Week 25: Martin Carroll’s Birthday Present

We’re back!  It’s been a looooong time since Dan Kelly picked up on some high school girls in Episode 24.  There were many rivers to cross, many mountains to climb, and damn if it isn’t tough to get something moving again when it’s as big as 50in50 and it’s stopped still.  Here we are, though, up and running again.  Anyway, I talked about all of that at length last week.  Let’s dive right in to this one.

I’ve had a chip on my shoulder lately, and for no good reason.  After funding came through via Kickstarter for some reason I felt like every episode (or at least my first one back) would have to these perfect, funny, high-production-value-having, little balls of awesomeness in stunning HD, that would have to go viral and get a million views.  This is, of course, not at all what 50in50 was ever supposed to be about.  So, to break myself out of that mindset, I kind of made something to defy everything those voices in my head were saying.  This is the longest episode I’ve ever made, and it’s certainly not very funny.  There’s nothing fancy about it to show off my camera’s HD capabilities (unless HD stands for Highly Depressing).  It doesn’t really work as a short film, and it certainly isn’t going to go viral.  It’s a 50in50.  It’s process-oriented.  It’s an exploration of a character and a situation.  It is, essentially, a giant middle finger to the voices in my head that have been telling me what I can’t do.  And it’s a second beginning.

I also thought it would be a hell of a challenge.

So, how did this episode come about?  In the past I’ve talked about how most episodes have a kind of seed where it starts, and everything grows out of that (sometimes the seed itself end gets discarded in the finished product).  I’m not even sure I should tell you what the seed for this one was, but I will anyway.  It’s the bit where he’s talking about the toilet paper.  Probably not what you would have guessed, right?  Well, it happened like this:

A few weeks ago, I had that exact thought about the toilet paper, almost in those exact words.  It kind of made me chuckle.  Now, I’m not exactly sure how I got from Point A to Point E, but I remember asking myself, “If I had a kid on the way and knew I was going to be dead before he/she was born, how would I impart such pearls of wisdom unto him/her?”  Yeah, I know.  That there is a brief look into the weird way my brain works.  I don’t get it either.

Anyway, from there I came up with the idea of leaving a video for my kid, but that would hardly be an appropriate thing to say to a four-year-old, right?  And whatever I would say to a four-year-old wouldn’t be of much use to a twenty-eight-year-old.  That’s how I came up with the idea for a different video for each year.  It’s actually an idea I really like.  In fact, if, God forbid, I should ever find myself in that unfortunate situation, I think I might handle it in just that way.

Anyway, from there I just tried to put myself in this guy’s (Martin’s) situation.  Well, first I wrote a biography for him.  There were a ton of things that I came up with for him to say, and it was really hard to decide what to put in and what to leave out.  There was also a lot of stuff that I didn’t think of until after I was done shooting, and I was like, “Damn it!  How could he forget to tell him that!?” (for example, “It doesn’t matter to me if you’re straight or gay or bi, I just care that you’re a good person.”)  I had to let go of that, though, because I was sure that Martin would have been kicking himself for forgetting something, too, but after a certain point, well… what can you do?  It also bears noting that I’m not Martin, and Martin isn’t me.  We certainly have a lot of things in common, but make no mistake, he’s a character (notice the slight Southern accent blunted by years of living in the city?  See?  Character.).

All that said, cancer is a big issue for me.  It’s something that’s touched my family, and the families of many of my close friends.  It’s one of the few things that I hate.  I recognize that this may not be profound, but I’ll say it anyway: Fuck Cancer.

On the purely technical side of things, man, my computer is STRUGGLING with this HD footage.  It’s still exporting as I write this.  It’s been exporting for an hour now, which is a long time for a six minute video.  It also takes forever to render if I use a filter (even titles take a long time).  I find myself fantasizing about a tower with eight core processors and a ton of RAM.  I’m hoping someone out there will fall in love with 50in50 and donate such a thing to the project (a used one would be dandy), because buying such a thing would be the end of the Kickstarter money and then some, and I’d really rather spend that in more creative ways (on creative people, for example).  Anyway, hope springs eternal.

In conclusion, the horse was mad at me for abandoning it for so long, and she bucked and bit like hell.  We’ve made up now, though, and it feels good to be back in the saddle.  Hope to see you again next Friday.



P.S.  50in50 will no longer be every single week.  It will likely be three weeks on, then one week off.  This is to prevent burnouts and crappiness.  It’s also so I can devote time to fulfilling some of my obligations to my Kickstarter Backers.  SNL has been doing three weeks on and one week off for thirty years now, so I feel pretty okay about it.

~ by 50in50 on January 9, 2010.

5 Responses to “Week 25: Martin Carroll’s Birthday Present”

  1. yeah! you’re back, and i’m happy about that, although i’m also a little teary-eyed after watching that video. bravo. -mia

  2. Really enjoyed this one…pretty moving. Glad you are back!

  3. Brent, that was excellent. A great idea and a wonderful production. Nice work.

  4. Brent, this is great. A story like this doesn’t need HD bells and whistles to touch anyone who gives it a chance.

    It’s hard enough to lose people close to you.. but what if you knew you were going to lose all of them? And all of them were going to lose you? I think the question of what we would leave behind, given the chance, is one that’s always got to end up with “not enough.” There’s always something you wish you’d have said, or done, or made. Your experience sums it up well.

    Very touching & provocative.

  5. wonderfully moving.

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