Thursday, August 28, 2014

Robin Kurtz: The Maiden

Why didn't I see this show with the awesome Robin Kurtz in it?


Full of IT: The Maiden: The Maiden Conceived by Chance D. Muehleck Directed and Choreographed by Melanie Armer Composed by Admiral Grey Produced by La MaMa in asso...

Monday, August 25, 2014

Those Things

Diet to Go
It's relatively cheap. Food comes well reviewed. I have to lose like 60 lbs. That's gonna take more than a year. Plus I have to get my cholesterol down. Boo.

Stock Video site. I'd love a nice HD overflight of Manhattan coming from the south west.
I could get one of these little tracker things to measure my minimal movement through the day.
Super-duty 1/2" case kits might make for a guitar amp isolation cabinet. Especially if you put ANOTHER cabinet inside one.

Lights Narrow

Check out this groovy interview with Vinnie Marano and DeLisa White.
DeLisa White is nominated for Outstanding Director; Vincent Marano is nominated for Outstanding Original Full-Length Script; and Lights Narrow is nominated for Outstanding Premiere Production of a Play.
That's Ridley Parson and James Becton in the show!


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Just clearing out some links

The Iron Heel is a Jack London book. Oddly, it was an inspiration for the racist's Bible -- The Turner Diaries.

The Scarlet Plague is another piece of post-apocalyptic fiction by Jack London.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Live IN the city

If you're gonna pay the high prices of living in New York City you may as well actually enjoy New York City. Even if you're flat broke there are plenty o'concerts and theater to see. I bet if you called around indy theater producers and were like "I'm flat broke. I can't afford the twenty bucks to come to your show. I'm eating mac n' cheese all week and living on my friend's floor" the producer would be all like "My show isn't totally sold out tonight, if you really want to see it I'll comp you."
Because seriously, someone begging to see your show is vastly better than a couple people who are tangentially related to one of the writer's cousins and who felt obligated to go.
Your poor broke dude just wants to the the show. I mean, who do you want in your audience anyway?
New York Public Library Lion on a day off.
It's so easy to get to the point where you never see any theater, you never experience any of the things New York can uniquely offer. You just go to those three restaurants you go to. You just walk to your subway, then you walk to work, then back again, eager to watch HBO over a plate of lo mein. I know, if there were only fewer choices it would be so much easier, wouldn't it? But alas. There aren't.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Jet Drown Relax

I dunno. There's a lot of stories out there about the perfect diet or whatever to avoid jet lag. They all seem fishy to me. But here's another one.

I still don't know what to look for when someone's drowning.
I'm taking two days off from working. Inadvertently I'd even pulled my machines off the Internet so I can't even work on them remotely.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

New Studio

So it seems we're moving our studio. We're moving about a block away, to 356 Broadway.
The odd-shaped space requires some special thinking to fit our workstations.

Luckily we don't need to rent a truck to move our stuff. But we are going to need to hire a couple people to carry things.
Yeah, the pretend furniture is flipped around. I didn't notice in the plan view. I may rethink this setup.
The floors are wood. We have 20amps of electrical service.


I've been playing with this software to pre-visualize. You think we should put wheels on the bottom of the WhisperRoom?
The following are other visualizations based on smaller offices than the one we're getting. Or rather the one we put a deposit on, we'll see if it's all good when they google my name. ;-)


Friday, July 25, 2014

Showcase Code

On the New York IT Awards blog is this post on the Actor's Equity Showcase Code.
"[The Showcase Code]  has helped to create a matryoshka doll of inequality in New York City theater."
Is my favorite sentence on the blogosphere today.
Here is a rabbit.
The Showcase Code is a non-negotiated code which, as a producer, you can sign. Doing so allows members of Actors Equity to work for you for (approximately) zero dollars (or basically whatever you want to pay) without the chance of them getting into trouble with their own union.
I'm not putting this in as an asterisk -- here's a very important point from the producer's point-of-view:

  1. Federal law prohibits discrimination against employees based on their membership in labor organizations. You do not get to decide on whom to hire based on whether they're Actors Equity or SEIU or AFM or not. They might have signed an agreement with one or more unions saying they wouldn't take non-union work, but you cannot decide for them. Whether you hire or fire anyone is dependent on factors other than their union status.
  2. You, the employer/producer, may insist your employees pay a collective bargaining agent. But this only applies to employers in states which do not have "Right To Work" laws. Talk to your favorite labor lawyer if you feel like doing this.*

There are a lot of restrictions on the contract though -- the number of shows you can do, the ticket prices, etc. It is made to keep the producer from making any money on a Showcase production. Which is ironic because, you know, "making money" in theater isn't a problem that any off-off Broadway theater producers have.

So we're not really concerned with the exploitation of surplus labor for Capital in the case of actors (and writers and designers and directors) in the way of off-off Broadway theater because there is no money in it. In fact, the producer is all but guaranteed to lose money while making off-off-Broadway theater. There is actually no way around it.

The fact is, though, that New York indy theater sucks.

Compared to the (this is my blog and so I will say) objectively better theater scenes in San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington DC, indy theater in New York is simply terrible. It's boring. It's no fun. There's only two exceptions to this:

  1. Theater made by my very close friends
  2. Theater that isn't produced under the Showcase Code

The first thing is self-evident, of course. But the other kind of theater in New York is what I'm discussing. There are three companies I'm thinking about. They're all producers of long-running shows and they're all non-Equity.

  • One is Sleep No More which has a fairly large cast, is very interesting, and actually pays their actors/dancers something in the $125/performance range (as I recall). The show is on an open run and actually makes the producers money. 
  • Two is Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind. This is an ongoing 2-nights a week show by the New York version of the Chicago company The Neo-Futurists. The actors in that company make something -- I don't know how much, I think several hundred dollars a years. Just enough to cover subway basically. 
  • Three is (and yes, I gag while I type this) The Wooster Group. Nowadays the Wooster Group is part of the establishment, man. But they pay around $850 or so a week? And they do a lot of theater.

I have a gazillion complaints about The Wooster Group but the fact is that all three of those companies at least try to do things that are theatrical and interesting. And most of the downtown theater does not. They do plays about two guys in black turtlenecks talking about living in Brooklyn in their 20's.
One problem with theater, as a thing to do, is that it takes quite a while to make a given piece any good. The fact that you can't do any more than 18 shows under the Showcase Code means that necessarily you haven't done the show enough to make it not suck. And you also can't make enough money in ticket sales (because of the limitation in ticket price) to keep renting whatever space you're using anyway.

Those three companies above, and every company in DC, SF, and Chicago, don't have those problems. And (as noted above) their theater scenes are objectively better and more interesting.

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*You do not feel like doing this. But the union might negotiate a contract with you wherein you agree to make sure all your employees are paying them to collectively bargain for them. And there are other restrictions and Supreme Court precedents and nonsense.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Futurama Spoilers

So we're mixing what I believe in my heart of hearts to be the last mix of Dead Raid. I'm about halfway through. I may in fact be done tomorrow.
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Reverse-engineering the Hypnotoad sound.
Somebody do me a favor and build one of these. With nylon and padding it looks to me like it could actually be built. The trick is the balaclava -- if you get the texture of that right you're golden.

There's a really good sci-fi notion in one of the Futurama features. The character Fry ends up being able to read minds. There's a group of dudes who can also read minds who find him. And the trick is that although Fry can read other people's minds they can't read his. Which makes him the perfect secret agent against some bad characters who can read minds.
But here's the kicker -- if Fry is trying to keep his power secret then he can't tell anyone about his mind-reading powers. Why? Because the bad guys who can read minds would be able to read the minds of anyone he tells about it.
Honestly that's one of the best "you can't tell anyone" devices I've ever heard. It's an actual and real reason it has to be kept quiet. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it's the best "you can't tell anyone" device.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Samosa Carcosa

I've become convinced that the secret of good vegan food is that it simply needs to be better than vegetarian or omnivoric cuisine. Thing is, you throw a piece of cheese or a hunk of bacon in your food and it's instantly much better. So much omnivore cooking is just "we'll do nothing but then we throw cheese in it and everyone's happy."
To make something work without the "tricks" that are mean and cheese, you really have to know what you're doing.
A friend of mine teases me about me referring to "vegetable samosas" because in her country all samosas are vegetarian.
But that's not quite true. There are samosas filled with other stuff. Unnecessarily. The best samosas are vegetable and they are, in fact, vegan. And delicious as they involve an exciting amount of fried bread (which is also very good for you.)

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Minbox Wetsuit and Space

Minbox is the new hotness. It's like wetransfer.com but with larger file sizes. 
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Why aren't all wetsuits this sort of color?
We have a theoretical 156 square feet of space in our office but the plinths to the support columns knock that down to an effective 117 square feet. We're looking for a new place. There are a lot, I mean a lot of offices in NYC priced right at $950. There's a place very near to where we are which has a larger office for $550. I dunno. We'll figure out something.
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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Steps to Making a Movie

This is a thinking-out-loud post all about what steps need to be gone through in order to make a movie. This isn't how we make movies. Although it might be a way to make a movie.

Greenlight script.

Make 3 budgets.

  1. $40,000
  2. $240,000
  3. $1,000,000


Back in the olden days we'd have worried about how to deal with whether we'd shoot on film and what kind of format and what shooting ratio. Thankfully those days are long gone.
Still, for each of these numbers we're looking at a 20-day shoot.


  1. At budget level 1 we're shooting non-SAG.
  2. At budget level 2 we're making a SAG picture with some talent people have heard of working "scale".
  3. At budget level 3 we're shooting a SAG picture with a fairly famous actor in the genre working for a low rate or for a very short time.

Then, using the script as a calling card, try to get whomever you think would be a perfect talent for the lead. That's perfect artistically as well as perfect as far as distributors are concerned.
You'll be running with three plans to shoot the picture. If you can get the right talent and can get the money, you'll go with 3. If you can get some talent (or even the right talent) but can't get the money you go with 2. Otherwise you go with 1.

I think the key to making budgets like these work is that you have to realize that shooting the movie isn't "making" the movie. Shooting is like advanced (and expensive) pre-production. It should only cost 40-60% of the money you have. Because you must, must, must finish the movie. That is, edited, color-corrected, dialog, music, and effects.
And remember you have to be able to do reshoots and additional shooting.

So. After greenlight you start hunting for talent and money simultaneously. Think in terms of "dream" and "reality" at the same time.

That's my thoughts.