Knocking the dust off. (And projects that fell apart.)

I think it’s time to start doing this more often. More personally, probably, so also probably less interesting to people in general. So if anyone still reads this, feel free to unsubscribe.

One thing to do, however, is link a few tiny projects that I’ve worked on. Some succeeded, some did not, and that’s okay. This will basically be a longer format of the pinned tweet from my Twitter account.

The last mentioned was in my prior post, Ghosts of the Living Dead, a legal fanedit. Before that I’d mentioned I’d messed around with ScreenLook, which I did a few times in effort to see how much work it would be. Turns out a lot. The response ratio to emails sent to independent creators was abysmal. Finding and emailing enough creators to fill a 30m block was pretty time intensive for someone with a job. Then when my job picked up, I put it on the backburner, from which it has yet to return. And that was 2016ish, I believe.

Crate Hunters

In May of 2019 I’ve took at stab at a more traditional “gamer video” with Crate Hunters.

In the game PlayerUnknown’s BattleGrounds, teams of players compete against others. Occasionally a crate full of nice gear and good weapons will fall from the sky into the map at a random location. Securing these crates are intended to give you a leg up. Especially a good helmet. With a few wins under our belts, my brother and cousin, with whom I often do most of my online gaming, decided that chasing these crates were “spicier” than competing in a typical way. I recorded a game in which after a certain point we decided to go for every crate we saw, and though only I could record my perspective, I decided to take a shot at adding a tiny bit of production (read: color-coded-to-each-player words on the screen and throw in a cheap gag or two,) to make it a little flashier. I also played around with a few potential openings. The song, which is great, is ANGEL FACE (2) by the Van Buren Brothers. It wasn’t included in the above video because this video was intended to be a placeholder. I waited a few days for the artist to reply, and then made the video showing the options. (I’m big on permission, and they were all for my using it.) But within those few days, that’s why my brother and cousin both decided they didn’t want to play PUBG anymore. Though they also felt the music was too chill. It’s a shame. Regardless it was clear Crate Hunters was dead before it was born.

Baby Driver: Purple Paint Job

Around July of 2019 I finally decided to follow up to an idea, I always wanted to do, a fanedit of Baby Driver, a film whose editing is driven by its music. (See what I did there?) I came up with Baby Driver: Purple Paint Job.

It’s a “5 minute opening clip” because before the film released, the studio released “BABY DRIVER – 6-Minute Opening Clip” to give people an idea of what the film would be. It was a smart move, though I don’t know how well it worked. (I also used a promotional still that was a vertical poster with originally a pink background, squared up and made purple.) I’d initially wanted to re-edit the entire film with a musical theme. I’d considered a general metal theme, Baby Metal (Driver), Southern rap (as the film is set in Atlanta,) and some that now slip my mind. But I did have an idea that stood out. Prince. Of course, that’s a big no-go on YouTube. You get dinged for copyright violation instantly. So Vimeo did the job. The reason it’s ONLY that opening clip, however, is the same reason the sound effects run out very early into it. It’s pretty difficult to source good effects without music already drowning them out. And it’s impossible to remove parts of audio from film. I used a few I could find, but then called it quits before I decided to spend actual money on sound effects completely re-doing Foley effects on the whole film.

The Midnight Son

The Midnight Son is a film trailer I wanted to make (I didn’t want to make an actual film, just the trailer). Sadly that didn’t happen, but I did end up making storyboards for it back in May of 2020.

The name is a play off the summer daylight during the nighttime hours in Alaska. But it was really just an excuse to film Dave, my TV sports anchor that I worked with at the time, in this role. He literally looks like he IS a detective from a noir film. There’s just the small fact that he’s almost always smiling, is a very polite family man, and loves wearing Aloha shirts. Actually, the Aloha shirts thing still works, I think. Especially for that shot of him driving down 4th Avenue at the end. I didn’t have a strong plot in mind. I really just wanted to hit the noir tropes as they’re available in Anchorage, Alaska, and I think that’s very doable. If filmed at night with a heavy blanket of snow and some ice on the ground, with some falling (especially at that scene of the person approaching another to grab their shoulder, which would’ve been filmed at the docks with shipping containers behind Dave with his arm outstretched approaching the camera…) Well, I really think it would’ve worked. Sadly the TV station we worked for was purchased and we were all laid off toward the end of 2020, before it snowed, and before I could make this happen. Shame.

My (Production) Problem with Pro Wrestling

Somewhere in all of this, around 2017, I kinda began to watch pro-wrestling again. It’s a stunt person stage play, it’s great, and I will not be taking questions, unless you’re asking what to watch, when, and where, in which case I’ll gladly help you out. Pro wrestling is better than most other things, but I do have a problem with it. The production. So, I made My (Production) Problem with Pro Wrestling.

The video explains itself really, but in a nutshell the major US wrestling promotions, WWE and AEW, do a poorer job of their TV production than Japan’s NJPW does. With a single Reddit post it got 34.7K views on Vimeo (as of this writing), which is neat. I contest that if I’d been able to upload this to YouTube I’d have gotten well over 100k at launch, and more by now. The reason I wasn’t able to use YouTube is because I used a clip from New Japan Pro Wrestling, and they’re very overbearing about copyright. Now, you might be thinking “but Jeff, this is a clear case of fair use, given its purpose is to compare and contrast with similar production styles (in a favorable light,) as criticism/comment! It’s also only just over a minute of footage from a match that lasted for over an hour, and it betrays no substantial information from this match which could affect other market exploitation of the work! Hell, I’d argue it could only HELP them, given I praise them!” Yes, you might be thinking that, but New Japan Pro Wrestling are, in my assumption given their reaction, not caring about that.

I uploaded it on March 30th of 2021, and New Japan Pro Wrestling had a copyright takedown against it before I even hit “Publish”. So I used Vimeo, like I did with the Baby Driver trailer above. I submitted a counter-claim immediately, and YouTube sent the reply to NJPW, which was supposed to have some set time to reply. About two weeks I believe. They did. The site tells me that. But YouTube has still yet to issue a ruling, over six months later. Sigh.

/edit: They did eventually clear it! On October 29th, 2021, seven months later! Whew.

This Blog

So, that’s a few ideas I’ve kicked out. I’ve got a list of about 30 more things I’d like to make of varying sizes, budgets, and viabilities. Games, things to write, podcasts. Who knows. But one thing I’d like to do is write more in general, and that’ll include blogging/journaling. So this place will likely be getting a lot more personal. I don’t expect anyone to read it, and that’s fine. But I do want to write it. I think taking the time to process it and getting it out will help me, and that’s what this is for. This, the writing, is for me.

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Ghosts of the Living Dead

George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is a classic, defining an iconic monster in our culture, and with it a genre: the zombie story. Also, it’s in the public domain. Anyone can copy it, distribute it, and use it to make new works.

Several years ago Nine Inch Nails released Ghosts I-IV, a collection of music largely devoid of vocals. It was released under a Creative Commons license (BY-NC-SA).

I’ve re-scored the film with this album, and removed 36 minutes of footage, in a one hour fanedit that I’m calling Ghosts of the Living Dead.

Purposefully made using legally distributable media, you are free to download and distribute this as you see fit as no money is made.

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Rockstar Stories – Leaving Money on the Table

Rockstar Stories – How Rockstar Games is Leaving Money on the Table

Rockstar Stories – My Suggestion Rockstar Foster Their Next Generation of Talent with an Open Storefront for Content http://jeffool.com

Rockstar Stories – My Suggestion Rockstar Foster Their Next Generation of Talent and Make Tons of Money Doing It http://jeffool.com

Rockstar hasn’t released any single player DLC for their 2013 game Grand Theft Auto V. What they have released is tons of free content for it’s multiplayer component, Grand Theft Auto Online, and offered in-game currency for real money. Apparently it’s sold gangbusters. Every time news hits about GTAO there’s always complaints “I wish they’d release single player content” or “They said they would release more heists!” (They haven’t.) So, I’d like to pitch an idea for a lot more, widely varied, single player content. Allow me to dream for a moment.

I’d like to see Rockstar open a new studio largely staffed of fresh hires to bolster their future games. People looking to get into the industry, for that first job. The kind of people who want to apply, but don’t have the experience to get the type of jobs that are actually advertised. Start them off with jobs scripting single player DLC content in Rockstar’s open world games.

You want your A team on your A job. Rockstar’s teams all have excellent content creators who create, often, very compelling and interesting quests that work on several levels, both offering fun gameplay and compelling main quests. I imagine (maybe wrongly?) that a second team, still of top level quality, is tasked with the non-essential quests, offering wonderful atmosphere and characters to fill out the greater world. For brevity’s sake only, let’s call them the B team.

But what about the minor leagues? I’m confident Rockstar can create a studio chiefly staffed of entry level developers, all tasked with learning and using the tools to put written missions into action. This farm league of content will obviously need scripts. Open that to everyone.

Create a blind submission system open to everyone, and let the studio decide what works well as a combined DLC package. Let aspiring designers write and pitch concepts at different levels, let those ideas be greenlit, conditionally greenlit with criticism, or turned down with optional criticism. From this point Rockstar can bring those designers in to flesh out points of contention or script, or do it themselves, but it’s key they cut those writers in on the profit. And while those rookie scripters should all get a salary, I can imagine some of them wanting a percentage too, but that’s their place to argue for.

The real benefit to this? Once you have teams able to work with each other, and others, to create worthwhile DLC? You have a team of people pumping out lots of small content for small fees, using existing in-game resources and existing tools. Then what do you do? You pluck the top talent of this creative team, and you partner them with big names.

I’d love to see the mix of character and crime drama author Greg Rucka, or Daredevil season 1 showrunner Steven DeKnight, or maybe some inspired work from Dear White People’s Justin Simien (did you know that’s getting a Netflix series? I and @GiantSquidOverdrive called that in January, and Simien even retweeted that, four months before the announce… Ain’t he a stinker?)

Offer players a storefront for single player DLC. I’m not even asking for the ability to inject new models or sounds. Rockstar would probably demand full voice acting, but honestly so many people click through that it’s crazy. Only bother with rookie voice actors too, to help them get their chops, if you really want that.

My underlying point here is a simple one. It’s completely feasible. And with the half a billion Rockstar has made in GTA V’s online alone, it would be doable for a very tiny portion of that. Especially if you use similar tools for more than one of their future games. Then you’ve opened the floodgates to creators making money from working with, and writing for, Rockstar.

Spare paragraphs written for, but not used in, this post:

In 2015 Bethesda tried to monetize mods for its game The Elder Scrolls Skyrim, and the backlash was palpable. Not just because people were stealing mods and uploading them as their own to make money, or the concern that popular mods used as bases would demand payment, but also because the rate the mod creators were paid was shit. The modders who made the content could set their own price, but they only received 25% of that fee. The rest went to Bethesda and the store owners, Valve.

Did you know Star Trek used to have an open script policy? From 1989 to July 2001, any fan who enjoyed the show could write and submit up to two full scripts in attempt to have it bought and made into an episode. Of course the vast majority were never followed up on, they had several lawsuits thrown at them, and only handfuls were made into episodes for the various Star Trek TV shows… One might say the lawsuits are the prime case for not opening your doors to new entrants. I say the 12 year lifespan of this is exactly why it’s worthwhile. They canceled the program just a few years before they canceled the TV show that was on at the time, Star Trek: Enterprise (February 2005).

Would it change your mind if I told you one of those writers was Bryan Fuller, creator of Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, and Hannibal? Or Ronald D. Moore, who went on to win a Peabody for his work on Battlestar Galactica? Read up on some of the people who got their foot in the door that way: https://weminoredinfilm.com/2015/06/27/6-writers-who-got-their-foot-in-hollywoods-door-thanks-to-star-treks-open-submission-policy/

2016
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