This is the part where I give you a lot of information going on the assumption that anyone really cares. Of course if you actually do care then you have really made my day. I kind of like the idea of doing a show history and so does Chris. The show history covers everything up until September 1997. It is also told from my perspective during the summer and fall of 1997. So here it goes. ~Miguel (with some additions by Chris)
I have added a short section to the very bottom relaying how I met Miguel and Chris thanks to Sniffles as well ~Nathan
Coming Soon: A Christmas Gift - My mom tells me that she and my dad are going to get me a camcorder for Christmas. This immediately sparks an interest with me. I decide that what I don't want to do is use my camcorder to shoot trips to the zoo and birthday parties and basically the sorts of things dads always shoot. I'm going to use my camera as a creative outlet. Not only will I be able to document my friends, but I can also tell stories in the process.
December 11, 1992
My dad is killed in a random freeway shooting on his way back home from work. Christmas kind of just passes us by. I don't even really care at that point. Mom says that she'll eventually get my Christmas present for me which in a way is the last Christmas gift my dad would ever get me. Although he isn't around to help me pick it out, it was at least partially his idea.
The Rest of December 1992
Since I knew that I was still going to get this camcorder, I decided to spend some time writing a script. I wrote one based around me Chris, and a friend of ours, Brett Gardner. We were always getting together practically every weekend to write songs in our futile attempt to get a band together, so why not on one of those occasions make a short movie?
The Bet - The script I write is based on Brett's constant ramblings that he thinks he is a werewolf and a joke I heard some stand-up comic tell one time. The script was called The Bet and it's about these two guys, played by me and Chris, who hold a wager about whether Brett really is a werewolf as he claims. Chris decides that he is going to prove that Brett is a werewolf by getting a silver bullet made. If the silver bullet kills Brett then it proves that he is a werewolf. My character is so stupid that he doesn't realize that a silver bullet would kill anyone werewolf or not.
Chris and Brett read my short script and like the idea of getting together to do something creatively with a camera. The only problem is I don't yet have this camera, but that's not really too much of a problem. At least we would have something to do once I finally did get it.
The Adventures of Tim and Jim - I find some inspiration and write a second script around me, Chris, and Brett. I decide to call my and Chris' character Tim and Jim. Chris' character Tim was the brains of the two, devising the devious schemes that were ultimately destructive. My character was Jim the guy who followed Tim around getting into trouble with him. I know this kind of sounds like the concept behind Beavis&Butt-Head but believe me I didn't hear of that show until the summer of the same year. So, you can't really accuse me of ripping off Mike Judge, although I'm sure I was ripping some other concept off that I can't readily remember.
The Means to Create Arrives - Sometime toward the end of the month, I finally get my camcorder. One Friday night, my mom and I drive out to Incredible Universe, which I think is out of business now, and I get my prized possession a Panasonic VHS-C Palmcorder. So you'd think that we would have been on our way to making great movies? Well not quite. Our creative energies were still wrapped up in trying to get this band together. I had pretty much lost interest in music at that point and things just were not panning out very well overall.
Basically I used my camera to do what I hadn't wanted to do in the first place, although I did manage to get some footage of my college buddies that I can still put on for a few laughs.
I get out of school for the summer. Chris and I spend many a night hanging out at Stop N' Go and talking about what we're going to do over the break. We come up with the Summer Camp List which contains a few things that we had been planning to do like getting together to watch all five of the Planet of the Apes movies back to back. Also on that list is the idea that we should finally get together to shoot The Bet and the Tim and Jim story. I figure that The Bet could be worked as a Tim and Jim story and that we could do a whole series of these for our own personal pleasure.
We still haven't gotten together to do anything by this time. Chris and Brett are still too preoccupied with the band.
The Discovery of Public Access - We continue to talk about doing these little movies. I realize that there would be a forum where we could share our work with other people, not just our friends and families: public access. Chris mentions a friend named Ziggy that he hadn't talked to in a while that he knew had talked about doing a public access show a while back. He was sure he never got it done for lack of equipment. I tell Chris that he needs to call this guy, so we can all get together.
In the meantime, we start watching public access to see what kind of programming is on there. Generally we are very disappointed because 99% of everything on the Fort Worth channel is religious. All it is is hours upon hours of static shots of preachers delivering sermons. There are also a few talent shows and that sort of thing that isn't very interesting. There is only one shining jewel in the entire Fort Worth public access line-up: Myles of Smyles.
Myles and Myles and Myles of Smyles - I had seen Myles of Smyles a couple of years ago and fortunately it was still on. The show, while obviously amateur, was still very funny and entertaining. What I found particularly appealing was that since it was an amateur effort, you knew that these were very ordinary people creating this show. These people were more accessible than your average television entertainer and I think it was that which made the show work better for me.
Sniffles is Born - Chris and I knew that we had to join the ranks of Myles of Smyles. We wanted to do these Tim and Jim stories for certain, but they would almost have to wait because there was no way that our two little short things would ever be able to carry one full half hour program let alone several. Doing them would prove to be too complex for us. So what we planned to do was to go with some type of newsmagazine/sketch comedy type of show while we waited until we were ready for Tim and Jim.
Our thought was that if we filled up a show with a lot of interviews and documentaries about the local Fort Worth scene, we could crank them out fairly quickly. Chris came up with the name Sniffles based on the joke that after you said the name you were supposed to sniffle. He even came up with an instrumental theme song and we were on our way - sort of...
First we had to get a hold of some guidelines about what the station expected in the program, like length, technical stuff, and what you could or could not do. We called the cable office, they took our names and addresses, and said that a set of rules would be forthcoming. And so we waited, and waited, and waited some more.
While we're waiting, we start to get our show underway. The first thing we do is to do a story promoting the Star Trek fan club I belonged to (how geeky of me!). Ultimately the footage didn't work in my mind. I just didn't know where to go with it and considering the way our show has turned out now, it would never have fit anyway.
We continue to wait for these public access rules. One Saturday morning - we had stayed up all night at my mom's house - Chris comes up with an idea to do for a sketch. My job was just to follow him with the camera as he does his thing. In the short bit that we did, he paces around the living room fretting over the fact that the public access rules haven't come in yet. He leaves the house and goes out to the mailbox where he talks to the hollow inside of the mailbox about his woes over having to wait what seems like an eternity for them to come. We eventually reshot those scenes.
That same morning we also talked about how we were going to use that footage for the show. Chris came up with the idea that it should be the first thing we do on our first show. Somehow his hyperactivity would lead into a big chase and fight scene between me and him. At the end of this big, long, drawn out fight, we're supposed to be laying around broken and battered. Chris asks the pivotal question, "So, do you want to do a show?"
After a few weeks of waiting, the public access rules still haven't come in the mail. We decide to pay a visit to the cable office ourselves to see if they had copies of them there and if maybe they had just forgotten about little ol' us. They didn't have them there either. Apparently what the problem was that the guidelines were in the process of being rewritten. That's why they were taking so long to get to us.
It just so happened that Dennis Myles, producer, star, and generally our hero of the Myles of Smyles show, had an office in the same building. If we hadn't come into the building at precisely the right time we would have missed him. I know this probably means nothing to most people, but to Chris and me, it meant a lot. He offered us some advice. He told us that we shouldn't bother to put our first episode on until we had three of them done. He'd seen other people put their first shows on without any backup and when the time came to put on the second show, they didn't have one. So they basically lost their time slots. You lose your time slot, nobody knows where to find you, you don't garner any following. He also offered me some advice about type of VCR I needed to have to edit the show with (a 4 head).
While we continued to wait for the public access rules we continued to shoot some sketches like the Luke Perry interview (episode 2) and a couple of moderator sequences. In one Brett introduces a sketch which we still have yet to shoot about cheesy public access music. Chris and Brett also do the last moderator sequence in which they argue over how the name of the show is supposed to be said, with the sniffle or not. We also did the original beginning to our Que Clinic sketch (episode 3) with me, Chris and Brett. With the exception of the Luke Perry thing, none of that other stuff will probably make it to the show.
By the end of the summer the public access rules finally came in. Almost too little too late although it probably shouldn't have.
Chris and I get together to shoot a couple of scenes for our mockumentary on grassrolling. We still haven't finished that yet.
Chris and I shoot the Soda Bottle in the Air thing (episode 3) and part of another sketch we really haven't satisfactorily completed that's supposed to be a movie trailer for a Steven Segal movie. Chris also gets footage of individual footage of us standing next to a tractor waving at the camera. He says that he's not sure what he wants to do with it, but he'll figure out something. We also do a moderator sequence that we've called The Abrupt Angle Changes sketch. We're probably going to have to reshoot that one.
Chris and I don't get anything else done. We don't even mention the fact that we were trying to get a show together. He and Brett are still trying to get a band together and I've pretty much removed myself from that scene because I'm so burned out on it. Maybe there was something in the water affecting creativity and people's motivations to be creative because by this time Myles of Smyles is no longer on either.
Our goal had been to get three episodes done by the end of the year. At this point we didn't even have one. I even mentioned to Chris, "You know what? We're definitely not going to get our show done." His usual reply, "don't worry. We will. We'll figure something out." We didn't.
Christmas was also coming up and mom took me around looking for equipment so that I could edit my show with. I looked for video edit controllers and VCRs with jog shuttles and audio/video insert capabilities. I found nothing.
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.
They Cute - Another little idea we had come up with while making the chase scene. Two women happen to see us on three consecutive days working on the chase scene. They think we're attractive but don't want anything to do with us because of the fact we're slobs who wear the same shirt three days in a row. We got our significant others together, Kim and Melynie, on a Saturday and we decided to throw in an inside joke that I don't expect anyone to ever get. Chris' wife finds me more attractive, while my girlfriend likes Chris better. Another irony was the fact that we hadn't thought about getting them to change shirts for each supposed day they were seeing us, so it kind of makes them look like slobs too because they're also wearing the same shirts on three consecutive days.
The New Work Ethic - Chris had become fiercely determined that the time for the b.s. was over. We had let ourselves slip over the summer and we hadn't gotten done what we had needed. We were going to finally start cracking down on ourselves. We were going to come up with a rigid schedule and we were going to stick to it. This meant that we needed to find specific times every week when we could write, storyboard, and shoot. On top of that we would also impose deadlines on ourselves.
So for at least two weeks that I can remember, Chris made the long drive to Denton from Fort Worth so that we could get together in the computer lab in my dormitory in order to write scripts. Actually he did most of the writing. I think I had some papers to write. Once he was done with the scripts, he would print them out and hand them to me so that I could work on the storyboards. From these sessions, part of Wandering Bard was written as well as a good portion of the original show 2.
Public Access Edit of the Chase Scene - One of those deadlines that had to be met was the public access version of the chase scene. Here I had to go back shot by shot and re-edit everything like I had done back in June. The only real difference between the two is the catalyst for the big chase although as I have said before I kind of like the Sony version better. Also this one didn't have the music. We tried to edit the music from the original version onto the new one, but there was enough of a difference, minute as it may seem, in the pacing that the music didn't fit quite as it should have. We would have to get together some time to rescore the scene.
Trying to Get Other People - We also talked about bringing other people into our mess. We had limited success with this. Most of our friends thought trying to get a show done was a cool idea, but were downright unenthusiastic when it came time to actually shoot it. And a lot of times they weren't very interested in it creatively. What the problem was, we figured, was that we were only using them because we knew them and they were therefore convenient. But the reality was they weren't as interested as we were. What if we could find people who were as dedicated to the show as we were? It was perfect. I lived in a dormitory full of artists and film majors. Surely there would be someone else we could bring in to the fold.
To that end we made up a couple of flyers advertising for people to join us in our quest to make this public access show. We went around to all of the dorms on campus and put them on the bulletin boards. We got a couple responses, including one from the school newspaper.
Our First Newspaper Interview - One of the reporters for the school newspaper, The NT Daily, had seen one of our flyers and thought it would be a good idea to interview us. I set up a time when Chris could be there as well and we met with this guy who asked us questions about public access and what we were trying to do. The article appeared a couple days later. Our egos were stroked a bit. On top of that we got more responses in our quest to get other people for the show.
Meeting the New Sniffles Candidates - I got a few calls because of the article. Whenever possible Chris and I tried to meet them together. One guy was an aspiring screenwriter and had brought a script he had written for Mad About You that he was going to try to sell. The only problem was that upon talking to him, he didn't seem to have time at all for the show. To us it seemed more like excuses than anything. His deal was that he was going to school full time, but so what? I was going full time as well. You don't actually spend that much time in class. Maybe the truth is that he just didn't like us once he had met us. It's been fairly common.
Chris and I had the idea of trying to assemble everyone that had called at one place at one time. I set up the date and told everybody to be there. Chris recently told me that he is the only one who will not flake when it comes to artistic pursuits. Whenever you set up a place and time, he will be there. Well not this time. So had to handle these few people who showed up by myself. It just so happened that I knew some of them anyway. One guy was in my pre-cal class and another was Eric Chuang whom I had seen around campus and with whom I'm still acquainted.
I brought them to my room and I put on the chase scene. They didn't seem to be very interested in it. I could tell and I made the suggestion that we could turn it off and one guy agreed more enthusiastically than my ego would have liked for him too. The guy from pre-cal hung around for an hour and we tried to come up with some ideas. I don't think anything clicked and I haven't talked to any of them ever since, except for Eric although we've never formally worked on the show together.
He did make an indirect contribution though. About a year later he would ask me to play a cop in his final project for the beginning film styles class which I would in turn use as what Chris is watching on the tube in my final project(Un Nuit..., episode 4)for that class the next semester.
The Results Are In - The month of October brought a double-whammy to my artistic ego. On the Sony contest we didn't even place as a runner-up or honorable mention or anything. They did send a blank Sony VHS tape as a consolation. I also got a rejection letter from the Dallas Video Festival. It was signed specifically from Bart Weiss whose name I had heard around my campus when he came to do a lecture one time. He said that he liked the video(I bet he says that to everybody), but there was no place he could find for it in the festival. Hopefully, he said, it might have chance in the Texas Show portion of the festival which would be starting next month
This was the big wake up call for me that told me that we weren't as good as we thought we were. While it did bring down the ego quite a bit, I think that at least has had a humbling effect.
Finishing the Laundry Thing - One Sunday afternoon, Chris and I went to find Shello so that we could finish up her part in the sketch we had begun a couple of months before. By this time she had moved out of her mother's house by the nature center and was living with her new boyfriend. We almost had to drag her out of the apartment. She seemed kind of reluctant to leave the apartment at first, but she relented. We went back to the house which had changed a bit since we had last been there. Their picnic table had been moved so that it was in front of the garage, and that was kind of a good thing since it became more apparent how we could set up the second part of our dialogue with Shello. We would just sit at this picnic table and talk. Not as inventively staged as I would have liked for it to be, but at least it works for me.
Recording the Theme Song - We were still showing the chase scene to anybody and everybody who would watch. Among my college friends, it was met with blank stares. Mike Fonseca who had just moved into the room down the hall from me remarked that it started out okay and "kicks a lot of ass, but it just goes on and on, and you're like goddamn! It's funny at the end when you're falling, but you have to go through all that other stuff to get to it." Nevertheless he expressed an interest in doing the music for the show if we ever wanted. He happened to play drums and when it came time to record the theme song that Chris had been toying with for over a year, we enlisted his services.
One night we dragged his drums into a cubicle that my dorm had set up in the basement for people to practice in because with the close proximity of the dorm to the music school there were a lot of music majors living there. We recorded him hammering his drum track for the theme song on my 4 track which Chris is still borrowing to this day. We took his drums back to his room and for the rest of the night Chris and I recorded all of the other parts which were essentially both of our guitars and we went ahead and used the piano that was in the cubicle.
Hostage Scene Day 4/Piece of Meat/Show 1 Completed (Almost) - And so we trudged on with the hostage scene. We could never seem to get everything done all on the same day. I met Chris out at Randall's apartment complex. When we had been doing the second day of the Native scene, he had pointed out what is probably the most useless staircase ever built. It leads right directly into a fence. Chris figured that we had to do something with it. So we used it as the staircase that leads directly into the plane of the Hostage scene. We also used it for this idea that Chris had to shoot fake outtakes of the chase scene. In one of those scenes, he chases me up the staircase from where we are transported into an alternate universe. We haven't gotten to the alternate universe part yet.
From there we went back to my mom's house to shoot the closing sketch of the show. In that scene I'm seeing Chris out to the door but before he leaves I go to the fridge to get something for him. The idea was to do a sketch like this for every show. It was based on this thing I had seen on the door of one of my professor's office. It was this article telling about often confused lyrics of popular songs. One of those lyrics was to that song that goes, "every time you go away, you take a piece of me with you." The article said that people often confuse it with, "everytime you go away, you take a piece of meat with you." I had told Chris about the article. He thought it particularly funny and wanted to incorporate it into the show. So there you have it. Chris might not like that I gave the joke away, but if you've ever been wondering what those sketches are about, that's what it is.
With everything that was needed to be done for the first episode effectively complete, it was high time that we started working on our opening credits. Before Chris had to leave for work, we inputted the 4 track into the VCR and recorded the theme song right after the re-edit of the chase scene. We also hooked up my Tandy 1000 computer that we had used to do the credits for the original chase scene and did a screen featuring everybody's name that had acted in the show. We then went and found individual shots of all the cast members and put that in as well so that each image of the person preceded their name. We've pretty much stuck to this method although now we don't use the Tandy computer anymore.
Write A Script! Night 1 - We had gotten a little lax in our "rigid" scheduling, but Chris came up to Denton one night, having just finished a script based on all of our conversations we had been having over the summer. We both knew that what had went wrong with the three minutes a day thing was that we had nothing to do all of those times. I knew it then, but I finally convinced Chris of it(That's just my viewpoint. I'm sure the truth is somewhere between his viewpoint and mine).
We went out to the middle of the campus. We didn't have a camera operator to walk with us as we're talking which is the way I would have liked to have shot it, so instead we opted for shooting each other's close-up as we're walking and talking. If you'll notice there's never a travelling shot with the both of us in the frame together. We managed to get some external camera movement when another guy who lived down the hall from me, Brian McIntosh, passed by us while he was riding his bike through campus. We got him to do the long panning shot of us as we're passing by the bench. He did that for us and then he rode off on his merry way.
We dubbed him Disappearing Brian because at one point Chris and I were deep in discussion about how to set up the scene. Meanwhile Brian was circling the platform we were on on his bicycle. We weren't paying attention to him because we were into our own thing, but we were highly aware of the sound being made by the bike. Then all of the sudden the sound stopped. Chris and I realized that it had stopped rather abruptly and we looked around only to find that Brian had vanished. He showed back up a little while later so it's not like he went through some cross-dimensional vortex or something, but we still can't explain it to this day.
Anyway we shot all the way to the part where we go sit on the bench at the bus stop. We only got half of the long shot done before the tape ran out. I hadn't thought to bring an extra blank tape with me so production was effectively shut down for the night. We could have went out for another tape, but we figured by the time we did all that it would be way too tired.
Write A Script! Night 2 - Chris came up the following night and we finished up at the bus stop. There was also another scene we needed to shoot outside and in the dorm. While we were outside, this girl took an interest in what we were doing and asked if she could help out. Her name was Dawn Bartek and she ran camera on all of the shots at the dorm.
Larry Maher - He was one of the guys who responded to the article in the paper. I don't know what he's doing now, but at the time he was a recent graduate of UNT and he had just started his own production company, shooting promos for law firms and that sort of thing. He got together with me and Chris in my dorm room one night and we watched each other's stuff. Chris and I liked him and his work and we thought he thought that same of us, but we've never seen him since. I had even left a message on his machine, but he never called back.
Show 1 Moderator Sequences - Chris and I decided that since Dawn had seemed interested in working on our show we would go ahead and use her as a camera operator whenever Chris came up to Denton. So one night we got her to shoot the moderator sequences for show 1 with us although there wasn't any camera movement so it didn't really matter if there was anyone behind it anyway. I guess we just kind of wanted to have Dawn hanging around with us. It's not very often that we get a female presence on the show.
Will You Go Out With Me Now? - On another night we had Dawn act in one of our sketches. It was an idea we had kicking around for a while since the previous summer as I recall. It was based on one of my usual rants at the time about how I wasn't getting laid and it never seemed like I would ever have a girlfriend. This was how much of a loser I was. There was this girl Christie who was part of our little neighborhood clique back in high school. She had managed to date every guy in the neighborhood, except for, of course, me. So Dawn's character in the sketch is kind of based on Christie except for the fact that I had never put the serious moves on Christie to begin with, so that's why I probably never scored.
Dawn seemed a little nervous about being on camera and it kind of shows in the footage a bit. On top of that I'm putting my arm around her so that probably wierded her out even more. We had only known each other a short while and that was the closest we had ever been. But it all kind of works in its own favor. My character is invading her private personal space and so it comes off a little more naturally.
El Redundant Burritos - This sketch was something that was going to go on the Original Show 2. It was a commercial for a product that is so cheap that single guys living on their own will eat them so much that they'll get sick of them, but they'll have little choice since it's about all they can afford. We went to my mom's house on a Saturday afternoon. I storyboarded it when we got there. We shot it and that's about it.
What is a Texas Show Without Our Show? - My tape came back from the Dallas Video Festival. It had been rejected for the Texas Show. J.R. sent a letter with it. She hadn't seen the tape, but had remarked that there must have been something to it because the judges even watched it twice to see if they could find a place for it, but they just couldn't. I wish I knew what that had meant. Was watching an entry twice a rarity? Did they watch it twice because they liked it, but it turned out that it didn't fit in with a time length or even political posturing of the festival? Or did they watch it again just to see if they could figure out what the hell was going on. Here's my impression: "I can't believe those idiots actually tried to enter this garbage into the festival. What were they thinking? Let's watch it again to see if there's something we just didn't get."
Roommate from Hell Day 1 - Part of the Original Show 2 was a segment dealing with two roommates, one of whom is very possessive of their friendship to the extent that he does not like outsiders whatsoever. Chris plays the possessor and I play the possessee. The sketch involves what happens when my character tries to go out on a date.
For this sketch Chris had managed to base it on separate experiences that both of us had. Mine was a couple of years ago with a particular friend who didn't like me hanging out with other friends. During my junior year of high school, I had started getting acqainted with a girl. The thing about it was that this was a girl that he had not known or had tried to set me up with which was highly unusual. He told me point blank, "I don't like the idea." The fact of the matter was there was nothing to like or dislike about it. He didn't know her so it wasn't like he was trying to protect me from her evil ways or something. It was simply a matter that he had to be in control of every aspect of our friendship and in this case he had none.
Chris' situation happened a couple of years later. There was a girl he had started hanging out with. They weren't dating or anything since at the time Chris was probably still very committed to his marriage. It was just a friend to do stuff with. Well she had a male roommate. He was just her roommate, nothing going on, just someone to share the rent with, but apparently he had a possessive streak in him too. Chris had went by their apartment to pick her up because they were going to go bowling or something like that. He was talking to the roommate about their plans. After a short time the roommate said, "well, I'm ready," practically inviting himself along for the excursion not really an ideal situation as far as Chris was concerned.
That was essentially the basis of that particular script. One Saturday afternoon while Kim was at work, Chris and I got together at her apartment and shot the introductory bit where he's watching tv and then addresses the audience up to the part where there's a knock at the door and I run to answer it. We also shot the part where I take Chris in the bedroom to confront him on his being ridiculous. That was pretty much all we were able to get that day as the rest required Kim who like I said was at work.
Roommate From Hell Day 2 - We got back together at Kim's on a Friday a couple of weeks later. It was the week Stargate came out as I recall. We shot everything that we could involving Kim's arrival to the apartment and how badly Chris handles the situation and my subsequent anger. We have the same problem as we did the first night we tried to stage the Dr. Pepper bottle fight scene where we got together so late in the day that you can tell how the sunlight seems to disappear faster than it normally would. We let it slide that time since everything was shot inside anyway and at that point I really didn't care and I still don't since it seems as if no one will ever see any of this.
Sneezing - Chris stopped by the apartment on the following Sunday. Instead of continuing on with the original sketch, which would have involved going out to a fast food place, we confined ourselves to the apartment to minimize time since Kim and I were planning to go out shopping and to the movies. The script Chris had was based on an incident that had happened in the summer of '93(a lot of inspiring stuff seems to have happened during the summer).
Chris and Melynie had come over to my mom's house one evening and they had sent us out for something. We couldn't leave because I could not for the life of me find my wallet. We searched just about every logical possible place we could think of. Meanwhile you know how women are. They will hammer it into you until the day you die about how inept men are at keeping track of things and they will use that as a means to give them a superior status especially if they are the ones who manage to find what it is you have lost. Melynie pulled it on me that very evening. I asked, "oh and you've never misplaced anything in your life?" Her response was a way too overly self assured "no." How high and mighty of us.
As it turned out they found my wallet while we were out. It had been sitting under a big giant Webster's Unabridged Dictionary which had been sitting on a stool. Gosh! Why didn't I think to look in that oh so obvious of places? Chris and I had thought of several variations on that idea, but the one hewrote the script for this time involved a married couple whose life is falling apart because they've lost their checkbook, their cat, and a few other things. They're sitting around talking about all their woes(Chris wrote it so that we would try to sound as overly dramatic as we possibly could)when I start having a sneezing fit. As a result I start ejecting all of these lost items from my nose and there is a happy ending. We only shot the first part since there wasn't a lot of time, so all of the sneezing stuff never got done. We'll probably wind up reshooting everything anyway.
Sean Schemmell - Yet another guy who had responded to the paper article. An interesting note: it just so happened that he was the older brother of a girl, Jessica, who I went to high school with. He lived out in Dallas and commuted to UNT. It took us several weeks before we actually got to meet him because he was so busy. But one evening Chris and I went out to his apartment and showed him the entire first episode. He didn't seem to be too impressed with our work. He commented that we weren't very convincing as actors except that he did like Brian's portrayal of the Keeper of the Sign. Nevertheless he still seemed excited to work with us. Of course we never saw him again either due to circumstances which I will get to very shortly.
Death of the Camera - It was another of those nights when Chris had made the trip to Denton. We got Dawn and we were setting out to shoot something. We were walking out of my room when the camera fell out of the bag which I hadn't realized was not zipped up. It only fell about two feet, but the impact was enough so that the thing didn't work.
The Resurrection of the Camera - My mom put it into the repair shop at the Incredible Universe where we had bought it and we waited. "We'll have an estimate by the end of the week." Well two weeks go by and then finally the estimate. "We should have it fixed by next week." Next week, "it's not ready yet, maybe next week." It was about a month before I got it back. It may as well have been an eternity because the opportunity to try to get a lot of stuff done over the Christmas break was lost.
The Death of the VCR - It was New Year's Eve and Kim had a party over at her apartment. I had brought the VCR from my mom's house and I had left it out in the trunk of Kim's car. I had brought it over so that I could show Chris the work I had done editing the Original Show 2. I had set the VCR on the floor which was a big mistake because Chris' son Jude seemed to think that it was a platform for him to stand on.
When I finally came to my senses and got the VCR off of the floor, I put in the Super-VHS master that contained Chris and Miguel: A Hate Story, Episode 1, and the first three minutes of the Original Show 2 only to have the machine start eating it. When we finally got the tape out it had snapped in two. I blamed Jude's having stood on the VCR as the reason, but the truth is, as I would find out almost a year later, is that VCRs have the tendency to do this when they are extremely cold. I hadn't let the thing warm up enough before trying to use it, so it was my error. Sorry Jude.
Of course had I realized this mistake I could have avoided the hell that was the absence of my beloved editing VCR while it too got the repair shop runaround.
The VCR Returns - Finally after what seemed like an eternity, my VCR was back from the repair shop. The reason it had taken so long was not really the reason I had taken to get it repaired in the first place. Only a few months after I had gotten the VCR there was a problem where if I outputted to the TV using the coaxial cable the picture was snowy, but it didn't really matter because I just went ahead and used the RCA outputs instead. The delay was a result of the repair shop having to wait for a replacement part to fix that problem. Oh well, so much the better.
I had also manged to splice the master tape of Hate Story and Show 1 together. Luckily it had been destroyed only at the point where I had started The Original Show 2. Even now I'm extra careful to avoid playing the tape at that point. Whenever I'm fast forwarding it or rewinding it I can hear where the bad tape is. Hopefully the day when I can transfer all of that to a digital medium won't come after the tape finally gives out.
The Whataburger Discussions/Duties of the Duo - With our tools in order again, Chris and I got back to the topic of our show. Every Sunday night, before I headed back to Denton for the week, and after Chris had gotten off work for the night, we planned to meet at Whataburger. While Chris ate taquitos and I had the jr. hamburger meal, we would plot the course of our efforts, discussing scripts and story ideas and that sort of thing.
Again we tried to figure out where we had been going wrong, why nothing was still done. And we came to the conclusion that a big problem of ours was not finishing what we started. On top of that we had a problem getting started whenever we did get together. I called it the "B.S. Factor," which was that lovely little thing where when we got together we would always take up time talking about other stuff instead of getting down to work. To alleviate this problem we were going to have to be aware of it at all times. And we would force ourselves to finishing a project once we got started on it. We couldn't start anything else until we had that done.
Eventhough we had a whole slew of sketches that needed to be completed, like the ill-fated Original Show 2, we decided that the first order of business was to start the summer like we had the last, by doing a long project that we could possibly enter into the Sony Contest. Once we were done with that. according to the schedule Chris drew up, called The Duties of the Duo, we would start working on all the incomplete stuff
Writing the Script - Over the duration of all this, I would sit at my computer and come up with story ideas. One of them was a purely stream of consciousness kind of thing. Using my and Chris characters as the basis I just made up the outline as I went along. There was no real point to the story, but we needed an excuse to make a movie for the summer and this was it.
I showed Chris my outlines at Whataburger to get his input on it. And he made some suggestions for changes. First of all I had intended for the part of the guy who gives a ride to always be Brian and that's how I imagined it. I'm not saying that Chris had that changed, but for the purposes of discussing the changes to the outline I will refer to that character as Brian.
Actually I hadn't really decided how I wanted to end the thing in the original outline. I had listed several options. What I had planned for was while he was giving us a ride Brian would start ranting about how he just lost his job because of affirmative action. And he would refer to minorities, mainly Hispanics, with just about every racial slur he could think of.
My original thought was that it would only be merely an uncomfortable exchange. You weren't sure what this guy would do and then he probably wouldn't do anything, just drop off us and that would have been it. Kind of my trying to do that self important socially conscious Spike Lee/John Singleton thing except only with a Hispanic slant. I'm kind of glad it didn't work out that way.
There were some other options I had written at the end of the outline and it was one of those that Chris had liked the best. At the end Brian does indeed turn out to be more than just talk and he ends up killing us.
Once I had the outline ready, I started out writing the dialogue. Sometimes the dialogue itself would dictate how the rest of the story would go. For example I wanted my character to be talking to Chris' character over the phone. So I had to come up with some chit-chat and so what better way to do it than to put my own words in my mouth. In this case that would be my theological views. It was because of that we decided that maybe that would be the half ass central focus of the story: How Chris tries to prove that his beliefs in the higher powers and the afterlife are indeed correct.
I think the preparation for this project was the most determined I have ever felt and that was because we had a very real deadline. If it didn't get done by the 15th of June then we wouldn't have an entry for Sony. I wrote the script in about a week and a half and had Chris look over it. I had hoped that he would be offer suggestions for things to change, but instead he added more to it, like the exchange that goes on when Chris comes to pick me up for the road trip and the details of what all is wrong with his car.
Once the script was written I set about doing the storyboards. Here I cut loose. I designed it so that there would be camera movement all over the place in the hopes that we would always be able to round up a camera operator. Sometimes we would have one. Sometimes we wouldn't.
Phone Discussion Scene Night 1 - The third week of April, I met Chris down in Fort Worth on a Monday night. This was an oddity for me to go all the way down there on a school night but I was convinced that if anything was to get done I would have to make these sacrifices. Before we got to work we went out with my mom. This was an acceptable diversion since we hadn't planned to shoot anything until the sun had set anyway. Mom took us out to a hardware store and she bought me a workman's halogen light so we could use it for the shoot.
Mom went to bed and Chris and I shot my end of the introductory phone conversation and just about everything that involved me in my mom's house at night. So far so good. I hadn't looked at the footage at this point anyway since I wouldn't be able to cut it together until I had Chris' part shot.
Phone Discussion Night 2 - The following Monday, we got together at Chris apartment to shoot his part of the conversation. We also had a part for Melynie in there too as the nagging wife who tries to get Chris off the phone so he can come to bed. This little exchange was based on an incident during the summer of '93, when Chris actually had his phone hooked up.
He was talking to me late one night and Melynie's mother was staying over there. One thing led to another and they started bitching him out together. I could hear her mother tell him, "you are such an asshole." Melynie then tried to get Chris off the phone because it was poor form for them to be having a crisis and Chris to be on the phone talking to his friends. Melynie at one point yelled so I could hear it, "if Miguel was any kind of friend, he would hang up the phone." Nevermind the fact that it was Chris who had called me and who was also refusing to hang up anyway. After we hung up four hours later, Melynie called me back up and asked, "why didn't you hang up the phone?" Like it was my fault that I was keeping Chris from getting his full bitching out. Chris didn't want to hang up. I asked, "what kind of a question is that?" After a brief silence, I hung up.
So anyway what I had planned to do in the scene was never to show Melynie's face. There were two shots, one where you see her back in the foreground in front of Chris and another where you see a close-up of Chris with Melynie way out of focus in the background. There were a couple more scenes involving the character of Melynie where you never see her. I guess it was kind of my commentary of sorts about how women have no place in the world of the boys when they're at play.
Melynie was kind of reluctant to do anything on camera. She didn't want to have to memorize her lines and she didn't seem to give the proper emotional response like anger. But Chris kept yelling at her because of her complaining. It eventually worked so that she really did get mad and delivered her lines fairly convincingly. As soon as the last take was over, Chris lightened up and kissed her. Apparently he had been trying to manipulate her the entire time into giving the right performance. Too bad we had to cut it out.
Journey into Artistic Hell - So with practically the whole beginning of the movie shot up to the point where Chris calls me from a payphone with his car broken down, I did a rough cut of the whole thing. It turned out terribly. We seemed to be half asleep during the phone conversation. We had absolutely no enthusiasm. The scene didn't flow like it should have according to my mind's eyes and ears. It was a big disaster. I had shown Chris the assemblage when he came for a surprise visit early one Monday morning at about 5 a.m. This was the first time I had met his current girlfriend Jewel who was pregnant at the time by her future- soon-to-be-ex-husband. Usually Chris would calm my worries by saying, "it's actually not that bad." But not this time.
It felt as though my entire future, any hope that I would ever have at being a success as a filmmaker was dying. This was just plain bad. Maybe I was a talentless loser after all. We had spent two weeks on this thing that was utterly worthless. There was no way we could continue on the project now even after all that time we had spent trying to get it ready. There was no way we could get something going in time to have it ready by the middle of June.
Reworking the Beginning - Fortunately Chris had kept his head. While I had been wallowing in my despair Chris had worked out a way we could still work on that project and still salvage some of what we had shot already. His idea was that since we were heading to the afterlife maybe we could do the main part of the story as a flashback of how we got to where we were going. Of course we don't know where we're going at the point, but we start to remember more and more the closer we come to the end of the tunnel. That way we can almost narrate over the initial phone conversation pick up with the main points and then talk through the rest. It was brilliant. It would save us and when I cut it like he suggested. Unfortunately we had to lose Melynie's big scene and we have never told her that we had to cut it. Of course she probably wouldn't even remember having done it anyway nor would she remember what it was supposed to have gone with anyway.
Brian's Part - We had been telling Brian about his involvement in the project for a while I had explained to him somewhat about his character. I had planned for him to be a redneck type of person. So we got together on a sunny Sunday afternoon in the middle of May(by this time school was over for the summer)and he had changed his hairstyle. Whereas before it had been functional and natural, now he had a mohawk that he died a wierd color of yellow. He definitely looked nothing like the redneck I had envisioned. But what choice did we have? We didn't have time for his hair to grow out to a natural form so we had to just deal with it. All we got on that day was the conversation in the car which I might add we had changed from being one by a digruntled redneck to a redneck that wants us to bury a body for him and how he beats around the bush when asking us.
Vacation to Exotic Centralia, Illinois - Production came to a halt because of the trip that my mom and I had been planning for a few months already. It wasn't a big problem because Chris and I knew it was coming up so we scheduled so that we could get the summer project done without having to shoot that week. It's a damn shame we didn't have that week.
The plan was that we were going to fly to St. Louis and my grandfather was going to drive up from Centralia, Illinois to meet us for what was supposed to be a fun filled week of taking in all the sites and scenery that St. Louis had to offer, like the arches and the riverboat casinos. But we had planned well. Around that time there had been another big flood in the midwest, the second in a year which was odd because they usually only happen once every century, but that was how my luck was running that summer. We wouldn't be able to do a damn thing because everything was covered in water.
So instead we spent the entire week bumming around my grandfather's house in just another podunk town in middle America. You had to drive 20 minutes to get to the nearest movie theater. And the theater was a two-screener showing such really good movies like Casper and Johnny Mnemonic. I didn't catch any flicks that week. This is how bad it was. It usually takes me about two weeks to a month to get through a novel. I managed to read Planet of the Apes and had finished Carrie while we were waiting at the airport at the end of the week.
Recasting Brian's Part - The Saturday after I had come back we resumed the shooting of the porject. The first thing on our agenda was to get all of Brian's stuff out of the way. We stopped by his apartment around 11 a.m. When we got there he was ready to leave with Kendra to go to K-Mart and then they were going to her parent's house. We begged and pleaded for him to be able to do the show, because we needed to do it badly. Kendra agreed to let Brian off of his leash for the day but they absolutely had to go to K-Mart together. He would be back by noon. So instead we went to eat at McDonald's.
When we returned at noon, Brian and Kendra still hadn't returned. I made several pages to him to call me on my car phone, but he didn't call back. We waited for an hour and a half on the front doorstep to his apartment. This was bad. We didn't have much time before the project needed to be finished and one of our principals was conveniently gone.
Lucky for us, Chris had his brother-in-law Brandon tagging along with us. We also had Modester because he was going to do double duty as the camera operator and as the dead body in the trunk. Our best option would be to recast Brian's part altogether, so Chris and I tried to convince Brandon to do it. He was reluctant, but we assured him that we wouldn't make it too difficult on him. It worked out for the best anyway because Brandon looked more the type anyway. I still couldn't get past Brian's hair and Brandon already kind of looked like he could be a deranged white trash killer.
We went out to the little piece of land in Lake Worth where we had found all of the junked tv's to shoot the scene where Brandon pulls over to have us bury the body. We shot everything where Modester is laying in the trunk and the beginning of the fight scene where Brandon puts the gun to my head and where we tackle him. We tried to get all of the stuff not involving any dialogue out of the way first because Brandon was a little nervous about having to memorize lines. We wanted him to get used to the idea of being on camera.
So while we're shooting all this, the owner of the property pulls up alongside the road to kick us off. We had thought the land was public since it was right off the road and it was just a small little clearing that has absolutely no use whatsoever. We thought him to be a crazy kook because there was no way he could own this land. We figured he just wanted to give us hell, but he seemed adamant so we left. We found a cop and asked him if he knew what the deal with that land was and apparently there had been a call made about some kids on somebody's property so we didn't go back there ever again.
A Change of Location - The next day we got back together. We were going to have to find another place in the middle of nowhere where we could continue shooting. We found a place around Arlington. This time we made sure we got permission so we asked a security guard and he assured us that there would be no problem and thankfully there wasn't.
We continued to shoot the rest of the fight scene, but we hadn't reshot any of what we had done at the other location. So you'll notice that this fight scene seems to take place in two different places. We also did the dialogue stuff. By this time I was starting to feel progressively worse. I was definitely coming down with something. Chris kept trying to keep me up and tried to convince me that it was in my head, but by the end of our time there I could hardly stand up anymore. Chris let me sit and he directed Brandon through all of his close ups where he's telling us how to go about disposing of the body. I paid little attention to what was going on as I was in a fever induced daze.
Sick Days - We lost several more days that we could have been using to finish the project which by that time we had titled The Less You Expect the Better It Will Be. The title has a double meaning. My character is being led by Chris to some mystery that Chris is planning to unvail, so I shouldn't expect too much from the excursion. It's true meaning however is that when you watch the final result don't expect too much because you won't get much. Anyway I felt awful, the worst I had ever felt in a long time. My fever ran so high that my sleep was not too comfortable because it was punctuated with delirium. The way things were going with the project and with how bad I felt, thoughts of how much of a loser I was continually ran through my head. Apparently somewhere I had picked up a nasty rash on my arm and this is what was making me sick.
"And that sir is a gun!"or In Trouble With the Law - I finally got to feeling better by the time the weekend had rolled around. We spent one day, back out on our second location finishing up what we hadn't finished with Brandon. The next day we went up the road from my mom's house where the cow patties become more prevalent to 1.)shoot the conversation that takes place in the car and 2.)to shoot the part where Brandon picks us up from the side of the road.
It was the second part that was the problem. We decided to do it around a newly developed residential area. There was an older married couple out for their walk. They passed by us and asked what we were doing. We explained that we were making a movie and everything. They explained that they were part of some neighborhood watch and that they had been having problems with people breaking into houses. As we were leaving Chris complained that all the cops whenever they break your balls for being somewhere you don't belong always give the excuse that the area has been especially hit by burgluries.
Anyway since Brandon had been driving my car the entire time I didn't feel like switching out for the short trip home. We stopped at a Stop N' Go so that Chris could get something to drink and we conitinued on the main road that is part of the route to my house. About a minute later, we were being pulled over by the cops. Now I had no idea what was going on, but I was especially worried because my car only had liability insurance and didn't cover other drivers. I knew that we were going to be in deep shit over that.
I didn't bother to look behind me to see what the cop was doing as she was walking out of her car. Brandon who was looking through the mirror knew that something very serious was going on. He announced that she was approaching very cautiously with her hand on her holster. Without coming up to the window, she ordered Brandon to put his hands out the window where she could see them and get out of the car. He went around to the back of the car and she frisked him. I was about to wet my pants at this point because I knew that for the last couple of days, he had been carrying this pocket knife and I didn't know if it was legal or not.
The cop then ordered me and Chris to put our hands up on the seat. She told Chris and me to get out of the car and put our hands behind our heads. She had us get on our knees with our hands still behind our heads and she frisked us. Chris was demanding to know why we had been pulled over. She didn't answer. "We have given you identification, now you have to tell us why you are pulling us over!"
By then her backup had come and he had his gun drawn pointed to the ground. I was scared shitless. He barked out, "Where is the gun?"
"Gun what gun?" I said. It was more like whimper because I was worried that this cop was going to shoot all of us dead until he found out. "We don't have a gun," Chris said. "I want to know where it is!" the cop demanded. Almost at the same time we realized that he must have been talking about the plastic toy gun that we had been using as a prop. But in my fear I couldn't remember exactly where it was. It was just a toy. We weren't keeping track of it.
Finally one of us, I think Chris remembered that it was in the hatchback. I confirmed it, hoping that the cop would find it and let us go. "I'm not going to open the trunk..." Oh great we're going to be here a while. "...Until you get back away from the car!" What a relief. I was worried that the cop was going to prefer to interrogate and torture us thoroughly or worse we were going to have to wait for some special division to come out to look for the gun. In unison we all backed away from the car. The cop popped open the hatchback found the toy gun and the expression on his face changed.
"See it's not a gun," Chris said. "I don't care! You don't need to be carrying this around with you." A few more minutes went by and they were still looking through the car. We were still on our knees with our hands behind our head. Not only that, but there was all this traffic passing by and you could tell what they were thinking because I know that if I passed by a similar scene I would think it too. "Hmmm, must be a drug bust or something." After five minutes or so, Chris asked, "you've seen that we're not a threat can we please get out of this position." They considered it for another minute or so. Then they finally let us go sit on the curb.
Apparently what had happened was that while we were at Stop N' Go somebody had passed by and saw the gun through the window of the hatchback. Worried that we were going to rob the place, this person called the police. As Chris later pointed out. It should have been obvious that we weren't going to rob the place since we left without having done so. Why did they still pull us over. Our adrenaline was pumped up way high. Chris even shot some of our ranting about the incident when we finally got back to my place.
June 14th, 1995 - This will be a day that will forever live in infamy. This was the day before we had to have our tape postmarked for the Sony competition. We still hadn't quite finished shooting yet. There was still the matter of the last scene that needed to be taken care of where we go into the afterlife and meet the guy(Modester)whose body we had just finished burying. We rounded up Modester went out to Inspiration Point and got it all out of the way.
I had planned to stay up all night editing the project because at that point it wasn't even half way done. So I got started around seven in the evening. I was at Kim's apartment and I set up my stuff in her livingroom. Well then Kim had decided to vacuum. I usually leave the stuff on the floor, but I set the camera on top of the VCR which was sitting on top of an unused stereo speaker. It was a precarious place for all of that to be in the first place. Well in the course of her vacuuming Kim happened to ram the cleaner right into the speaker and the camera fell off of it. When I tried to turn it on again it wouldn't power up.
There was no time to take it to a repairman and have it fixed in time, so I tried to see if I could see what it was myself. With Kim's assistance I opened up the camera. There were these paper thin wires attaching the front plate to the rest of the camera. They got torn in an attempt to get the plate off. Since they were so paper thin I thought nothing of it. We couldn't tell what it was. I was hopelessly screwed, but I tried everything I could to get up and running in order to make that deadline.
I went out to Hypermart which was open 24 hours to look for another Panasonic camcorder with a synchro edit jack. I planned to use it for the night and then return it the next day with some excuse that it didn't have some feature or another(this would turn out to be incredibly prophetic). I went out and they did have exactly what I was looking for on display. The only difference was that it was regular sized VHS so I also picked up an adapter. I charged the whole thing to my mom's credit card. I knew that this would have been a big no-no since the previous summer my mom had laid it into me for charging a $50 dinner, but I figured it wouldn't matter since I was going to return it the next day.
They went to go look for the camera and they came back with the news that the model on display was the previous year's model, but they did have this year's model. Would it be okay. Sure why not? What big difference could there possibly be?...like that years model didn't come with a synchro edit jack, that's what. And the next day I found that a lot of camcorders were beginning to skimp on features. They weren't improving they were getting worse. Not only were the newer models not coming with synchro edit, but they were also coming with auto focus only which is the worst thing they could have ever put on a camera because a lot of priceless moments have been ruined by the auto focus trying to find the new focal point and then overcompensating by going completely out of focus.
The way it was going and has become is that if you're a serious or even semi-serious videographer you have to almost lay out some serious cash for high end professional products just so you can have the features that the consumer models had only last year. They are in effect dumbing down the products because they figure that the average consumer doesn't use them anyway. And for the most part they are right.
Well back to Summer Project '95 it died a quick death right then and there as far as our entering it into the Sony contest was concerned. All hopes for moving beyond that to getting Sniffles work done died along with it. I had put it into the same shop where I had the VCR fixed and they estimated the costs at $300 money which I didn't have. What was making it cost so much was those damn little wires that had gotten torn. If it weren't for that it might have only cost a third of that. What pissed me off even more was the fact that they kept the $64 deposit for their "labor." I should have taken it to Incredible Universe where they didn't make you leave a deposit and didn't charge you for an estimate. Better yet I should have seen if I could have cancelled payment on the check if it hadn't already been too late. Oh by the way, I will never deal with White Glove Electronics in Grand Prairie ever again.
A New Camera - For Christmas, mom agreed to get me another camera. For what it would have cost to repair the VHS-C camera I figured I could get another one that was regular sized VHS. I had become to grow weary of VHS-C back in '94. A VHS-C tape cost about two dollars more than a VHS tape and not only that but you could only get 30 minutes at the most on standard play while on VHS you could get two hours. It was just more cost effective. Plus the VHS-C casing wasn't all that protective of it's magnetic contents. The tape getting scrunched seemed to be a common problem.
I spent a good portion of the month going to the pawn shops around town, looking for a full sized Panasonic camcorder(that way I could be sure that it's synchro edit jack would be compatible with the one on my VCR). About a couple days before Christmas I found one at a Cash America Pawn Shop in Azle. It was only $300, so I took it. I should have looked harder. The synchro edit jack didn't work and the battery didn't work either. The pawn shop also didn't give the money back. They would let you exchange it for another item within 30 days. By the time that 30 days was up they never managed to get in another full size Panasonic.
Film Styles Class - I had finally gotten into the film styles class that I had waited about a year and a half to get into because the space was so limited. They just so happened to have Panasonic S-VHS camcorders for us to use, so I found out that the synchro editing problem was in fact with my camera and not the VCR as it could have possibly been. I also discovered that the battery that had come with my camera was bad and not that the camera didn't seem to want to use it. So to that end I went ahead and bought a replacement battery. I had held off because I wanted to be sure that it wasn't a problem with the camera itself.
While in that class I did a total of three projects all of them with Chris. The first was a meeting and a chase story done without sound. I had to team up with a classmate, Tyler Walker to do that one. The objective of the assignment was to get one partner to shoot the meeting and the other one shoot the chase. I opted for the meeting because the Sniffles chase scene had given me all I could stand of people running after each other.
I decided to try to be fairly serious in my approach. It's about a guy who is obsessed with his ex-girlfriend who is getting along with her life with a new boyfriend and so he goes to kill her. When I screened it in class it managed to get big laughs especially at the part where you can plainly read Chris' lips yelling, "stupid fucking bitch!" I got a 94 on that one. I could barely read my teacher's handwriting on his critiques, so although he thought I had a good variety of shots, he thought there was a shot of a door that I didn't hold onto long enough. I didn't know what he meant and when I asked him, he couldn't seem to remember what he was talking about either, but he "must not have counted off too much for it."
The second project was supposed to be a silent documentary. I decided to do mine about Chris while he's working at Pizza Hut, making pizza, making deliveries, and cleaning up the store for the closing. At the screening the teacher seemed to be impressed by how the editing gave it a surrealistic feel. My classmates seemed to be impressed as well. I got a 98 on it. There were comments like, "excellent pacing" and "good following of the action". However he would have liked me to have done more with the actual delivery of the pizzas to people's doorsteps.
These two projects may or may not ever make it to Sniffles. They just don't seem to fit in with the mood of the show. It all just depends on how hard up we are that will be the deciding factor on whether they make it or not. Or maybe if there's a public outcrying for it(yeah right).
Finishing an Old Project/Making a New Enemy - When I had first gotten into the film styles class, the instructor encouraged us to get some practice with all of the equipment that we would be using so that by the time we had to do the projects, we wouldn't have to worry too much about technical concerns. To me that meant that I could use the editing equipment to finish working on an old friend, Summer Project '95. So at the beginning of the semester, for about a week I would spend about three hours a night in the editing room trying to finish the abandoned project.
There was this guy, Habib, who was responsible for the equipment checkout and the editing rooms. We had recognized each other from the school tv station meetings and I can remember him from previous semesters being fairly cordial with me. But this semester he decided that he was going to be a complete dick to me. He was busting my balls since the very first exercise in the class where we had to get in a group of three and shoot a series of meaningless shots for the purpose of exploring the different camera techniques.
Well anyway for the entire week the guy hadn't said anything to me when I was up in the editing room. Finally on the last hour of the last day that I had planned to be there for that week, he decided to come in to check up on me. He asked, "what are you doing?" It wasn't a "oh I'm curious about what my fellow students are making" kind of question, but more like a "what the hell are you doing here?" I said, "I'm...uh...just getting practice with the equipment." "These are for class assignments only!" he replied
He left and came back with this piece of paper. "I don't know if your teacher passed these out to you, but I'm going to give one to you now." It was an explanation of the abuse of equipment policy and the penalties for each infraction. Three penalties meant that you couldn't use the stuff for the whole semester. So if you've got a class where you need to use it and you can't, then apparently you're screwed. I didn't get an infraction thankfully
I thought the whole thing was ridiculous. That particular class has a fairly high course fee because of the fact that you are using all of this expensive equipment. So why can't I use the stuff that I've paid to use. And here's where I will go into a little bit about the overall uselessness of film schools. If you want to learn how to make movies you're going to have to do it out of class time with your own equipment if you can get a hold of it. Because if Habib's assertion that the equipment is only to be used for assignments is true everywhere, then you will never learn anything. I know several fellow classmates who had never made anything before and haven't done anything since that class. So what good has film school done for them?
What Do You Want to Do Now?( Revisited) - On the very same night that I had shot the documentary with Chris, we decided to get a hold of Modester to reshoot the sketch we had tried to start almost two years before. It was literally because of the documentary that I had bought the new battery for the camera so now we weren't confined to wherever there was an electrical outlet.
We went to Kim's apartment and we didn't get there until almost 3 or 4 in the morning. I know it was only an hour or two before sunrise. We would not make the same mistake as we had before. We would shoot everything all in one day. This meant shooting the nighttime stuff in the pre-dawn hours and the morning and evening stuff when the sun finally came up. We did it out on this small playground in the courtyard of Kim's apartment complex. By the time the morning had come we were all so very tired. Kim was leaving early in the morning so we all crashed over there for a few hours until it was close to noon.
By noon we had only had a couple of hours of sleep. I was dead tired, but at least I would be able to go back to bed once they had left. Poor Chris and Modester had to be to work. We couldn't get the same kind of coverage on the noontime stuff as we could on the other stuff because by that time the kiddies were out in full force. With all their yelling and screaming and running around there would have been no way we could have gotten everything to match in the editing. Not only that, but in the finished product you can see how the kids are all very aware of the presence of the camera and how they are all playing up to it.
Teddy - This was something that we did off the top of our heads or more like Brian's head. With the new battery we had the means to shoot wherever we wanted to and Chris and decided to take advantage of it one Saturday afternoon. We went over to Brian's apartment. I can't remember why specifically if it was for that reason or not. Joe was over there as well, so I think on a whim we decided, "Hey, let's do something." So we went outside where Brian had been living at the time, near the Kimball Art Museum.
Brian just started doing a character. He had this teddy bear with him and he started talking to it. Out of that Chris came up with some situations to put Brian's character in. Chris decided that it would be interesting to throw in him and Joe fighting around Brian. He wanted to try to do all the segments in single takes because Chris' goal is to set things up like that even when it would be more sound pacewise to cut. For better or worse I managed to get some cuts in here and there. After we shot a scene to our satisfaction we would literally ask ourselves, "so what could we do now with the character?" And so we'd walk around until we figured something out based on what we could find in the area.
The last and in my opinion funniest part came completely by accident. Brian decided to just sit down and talk to the bear. Hopefully something funny would come out of the improv. I was taping some of it when all the sudden Joe stepped in front of Brian with a mouth full of water that he dribbled onto the bear as if it were a urine stream. Since none of us were expecting it, the take was altogether unusable, but we redid it and on the first take everyone bust out laughing at the end.
A Night in the Dorm Pre-Production - On the final project for class, Un Nuit(episode 4), I decided to go all out. Since I would never have to be on camera that would free me up as to the kinds of things I could do as far as movement and that sort of thing. I had been planning this out since the previous semester. The basis of it where Chris goes to the bathroom and pisses on himself is based in reality.
My dorm had community baths as you can tell from the piece. Well at the time I was having a serious problem with the sprinkles where if I wasn't too careful my urine stream would come back toward me and hit my pants. I would have to hurry down the hall in the hopes that nobody saw me before I got there to change my pants. I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but why not? I'll go ahead and be perfectly honest with you. Besides I haven't had the problem for a while now.
There was also a problem as far as roommates were concerned. Often people would leave their keys in the room when they went to the shower and when they got back to the room they would find themselves locked out because their roommate had left. It's happened to me and I've done it to some of my roommates too. Seeing someone have to go up to the front desk in their bathrobe or with a towel around their waist asking for a spare key was not an uncommon occurrence. So I decided to make that a part of the story as well.
We had to submit proposals of what we wanted to do to our teacher and whether we got to do it or not was based on whether he approved it or not. I had to rewrite and resubmit it. He didn't have a problem with the subject matter. He just didn't feel that there was enough going on. I needed to add another incident and so I racked my brain trying to come up with something because as I had it, it ends with him getting a spare key. End of story.
I had been reading a book on the making of Psycho and so I thought it might be a cool idea and have him go take a shower at the end of the fiasco and then I would duplicate shot for shot Chris getting murdered like in Psycho. I wanted to have him killed. That I knew, but I decided not to do it as a parody of another film. Eventually I realized that it would be best to have his death interrelated with the rest of the story and that's how I came up with him being executed for having been late with the key.
I turned in the rewrite and this time it got approved. On it he commmented, "Ok. Based on the quality of your work thus far." I felt good that he had complemented me, but it seemed as if he wasn't too sure of my material. He was just going to go ahead and let me do it anyway.
A Night in the Dorm Production - So with all of that set, I got Chris to come up to the dorm. Actually I had to go pick him up in Fort Worth because his car was broken down. We spent one whole night shooting the thing. All told it took about eight hours. I remember the night fairly well because it was the same night that my dorm had its big end-of-the-semester music show, the Bruce Jam. The Bruce Jam was something that Chris had been wanting to get up to see for a couple of years and now finally that he had the chance, I made him work on my project instead. I also took a couple extra days shooting things like the credits and that was about it.
Response to A Night in the Dorm - When it was all edited together the initial response seemed favorable. Chris Switzer had complimented me on my visual sense and this other guy Joel who was also in a different film styles class seemed pretty impressed. The showing of it in class was fairly disappointing however. All of the things that I had hoped would get big laughs was met with dead silence. The only thing that did get laughs was the part where I shoot him in the head(the executioner is me by the way). The part where I rack focused to the Dr. Pepper can seemed to impress a couple people around me although it's just a stupid rack focus.
The teacher didn't give our tapes or grades back until the final exam. I was expecting to get a decent grade on it. I mean I had gotten A's on everything else. What I had wasn't a cinematic masterwork but it did have some thought and work put into it. So maybe I would at least get a low A if nothing else. I got a high B instead. An 88 to be exact.
He commented that my editing was choppy in places, that the pacing slows down too much in the middle and that he felt that there should have been another incident although my thing after the credits seemed to work. SO WHY DID HE MENTION IT THEN? On the favorable side he said the music was good and that the use of locations was good. I know every time I watch a movie I'm sitting there thinking, "Wow! They really put those locations to good use." What kind of a compliment was that?
Needless to say I fell into a deep depression which I will site as yet another journey into Artistic Hell. The usual doubts about my abilities and future as an artist came about. My only consolation was that Chris Switzer seemed shocked that I had recieved such a drubbing. It was hard to tell what the deal was. Was my project just that bad? Or was it that because I had shown some ability with the previous projects that he was going to apply a different set of standards to my work.
To add insult to injury, there was this other guy who had spent almost no time working on his project. He spent about 4 hours on it and it looks like he didn't have anything planned out when he shot it. It just didn't flow together very well. On the day I was moving out of the dorm for the summer I happened to see him and I asked him what grade he had gotten. He had gotten an 89.
Death Takes a Train Ride Day 1 - Before school had gotten out Chris had given me a script that he had written for me to storyboard. The script as far as I know didn't have any basis in a specific incident. It was just something he had come up with based on his love for Dr.Pepper.
This was still back in the day when I tried to incorporate some complex moving shots into my visual schemes so we got Modester one afternoon. Of course as always Modester had to drag along one of his girlfriends for the trip. This is how it usually happens. "Hey Modester we need you for a skit." Modester: "Okay, but first take me over to so-and- so's house 'cause I want to get my nut off." So we ended up bringing this other girl for the shoot.
The shoot only lasted about an hour because Chris had to be to work by a certain time and we had gotten started so late. We went out to a park out near Benbrook where there was a railroad track running through it. Modester's girlfriend played out on the swings because she didn't want to walk through the tall grass to get to the track. It didn't matter because all we need was Modester anyway. We only had time to do all of the shots that required Modester as a camera operator(which amounted to about 4)before we had to pack it in.
Death Takes a Train Ride Day 2/Baseball Burp/Barely Manenough - Chris was determined not to let this script go unfinished so about a week later we got together earlier and went out to the same train track to finish up. Before we had completely finished a train started coming. It was moving slowly enough so we gathered our stuff and went to the baseball field by the tracks.
The train came to a stop near where we had been and the driver called out to us. We couldn't hear what he was saying over the noise of his engines, but we pretty much ignored him. He probably just wanted to get on our case about being on the tracks and if that's what it was about then we got the point without his having to say anything to us. Of course we would have ignored that point anyway. That's the only thing I can think of it being because what the hell else would some guy driving a train want from somebody he's passing by.
So while we were waiting for the train to leave, we shot this other thing that Chris had been talking about, but we had never gotten around to doing. It was a little exchange where "burp" is used as a word that is supposed to mean something. Chris set it up like he was somebody who was sliding into first base and I'm tagging him with a Dr.Pepper can. He didn't tell me what the sketch we were shooting was about until the part where we actually had to do some dialogue. To tell you the truth I might have forgotten that we had even shot that had it not been for me trying to recollect what happened on those days.
So after we had finally gotten all of that done we went back to Kim's apartment to start shooting another script that Chris had given me to storyboard at the beginning of the summer. It was just a little ditty slamming Barry Manilow. We only managed to finish the scene in the bathroom and bedroom before Chris had to go to work.
We had a hell of a time with the shot where I get up in Chris' face and tell him about how much I appreciate him. He wanted to do it as a Captain Janeway thing because if you notice on Star Trek: Voyager she likes to get right up into people's faces when she's talking to them. It always looks like she's going to kiss them. For us it was weird and awkward and so we spent about 10 takes flubbing our lines because we would break out into laughter before the take was over. It was very difficult to look straight into Chris eyes being so close that you can't even see his mouth and keep a straight face. Nevermind the straight face, in the scene we don't look straight at all.
The Last Shot of Que Clinic - This was just one of those days. We got together to do something, had nothing really to do so we finished up an old project, by getting the shot that Chris had planned to get back in '94 for Que Clinic where his car pulls into the parking lot where Que Clinic presumably is. That was all we got done that day and the last thing we did for the rest of the summer.
Love Cubed - The fall semester had come about and I was now in the intermediate film class taught by Fred Watkins who has directed a couple low budget films you can find in some video stores around here in Denton and around the metroplex. The first two are called Brutal Fury and A Matter of Honor although he all but disowns the second movie because of the terrible experience he had working with the producer. His latest movie, which was shot in '95, is just now coming out in some local video stores. It is called Lethal Seduction and it stars former Penthouse Pet, Julie Strain. He is also currently getting ready for a bigger budget action picture that Tom Berenger is probably going to be in.
Anyway in this class we got to shoot on real film, not video like in the beginning class and on Sniffles. The first assignment was to shoot a 3 minute super-8mm film silent and we had to edit in camera. Not being able to edit post-production worried us in the class, like Chris Switzer, but ultimately all it meant was that we would have to be extra careful how we set up shots. And since we only had three minutes and there was no way we could just get another roll if we needed more, we would have to time out all of the shots as we did. This was something I wasn't used to doing, but I learned a lot from it because it taught me about economy, shooting only what you need, and being more aware of how the thing is going to cut together before you even start shooting.
Beyond that the big problem was just a creative one. I had a three minute movie to make, but I didn't know what to do with that time. The inspiration came from some video I shot one night a couple weeks before I shot the project. Chris had come up to Denton with a whole entourage. By that time he had split up with his wife and was living with another girl named Jennifer. Jennifer had this friend Christine who had a boyfriend named, of all names, Chris(we're going to call him Billy because he had shaved his head a few weeks later and he kind of looked like Billy Corgan).
So we walked around Fry Street the big hangout area for my college because we couldn't all hang out in my room since Switzer was going to bed. I also brought the video camera along which was fortunate because I shot some of the best home movie footage of my home movie career that night.
Christine and Jennifer had this bi-sexual streak about them and if you asked they would tongue kiss each other. I got a couple of scenes of them doing that. Christine was also on the rag at the time and I've got footage of Jennifer sticking her hand down Christine's pants and pulling out a bloody finger. Great stuff if you're a perverted whacko like me.
It was from this that I based the story that I planned to shoot: Chris has a girlfriend (wife?), played by Jennifer, and it's a perfect little relationship. She packs his lunch for him as she sees him off to work and they are a happy unit. On this day he comes back home from work to find Jennifer making out with Christine and he runs off in a rage.
In a park he meets a stranger, played here by Switzer who gives him some advice (it can't be heard since the film was shot silent) and Chris realizes that he's been an idiot. So he goes home and gets into a threesome with Jennifer and Christine. I just love happy endings!
All the parties agreed to it and so we went on with it. We ran into a snag getting everybody available all at once and on the day we were originally going to shoot, Christine wasn't available. Chris made the suggestion that maybe we could switch the roles and that it would be Jennifer who caught Chris with Billy. It would have been okay if Chris would have assured me that they would kiss for real, but he wanted to fake it. Not good enough I wanted the real stuff and besides the ending wouldn't have worked since most women aren't like most men in that they want to get with two at the same time.
We were able to get everybody together. I shot the movie and then had to wait a few weeks while the film was shipped off to get developed and then for Fred to watch it and grade it. It was very suspenseful because 1.)I would have no idea if the film turned out before Fred would see it and 2.)what would he think of it? The day finally came and I got a perfect score. Fred mentioned it in class and gave the entire plot summary. On the written comments, he wrote, "Every man's dream." I love Fred.
That was the last thing shot in '96 other than the two 16mm projects I made for Fred's class, but were just plain bad. The first is completely out of focus and the other just plain sucks. Maybe I'll go through the expense of transferring them to video and putting them on the show.
Spring Break Mission - Chris had finally had enough. He had spent the last six years on artistic pursuits(probably more than that considering that we had been working together for the last six years) and still he had nothing to show for it. This was going to finally be the year where something would actually happen. If he couldn't get a band together, so what? He'd just get a drum machine and go it alone
As far as the show was concerned a little asskicking would be in order. We would finally get together on a more serious basis and get the show going again. This would mean that I would have to put the camera I got from the pawn shop into a repair shop to get the synchro edit feature fixed. He required me to put it in at the end of my spring break so that we could use the week to shoot some things for the show.
Monday, March 17: Mr. Pibb/Snuggle Muffins/Move You Free/Church of Irrelevancy - The first day we got back together we shot a sketch idea I had come up with as a direct result of the Death Takes a Train Ride sketch. I noticed that we had a couple sketches that dealt with Chris Dr. Pepper habit. Chris is such a loyal Dr. Pepper drinker that he shuns all of the Dr.Pepper imitators, like Mr. Pibb for instance. To him not only are those drinks inferior, but they are virtually at the bottom of his list of stuff that he would drink. So it was from this that I got the idea to see what would happen if I tried to pull a fast one on him and switch his beloved Dr.Pepper with that of Mr.Pibb.
The scene was shot with mostly static shots, but I did plan a few moving shots and I begged Kim to execute them before she went to work. She was very reluctant to do it although it wouldn't require for her to actually appear on camera. She would just have to operate the thing. This worried us considerably because if she didn't want to be associated with the show even on a technical level what about the Roommate From Hell sketch that we hadn't finished yet? What about the finished They Cute sketch from Show 1?
Once we had the Mr.Pibb sketch done we really didn't have a whole lot of ideas of where to go next. We walked outside into the apartment complex and an idea came to Chris, only he wasn't going to tell me what it was. He just told me to start recording and whatever happens I should just go with it. And this was the genesis of the "It's Okay Snuggle Muffins!" sketch. I had absoutely no idea of what Chris was going to do before he did it, so when he attacked me(the camera) I was taken completely by surprise. If it had been planned I would have wanted to do it again just to try to make sure that the annoying date/time display didn't pop up again.
Chris also had seen the "Move You For Free" sign on the apartment complex next to Kim's earlier in the previous week and so he came up with the little quickie idea where he's standing next to the sign and I move him to a different position. He tries to pay me, but I refuse the money.
He then saw a orange safety cone in the grass in the park across the street from Kim's apartment and so he decided to do a Snuggle Muffin reprise. As you can probably already tell we were really scraping at the bottom of the barrel for material at this point.
We walked around the park and then Chris decided to do his Church of Irrelevancy soap box thing. It was actually something he had written a while back and since we were trying to find something, anything, to do he decided to go with that.
All in all it wasn't too bad of a day. Even though just about everything we shot that day was filler, it still put us back on a creative track. Most of the stuff might have been simple, but as Chris likes to point out from time to time that when we're actually working on the show, we manage to generate other ideas from doing it. Not only that, but some of the stuff I actually kind of like anyway.
Country Fresh/Hair Tie Revisited - The Sniffles(sniff!) Country Fresh air freshener was something we had come up with back in '93. It is a parody of all the real "country fresh" scented products out on the market. Because when you think about it. What is country fresh? When you work on a farm you deal with fertilizers and smelly animals. Why would you want that in your house? Anyway it took us that long to finally get it off of the page and into a finished form. This was how we started our second day of the spring break work schedule.
Chris had brought his guitar with him and from the sketch we had just done. He improvised a song using the theme of manure. More great filler.
Also on this night, we finally finished the Hair Tie Drama. The two years of putting it off until we came up with an ending would be over. We would be forced to come up with an ending right then and there. I had some ideas, but I had never fully developed them because a big problem of ours is that we never finish what we start. We'll put off finishing something until the next day only to want to work on something else when the next day rolls around.
One of the big things we would have to contend with in the sketch was the fact that when we started the sketch I had long hair, but now I had short hair. Luckily it played well into the theme of the sketch in the first place about how much of a nuisance having long hair can be when you can't pull it back.
Putting the Camera Into the Shop(trying to at least) - My spring break was at an end and so before I went to work at Wal-Mart for the weekend I went to Circuit City to drop the camera off. Of course they wouldn't take it because they have a policy about not servicing equipment that is at least ten years old, and my camera had just had a birthday. They told me that I would most likely have to go through the manufacturer(Panasonic).
I called up the Panasonic hotline and they told me that the nearest Panasonic repair center was in some town in Illinois. I was very discouraged. I didn't have a lot of time to go hunting up other repair shops that might take my piece of equipment.
The Gods Are on Our Side - Chris still harped on me a bit about still trying to find a repair shop for the camera, but I could tell that some of the hope might have died in him as well. I had just about given up on it. I didn't want to go through the trouble and expense of sending my camera all the way to Podunk, Illinois and then having to wait an eternity for them to get to it and finally sending it back, providing it never got lost in the mail.
One of my and Chris' goals is to shoot a feature length 16mm film. I was hunting around trying to find a suitable 16mm camera. I had e-mailed the Krasnogorsk company trying to find out how I can order one of their cameras and they never got back with me. Their web page sure as hell didn't have any information. So I decided that I would hunt through every pawn shop and camera shop until I found a camera. I could have killed myself for not having snagged a camera that I had seen at a camera shop in Denton that they were wanting $350 for. When I went back it was already gone.
So I went to a pawn shop not very far from where Kim worked. I didn't see any film cameras, but I took a look at the video cameras, and that's when I saw it. I felt like Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction when he sees that samurai sword. I could imagine the edited sequence of my reaction and then the cutaway to the slow zoom in shot to the Panasonic S-VHS full size camcorder that was just like the ones that we had used in the beginning film styles class. I asked the guy how much it was. And he told me $299.99.
This was unbelievable. It cost just as much as the other piece of shit that I had bought and the fact that it recorded in Super VHS already made it a better machine. And if the synchro edit jack worked, then it would just be phenomenal. Normally I would hesitate when spending even that much money, but I knew that I could not let that camera fall into someone else's hands. Besides I had saved up enough money from having worked at Wal-Mart for the last 10 months.
I was so excited for the rest of the weekend. I couldn't wait to hook it up to the VCR to see if it would edit. If it didn't work the guy at the pawn shop said that if it didn't I could bring it back within 30 days to get it repaired, but luckily I didn't have to take him up on his offer. We now had the means to continue on our course with the show.
The Final, Absolute Completion of Episode One - By this time I had moved out of the dorms and had gotten an apartment with my dorm roommate, Chris Switzer. I did it so that I would have a place to live when I took summer school. This was the first summer that I had seriously planned to take classes, because if I didn't then I wouldn't be able to graduate in December.
One of the first nights I spent in my new apartment, Chris came with me and we put together Show 1. Actually our intention was to rescore the music for the chase scene since the music for the Sony version didn't fit with the public access version. Before we started to go through that arduous process somebody came up with the brilliant idea that since I now had a S-VHS camcorder with a working edit jack and since the master copies of both Show 1 and the Chase Scene were on S-VHS, I could mix and match scenes from both versions onto the final edit of the show that I would turn into public access.
This meant that we wouldn't have to record another note of music. We would start off with the Public Access beginning since it is about the only thing that is drastically different and then continue with the Sony bits of us running, which wasn't different, but had the music that we wanted. It saved a lot of time and headaches and we could concentrate more on putting the echo into the mailbox scene, which wasn't very easy, but we did get it done nonetheless.
Show 2 Edit/Dueling Cameras - The following night after Chris had left Denton I returned to Fort Worth with Show 1 completed. He told me to bring the VCR because we were going to start on Show 2 and he absolutely had to be with me to edit the opening of the show.
Earlier that day, while I had been sleeping very soundly, Chris was deep into a sleep deprivation session. He had also borrowed his friend Matt's camera and shot a couple moderator sequences. He had to be with me because he knew that I would not know how to edit the footage together as he would have wanted it edited together. And he was right.
When the whole opening moderator sequence for Show 2 was complete, I wasn't sure to think if Chris was either a genius or if I should be afraid of him because of the level of insanity put forth in that segment. I mean I've known the guy for 7 years now and I was wondering if this guy wasn't some weird being who at the end of the day retreats to some netherworld where madness reigns.
Even as I looked at him sitting on his dad's couch(he still hadn't gotten another place since he moved out of his efficiency earlier in the year), laughing at my reaction and to the piece unveiling itself onscreen, I had to wonder if the person in the room with me and the demon on the tv were one and the same.
Chris had another idea for a sketch and once the sun came up we took both my camera and Matt's camera outside of the his dad's apartment complex. The whole concept was to have two people whose perspectives are seen only from a camera affixed to their eye and have them meet and fight. In my shot you can see Chris with his camera and in Chris' shot you can see me with my camera and those two shots are the only footage shot of that sequence.
Friday, May 23: The Public Access Show Finally Makes it to Public Access - The tapes for the June showing on public access were due on the Friday of the third week of May. On that day, Chris and I went downtown together to turn the tape in. I felt very weird actually going to the cable office with a show to put on. This was finally it, everything we had been talking about doing and working toward for the last four years. It seemed like it would never happen and here it was finally happening. Since we had done so well not having a show on why quit with that good streak? I genuinely had butterflies in my stomach.
Wednesday, June 4: Sniffles(sniff!) Makes it's Public Access Debut - Of course we didn't know about it at the time since there was no advance word sent to us about what particular time slot it would get. Chris had to go down to the cable office at the end of the week to find out. I heard about it on the Friday of that same week. We had the 6:00 p.m. time slot. Now we knew when it was on. The question was had anybody seen it?
September 2, 1997
Chris meets Buddy from Tejano Time (by Chris) - ...And we didn't. We sat around and then went downstairs. Then we got taken back after waiting another 10 minutes. Now any other typical day we would be checked out right when we got back, but not today. We had to sit in the waiting-to-be-assigned area and wait to be checked out for the day for 30 minutes, then they finally let us go. Any other typical day I would walk to my car, get in and drive home, but not today. Today my car was in the shop and I had to walk home.
So there I was on North Side Drive walking, reading about Princess Diana, admittedly, more interested in the way she died rather than who she is, thinking about fame and its good and bad points. I get to the underpass of I-35 when someone pulls up to the light and says to me, "Hey aren't you the Sniffles guy?" (I just want to point out for the record that he didn't sniff when he said the name.)
He was a Hispanic male and at first I thought it might be one of the guys I had told about the show last Tuesday at work release because I recognized him too. Then he said, "I'm on Tejano Time. Your show comes on after mine." I was kind of shocked. I was like, "Yeah we've watched your show waiting for ours to come on." I was watching the red light wondering if I should ask him for a ride.
He asked, "So how are you guys doing?" I told him just fine and that we were still working on it. He started asking what night it was again our show came on because he knew it was after his show, but he couldn't remember which showing. I told him Thursday and then said, "I hate to ask this, but I'm walking home right now and I was wondering if I could get a ride." He said sure so I got in. I told him the best way to go.
He told me that he saw me walking and that he thought I looked familiar. Then when I flipped my hair like I "always do in the show" and he knew it was me. I noticed that he was wearing a polo shirt with "Tejano Time" embroidered on it as he told me that he thought the funniest thing was when we were "trying to get that girl to do the laundry."
I wowed in the fact that he had been watching it that long. He asked me why I was walking so far from home and I told him I was on work release and that the skit where I was talking about playing a rock show in court was based partially in reality because I actually was awaiting a court appearance. He acknowledged that he had seen it, which I kind of knew because it's the one of the skits that I flip my hair in.
He asked me where we edited as he complimented how well it was edited. I told him we used Miguel's VCR with a sychro edit jack and a jog shuttle. And that Miguel was going to UNT studying film. He said(probably referring to the laundry skit where I say, "You're the one who's studying film.") "Yeah I saw that one, but I wasn't sure if that was a joke or not." I told him that we had a skit that was shot for Miguel's film class that we did silent and scored with Mario Paint music I had written on the Nintendo. I told him basically up to the point where I pee on myself and he thought it was funny.
He asked why we decided to do a show and I told him that we had a web site address posted on Episode 4 and the site had a detailed history, but I told him about "Myles of Smyles" and that the waiting for the access rules thing at the beginning of the chase thing was based in reality too. He told me that he thought that was funny and that he liked the way it was cut together.
I asked him why he got started. He told me he had been working promoting outdoor Tejano shows and that he had met a lot of the artists that way. And that Channel 39 had a Tejano video show that they took off for baseball(and even though I don't actively listen to Tejano music, I must say selling out music for sports is bad.).
He got involved with some Tejano dance show on 45 that had kids dancing to Tejano music and that he was trying to get them to implement videos along with the dancing because he missed being able to see the videos. They told him that they really didn't have the means to do it, but that he should do his own show and he was like, "What do you mean?" So they told him about 46. He called up some record company contacts he had made and started producing the show.
I told him that I admired his drive to get it done and said, "I admit we don't listen to Tejano music and we usually just raz on the music while waiting for our show, but we had been wondering how you got started with your show."
He dropped me off at the apartments and said, "Haven't you shot some stuff here?" I said, "You must be thinking of my Dad's apartments, like the camera fight." He laughed and said, "Yeah." I told him that we shot that at my Dad's and that the only thing we had shot in these apartments was one of the end meat segments. Again he laughed and acknowledged the skits by saying, "Yeah."
He gave me a flyer and a business card and I gave him my work number and the pager number and I told him I'd send him flyers to his P.O. Box.
To think of all the little things that contributed to both of us being at that light at the same time, including me stopping to go pee behind a tree.
September 17, 1997
Of All the People - After we had left Brian's at around 11:30, Chris and I headed up to Denton so that we could edit together Episode 5. But first we had to stop off at Chris' apartment on the way so that we could pick up Binky to do the credits and title screens. From the apartment we went to the Kroger which is right up the street from where Chris lives so that he could get some Dr.Pepper.
We noticed a bulletin board on a wall in the front entrance. Granted all grocery stores have them, but the thought finally came to actually put one of our show flyers on it. Chris took notice of a girl and some guy she was with, both of whom appeared to be our age, perfect people to try to promote the show to.
We walked past them as they were getting into the car. It just so happened that the girl, who was driving, had her window rolled down. Chris asked, "Do you get Marcus Cable?" She didn't hear him at first so he repeated it. She said she did get Marcus Cable and Chris explained about our show. She seemed interested(for us interested means that she didn't drive off right away) so I ran to the truck to get her a flyer.
When she looked at the flyer, she said, "Oh are you those guys...," cool maybe she had seen the show, "...that are doing that Pool Watch thing?" It's kind of a strange thing, but for a brief moment Chris and I actually shared the same thought. How the hell did she know about Pool Watch? At this stage, Pool Watch is something that Brian has only been talking about and has never fully scripted. We've been kind of blowing it off mainly because we're more concerned with getting Episode 6 out of the way and also because right now there is nothing on paper.
I asked her if she knew Brian, an obvious question and she said that she did. Chris asked her what her name was to see if she might have been one of the many girls that Brian has been telling us that he's been talking to who are interested in being on the show, but about whom Chris and I are having doubts. She said her name was Tara. It didn't ring any bells.
Finally she explained that she was Shannon's sister. The name Shannon rang a bell as she is one of the girls Brian keeps telling me wants to be in the show. If Shannon is as cute as this Tara girl is then we're definitely going to have to get the both of them on the show.
It was kind of a cool coincidence and Chris said that the incident was even more frustrating, because although Brian has only been on the first four episodes a total of five minutes, he's getting a lot more attention than we are. Not only that but we had hoped that we could at least interest someone in the show that was in no way connected to us. Everybody that we know who has seen the show has either been people we know from work or friends of friends.
September 17th 1997
Show 5 Completed - Chris and I spent all day and night to get it done so that we could turn it into the cable office by Friday. By the time it was all over the both of us had managed to stay up 24 hours. The day was an accomplishment in the sheer amount of stuff that we managed to get done. Basically we shot a whole 7 minutes of the show which is the whole introduction before we even get into the much maligned Summer Project '95.
The reason we were able to get so much done I think is because this is about the most simplistic we have ever gotten with our stuff. The first three minutes is basically us just sitting in front of the camera reading some viewer mail. There's not really a whole lot going on there. I usually feel guilty whenever we cut corners like that, but it does fill up show time and if the result actually works on some level than it's not too bad.
We spent all night working on the final edit because Chris insisted that he have his own private personal copy to take home with him when we were done. I kept telling him that he was going to have to wait for his copy because it was not absolutely necessary that he have it that day. But he kept insisting and so it all got done, even Summer Project '95 which I thought would never be completed. I just knew that something was going to break down before the night was over or even later during the week before I would be able to get an S-VHS tape to make the copy for public access.
Luckily none of that happened and I got it in on time. Now I'm bracing myself for what could possibly be some serious consequences as a result of this episode. I'm just sure that someone is going to have a problem with it considering the nature of what happens in the program.
September 18th 1997
A Big Mixup - I had talked to Chris the night before. He had just gotten his new phone installed. If you want the number...ahhh thought I was actually going to give it out didn't you? I've been telling him that he needs to give me expilicit written instructions because he's been complaining a lot that I don't listen to him. Case in point. He wanted me to dub the first four episodes of the show onto one tape before I turned in our public access dub of Episode 4 in. I understood it that he just wanted a copy of Episode 4 and that was it. That's all he got and so he accused me of not listening to him.
I keep having to explain that 1.)I'm a visual learner. I can't just know exactly what you're talking about from verbal expression alnoe 2.)What I do hear is all dependent on what I'm doing when you're talking to me. If I'm involved in something else that's requiring my concentration then most of what you say won't even be processed by my brain. I think all of us are like that, but I especially hate when others try to use it against me as if to say that it's a defect in my makeup.
So anyway, he was giving me some instructions that he was telling me to write down so that I could refer to them so that I would leave nothing out. This list of instructions primarily involved bringing the VCR down to Fort Worth for the weekend so that we could start editing Shows 6&7. We generally get together with Brian at his apartment at 9:00 on Thursdays. I mentioned to Chris that since I would have over 5 hours from the time I got out of class until the time that we were supposed to meet at Brian's that maybe I would stop off at Chris' earlier in the day so that we could start the editing.
As it turned out the following day, I didn't manage to get out of Denton until almost 9:00. When I had gotten out of class I decided to start some of the practice editing. I had gotten so wrapped up into it that it was very late when I got finished with it.
I was running very late but I decided to stop off at Chris' apartment first since it was on the way to see if he was still there. I didn't actually go in which was a big mistake. I went around the parking lot to see if his car was still there. I didn't see it at first glance so I assumed that he had already gone to Brian's. Since I was already late as it was I decided that it would be best not to stop and to continue on to Brian's.
When I got to Brian's, Chris was not there. Brian told me that Chris had called to see if I had shown up there already. It would have been so easy to just call Chris, but there was one problem. I had lost the piece of paper that I had written the number on along with Chris' instructions. Brian didn't know what the number was either. In fact the previous night I wouldn't have even gotten Chris' number the first time had I not realized to ask before we hung up. Unfortunately information didn't have a listing for Chris(I later found out that Chris intentionally got the number unlisted so that certain people would not be able to get a hold of it).
I thought to page him, but Brian was in a hurry to get out the door because he had to go feed the cats at Kim's apartment because she was out of town for the week. I left a note on Brian's door just in case Chris decided to show up while we were gone. We were gone for almost an hour and when we got back Chris had not shown up. By that time it was definitely too late to salvage the what was left of the night.
I didn't get to Chris' until 1 a.m. He had been home the entire time. I somehow managed to miss seeing his car. The reason he never left was because he thought that I was supposed to meet him at his place and then we would go to Brian's together. Either HE WASN'T LISTENING TO ME or I just miscommunicated my intentions the night before. Maybe it's both.
September 25th 1997
Switzer Discovers What It's Really Like to Work On Sniffles(sniff!) - Switzer wanted to come down with me to work on the show with us. I stipulated that if he came down that he was going to have to take his own car because there was no way that I was going to take him all the way back to Denton. Actually I could have taken him back to Denton but he would have had to wait until after the weekend.
What we had planned to shoot was the sequence for Show 6 where Brian and I drag Chris to a doctor. The doctor was supposed to be played by Modester who Chris had made arrangements with earlier in the week to get together with for the week. When Switzer expressed an interest in being in the show, I instantly got an idea on how to use him. I would have loved to use him as a camera operator but since I've given up on the storyboards and with them all hope of having moving shots, it wasn't necessary.
I thought that it would be cool to have Switzer as Modester's assistant who is overly critical of how the camera crew(what crew?) is setting the shots up and blocking the scene. It would have been a good moment of self reflexiveness for the show.
So Switzer followed me down to Fort Worth to Chris' apartment. We waited there until Chris got home from work and when he did we loaded up into Chris' car to make the trip down to Brian's.
At Brian's Chris called Modester. Modester was already asleep when he called and he was absolutely unwilling to get up to spend an hour with us shooting the segment for the show since he had to be up at 6 the next morning. Modester said that we could get together Friday night since he wouldn't have to work all weekend long.
Basically all of this meant that we had absolutely nothing to do. Switzer had driven down for nothing. I decided that we shouldn't let the entire night go to waste so we decided to do one of the sketches Brian has been talking about doing, specifically Hot Dog Cleaner Man. Just as we decided to do this Kendra walked through the door, home early from work. The major event of the night was our going to Kim's to help move her entertainment center.
Switzer was very disappointed and Chris pointed out that this is how working on the show always is. Sometimes we'll get something done, but more often than not we'll be empty handed like we were that night. The only difference is Switzer had to drive 60 miles to learn it.
September 26th 1997
Failing to make up for lost time - Modester had told us the night before that since he couldn't get with us then that he would get with us on Friday night. The only problem was that both Chris and I had to work. No problem we would just get together when the both of us got out of work after midnight.
Of course we ran into a serious snag. When I got a hold of Chris when I finally clocked out at 1a.m. he reported that no one was answering Modester's phone. Since Modester had just moved into a new apartment that day and neither of us knew the location, we couldn't simply go knock on his door until he woke up to answer it
Chris sounded pretty tired as it was and since he had to get up early in the morning for work release anyway, I figured it was best to just let it go and not worry about it.
October 1st 1997
Continuing to Slip/Show 5 Premiere - I was late getting over to Brian's apartment. As I was getting there, Chris was also arriving as well. He said that he deliberately delayed showing up on time because he knew that I wouldn't be there on time. I smart-assedly told him that I also delayed because I knew that he would delay getting to Brian's expecting me to be late. Chris gave his usual unconvinced, "okay" and we went on with it.
Of course we didn't have much time from that point anyway. Brian had to leave by 10:30 to pick up Kendra from work. We only got a few shots done. They are the ones where Chris has a big laughing fit over his cleverly dealing with a telemarketer and so he goes into the bedroom and his heart explodes or something like that. That was about two shots worth of stuff.
We also did a shot that starts the whole telemarkete sequence where Chris is awakened by the ringing telephone. We also did a shot from inside the bedroom where Chris starts his head roll thing just in case we need that shot for editing purposes. Brian left after that and we pretty much knew that all production would come to a halt for the night from there on.
We waited outside Brian's apartment while he left to get her. We waited around so that when they came back we could watch the public access debut of Episode 5 and so we sat around in my truck talking. Meanwhile there were these two teenage girls that walked past us on their way to and from, presumably, the convenience store since it is the only thing within walking distance of Brian's apartment complex. Chris seemed to think that one of them was particularly trying to show off by the way she was shaking her booty. I commented that they might have been cute, but I couldn't tell since it was so dark.
As they passed by the second time, Chris blurted out, "You're right, Miguel. They are cute." He does that to me all the time, like the time when he had come up to Denton so we could edit Show 4. We had stopped off at Wal-Mart so that I could pick up a new VHS-C adapter because the one I bought back in '95 was about dead. While we were in line, there was this fairly young attractive girl in the line parallel to ours. She was with her father. Chris commented to me about how he liked her butt.
It just so happened we were leaving our respective lines at around the same time and we walked past them. As we did, Chris called out, "You're right, Miguel. She does have a nice butt." He stopped for a moment and I kept on walking. He ran to catch back up with me. He said the girl just smiled and her father didn't have anything to say about it.
So, as we're walking to my truck in the parking lot we pass by a couple. Chris yells out, "You're right, Miguel. His girlfriend is pretty cute." Again I just kept on walking. The boyfriend took exception to Chris' comments and he threw his arms up in the universal "Ya wanna fight, punk. Wus up?" signal. Chris just yelled to him, "Oh get over your macho self, " and the guy turned around and went into the store. Confusion is a good way to defuse a hostile enemy.
I pointed out to him that had I been Switzer I would have left his ass at Wal-Mart. Switzer left Chris at Taco Bell for less and all Chris was trying to do then was say stupid shit to the drive thru person at the speaker menu and not outright get Switzer into trouble.
So anyway, back to the present. The two girls smiled, I guess. I couldn't tell and walked back to their apartment building. I mentioned that we should have told them about the show and Chris jumped up out of the bed of the truck to go chase after them. I took my time following him just in case the girls yelled "rape!" When I got there they were listening to what he had to say about the show. I brought them a flyer and although they didn't have cable in their apartments they knew someone who did. They asked their friend if they could watch the show in her apartment. The friend agreed and so we left to continue wating for Brian.
Brian didn't show up until almost 20 minutes after 11pm. Our show was half over not that it really mattered to me because I especially have a hard time watching Summer Project '95. When we came in it was at least up to the part that I can sit through comfortably.
When it was over we walked over to the apartment building of the two girls. They were sitting on the stairs wating for us. They said they liked the show, but there were parts they didn't understand very well, particularly the ending. A lot of it was because they recognized the location so they didn't understand that it was supposed to be the afterlife.
The older woman said that the two girls wanted to be in the show. They didn't say this themselves, but they nodded in agreement. Now that I could see them better, they were indeed attractive, but a little young. Sixteen years old to be exact, not exactly the kind of girls I need to be messing with. Their youth also presents a problem with our ever being able to ever use them in the show because until they turn 18, their parents would have to sign a release form agreeing to let them be on television.
Since we wouldn't be able to use Brian's apartment for the rest of the night, we wandered around the River Oaks area hoping to brainstorm something we could shoot so that we could say that we had accomplished something for the night. We mostly talked about the possibility of starting up another show featuring local bands.
Last Saturday, Brian had talked to one of the guys from the band Slow Roosevelt and he seemed to be very interested in doing a song for the show. Chris said that music bits really didn't have any place in the format of Sniffles(sniff!) and that it would best be served doing an entire show dedicated to the local music scene.
Chris did come up with an idea that we shot that night. And that's where Brian and I are talking about how cool it is to be drunk. We shot it at a car wash in Brian's neighborhood and it probably won't be on for a while.
Late 1999 (extra notes by Nathan)
Nathan discoveres Sniffles and emails Miguel - In 1999 I had the notion to move back into Fort Worth (from Joshua). I found a place at The Hills off Normandale in far West Fort Worth. I was there only a short time when I saw the public access show Sniffles (sniff!) on Channel 46 (Charter's Public Access station). I already had an interest in Public Access and longed to have a show on there of my own. For the most part there were religious shows on public access but I stumbeled across Sniffles... I emailed the guy who gave out his email at the end of the show and he replied pretty fast. Soon Miguel and I hit it off and we began emailing in earnest. Well, Miguel asks me to call his partner in public access crime Chris McGinty on Chris’ “public access” phone line also known as ‘the pubic domain’. He wants me to leave a message to try to patch things up between them. They had a falling out for some reasons months back. I did and soon I met the interesting character of Chris McGinty.