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Dreamer – A New Interactive Film Project from N-Ventive TV

‘The Dreamer’ is a new interactive film project from N-Ventive TV. It is designed to become a conversation that will explore meaningful topics in a neutral, open environment. As the plot develops, comments from viewers will be incorporated into the characters’ dialogue, giving the viewers a chance to have their questions and concerns become a vital part of the story.

Eleven, Eleven, Eleven, Eleven…..

I really didn’t intend for Episode 11 to go out on 11/11/11…things were really busy here and it just sort of happened that way. I actually uploaded them on the evening of the 10th, the fact that they went up on the 11th is just pure chance. The fact that episode 12, which we are rehearsing today, is all about weird coincidences just adds to the mystery of it all. I mean….what exactly are the odds?
Which if course begs the question “Who cares?” We have what appears to be a really unusual alignment of galactic forces here, and it makes no difference in anyone’s life whatsoever. Does it even matter? Why waste time paying any attention at all? To me, It hearkens in some small way back to the challenge in Episode 10 that “God doesn’t talk to people anymore.”
I’m reading a book right now called “Why God Won’t Go Away,” and it is turning out to be a lot of fun. It was written by a group of doctors, and it presents an extremely interesting progression of arguments concerning many of life’s eternal questions. It turns out that there is more there than we might at first believe, and that how we react to what appears to be a spiritual conundrum tells us things about ourselves that we really need to pay attention to. There is some serious physiology at play here, as well as some ages-old survival routines that can be triggered at will by those that know how.
And so I sit, waiting for a project to pull from archive into my edit system, pondering the strange patterns that life can throw at us. I begin to think about lunch, I pull up my phone to check the time, and….you guessed it — 11:11. I didn’t plan any of this, I promise.

Did you hear that?

I’ve been working quite a bit on Episode 10 these past few days. Seems like I always have to work a lot herder on the shoots that I screw up on. We shot this episode the morning after the gala party of our film festival, and we were not at our best. I got snookered by the seemingly perfect glow from the floor-to-ceiling windows in our location, and did not bring in any lighting at all. Big mistake. Improper mic placement didn’t help much either, as the room was much livelier than my sleep-deprived ears were able to detect. I knew the transition sequence in the temple were ringy, I wanted it that way….I just was not prepared for the amount of ring I picked up in the office location. I felt dead so that the room sounded dead, the rest is just not pretty…..
But that’s okay, really…..we are not going for cinematic excellence with ‘Dreamer,’ we are trying to spur a conversation. The Rabbi’s comments for episode 10 are so spot on that I can only be grudgingly pleased with the episode as a whole. Oh, sure — a more film-like look would have been better, and my shoulders are still burning from the hours I spent re-lighting the thing in post. I really wish I had set this up where I could have more aye contact with the good rebbi, who is an absolute joy to work with, and the audio is just dreadful. But still… the core issue could have not been framed any better: Does anyone hear from God anymore or not? If you think you are hearing from God, are you crazy?
To be precise, our title character is not ‘hearing’ from God. We were careful with this, and have held to our plan of Robert Cohen simply seeing things in his dreams that lead him to the conclusion that God might be involved somehow. Since he does not believe in God, he tends to believe that his family history of mental illness might be at work. Since everyone he talks to brings their own bias to the conversation, the field is wide open. What do you think – is God just a fairy tale for people who want to have some kind of meaning to life? Feel free to join in this conversation any time — episode ten will be up this week, and we will be bringing all our characters together in the story soon. This challenge is not for the faint of heart — if you are willing to face the though questions, we’re willing to work with you to help find some kind of answers. Feel free to make comments here, on our NVentive YouTube Channel,. our Vimeo uploads, or of course our series headquarters at blip.tv/nventive. Let’s have fun with this….

Oh….and for those of you who read the last post, and know something of the bad haircut…..we’re going to have to wait a while before we shoot anything new with the title character.  :-(

Catching Up

Wow — what a couple of months it has been.  Not only have we had a fair amount of ‘real’ work come thru our studio (the first decent run in a while) but we have also just wrapped up hosting our new film festival here. The theme for our first year was comedy shorts, so naturally we called it “Show Us Your Shorts,”  with giant boxer shorts as the logo.  Our anchor sponsor was  Stella Artois, and they were great to work with.  We had  strong crowds, a successful show, and we are utterly exhausted.

We have managed to keep Dreamer going thru all of this, although the strain has shown. Some of you may have seen the typo that floated for a while on Episode 8,  and I’ve still got a few things to clean up on Episode 9. The biggest problem, however, has been Episode 10, which shot the morning after the Film Fest opening Gala party.  Epi 10 had the makings of  our best one yet by far, and I just totally blew it.

The Episode called for our title character to have a conversation with a Rabbi, and we were thrilled to have a real Rabbi agree to do the part. He is an amazingly bright and talented individual, and we were very much looking forward to the shoot. When we got on site and saw that he had floor-to-ceiling windows in his office, I made the fateful decision to leave the lighting in the truck and go natural.  We were really running on fumes from all the energy spent on the festival, and I figured I could shoot with reflected window light, drop the  background a bit in post and we’d be fine. We’re not trying to cinematic excellence with Dreamer, we’re trying to kick off a meaningful conversation.

I had a bit of a brain cramp during the shoot (sleep deprivation was rampant in our group during the festival) and I managed to wipe out a couple of clips on one of the P2 cards. That wasn’t a biggie, but what I saw when I got back to the studio was. The ‘natural’ look just totally sucked. I spent two full days days key-framing virtual lighting, and have not been able to save this thing — it looks like a TV news interview.

Okay, we’ve all had bad days from time to time, that’s why we have pickup shoots. Yeah, well….the actor playing our title character went and got himself a really bad haircut two days after the shoot. By ‘bad,’ I mean the type that will take a while to recover from.  I have not seen it yet, but from what I hear, it’s pretty awful.

Hey — the scene takes place in a temple, maybe we could just get him a really large kippah…..

Getting ‘Established…’

We just launched Episode 5, which is the first episode where we talk about plot elements openly. We planned from the very beginning to use the first six episodes as ‘establishers,’ where we would introduce the characters, the setting, and the overall mood of the story. With only one of those episodes left to go, it is time to start lifting the lid on plot.

We’ve got a quirky professor of astronomy named Robert, who thinks he might possibly be in the early stages of some kind of mental illness. This is a big problem for him, since his Dad lost it many years earlier and killed himself. We’ve got a group of apparently dark individuals who seem intent on following Robert around, a fact of which he apparently unaware. We’ve got a young kid who seems to know that something is up, and we’ve got a colorful Godmother type who either knows something or is just as crazy as everyone else.

And we’ve got a question — do you have to be crazy to believe in God? I mean…let’s face it — if you’re hearing from God, you probably should check your meds. Even the prophets, revered by most of the monotheists, were strange outcasts who yelled a lot and ate bugs.  Is a belief in a divine presence nothing more than a form of mental illness? Or, perhaps, it is just our own way to desperately apply meaning to our own otherwise accidental existence?

To many, a sound and unswerving faith in God is as natural  as breathing. To others it is a silly fantasy, a grown-up fairy tale that causes more harm than good. To most there is no middle ground, and all discussion is moot. We’re not so sure…..we see people becoming more dipolar than ever, unable to talk about something as mundane as the weather without getting angrily political. We may ve crazy ourselves, but we’re going to give this a shot.  Our character might be hearing from God…is he crazy or not? What questions should he ask, and where should he go to ask them? We’re ready to hear from you now, and to begin the journey forward … we believe that it is okay to ask any question, just as long as we are willing to listen for the answer.  We don’t need hate, or B.S’ers….we need questions.  Check us out at http://www.blip.tv/nventive. We want to hear from you….who is God?

Feels Weird

Spent much of today doing drive maintenance, and a lot of the things that had to be dealt with were Dreamer-related.  A lot of the elements in episode 1 were built up in un-compressed 32-bit 1080P layers. Although most of the shots were short, there were a lot of them and the folders were getting a little bit bulky.  Even though everything is fully backed up, it still felt a little bit weird to be deleting things that I have been working so much with for so long. Kinda like a re-doing a room after a kid left home……

Finally

Wow — we finally pulled the trigger on this thing.  It got kinda weird there near the end, as every one of of the real (i.e. ‘paying’) jobs we had in  the shop during the run-up to launch ended up being pretty labor-intensive. Everyone’s deadlines moved as if by magic to the same hour of the same day (evening, to be precise)  and we were frantic trying to get everything done.  Delaying the Dreamer release would not work — we had delayed it too many times already, and our schedule for the rest of the year is not pretty. We decided to just forgo sleep for a while, push all the paying work out and wiggle a little Dreamer time in the midst of all of it for something resembling final tweaks. There were a lot of things we did not get a chance to fix,  such as music in places color grading in others, but all in all we’re okay with how it looks. The purpose of Dreamer is the story,  we knew from the outset that we might have to cut a corner or three from time to time.  The paying gigs came first, and our clients have all reported back that their projects did very well with their presentation audiences . Our hope is that Dreamer will do the same.

And so — it is up. There are links on our page to the Y/T and Vimeo locations, our Blip address is blip.tv/dreamer.  We had a truly great launch party with a very large turnout, I send again my sincerest thanks to everyone who helped make that happen. We’ve got a good group here…..

And now — time to catch up on some sleep…..I wonder if I remember how?

Release Date

August. Early August. Finally.

Getting here has been interesting, and we have learned all kinds of things.  Having cast at a focus group showing? Bad idea. Shooting green screen footage thru a wide angle adapter? Really bad idea if it is a full-body key. I’m not even going to mention my idea for music under episode one — please, oh please, let the new music be ready in time.

The good news is that, even with all these bad ideas that I have managed to plague us with, the project is coming along nicely, and the modifications we have made to the story are a lot of fun. What we will be bringing to fruition in August will be much more than we originally anticipated, and some of the concepts we are going to explore will be catching a lot of folks by surprise.  Interesting times are ahead…..