Joanna’s meandering thoughts on spending the day in the Whedonverse

by Joanna on June 26th, 2011

I had a fantastic day today. Really, I did. I mean, I’m a bit neurotic in the way I seem to feed on stress like a mushroom on a squishy cedar, so where a lot of people may have wanted to avoid the tummy-twisting anxiety, I thought today was pretty awesome. Let me tell you about it.

Well, actually, let’s start last night as prep for CSTS (Can’t Stop the Serenity) Vancouver reached a fever pitch. So, as usual with the Standard Action workflow, Episode 10 was down to the line and we were fighting with sound and music all night – I got back from Episode 12′s fight rehearsal (which was amazingly inspiring) at 11:00pm or so, and then continued to work on music until 2:00. Rob kept going and woke me at 4:00am so I could review it. It looked spectacular, but the music was still not quite right. I constantly fight with music – I’m the kind of person who loves to allow the actors to affect the audience just with their words and performance, and not manipulate with music. However, during the course of this series I’ve started to understand the importance of it – especially with the amazing original material we’ve been getting from Phyllis Ho, Pat Tuckey and the powerhouse husband-wife team of Kat and Adam Lucas.

But, it was 4:00am, so I went back to bed.

A few hours later that morning we were up and the DVD was burned, but, curses, the menu wasn’t working properly. One frantic edit later, and I was on my way to the MacMillan Space Centre with DVD in hand, anxious that the music still wasn’t quite right. Rob locked himself in the editing cave once more and promised me a new copy with music tweaked to be delivered to the centre by noon. We were due to screen at 1:15pm. My stress meter cranked up to substantial levels.

I arrived at the centre at 10:15am ready and willing for my first job – judge of the costume contest with fellow webseries-makers Mary (or “Higlet”) of Higlet Films’ “Mind My Brains, Darling!” and Alan Douglas of “The Masked Roger.” I met up with Vanessa, Standard Action’s Associate Producer and an organizer of the Vancouver CSTS, as well as Gayle, another Browncoat, and the storm of energy behind many of the activities today. Stress levels abated significantly with a theatre viewing of Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog (I LOVE this mini-series; I can’t really get enough), but then raised again with a phone call from Rob warning that the render had failed. 12:30pm, he said, for my DVD. Ulcers forming.

Unfortunately, with the judging of the costumes (winners being a Kayleigh, a Mal, and a Simon Tam) I did not get to sit in on Higlet’s world premiere of Episode 2 of “Mind My Brains, Darling!”, so I’m definitely looking forward to checking that out online. I was thrilled to meet Mary; she’d come out with her daughter as well, and it was wonderful to chat to a fellow producer about the trials and tribulations and thrills and pride of doing the work we do. I don’t often get to talk to someone working on a webseries outside of Standard Action, and it’s nice to share experiences. We didn’t get to talk for long, but I got a great vibe off this girl. :)

So finally, happily, Rob arrived looking every bit the exhausted filmmaker in a fedora pulled low over his eyes, and Standard Action was announced. I went up and spoke a few words – of course nothing about what I was planning on saying, but the stress of the day and the hubris of deciding I needed no notes or practice meant I probably babbled incoherently for a bit, but thank the maker for Tara and Edwin in the audience, who hooted and hollered at me in support. Then, on with the show. We showed Episode 4: The Tavern, Episode 9: Hero Worship, and the world premiere of Episode 10: The Breaking of the Fellowship. To my delight, the music was perfect, and with a few adjustments to dialogue sound and dungeon colouring, I’m really excited to be launching on Monday. The crowd laughed at the right places, and chuckled at our rare but precious Whedon references. Gotta tip the hat to a writer I heartily admire.

Seeing it on the big screen, I was so very, very proud to be a part of this project. We are a no budget series – no budget by definition. And yet the look, the story, the performances and shots, the sound, the music… everything was so impressive. I’m so proud. Following the showing, nearly a dozen people approached me at some point in the day just to let me know that they liked it, smiles on their faces. Some of them wanted to talk about their creative efforts or aspirations as well, and some of them just wanted to say hi, but the effect was genuinely wonderful – I was spoiled; I felt so much positivity and affirmation from these people that by the time evening rolled around I was exhausted not only with stress and lack of sleep, but also with real satisfaction of having made such positive connections with strangers.

I stayed for the showing of Serenity, of course – a fantastic movie which (gasp!) I have never seen; this is now remedied. I can see why it gathered such a following. And what is with that opening steadicam shot! Wow!! I want a ship like that to film in. I saw the Firefly series, but Serenity was a great followup to it, even though that darn Whedon guy killed off my favourite character. Accompanying the showing was a exceptionally weird and tasty Serenity-themed cupcake from C&C Cakery which catered the event – mine was chocolate with cayenne topped with vanilla butter cream icing and pop rocks. Total mouth-party.

The day ended with the meeting of friends Vanessa and Newman, and new pals Christine and Serene from Seattle at La Belle Patate on Davie for some excellent vegetarian poutine and chats about PAX, D&D, Standard Action, pink bus stops and Canadian bacon. A glorious end to the day. Thank you Gayle and Vanessa and the Browncoats for a truly wonderful experience. You made so many people happy today, and raised lots of money for a great cause in the meantime! Equality Now is going to take those donations and do great things with them. Truly a worthy and lovely way to spend a Saturday.


P.S. Oh, and I got my picture taken with a crocheted Dalek. That rocked. If anyone sees that picture floating around, tell me. I want a copy.

5 Responses to “Joanna’s meandering thoughts on spending the day in the Whedonverse”

  1. Higlet Films » Report from Vancouver CSTS: Our World Premiere Screening! Says:

    [...] other webseries creators in the flesh, but I’m resolving to do it more often. Joanna has also blogged about her day in the [...]

  2. Michael Anton Lylyk Says:

    It’s funny to look at the Browncoat culture in the same way you look at Trekkies, or Starwarsies.. (jedis? something.) I mean I completely missed the boat on Firefly (though I did catch the movie) But to see something as short lived as it is be such a phenomenon is actually pretty amazing.

    Sounds like is was fun, and it’s cool to see Standard Action have the potential to be such a cult it. Good stuff!

  3. Jesus Colaianni Says:

    Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a really well written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and return to read more of your useful info. Thanks for the post. I’ll certainly comeback.

  4. Kristine Says:

    I didn’t know I was mentioned on this blog post… d’oh! Looking forward to seeing you again at PAX! Watch for my tweets re: your fundraising!

  5. Tim Says:

    Very nice article! Thanks for sharing it with us!

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