Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Should I Bother to Write a Script?

Happy April Fool’s Day! We couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate this foolish holiday than to release the “Big Bother” teaser. Check it out at . What’s a teaser you ask? It’s a 30-second promo for a show that is usually released a year in advance. Not to worry, it will (hopefully) be no more than a few months before our web series officially launches.

In the last BBlog, I brought you up to speed on how the concept of “Big Bother” came to be. It turns out it’s a long way from concept to final product (Or even 1st day of shooting). Writing began innocently enough in August 2007. We’d shoot and release a 10-minute webisode. Then we’d repeat this simple process every month or so until the series was complete. Right?

As I mentioned, I’d recently come into a windfall of cartoon character costumes. Their previous custodian was moving to a studio apartment. This would have been fine for roommate Mike and me at any other point in our cohabitance. However, the one hundred plus costumes were dropped off at the same time Mike’s fiancée moved in. Suddenly every available square inch of our bachelor pad was filled with either fuzzy creature heads or necessities from the softer side of SEARS.

To justify the menagerie of costumes I was forcing everyone to live with, I vowed to use as many as possible in “Big Bother.” The vision of four or five characters sharing an apartment suddenly became 16 characters living together. It was soon evident that there was no way we’d reassemble this cast once a month for the next year. The bulk of the script would need to be shot over a few weeks.

So, the simple 10-page script I was hoping to delve into the world of directing with was now going to need to be a feature-length 100 pages. Somehow, it took me four months to write the first 10. In my defense, I had a lot going on at the time, with multiple jobs, trying to pursue acting and writing careers, etc. I also did some limited research of the reality TV show I was going to parody, “Big Brother.”

The only show event I directly satired in the script was taken from the beginning of Season 8 when one girl is mortified by her unflattering photo. I thought it would be great to have our Farf Infader character experience the same trauma. Over the next four months, I nearly completed the rest of the script. Go figure.

In March of 2008, I made an Easter visit to Chicago. I had a great idea to cast my Mom and Dad in a scene I had yet to write. Actors in their own right, I owe all I’ve learned about the stage to them. They’d play the parents of one of the housemates, Mermalade the mermaid. Despite being midway through her chemotherapy treatment, Mom was already pulling out possible costume pieces (She’d sewn hundreds over the years). We made plans to shoot their scene when I returned home that summer.

As I continued writing the final stretch of the script, Mike and our friend Nate (Both will also play roles in “BB”) helped me begin the pre-production process—finding props, creating set pieces, moving furniture, etc. During this process, Mike’s fiancée was less than thrilled with the space it required. It began looking like this apartment wouldn’t be big enough for both a female and a digital film production. As fate would have it, she and Mike had their final fight (amazingly unrelated to "BB"), called off the engagement, and we suddenly had room to shoot. Go figure.

Alas, by May of 2008 the script of “Big Bother” was complete – 140 pages. An easy task for a first-time writer/director/producer/performer. Right?