Thursday, November 20, 2008


Heads up for those who don't know, I'll be posting I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell related posts on the official site from here on out. With what frequency I'm not sure, but it's nice to have another outlet to encourage me to keep on writing. Here, I'll stick with other things going on in my life, not the least of which I'm going to start talking about today- reality TV. 

Interestingly enough, I don't watch much reality TV. I mean I've seen some, I know the formula, but the most consistent "reality" stuff I watch is on the Discovery Channel. Man Vs. Wild, very rarely a Mythbusters (although I HATE HATE HATE their episode structure, pisses me off to no end). However, I'm developing a reality project I like quite a bit. It's certainly not revolutionary, but there are aspects of the show that I think make it a viable project. (And, if I'm lucky, it's going to involve some travel. An added bonus.) 

Obviously, I'm not going to be posting plot points here. What I'd like to talk about a bit is the idea of the "gatekeepers" in Hollywood. I'm lucky in that I have connections in various areas of Hollywood (even ::gasp:: oustside of Tucker). In talking with them, it has become very clear to me that there is no one person who can simply grant you a greenlight on a project, at least initally. 

At one production company I've been speaking with my process will go something like this: make initial pitch to contact, contact discusses with development team, development teams gives okay, Greg goes in and pitches to development team, development team discusses and offers changes (at this point, the project might not resemble anything that I pitched), then if the development team signs off, I would pitch to their "Executive Producer." If he likes it, then we finally go out to the networks and see if anyone on their end likes it. 

How long does this take? Who knows. I'm barely at step one. I have a pitch that I like, and now it's a matter of getting to the decision makers. And that means finding ways through the gatekeepers. 

Alternatively, you can try and use "connections" to start at the top and push downward. In my case, this involves friends of friends, contacts etc. Ideally, I'd prefer to do this. We'll see how it all pans out. 

My being 22 and trying my hand in all this is a bit daunting. However, I possess something that even the mightiest network head needs: content. And it is this all important factor that gives me some encouragement. 

Yesterday I ran my outline by Nils. He had some superb suggestions, nearly all of them I implemented in a revised draft I sent out this evening. However, what really caught my eye was this: 

I would definitely watch this.

And that's a good reason to keep slugging on. 

Thursday, November 06, 2008

The Cutting Room

Today I visited Nils and Jeff Kushner (the editor) in the cutting room of I Hope They Serve Beer In Hell. It was quite the experience. 

Walking in the room, immediately on the left is a gigantic HDTV with full speaker sound screen where you can in effect watch any take, watch any assembly or if you wish, watch the whole damn movie. It's an impressive way to take in the film, especially when looking for specific beats or tones in a scene. It's also a far cry from the way I'm used to editing movies, behind the scenes stuff, whatever. Most editors stare at two monitors with headphones crouched in a dark corner. 

Jeff has three quality monitors, not including the HDTV. However, the sheer amount of footage that Jeff has to sift through is incredible. I saw three of four different sequences (completely surreal to see sets I was living and breathing in Louisiana on screen). It makes the work that Suki and the lighting department did all the more incredible. 

The conversations between Nils and Jeff were particularly instructive to myself as a filmmaker. One little conversation, one 3 second edit completely changes the meaning of a scene. It's not ever as simple as a click here or a click there. Listening to them was a lesson that isn't ever taught in film school. Watching scenes completely change after Jeff's whirring fingers go to work was inspiring. It's no joke that editing is a 10-7 job. One scene can take weeks on end to get "right." And in this film, there is absolutely no room for error given the territory Tucker and Nils want to explore. 

But why exactly was I there? A couple reasons, one of which I'll keep to myself, but the other I'm happy to share. There is a particular sequence in the film that actually required me to sit and recut some of the film. That's right, the lowly assistant was sitting at an AVID station sifting through footage. Now, before someone freaks out and emails Tucker a million "YOUR MOVIE IS TERRIBLE THE ASSISTANT IS EDITING LOL!" allow me to issue a quick note. What I was editing was not essential to the well being of the film. It's important, it will be on-screen, but if I did my job right, you won't notice it a bit. 

So there's that and I couldn't be more GRATEFUL for the invitation to contribute my editing skills and a few thoughts about the scenes I took in. Jeff and Nils work in a way that is very organic and very open- if you have something to contribute (and you aren't a functioning imbecile, they are open to listen). 

To wrap up: I liked a lot of what I saw. I think one key scene needs some work, but it's getting there. Interestingly enough, two of the funniest jokes I reacted to were not in the script. One was a hilarious goof, the other was a "miracle of editing" joke. 

I'll see the whole film soon. I can't wait. 

Monday, November 03, 2008


It's now November, I've been out of Louisiana for 2 months, out of college for 6 months. Time flies. 

As of now, I'm still consulting, still working for Tucker, and still looking for ideas. Interestingly I've sort of accidentally followed some of Tucker's advice- stay unemployed. That's not to say that I don't have projects, but I haven't followed the steps of my close friends, all of whom are working 9-5's at established companies. Each day is different. 10 hours of web work here, 5 hours video for Tucker, 3 or 4 hours working for a local bar. Variety can be very engaging. 

In the meantime, I've got time to pitch some reality TV ideas, work on a website (that should be launching soon and may mean the end of this blog... we'll see), and just generally enjoy life. I've had some personal setbacks that have provided me with a lot of anxiety to fill up the dull times. 

How often do we wish we could wind back the clock and undo one mistake? 4 or 5 seconds that can turn your life upside down. I'm the sort that believes everything does happen for a reason, or at least I've been lucky enough to have the perspective to entertain that idea. I hope a year from now, I can shrug off these mistakes and chalk them up to a good learning experience. 

Or maybe not.

(Another entry in the web series below. Believe it or not a major company is toying with the idea of turning these into a national commercial series.)