Friday, November 22, 2013

Back From the Dead

Howdy-ho.

The razor-sharp detectives among my fan base have been careful not to jump to conclusions and effortlessly deduced that, should my blog not be updated within a week’s time, it means that I’ve been mangled in a horrific car accident.  As I haven’t updated my blog since August, I have in fact been mangled in just shy of a dozen accidents.  The proof is irrefutable.

These accidents have unfortunately left my entire body in a hilarious and irreversible pretzel shape.  I have to walk on the tips of my fingers sideways like a crab, and I’m typing this now with my eyebrows and small toes.

My absence, for me, has been both busy and theraputic.  I found some relief in distancing myself from the show for a change, and finally focusing on live action projects.

With aspiring directors among you I share a valuable insight; don't make movies.  Watching moves kicks ass, and making movies sucks dick.  Give up on your dreams, go home and never set foot outside and face any challenges.  While you're at it, just have yourself placed in a chemically induced coma and supplied with nutrients intravenously forever.

These are what I’ve churned out so far as film school assignments:

Film and You: A Filmmaking Instructional Video
Moment of Reflection
Black Hole

Not only have I been busy, but I’ve been experiencing somewhat of a paralysis in getting my new satirical game review show rolling.  Run-of-the-mill paranoia; “My writing isn’t funny anymore.”  “I’ve lost objectivity, the show’s gonna suck, and everybody’s gonna think so.”  “I’ve had my fifteen minutes, and they’re long fucking gone now.”

People have called me a good director, which is very kind -- but I’m not.  What it means to be a director of film encompasses so much more than knowing where to place the camera, or knowing exactly how far to push the analog stick of a controller to make an actor walk.  It takes sharp people-skills, information processing and articulation -- all attributes that my relatively pathetic ‘bedroom’ work curiously hasn’t sharpened.

I figured that my ending to my show about talking toys wouldn’t sit well with everybody, but it seems that I underestimated the discontent.  That upsets me.  I can’t, however, say that I don’t still stand by the ending I chose.  Maybe my perspective on life is just twisted beyond repair, but I actually thought of the ending as a positive one.

Spoiler alert.

I don’t mean that it was positive in the sense that it glorifies suicide.  Suicide is a tragic decision, regardless of circumstance.  Unless I’m forced to eat cauliflower; in which case, suicide would be a fucking delight.  However, I think it’s fair to say that the show’s characters were a product of quite note-worthy circumstance, enough so that their demise at least poses one or two interesting, albeit broad questions about life in general.

I had to close the show.  The figurines were falling apart; I had already incorporated the fact into previous seasons of the story.  I figured that I had to show the characters go by the end in order to make an impact.  They were either going to take their own lives or deteriorate.

I considered the latter option, but given the logic I’ve established within the story of the characters’ absurd existence, it struck me as less satisfying than the former.  In my mind, the characters would’ve reached a point at which all of their limbs fall off, and they’d simply be completely immobile heads lying on the floor, retaining a conscious for who knows how long until it fizzles out.  That seemed too cruel to end on.

I also considered an ending involving a slow camera pull away as the characters sit next to each other bickering while playing video games, but not only did it seem too tame and ambiguous in regard to their fate, but it also felt as though the characters lacked significant developmental arcs as a result.

So I decided to have them die in a gas explosion, and I think that much more important than the ‘what’ is the ‘why’.  The Chief made a rash decision to rig the oven to leak gas and strike a match not out of cowardice of his future, but rather due to a lack of a future.  The emotionally taxing situations that the final season placed him in resulted in him finally growing bored of playing video games and shouting obscenities at people through his microphone within the modest confines of a constantly and curiously vacant apartment.  He’s ready to check out; there’s nothing to stick around for.

The Arbiter’s in the same boat -- he said it himself -- but he didn’t make the initial decision to destroy the apartment.  He did, however, allow Chief to do so, despite having an opportunity to stop him.  Chief tells Arbiter that he’ll strike the match if Arbiter makes any sudden moves, but I think that Arbiter could’ve easily snatched it out of Chief’s grasp with time to spare.  I think that he used Chief’s warning as an excuse to, in his mind, render himself a victim of circumstance rather than his own executioner.

In seeing the death of the characters, the audience can assume that they’ve slipped into simple non-existence and, at the very least, escaped their prison of boredom, if not transcended to some superior plane of existence.  In the characters’ case, I find that comforting, and I hoped that the fans would feel the same.  I really wasn't trying to piss everybody off; a theory that a few rabid trolls who consistently lurk the comment pages to this day seem to have adopted.

Sorry if you didn't enjoy it.  I realize that, despite the show's direction being entirely in my hands, that I have a certain degree of responsibility to satisfy the fans, and I might have failed that task.  I'm unsure because those who have a problem with something tend to speak up considerably more than those who don't, but I've also received very positive and insightful feedback regarding the ending.

Onto my new show, the pilot episode of which Machinima is now in possession of.  Here’s the details:

- It’s called ‘Chemotheraplay’.

- It’s a satirical video game review show.

- The host is called the Chemotheraplayer, and played by me.

- He’s horrendously biased and delusional.

- He has a boiling, venomous hatred of fanboys and casuals, despite being a textbook example of each.

- He wears a white, expressionless face mask and refers to himself as the ‘cure for the cancer killing gaming’ and ‘a white cell within the circulatory system of the industry’.

- Each episode revolves around beloved games, ranging from retro to modern-day titles.

- The host tears the shit out of each of them with twisted logic.

- Each episode consists of a tag, title sequence, review segment and tag, with jokes relating to the game weaved throughout.

- The show is heavily focused on rapid-fire joke writing.

- The subject of the pilot episode is Dark Souls.

- Currently, the show has only been greenlit for one episode.  Additional episodes will likely be ordered based on the pilot’s performance in terms of viewership.

- The subjects of following episodes would include Resident Evil: Director’s Cut (PSX), Minecraft, The Last of Us, Sonic 3 & Knuckles -- whatever game I can think of jokes for, really.

I’m really hoping that it performs well, but I acknowledge that it’s a longshot due to my evidently dwindling view figures.  If it doesn’t, no worries.  I should be able to pay this month’s rent if I suck a few dicks in the alley outside.

I’ll let you know when I’ve received an air date for the pilot from Machinima, but it should be out pretty soon -- assuming that it passes through quality assurance without any hitches.

If you’re not sensitive to offensive jokes and have an account on Twitter yourself, I encourage you to follow mine.  I tend to write quite a bit on there.

Those of you who continue to follow me, thank you very much.  I’d love to have a beer with the three of you sometime.  Stay tuned.

Cheers,
Jon

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Finale

Spoiler alert. If you're invested in the season's story, you should probably check out 'Ignition', if you haven't already, before reading on.

Feedback has been great and opinions mostly high, albeit mixed with a real sadness, apparently. I've yet to receive any death threats from viewers for going with the ending that I chose, which is nice. However, I've received a lot of e-mails from people feeling crushed in spite of their high opinion of the episode's execution, and numerous requests to release an alternative, happier ending.

That might actually make for a good gag, but creating a new ending solely as fan-service to be considered canon parallel to the original isn't an idea that sits well with me. That would be a bit like me e-mailing David Chase to create an alternative canon Sopranos ending in which Tony fends off an army of vampiric velociraptors with a chainsaw aboard an exploding space station. I'd give my left nut to see that shit, but as painfully abrupt as the true ending was, that was what Chase felt was most appropriate, I respect him as a writer, and I learned to love it.

"DO-ON'T STOP --"

Obviously I'm not comparing myself to David Chase. My point is that I think every artist deserves full control over the outcome of their work. There's a lot of debate about how the term 'art' is defined exactly, I'm not even sure myself, or if my show could possibly be considered as such, but I think it boils down to personal expression; and if that expression is influenced by the consumers of art, the work is no longer personal, and therefore ceases to be art.

'Ignition', while somewhat problematic in hindsight, felt overall appropriate to me, and I'm going to try and explain why.

After season six, ending it on a very high note, I felt like I had another story to tell. One that actually had something to say about confrontation with death and anonymity's effect on the human condition, and its heavy integration with society by the digital age -- but I told myself that if I was going to do one more season, I wanted it to be different in order to explore additional terrain in terms of my writing ability, and I wanted it to hit hard enough that it would be remembered. So instead of building to another happy-go-lucky ending, I decided to go the other way.

The decision seemed appropriate also due to the fact that the figures are so worn out, and incorporating that into the story seemed natural. The way I saw the story, the toys were gonna expire soon, one way or another. So I thought, what's the most intense way for them to go out? In a massive explosion. How would that occur? Gas leak, obviously. How does that happen? One of the toys rigs the oven to leak gas and strikes a flame. Who's the most appropriate character to do that? Chief, he's far more likely to make such a violent decision. Why? Make a list. Maybe he finally comes to realize how terrible he is. Maybe he's physically damaged. Maybe he's overwhelmed by guilt and can't go on. Maybe he's finally bored with trolling people on the internet. Okay, why would he be physically damaged? Maybe Arbiter beats the shit out of him. Why? Maybe he discovers something terrible about Chief. What would that be? It would need to be something big. Character death? Who? Well, who does Chief despise the most? Cortana. Wait, maybe this can be the thing that Chief feels guilty about.

And so on, and so forth. That was my basic thought process from the beginning of season seven's development. For the most part, I started with the very end of the story and worked my way backwards, and I suggest that writers seeking advice adopt a similar method.

Not out of ego, just faith in that the method works for me like a charm. Figure out what you want your work to say. Boil it down to a statement. Then ask yourself what the greatest possible way to reveal that statement visually is. Who's involved? What's happening? How does it happen? Where's it taking place? When? Why? Figure out your ending, then build up to it so it feels organic and plausible. That way you avoid that road block so many writers seem to hit of not knowing where to take your story half-way into act two. It also allows you to do cool shit like foreshadowing, which is a very powerful device.

Work your way backwards, building scenarios and images that complement and contrast that ending in meaningful ways. When you get stuck, start working forwards from the beginning of your story, with your ending in mind, until you get stuck again. Then start working backwards again. Keep switching until you finally have something cohesive you can then comb repeatedly to perfection. Those are my two cents.

Like I said, the toys were going to expire in a short amount of time, no matter which direction I headed in. Not only in the story, but in actuality. Every other conceivable outcome for the toys, to me, felt either too cheesy or weak sauce in comparison. I wanted the show to go out with a bang, so why not a literal one?

Plus, with death staring them in the face, it forced the characters to reveal their fondness of one another, in an appealing contrast, in my opinion, with their incessant and volatile conflict throughout the entire show.

Some people were turned off by the outrageousness of Tyler's appearance and demise. That scenario was actually inspired by a true-to-life scenario of a forty-something guy who decided to get on a plane and fly to the residence of a child who talked shit to him on an online video game and choke him out. Granted, Tyler's scenario was exaggerated for dramatic effect with the chainsaw and the conveniently placed police officer, but I'd already established Tyler as a psychopath, figured there's not much stopping him from walking out of a local hardware store with a chainsaw, and that it's not a stretch for a passer-by to have given an anonymous tip to the police over the phone of a suspicious looking young male waiting outside the front doors of an apartment building carrying a chainsaw.

The first image I ever had for season seven when starting its development was actually Arbiter sitting against the front door, riddled with bullet holes. Not long after, I thought about having blood drip onto his head from the holes, and then Chief spouting indecipherable gibberish from the bathroom simultaneously, in an effort to paint the most disturbing image possible and push Arbiter clear over the edge. That's what you should aim to do with your characters. Place them under pressure so extreme that they snap, and are forced to make extreme decisions, thereby thoroughly revealing character.

If the show stands for anything, I'd like it to be for what you can get away with purely through writing in spite of extremely limited resources. If you want to be a filmmaker, teach yourself how to write. I can't emphasize enough how crucial I've learned a good screenplay to be. You can have the best actors and most expensive cameras in the world, but a bad screenplay is still going to make for a bad movie.

I hope you can all learn to appreciate the show for what it is, and that you enjoyed the journey.

Thanks again for the tremendous support.

Cheers,
Jon

P.S. Here's a Facebook status update I wrote a while ago regarding sad movies that I think somewhat relates:

"I don't like sad movies." Eat a cock. Movies that have you leaving the theater feeling like a complete piece of shit don't get nearly enough credit. They have you re-entering reality with a marginally uplifting mentality along the lines of 'life sucks, but things could be worse'. The movies in which the lonely, sewer-dwelling orphaned hunchback with gargantuan heart and a microscopic dick slays the dragon (voiced by Morgan Freeman) and its deadly militia of vampire space bears, and ends up tit-fucking the princess on a tropical island for the rest of eternity have you leaving with an enormous smile on your face, which swiftly drops like a bag of bricks into an icy, coma-inducing grimace as life, the grotesque wall-to-wall shit-show, in which happiness was only ever intended to come in fleeting moments, in contrast, becomes painfully revealing of what it truly is. The same, of course, applies to the Hollywood system that produces them -- a dream fabricator, delivering you an endorphin rush in a room full of farts in exchange for hilarious, toe-curling fees which will only increase. I need to see more sad moves. I want sad movies occupying every single box office slot. Starting tomorrow.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E25: "Ignition" (Series Finale)

Hey all,

Well, this is it.

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E25: "Ignition" (Series Finale)

It's been a good run.  I can't say that I'm sad to see the show go, though.  Not in a hateful way, just that it seems like an appropriate time to end it.

Truthfully, the figures couldn't survive for another season anyway.  Every joint of the two of them is hilariously loose, and the Master Chief figurine literally kept crumbling in my grasp during the grueling filming of the finale.  It was a fucking nightmare.  I lost count of the amount of takes that were ruined by Master Chief falling to pieces in my grip, despite my effort to keep the figure together with duct tape and Elmer's glue.  If I had a swear jar during the production, I'd have had to drain my bank balance.

My apartment's still a mess from shooting.  Haven't even scrubbed the fake blood off of my front door yet.

That said, I'm feeling great right now.  The finale's reception so far seems to be overall very positive, and I've spent so long trying to keep my head above water with the show's production that to be finally out of the pool is an immense relief.

I don't expect everybody to be pleased by the ending.  In fact, it'd be a miracle if everybody was, but I know it won't happen.  However, the ending pleases me, and I've learned to aim for pleasing myself with what I write.

Thank you very much to you all for your tremendous support over the years.  I feel proud to have made something that made people itch to find out what happens each week.  I feel that this seventh season is my best work thus far in terms of writing interesting and developing characters, and I'm glad to have it out there on the net for display.  Hopefully it factors somehow into kick-starting my Hollywood career so I can sell out and abuse hard drugs.

I'd also like to offer a big thank you to the staff at Machinima for putting up with my numerous delays, as well as offering me the creative freedom that I've had and the extra time I've asked for to maintain the show's quality.

I encourage fans to watch the entire season again, as it contains an abundance of foreshadowing all pointing towards the finale's final scene, starting with the first episode.

Also, please leave feedback in the comments section for the finale if you can, or shoot me an e-mail if you want.  I don't reply to everything, but I read everything.  I'd also appreciate feedback on the season as a whole as well as the finale itself; what you liked, what you didn't like, how well you felt everything was tied together by the end, and so on.

Hope you enjoy.

Cheers!
Jon

"Ignition" Saturday, 3 PM PST

Hey guys,

Finally churned out and submitted the finale, past my deadline, which was very unprofessional of me; but that's nothing new.  I've been told that it'll be available on Machinima's channel around 3PM PST, so keep your eyes peeled.  Big thanks to Machinima for being patient with me.  Hopefully the upload happens without any hitches.

"Ignition" will be just over twenty-five minutes long.  Stay tuned.

Cheers,
Jon

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E25: "Ignition" Teaser

Hey guys,

Sorry for the delay, again.  Apparently the problem this time was that the teaser was placed in a folder it shouldn't have been before the two guys overseeing the upload left for a wedding event over the weekend.  Shouldn't happen again for the finale.  Unless I'm the one who fucks up somehow, but I'm doubtful.

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E25: "Ignition" Teaser

Cheers,
Jon

Film and You: A Filmmaking Instructional Video

Hey, guys.

Consider this an apology for the series finale teaser delay.

The following link will lead you to a video on a new YouTube account I've just created for myself.  The video is a short I wrote and directed in film school as a final project for my first year cinematography class.  Technically, it's the worst possible assignment that could be turned in as the video is, from the standpoint of cinematography, utterly unappealing.  It's terrible production quality is intentional however, for comedic purposes.  I play the role of a deluded film instructor named Cameron Shuttersnap who basically turns the basics of filmmaking completely on its head.  I'm not sure I received a very good grade on it, but it sure went down well with the class.

Here's the video:

Film and You: A Filmmaking Instructional Video

Hope you enjoy.

Cheers,
Jon

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E24: "Game Over"

Hey guys,

The new episode's out now.  Sorry for the delay:

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E24: "Game Over"

I've noticed a lot of aggression towards Machinima over the past twenty-four hours due to the delay, but it was an honest mistake.  A little button wasn't clicked on the episode's upload ticket before it went into the pipeline, causing it to be listed as 'private' and rendering it inaccessible.  The slip-up might not have occurred if I hadn't cut the episode's submission so fine, who knows.

Well, this is the second last episode.  Show's almost over.  Next week a short teaser will be released for the finale, and then the finale itself the following week, which will run longer than usual.

Hope you enjoy, thanks for being patient.

Cheers,
Jon

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E23: "The Big Bang"

Hey guys,

"The Big Bang" is now available:

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E23: "The Big Bang"

Shit hits the fan in this episode.  Please leave feedback if you have time.  Hope you enjoy.

Cheers,
Jon

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E22: "Event Horizon"

Hey guys,

Apologies for the delay.  I haven't received confirmation, but I'm convinced it was due to Machinima's covering of the San Diego Comic Con.  They're busy.  It's really my fault for using up all my production lead time and getting the episodes in last-minute; however, I didn't receive notification that Friday wasn't an appropriate day for submission.

Anyway, it's available now:

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E22: "Event Horizon"

Hope you enjoy.  Only a few episodes to go now.

Cheers,
Jon

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E21: "Flatline"

Hey guys,

"Flatline" is now available:

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E21: "Flatline"

Sorry again to drag the story out by adding another episode, but I don't mean to make it any longer than is necessary.  This is a quiet episode, but things pick up in the ones to follow.  Also, forgive my voice acting.  Hope you enjoy.

Cheers,
Jon

UPDATE: I've noticed people commenting on the presumed ill logic of Madeline's physician informing Eugene that her condition has become critical before going on to say that she's passed away.  Sounds weird, but I actually researched the procedure doctors follow when informing people of a death in the family and it's apparently common to say the condition of a patient who has died has become critical, as a means of bringing the family to the hospital as soon as possible so they can be informed of the truth in person.  Just thought I'd share.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Production Stuff

Hey, guys.

Don't worry, I don't have another delay to announce.  The next episode should be available tomorrow.

What I do have to announce, however, is that I've had to add another episode to the remainder to air.  Tomorrow's episode will be called "Flatline", and "Event Horizon" will air on the following Saturday.  The reason for this is that, during the season's outlining, I underestimated how much meat I'd find on the bones on some of the future events I was organizing, which were listed in point-form.  I feel I have to spend a little more screen time tying loose ends before shit starts hitting the fan in the story, beginning with "Event Horizon", in which the action escalates quickly.  That's certainly not to say that "Flatline" is devoid of tension.  Far from it.  It is, however, a somewhat quiet episode.

As I said before, the only instance this is likely to happen again is with the finale, which I'm not sure whether to keep it at ten minutes or make it a double-length episode in order to make it a more satisfying close.  It'd be a little more difficult to get it out in the latter case, but I think I could pull it off.  The reason I'm torn is that I feel there's certain aesthetic benefits to both methods.  I think I'll make a poll asking what viewers prefer.

If you've stuck with the show for this long, please stick around for the rest.  I think I can say with confidence that the intensity doesn't lessen.  The last few episodes contain the highest points of tension in the show by far, and the last couple are in the finale.  If the finale were to be split into two, the second last episode would be called "Happy Place", which would end right on one of those peaks.  Just thought I'd throw that out there.

You can also tweet me to share your thoughts on how the finale should be presented, providing you follow me and stomach my dreadful jokes.

Cheers,
Jon

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E20: "Greenlit"

Hey guys,

"Greenlit" is now available:

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E20: "Greenlit"

The episode has been incorrectly labeled episode twenty-one when it should be twenty.  Gonna look into having that corrected when the weekend's out.  All the episode labels are so varied in the way they're written, wish they'd just copy and paste the ones I send them.  Hope that doesn't effect people's ability to find the episodes.  "Dead Weight" doesn't even have the episode title in its label.  Sigh.

This episode aired earlier than I thought it would.  I've been reading the comments and was happy to find that the reason for the twist at the end of the episode wasn't yet discovered, when the reason is actually embedded visually in a few shots.

Also, clue's in the title.

Hope you enjoy.

Cheers,
Jon

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E19: "What Lies Beneath"

Hey all,

New episode is available here:

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E19: "What Lies Beneath"

Not long to go now.  Hope you enjoy.

Cheers,
Jon

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E18: "Take A Seat"

Hey guys,

Episode eighteen, "Take A Seat", is now available:

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E18: "Take A Seat"

Glad to see the latest episode is getting a better response so far than I expected.  I'm happy that people are enjoying the incorporation of Cortana.  There's a moment in the episode that's brief, but quite heavy in terms of subject matter and I actually felt slightly nauseous as I was cutting it together.  Really wasn't sure how viewers would react, was worried that I might've gone too far, but I was likely over-thinking it.  I think I went about it tastefully.  Today's net veterans have seen far worse, I'm sure.

Leave feedback if you have the time.  Also, follow me on Twitter for updates and horribly tasteless jokes that I come up with throughout the day.

Cheers,
Jon

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Are rape jokes funny?

Are rape jokes funny?  Racist jokes?  Holocaust jokes?  Are they funny?  Should certain subjects be off-limits when it comes to comedy?

I've been encountering this debate numerous times lately.  There was a big stink raised when somebody demoing a video game on-stage during E3 made a rape joke to a competing female player on the stage with him.

Jokes about horrific subject matter can be funny.  However, the fact alone that they revolve around horrific subject matter does not automatically make them funny.

Here's the thing.  If somebody tells a skillfully-crafted rape joke and it gets a laugh, rape is not the target of the joke.  Rape is not the thing that's being laughed at.  There's obviously nothing funny about rape, in and of itself.  There's nothing funny about somebody being sexually assaulted and being robbed of all of his or her control.  The image is horrifying.  However, when that horrifying image is combined with an element of absurdity in a well-told joke, the joke has potential to be very funny.  It's the enormous contrast between whatever that absurd element you've introduced is and the undeniable horror of the subject that produces laughter.

I use my newly-created Twitter account to tell a lot of offensive jokes.  A couple of them involved rape.  Here's one:

"Jokes about rape disgust me, it's too strong a word for any comedic context.  That's why I only use it when I'm actually raping people."

People who follow me considered this funny.  What makes it funny?  Is it solely the fact that I've stated I rape people?  Of course not.  But that's juxtaposed with the false sense of security I establish in readers of the joke in the first sentence, which states my belief that rape should never be joked about.  It suggests that I would definitely have a problem when it comes to actually raping somebody, but the sentence that follows it takes it completely in the other direction.  Set-up, punch-line.  That's a joke.

Here's another one I wrote:

"Life can be a struggle for victims of sexual abuse.  That's why I murder them afterwards."

Why is this funny?  The fact that I've stated I murder people?  No.  The second sentence takes the idea placed in people's minds by the first sentence and turns it completely on its head.  It's the contrast that's funny.  A set-up alone isn't funny, and a punch-line alone isn't funny.  That's why a joke needs both.

If you ask me, the joke that was said on-stage at E3 wasn't funny, and it shouldn't have been said.  Why do I think that?  Because rape jokes aren't funny?  No, because there was no set-up to the punch-line.  All the guy had said was, "Just let it happen, it'll be over soon."  It suggests the idea of rape without contrasting it with anything, and it's the contrast that's key.

Jokes about offensive subject matter can be very funny.  But the contrast generated by the joke needs to be large and funny enough to warrant the incorporation of whatever the offensive subject is.  A joke should be able to be made about anything as long as the joke teller is skillful enough.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

"Take A Seat" Delay

Hey, guys.

So, I've been placed in an embarrassing position.  I was prepared to get "Take A Seat" done for this Saturday, which contains a scene critical to Colin's character and can't be moved to another episode appropriately due to the rigidness of the season's plot at this point.  Unfortunately, the character's voice actor Bruce Greene has his hands full with Machinima's live streaming coverage of E3, which will occupy his days fully until the week's end.  I'm faced with either pushing the episode's airing to the following Saturday, or re-writing the episode to side-step Bruce's absence; which would require the episode to be pushed anyway, so I may as well stick with the former option.

Though I wasn't expecting the delay myself, I apologize for not keeping my promise of weekly episodes free of interruption.  My term at school ended just a month ago, and only since then have I been able to give the show my full attention, and I have been.  I was naive; juggling school simultaneously ate up much more of my lead time than I had anticipated.  Hopefully after this delay I can get the remainder of the episodes out weekly.  The only instance this is likely to happen again is with the finale, which I'm debating asking for an extra week to work on in order to make it a double-length episode and hopefully more satisfying -- if Machinima would allow it.

To apologize, I'd like to spend a part of today throwing another data folder together and make it available for download here, containing music tracks used in the show that have yet to be released along with the scripts for a few episodes.  I'll put a link here shortly.  If there's a script, track, or other item in particular you'd like me to include, feel free to tweet me (@jcjgraham) and I'll see if I can do it.  Or you could just call me a thundercunt, it's up to you -- but I'd prefer if that was kept to a minimum.

Thanks for your support.

Cheers,
Jon

UPDATE: Here's a link to a .ZIP file I threw together, which contains the scripts for the past three episodes of the show and all of the music tracks used in the show so far; including both the ones I've uploaded previously, and seven new ones.  I've said it before and I'll say it again, I'm a horrendous music producer.  The tracks you'll find are extremely basic and repetitive, but were created to establish a tone in the show as an alternative to paying licensing fees for professionally-produced tracks.  Nonetheless, people have asked for them.  Sorry again for the delay.

MALWARE_TROJAN_DANGER_VIRUS_OHFUCK.EXE

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E17: "Descent"

Yo,

Next episode is now available.  Sorry for the delay.  I assume it was either some technical issues on Machinima's end or they're busy preparing for E3 coverage.  Here's the link:

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E17: "Descent"

Now that "In Memoriam" has taken us to the online funeral crash depicted in the season's premiere episode, "Descent" opens with another flash-forward, this time to a pivotal moment in the season finale.  There's also something that happens at the very end which will change the toys' dynamic relationship significantly, I think in an interesting and funny way.

Please leave feedback!  People left some great feedback on "In Memoriam" and I'd like to see more.  I agree that, in hindsight, the conversation between Kyle and Brody lasted for far too long.  My thinking was that the pay-off would be more tense if I explored the logistics of their plan fully, but that sort of backfired, I think.  I also acknowledge that I'm a shit voice actor.  Believe it or not, the fact that I voice most of the characters isn't an ego thing.  I do it in order to save my casting director from doing more work, which probably isn't a good idea either since the work suffers for it.  Thankfully, "Descent" features a variety of voices.

Hope you enjoy.  Thanks for sticking around.

Cheers,
Jon

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E16: "In Memoriam"

Hey,

Here's the link to the latest episode:

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E16: "In Memoriam"

This is a big episode, as it marks the end of the second act and the plot comes full-circle, tying back to the season's premiere.  Lots of exposition at the beginning, but it ends with a bang, so please stick with it.  Leave feedback if you can spare the time!

Cheers,
Jon

Thursday, May 23, 2013

"In Memoriam" to air June 1st

Hey guys,

I'm sorry to say that the next episode of the show, "In Memoriam", is being pushed forward a week, and will air on June 1st.  I do realize that I said, before the second half of season seven began airing, that its episodes would air weekly with no gaps in between, hence the apology.  However, I've had an unusually hard time with the episode's script and had to replace some computer hardware.  Plus, work on the show's been non-stop since "Blast Radius", weekdays and weekends, and I could use a quick breath of air.  I still intend for the remainder of the episodes to air back-to-back, I just need a week.

Thanks, and please stay tuned.  Marking the end of the second act, the next episode's a biggie.

Cheers,
Jon

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Twitter: @jcjgraham

Yo,

So, I've finally decided to sign up for a Twitter account:

@jcjgraham

I was resistant to it for a very long time, wishing to draw my social networking line at Facebook.  I'm not nearly as fond of or secure about the idea of being digitally connected with the world as plenty of others seem to be.  It kind of freaks me out, actually.  However, I've recently been learning the potential value of at least having an account on Twitter.  For one, it eliminates the problem of others posing as me using the service, which has been creeping me out.  It also lets me keep followers of my Blog a little more up-to-date, as I barely have the patience to update the damn thing.  I can see myself sending out quick, short tweets on occasion; show updates, stupid jokes and what-not.  And should I ever be required to make a statement publicly in response to something, I have an effective method.

If you're a fan of my bullshit, feel free to follow me.  And know if that there are any different users on Twitter claiming to be me, this is the authentic one.

Really hoping this works out well.

Cheers,
Jon

UPDATE: Twitter widget added to the right.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E15: "Crush"

Hey, guys.

Here's the latest episode, titled "Crush":

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E15: "Crush"

Breaking Bad fans are bound to have realized that the past couple of seasons of this show have been heavily inspired by it in terms of execution, such as sound design and the ways in which episodes open and close (i.e. cold opens, silent cuts to black and the executive producer credit).  This episode's no exception.  I'm a Baking Bread freak.  I think it's totally tits, because out of the shows that I've watched, for me it's consistently suspended the greatest amount of tension across the greatest amount of time while remaining acceptably grounded and plausible throughout; and the way it's cut, minimally and skillfully scored, and its writers' repeated execution of the "less being more" principle are all incredibly effective.  It's a near-perfect formula, pun intended.  If you're gonna emulate something, emulate the best, right?

There's something that's been bothering me for a while; on occasion I'll stumble across a comment written by somebody who feels short-changed, because they feel that the show has strayed so far from its lighthearted comedic roots.  This is a point that I feel I can't argue.  It was that lightheartedness that helped me obtain an audience in the first place, and some of those long-term fans feel that they aren't getting what they want from me anymore, which is very unfortunate.  However, what I will say is that the evolution of the show has felt natural to me.  I don't feel as though I've forced drama into the show where it wasn't welcome (at least not currently, I'm definitely guilty of that in the earlier seasons, during which I was really struggling to find my footing and voice, and develop a style).  I chose to have the seventh and last story season revolve around the physical and moral deterioration of the toys not deliberately in order to upset old-school fans, but because it felt like a logical progression.  Not addressing those aspects felt like refusing to mention elephants in the room.  I write for the toys as if they were human characters, so why wouldn't they be faced with human conflicts?  Feelings of isolation and confinement, the questioning of their fundamentally illogical existence, coming face to face with mortality -- they all struck me as interesting obstacles for the toys to overcome, particularly because they're all obstacles that everybody faces constantly, and I feel a need to express that through what I feel is a perfect opportunity.

The fact of the matter is that, though I find great pleasure in writing both drama and comedy, at the moment I'm more creatively driven towards drama writing.  I love writing jokes, but solely writing jokes bores me quickly, I suppose because I feel that it doesn't establish many deep and memorable emotional connections and primarily serves as quick, disposable gratification.  Another fact is that I've always viewed the show as a tool to develop my ability to write, above all else, in terms of structure, pacing, and the execution of various dramatic storytelling devices.  I don't consider myself a great dramatic writer, but I'd certainly like to be one, and I think that the only way I'll become one is to practice.  Might as well use my Saturday programming slot, which I'm very lucky to have.

However, I'm doing my best to continue to inject humor into the show.  I'm just fearful of detracting from the sense of Arbiter's moral decay, which I feel is vital to the season.  I have the entire remainder of the season outlined, and there's some decent gags to come.

Please leave feedback on this latest episode if you have the time.  I soak up every comment that's written on each of my videos.  I hope you enjoy it and that you stick around until the bittersweet end.

Cheers,
Jon

Monday, May 13, 2013

Hey guys,

Here's the latest episode:

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E14: "Spiraling"

You may have noticed the significant increase in pending episodes.  I apologize.  I'm really not trying to draw the story out longer than it needs to be, in fact I'm working at moving the plot along as quickly as I can without rushing it and ridding it of any room for jokes.  It's hard.  Although a lot of the remaining major story points have remained the same since the season's start, keeping each script around ten pages has forced me to do a lot of restructuring.

Bear with me, because I think people will really find it interesting by the end.  To give you a clue of what's to come, the first episode of the third act opens with another flash forward, this time live action and from the very last episode, which I think people will find quite shocking in comparison to what they're accustomed to from the show.

Stay tuned.  Like I said, I'm working at compressing the plot if it's doable.  You may see the number of pending episodes dwindle slightly in the coming weeks.

Cheers,
Jon

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E13: "Dead Weight"

Yo,

Here's the next episode:

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E13: "Dead Weight"

I realize, at approximately eight minutes, that its running time is modest.  However, it's a very visual episode, with lots of action and minimal dialogue.  These kinds of episodes take much longer to produce.

Had a rough day getting this one out.  Worked on the episode all morning and afternoon of the day before yesterday, left to attend a year-end film school project screening that I felt I couldn't afford to miss, came back, then cut the episode for sixteen hours, from one in the morning to five in the following evening.  I was coincidentally dealing with some emotional shit on the phone at around one in the afternoon, the time when I still had a mountain of footage to sift through and my production manager was wondering where the hell the episode was.  I felt so stressed out that I froze for about ten minutes, all the while knowing that precious seconds that could've been spent getting the job done were steadily ticking away.  I haven't felt like that during production of an episode for some time, not since the season five finale.  That was balls.

So, I hope you enjoy.  I'd particularly enjoy some feedback on this one.  I don't respond to comments, but I read all of them.  I regularly click "All Comments" on all of my episode pages and go through the whole list.  I like it when people acknowledge and comment on little details that they find and appreciate, it makes me feel a lot better, which benefits the production of the following episodes.  I also like it when people point out plot-holes, which I might even be able to fix as I develop the scripts.  Of course, if you didn't like something, it's good to mention that too.

Thanks for the continued support, hope you enjoy.

Cheers,
Jon

UPDATE: A curse word is bleeped out in the episode, due to the fact that it's on the network's list of banned ones.  However, keeping the curse word in the first place was a creative decision on my part because I thought the bleep and the censor bar made the moment funnier.  No need to give Machinima shit for it.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E12: "Wake"

Hey guys,

Here's the link to the latest episode:

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E12: "Wake"

This episode represents Arbiter's turning point.  Things start ramping up from here.  Please leave some feedback if you can spare the time.

Cheers,
Jon

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E11: "Black"

Hey guys,

Here's the new episode:

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E11: "Black"

Please leave feedback.  Hope you enjoy.

Cheers,
Jon

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E10: "Burned"

Hey dudes,

Here's the most recent episode:

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E10: "Burned"

I know the plot's moving a bit slowly at the moment, but things will pick up soon.  Particularly by the episode "Dead Weight", and the third act is considerably more intense than the rest of the season has been so far.  Bear with me.

Hope you enjoy.  Please leave feedback.

Cheers!
Jon

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E09: "Broken"

Hey dudes,

Episode nine is now available for viewing:

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E09: "Broken"

I'm quite proud of the ending of this one.  Please leave some feedback if you have the time.

Cheers,
Jon

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Arby 'n' the Chief S07E08: "Blast Radius"

Hey guys,


Apologies for the delayed update. The remainder of season seven is finally airing, starting with episode eight, titled "Blast Radius":


Arby 'n' the Chief S07E08: "Blast Radius"


As I mentioned in an earlier post, episode eight takes place exactly where things were left off in episode seven, "Two Point Zero" -- which could be considered a mid-season finale -- still in the scene featuring the season's big bads on Penance.


I'm sorry about the jarring difference in length ("Two Point Zero" was a half hour long, and "Blast Radius" is ten minutes), but gone are the days of half hour episodes and giant gaps between their releases for reasons regarding promotion and the interest of viewers. Hopefully the weekly uploads will be enough to smooth things over. I'm praying that I'll be able to keep up. I'm stressed the fuck out, but not quite in a state of panic yet. I probably will be in the coming weeks and months.


I was afraid that I'd be torn a new asshole by the viewers once "Blast Radius" due to the shorter episode lengths. Each new string of episodes I release has always had a rocky start, when many people are lacking faith in the direction I'm taking the show and whether or not the quality will be consistent. So I was quite relieved to see all of the positive words fans have written about the episode so far.


If the ending of "Blast Radius" gave you chills, wait until the end of the next episode, "Broken". I think it's really spooky.


You might have noticed that new episodes keep getting added to the list. In addition to "Blast Radius", another one titled "Burned" has just been added. This is because it can be very difficult to judge how long a story beat in my season outline turns out to be when its scene is finally written in the screenplay. Most of the time they turn out longer than initially expected, requiring me to shift excess scenes over to an extra episode. I'm really not trying to draw things out, just to give the story the breathing space that it needs to be enjoyable. There may be one or two more episodes that get thrown in. I'm so used to writing lengthy scripts that it's quite a chore to keep them at around ten pages now.



Now you know that I love feedback, so if you have any that you'd like to share in the video's comments, please do so if you have the time.  I read it all.


Thanks so much for your patience and support as always.


Cheers,
Jon

Saturday, March 2, 2013

News: Arby 'n' the Chief - Season Seven: Second Half


Hey, folks.

So a brief teaser trailer for the second half of season seven of Arby 'n' the Chief went up today.  Catch it here:

Arby 'n' the Chief S07 Part 2: Teaser Trailer

I suck at cutting trailers together, so don't base too many of your expectations of the final episodes on it.  I believe that they still achieve a decent balance of drama and comedy, which the trailer doesn't sell very well.  If Machinima decides to air it next week or the week after, I'll be cutting together a meatier trailer to give people an improved idea of what to expect.

I've been told that the trailer has been censored at one point for featuring the word "cunt" -- you'll probably hear it bleeped out.  Try not to let it bother you as there's nothing I can really do about that.  It seems a bit silly to me since there's plenty of other episodes in the series that feature the uncensored use of "cunt" and "faggot" with no resistance from viewers, likely because whenever I use such terms I always make a point of making sure that they're used in the proper context -- that the person saying the words is the one made to look like an ignorant fool, or the usage is entirely benign and strictly for comedic purposes.

However, Machinima is growing steadily as a company, and I understand their need to clean up their content a bit in order to compete with other major media networks.  I should be grateful -- AMC only lets the writers of Breaking Bad use the word "fuck" once per season, and even then it's muted for airing on television.  Imagine if I operated under the same restriction.  The audio of episodes would merely consist of a ten-minute long bleep.

I am soon to be sent a complete list of "banned" words that need to be bleeped if they're used.  I'm hoping that it's not too extensive.

I realize many fans don't want to see the show end, but at this point I don't have any solid ideas that could support an entire eighth season of episodes, and I want to end the show on a high note.  Seven seasons also feels like an appropriate number to end on (given Bungie's obsession with the digit).  And -- I'm getting old.  It's about damn time that I put the toys away, and I'm sure many would agree.  Not trying to poke fun at the condition, but I'm concerned that keeping the show running into my late twenties and continuing to lie down on my stomach and bob action figures around while I film them might be considered symptomatic of some mild form of autism (not because I attach degradation to the term, but that I simply don't believe that it accurately describes me.  I just like to write, and I'm too lazy to assemble and direct a real crew, obtain and instruct actors and acquire locations and gear).

"Autistic" seems to be the hot insult of choice across the web lately, as it rubs extra salt into a wound due to the fact that the condition is often so misunderstood.  "Retarded" is so last year -- shit's tame now.

I wouldn't want to end up showcased on the likes of Dr. Phil as a model for infantilism.

The total number of episodes of season seven has been increased from sixteen to seventeen.  The script for "Broken", which was about thirty pages long, was written before I agreed with my production manager to keep episodes at a running time of approximately ten minutes.  That episode was consequently broken into two, the first of which has been named "Blast Radius" and will be the premiere of the season's second half.

Events pick up from exactly where they were left off at the end of "Two Point Zero".  "Blast Radius" opens on Penance where we last left Eugene, Tyler and Colin after Colin gunned down and banned an innocent player in order to demonstrate the ability of his personally-developed second iteration of the Fragban software patch.

Some of you may be aware that Machinima laid off ten percent of its staff during the airing hiatus.  Unfortunately, a couple of the folks who fell within that ten percent were voice actors in the show, who are now unable to reprise their roles.  You'll likely notice that the character Tyler and Brody's role-player friend Kyle will be voiced by different people.  I fear that it will be jarring to viewers, but what am I to do?  Art and industry don't always go hand-in-hand, but one can't exist without the other.  Not that I'm qualifying Arby 'n' the Chief as "art", certainly not high art, but you know what I mean.

Again, I'm sorry that I don't update my blog.  Every time I consider sitting down to post on it I feel as though there's a tornado of other tasks that I ought to be handling instead, whether it's writing or editing the show or doing school shit.

School, man.  Balancing it with work across the past couple of months has been a bitch, even without the strain of having to meet weekly air dates.  On top of being required to have enough show episodes written, produced and cut in time for airing back-to-back weekly starting from March 30th, my spring term at film school (lasting from January to April) is giving me a full course load to handle as well as positions on three major live action film shoots.  Weeks are spent developing and preparing each shoot, the shoots themselves are three back-to-back twelve hour days (the second of which I'm on as I write this), and preparation for the next shoot overlaps the post-production phase of the one prior.  It just doesn't stop.  Save for a single week-long reading break from school, since Christmas I've felt like I haven't been able to surface for a breath of air.

But I'm trying.  I'm determined to have the rest of the show not suck ass.  Compared to the seventh season's first half, things start getting more interesting now because I can start paying off what I've set up.

I'm confident that season seven will mark the end of the season-wide story arcs of the show, but it may not mark the end of the characters altogether.  I have a few ideas for more "Bytes" episodes with the pair just fucking around, like the good old days.  I'm also kicking around an idea of doing a parody of 2001: A Space Odyssey featuring the gang.  We'll see.

If those don't happen, I'm bound to be working on some new project.  I don't want to stop screenwriting, I enjoy it too much.

Thanks so much to all the fans of the show for your continued support and undying patience, and please stay tuned.

Cheers,
Jon