Saturday, May 23, 2009

Documentary Storytelling

Anthony Artis mentioned this book during a recent Double Down Film Show podcast. I've been struggling with the plot for my documentary, so I ordered it right away.

It's a big book, no-nonsense walls of text and not interested in pictures. And within the first 10 pages it had me thinking about documentary structure and storyline in ways I had not been before. That didn't necessarily make my job easier, but I felt like I was back in college studying for an actual course, and learning at that level.

With my subject, I'm not lucky enough to have a storyline with an obvious main character, a quest, adversity, and a pre-ordained event path. Movies like The King of Kong, 10 MPH, and Spellbound have that part easy; they are tracing events leading up to a bigger, defining event - a big tournament, the end of the cross-country segway trip, and the National Spelling Bee.

I had a progression of events in mind for the board gaming documentary, bigger and bigger board gaming events leading up to the industry's biggest, but that's not a storyline.

However, now that I'm thinking storytelling, about how to best convey what's interesting about my topic, ways to tell that story are easily coming to mind. I've just finished the first draft of a plot outline, and though I know it needs work, it's really exciting to actually have that in hand. It's a big step!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Board gaming in China

Just caught the following article:

Board Games Become Popular among Jiangxi White-collar Workers

Board games, a type of content-rich social games first introduced in Europe and the United States some thirty years ago, have recently gained popularity among white-collar workers in Nanchang of east China's Jiangxi Province.

Local website reported Tuesday that the board games have become a new alternative to the tech and computer lifestyle popular amongst well-paid working locals, who are now often opt to play after their work....

You can read the whole thing here. I love that picture.

Friday, May 15, 2009

10 MPH

The intro to this documentary really hit home. They wax about spending 8 hours a day in cubicles and letting go of your dreeeeeeams, maaaaaan...I hear ya, bro!

Only, I actually really like my day job. And for my film, I don't have the "money guy" putting up $20k (which may be just as well, as it turns out)...or an idea guy, or pretty much anyone but me and my brother and a couple awesome friends, I'm not quitting my day job, or moving to Colorado to ride cross-country on a Segway from Seattle to Boston...FINE, it's not that eerily similar. But I DID see somebody riding a Segway down my street one day...and this is a cool little documentary.

"An idea is like a seed. It can grow to be a beautiful flower...or it can grow to be a huge-ass weed." - J.fred

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What Lies Beneath

So it might seem like there hasn't been an awful lot going on here since the Gathering a month ago, but I'm being the proverbial duck paddling like crazy below the surface of the pond. Above the surface, I'm sniffling and sneezing, my first introduction to the wonderful world of allergies, and I'm like the 4th person I know who's getting hit HARD with them this season for the first time ever (I smell a horror movie screenplay, or at least a really good X-Files episode)...but I digress...

Here's a little status update on the project:

  • Transcribing. I still need to go through all 20+ hours of footage from Ohio and jot down notes on what is said throughout it. That'll also help move along the...
  • Storyline. I have settled on THE way I want the film to open, which is something I was really struggling with. I have the bones sketched out, and even though I already have over 30 hours of stuff, I'm maybe 30% done. The good thing is, I know this because I actually have a pretty good idea what a lot of the stuff I still need to shoot IS. I've also got a book called, Documentary Storytelling on its way from Amazon, looking forward to checking that out.
  • Website. I'm working on the content for a dedicated website, which will include a survey. One of the unsatiated needs I have right now is for basic facts about designer board gaming in the US. Unless you're lucky to be filming the most awesomest character study documentary ever, you need some facts and figures. Oh, and I LOOOOOVE the design of my new website. It has the same color family as my business cards, and just feels "board game" to me.
  • More interviews. I'm in discussions with a few imminent interviews. I don't have a concrete schedule set up for them yet, but it'll happen.

It's really hard, not being able to do this stuff full-time, and it's times like these, when there are so many elements needing to be worked on, that I feel that acutely. In fact, I was almost feeling burned out a couple weeks ago (I blame the allergies), but now I just feel like I need more free time.

So yeah, things are going well, and I am getting better at this stuff with every single interview. I'm sure I'll talk about that on the director's commentary... :D

Monday, May 11, 2009

Designer starting young

Just came across an article about a 12-year-old kid on a quest to design a board game:

Pittsford student creates board game

...The Calkins Road Middle School seventh-grader started his own company, The Alert Mind, and created Grid Greed — a math board game — through classes with the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) at the University of Rochester that started in September....

OK, so this isn't really the style of board game I'm focusing on, but who's to say this kid won't get there someday? I just wanted to give him a hearty "You kin do eeeet!" and hope he finds out about all the cool designers I've already met and have yet to meet in this genre.

Monday, May 4, 2009

T-Cat Productions

So last week I made an off-hand remark to a friend about really needing to get an LLC (Limited Liability Company) going. It had been mentioned on an episode of the Double Down Film Show podcast, and I'd looked into it briefly, but assumed it was intimidatingly technical, and was therefor procrastinating.

Intimidatingly technical? Not so, said my friend. He'd actually created one himself before, and knew all the ins and outs for filing the two simple forms NH state law requires for this.

So before I knew what was happening, I was filling out the forms and mailing them. And on Saturday, the confirmation came in the mail. And just like that, T-Cat Productions, LLC was a reality.

Other than making one feel cool and official, and preventing people from suing you directly over anything that happens during film production, LLC status allows you to claim expenses incurred during your project as business losses (i.e., they are tax deductible). Naturally your profits will also be subject to taxing, but given that I am 100% confident I will have expenses, and somewhat less certain about seeing a profit...sounds good to me! Since I've decided not to seek external funding or grants, this is the next best thing.

As for where the name "T-Cat" came from, it has a long and illustrious history. It all started with my cat, Toes, who was often referred to as T-Cat (by me). When I first started playing Rock Band, I named my character T-Cat because of that. She was all attitude and high-up pigtails, and her aviator sunglasses completed the look. My daughter LOVES T-Cat, when she wears sunglasses she says she's T-Cat, and when she wants her hair in pigtails, she asks us for "T-Cat hair." T-Cat the Rock Band star has become a legend in our house.

The original T-Cat, Toes, has recently been diagnosed with mouth cancer, and she won't be around for much longer. That pretty much sealed the deal. T-Cat Productions. What else was I gonna call it?