“Before the Tome” Teaser Video Progress

Hi folks, a quick update on progress with our preview video. We have shot 75% of the footage required. Two of the 3 scenes have been assembled in Adobe Premiere Pro and are ready for colour correction and audio mastering. Half of the remaining scene (interview responses from our biomolecular researcher Associate Professor Bronwyn Gallagher) is already shot – we just need footage from our news anchors to provide the questions she responds to.

I’d like to thank everyone involved so far in the production of “Before the Tome” – the final name for our preview video. In the case of actors, this means:

  • David Clark, a real trooper, who has been a passionate supporter of the project, and did a great job as Premier Mike Sherwood.
  • Peter Mitchell, who delivered a couple of nuanced and super-professional takes when we were time-crunched for location access.
  • Veronica Constance for doing such a great job as our scientist Bronwyn Gallagher. After two quick run-throughs and I have enough to cut into our footage of our news anchors.
  • Najib Melky and Melissa Evans, our intrepid media-scrum front row, who did a great job delivering lines in a largely improvised setting. “Jibby” and “Mel” will return in the main Tomekeepers production in very important roles.
  • Chad McMartin and Ginnette Kovarik, who did a superb job as our body-guards. They were officious, no-nonsense and entirely professional. Nobody would possibly know that the lines they delivered were improvised on the spot… until now. J Nice work both of you!
  • Pooya Mahootchi, for his enthusiasm at not only being a back-rower in our media scrum, but for press-ganging a couple of his friends into helping out as well. They all did really well. Hopefully they’ll get a bit of a buzz from seeing themselves in the final product.
  • Damian Lyons and Stephen Jeffrey for helping to round out our “press gang”, and doing so patiently and enthusiastically. Special props go out to Damian’s daughter for being so well behaved, and even helping out as a junior assistant grip. J

As well as those good people, I also need to acknowledge the fine work of Matt Roberts – a local Adelaide cinematographer, who provided excellent quality double-coverage on our politicians – and Lucy Bridge-du Barry, who was very helpful in getting set up and stepped down so quickly for the big announcement scene with our politicians, and for offering to help out where she can on ongoing development of the series from the “writing room”. I look forward to working more with both of you in the future!

And finally – a huge shout out to Lord Mayor of Adelaide, Stephen Yarwood for making the Lord Mayor’s office available to us for shooting last Wednesday. Thanks so much for supporting indie film-making in Adelaide and providing an awesome setting for our big show-piece scene.

One final “in advance” shout out goes to Andrei Gostin at UniSA’s Magill campus Media Studies unit for being open to what we’re trying to achieve with the Tomekeepers and for offering his support, especially for our final preview shoot next week. I look forward to meeting Andrei in person and getting some great footage in the can.

Some production perspectives

Hi folks,

Another big weekend of helping Mickenmich Productions with their upcoming feature film – codenamed AM3. I’m the sound recordist on that project. AM3 will be going into somewhat of a hiatus shortly so I’m looking to ramp up the activity levels on the Tomekeepers project in production terms. This will include our teaser video (being shot next week) that helps to ask a lot of questions about the milieu without answering many, and a few 1 minute character-focused shorts that gives people an idea of who our character are, where they come from, what brings them into the circle of influence that our story follows.

This means I have a busy few weeks ahead of me in terms of writing and editing. Our pitch video is up, and you can see it on Vimeo or YouTube (both linked below in case of browser incompatibilities).

Tomekeepers_Crowdfinding_Pitch from Jeremy on Vimeo.

In the meantime, I want to write briefly about the bigger picture of what the Tomekeepers project is really about.

So… let’s say you have a career, but you’ve now got to the point where you’re not going to get a lot further with it, you’ve lost the passion that drew you to it in the first place. You discover a new field of endeavour that makes sense to you, and you start pursuing it as a hobby for a while, and then you realize that not only is it great fun, but the more seriously you take it, the more fun it is. And so you start thinking about how you transition from your existing career with its income that you’re attached to, into a new career path.

If you go back to uni, you’re not going to be able to pay your bills. If you do a intership/traineeship in the new career, you’re not going to be able to pay the bills. The people in their early 20s who have degrees in that field will treat you like you know nothing until you prove otherwise. Nobody in your career path is going to touch you without a degree or diploma in the appropriate field, or professional experience. The organizations that exist to provide industry support will generally not provide the kind of support you need to step across from a professional role in one field into a professional role in your chosen path without a significant volume of existing professional-level credits.

So how do you make a like-for-like career jump where you’re jumping from one career train onto a similar section of a career train on a different set of tracks?! Well… ultimately – You need to prepare for the jump.

  • You look at what other people who have that leap before you have done, and learn from that.
  • You anticipate the other train’s motion in relation to your own.
  • You recruit people on the other train to catch you if you stumble in your leap.
  • You treat it like a sales exercise. (Ultimately, all job-hunting is sales!)

In sales, you don’t think about what you want to sell… you think in terms of what other people want to buy, and how to convince people that what you can deliver is what they want.

In my case – I’m trying to transition out of IT into TV writing and production.

So… looking at what other people done to make their own leap of that sort…

  • They have had a lot of self-belief
  • They didn’t jump into things until they had done their research
  • They had a clear sense of purpose and direction
  • They were tenacious in pursuing their goals
  • They backed themselves
  • When they were told “No” they understood why, then fixed it so that the next no was for a different reason.
  • The made something of their own when they were told they couldn’t play in other peoples’ back yards.
  • Everything they did – every step they made – they made for a reason that furthered their cause in some strategic or tactical manner.

To that end, the last 4 years has seen me buy and read a lot of books; watch a lot of BTS and how-to videos; and start shooting a lot of footage – even if only for my own interest.  I have lurked in forums; contributed to FaceBook groups; attended workshops; subscribed to magazines and industry newsletters.  I have probably spent a significant percentage of the time required for a film school degree  teaching myself how the film and television industry works.  And now I’m ready to take that leap, dragging as many other people behind me as I can – actors, crew, writers and other production staff.

I also know what the television industry wants.  It wants the same bankable certainty that any industry in our country wants.  It wants proof of capability.  It wants to see the proof in the pudding before the pudding is prepared.  In the TV industry, that means an audience that’s already engaged and “locked in”.  The metrics for that lock in include FaceBook/Google+ likes, YouTube/Vimeo hits, Twitter buzz and plenty of press engagement.

So please… reach into your pockets and support The Tomekeepers.  In industry terms, we’re asking for very little.  The crowd-funding goal would put us at $10,000 per episode, which is a pittance in comparison with the kinds of shows I’m looking to compete with.  The West Wing had a budget of $6m per episode (in real terms, that would be around $9m today).  Warehouse 13 has a budget of $2m per episode.  Rake has a budget of around $900K per episode.  I’m looking to crowd-fund just over 1% of the latter on a per episode basis.  With that, I can shoot on a great camera with quality glass, use professional editing tools and workflows, and pay my cast & crew enough to keep them afloat and locked in on the project for the time it will take to make 10 episodes of TV while people involved still have day jobs.  That money will also pay for insurances, a small amount of SEO and social media marketing (which will be necessary for us to build up the buzz required to get picked up by a network so everyone can be paid), and for production essentials such as storage consumables (SSDs/CF cards), script printing (400 – 500 pages printed per episode) and equipment maintenance costs.  It might even get us some standing sets and somewhere to put them. Remember that we’re making episodes of a length to fit a commercial television “broadcast hour” (i.e. 42-45 minutes to allow for interstitial advertising), so $10K per episode breaks down to around $220/minute, which in television terms is effectively free.  In return for that, you’ll get a season of television which you can watch on the internet.  You’ll get a preview into what I’m hoping will be a fully network funded TV show.  And there’s some great rewards on offer that insiders will love.

Please head to our IndieGoGo campaign and do your bit today!

Television – it’s a team sport!

Hi folks – a slightly different blog post tonight. I’ve had a super busy week with organizing auditions for the upcoming preview video that I haven’t had much of a chance to prepare the next blog, share some “producer’s eye” insights into my last week.

Firstly – I have a day job, so keep in mind that this is all happening between the hours of 6pm and whatever time I’ve got to bed. Moving on.

I posted an ad on Star Now (an entertainment industry cast and crew site) a few weeks back looking for people to play roles in a 5 minute preview video in which I’m going to be introducing the core event that lies at the basis of our milieu. Not a lot of character information, and very little by way of action – but it sits together nicely as a single unit of work. I wrote it last week in a single sitting.

The purpose of this video is four-fold:
1. Introduce the major event that kicks off the societal transformation that I hope to show by the end of the web-series, to be titled “Tomekeeper Preludes”.
2. Create a “proof of capability” piece that I can post on the crowd-funding site as a means to drive more conversions on my crowd-funding site.
3. Get some actors on boarded into the program that will be self-motivated to help drive the buzz around the production, and to consider for roles in the main web-series.
4. Do a dress rehearsal on a smaller scale to prove to myself that I really can do this!

So… with that context in mind, consider the following. I had about 32 responses to the casting call. I need this video up on IndieGoGo ASAP, so as of Monday I had about 4 days to achieve the following:
* Lock in a time when I would be available between work and shooting with Mickenmich Productions on the weekend that would also suit the majority of people who responded to my casting call.
* Lock in a place where I could host 10-15 people at a time. As nice and large as the place AW and I rent is for two people, it’s not really built for having that many people in any room except the one that is full of my music, movie making and computer gear.
* Keep people informed about what was going on re: auditions and other activities.
* Continue driving people to this site and the Facebook and Google+ page.
* Distribute the script before auditions took place.
* Review all of the profiles on Star Now from people who applied for roles.
* Pick up keys for the venue I managed to hire.
* Spend some time with my very beautiful and talented partner (Love you Hon!).
* Resend the information I had sent to everyone else to the new casting call respondents who applied as late as Friday morning.
In addition to that, I had to deal with a busy work week, notice of a house inspection arriving and some work on a code project for a friend. A very old and very good friend from interstate dropped in for the weekend so we caught up for lunch on Saturday… and around all of that, I also had morning shoots with Mickenmich until 12:30 on Saturday, 2:00pm on Sunday.

This is not a complaint.. this is just perspective. It’s been great fun, but it’s also been very, very tiring. 🙂

Auditions
On Friday evening, and on Sunday afternoon I hosted about 16 out of the 32 people who applied for roles at Blackwood Memorial Hall… home of Blackwood Players and various other community groups. For the record – very reasonably priced (cheaper than rooms at the local council-run community centre). I had to make some fast decisions based on who had turned up, who had what sort of acting chops and what roles people had applied for. We had a very extras-heavy night on Friday, and a smaller speaking-role heavy group on Sunday. I picked scenes we wanted to concentrate on to get people engaged as quickly as possible, and had a few of the extras read for speaking roles as stand-ins for other people. One of my extras got a lift from a friend, who I got to stand in and read one of the major roles a couple of times. I felt it was really important to let everyone read for whatever roles they were comfortable trying.

I also took some time to spell out what I’m trying to achieve with this project – not just for myself, but for others like me hoping to break into the entertainment industry in one capacity or another, and explained how I’m hoping to structure the possibility of a deferred payment plan for cast, crew, myself and investors. I spelled out the importance of getting things moving with social networks, and how important it is that the awareness of this project goes viral. Without a significant number of facebook/google+ likes, we’re unlikely to get anywhere near our crowd-funding targets. I also stressed the important of not only liking the various social media pages, but also sharing links with friends, family, work colleagues, etc. So far, people have been true to their word and the reach of the campaign has expanded significantly.

The outcome of the auditions is that I have now cast all but two-and-a-half roles. I am going to be auditioning three people for a female news anchor role, and one of them will get a role as a field reporter. I have actors cast in the roles of the state Premier, Leader of the Opposition, my male news anchor, scientist and 3 journalists, although I’ve realized now that I can reduce that by one. I have my two police officers doing protective duty for the Premier and I have a batch of willing extras who will get to media-mob the Premier as he leaves Parliament house.

While that’s nice, the greatest and most joyful outcome from auditions is that I have two major recurring roles cast for the web series itself, and minor recurring roles assigned to at least six or seven others! This is super-exciting. I’m hoping that of the three people I’ll be seeing later this week for the Female news anchor role, that one of them will impress me enough that I can fill another of my lead roles. Having seen show-reels on Star Now, I’m confident that at least two of the three might be good enough to fit the bill.

So… What’s next?
Well… other than preparing for a house inspection…
* I’ve just had a great idea on a way to trim some time out of my script. That will probably require about 10 minutes of writing to fix.
* I need to start writing some teaser scripts for my main characters.
* I want to ramp up the social media activity considerably. This will mean at least two more posts up here this week.
* I have an audition to organize
* I have a couple of locations to scout and organizations to contact regarding access to standing sets, etc.
* I have an additional writer to on-board.
* I have actor agreements to send out and get back…
Oh… and I mentioned the house inspection? That means it’s time for me to post this and go!

I’ll post again the other side of the house inspection! Expect something Wednesday or Thursday night.

To the meat of the thing. i.e. CHARACTERS!

So… now you have a rough idea of the forces in play, let’s start looking at the characters who will be driving the narrative in this story.   For the web-series, we’re very much focused on world-building, so our characters are leaders, decision makers and major thinkers.  To whit, I give you:

  • Mike Sherwood – Premier of South Australia at the moment that the Factor 46 outbreak took off.  Mike is a member of the normally conservative Liberal Party, but like many South Australians from that party, is considered by pundits to be a comparatively “small-L” Liberal leader.  He has rolled back some of the more ridiculous extremes from privatization, and has promote government-to-enterprise partnerships to strong economic effect.  One of the key drivers of his success has been his early and continued support for Braithwaite Biomed – a medical nanotechnology company that was founded in Adelaide on the back of state government grants to Braithwaite Biomed (BBm) specifically, and for the establishment of a Cooperative Research Centre in the state for the commercialization of nanotechnology.  Sherwood is a shrewd operator, but is renowned for his blunt honesty, independent thinking, willingness to engage good advice early and often, and persistence in working for the interests of South Australians above the daily political needs of his party.

    Sherwood has a wife his own age, but no children.  He was a successful equities trader for a Merchant Bank early in his career, but has since cashed in his share portfolio and expanded his personal wealth through direct investment in small-to-medium tech start-ups. While he doesn’t directly own any shares in Braithwaite Biomed, his investment foundation does.  To avoid any question of conflict of interest, the investment foundation reinvests dividends and share splits from BBm into grants to fund rehabilitation/training programs for people recovering from workplace injuries, and small business start-ups being run by people who are trying to raise themselves above the institutionalized poverty which has been an issue for South Australia – one of the worst affected “Rust Belt” states.  The one chink in Sherwood’s armour is his zealous protection of intellectual property rights.  He is a firm believer in the value of IPR to new and upcoming enterprises, and has strengthened South Australia’s legislation in the IP domain considerably.

    Wildly popular in his home state -and seen as somewhat of a maverick by his colleagues on the national stage – Sherwood is the political leader I want for South Australia.

  • In the wake of the Australian Labor Party’s ongoing problems with “faceless men” and the perceived bully-boy tactics employed by those individuals, seeds of change have been planted by individuals like <Name TBA – dependent on whether I cast a woman or a man in the role>.  Their tenacity in sticking up for the rights of working class South Australian has not diminished, but the need for it has.  With BBm’s huge licensing incomes for their Asclepius product creating improved conditions across the state’s economy as a whole, and Sherwood’s pragmatic grass-roots capitalism helping people to rise above the need for welfare safety nets, the state’s working population is happy with their lot.  The need for trade unionism and profession-based worker advocacy has dwindled significantly, and the ALP are only just starting to find ways to be relevant again.

    Their leader is an outspoken proponent for globalizing the benefits our own state is receiving on one hand, while also warning of the dangers inherent in having all of our eggs in the BBm basket.  As Factor 46 strikes, and the roots of the contagion are traced back to early prototypes thought destroyed by BBm, the new ALP leader is to be proven right.  Once Factor 46 breaks out, it is this leader who talks Sherwood around on the idea that when information is the difference between death and survival, that information should be freely available to all.  The establishment of the South Australian hive of the Tome is a joint effort that combines Sherwood’s brilliant leadership and negotiation skills, with the humanist ideology and level-headed diplomacy of the opposition leader.

    via adelaidia.sa.gov.au
    SA Parliament House
  • Orville Braithwaite is a brilliant young bio-engineer with graduate degrees in computer science and molecular chemistry.  He rose to prominence with the patronage of Mike Sherwood who provided initial venture capital to his nanotechnology firm, Braithwaite Biomed.  With Orville at the help, BBm is recognized as a world leader in nanotechnology.  Their Asclepius product is the first nanotechnology system which can be tasked to perform multiple tasks while in the human body.  With some initial (highly) encrypted input from an operator, Asclepius fixes whatever ailment it’s instructed to target, even down to the repair of genetic material in patients’ cells as a preventative measure for congenital diseases.  It does so via a range of biochemical “armatures” which are kept a tightly guarded secret by Orville and his team.  They have had first-hand experience with what can happen when such secrets get out (another story to be told another day).  As such, Orville is distrustful of the Tome initiative, and becomes one of the first examples of a Lorebinder.  After being in business for 8 years, Orville’s company is now worth about US$78 billion, and has retained its independence partially though the strength of South Australia’s new IPR laws, and partly because Orville and his friends are paranoid to the point of delusion where their trade secrets are concerned.
  • Orville’s beautiful wife Melanie has born him two children, and sits on the board of BBm as their communications director.  It is rumoured that she was involved in the incident in which BBm’s security was breached 3 years ago and fell for Orville when he saved her from the nefarious designs of a multi-billionaire media mogul.  Little is know of her background.  She is rarely seen in person outside the board room, but she has Orville’s ear, and is rumored to be a key asset in his efforts to foil his competitors’ attempts at corporate espionage.  She is known to be Mercurial, hard to pin to an opinion, and hopelessly loyal to Orville.
  • Associate Professor Bronwyn Gallagher is a senior research scientist at BBm who also lectures at the University of Adelaide.  She leads the team that analyzes the Factor 46 nanovirus and its devolutionary payload. She is a biochemist, first and foremost.  Despite understanding Orville’s drive to keep BBm scientific information private towards the good of the public, she was a card-carrying member of the scientific community well before he was born.  As such, her ideals are informed by those of the Tome – i.e. that knowledge should be shared, if only so it can be reviewed by peers with similar qualifications and that sometimes their insights in turn lead to refinements in the knowledge originally shared.  While Orville prefers that such reviews should only ever be internal, Gallagher still has friends outside the company and will occasionally sneak a carefully isolated snippet of information out for an external opinion.  While Orville knows that this happens, he turns a blind eye to it – knowing that Gallagher does her best to prevent a single scientist getting access to enough information to reverse engineer knowledge currently being protected by BBm.  Gallagher has a grown daughter – Abigail -and is grandmother to a talented and precocious child named Allison – although everyone calls her Ally.  In some respects, Gallagher’s arc through the web-series will be one of the more dramatic.  She will be driven to extreme measures at a personal level in order to save her daughter and grand-daughter.

This it for this installation.  Find out about more Tomekeepers characters next time!

The Free Trade Alliance

We briefly mentioned the Free Trade Alliance in the last post. The Free Trade Alliance is another loose confederation, but instead of being driven by ideological or social affiliations, they are made up of the remnants of large corporations, island tax havens and old money merchant families. Their agenda is simple – “If information is worth having, it will also have a price.” By ensuring that they collect that price during any knowledge and information exchanges, members of the FTA gain the tools to ensure their own survival. Most members of the FTA have their own paramilitary forces, loyal to the “Corp”, not the “Corps” as found amongst Tomekeeper Corps operatives. FTA paramilitaries will be armed with the best gadgets, weapons and computing systems that currency can buy on the black market.

While they are largely motivated by their own survival, many FTA members will still show a nominal interest in protecting the assets and incomes of their shareholders. While the large national bourses might have been devastated by Factor 46, their computer systems will not have been affected until unmanaged outages start to occur in disease ravaged cities. Those companies that have survived will almost definitely know who is still alive to own stocks, as even those governments that have nationalized corporations in the interests of the population at large will have to go through some bureaucratic processes to document the transfer of assets and potentially provide compensation to dispossessed shareholders. Nationalized entities with some private holdings are less likely to act in the interests of their shareholders than public companies with significant equity in private hands. Even more motivated by self-interest are private companies whose wealth and assets are primarily held by wealthy industrialists.

By the time we get to the main story line, the FTA will have established an information trading exchange with a strong derivatives market. However, rather than cash values, the prices paid on that exchange will be paid in raw materials, manufactured goods and other hard assets. Those assets will have values related to their regional demand in the location where the trade takes place, so logistics is going to be an important capability for FTA members who are looking to exploit comparative advantage (as driven by scarcity and surplus of such resources) between different regional economies. During the initial web-series, the FTA will still be recovering from the aftershocks of Factor 46 and exercising their “business continuity” plans. The major bourses will be in the process of suspending trading as Factor 46 spreads, and in the immediate aftermath, companies critical to the establishment of the tome (e.g. Information Technology cloud providers) will be trying to prepare arguments as to why they should not be annexed by governments in national and international interests.

With the risk management, compliance and risk capabilities one would expect of large corporations, the members of the FTA can rarely be taken at face value. Understanding their motives in any transaction usually requires better than single-step thinking. If an FTA organization is offering information for sale at a price too good to refuse, then you can guarantee that they are doing so to stymie a competitor, break open a new market, or set up a trading chain in regionally scarce resources from which they can reap significant profits.

One final note about the FTA – while many member organizations trade within national boundaries, a certain number will establish a true extraterritoriality. Oil rigs and abandoned commercial or naval ships may be anchored together to create floating cities in which raucous black-markets can operate without any supervision other than that from the entities who have claimed and aggregated those assets. These FTA members will be the best armed and most ruthless operators in the Tomekeeper milieu. When they move against Tomekeeper Corps or Lorebinder interests – their actions will be decisive, well prepared and often deadly.

In our next post, we’ll start talking about what happens in South Australia when Factor 46 starts unleashing its deadly payload. In the meantime, please continue to spread the word about our IndyGogo campaign and touch base to let us know if you want to be involved.

Singapore Skyline
Image sourced via Creative Commons