Sunday, April 29, 2007


The newest rage on the World Wide Web these days is going LIVE. It's now possible for anyone with a high-speed connection and a decent webcam to broadcast life for all the world to see. At the moment, the center of all this activity seems to be, which features hundreds of people from all over the world broadcasting live. Usually, the result is a rambling, stream-of-consciousness rant - sort of a video blog unrestrained. Live netcasting on this scale is still fairly new, however, so the look of this organic network is still developing.

On, a San Francisco-area tech/geek in his early 20's is netcasting 24/7, through a wireless webcam mounted on his hat. He claims he'll keep it up for the foreseeable future, but his audience is beginning to cause trouble - calling in fake emergencies to the police and fire departments, and causing so much havoc in his apartment complex that he could be evicted. It seems that going live sometimes means leaving yourself at the mercy of the entire world. In the meantime, check in and see Justin have breakfast, work, go to parties, use the bathroom (discreetly), and live a life as random and usually bland as anyone else.

Most people, both male and female, are far more limited in their netcasts. A good number of them are netcasting as the logical extension of their YouTube presence. Take, for example, Brandon3773 (his name on both YouTube and Stickam) Brandon is a thirteen year old from Texas who specializes in random commentary on the world around him (lots and lots of random commentary - 417 videos at last count), and holds court some nights on Stickam, responding to other live netcasters and text chatters on any sort of subject that comes to mind, and keeping the pervs and other freaks out of his world. Topics on a recent night included updates on his new website, behind-the-scenes anecdotes about the making of his YouTube videos, and a response to a question about why a kid from Lubbock, Texas doesn't have more of a Texan accent. He's just a typical thirteen year old kid. He's not edgy or extreme. I wouldn't even call him hilarious. He's just being a regular 21st Century kid - building a brand of his own.

After all, success is not only about a good resume, but also about selling a good product - yourself. With sites like YouTube and Stickam, it's possible to make yourself famous on the net. Just what you can do with that fame remains to be seen. Justin already has several sponsors. Brandon has 512 subscribers, and over 51,000 views. If those numbers continue to grow, he could be just the ticket for corporate sponsorship. Just by being a regular kid. Cool.

Childhood. Sponsored by Coke?

Driving By

In Los Angeles, nothing remains the same for too long. Most of the local landmarks from my childhood are long gone.

The Topanga Theater, my childhood theater of choice in the West San Fernando Valley, closed perhaps ten years ago. It had once been a single theatre, had already split into two by the time I began attending films there, and later was further split into four tiny theaters, which made the venue useless. It was to be torn down and replaced with a huge, modern multiplex, but neighborhood opposition forced Pacific Theaters to move that concept a mile or so north, replacing a drive-in movie theater that had also gone from one to two to four screens. Today, after a couple of years as a furniture store, it stands empty. I will always remember it as the place where I saw the original "Poseidon Adventure" about 15 times (using my dad's pass, which required only that I paid tax), and the scene of countless movie previews.

Several miniature golf courses in the area were long ago destroyed as land grew in value, as was a branch of the Malibu Grand Prix kart racing track and arcade, a very popular destination for kids at one time. It's now an auto dealership.

The massive Westfield Topanga mall was once known as Topanga Plaza, and featured an ice-skating rink, which was later converted into a food court. When the mall was overhauled in the last couple of years, the food court itself was deconstructed, and the space where it existed, which until then retained the shape of the old rink, was completely removed as the mall more then doubled in size. That very spot is now just another wing of the mall.

True, there are some parks in the area that have vastly improved since those days, and forms of entertainment have changed dramatically - there's not a lack of things to do - and a mall is still a mall, just bigger and more "upscale," but the business of recreation, aside from movie theaters, has shifted to the personal rather then the social. We didn't have video game systems, movie rental houses (or cable TV), or the internet.

Not only did land become more expensive in Los Angeles, but kids drifted away to more convenient recreational activities as time moved on.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Super Rabbit and Friends

I've had a long history of creating cartoon characters. Early on, I posted some of my more recent cartoons, but this little hobby actually began in kindergarten, when I created a character I dubbed, "Super Rabbit." I really don't remember what he looked like, but I vividly remember my teacher's laugh when i asked her how to spell it....

A few years later, when I was about ten or so, i created my own cartoon Presidential candidate, Jim Great. He came complete with campaign materials - posters and the like.

At eleven or twelve, I created a series of comic books about my newest super hero - Super Spider. It wasn't long before I introduced his sidekick, Wonder Worm.

I would endure a comic drought of perhaps eight or nine years, until I created a new series of characters and comics, beginning with James Castigon, an innocent teenager browsing through the discount record bin at his local record store when he discovers an album featuring HIM - singing a series of songs about his entire life. From that comic came a whole new series of characters, from Freddy Fetus to Melvin Egghead, and featuring the likes of Sem and Craven, "Pops" Castigon (James' father), and five evil characters: Flem, Marty, Pace, Stickle and Crude. The cartoons were circulated amongst my group of friends, and Freddy Fetus acheived cult status within that group - he became, for lack of a better word, the symbol of our generation.

Or was that Super Rabbit?

Kid Rumor Mill

As a kid, there were several rumors i unquestionably believed:

1) I was told there was this one kid who blew off his face with fireworks and now lived secluded in the bedroom above his garage. I know he lived there because my friend pointed it out. I was also accussed of being a friend of the kid-without-a-face - but my real friends helped quash THAT rumor.

2) At day camp, there was an abandoned, fenced-off shed way back at the far edges of the property. Rumor had it that an evil guy lived there - and he had captured a kid who had come too close. Of course, I turned down the dare to hop the fence and inspect the shed.

3) My friend across the street swore that if you cut the skin between your fingers you would die. Needless to say, I was very careful.

4) Without a doubt, my older cousins had the entire Major Matt Mason action figure (an astronaut figure that was my favorite toy for a time) set, including all the cool accessories, the other action figures in the series, and the space station playset. Not only did they have all this, but they were hiding it right this second behind the locked door to my aunt and uncle's bedroom and they were NOT going to let me see it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

What Ever Happened to Andy Tark?

The World Permiere!

This is a film that Andrew Tarr and I created, based (loosely) on his quirkly childhood adventures, and featuring a great cast of actors working in a "controlled improvisation." I'll explain more in future blogs.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Fast Food Will Rot Your Mind.

I think this Glendale McDonalds needs a new person programming the cash register - perhaps someone with a greater knowledge of the English language (read the ad at the top). I wasn't aware you could pack that many errors into one phrase.
I'm also puzzled as to what a burger with a three-to-one pound ratio would look like (The "Argus Burgers" are actually 1/3 pound).
I guess company standards at McDonalds don't include certain communication skills.

Freshi This, Freshi That

In addition to "How to Make Movies," the Freshi brand extends in several directions: a website (, a quarterly magazine ("Rated FreshiFriendly"), and an after school filmmaking program ( that is in the process of spreading worldwide. Freshi has created a series of packages designed to allow schools and other educational interests to bring filmmaking to kids and teens everywhere. It's been selling like crazy- the packages are shipping across the country and beyond.

Just look at Youtube - kids are deeply into filmmaking - and they're starving for information on how to do it right. For me, everything's come full circle from the days when I was a young (11 year-old) filmmaker. I would have given everything to have a video camera (with sound!!!) like so many kids have today...

Monday, April 09, 2007

How to Make Movies

One of my current projects "FreshiReel: How to Make Movies," a television program for kids and teens about the basics of filmmaking.. We've just shot the pilot, which I directed and edited (I produced and wrote with Suzanne Shoemaker of Freshifilms, LLC) I consider the program a television version of "Super-8 Filmmaker" magazine, which was popular when I was a kid - though even that wasn't aimed directly at kids. There are more young filmmakers out there today then ever before - and they can do more then ever before. The "Fresh-i" brand serves that constituency though an afterschool program that is franchised worldwide, a website ( - currently in beta mode), and efforts like this television show. I'm involved with Freshi in several ways, which I'll be exploring in near future.