Trygve.Com > Diary > JournalWeblogDiaryWhatsis - March, 2004
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March, 2004
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on the pier

because ... well ... why the hell not ...?

it's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.

Thursday, March 25th


Inferno Film's International House of Horror:

One of the staples of the American Film Market is the preponderance of film buyers looking specifically for horror. When it comes to other genres, buyers can have some pretty steep requirements, but if it's a horror title, that can be enough of a selling point all by itself.

I'm happy to work on a horror project or to represent one for international sales, but I don't "get" the genre like most of the rest of the world must. I do appreciate a few horror titles, but most of the time, it seems like there's already enough horror out there in the real world.

...or, for that matter, out there on the internet.

I'm not just talking about the obvious horrors that are out there on the net, like dancing hamster webpages, I'm thinking of all the horrifying new product ideas that people everywhere are coming out with on a daily basis.

computer case cigarette lighter

For starters, Sunbeam Company, which also offers such innovative products as a USB-powered coffee warmer, now has available a cigarette lighter with cigarette storage for your computer.

This seems to be a trend that's already starting to catch on: Thermaltake has come out with a similar product as well.

Mounting a cigarette lighter in a transparent acrylic case seems like an especially bad idea, at least from the standpoint of what other transparent things (like car windows) start to look like after a lot of smoking has been going on in their vicinity. At least this way you'll be able to watch the smoke being drawn into your computer system, illuminated by all your coolest case lighting as it settles onto and coats all the internal computer bits with a layer of tar.

My favorite part (you knew this was coming, didn't you?) are the warning labels on these products. Usually it seems that everything from computers to high-end video equipment devotes much more of its documentation to telling you not to use it in the bathtub than to mundane topics like how to get the product to work.

Refreshingly, the computer cigarette lighter warnings I've seen haven't said anything about not using them in the bathtub, so I guess that means you can go for it. Especially if it's one of the acrylic-case computers; I bet they're bathtub-safe.

Thermaltake, however, does warn you "Do not touch Cigarette Lighter after it is heated" so I guess you have to use tongs or a couple of salad forks to grab its knob once it's hot. Sunbeam's warning is a little more confusing: "Warning: Please don't touch other things with heated Cigarettes Lighter."

"Other things"? Like anything at all? But at least it's okay (albeit bordering on incestuous) to touch a couple of them together?

The Original Hands Free Panda Bear for Cell Phones

If driving while talking on the cellphone makes you (or those other drivers who'd been in that lane you just swerved into) nervous, EspringUSA has just the product for you: The Original Hands Free Panda Bear!

Don't settle for one of those inferior copycat hands-free Panda Bears, go for the best, the original! Just think of how much more comfortable the other drivers will feel if, instead of seeing you talking on a cellphone while driving, they can see that you're carrying on a perfectly normal conversation with a panda.

Best of all--at least in some states--sharing a car with an animated panda allows you to use the HOV lane.

But don't just take my word for it, here's what Evertek has to say:

Are you a maverick who thinks that you have everything cool under the sun already? You don't... Not until you get an Original Hands Free Panda Bear of your very own!!!

It may sound like something out of a Sci-Fi movie - but this is the bear that talks to you!!!

Simply plug the bear into your cell phone's hands free audio jack, pop in three double-A batteries and TADA!!! - Instant hands free Panda Bear phone!!!

When the bear "talks" to you, its head and mouth move in sync with the caller on the other end. And when you get a call, not only do you hear the ring, but its cute panda bear LED heart lights up as well. The little bear even has a little pocket that you keep your cell phone in (very convenient). What could be cooler???

What could be cooler, indeed? Well, perhaps only this amazing product from Dreamkitty:

Hello Kitty responds to your keyboard motion by talking and moving!

Hello Kitty will talk with you along with the input motion of the keyboard (moves both arms and head). Hello Kitty is able to talk in both Japanese and English. The languages can be switched. There is an English or Japanese manual available to you.

Hello Kitty USB Hub


  • Convenient 2-port USB function - USB terminal ports can be increased at convenient spots. It is able to connect 2 USB electronics such as digital camera or mouse and printer.
  • HUBCOT interlock screensaver - Includes the function where Hello Kitty mascot will shake around if it interfaces with the screen saver on the screen. Kitty will play puzzle or mail e-mail with her friends and a lot more motions with responds to the computer screen.
  • Alarm and time tone and clock-timer function - Includes alarm as well as time tone and clock-timer function which Hello Kitty will inform you with her voice and motion.
  • Compatible for both Mac and PC computers - Easy installation with the software that comes along with this Hello Kitty Vibration Mascot. The motion and sound function can be turned on and off, so there is no need to worry about it start making noises while your are asleep or at work.
  • Requires no more energy than 5V and 100mA to operate. Please plug it into electronics that uses AC adaptor. Screen saver that interfaces with the mascot to move.

This may be the harbinger of the next hottest trend in computer component design. Back when transparent, fruit-colored cases were just getting trendy, I'd predicted that the next trend would be computer parts and cases with glowing or flashing lights. Now I think it's safe to say that, within three years, we'll be surrounded by computer accessories that squirm and wiggle during use.

They'll probably still light up, too, so just imagine sitting down to a nice, relaxing work environment, surrounded by wriggling, waving, and nodding computing devices and cables.

It'd be a lot like going to meetings...but instead of coworkers, it'll be Hello Kitty USB Hubs (though by then, the Hello Kitty Vibration Mascot will probably be transparent and fruit-colored with flashing blue LEDs for eyes). Maybe they'll even chatter continuously in a remarkably English-like manner.

It's still a few more months before we have to get our slate for the next film market nailed down. The international rights for Hello Kitty are probably already taken care of, so we'll have to scare up our complement of horror elsewhere...but at least it gives us a baseline to work with: whether it's a horrific spleen-devouring alien slime monster from the sixteenth dimension of the id, or it's the tried-and-true chainsaw-wielding maniac dressed in whatever protective sports equipment we can get a lucrative product placement deal for, we've got to make it at least as horrifying on screen as the Hello Kitty Vibration Mascot.

It'll be tough.

Friday, March 19th


The Adventures of the Dread Pirate Sniffles on the Mile-High Seas:

Besides all the other stuff he does, Mark Grove teaches film classes at the Art Institute of Colorado and, often enough, agrees to help out with the stunts and effects in their student films. Something like six or eight weeks ago, in the heat of getting all the materials ready for the American Film Market, he'd agreed to help out with one such film.

- cut to -

At an international film market, thousands of buyers and sellers of film rights from around the world gather together for a week or more straight to negotiate film rights, set up distribution deals, and exchange the newest and most exciting transmissible viruses their countries have to offer.

 ...three fake hands and a rubber head... 

I don't know where (or why) the expression "sick as a dog" came from, but this past AFM seemed especially rife with people who met that description. One film buyer who spent some time in the Inferno Film Productions office shuffled in, sick as a whole pack of dogs, at least medium-sized ones, or maybe "sick as one particularly chunky Saint Bernard plus two or three average-to-small Pommeranians." In between hacking up a lung, we did discuss film right availabilities and terms, but the conversation took an abrupt swerve to the left as he complained about how awful he was feeling and the last time he'd felt this bad was coming back from another film market where he'd been diagnosed with SARS after the plane landed.


Cough. Hack. "Um, I think you dropped this." [picks up the somewhat rumpled lung off the carpet with tongs and hands it to him]

So, naturally, after I get back to Colorado, I promptly come down with some mutant form of raging headcold taking up residence in my nasal passages and refusing to go away.

Despite the obvious peril involved, Mark called me about this upcoming shoot for the AIC and suggested dropping by to discuss it. Having had six weeks (plus whatever time elapsed before they'd asked Mark if he could help) they'd come up with three fake hands and a rubber head.

"What's the plot?"
"That is the plot: three fake hands and a rubber head."
"Characters? Setting? Costumes? Location?"
"Three fake hands and a rubber head.
   . . . and I was thinking we could shoot it in your living room."

Well, that wasn't going to work too well. At this point I'm experimenting with a "not spattered floor to ceiling in fake blood and charred latex bits" motif for the living room.

For a project with a budget, we could talk, but I think this shoot needed to take another tack.

And that tack was (dah...dah...dah) pirates!

Why? Well, why not? It was the first thing that came to mind and we hadn't done it lately.

So, with a few hours of work, we had a script, locations, costumes, and props. Mark rigged one of the prop flintlocks to fire blanks convincingly, and I still had a raging headcold.

And, most importantly, we managed to cast the fake hands and the rubber head in strong. convincing roles.

Captain Sniffles the Pirate

(The Dread Pirate Sniffles)

The shoot was the easy part. Everything went as planned, all the explosives and effects went off at the right time and did what they were supposed to do. I, in keeping with my character's name and my own personal health condition, sniffled mightily between takes and tried valliantly to minimize the amount of makeup repair needed after the dozen or so tissues I'd put to use between setups.

hand wound

(that's gonna leave a mark)

Most importantly, the fake blood and bits of charred latex were not spattered all over my living room, and I did my best not to spatter anything other than fake blood and charred latex onto the rest of the cast and crew, so, with a little luck and plenty of vitamin C, I may not be passing the "Dread Pirate Sniffles" title on to a new crewmember. Here's hoping.

...oh, yeah, there was one little unexpected event that happened once the shoot was complete:

....that was hen the the filmmaker said to Mark, "oh, by the way, it's due tomorrow morning and I don't have any way of editing it. Could you edit it for me by 8:00AM?"

Thursday, March 11th


Today's Special: Blog Surprise:

I forget exactly what I'd originally intended to write in this spot, but here I was, pulling up a link to hypertextually enhance whatever I was going to say that involved Tane McClure whom I'd talked to in California about, among other things, an idea she had for a film we might shoot out here.

It's not like I've known her for all that long--we'd gone out to dinner the previous time I'd been in California--but it wasn't until I pulled up her IMDb entry above and saw the line "also credited as Tane Cain" that I realized that I'd had her self-titled album and a music video by her sitting not so very far from where I've been typing.

Okay, maybe it doesn't seem like that big a deal to anybody else--I guess I've also given people my share of "hey, that was you!" moments myself--but, still, it's cool to find out something like that.

Tane McClure

(Tane McClure is the one on the left)

It's been a while since I've played it, though. Time to fire up the stereo....

Monday, March 8th


Marching back home:

Here I am, back home from L.A., that strange, exotic land where the local slang for "Hello" is "Co-Production?"

For some reason, the 24th Annual American Film Market already feels like it was long time ago, but I haven't even finished doing my laundry from the trip yet. (Try not to read too much into this about my general housekeeping skills--or lack thereof--I've only been back a couple of days.)

According to the AFMA (the association formerly known as the American Film Marketing Association--they kept the initials, but decided not to have them stand for anything anymore), overall attendance was up 5% over last year, and the number of buyers jumped by 10%.

Which all sounds mildly favorable, but it doesn't reflect just how much more enthusastic the buyers were about buying this year. The AFMA will probably do another press release soon enough when they come up with an estimate of the total sales at the market. Last year it came to nine billion US dollars; I'm guessing we'll see more than a 10% gain from that when all the figures come in.

Overall, I think the atmosphere at the market was more upbeat and buyers were less risk-averse (and they had been very risk-averse in the last few years). The lower exchange rate on the dollar probably doesn't hurt either; makes American-produced entertainment that much more of a bargain.

The Towering Inferno Elevator

I was a little more aggressive on the advertising front this time around; for example, this six-foot banner taking up the back of the elevator in the hotel. We also had a full-page, four-color spread on page one of the issue of Independent Film Quarterly that was distributed at the market.

Every little bit helps, I figure.

While I'd cut some of the trailers and authored the promotional DVDs for the market, there's nothing like spending eight ten-hour days straight watching said trailers and other promotional materials over and over again while hundreds of buyers respond (or fail to respond) to it.

Now it's a race to re-cut a bunch of trailers and author New And Improved DVDs and other promotional materials to ship out while the iron's still hot. Lots of buyers did take screening copies and promos at the market, but in most cases we ship them out afterwards. There were three hundred other sellers there besides me and even getting a tape or three from half of them would overburden the luggage of most international travellers.

So, we figure out what they're interested in, take their orders, and ship everything out afterwards. That also means I don't have to ship thousands of screeners to the market without knowing which titles are going to get snapped up and which ones would just get shipped back.

Which means I can get away with doing a little extra editing out here before all the promo stuff gets shipped out. :)

I can always sleep next week.

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