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Making a Half-hour Fanvid Via Public Access - Part 2

This article by N. Torres shares some of the "behind the scenes" trying to get his second fanvid off the ground in public access television.

The ads I put up on the bulletin board at the mnn network did not work. People ripped off and took the little slices of e-mail address but no one e-mailed me to let me know they wanted to show me their short films. What to do? What to do? I could go to film festivals and beg some film-makers to let me use their short films, or ...

I always had Thieves Blood to fall back on.

It had been a year since I made my first FanVid, the Adventures of Officer Fender, which turned out to be a not-so-great show but it was still exciting to make in that it was my very first attempt at doing a shadowrama project.

The person who was to replace Wade Lance as host of Moonbase Nine was no longer interested in doing the show, so I had to look for someone else. This is how Phil Dejean came to be a part of the show. I direct a jazz show for public access in New York and I'd heard about the Checkerboard Kids program (I'd never actually seen it) from the ads put up on the mnn bulletin board. I recognized Phil and had seen him around and would say hello whenever I saw him. The first time I recognized him I said, "Hey, you're a Checkerboard Kid!" He smiled and nodded. I saw more and more of Phil as time progressed because he worked on a show that was taped before the jazz show, and they went live which meant they finished airing just when we were supposed to go into the control room and begin doing our jazz show. To make a short story long, I asked him if he wanted to host my show. I just came out and told him I was producing an MST3K-like show and would he like to host it? It turned out he was a fan of the original show and was greatly interested.

I got him a copy of the first episode on cd-rom, and a copy of Thieves' Blood on DVD, and the script containing the Host and Theater Segments, put it all in one package and got it to him. He e-mailed me back and said it was "one mad package". He agreed to do the show and was already getting ideas on the MB9 logo, backgrounds, opening titles and end credits artwork. You see, I didn't know, but I lucked out and now had a professional illustrator as host of my show, and his contribution to the look and feel of the production greatly enhanced the final product. Phil is even designing a NEW Fanghorn puppet which should make his appearance in the third episode of MB9.

So, what did I learn this second time around that I can share with you? Well, I still can't use films that I don't have permission to show on public access -- that hasn't changed. Unless they're in the public domain. I learned that the half-hour format can be a blast. It is, in essence, short story-telling. The idea of doing a two-hour show always feels enormous to me, like I'm writing a novel or something. I'm a sprinter not a long distance runner. This is not to say that I'd never ever attempt to make a two-hour show. But not anytime soon please.

I ended up doing the opening titles for episode two myself using Graphic Converter for OS X as a drawing program, and importing the .JPEG files into iMovie, and using QuickTime Musical Instruments to play a .MID file. Phil took care of the End Credits and did a wonderful job of creating a starfield with all kinds of neat designs in it. Does anybody still say neat? Anyway, it was an interesting collaboration.

Originally, I was afraid of using Thieves' Blood as an experiment because it is so violent and gory. How did the short movie come about? Well, way back when, I was looking through a magazine called Fangoria and came about an ad by a young Kevin Rapp. He was looking for stories to make into films, or video, I don't remember which. I sent him my script and he contacted me, saying that he liked it and would like to make it. I was working as an usher in those days at a movie theater and there was a conflict. I had to work weekends and the movie was going to be shot on weekends in Staten Island. Kevin was shooting this movie because he was taking a video editing course and needed footage to edit in order to pass the course. I think it was even shown at a film festival somewhere, but, I can't say which. At least I know it was submitted to a festival because two versions of the movie exist, the one edited for the video class and the version submitted to the festival.

Scott Sliger would play Gantry in the movie. The film's end credits never identified who exactly Dan Barion and Steve Harrigan played. They played Devon and Sawyer, respectively, but as to who is who I was never told. Years later, I was looking for a project to edit and realized I had these two versions of Thieves' Blood, so I edited them together as best I could and added John Carpenter-like repetitiive heart-beat music which I refer to as "Johnners." This new edit, which eliminated the music that came from the first Terminator (James Cameron) film, became the New Edition. This New Edition had crappier titles than the first two versions, and Kevin can basically blame that on me, but then the RCA ProEdit Camcorder with its poor character generator was all I had to work with at the time. Oh well. Kevin and Scott added a lot of gore to the story, which was probably the reason why I chose to be given writing credit under the name Daniel Antonio. The New Edition is more faithful to my original story in that the violence gradually increases and climaxes in a final confrontation, rather than in-your-face gore from beginning to end. I'll also have to add that not all of my re-editing choices were great ideas and the final result was choppy to say the least, but the film is still fun to watch.

So, on to the year 2005. I'm making up my mind about whether to use Thieves' Blood or not. I'm itching to make another episode of MB9. If I use this movie this episode won't be seen by children, my show is no longer anywhere near being a young person's show. The gore makes the show an adult product. Okay. Fine. Once I decided on what I wanted to use I could move on.

I left several messages on Lee Teplitski's answering machine telling him that my show was starting up again and never got any response. Several months later I heard he had died sometime in August. The show is dedicated to Lee, who was a writer on the first episode (Fender). I remember clearly that he was the one who came up with the line, when you see the Crawling Man crawl along the sidewalk, "Either he's near-sighted or that's the longest line of coke I've ever seen." That was Lee. Too bad I didn't get to know him better.

Then Vincent Bagnall, an actor who worked with me on "I, Traveler" and "Fender Saves The World" decided he didn't want to host the second episode. He had also written some jokes for episode one. So, I was at a loss at to what to do. I could audition actors.

Then I thought of asking Phil Dejean and he agreed. You see, you never know how things are going to turn out. I think the show is a good show. I feel a lot guilty about all the cursing in it but I didn't want that annoying BLEEP going off every minute or so.

The show may not seem like much to some people, but it went through a lot to get to where it is today. After being shelved and basically forgotten, it now has a new life, in its Newest Edition yet.

Special Thanks to Kevin Rapp, Scott Sliger, Dan Barion, and Steve Harrigan. And as Kevin once told me, "It's better that you weren't there, it was a hectic shoot." I don't care Kevin, I would have loved to have been there anyway. In this small way, allbeit by nature of a sock puppet, I am there. Finally.

This article was written by N. Torres and submitted to this website on 22 December 2005.