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Irascible Rankery

Slowly the wheels turn. Already got 1 rejection and 5 confirmations of playing one of the two TV series in various markets. No offense to the Population 17,000 market, but Pittsburgh picking up FRAMELINES represents a gain of about 300,000. Pittsburgh is also a much bigger film town. We’re weeks away from a premiere in Pennsylvania, and possibly CLIP FRAMES as well.

I suspect that many of these packages I sent out for CLIP FRAMES and FRAMELINES will go unanswered, whether they play the shows or not. The shame is that if they play them, I have additional episodes and no way of knowing if they can use more of them. I have to assume rejection on the part of any no-responses. I will follow up in mid December to any with contact info.

I laid out two more episodes of CLIP FRAMES tonight. They are skeletons as I need about 10 minutes of material for each episode, but that puts me at 25 total episodes. I like to lay in new material as I have it, so so more FRAMELINES leftover content as well as Behind the Scenes from a few friends round out the shows. Since we have 2 more Roundtables to edit for FRAMELINES, that means I should have no trouble filling in these shows.

I’m formulating my plan on what projects to embark on in the interim before ACCIDENTAL ART, the feature film. I was planning on directing 2 more CELL PHONE MONOLOGUES, but it might be 3-4, depending on a few factors. A couple scripts started to cohere in a way I did not anticipate. I’m not much of a writer to be honest, so when something starts to work, I jump on it.

We’ll see what’s next soon enough.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Nov 19, 2011 at 7:36:14 pm

Elucidating the Erudite

Elucidating the Erudite

After over $100 in shipping and over 50 packages, I suddenly find myself with less to do for the briefest of moments. I'm taking a weekend off, more or less. I spent today cleaning, and doing a major rearrangement of furniture in the mancave of Rossdonia.

I have many docs on my computer(s), usually transcribed from handwritten notes on one of several notepads. In it are many ideas from THINGS TO DO, to lines of dialogue to project ideas. Because contract negotiations with a key cast member do not permit me to shoot on my feature ACCIDENTAL ART for a few months, along with weather, I want to fill my time with some creative work.

I can’t stand be idle. It happens by the nature of doing something artistic (my own work may not be judged ‘art’ by some). Sometimes the muse just doesn’t visit. Other times, life distracts you from creating.The already released CELL PHONE MONOLOGUES are an example of something I wanted to start, then become more of a producer for others to facilitate the making of more. The concept is simply to pair great actors with great cinematography to do the otherwise poorly shot acting monologue. There are two more of these that I would like to direct myself, then let others loose on writing, directing, shooting, and making others.Now that I’ve been screening these, there is some interest by others to participate.

That brings up two other similar ideas I have percolating. Well, one more idea that is meant to be done by others that I help with, and another is just a set of simple ideas I had to do.

Firstly, I wanted to do one or two of these other series, based on an old Peter Seller’s joke from the 1960’s, done as a short. I think it has legs in that the concept is modernizing and warping something from someone I idolize.

Secondly, I wanted to create some very short video blogs, but strangely make them quite cinematic. I have only a handful of ideas sketched out, but I think they could be very cool. These I have for myself, but if others want to take similar ideas and run with it, then by all means. I just think these will be far harder to keep up than the Monologues and my homage to 60’s humor.

I want to do the first few of these projects, set a tone, then let people go wild. Seek out some people to make other movies in the series, help provide gear, guidance, or hell even some degree of funding.Yeah, because I’m not busy enough in life as it is. I feel it necessary to create another MOUNTAIN of work. I’m not providing broadcast content for PBS, Educable, and teaching a class, as well as working full time producing and editing.

Combine that with my antisocial tendencies of late and you might start to wonder why these ideas are pervading my mind.....

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Nov 12, 2011 at 8:20:25 pm

Waggery and Whimsy

Focus is the key. Staying on track and not letting things help you stray from your chosen path; this presents the most common mistake in getting lost. Even on a bad day right now, I still get a lot done. Whether it's for FRAMELINES or CLIP FRAMES, I digitize a tape, synchronize 4 cameras on a multicam timeline, or I edit. My nose presses firmly to the grindstone right now.

And I'm teaching.

Next week I get my own class for 11.5 months. That's a hefty responsibility, but one I look forward to. I don't know as much about the radio side of the course, but I have learned much and the support for radio is tremendous at the school. The Graduate Assistants seem to almost all have a forte in broadcast radio, so it will balance out.

I have over 50 packages to mail out. Thank god a big payday hit. Now I can afford to start the shipping. At least 20 are going out tomorrow, plus some film festival submissions and other opportunities.

I heard yet again today about someone seeing one of the shows on TV, this time CLIP FRAMES, and at a hospital. That was cool. It takes time to build an audience. In prior decades, shows took time to find their place. CHEERS was 87th out of 88 shows. SEINFELD was dead last in the ratings for their first entire season (all 4 episodes!). I have the luxury of not having to deal with ratings or fight for timeslots. CLIP FRAMES is not wonting in terms of content or episodes. I have 23 half hour shows completed already. FRAMELINES' quality vastly outweighs CLIP FRAMES because it goes out to PBS and in HD. Of course, some FRAMELINES material is airing on CLIP FRAMES, but by the time it gets to the other show, the heavy lifting is way over and only represents a fraction of effort put into a single episode.

We've put together 6 "vignettes" as I call them from last year's 48 Hour Film Project. This is material that never made it to air on FRAMELINES, but makes perfect bonus DVD, web content, and filler for CLIP FRAMES. There was some minor ill will to this year's 48 in Columbus, so some videos reminding everyone about team spirit, good times, hard work, and pure enjoyment seem to fit the prescription. Being an unbiased outside party doesn't hurt either. So far, these web videos are the most popular clips we've put out there so far. The last two are due out over the next week.

Soon we'll get cracking on finalizing another episode of FRAMELINES. Thank god the Interns have been so incredibly helpful on these. It's been so much easier once we get a style established to follow it and I only have to do minor tweaks to the cuts, as opposed to the he

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Nov 8, 2011 at 6:59:47 pm

Engaging the Epithets

Acolytes of Boo, your faithful narrator has returned in more ways than one. As always, I have kept busy, but soon the results of which will be seen by many. A few bouts of insomnia along with some creative bursts of energy have propelled my endeavors to new heights. My research has yielded some fruit in terms of distribution (of sorts) for the Education show CLIP FRAMES. I have completed and authored 23 half hour shows total including the latest Sonnyboo content and FRAMELINES overflow material, as well as contributions from other select people.

To maximize the output and breadth of coverage, I did some homework and found 41 additional channels within the state to play this on. Of course, a decent percentage will turn it down, so I cannot expect them all to love my show as I do, but even if only half play it - that will be an enormous score for getting the work seen. Outside of Ohio, I plan to send to direct contacts to 17 more channels in Michigan, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Kentucky. Given a lack of funding for Education channels, 23 totally free episodes of television stands a decent chance of getting air time.

Too many people are extremists of one side or the other. I do believe the television business models are decaying, but they are not gone yet. People are still channel surfers. Getting your work seen is still more likely on cable TV than on the Internet because the web has so much content drowning it. I still think the Internet is the future, so why not hedge your bets and do both? I certainly won't write off any potential outlet for material.

I am making a substantial investment in DVD-R's, the delivery format Du'Jour. 23 episode x 41 channels = 943. Yikes. I'm starting off with the first 2 episodes only (82 DVD's) and sending those out to see which channels say YES and email me back. Then whoever accepts the show, starts the marathon burning sessions. Thank god we have 3 duplicators that can do 100 DVD's at a time. And they all 3 have disc printers no less.

At the same time, I am going to create retail DVD's of the FRAMELINES episodes on This will allow the show to get on IMDB quicker, and also it will contain the bonus content not from broadcast like the extra interviews, extended episodes, roundtable outtakes, etc. There will be practically no profit to the discs as we want to just make them available to the schools that have requested copies. Along with those, an updated INDIE FILM TIPS DVD will be available on AMAZON first in a few weeks, then a modified SONNYBOO HD SHORTS disc too. Then I'll retire some content like the MOVIEMAKING TECHNIQUES disc and the old Sonnyboo discs.

So many things wrapping up at the same time. Season 1 of Framelines, Cell Phone Monologues, Clip Frames show, and who knows what else. Clearing the decks for the next feature. Nothing left undone. Back to work mein freunds.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Nov 2, 2011 at 8:19:35 pm

Penurious Pessimist

I had a blast last weekend at the Colony Film Festival in Marietta. Saw some great movies, met some inspiring filmmakers, and just chilled out a lot. Without planning it deliberately, it seems every year I make a long drive in Ohio in October and see the amazing leaves changing colors. Now that I'm back to work, the list of things to get done seems somewhat more achievable.

Framelines trucks along. We're shooting 3 roundtables and 2 featured filmmakers in an attempt to wrap up the first season of 13 episodes. I still need to find another featured filmmaker to complete the set. These are for people with a body of work and a distinctive style. The roundtables will be interesting because I'm trying to populate them with people I don't know or at least don't know well at all.

Because of the psychology of the Internet Age, I'm finding uses for outtakes and extra bits we have shot to create more content either exclusive for online or to add to the cable show CLIP FRAMES. I have found that people like a consistent and steady stream of material to be a key to retaining online audiences. Both leftover from the television era of having a show once a week, as well as the plethora of content inundating people on the Internets.

The Framelines Roundtables tend to be anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour each. The run time of the segments tends to be anywhere from 3 minutes to 7 minutes which equates to a lot of good material that never makes it to air. The Roundtables, although generally considered to be the least polished segment of the show, do have incredibly useful information from a variety of people discussing topics. My pattern thus far has been to take 2 segments from the Roundtable for broadcast on Framelines, then come up with another 10-15 minutes of material from the outtakes to form something for the websites and Clip Frames.

For the two 48 Hour Film Project episodes of Framelines, we shot interviews at the drop off. Since we got not only 3 of the team members we followed, but also 3-4 other people too, I decided to make these vignettes on each of them. Giving face time online and on cable TV to these other filmmakers who struggled equally means a lot to me.

Over time, all this material from Framelines and Clip Frames will add up. With 22 episodes of Clip Frames and 13 episodes of Framelines covering material from close to 100 filmmakers from Ohio - combine all that with repeats and airings in 7-8 markets, and the independent film movement will, at the very least, be seen.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Oct 20, 2011 at 8:25:25 pm

Inexplicable Idiosyncrasy

Last month when we found out the Ohio Channel was airing our show FRAMELINES, I predicted it might get seen a little. I was right. I keep hearing from people who see me on TV and especially from the people we interviewed on the show about how they keep getting told they were seen on the show. I am so glad FRAMELINES finally escaped into the public.

Now I have to finish 4 more episodes....

I'm 95% done with Episode 9. All it needs are my trademark transitions and music beds for 3 of the stories and BAMM! It will be finished. I get a bit euphoric when finishing an episode. To be honest, I dance a jig after every episode completes. I'm lining up interviews, roundtables, and other items missing from the board for the show. Season 1 needs to finish and then we'll take a break for a while. Not sure how long, although we have plans for season 2 and stories we can cover, but I want to figure out how to best approach the future of Framelines.

I'm not as down, although I have no idea why not. Nothing has changed really. My money is being drained away just as fast as I can make some. The economy looks to not improve, which means possibly a lower income on the horizon. Roadblocks are in my filmmaking way.And yet, I am happier of late. Not sure why. I'm getting more done and better. Along with Framelines, Clip Frames continues and airs on cable TV and both will expand to neighboring states.

There is much strife in Rossdonia with Lorenzo Lamas Jones and Vladimir Jack Bauer not getting along at all (or "V" doesn't like Lorenzo at all would be more accurate a description). And yet I love them all and play with them every morning and night. I've still been purchasing titles at Half Price Books like and addict.

Who really cares "why" I'm happier. I just am. When the Rossman is happier, more gets done. A lot is getting done right now. 2 new Sonnyboo short films premiere this weekend.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Oct 9, 2011 at 12:14:24 pm

Top 10 Reasons RETURN OF THE JEDI Sucks

I am a big fan of Star Wars, but I have never ever liked RETURN OF THE JEDI. Having just watched the Blu Ray, I'm gonna spout off a little about this. As I have said numerous times, I'm a much bigger fan of the MAKING OF these movies than I am of the movies themselves, so I will reference many things from various sources such as DVD (and obscure Laserdisc) commentaries, documentaries, out of print books (like John Preecher's THE MAKING OF RETURN OF THE JEDI from 1983), older screenplay drafts, and more.

10. LACK OF DRAMATIC TENSION PART 1 -In the scene with Leia and Han, right after Luke says, "Hey, you're my sister, even though we played tongue twister in the last movie", and the dramatic tension lasts almost 3 whole seconds before Han Solo, a well known scoundrel, gives up and apologizes right away. No waiting until they're in the battle and she gets shot to make up, thus creating some much needed drama. No consistency with character.

9. MATTE PAINTINGS - Okay, having just watched all 6 movies on Blu Ray, why are the matte paintings so blaringly obvious in this movie? In 1920x1080 High Definition video on a 42" monitor, the matte paintings of things like the Millenium Falcon in a hangar show way too much of the paint strokes and look incredibly fake.

8. BAD EFFECTS - In many ways the effects work in Return of the Jedi are STILL some of the best. Then why is some of the worst effects also in the same movie? There are several really poor blue screen shots, like when Han Solo and Lando are talking about permission to take the Millenium Falcon into battle, those shots are so terribly done, complete with the exact same horrendous matte paintings already mentioned. Throughout the movie, several of the blue screen composites rip me out of the movie because of how fake they looked. Sometimes followed immediately by some of the best of the 1980's FX work. See also the shot of Mongo's look alike mourning his dead Rancor, or Luke and Han on the skiff on Tatooine. There isn't a single shot in iV or V that compare to these 7-8 terrible FX debacles in JEDI.

7. DARTH VADER - Okay, even in the context of all 6 movies, When, where, and how did Luke sense some good in Vader? What actions were taken that demonstrate this innate sense of good? The hand cutting and torture in Empire Strikes Back? The killing of a few dozen defenseless children in Revenge of the Sith? Looking at just the original trilogy, there is absolutely NOTHING redeemable about Darth Vader. His newfound good side and thoughts, we have nothing but crappy dialogue to tell us about, is all we have to suddenly empathize with a character who has done terrible things. It rings quite hollow to me, and I am a big fan.

6. KILL LANDO - Also from Lawrence Kasden's draft, Lando was supposed to die and the Millenium Falcon did not actually make it out of the Deathstar II. There is no sense of sacrifice for the good guys in this film. With no sacrifice, there is a lot less honor. Since we the audience start to feel that the good guys aren't going to die, there isn't a lot of concern, or DRAMATIC TENSION. There it is again.

5. DEATH STAR, or LACK OF IMAGINATION - Why another Deathstar? I understand that in 1977's A NEW HOPE, George Lucas did not intend to do the whole Deathstar blowing up and trench run, but did because of studio pressure and thinking he would never get to play that card later. Still, come up with something NEW. Something imaginative. Rehashing a visual and just the exact same thing was kind of lame. Early drafts had not 1, but 2 Deathstars. That was twice as boring to me.

4. RELATIONSHIPS UNRESOLVED - This too plays into a lack of DRAMATIC TENSION, because when last Luke and Leia were seen together in Empire, she was taking care of her favorite idealist, but confessed to loving his best friend. By going back to a completely unused draft of Episode iV (the 2nd draft) where Luke and Leia were siblings, something OBVIOUSLY not adhered to in the previous 2 films. There was dramatic tension in a LOVE TRIANGLE. If Luke and Han are both suitors for Leia, then there might be a tear in their friendship. Even with the sibling reveal, there was an opportunity to play on this, but it gets dropped in favor of.... no tension.

3. HARRISON FORD - Harrison did not want to do this movie. He has repeatedly stated he did not want to play Han Solo again. Of all the principal actors, he was the only one NOT signed for this sequel. In the end he got a substantially better deal than the rest, but even monetary compensation did not inspire a watchable performance. Han Solo in this movie is unmotivated, poorly acted, and completely inconsistent with anything ever this guy has done in the 2 previous movies. Harrison weighed at least 20-25 pounds heavier and his hair looked like the stylist was Ray Charles in a dark closet. Sadly, Harrison was right in saying Han Solo should have died at the end of the first act to show some sacrifice and also to add some dramatic tension. Even Carrie Fisher, so blatantly coke'd out of her mind on every type of narcotic that existed in 1982, delivered a better performance than Harrison Ford in this movie.

2. EWOKS - No, I never liked the Ewoks. As I was all of 11 years old when Return of the Jedi came out and I found the pandering to be insulting to my age group. Having known for years this was intended to be Wookiees like Chewbacca, how on the hell are we supposed to accept these half sized, product placements as a substitute? I will say there was a single shot where two Ewoks get hit by laserfire, and one of them stays dead and the other one mourns him - that was deep. Now on Blu Ray, these things have iris' and they blink. Creepy, but more realistic. But way creepy. Seeing REVENGE OF THE SITH with a full on Wookiee battle, imagine what this COULD have been like...

1. LACK OF DRAMATIC TENSION PART II : FROM A CERTAIN POINT OF VIEW - Even as an 11 year old, I felt the Obi Wan Kenobi scene from Return of the Jedi to be a series low point. "What I told you was true... from a certain point of view"? Come on, that sucks. Why isn't Luke emotional? Why isn't he yelling at Obi Wan about NOT telling him who his father was? How does the moral ambiguity work for THIS, but not the Emperor or all the people who are drafted into the Imperial forces who die in the fight against the rebellion? The worst thing about this one is having read Lawrence Kasden's draft of this scene that George Lucas re-wrote. In Kasden's draft, Luke IS belligerent, asks angrily, "Why didn't you tell me Vader was my father?" and Obi Wan responds with, "We wanted to finish your training and prepare you for the burden but you left in such a hurry." Luke responds with "But I had to save my friends! They were in danger" and Obi Wan wisely retorts, "and in the end, didn't they end up saving YOU?" and that shuts Luke up and they have a civil conversation. DRAMA of the best kind. Never to be seen in this freakin' movie.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Sep 28, 2011 at 8:27:54 pmComments (2) star wars, return of the jedi

Journal of the Whills

I am a fan of Star Wars. The original 1977 version was the first film I ever saw on the big screen in my life when I was 5 years old. It opened my imagination because everything this fantastical existed only as animation, so this movie just widened the limitation of what could be done with a movie.

Now I just got the Blu Rays and we’ve been watching them one a night for the last week.

Strangely, Phantom Menace wasn’t as bad as I remember it. For the first time ever, I was thoroughly annoyed with the whole JarJar Binks thing. It was never good, but it never BOTHERED me until now. The kid was terrible, but then again the ‘direction’ of the script was all over the place. Whose point of view are we with here? Who is the main character and what are their themes? Overall, it looks great but the emotion wasn’t all there. In context of 6 movies, this one still sets up some story.

Attack of the Clones looked, sounded, and was a lot better than I recall. Memory has a funny way of shaping how things might have been, plus people (meaning myself) change over time. I liked it and it looked amazing on Blu.

Revenge of the Sith it turns out, I have only seen maybe 3-4 times before, the least by a large margin of any Star Wars movie, excluding ridiculous Ewok movies or animated stuff. Again, there was some horrendous dialogue at times, like the previous two movies, but this was much more enjoyable than I expected.

I have seen, what is now referred to as A New Hope, in the theater probably 100 times alone. I know it was over 30 times in 1977. Then again in 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, and even made it out to few rare print screenings in the 1990’s. Then the 1997 special edition screenings, including a private only screening a friend of mine did the night before a press screening, where for my birthday, she arranged this for me all by myself without telling me what it was.

I guess I’m not too worried about ‘changes’. I kind of like having something new to see or hear in a movie I have seen literally over 100 times in my life. Still, A New Hope n Blu Ray was not nearly as impressive as the Star Wars Re-Revisited fan edit where some guys did way more than 1,000 changes and ‘fixes’. Having seen this Blu Ray of George’s changes, maybe he should have hired this team of unknowns because they did a lot more and better changes. Funny how ‘fans’ like this guy making 1,000 changes then complain when George Lucas makes 10-20. I think people like the underdog.

I don’t care of George Lucas changes the movies forever. It’s not really that important, at least not to me. As much as I like the movies, I’m far more interested in the MAKING OF and BEHIND THE SCENES. What moved me was less that actual movies themselves, but rather the idea that whatever George Lucas saw in his head, he could put on a movie screen.

I’ve got several Laserdisc sets, not to covet the unaltered versions of the movies, but because they contain a lot of documentaries, commentaries, and amazing amounts of detail on HOW the movies were made. I don’t own a single novelization of Star Wars, but I have an extensive library of books on the behind the scenes.

We’ll get through EMPIRE and JEDI soon enough. It’s amazing how much I’m liking these movies now that I have no expectations and don’t really care about them as anything more than a movie.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Sep 25, 2011 at 12:19:35 pm star wars, blu ray

Perfunctory Preparation

Putting the final touches on my next article for a print issue of VIDEOMAKER MAGAZINE tonight, shortly after finalizing the next two Sonnyboo short films that will premiere next month at the COLONY FILM FESTIVAL. Your narrator feels substantially more "up" of late, although not at the lofty heights of days past, but still...

Next month I will be the keynote speaker at this film festival where I attended in 2006, screening HORRORS OF WAR when their name was the "River City Film Festival". Five years later, and I am doing a seminar on big shoots, little shoots. I'm going to show ACCIDENTAL ART along with some behind the scenes footage, showing the bigger crew and comparing it to the new CELL PHONE MONOLOGUES, where the crews maxed out at 4 people. I have no behind the scenes for these shoots because there was no room or time for extra people. My point will be to use the amount of crew you need for the project at hand, not small just to make it small and not big just to have more people to boss around.

I'm pretty happy with the outcome of these two shorts, one of which has taken over a year to complete. I wish I could lay blame on the 2 FX heavy shots, but alas that would be untrue. Procrastination and a changing attitude about HOW to complete movies. I am something more of a perfectionist than I was before. The last 5 years have greatly transformed my attitudes about quality over quantity. My process has proven to be more about watching and re-watching an edit and making changes. Rather than demo this in the public eye, I am more selective about who sees my edits and when.

I let ideas fester and grow before making decisions. This takes a lot longer, but the results are more polished and I am less likely to release something, then make George Lucasian re-edits for years to come.

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Sep 16, 2011 at 8:59:07 pm

Clips of Frames within the Lines

Not only has your faithful narrator been busy, even more has happened in spite of his self. Several announcements to be made here. First and foremost, The Ohio Channel begins airing FRAMELINES on Monday, and 6 times a week no less. The Ohio Channel reaches every PBS station in the state of Ohio, over the air and on cable! The 2nd cousin to FRAMELINES, the cable show CLIP FRAMES, with short films and extra content from FRAMELINES started airing 7 times a week on Educable in Columbus for the last two weeks.

Oh, and I just got asked to be the keynote speaker at the Colony Theater Film Festival in October, where I will world premiere 2 new Sonnyboo short films!

FRAMELINES might actually start getting seen in Columbus (as well as other big cities in Ohio). The show now has a fighting chance. Getting some primetime slots means more eyeballs. 8 Episodes completed with show 9 in the pipe; FRAMELINES will end its first season with a bang methinks.

CLIP FRAMES is not nearly as polished a show. It's mostly material 5 years or even older, as in some 11 year old material is also included. Now that I've been teaching at an accredited college level for several months, I qualify to submit to Educable, and the material has a great deal of educational or student level content.

I still very much believe that at the moment, television is still the best way to reach an audience. The Internet has been very good to me, but TV and cable should not be underestimated. It's still the single most dominant source of audio/visual programming. Yes, it is starting to lose to the World Wide Web, but it ain't gone yet.

So a PBS show statewide and a cable show locally means I am providing over 7 hours of content on TV every week for a while! Granted, it's really 1 hour of content repeated 6 more times, but still that just means more chances for people to catch it.

I got a great call from the festival organizers and I'm going to world premiere the Cell Phone Monologues I and II at this festival, out of competition. Audio post production is in high gear. Scoring and final tweaks aside, I should have no problem meeting the deadline.

I needed this barrage of good news. I am a lot less depressed!

Posted by: Peter John Ross on Sep 9, 2011 at 9:02:40 pm

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