?"

It's always a good idea to surround yourself with people who not only know what they are doing, but bring just as much passion to the project as you do. I'm glad these three have joined up, as they more than fit that description.

Monday, January 5, 2009

"It's not about vampires, is it?"

This was the first question posed by my collaborating writer, Chris Henderson. His next statement was "because if it is, I don't want to write it." This seems like a valid connection. With Twilight all the rage right now, making a knock-off story that steals some thunder might be a good marketing ploy. Especially since Twilight and Midnyte don't sound all that different.

The answer to Chris' question, however, was no. As much as I am a fan of monster movies, there are no monsters in Midnyte. Well, not in the traditional sense, anyway. There are some monstrous things that threaten our heroes, but not what you would classify as "standard" monsters. I had to clarify that to Chris (who seemed worried) and his next question was "Are there any werewolves in it?"

Chris Henderson is a longtime friend that used to be a co-worker. He is a TV director at the local NBC affiliate here in Salt Lake City who also happens to be a very good writer. When he agreed to help me write the 12-part series, I was very happy to unload the burden onto someone better than me. I'm fine with directing and editing (which I feel are my strengths), but I've always struggled with the writing piece. I was glad when Chris came signed up.

When he sent me the first episode script on Saturday, I became very excited. His detail and style of writing is so rich, it was very easy to visualize what is going on. While I will still be working with him on the small stuff, he confirmed his ability and allayed any fears that I might of had. If you can find people that are better than you in any given filmmaking category, use them! It will free you up and only make your product better.

You can read the ramlbings of Chris Henderson at Chris Says Stuff That He Thinks and Chris Talks About Movies, TV, Books, Etc. He has even self-published a book that he wrote called "Who Is Warren West?"

Welcome aboard, Chris! Now where is that Part 2 script...?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Starting with an Idea

So what would you do if you could create your own web series that would simultaneously air on a Video On Demand channel? I have been given just that opportunity and this blog is the beginning of the coverage that I want to give to the subject. Part of promoting any movie is a website, and part of that flow of information should be a production blog. This is mine.

If any of you have been reading my filmmaking blog Film Flap, you know that I'm a big Twilight Zone fan. No, that's not a Stephanie Meyer forum, but the original black-and-white TV series hosted by creator Rod Serling which always had a weird setup with gotcha! twist ending. It's the inspiration for several of my short films.

First, the criteria. The show has to have a run of short episodes. They will be five to seven minutes each. Long enough to satisfy character development and story, but short enough to satisfy the ADHD crowd. I tend to be more old school in my filmmaking, so I hope I can please both audiences. I plan on 12 episodes debuting weekly for a total run of three months.

Next, it has to follow the classic serial format. This means each episode must put our heroes in danger, and there must be a real cliffhanger at the end of every episode. I can't tell you how many web series I've seen where they ignore this tried-and-true storytelling hook. Often, they just end with TO BE CONTINUED without giving us any real reason to come back. I don't care what brand of milk Tommy will drink, I want to see Tommy putting the poisoned milk to his lips! Cut away to TO BE CONTINUED! Now I will come back!

I also want to get the show up fast enough to be available to the high school/college crowd before they depart on summer vacations. Get 'em while they are supposed to be studying, I always say! It's also a much better way to create buzz when kids can talk to each other about a show they just saw. Not so easy when they are at the cabin by the lake.

Chapter 1 is slated for Friday, March 13, 2009...

Okay, enough about initial marketing ploys. How about the story? You can market all you want, create buzz and generate interest, but you had better deliver with something worth watching or all that work will be in vain. Don't forget to create a good show! Very important! The web is overrun with unwatchable tripe, so it's important to stand out with a quality show. It's a tough thing, I know, but don't forget how critical it is.

Back to the idea. My show is entitled Midnyte (the funny spelling is not just for search engine optimization and an easier domain to register, but those are part of it) and comes from probably four sources, three of which are old Twilight Zone episodes.

They are:
"Five Characters in Search of an Exit"
"Where is Everybody?"
"Stopover in a Quiet Town"

And one non-Twilight Zone source that was definitely inspired by the Twilight Zone, James Mangold's Identity.

I'm not going to give you links to any of these. If you're really interested you'll find them yourselves, but most people won't even try, which just protects the possibilities of my story. Speaking of which, I think I've prattled on long enough. I've got an outline to work on.