Writing Process Blog Tour

I'm grateful to Leesa Dean for inviting me to participate in this blog tour.  Leesa is the one-woman dynamo who writes, directs and hand animates the hilarious and addictive web series Chilltown TV ("the best in scathing urban animated comedy") which I like to describe as The Simpsons meets Pulp Fiction by way of Chien Andalou.  It's that good.  

The format of this blog tour is to answer four questions and introduce three new writers.  Here we go: 

WHAT AM I WORKING ON: I’m working on Season 3 of The Louise Log, the comedy web series which has been my consuming passion since late 2007.  

HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE: It’s very hard to keep up with all the new web series cropping up but I think that The Louise Log differs from other comedy series in its focus on the inner life of Louise, a housewife/frustrated artist.  You see the polite smile, the mask…but then you hear what she’s really thinking from her inner voice.  

WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO? I have a lot of different motivations for writing but mostly I write about things in an effort to understand them.  If something in the news, a movie or a book makes me laugh and especially if I don’t understand why I find it funny, I often steal it and use it.  The act of writing is crucial for both focusing and developing my thoughts.  

HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK?  I don’t really have a writing process as much as I have corrals to corner me and get me to write.  

  • The brain drain.  First thing in the morning, before talking or being talked to, I scribble on three sides of 8 1/2” x 11” paper.  Julia Cameron’s excellent book The Artist's Way  introduced me to this discipline and, at this point, I’m superstitious about giving it up.  Some of the voice-overs and many of the themes of The Louise Log come from this free-writing.  

  • Trial webs.  Gabriele Rico developed this truly astonishing way of writing and explains it in great detail in her book Writing The Natural Way.  After being moved to tears by the essays some supposedly “ineducable” high school boys wrote using her method, I felt hopeful that maybe it would work for me.  I use it for any and everything I write- letters, a blog post, scenes, character development, voice-overs, etc.  The radical aspect of this approach is that you don’t have to have an outline or even an idea of what you’re going to write.  All you have to do is let a feeling, an image or an idea affect you and then jot down what comes to mind as it does.   

  • Deadlines. Without a deadline, I rewrote one feature script for seventeen years.  Monthly deadlines have worked well for me on The Louise Log.  

Finally, here are three writer/artist friends who are extremely productive and (I think) really smart.  They'll post blogs on this tour next Monday, June 2nd but you can take a look at what they're up to right now.

Henry Sheppard is a novelist and screenwriter. His novel Play the Devil, published last December, is the fruit of a number of years spent in Pentecostal churches, where he encountered hypocrisy, sexual and financial abuse, and a pyramid of personality cults. He has also written several screenplays, all romantic comedies, and is currently working on converting the novel into a TV series.  http://adelaidescreenwriter.blogspot.com.au/ 

Susan Kouguell's internationally award-winning short films are in the Museum of Modern Art's permanent collection and archives and were included in the Whitney Musuem's Biennial. Awards include top prizes at the Thomas Edison Black Maria Film Festival, Marburg International Film Festival, Bucks County Festival, Berline Interilm International Festival and the Baltimore International Film Festival.  

She has worked on over a dozen feature films including Mariel Hemingway’s The Suicide Club and voice-over narrations for Miramax Film Corp (assigned by Harvey Weinstein). Kouguell is the recipient of many grants and fellowships, including the MacDowell Colony, Jerome Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, Creative Artists Public Service Grant (CAPS) and Edward Albee Foundation.

In addition, Kouguell has taught screenwriting at Tufts University for fourteen years, at Prague Film School, Harvard University Extension School, Antioch University, School of Visual Arts, at Screenwriters Online and is a regular contributor to many screenplay and film publications.  http://su-city-pictures.com/wpblog/

Marie Christine Katz is a multi-media artist. Her work is an intuitive and spontaneous gesture in reaction to current event(s) or a personal situation that is developed over time.  

She uses paper, fabric, threads, wire, hair, yarn, lint, glass and wax to text, performance & participatory art, sound photography and video. 

Exhibition highlights:  Velada Santa Lucia, Venezuela,  Art in Odd Places NYC, Sell out at No Longer Empty LIC,  Brooklyn Utopias "In TRANSITion", Mapnificent BRAC and Dixon Place NYC.  Marie Christine Katz had an Artist Residency at The Field and Art Omi in 2011. www.mariechristine.com

How To Wreck Your Life With Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a 19-hour a day job so I'll be brief.   The videos (below) give a general idea of what we're up to.  The details of how to donate and support this effort are explained on our page at Seed&Spark.  

How To Wreck Your Life WIth Crowdfunding (part 1)    (3:11)

How To Wreck Your Life With Crowdfunding (part 2)   (1:58)

Introductory Pitch Video: The Louise Log and Season 3   (2:31)   

Growing a Thicker Skin

Out of the blue,  I received this (since edited) email:

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Hungry for a pat on the back, I eagerly clicked on the link to read what turned out to be a very mixed review, mixed (I thought) to the point of mean.  Okay, maybe I'm thin-skinned.  But I had my revenge: I never shared it, posted it, or told anyone about it.  Well, except my husband.  Got him back, that reviewer.  HA. 

But it stuck with me that in this review, the writer did say that our marketing efforts might not be reaching all demographics.  And rereading it, maybe he wasn't so mean.  Still.  I know how to hold a grudge.  

So last weekend, for Pete Chatmon and Candice Sanchez McFarlane's upcoming feature doc CLICK HERE, a group of video producers assembled to talk on camera about the challenge of finding an audience online- Tahir Jetter, Tom Wardach, Stephanie Mohorn, Leyla Rosario, Anthony Artis, Candice, Pete and I. 

l to r Candice Sanchez McFarlane, Pete Chatmon, Anthony Artis

l to r Candice Sanchez McFarlane, Pete Chatmon, Anthony Artis

l to r Tom Wardach, me, Tahir Jetter, Candice half-hidden

l to r Tom Wardach, me, Tahir Jetter, Candice half-hidden

At one point, off-camera, I said to Candice:  "Well, though it LOOKS in the YouTube analytics like my audience is women over 40, I wonder if it just looks that way because the main actors and I are in that demographic, as are our friends and family and I guess their friends, etc.  And, a reviewer once suggested that maybe we aren't reaching all segments of our possible audience."  

Candice:  "Did you ask him if he had any ideas about how to get to the people you're not reaching?"  

I heard a crack in my brain like when a glacier splits.  WHAT.   It had never even occurred to me to ask 'that reviewer'.  But then, there is this 500 pound chip sitting on my shoulder since last October 17 when I read his review.  But who's counting.  I wrote him that night.  

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Four days later he wrote me back .  He had some ideas and sent a url where he had 'written them down'. The url took me to a blog post  (see below), using The Louise Log as a case study for this very problem so many of us are having online. He mentioned the series in the title and both it and me in the the article, hyperlinking to a blog I'd written, etc. etc.  It was better PR than I could have organized in my wildest dreams.  And he was generous to The Louise Log  in the article, very generous.  Within 48 hours, his post had been 'viewed' over 800 times. 

At the risk of looking like I've gone over the edge with the self-promotion, I have to recommend his post: it's chock full of really good, focused ideas-  some that I'd never thought of,  some I'd never even heard of.  (I'm looking at you, Google Trends.*)  But the even bigger lesson for me here is a life lesson.  Deal with whatever chips you've got on your shoulder, get a thicker skin and be more open-minded about what might be an opportunity. Make no assumptions.  

Here's the link to the post.

* Line stolen outright from Suzy Soro's thigh-slappingly funny Celebrity sTalker.

How We're Going To Become A Shorty Award Finalist

One Step At A Time

We're in 8th place!! YAYYY and Thank you!! BUT. To be a Finalist we MUST get to 6th place- at least 123 more votes. A lotta votes. If you're not on twitter but are on fb, please skip to the bottom of the page: 3).

My brilliant friend Louise Edington is thinking the KONY 2012 strategy is the way to go: we tweet at people with big followings. 

Though NO ONE can vote more than once, we'll think of it like a bank shot in pool - aim at the side of the table to hit the middle. Our duplicate votes ('nominations') we send out won't count but they might get more people to vote. So:

1) @ people with a lot of followers (see list below for ideas),  After writing in why, TWEET THIS:

<< I nominated @TheLouiseLog in #webshow b/c (FILL IN WHY). Please take a look @(fill in name from list/someone else) http://shortyawards.com/thelouiselog  >> 

2) In case you don't have an idea of who to tweet @, pick from here. Tweet as many of them as you want.   

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3)  If you're not on twitter but are on facebook and want to help, here's a sample post.  Maybe your friends on twitter will 'nominate' (vote for) us.

SAMPLE POST FOR FACEBOOK

(Not trying to put words in your mouth, just want to make it easy...)

<<  Please take 132 seconds to look at this indie comedy episode about the inner life of a NYC wife and mother.  It needs 123 votes to be a Finalist.  http://youtu.be/YmBelEcURiw  http://shortyawards.com/thelouiselog  >>

Thank you very much for your support!


The Plan for February 13-18, 2013

 

WE HAVE A PLAN

With your great generosity to be willing to tweet and retweet and the rules constraining us, here's another way to go--  (only one vote per twitter acct allowed...)

We need to get into the top six places where the judges will consider the 'Finalists'.

This is what the KONY 2012 team did:  Appeal to people who have huge followings.  

If (for example) @mindykaling with her over 2 million followers gets 25 tweets asking her to look at the louise log, maybe she will!  And maybe she'll tweet about it!

Our rockstar Social Media Specialist @MichelleLupo suggested that it might be a good idea to appeal to them individually through their specific interests.  

IF that's too much trouble for you, NO PROBLEM.  Here's a SAMPLE TWEET but which does NOT target them as individuals. If you're in a hurry, please send it to one or all of the people in the LIST OF TWITTERERS TO TWEET TO (further down the page)

 

THE SAMPLE TWEET

HELP this big little comedy series win the Shorty for Best Web Show, please!  (2:12) http://youtu.be/RJWedNYuXJw 

http://shortyawards.com/thelouiselog

But if you have the time to try and tailor your tweet, here's a list of twitterers with big followings who might go for the louise log.  Included is a description of their interests and some guidelines:

 

GUIDELINES - Please include in the tweet

1) the running time of and the link for episode #4 on youtube:  (2:12) http://youtu.be/YmBelEcURiw

2) the link to the The Louise Log voting page on the Shorty Awards http://shortyawards.com/thelouiselog 

 

THE LIST OF TWITTERERS TO TWEET TO:

Mindy Kaling

@mindykaling Mindy Kaling - desserts, food / romantic comedy / awkward situations / fashion 

Lena Dunham

@lenadunham Brooklyn / young adults / dysfunctional relationships

Paula Pell

@perlapell  She's a witty writer who wrote for SNL and 30 Rock. Appeal to the female filmmaker. 

Christina Gausas

@christinagausas   She's a witty writer who wrote for Conan, 30 Rock. Appeal to the female filmmaker. 

OR anybody else you want!    

 

Thank you my rockstar friends.

See you in the morning.  Or later tonight if you're up.

XXX  Anne 

The Louise Log is Five...and Ready for An Audience

This month, The Louise Log is five years old, almost to the day. For five years, it's been my all-consuming passion, occasionally for 24 hours a day, often for 20. I've loved every minute of every day.

Christine Cook as Louise

Christine Cook as Louise

If you watch one episode, it's obvious that the production has been possible only because a lot of other people have given freely of their time, talents and energy.  And when I say 'freely', I mean it literally.  No one is in this for the money: almost no one has been paid.

Speaking for the whole production team, please know that your interest, your enthusiasm and your feedback have been more important than you might imagine, crucial to our ability to keep going.

Jennifer Sklias-Gahan

Jennifer Sklias-Gahan

But in spite of all we've accomplished, I'm finally eating my conviction that "the cream will rise", that by making good work "we'll break through the clutter".  We need a much bigger audience to make The Louise Log sustainable and we're not finding it by word-of-mouth.

Today marks the earnest beginning of a new phase: Marketing and Promotion.  Though there are still several episodes waiting to be edited (with work by some very talented actors you know and some you've never met) the monthly uploads are on hold until we've given our all to getting the word out.

(l to r) Christine Cook and Pascal Escriout at Tournesol in Long Island City

(l to r) Christine Cook and Pascal Escriout at Tournesol in Long Island City

We need your help.

If you have any connections with popular or very popular blogs, or with traditional or online media which you'd be willing to help us to reach, please write me at anne@thelouiselog.com.

And if you don't have these kinds of friends? There's still a lot you can do. Please take a look at the list of actions* (below) which will make a difference- and could make a big difference.

(l to r) Christine Cook, Catherine Siracusa and Jennifer Sklias-Gahan

(l to r) Christine Cook, Catherine Siracusa and Jennifer Sklias-Gahan

And please let me know what you're doing to spread the word so I can thank you!

I'll keep you posted on our progress. And thank you so very very much for your support.

With my best,

Anne

P.S. As of yesterday,  Subscribers to the mailing list get access to behind-the-scenes videos.  You can see these too.  Just subscribe on the home page or on the contact page:  http://thelouiselog.com/contact/  and you'll receive a secret url and a password. (Ed. note: it's now a secret url, no password)

*act now!

1. Post the link to an episode you like on facebook and/or twitter and tell your friends why they should watch

2. Subscribe to my channel on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/anneflournoy  (lots of subscribers = YouTube pushes your videos)

3. "thumbs up", Comment and Share the videos on YouTube using the little buttons under the video screens.  (You have to click on a video on my channel page to be taken to a page where you'll find the buttons. This is what you'll see:

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under the orange bar you can:  give it a 'thumbs up' , a 'thumbs down' (if you must), or 'Share' it. When you click on the 'Share' button, you'll see:

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you can easily share a video this way to facebook, twitter and Google+ or by email. Making comments here on YouTube along with any of these other actions improves our algorithm with YouTube and YouTube will then push the video.

4. Click the 'Like' button on The Louise Log's facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TheLouiseLog

5. Tell your family and friends about the series and send them the link: http://TheLouiseLog.com or the link to a single YouTube video.

6. Donate!    http://thelouiselog.com/donate/ no amount is too small! Promotion and production need funding.

7.  Pat yourself on the back for me. You've made a difference and I thank you from my heart.

Sophia Remolde and shoes at Tournesol in Long Island City

Sophia Remolde and shoes at Tournesol in Long Island City

(l to r) Catherine SIracusa, Pascal Yen-Pfister and Christine Cook

(l to r) Catherine SIracusa, Pascal Yen-Pfister and Christine Cook

Late Summer Update

This is for you. But I'm afraid you're already disappointed- that you were hoping for episode #34-- or at the very least the news that it'd be showing up on September 1st.  Sorry. It won't be-- not until October 1st.  I'm hoping that letting you know some of what's been going on here might possibly soften the blow.

Here is what, in four categories, has filled June, July and half of August.

HOME

I'm visual...so it's an affront to live with the very visible (if localized) chaos of dust-clogged and wildly overstuffed bookshelves and closets. But I'm also a pack rat. To quote Madonna's immortal lyrics: 'Letting go is not my bag'.

Fortunately, there are no 'before' pictures and I don't want to gloat over the 'after' shots so will just leave this one to your imagination. In the service of spreading the joy, let me say that once started, the job turned into a runaway train. 'Letting go' became a high all its own.

Picture 34

I'll skip as briefly as is humanly possible over my installation of a new router for our internet which took up all of one stiflingly hot and humid evening. It involved following prompts from my guide who instructed me ("Mrs. Annie") over speaker phone in marginal English while I scampered back and forth from the dark and cramped corner under the radiator where the internet enters our apartment to the room where my computer is.

Suffice it to say, I was proud that I neither screamed at him nor ripped the phone from the wall. And, against all odds, the new router works.

I'm not sure the story of my gluey 'cold cucumber/potato soup' (winged without a recipe) merits telling. I'm fairly certain that you're not interested in hearing about a late spring cleaning involving a ladder and an awesome number of wet rags or about the better-late-than-never transfer of all woolen clothes to mothballs in neatly labelled plastic bins.

But the series of stick shift driving lessons for our two license-eligible 20-somethings deserves a mention. These took us into three boroughs and across four states and back, with live-action deer, parallel parking, driving into the blinding setting sun and a lower than average number of popped clutches. It was actually mostly really fun and precious time as our children are about to fly from nest.

WORK

The thousand and one details on the punchlist for the Sundance Institute's online launch of my feature film How To Be Louise (1990) took most of June and part of July.  The whole film will most likely go online at the time of the Sundance Festival in January, but in the meantime, in case you haven't seen it already, there's a two minute trailer showcasing the amazing actors, the gorgeous cinematography, a score to die for and views of Williamsburg from a time when people still thought it was only in Virginia:

Please go 'Like' it on facebook if you want to keep up with its news.

In early August, I went to BlogHer: the pre-eminent conference for women bloggers.  This year, my first time going, there were over 5000 attendees, President Obama gave the opening keynote via video hookup and I finally met (in 3D) some of the incredible writers and internet friends who have helped to spread the word of The Louise Log.

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Alexandra Rosas, an amazingly smart and generous (not to mention hilarious) blogger (who's going to have her story on the next "Best of The Moth" CD) made it possible for me to enter the Grand Ballroom each morning and introduced me to everyone in sight.  

Ann Imig, the founder and national director of Listen To Your Mother (a Moth-like series of live readings by local writers) became an instant old friend and took me to see Porgy and Bess on Broadway.  Meeting them and a raft of other smart and funny and kind women (and one brave man) was eye-opening, inspiring and completely exhausting.

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In spite of no air-conditioning, construction all around and Con Ed's compulsive jackhammering of our street, Christine Cook managed to find a few silent moments to dub Louise's lines for episodes 12,13 and 15.

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After an exhaustive search, longtime Louise Log friend Ron Basci put us in touch with the wonderful actor Ahmad Razvi (Man Push Cart, Chop Shop) who did a brilliant job of dubbing lines for Raj.

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SPIRITUAL

Supposedly, if you work, work, work without 'refilling the well', the well goes dry. I feel incredibly fortunate to have found some sources of bonafide inspiration over the past few months:

Pan Gu Shengong, a kind of 'exercise' which apparently energizes and heals

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Queens Farm, a working farm within the city limits of NYC (!!)

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a page-turner memoir by Deborah Santana which made me want to take more risks

an evening at The Moth where Tara Clancy told her story (and won)

Zeega, a set of mind-bogglingly innovative, interactive, storytelling tools

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a day at Rockaway beach body surfing 

Workflowy, the coolest and most elegant (and free) organizational tool I've ever come across (extra special thanks to Ryan Stansky who told me about it)

the Broadway production of Porgy and Bess with Audra Macdonald and Norm Lewis (thanks to Ann Imig and Holly Rosen Fink) which moved me, MOVED me and lingered in my heart and mind for days

And now we come to the fourth category, which strikes fear in my heart like nothing else in the world:

THE DENTIST

Although I actually love my dentist, I did not take care of my teeth in former times.  Now, in spite of compulsive care, they require a good bit more than routine maintenance and so, in the past few weeks, I've spent more than my share of time under the covers with ice packs, whimpering.

THE FUTURE

In September, you'll get notices for the launch of remastered versions of episodes 12, 13 and 15.

On October 1st (drumroll, please) The Louise Log #34 starring Louise, Ava, Monique, the Camera Crew and Victoria Trestrail's wonderful song Steady Now will be in your inbox.

Here's hoping that you enjoy what's left of the summer. I'll be desperately trying to relax and enjoy mine. Thank you for reading! More video soon! And in the fall, some exciting new developments. Please stay tuned and spread the word. Thank you!

Summer/Fall Schedule and Exciting News

Okay, just so there's no confusion, episode 33 is not the last episode of Season 2.  Its release just happens to fall at a time when we're taking a break from the monthly uploads.

(l to r) Jennifer Sklias-Gahan as Ava, Christine Cook as Louise

(l to r) Jennifer Sklias-Gahan as Ava, Christine Cook as Louise

A break?  Why the break?   (keep reading. . .please scroll down)

(l to r) Christine Cook as Louise, Mathilde Dratwa as Monique
(l to r) Christine Cook as Louise, Mathilde Dratwa as Monique

A) We're nearing the end of Season 2 and need to regroup in order to write and prepare to shoot Season 3 before the weather becomes an obstacle.

B) The wonderful episodes 12, 13 and 15 are going to be completely reworked and remastered for crystal clear sound this summer AND we're determined to make a trailer for The Louise Log.

C) We need a break.

BUT we're not going to abandon you with nothing to watch. There's also some exciting news:

(l to r) Leer Leary as the Camera Man, Tom Tinelli as the Sound Guy
(l to r) Leer Leary as the Camera Man, Tom Tinelli as the Sound Guy

Sundance Institute has arranged for How To Be Louise (1990) (my one and only feature film) (a comedy) to be released on Netflix, Hulu, itunes, and a whole long list of other platforms.  The release date is still to be determined.

Picture 134

As a fan of The Louise Log, you might enjoy How To Be Louise as a pre-quel to The Louise Log--  what Louise was like in her 20's, before she ever got married (though Louise is played by another gorgeous actor you will also fall madly in love with: Lea Floden)  It was shot in Williamsburg before Williamsburg was what it is today and co-stars Bruce McCarty and Maggie Burke and an amazing score by Phillip Johnston of The Microscopic Quartet.

There is a trailer for How To Be Louise and dvd's are for sale in the store.

So please check back to this website and to facebook for updates and if you want to buy a t-shirt to remind you why you love Louise, please do!

Lastly, just like in school, there's a summer assignment:

Please send the link of one episode to ten people you think might enjoy it.

We're so ready to break out and reach a wider audience so this venture can become self-sustaining and we need your help!

Thank you and have a wonderful summer!

(l to r) Jennifer Sklias-Gahan as Ava, Christine Cook as Louise
(l to r) Jennifer Sklias-Gahan as Ava, Christine Cook as Louise

We're where we are because of YOU

  Thank you to you, our audience.

 

You might not be aware of the fact that you are contributing to the

production of The Louise Log.  Yup.  Just by watching.  And if you 'Like' it,

comment on it or share it, you're actually making a significant contribution.

 

There is little in the way of glory and virtually nothing in the way of cash in

this work at this level.  But the boost we get from seeing that people are

watching, that people are commenting and enjoying what we're doing

is rocket fuel.  And that's an understatement. It's thrilling to know that you're

there and that you care!

 

Instead of a blog this month, I'm going to name names, with a stab at getting

them in chronological order. Some of you have helped anonymously and I

can't thank you by name.  Many of you, I've never met in person.  But I thank

you each and every one and I think the entire cast and crew thank you for

helping the series reach an audience out beyond the circle of our family and

friends.  Without your help, we wouldn't be where we are.  You are part of our

team and doing work we couldn't do without you.  Please forgive me if your

name should be on the list and isn't.  I'm sure I've missed a few.

 

Jayne Haynes

Mirra Bank

Allan Knee

Lisa Green

Ann Convery

Barbara Rick @brickdoc

Cheryl Morrison

Robert Agee  @ageerobert

Alexandra Pincock

John Stinson

Sarah Schenck

Adolfo Doring

Marian Evans @devt

Jeremy Hurlburt @jeremyhurls

David Lee Wilson @im2b

David Paul Baker @davidpbaker

Constance Mortell

Laura Hammer @laurabot

Nina Froriep @NinaFroriep

Eric Rickstad‏ @ericrickstad

Jean Vitrano

Sabine Macher

Julia Wrona @JuliaWrona

Carol Jacobanis‏ @Jacobanis

Lynda Crawford

Xiane Sierocka-Stock  ‏ @Xiane

Ron Basci

Maggie Bloomfield

Eileen Gatza

Yolande Villemarie @yolandevillemai

Shallie Bey @ShallieBey

Nancy Chusid

Mary Tierney @iona1010

Anita Goa @AnitaGoa

Tom Diggs  @diggsyt

J. Sibley Law @moonbath

Danielle Earle ‏ @PLSTREETTEAM

Hannah Bos‏ @Hannahbos

Jorge Rivera

Rishi Ramlagan

Molly Campbell ‏ @mollydcampbell

Ann Imig  @annsrants

Alexandra Rosas @GDRPempress

Jacki Schklar  @funnynotslutty

Anna Lefler  @AnnaLefler

Nancy Davis Kho ‏ @midlifemixtape

Erin Donavan Domareki ‏ @gonnakillhim

Eric Mortensen  @ericmortensen 

Henry Sheppard  ‏ @AdelScreenWri

KABLOOEY @kblooey

Marla Mase  ‏ @marlamase

Leila Radan @mizbohemia

Eve Ensler @eveensler

Marta Szabo ‏ @MemoirWriter

DJ Forrester-Roberts

Shari Simpson Cabelin @DustyEarthMom

Jay Patterson

Thomas Attila Lewis ‏ @tomdog

Cindy Goldenberg @CindyGoldenberg

Mudd Lavoie  @MuddLavoie

Pearl Ramsey @PearlofGr8Prize

making The Louise Log #31: How To Fake It

Electrifyingly bad news On August 21, 2010, the ninth of the fourteen shooting days for Season Two,

my utterly reliable crew of Deb Micallef, Nik Kundel and Mike Huson assembled early to get ready.

Leer Leary (l) and Tom Tinelli (r) do not double as crew members.

Leer Leary (l) and Tom Tinelli (r) do not double as crew members.

I was doing my Louise best to keep some electrifyingly bad news to myself and am only now, with this post, alerting my dear crew.

After shooting Season One in high definition (HD), it seemed obvious that, even though HD is inhumanly crisp and lacks all mystery, the decision to go with HD had already been made.  Yes standard definition (SD) looks more like film, yes it's more poetic, but no one is shooting it anymore, anywhere.  How would we ever get advertisers if we shoot on SD?

Getting Help: the Trojan Horse

It's possible that I'm one of the least techy camera operators on two legs and had decided to cover myself by a trip to J&R a week before the shoot. That way, an expert could look over the camera and give me a refresher tutorial on the darn menu.  (I love my Canon Vixia HD 30 but its menu organization with the 'joystick' and multiple levels of windows and buttons to access them is an ongoing mystery to me, dare I say 'nightmare'.)  At least this way I could leave the store with the camera set on HD so there wouldn't be any slip-ups.

The J&R guy was friendly and helpful and showed me how to switch back and forth. I was getting the hang of it.  SD...HD...SD...HD...SD  This is something I really should know-- and it's so easy!  Why was I ever confused?

So I guess you see where this story is going. I felt so glowy and confident after my timewith the expert, that the question of whether it was on HD or SD never again crossed my mind. We'd handled that problem. GAAAAAAH.

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More bad news

After recovering from my Edvard Munch moment, I realized that, aside from the mess that this would cause in having HD for Season One (well, most of it) and SD for Season Two, that there was even worse news.

In video editing, it's very easy to crop the frame and make a close-up out of one person in a group shot.  When shooting HD, this close-up can look great, like it was shot to be a close-up. The same is not true for SD.

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Faking it

In the first eight days of shooting, I hadn't bothered all that much about close-ups because I knew that we were covered.  Except that we weren't.  The good news is that there's something in final cut pro 7 called the 'sharpening' tool which allows even SD to be somewhat sharpened when your cropped frame (blown-up to be a close-up) is too fuzzy.  So Season Two was shot in SD.  

What'll we do for Season Three?  Do you have an opinion, a preference?  Please let us know in the comments below.

And stay tuned for more stories from the making of The Louise Log. We have fun!

making The Louise Log #30: How To Be Woman

A web series within a web series

Movies about the making of movies (Fellini's 8 1/2, Truffaut's Day For Night and Tom DiCillo's Living in Oblivion) have long been among my favorites, so to realize this series of episodes about a production going off the rails has been incredibly satisfying.

Beyond that, it was a lot of fun because of the amazingly talented and generous actors and crew members. They threw themselves into this with a professional commitment to their craft and to the success of the project- but with no attitude. This makes for an enviable work situation (click on photos of cast to enlarge):

(l-r) Leer Leary, Tom Tinelli, Jennifer Sklias-Gahan  (all photos by Elke Rosthal)
(l-r) Leer Leary, Tom Tinelli, Jennifer Sklias-Gahan  (all photos by Elke Rosthal)
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Trouble in Paradise

All the fun came to a screeching halt when it came time for the editing. From the sound files, it seems that the sound mixer, whose job was to record the sound in this episode, must have been having a very, very bad day.  Thanks to the skill and care of our sound editor Laura Hanna you'd never know it. (Just to be clear, this actual crew member is never seen on screen.)

IMG_0511
IMG_0512

Props in a pinch

The 'wireless mic' (above) which Ava wears on her thigh was made by someone on the real crew. (Deb Micallef, Nik Kundel and/or Mike Huson)  Fashioned on the fly, out of a box of Glide dental floss, a dead cell phone battery, an inter-tooth brush and some really good glue, Jennifer Sklias-Gahan sportingly taped it to her leg. (Please let us know in the comment section below if you were fooled on seeing it from afar. Come onnn!)

Christine Cook
Christine Cook
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Riot on The HighlineThe day we shot this, Christine Cook had her first (and maybe only) short day in Season 2. She joined us for her (one bar of) butter pecan ice cream in the very late afternoon. Only by leaving a lot on the cutting room floor, was it possible to cut around the excitement Christine Cook stirred up on The Highline.

In case you want to watch again, here's the link to episode #30.  (Episode #31 goes up on April 1st. Please sign onto the mailing list to receive the link to it and to the next blog.  Thank you for reading and watching!)

making The Louise Log #29: How To Cope With War On A Video Set

So, I just had a 'yikes' moment reading notes from August 29, 2010 when we shot this episode.   It was bracing, then and now.

On top of the perennial last-minute production challenges, we were facing

five more days of shooting with no one scheduled to record sound and all our

leads coming to dead ends.  A key actor with a family emergency was leaving

town for at least a few days, maybe longer.   A core crew member was swarmed

by a group of teenagers who, mercifully, only stole his cell phone.  To look at

the pictures (and to watch the episode), you'd think we had it all under control.

(OH yeah.)  Thanks for reading and if you want to watch the episode, please click HERE.

Louise on the Highline

Louise on the Highline

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(l to r) Leer Leary, Jennifer Sklias-Gahan, Tom Tinelli
(l to r) Leer Leary, Jennifer Sklias-Gahan, Tom Tinelli


making The Louise Log #28: How To Be Cool

The Weather

I didn't write down the details of the weather for August 25, 2010, but I fear that everyone involved in the shoot has it branded on their brains: it was a 95 degree-plus, humid, NYC dog day.  I know this because everyday we shot in August of 2010 was record-breaking for heat and humidity.  And we shot this scene in the heat of the day from 12:30 - 3PM.  A boxy grey machine (see below) was our salvation, an air conditioner.  Naturally it was off during takes as it made a healthy roar.  

(l to r) Ava, Louise and the air conditioner

(l to r) Ava, Louise and the air conditioner

The Team

This cast and crew are a director and producer's dream: they worked hard, they joked about the difficulties of a seat-of-the-pants production and they rose to every challenge.   Deb Micallef, Nik Kundel and Mike Huson were the crew from heaven.  No job was too small or too difficult.  And no request was too last-minute (which they all pretty much were).

The Cast

Christine Cook was good-naturedly encased in her fantastic Season 2 dress which was of 100% man-made fibers and hot as can be.  We'd decided (back in the cool days of spring) that if she never changed dresses, continuity would be possible and stealing reaction shots across episodes (in the editing) would be possible.  (FYI to beginning filmmakers, this was one of the best ideas of the entire production.  Especially because we sometimes had to shoot scenes from multiple episodes in one day and only once had an experienced script supervisor.) 

Christine Cook (photo by Elke Rosthal)

Christine Cook (photo by Elke Rosthal)

The character of Ava was written for Jennifer Sklias-Gahan after we saw the video of her improv character 'Melanie Stone'.  Jennifer brought with her a trunkload of costumes, jewelry for every look and multiple pairs of unwearable high heels, which she proceeded to run in for the benefit of the show, in multiple takes.

Jennifer Sklias-Gahan (photo by Elke Rosthal)

Jennifer Sklias-Gahan (photo by Elke Rosthal)

Leer Leary (Camera Guy) came to the cast via the recommendation of Pascal "Phineas II" Yen-Pfister.  I'd seen a video of Leer on YouTube but never met him before the day of the shoot.  Leer supplied the prop camera he uses from his own collection.  (And, little known fact, Leer is the co-creator of the music used in episode 2.)  

I only learned recently that Tom Tinelli was browbeaten into taking the part of the Sound Guy by his colleague at HB Studios Catherine Siracusa (The Guidance Counselor/Principal).  The boom Tom uses is actually an old schoolhouse window-opening stick with a broken H-4 zoom mike wired to cover the hook at the tip. 

(l to r) Leer Leary, Tom Tinelli, Mike Huson

(l to r) Leer Leary, Tom Tinelli, Mike Huson

Mike Huson, who's busy throughout the episode with the orange extension cord, was drafted from his real life crew position as A.D., to play the Gaffer Guy in Louise's shoot.  Very good egg, Mike Huson.  These three troopers spent a great deal of the day waiting (without complaint) for their close-ups.  [caption id="attachment_1173" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="(l. to r.) Leer Leary, Tom Tinelli, Mike Huson"][/caption]

The Music

"Steady Now", the music for this episode, was written and performed by Victoria Trestrail. Though Victoria lives in Trinidad, we met through the miracle of the internet and she's been letting us use her songs since "Johnny's Fool" in episode 17.   

Victoria Trestrail, singer/songwriter

Victoria Trestrail, singer/songwriter

Episode 28 is based on barely one page of script.  Originally it was intended to be one little moment in 'episode 24'.   (What we'd thought would be 'episode 24' has turned into episodes 24 - 28.) Enjoy the show.

A Quick Look Back, and Off Into 2012

In November of 2007, shortly before Christine Cook and I were scheduled to shoot for the first time at the Union Square farmers market in New York City, Chris came down with the flu and called to postpone.  I remember my entire body gasping in relief: "NO PROBLEM!"  I shouted into the phone, giddy at the sudden reprieve.  "Of course, no no no, there's no reason, no reason at all  to push yourself if you're not up to it.  You just take it easy!"   I hadn't worked with an actor in years and had managed to avoid looking over the manual of the little point-and-shoot camera that was to have recorded the outing. P-H-E-W.  

Christine Cook at the Union Square farmers market

Christine Cook at the Union Square farmers market

It's probably no accident that The Louise Log turned into the story of a character who is anxious about facing the challenges of life.  Nevertheless, four years later to the day, the 28th episode makes its debut. 

There's been a lot of water under the bridge: more than 125 people have been involved in the production in one way or another, almost all of them contributing their time, energy and talent for no financial gain.  I can't thank enough the actors, musicians, crew members (more about them here), my co-writer Sandra Vannucchi and story consultant 

Mark M. Green.  Without all of their work, this series would not exist.

(l to r) Christine Cook, Jennifer Sklias-Gahan

(l to r) Christine Cook, Jennifer Sklias-Gahan

The Louise Log is also deeply grateful to Roger Ebert, who has tweeted about it twice, to Eve Ensler who gave us a killer quote for the homepage and to Henry Sheppard, whose tireless work has resulted in an almost-complete IMDb record, a Wikipedia entry for me and another one for the series in the near future.

Snezhana Chernova from The Louise Log #8: How To Interview Babysitters

Snezhana Chernova from The Louise Log #8: How To Interview Babysitters

Thanks to Eric Mortensen and blip.tv, many episodes have been featured on the blip.tv homepage and episode #27 clocked over 25,000 views in 18 days.  Since Molly Campbell introduced me to the other smart (and killer-funny) bloggersAnn's Rants embedded an episode and Alexandra Rosas featured it on her blog Good Day Regular People and continues to be a tireless torch bearer.  These women have shown me, by example, how-to social media and opened up a whole new world of fellow travellers.And I can't not mention my fellow web series producers Tom Diggs, Matthew Kirsch, Danielle Earle and Daryn Strauss who have been rocks of support.

The plan for 2012 is to continue cutting and posting Season 2 and then to shoot Season 3.  All Louise, all the time is a diet I'm very happy on.  But there will be one change -  we're going to try to do a better job of spreading the word.  As always, any suggestions (insider or otherwise) you might have for actions we could take to make this series the *must-watch* comedy series for women (and for the men who are interested in them) would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you very much for your interest and your support.  Happy New Year.