According To Whim: Season 0: Sniffles
North Texas: Public Access TV - Comedy - Writing - Music - Screenplays - All sorts of creative junk!
A (Sniffles) Show History
Part 2: Finally Up and Running
During my spring break, I found a VCR that had all the capabilities that I was looking for. It could even record and play Super VHS tapes which was a big plus. Mom let me charge it on the credit card and this piece of equipment recharged Chris' and my interest in doing the show.
Chris and I start having serious talks about trying to make a go of "Sniffles" again. I've just heard about a video contest sponsored by Sony through the American Film Institute. We decide that our first big project is going to be that chase scene we had talked about a year earlier. We had also just gotten together to watch Duel. I knew that our chase scene could work as it's own piece. Hey it worked for Spielberg. Why not us? (You don't have to answer my retorical question, besides I already know the answer). What we would do is that in the version for the Sony contest we would shoot an alternate set-up, a different catalyst for the chase, something that an audience not seeing the show on public access would understand.
Chris managed to dig up Ziggy. Ziggy was all into the idea of doing a show. He had a couple of shows that he wanted to do. Both were sit-com type of shows. One was called Muffy's Friends and the other was called Star Bar. Chris and I liked Ziggy's ideas very much and we knew that we would have to spend the upcoming summer working on all these projects. We also shot a short sketch with Ziggy that we'll be putting on soon.
The Chase Day 1 - By the end of the month we began full-blown production on the chase scene. One Saturday afternoon, Ziggy was camera operator on the reshoot of the scene where Chris goes out to the mailbox. This time he's waiting for some Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes entry forms. We also shot the master shot of the scene where I am introduced. I play Chris' roommate. I tell him that the forms came in a couple weeks ago, but I threw them away because they were "just junk." Very few people will probably ever see this version which is unfortunate since I think it works better than the version we put on Sniffles.
That Monday after I got out of school for the summer, I spent the day with Ziggy and his friend Kevin at his grandma's house. Our intention was that we were supposed to get together later on that night with another of Ziggy's friend's, Don, in order to discuss how we were going to be spending our time trying to put together Sniffles, Star Bar, and, Muffy's Friends. Chris had to work that evening so he would have to join up with us later.
We all got together late that night at a Denny's to talk about what we wanted to do. It became clear that there might be problems. Don seemed to have little time to get together to do the show, and since he was the man with all the ideas, Ziggy probably wasn't going to do it without him. Neither Chris or I have ever seen Don since.
The Chase Day 2 - We all get together to continue with the chase scene. The deadline for the Sony competition was June 15th so we needed to get it done as soon as we could. There was one important lesson I learned from this day: when shooting a sketch never have more people around than is going to be necessary for that sketch.
Brett had come over with his fiancee, Sherry, and her daughter. Ziggy and Kevin were also there. We shot a couple of close-ups for the kitchen confrontation and then we decided to leave Brett, Sherry, and Kevin at the house while Ziggy, Chris, Brett and I go shoot one little scene we planned to do. In the scene Brett is driving along in his car when he passes by Chris chasing me. The scene in itself is not very important to the narrative(what narrative) but I liked the idea so we did it.
Before we had went out to shoot this scene, Brett stopped off at a gas station to get some cigarettes. As we were pulling out, a cop pulled us over. Chris who was riding shotgun had not been wearing his seatbelt. The cop was a bit of a prick to begin with. The first thing out of his mouth was, "I need four id's now!" Then he starts going into Brett about how it is his responsibility as the driver to make sure that all his passengers are wearing their seatbelts. Chris starts interrupting the cop saying, "Sir, if you're going to give anybody a ticket, give it to me." The cops response was, "I wasn't talking to you, McGinty" Chris keeps interrupting and the cop finally tells Chris to get out of the car. Ziggy and I are thinking that Chris was going to get arrested right then and there. Luckily the cop only chewed Chris out a bit and he let Brett off with a warning. This cop provided the inspiration for the Keeper of the Sign character that Brian Anthony plays in the chase scene.
When we finally got back to the house, our intention was to go to this one park by a lake that we had seen a couple of weeks before on our way to Ziggy's house. We liked the location so we thought it would be neat to have a sequence of our chase scene go through there. Now we've got all these people with us like I said before. I think the reason we had all of them was because we were hoping to get a lot out of the way including the Keeper of the Sign scene. The idea was that Kevin and Brett were to play two of the natives and Ziggy was going to play the Keeper. Chris had hoped that maybe Ziggy would have gotten a hold of Don and he could have played one of the other natives. No such luck.
Having all of these people presented a bit of a problem since we had nothing for them to do at that moment. But we all saddled up in two cars(big mistake)to go to this park. Chris, Ziggy, and I were in one car. While Brett, Sherry, and Kevin took another. It was very clear that Kevin did not want to be with us. Everybody in the second car all decided that they wanted to go eat, get cigarettes, etc. They said that they would meet us out at the park later. We knew the dangers of splitting up, but we really didn't have time to wait around while the others did their thing.
The shooting in the park went fairly smoothly. The only setbacks we had were the fact that since there were children playing on the jungle gym thing that we were using, every once in a while they would happen to start playing where we needed to set our shot up. So we would have to wait until they decided to leave. We couldn't just tell them, "hey, kid. Get the f**k out of the way."
We saved the shots where we had to run into the lake for last. I felt a bit apprehensive about running into the water fully clothed and doubted whether I could do it when the time came. I also had this weird feeling that Chris would fake me out, have me run into the water while he decided to remain on shore and laugh his ass off while I was soaking wet. But none of that happened. As we swam out we heard Ziggy yell something to us so our immediate reaction was to stop swimming to hear what he was yelling. Later when we watched the footage, we found out that he was yelling, "keep going! Keep going!" All of this would force us to have to find a way to edit out his voice for the final cut.
The shoot at the park took us about an hour and a half. Ziggy didn't understand why we were doing things the way we were, like shooting things from all these different angles. I think it was because of this that led him to believe that we really didn't know what we were doing(we don't but it's probably not as bad as Ziggy thinks considering that to this day, 3 years later, he still hasn't seen the results of that day) Chris also later would admit that he didn't know why we were doing things from several different angles, but he went with it in the hopes that it would come together somehow. To tell you the truth I didn't know if it would work out either, if I could edit it so that it would at least look halfway decent.
In any case, the second party never made it to the park. We managed to find them a little later. Kevin was very pissed. He didn't say anything per se, but we knew what was going on in his mind. In fact I don't think I've ever seen Kevin since and that was definitely the last time Ziggy would ever work with us.
The Rest of the Month - I wish that I had kept a journal of what we did on what specific days because it all has become kind of a jumble for me. I think ultimately the whole shoot was just a jumble for us in general. We had some basic ideas of what we wanted to do, but no real definite plans. We would get together and do whatever our train of thought took us. I generally know that there were certain things that happened on certain days, but as far as remembering which week they took place and which day came first, that's another story.
Native Scene Day 1 - We managed to get Modester, Brian, Joe, Brett, and Danny Bard together for the scene where the natives are first introduced. We had a vague idea that we were going to do a Raiders of the Lost Ark knockoff in which I find this bigger Dr. Pepper bottle than the one Chris has been chasing me with, but as soon as I get a hold of it, I'm surrounded by some natives who are friendlies of Chris who manages to get the bottle away from me.
We planned to congregate at this one park that overlooked Carswell Air Force Base(as it was still known at the time) to shoot the scene. The problem was that Brett and Danny lived in Arlington which is a thirty minute drive from the place we were going to shoot. This wouldn't have been a problem except for the fact that Sherry was giving us an hour and a half time limit for our use of Brett because she wanted him home by the time dinner was ready. This imposed time limit was completely ridiculous mind you, but I'd better stop right there before I start going into a rant about men who are heavily scarred by the all powerful pussy whip and the women who wield it abusively.
With the travel time to and from the location this only gave us a half an hour to shoot. Brian and Joe were already at the site when we got there(thankfully). We were in such a hurry that we didn't get to finish the whole scene like we had planned. Our intention was to shoot the stuff where we meet the natives at the Lookout Park and then drive 5 miles up the road to another park that just so happened to be right outside Shello's driveway to do the scene where the natives get stopped by the Keeper of the Sign.
We didn't get to go to the other park and since we were so rushed we didn't think out what we shot at Lookout Park. As a result, it didn't cut together very well which was one thing but also the fact that there was probably no way we were ever going to be able to get that exact combination of four people together for the second day. It would have seemed weird that you have one set of natives for one set and then a completely different set for the next. Just about all of the footage of that day was scrapped. The only thing that made it was the shot of them coming over the hill after me. I figured I could still use it because the shot is far enough and doesn't last on screen long enough for anybody really to notice.(Although Joe's long time friend Michelle was able to spot him right off)
Native Scene Day 2 - Chris and I continued to shoot other things knowing full well that we would have to pick the native scene back up. Chris managed to round up some new natives: Randall, who was the roommate of one of Chris' high school buds, Derek and Mike Ratliff, who worked with Chris at Pizza Hut. We couldn't get Modester for the day, but we planned it so that we could shoot around him. We also had to get Brian who didn't get off work until 5 or 6pm so that already put a crunch on the time available to us because the sun would be setting only in a hour or so.
The shoot went okay. Mike met us out at the Nature Center(the park outside Shello's driveway). He was a little high at the time and Randall had already drank himself into obvlivion because of personal problems between himself and Derek, but it didn't go too badly. I just wish the scene had been a little more effective but you can't win 'em all.
Native Scene Day 3 - We went out the next day to get Modester's part in the scene. We also got Mike back because we realized that we probably should have put him into the background walking away after the Keeper has told him to go because if we hadn't it would have looked bad because all of the sudden he would have been completely gone. Of course it might have fit in with the nature of the scene anyway, but I think even we have our limits about how much continuity stretching we're going to do.
Practice Edits - One night during the second week I think I decided to see if I could edit the footage together. Up until that point I wasn't even sure if it would work or not. I had this really expensive VCR, but I wasn't sure if I would be able to get accurate cuts that looked good or not. I pieced together what we had at that point and thankfully it worked out okay. I showed everyone who was still involved at that point, basically Chris, Brett, Sherry, and Chris Modester. Brett and Sherry exclaimed that it was nice to see the footage pieced together because before then they really didn't understand what we were doing. From then on we've gotten into the habit of doing a rough edit of all our footage whenever we shoot something to see if there might be anything we need to reshoot or something we might have forgotten altogether.
Trying to Get Ziggy Back - We were nearing the end of our work on the chase scene. By that time we had a name for it for the Sony contest(Chris and Miguel: A Hate Story). We went back to Ziggy's house to see if it just was our imagination that he really didn't want to work with us anymore. He gave several excuses and he even took a potshot at us. He offered us each a glass of tea and we took it. He then asked if we wanted some lemon to go with our tea after which he quipped, "Oh! I forgot. You have already have a lemon. It's called Sniffles."
Dr. Pepper Bottle Duel Day 1 - By this time we only had a week to go before the June 15th deadline of the Sony contest. We had shot the stuff of us running through downtown Fort Worth to the Watergardens where our duel was to take place during the first week of shooting. We held of on the duel for so long because we didn't know what we were going to do with it. I think we thought that we were going to choreograph the duel over the month while we were shooting so that we would have it ready when the time came, but we hadn't. Chris and I pretty much had to work out how we were going to do it when we got there.
Having to figure out what we were going to do killed alot of our time. If we hadn't gone back to reshoot anything like we had you would have seen it go from nearing sunset to completely pitch black in less than thirty seconds.
One of my film teachers has a law of film production that says that whenever you go out on location and are shooting sound that as soon as you start rolling, an airplane will come out of nowhere. That's kind of how it was where we tried to shoot except it wasn't with airplanes. All of the other times when we had come out to this particular locale there was nobody up there to bother us, but that one day for some reason it seemed as if there were all these families that decided to congregate on the exact spot where we were shooting and have picnics and what have you. Although the truth is that we could hear every once in a while one of them say something that betrayed the fact that they were curious about what we were doing. Fortunately none of them ever ended up on our tape.
Dr. Pepper Bottle Duel Day 2 - We reshot the entire duel. This time we didn't have problems with families or kids or the sun setting. However we couldn't figure out how we were going to show us fall off the ledge again.
Dr. Pepper Bottle Duel Day 3 - We went back out to see if we could solve that nagging problem of how we could convincingly show us falling off the ledge. We came up with the solution of setting the camera on a secondary ledge shooting up to the top ledge as Chris and I roll off of it. The drop would be fairly short and when we fall out of camera range nobody would be able to tell that we had only fallen a distance of about three feet.
The Falling Scene - We went into my backyard to try to shoot our descent from the ledge to the ground. Chris decided to try setting the camera out an extemely low angle while we jump over it. It didn't work too well because we only appeared as flashes in the footage when we jumped over it. Our final solution worked out a lot better and is probably one of the only funny things about the whole chase scene since it gets the biggest laugh right next to the whipped cream bit. We lay on our stomachs on a stool I have and placed the camera at a low angle so that all that could be seen was the sky. To get the effect of us falling we placed a fan underneath us so that our hair would blow. If you look closely you can see the telephone wires in the background of our individual closeups.
When we edited that scene we thought it would be funny to intercut other scenes to give the idea of our lives flashing before our eyes. It also gave the Chris the opportunity to use that footage that we had shot of us standing by the tractor. Chris said, "I told you we'd find a use for it."
June 14th, 1994 - With only one night to go before I had to have the tape in the mail for the Sony contest so that it could be postmarked for the 15th like they require, we finally got around to scoring it. The both of us had been playing around with some musical ideas the entire month and tonight was finally the night to see if it would work or not. The truth is we came up with a lot of it on the spot and just recorded it like it was. By the time we got to the part where he's chasing me through downtown Fort Worth, we had just gotten so tired of trying to come up with anything on the guitars that Chris decided it would work just as well to have us vocalize that section of the score. It saved us a lot of time. Chris edited the music onto the tape. We made a dub to send off and then we promptly went to sleep.
June 15th, 1994 - I woke up around 3 o'clock to go to the post office. I just let Chris sleep. I sent the tape off and we both waited for our inevitable victory with the Sony contest(yeah right).
Que Clinic Day 1 - Our next big project after the chase scene was to finish up the Que Clinic sketch we had started the previous summer. Actually we didn't finish it up so much as we started all over again. Chris had written an entirely new script this time whereas before he hadn't really written anything. He just had everything in his head and he would tell us what we were supposed to do while he set up a shot. This time it was a bit different. There would actually be some planning involved.
We pretty much figured that Brett would be a big impossibility so Chris replaced him with his brother Sean who was down visiting their dad for the summer. We also had Modester with us to run camera and we also needed him to play a couple parts like the doctor when they finally arrive at Que Clinic and some passer-by who looks into the car, wondering what we're doing. Of course we ran out of time so we didn't shoot the part where we got to Que Clinic. I think Chris had to be to work so that was that.
Although that same night I went over to Brian's house and that's when we shot the Gangbuster Weekly sketch(episode 3) and another sketch we had been talking about doing for a while parodying those International Coffee commercials.
Que Clinic Day 2 - We reassembled everybody from the first day of the sketch(a strange miracle) for the second day. We even had Chris' little sister Kate with us. Before we finished up Que Clinic we went out to a picnic area to shoot a scene for another show idea that we had come up with called the Case of the Disappearing Cast and Crew, inspired a great deal from our experience working on the chase scene. Unfortunately that's the only scene that has been shot so far for that particular show.
From there we went to Chris apartment to shoot the scene where Sean and I carry Chris into the clinic and where we meet with Modester who plays a doctor there. In order to keep the apartment from looking too much like an apartment we had to shoot everything from low angles so that all that could be seen were the ceilings. Of course this wasn't too much of a problem because as Chris has pointed out I have a fondness for low angles.
We then went to my house to get a couple more shots that we had neglected to get like everything dealing with Chris flying out of the car and his landing up on the top of the roof.
Que Clinic Day 2 - We seem to have a problem of not getting everything done for particular sketches the first day we get together to do them. For the life of me I can't figure out why it took us three days to shoot Que Clinic. On this last day we got the shots of Chris landing on the ground after being thrown from the roof and the stuff where he sees the approaching car about to run over him. Did I say last day? Well the truth is that the last day of shooting for this scene wouldn't come until about two years later. We still had to get one last shot of Chris' car entering the parking lot of Que Clinic.
Public Access Version of the Chase Scene/Laundry Thing - Chris came over to the house with his brother in tow so that he could operate camera for us. We shot the version of the chase scene that we had intended for the public access show. We also shot the opening scene of the Laundry Scene at my house. Chris didn't like the footage at all. He complained that we were "trying to do some acting," but failing miserably.
The Long Day of the Laundry Thing - By this time Chris felt that we needed to spend as much time as we possibly could working on the show. He came up with the figure that if we were going to have enough material for three shows worth by the end of the summer we were going to need to clear about three minutes of usable footage a day. This meant that out of everything we shot on any given day it would need to come out to about three minutes of edited show time. To that end we needed to start doing some rigid scheduling and sticking to it.
The first day of Chris' schedule called for us to work all day and night on the laundry sketch that was going to go on episode 1. We started off by going to Shello's house to get her to play the part of the friend who lives in South Carolina whom Chris is going to try to get to wash our clothes. Shello was worried that she wasn't going to be able to remember her lines, but she generally got all of her lines within the first take. It was from this day that I decided that from then on I was going to carefully plan out every last shot of everything we were going to shoot from then on. I had no idea where I wanted to put the camera and as I found out later when trying to piece the footage together it sometimes cut together awkwardly. We also didn't finish the sketch because we had a hard time figuring out how to stage the second half of the scene with Shello.
We didn't get to Chris' apartment until way after sunset. Luckily Chris' wife, Melynie, was there so we would have someone to operate camera. Having Melynie was a mixed blessing. It was nice to have someone on camera so that we could have some movement in the image if we wanted, but it was also a hassle because whenever you get Chris around Melynie there is bound to be some tension. She did the shots that we needed her for and then she disappeared into the bedroom and we finished out the rest of the scene.
Chris was also having problems with his downstairs neighbor. Chris talked about how the neighbor would always come upstairs to complain because of the fact that Chris's son Jude was just beginning to walk and it created thumping sounds on their ceiling. Chris said that it was perfectly alright for his neighbor to have all these parties whose noise invariably sifted up through the ceiling but his kid trying to walk was not. Anyway in the scene where Chris and I fall to the floor after taking off our sweaty shirts did not go unnoticed by the neighbor. A few seconds after we hit the floor in that last shot in Chris' apartment, the neighbor thumped on his ceiling in response. Chris retaliated in anger with a few thumps back onto the floor with his fist.
Chris Borrows the Camera - I decided to spend a week up in Wichita Falls with Kim. It was sometime after the July 4th weekend and her parents had gone out of town to Las Vegas. In that time I let Chris borrow the camera and it was during that time that he shot the Desert Storm Role Playing Game sketch(episode 3) with his brother, Mr. Duckles and Frankie(episode 4), The Land Mine sketch(episode 4), and something that he never completely finished with himself in dual roles as a frustrated guitar player and the Angel of the Amp who comes to give him salvation.
The Hair Tie - When I got back we decided to work on a sketch that Chris had been written that was based on the idea that when you have long hair, those little hair ties are like gold. I know I've been caught in situations where I couldn't find one and it becomes annoying when your hair keeps getting in your face.
This was the first sketch that I storyboarded out completely and it helped because it saved a lot of time and frustration when it came time to actually shoot the thing. There's nothing more frustrating than when you're trying to shoot something and you're not sure where you want to put the camera. With the storyboards all that had been figured out beforehand. When you're doing them you're not under the pressure of having to figure out what you want to do before the sun goes down or before somebody has to be to work and so on. It frees you up and you can try to be a little more creative in your planning.
The only problem we had here was that the script wasn't entirely finished. We had a beginning, but we weren't sure what to do with the ending.
During one of my weekend visits to Wichita Kim took me to her sister-in-law to get some of my hair trimmed. I was worried that the trim would be noticable so I thought of an ending around that. After we've watched the urine documentary(which we hadn't shot yet) I decide that the only thing to do is to trim my hair a bit. I imagined this little psuedo-heart wrenching scene as Chris cuts my hair and then when it comes to be his turn he can't go through with it and knocks the scissors out of my hand. We end up in each other's arms crying which would seque into our having a funeral for the hairtie. It would take us a long while before we ever got back to that sketch.
Showing the Chase Scene - We were damn proud of our first and at that time only completed work. We tried to show it to everybody who would watch it. We even had a screening at Brett and Sherry's wedding. Our excuse was that Brett was in it even if only for a few seconds. That was justification enough for us. Brett's family seemed to like it. Sherry I think thought it was kind of inappropriate for us to be showing our crap at their wedding, but hey we can't let other people get all the attention.
Chris tried to show it to Lisa, his manager at Pizza Hut, but she declined giving the excuse that she was going to be going to bed or something like that. But then in almost the same breath she asked Chris if he didn't want to come over because they were probably going to be watching Ace Ventura. It shows you how much amateur work is regarded by most folks.
Luke Perry Video Overdubs - Since we were supposed to be getting three minutes a day, Chris would come over every night after he got off work so that we could attempt to work on the show. A lot of the times we got absolutely nothing done. On one such night I decided that we should try to do something more with that Luke Perry interview we shot with Brett a whole year before. I thought that as it was it was kind of dull, just Brett sitting there talking. I figured we needed to get some reaction shots of Chris which we had neglected to do before and it would be funny if in those shots, Chris was paying absolutely no attention to what he had to say. We spent about an hour coming up with the "design" for the Sniffles pizza box which was a Pizza Hut box turned inside out. We also came up with a name tag for the pizza delivery character I was to be playing. The purpose of the tag was mainly to cover up the Pizza Hut logo on the shirt I was wearing. If you look closely the name tag reads, "H.Solo"
The Political Burp/World of Urine in a Minute - These were done on another one of those nights when Chris came over after work. Like the Luke Perry stuff we shot it in the third bedroom of my mom's house that mom had converted into her Buddhist shrine. Chris sat behind a desk and we did both bits. The Political Burp was mostly improvised and the Urine thing we actually wrote something for him to say. Chris had some ideas for video overdubs that he wanted to do for the Urine thing. He wanted to show the process of doing laundry to illustrate the process of urinating. The only thing I remember was the final step was "folding it and putting it away." Ulimately we just forgot to shoot that stuff.
Three Minutes a Day - By mid summer things started coming to a standstill and Chris started throwing fits about how we were falling way behind schedule. We would have big long discussion/arguments all into the night about how he felt we needed to be a lot more serious than we have been. Of course from my perspective of the problem was the fact that this schedule we were so far behind on didn't have any specifics of what exactly we were supposed to have done by what time. The entire schedule consisted mainly of how many minutes of show we were to have done done by what days going on Chris' three minutes a day principle.
The problem with the three minutes a day goal wasn't necessarily in not being able get that much done in a single day it was the fact that a lot of the time we simply didn't have anything to do. We had all of these little ideas that we had been tossing around for the last year, but when we would get together none of them were scripted. And the stuff that we did have scripted required other people besides just me and Chris, but the problem was that we didn't have the foresight to try to arrange time with these other people a couple of days in advance. So what would end up happening is that we would try to round up these people at the very last minute only to find that they were unavailable. Most of the time Chris would come over and we would just lay about moaning about how we weren't getting anything done. Meanwhile we weren't taking the proper steps to ensure that maybe we could get something done on the next day, like writing scripts.
There was one particular day I remember especially well because there is some footage that represents how far down at the bottom of the barrel we were scraping. I even identified that footage on the tape on which it was shot as "Three Minutes a Day in My Room." What it all amounts to is Chris would turn on my camera and do some little corny 5 second jokes. They're not entirely unusable and they will no doubt appear in various episodes in the future.
The Wandering Bard - One night Chris came up with a stroke of brilliance. He figured out how we could kill a lot of show time. He came up with a little story involving two modern day/medieval type of people who roam the country side in search of King Booger. Chris' time killer involved several minutes of me walking through a football field, onto a track, and finally up some bleachers at which point I look directly at the camera and in a faux British accent exclaim, "Do you get the idea that this entire scene is a big time killer!"
Chris decided to have me do this entire walking thing in my fairly heavy white collared short sleeve shirt while wearing a big black overcoat that I had since high school all because it was the closest thing we had to something that looked medieval. Meanwhile it's the beginning of August and it's 100+ degrees outside. After those preliminary shots we didn't do anything else with it mainly because Chris hadn't scripted what was supposed to happen next with my character's meeting his character.
From there we picked up Modester from where he was working at the time so that he could run camera on a series of shots of me and Chris driving around in Chris' car(again just another way to kill time). We got shots of us from Modesters perspective in the back seat and then we would let him out of the car so that he could get shots of the car as it passed by on the road.
Staying Up All Night - Another one of Chris' kicks that he likes to get onto is his constant complaining about how he hates sleep because it interferes with how much time you have to get anything done. He believes that if he didn't have to sleep he could get so much more done. He won't hesitate to call me a wimp when I start to complain about how tired I am and how I need to get some sleep. Chris will tell me about how superior he is because he's managed to stay up 32 hours in a row before, nevermind that fact that he admitted to me that one time that on one of his days off, he manged to sleep for 27 straight hours. It will catch up with you no matter what.
One night Chris and were driving around in his car. The objective was to get nighttime driving shots for the wandering bard. Mainly we spent the night going around to convenience stores and just all around wherever we happened to end up. Chris got the crazy idea that instead of breaking up at 5 or 6 in the morning like we would normally do, we should stay up for most of the day after the sun came up. That way we could get a lot of shooting done for the show.
Oh boy! Let me tell you how worth it it was to have stayed up all night like we did. The only thing we got done was another corny little bit, the Running to the Outhouse sketch(episode 4). Again the problem wasn't the quantity of time we were trying to spend on the show it was the quality. Staying up all night would have been worthwhile if we actually had something to do. All that came of it was that we were so tired that we couldn't even think logically to get anything done. We ended up spending the entire day taking Modester around to get a pee test for a new job he was applying for and then going to the library to try to catch some zzz's while we waited for some specific time to roll around(I can't remember what it was).
The Tall Ad - At one point we realized that our approach had been all wrong with respect to getting the show done. From now on the schedules would reflect very specific items that needed to get done. The tall ad was an idea I had been kicking around since the previous summer. I had finally completed my entire collection of Star Trek comic books from the early 80s and I was finally going to sit down and read them all(I had to wait until I had the entire collection because there was no way I was going to get into any of the storylines and then have to deal with the gaps that would have been caused by a missing issue of two). Anyway there was an ad in several of the issues, jumbled onto those pages that featured x-ray glasses and the like, that featured a book that was supposed to have excercises that you could do to expand your height up to a full 6 inches.
At that time, Chris and I were very self conscious about our heights or lack thereof(we're both only about 5'7) so the idea came to me to do this sketch about a guy who sends away for the book and becomes taller. It kind of pays homage to that one cartoon where the two characters continue to drink a growth potion until they are bigger than the world. My thought was to do it completely silent.
So we asked a friend of my mom's, Mark Lamy, who was only a couple of years older than me and Chris to be in the sketch. I had decided that I didn't want to be in it because it would give me greater freedom in setting up shots, so that I wouldn't have to either explain to another camera operator what I wanted, or in the case that we didn't have a camera operator, having to settle for setting it up on a tripod and not having any movement.
We picked a place where we wanted to do it being a beach on the same lake just an eighth of a mile from the area where we had shot us running through the playground just a couple months before. I storyboarded the whole thing the night before and the next day we set out with Mark and shot the whole thing. It was a good example of how we needed to be working, precise, planned, and without a lot of bullshit.
Mark seemed to be impressed with the fact that I did have storyboards. However at one point he even suggested that we not finish the shooting that day, but by that time we figured that that was unacceptable. There were already way too many unfinished sketches that were a result of our postponing their completion. So we went ahead and finished everything we needed to get done with Mark out on the beach.
Kick Me in the Crotch/Hostage Scene Day 1 - Chris had the beginnings of another script that had been inspired by some of Modester's ramblings about how if there were black people on a plane that there would never be hijackings. So we had ad libbed on the idea a bit. We knew that if we were to do a dramatization of such a hypothetical hijacking there was no way we could ever get on a real plane or even be able to go through the expense of building a reasonable facsimile. We even thought it might be funnier if we drew attention to the fact that we didn't have such resources. Also since by that time we knew there were very few people we could rely on to play all the parts that were written so we would have to play most of them between the two of us.
The other idea behind the script we were going to be shooting was that it was going to be part of a larger tapestry. Each sketch of the episode would intertwine so that it wouldn't be simply a collage of random unrelated sketches that has pretty been much the character of the show. We were hoping to have this for our second episode and although episode two has taken on a different shape we still haven't abandoned it entirely.
One night Chris and I got together as was our ritual. My mom was working the night to morning shift so we had the whole house to ourself. Before we got started we made a run to Albertson's to pick up some nylon stockings. Leann, the woman we had become very familiar with due to our frequent visits to that store, gave us odd looks because of our purchasing choice.
When we got back we decided to shoot our first set of characters, those of the innocent passengers on the plane from whose viewpoint the hijacking is witnessed. I put on my suit that mom had bought me for my high school graduation and Chris put on a button up shirt, which is a rarity for him. This spiffied uppedness is to distinguish those characters from our normal sloganed t-shirt wearing selves. First Chris had me do this thing that wasn't written into the script. Either he had thought of it right then and there or he was trying to keep it a secret even from me. Basically it's the Kick Me in the Crotch bit and if we ever finish everything we're wanting to get done for that episode you'll see what I'm talking about.
We used the garage as our airplane and we set up whatever chairs we could find throughout the house. We shot all of the scenes where the two innocent characters board the plane up to the part where my character notices the two guys he suspects to be terrorists.
After that we found two orange University of Illinois jackets that my mom had in her big closet. They and the stockings we put on our heads were the uniforms of the terrorists who are supposed to be members of the Irish Republican Army. We shot everything leading up to and involving the part where we try to takeover the plane. We couldn't finish up that sketch until we could get Modester to play his character.
Evening at the Lake/Hostage Scene Day 2 - One evening we were able to get Modester together for the show. The first thing that we did was to go out to the lake to shoot an idea we had been kicking around that had been inspired by my experience two summers before. Essentially one day, Brett, Danny, and I had been sitting around Brett's house all day trying to come up with something to do instead of just sitting around like we were doing. Come nightfall we decided to go driving around and eventually we had come upon a lake that was only about a mile from Brett's house. Of course! There was our answer to our collective boredom. We could go swimming. The only problem was that by the time we had figure it out it was too dark. There was no way we could go swimming them.
We decided to turn that into a sketch. We went out to the same lake we had been to on the previous outing and shot the segments taking place during sunset and night. We would have to get back together on another day to get the stuff in the morning and afternoon. We never made it, so we had to reshoot everything about two years later. And that's what you see in Show 2. (Hmmm kind of ironic)
So anyway, mom went to work and we shot the stuff where Modester, playing the hero known only as Black Man, confronts the two terrorists and starts to beat the crap out of us. Meanwhile we also got back into our innocent character outfits to shoot the scenes where we start a cheering section for Black Man.
My Eyes Are Ugly/Hostage Scene Day 3 - My mom and Chris just so happened to have the day off together. We had planned all summer to go out to a hamburger joint called Fatso's because they hosted a Battle of the Bands every Tuesday night. Before we went there we shot a little bit more for the Hostage scene. This time Chris got into drag so that he could play the stewardess(or flight attendant for you pc people out there). We also shot a scene where I'm trying to hit on him and I complement his beauty (We're not gay. We really aren't. He's supposed to be a woman. You know. Men in drag is supposed to be funny. Ha Ha) but he plays all coy.
Dallas Video Festival - The weekend Kim moved down from Wichita Falls to her own apartment in Grand Prairie, mom had noticed an open call advertisement in the Dallas Observer for entries into the Dallas Video Festival. Thinking I had something really good with the chase scene, I met with a woman named J.R. who worked with the festival. I went up to her other job at a B.Dalton bookstore in the mall. I gave her a tape and the $15 entry fee. Hey I figured it was worth it. It wasn't like it was a contest or anything.