Four months ago I silently acknowledged my second year on YouTube, abandoning any plans to make a video about it, which pretty well sums up how I was feeling in 2008. The first year [and a half] was easily the productive period of my life, the unofficial “second half” of my two years at film school. The last six months became more relaxed as it began to feel like a second job, offering fewer and fewer rewards. I put the “Bernard Smith” project on hold, vowing (again, to myself) that I wouldn’t return until I had a strong desire to do so. It took a bit longer then I expected.
My earliest videos on YouTube were those of a man discovering the joys of editing on his laptop for the first time. Editing was something I’d always done at a public access studio or college campus but never in the comfort of my own home. It had been four, treacherously long years since I’d cut anything together and I had to make up for lost time. I’d toss off a video in matter of hours and hungrily moving on to the next one. Only a few days into it I started running low on material, having used up all three of my ideas; myspace, iPods, and coffee. Four years of life experience burned up in a single week. I didn’t want to lose momentum.
Writing (or the lack of it) was one of the primary reasons I hadn’t produced anything in years. It’s not a skill that comes naturally to me. Even this blog is proving to be a pain in the ass. I’d worked with other friends who wanted to be filmmakers but we all struggled in the same areas, particularly writing, which usually lead to clumsy and ill-suited collaborations. Finding a good writer is hard, let alone one who’s willing to write something for you. I’d been posting on the Internet Movie Database for six years and had become acquainted with a handful of regulars who’d demonstrated a knack for witty prose. And now, thanks to YouTube, I was able to demonstrate what I was capable of, giving way to collaborations that would’ve been unlikely to exist before that. This is how I started working with the gentleman known to many of you as organicprankster.
Our first collaboration was a review of Ghost Busters, where Charlie Kimbote attempts to do for Ivan Reitman what Cashiers du Cinema did for Hitchcock. It provided a wealth of comic material and was a real challenge to edit, making it one of the most satisfying projects I’d done up to that point (though I hasten to add, I could do a much better job now). A couple months later when ‘prankster asked if I’d be interested in playing a Youtube-based preacher, I happily obliged. I’d produce anything he wrote.
The first ChurchOfBlow script arrived in my inbox on November 12th, 2006. Nineteen days later (December 1st) I uploaded A Personal Salvation as 'prankster was sending me script number sixteen. On December 30th I was uploading the thirteenth episode while 'prankster was working on the first three Bernard episodes. Five months later (May 17th 2007) Bernard Smith made his debut while 'pranster was polishing up the (still unproduced) forty-seventh episode. There are still roughly forty scripts that have yet to be produced, so although there’ve been long waits between videos, it was never from lack of material.
I spent six odd months inhabiting the role of Cornelius Blow. I was only working part time, living in the Maine woods with no internet. I was able to completely throw myself into the project, producing an average of two videos a week and uploading them from the library, often catching a stray wireless signal from the front stoop since it was only open three days a week. Meanwhile ‘prankster and I were building a small congregation on YouTube, most of them grown adults, ranging from eccentric to stir-fry crazy, who would attend our YouTube services without the faintest idea of who this madman was.
Though it may not seem like it, there are probably more autobiographical details in the Cornelius videos then there are with Bernard. Fight Fire With Fire (Souffle With Souffle) was loosely inspired by an incident I had with a boss while working at a bakery some weeks before I started ChurchOfBlow. Special Hell For Landlords and Common Courtesy were based on experiences ‘prankster was having around that time. Cornelius’s unspoken attraction to Lauren was a window into my own love life.
When Bernard Smith made his debut, real life had caught up with me and I was forced to move out of the woods, get a full-time job and an apartment. The videos came out at a slower pace, which seemed to reflect Bernard’s strained efforts to hang on to his audience in the absence of a writer. I hated my job. Everything felt like an obstacle to getting the series made. I was experiencing creative blue balls. The only thing that kept me going was a more long term project, a music number, that I was able to toy with and finesse over a period of six months. This became the aptly named YouTube Is My Life, the video that may very well have cured me of YouTube. But more on that later.
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1 year ago