Explanation Time

•August 1, 2011 • 14 Comments

Dear friends and supporters,

I write to you from the middle of the longest 50in50 hiatus yet.  I’m very sorry for my absence.  Have I lost all of my fans?  Has anyone even noticed?  We’ll see.

I’d planned a very long explanation but I’ve run out of time for one, so here it is, straight up:

I ran out of money.  I don’t mean simply that I ran out of money for 50in50; I mean that I ran out of money for life.  (Oof.  Hard to admit that.)  That’s not to say that I had zero money.  Zero money would be awesome.  No, I had negative money.  In other words, the ugliest four-letter-word of them all: debt.  Specifically credit card debt, which is the maybe the worst kind, aside from the kind where guys with lead pipes come after your kneecaps.  Anyway, it has been an exhausting period, as I’ve been working my ass off trying to make my way back to that coveted zero dollar mark.

In the meantime, I’ve been auditioning some (strike while the iron’s hot) and doing a few plays, which has been good, but it’s further distracted from 50in50.  And then something kind of amazing happened…

I was offerred a job as a writer for Gizmodo.  This move may surprise a lot of you, but in addition to the acting/writing/directing/editing/blahblahblah I also happen to be a gadget geek.  In fact, I’ve been writing for PC World for the past year as one of my main sources of income.  Long story short, I have decided to take the job.  It’s an incredible opportunity to write, creatively and fix my financial black hole at the same time.  I’m very excited about it, and I start tomorrow morning.

This represents a small shift in perspective for me.  I’ve always considered myself 60% actor and 40% writer.  Taking this job will effectively reverse those numbers, if only in my mind.  I don’t think that’s a bad thing.  I think it’s a chance to grow as a writer and expand my audience in a way I’ve never been able to before (Gizmodo gets millions of views every day.  In fact, it’s one of the top ten most visited blogs on the web).  It’s going to be a major shift in lifestyle (going from freelance to an 8-6 schedule in an office), but I’m approaching it as a new adventure, which will be challenging but also a lot of fun.  We shall see…

Let me state, unequivocally that I am not done with acting and that 50in50 WILL be completed.  It’s maddening to have paused for so long with only five more to do, but I want those last five to be very special.  The plan is to take some time to get the hang of the new gig, get my money right (as Kanye would say), and then finish 50in50 in a blaze of glory.

In the meantime, to tide you over, I will soon be releasing the director’s cut of Bill Pullman’s Celebrity Meltdown, which will contain several minutes of previously unseen hilarity.  If you are new to 50in50 check out some of my FAVORITE EPISODES, or you can view the COMPLETE LIST, chronologically.

Again, I thank you for you continued support and patience, and I sheepishly apologize again for the long delay.  If you supported the project via Kickstarter, you still have buttons, DVDs, etc. coming to you.  I haven’t forgotten.  If you want more frequent updates, you can follow me on Google+ or Twitter.  I have very much appreciated your emails and comments over the past months.  It really means a ton to me that people still ask about and care about this passion project.  I promise you, the best is yet to come.

Much love,

Brent

8.1.11  1.15am

Hi, Atus.

•March 13, 2011 • 2 Comments

Hey folks,

Been swamped lately with more auditions (which is a good thing), and more hustling to drum up freelance work (which is… a thing). 50in50 is temporarily on hold. I hate taking such a long pause with just five episodes left, but I’ve got bills to pay and sides to memorize. Thems the breaks, I’m afraid.

Be back as soon as I can be, I promise.

-BR

Week 45: The Hotel Ray

•January 14, 2011 • 1 Comment

{Giant thanks to Mr. Bill Bowles.  Read on to find out why.}

First, HOLY CRAP!  WEEK 45!  ONLY FIVE LEFT!!!

Just had to get that out of my system.

Now, you may notice at the end of this video, the copyright isn’t just my name, but my name plus Bill Bowles.  That because I feel like this episode is at least 50% his.  Bill has been a good friend for the last five years, and he is one hell of a filmmaker (check out some of his amazing projects HERE).  I somehow roped him into shooting Episode 15: Me and My Penis Pump, but his talents were unquestionably underutilized.  We’d been talking about collaborating again, and we were just looking for something that excited both of us.

I was in the Bay Area for the holidays and I got a call from Bill.  He’s just seen the most amazing location and he’s got an idea.  He asks, “Have you done an apocalypse guy yet?”  “No.  But I’ve been wanting to!”  From there we bounced ideas back and forth and we got set to shoot the next day.  Fast and furious.

Now, I cannot tell you where that place is or how to get to it.  I’m sworn to secrecy.  What I can tell you is that we literally had to dig with our bare hands to uncover a narrow tunnel made of mud, and then we had to crawl a little ways through that to a steel ladder that took us 40-50 feet straight down.   The place is immense inside.  The video doesn’t do justice to its massive scale.  And it’s spooky as hell when the lights are out.

We shot the bunker stuff first because we figured if we were going to get arrested it would be better to get arrested early and scrap the video, rather than shoot the exterior setup stuff and then have that just be wasted time.

Bill wasn’t just shooting, he was directing.  There are very few people I would feel comfortable allowing to direct a 50in50, but Bill is one of them.  I was able to just relax and focus more on the acting than anything else, and I have to say, it felt SO good to do that.  Taking an extra hat or two off was a huge burden gone.  I trusted that Bill was getting the shots, and I trusted that he would keep me on track, and he did.  That allowed me to just improvise the dialogue and really play.  I didn’t realize it was something I missed so much.  Even after 45 episodes of this project my main interests are still acting and writing (in that order), and if I can just do those two things for the rest of my life, I think I’ll be a happy guy.

Ray’s mannerisms were lightly inspired by a friend of mine who passed away.  He was an interesting dude.  I worked on doing a rough impression of him, then I pulled it back to about 20%.  The content, the stuff that I was saying, was spawned by my own hypothetical thinking about various “apocalyptic” scenarios.  They’re interesting questions to ask yourself.  What would you do if ____ happened?  Where would you go?  How would you survive?  It’s worth thinking about.  Now, personally, my solutions are quite different from Ray’s, but that’s where most of the dialogue came from.  I’d ask myself these questions (or Bill would ask me a question), and then I’d run them through the Ray Filter.  It was a good exercise.

Bill did the first two rough-cuts of this episode, which marks another 50in50 first.  I’ve never let anyone else edit one of these.  It’s hard to let go of that control.  In this case, though, since the concept was Bill’s, and since he directed, it was an obvious choice.  He did a great job with it and came up with some cuts I wouldn’t have thought of that worked extremely well.  After the second rough-cut Bill handed the edit over to me (which is so damn easy to do with Final Cut, even though were were 3,000 miles away by that point).  I cut a few things out, put a few things in, reordered a few things here and there, and did a little trimming and audio work.  The end product is our baby, and I’m extremely proud of the collaboration that went into this one.

In other news: wow, okay, so, only five left.  This is it, people.  This is the first time I’m willing to admit that I’m getting close to finishing this beast.  Five more episodes is still a lot of work, but I’m 90% of the way there.  Crazy.  I’ve got a couple dozen ideas for episodes, but most of them are on the complicated side, and without a crew in NY, those would be tough to pull off.  Do I just go for the simple ones now and save the complicated ones for post-50in50 filmmaking?  Or do I go for broke?  I’ll probably do a combination of the two.  We’ll see.

I hope you keep checking back.  We’re getting close now.  Very close.

Much love,

BR  1.14.11  1.12am

Week 44: Angst

•January 6, 2011 • 2 Comments

(Again, if you have headphones or decent speakers, use ‘em for this one.  The bassline barely comes thru laptop speakers, and it’s funny.)

{First and foremost big thanks to Peter Gutter, who basically co-everythinged this one with me. This is one of the more collaborative 50in50s I’ve done, and it was very much a team effort.  You rocked it, Pete.}

So, this episode is kinda dumb.  I recognize that.  No, I embrace that.  I think I wanted to make one that was kind of dumb but fun.  I’m pretty happy with that mix.

This character was born out of a wig.  I was going through my giant box of random costume stuff in New York and I found that wig.  I believe it had been left at my apartment two halloweens ago by my friend Dylan who went as Uma Thurman from Pulp Fiction (complete with the syringe sticking out of his chest).  I put the wig on, went into my bathroom, looked in the mirror, pulled out my phone, and shot a video, improvising as the character you now see in the video (that will probably be in the Extra Features section of the DVD, when this is all over).

When I went to CA I brought that wig with me, and another that I think was supposed to be John Lennon.  I had a great time with my friend Peter back when I made Classic (episode 22), and he had just recently made a hilarious and great music video, so asking him to do this one with me was a no-brainer.  Also, he had drums and a keyboard.

Writing the song was fun.  We basically brain-stormed the various things that didn’t understand us, and tried to channel our own teenage selves.  Personally, when I was 18, I wanted to run away, get my G.E.D., and just sort of wander the United States until I found what I was looking for.  Yeah, I wish I were kidding.  Gotta give the devil his due: Peter came up with a lot of the funniest lines.

Shooting was also a good time.  Very guerrilla style.  It was either him holding it, me holding it, or the tripod (except for the one bathroom shot, where we enlisted the help of my brother).  This episode had, by FAR, the most outtakes of any episode yet.  We must of done 50 takes of the “deepdeepdeepdeepdeepdeep” face-to-face shot, and we only made it through cleanly three times.

Now, onto the project in general…

Oof.  I just looked at this blog and was embarrassed to see that the last entry was on November 17th.  Slowdown?  What slowdown?

Well, yes, it’s true.  The 50in50 juggernaut as lost a lot of its momentum.  My real life has been real busy, and most of it in positive ways.  I’ve been running around for auditions and readings, I’ve got a new agent.  These are good things.  These are things for which 50in50 is, in fact, partially responsible.  But I’ve also been busier with work-work (the income-generating variety, which, sadly, 50in50 has not become).  And, truth be told, I’m beginning to day-dream about what I might do next, which has a similar effect to “Senioritis” in high school.  It makes it harder to be where you are now.  I’m trying to stay in the moment, though, and enjoy this last handful of episodes.

This episode was the first of the two I shot on a recent trip to California.  The next one is as different to this one as night and day, and I’m really excited about it.  It will be up next week, so check back!

Much love,

BR

1.6.11  6.11pm

Week 43: Gliese 581 g

•November 19, 2010 • 3 Comments

(If you have headphones or decent external speakers, I recommend using them.)


{Thank you VERY much to the (very) lovely Ms. Stefanie Daehler who sacrificed a good chunk of her Veteran’s Day to shoot this episode for me.  She did a great job.  She kind of rules, really.}

Apologies in advance for rambling and typos as I am waaay past the point of exhaustion.

First of all, for those who don’t know, Gliese 581 g is a real planet (almost certainly, not confirmed, though).  It’s in another solar system (Gliese 581) and it’s about 20 light years away, which actually makes it pretty close, in the big picture.  The reason it’s a big deal is they only discovered it in September 2010, and they think it has a very good chance of being habitable and thus having life on it.  I was reading an article about it and it got me thinking.

I finished the article, and immediately wrote the text, almost exactly as you heard it, from the perspective of someone who wants both an escape and a new beginning.  I heard this character’s voice in my head right away, and it just came out very quickly.  The question then became, “How the hell do I make this into a 50in50?”

I briefly toyed with the idea of a radio play, but decided to save that one for another time.  I wanted some visuals with this, but my CGI department is rather preoccupied with not existing, so this is what I came up with.  It seemed so simple.  Just record the voice over, shoot some stuff of this guy’s day, slap it together, and presto.  I figured this would be one of the easiest edits I’d done.

Somehow, it was one of the hardest.

The footage was, essentially, improvised.  I had a basic idea of what I wanted and where I wanted to shoot it, but it was very much a run and gun affair because we were racing against the sunset (which happens mighty fast these days).  I had the script with me, and I knew what I would be saying in the voiceover while I was going through the actions.  What made it so tough is… well, it’s hard to articulate.  There was something about getting the look and feel of the visuals to match the sound and feel of the text.  Even though Stef did a great job shooting this, somehow it was extremely difficult to get it to match up.  There was something about the pacing.  The timing of the cuts, for sure, but also the internal metronome in between the cuts.  There was a happy accident, though.

I’d accidentally left the camera shooting at 60 frames per second (as opposed to 24fps, which is what I had envisioned).  I realized it very early on, and I could have just changed the format then, but I decided to leave it.  The cool thing about 60 fps is that you can slow it down to 40% of its speed and it still looks great in slow motion (it’s actually playing at 24fps then, which is the speed of most Hollywood movies).  I had a rough-cut done, and I wasn’t happy with it.  So, I said what the hell and I decided to try putting all of the video in my timeline to 40%.  Obviously I had to shift everything around again, a lot, and that lead to cutting a ton of stuff, but I finally felt like the look of the piece was getting closer to matching the text.

Another element that was tough was the score.  I realized that I hadn’t written a score for any of my 50in50s, so I decided to see what I could come up with in a hurry.  It’s an extremely simple melody, but recording it to match what I was saying, and to match some things in the video was very difficult.  A great experience, though.

Alright, I think that’s about all I can muster for now.  Bed calls.  Only seven episodes left.  Getting close now.  I’ll be off next week for Thanksgiving (and for money-making), but I’ll be back with more, soon.  In the meantime, happy Thanksgiving to all of you.  I’m grateful to you, for watching, reading, and supporting this project.

Cheers,

Brent Rose  11.19.10  6.05am

The Problem with 50in50

•November 13, 2010 • 2 Comments

Have I said this before?  Maybe I have, maybe I haven’t.  Had a few beers tonight, though, and I’m feeling particularly honest.

The problem with 50in50 is there just isn’t enough time.  There’s enough time to churn out episodes, yes.  But there’s not enough time to make what I want to make, or make it how I want to make it.  There just isn’t.  Not while it’s not paying the rent, anyway.  I’ll be honest with you, most of my performances in these things are what I’d consider to be “audition ready”.  As in, I just had a couple of days, and if I went in there with that as an audition, I think I’d feel pretty damn good.  In that way 50in50 has been great for me — I can put a character together very quickly now.  That said, “audition ready” isn’t “performance ready”.  I won’t speculate on whether or not you can see the difference.  The point is I can see the difference.  I know the diference between my best work and the work I throw together in two days.

Yeah.  I don’t like admitting it, but you know what?  That’s how it has to be with 50in50.  A day or two to plot and write.  A day or two to build a character.  A day to shoot.  Two days to edit.  One day to sleep.  That’s how it goes.  Really, I don’t feel like I have enough time to do any of those things as well as I want to.  Some auditions will be like that, and great, I’ve developed a serious tool set to be ready for those situations.  But that’s for an audition to get the part.  Were I to get the part I’d then have weeks to prepare, build a character, and really understand and get in alignment with him.  Two days (and when I say “two days” I mean a few hours a day for two days, when I’m not trying to pay my rent) just ain’t enough time.  Not to do what I want.  Not to do work that I’m proud of.  Not usually.

There are moments.  I think.  Always, there are moments, that stand out to me as special.  Some have more than others.  Some episodes are close to perfect in my mind, and some are completely misfires.  Such is life.

Blah blah blah.

My point is, 50in50 has taught me so, so much — probably more than I’ve learned in any school — and I’m looking forward to it being over.  Not because I don’t love doing it.  I do.  But because I’m looking forward to the day where I can spend a month on a short film (and I will), instead of 5 or 6 days.  That’s why.

If you want to see that as an apology or an equivocation, that’s your business.  I don’t see it that way.  I’m not apologizing for shit, frankly.  If you don’t like it, no offense, but you can fuck right off.  This project, from the beginning, was about growing as an actor, and I have.  It’s also come to be about growing as a writer, editor, and director.  And I have.  My goals are met, and I’m satisfied in that respect.

But I can’t wait for more time.  More time to really get in there.  I know that sounds kinda woo-woo, but I’m okay with that. I’m a Californian.  I’m slowly pushing toward the end.

I think that’s what I wanted to say.

More soon,

BR  11.13.10 2.29am

The Screeching Halt

•November 10, 2010 • 1 Comment

Where the hell is 50in50, you ask?  Well, I’m glad you care.  Here’s the deal.

My two friends who have generously shot the vast majority of my New York episodes are now gainfully employed.  This is great for them, but not so great for 50in50.  I had one last shoot planned with one of them, but we got rained out, and now I’ve lost him to the real world.  So sad (but really, glad for him that he’s getting paid for doing what he loves).

This all comes at a tricky time, because I’ve only got eight episodes left, and I want them all to be great.  I’ve got more than enough ideas, but in general they’re more complicated than the average episode, which makes losing my two favorite collaborators even tougher.

SO, I am currently looking for some new talent!  Somebody with a great eye, with experience (preferably with cameras similar to mine, a Panasonic HMC-150), and who is into what I’m trying to do.  There’s no pay, but it’s a chance to have something you shot be professionally edited and FAST.  Great for people who are looking to gain experience and build a reel.  Film students, I’m looking at you.

I’ll likely end up putting up notices at NYU, Columbia, and stuff like that, but word of mouth is the best way.  If you know someone in NY who might fit the bill, have them get in touch with me!  I’m really eager to work with some new blood.  fiftyinfifty at gmail dot com

This all really makes me realize just how much I’ve been relying on my friends throughout this project.  Really from every angle.  I’m continually grateful to all of them, and to everyone who has helped with this project (and there have been a ton of you).  Specifically, C. Bay Milin and Dylan Ricards, you guys have been champs and I miss working with you already.  Hopefully I can grab you guys on a weekend and get at least one more out of each of you.  =)

Worst case scenario: if I don’t find anyone who I want to work with, I’ll just make some simpler episodes for the last eight, and someday do the more complicated ones as shorts, under other circumstances.  Knowing myself, though, I probably won’t settle for that.  We’ll see…

In other news: I just signed with a new agency!  Onward and upwards.

-BR 11.10.10 11.57pm

 
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