Laura Conway on Web Series: Production Day

EDITOR’S NOTE: Here it is. The sixth and – oh no! – final chapter in Laura’s series on the making of her very, very, very popular – over 3 million views – interweb series hit The Vamps Next Door.


Relax, Kid, You’re Not Making Star Wars
by Laura Conway

I try to be positive, but having a big imagination works both ways. Try to imagine the worst possible thing that can go wrong during your production. For me, that involves death, so if nobody dies, it was a great shoot. And when it’s over, you can happily say that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. You’re not making Star Wars here, so focus on the positives of the experience or you’ll miss all the fun.

Some practical things to do in preparation for shoot day: Set up the house as much as possible the night before. Have printed copies of the script and the call sheet. Print out the lunch menu and take orders in the morning. Have extra batteries, duct tape and blue painter’s tape (the kind that doesn’t stick to wood floors), have an opaque tarp in case you need to block out light from windows.

Have some wardrobe tape ready in case an actress has to tape her dress to prevent wardrobe malfunction, have a slate ready with dry erase markers and an eraser, designate a bathroom, including free counter space, for the makeup person to set up (they take up way more space than you would think), know which area of the house you won’t be shooting in and use it as a staging area for equipment, have all the props ready to go and a designated changing room for the actors. And make sure there’s plenty of coffee, water, snacks, etc.

One recommendation I have is to “check the gate” after each scene. That means watch the footage you just shot before moving on to the next scene to make sure it looks good… Remember the homeless guy, who works for food, that you picked up and put on camera 3? Make sure his shots are in focus. Vamps Director, Phil, never checks the gate, but I’m the editor and I can tell you that out of focus shots can’t be fixed well in editing… See what you can see:

When I showed up for our very first Vamps Next Door shoot, I didn’t know anything about anything. Now I know some stuff, but nothing can really prepare you for a low budget shoot except to expect the unexpected. Being obsessively organized helps a lot. Until it doesn’t…

Some of the unexpected things I’ve had happen while shooting:

My neighbor decides it’s cut down a tree day

There’s a dog in the back room whining (and it’s not my dog)

Fangs just fall out of the actress’s mouth

An actor shows up for pick up shots with a new beard and new hair color

The fake pee device supposed to wet the actor’s pants just makes a puddle on the floor

The Fire Marshall shows up and says we’re not allowed to really smoke from the bong

The cat won’t react when the script clearly says CAT REACTS

The homeowner is having a mental breakdown, tears included, over all the people in her house

And my personal favorite…The actress’s nipple is showing through her bra and we don’t notice until after we’ve shot it (Editing that nipple out was a bitch… see if you can see it at 4:45…

Every time I finish editing and posting a new Vamps episode, I say, “I’m never doing this again.”

But I do. Because I’ve also had some amazingly cool moments while shooting, like when actors nail my favorite lines, the way good lighting makes an actress’s skin look on camera, when I frame a beautiful exterior shot and it’s perfect, when the fake vomit looks real, when a joke line I wrote makes everyone laugh. And best of all when I look over at all the brilliant, creative people I work with.

So that’s my story about my strange kind of hobby, writing and producing web series. Now it’s your turn to make one!

Read Chapter 1 HERE

Read Chapter 2 HERE

Read Chapter 3 HERE

Read Chapter 4 HERE

Read Chapter 5 HERE


Laura Conway is the writer and producer of The Vamps Next Door web series, directed by Phil Ramuno. Subscribe to the Vamps’ YouTube channel to get notifications about new episodes.

Saying Goodbye to TV Writer Frank Barron

Death notices very seldom are occasions of joy (we at TVWriter™  know, in theory they never are, but we also have lived for awhile in the real world, where things are different), but all we could think when a friend showed us this one was, “Wow, there definitely are worse lives out there, and worse ways to have lived.”

In other words, we hope our own obits show half as much accomplishment as this one, for a writer who clearly was much too unsung:

Mr. Barron is the figure on the right in this 1950s pic. On the left is Pinky Lee, the star of one of the many shows Barron wrote for.

Frank Barron, the eclectic writing career of a Hollywood character

Not every character in Hollywood becomes famous, but they make their contributions. Writer Frank Barron tried his hand at all sorts of show business gigs, and over the years became one of the threads that connects and enlivens the Hollywood tapestry.

Barron, who died of natural causes on Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, at the age of 98, wrote cartoons, radio shows, a primetime TV series, and worked as an industry journalist and rock promoter, according to his obituary in The Los Angeles Daily News.

He was married in the living room of “The Partidge Family” star Shirley Jones, and “Breaking Bad” star Bryan Cranston stopped by to wish him a happy 97th birthday in 2016.

His wife, Margie Barron, described him as, “a remarkable man – journalist, comedy writer, and a true Hollywood character.”

Barron was born in Elizabeth, N.J., and was a published author by his teens, having submitted articles to magazines like “This Boy’s Life.” He covered sports for The Newark Evening News before serving overseas in the Medical Corps during World War II. After the war, he ran Air Force base newspapers in Japan for a year. He then made his way to Hollywood.

He teamed up with partner Ray Brenner and began writing comedy. They got work writing on the radio for Red Skelton, Edgar Bergen, Martin & Lewis, and “Fibber McGee and Molly.”

He wrote scenarios for Woody Woodpecker cartoons for his friend, Joseph Barbera, founder of Hanna-Barbera cartoon studio. He also created a primetime TV western, “The Man from Blackhawk,” about an insurance investigator in the wild west.

There were bumps in the road along the way. “The Man from Blackhawk” fell victim to a writers strike, and Barron lost out on a chance to direct local TV variety show “Komedy Kapers,” when Jerry Lewis needed experience for his Directors Guild of America card.

However, he remained open to the opportunities that did come his way. He had two stints as an editor for The Hollywood Reporter, and spent time working for Gibson & Stromberg, a rock ‘n’ roll PR company….

Read it all at Legacy

Speaking of the website, here’s a link we saw embedded in the middle of this article that left us, well, let’s call it, “bemused.” You’ll see what we mean:

Click to get weekly celebrity death news delivered to your inbox. 

Gerry Conway Sees GUARDIANS

by Gerry Conway

Finally had a chance to watch the Russian superhero film “Guardians,” and, wow.

It isn’t very good, but it isn’t very bad either.

It’s like a superhero movie made by people who kinda know what a superhero movie is “supposed” to look like but aren’t quite clear about why.

Most of the dialogue (I watched the subtitled version) feels like the sort of thing you write in a fast first draft, most of it of the placeholder variety. (I should have a character say something witty here; something somber here; a bit of introspection here; a wisecrack there– ToBeDetermined.)

It’s worth a view ‘cause it’s short enough that you won’t feel like you wasted an evening, and it’s always interesting to see another culture’s take on familiar tropes. And the bear-Hulk is unintentionally hilarious.

Yes, I said bear-Hulk.

There’s a bear-Hulk.


Gerry Conway is one of the Kings of TV and film and comic book writing and also one of our Beloved Leader Larry Brody’s longest-lasting and closest friends. Everybody who comes to TVWriter™ should be reading his insightful blog, where this article first appeared. Learn more about Gerry HERE.

Indie Video: ‘New Eden’

This one’s like Star Trek.

If Star Trek wasn’t really like itself but was instead an offshoot of classic video game TOEJAM & EARL.

Although we don’t think the makers of New Eden have ever seen TOEJAM & EARL. Way too young, you know?

Bottom Line: We laughed. You’ll laugh. Life is good.

Here’s a full ep:

New Eden is an animated sci-fi web comedy following the adventures of Murray and Hamilton, two starship crewmen marooned and fighting for their lives on a primordial world after their starship crash lands on the wrong planet!

EXPLORE New Eden at ? http://www.NewEdenseries.com

FIND NEW EDEN:

http://www.Facebook.com/NewEdenseries
http://www.Twitter.com/NewEdenseries

When is a Kid Video not a Kid Video?

Creepy video indeed. From the TechCrunch article analyzing the first article below. (Don’t worry, it’ll all be clear if you stick with us.)

When is a Kid Video not a Kid Video?

When you’re watching many a giant “hit” kid video on YouTube!

What the !@#$ are we talking about? This:

Something is Wrong on the Internet
by James Bridle

As someone who grew up on the internet, I credit it as one of the most important influences on who I am today. I had a computer with internet access in my bedroom from the age of 13. It gave me access to a lot of things which were totally inappropriate for a young teenager, but it was OK. The culture, politics, and interpersonal relationships which I consider to be central to my identity were shaped by the internet, in ways that I have always considered to be beneficial to me personally. I have always been a critical proponent of the internet and everything it has brought, and broadly considered it to be emancipatory and beneficial. I state this at the outset because thinking through the implications of the problem I am going to describe troubles my own assumptions and prejudices in significant ways.

One of the thus-far hypothetical questions I ask myself frequently is how I would feel about my own children having the same kind of access to the internet today. And I find the question increasingly difficult to answer. I understand that this is a natural evolution of attitudes which happens with age, and at some point this question might be a lot less hypothetical. I don’t want to be a hypocrite about it. I would want my kids to have the same opportunities to explore and grow and express themselves as I did. I would like them to have that choice. And this belief broadens into attitudes about the role of the internet in public life as a whole.

I’ve also been aware for some time of the increasingly symbiotic relationship between younger children and YouTube. I see kids engrossed in screens all the time, in pushchairs and in restaurants, and there’s always a bit of a Luddite twinge there, but I am not a parent, and I’m not making parental judgments for or on anyone else. I’ve seen family members and friend’s children plugged into Peppa Pig and nursery rhyme videos, and it makes them happy and gives everyone a break, so OK.

But I don’t even have kids and right now I just want to burn the whole thing down.

Someone or something or some combination of people and things is using YouTube to systematically frighten, traumatise, and abuse children, automatically and at scale, and it forces me to question my own beliefs about the internet, at every level. Much of what I am going to describe next has been covered elsewhere, although none of the mainstream coverage I’ve seen has really grasped the implications of what seems to be occurring.

To begin: Kid’s YouTube is definitely and markedly weird. I’ve been aware of its weirdness for some time. Last year, there were a number of articles posted about the Surprise Egg craze. Surprise Eggs videos depict, often at excruciating length, the process of unwrapping Kinder and other egg toys. That’s it, but kids are captivated by them. There are thousands and thousands of these videos and thousands and thousands, if not millions, of children watching them….

Read it all at Medium

Yeah, we know this is a pretty extreme sounding post. That’s why we’re also sending you to a place that treats the subject less angrily but comes to pretty much the same conclusions. Check out this article on TechCrunch by Natasha Lomas.

Whatever Happened to…’Automan?’

Yeppers, that’s Automan (Chuck Wagner) standing between his creator, Walter Nebbisher (Desi Arnaz, Jr.) and his very special – oh, you guessed it – Autocar. (He also had a little Tinkerbelle style sidekick named “Cursor.”

Once upon a time (1983, to be exact) there was a TV series called Automan, starring Desi Arnaz Jr. and Chuck Wagner, and Executive Produced and mostly written by none other than our favorite Beloved Leader, Larry Brody.

The show didn’t last all that long – twelve episodes, to be exact one more time – but over the years it’s become a cult classic because that’s what happens to shows that are way ahead of their time, especially shows that are the first to do something very, very special.

How do we know that Automan is a cult classic? Not from the residual checks that LB isn’t getting, that’s for sure. We know it because here and now, in the otherwise Not So Glorious Year of Our Lorde 2017, cool stuff video graphics software maker Red Giant is giving us – hehehe – this David Hewlett-starring parody:

It looked more like this, back in the day:

S.W.A.T. Creator Shawn Ryan got started as a radio station ad man

Most of us here at TVWriter™ are beginning or aspiring writers, which means that we’re insatiably curious about how more established and successful writers got their start. This article from Adweek gives us the skinny on the not-so-secret origin of writer-producer Shawn Ryan. We hope it inspires you as much as it has us.

Is this what you thought Shawn Ryan (left) looked like?

by Jason Lynch

The Shield was one of the most groundbreaking series of the past two decades, putting FX on the map while proving that envelope-pushing dramas about antiheroes could thrive on cable outside of HBO. However, creator Shawn Ryan says the show, along with his many others, may have never existed without the skills he learned during his first job as a copywriter for a Vermont radio station.

Ryan, who is now the showrunner on CBS’ new reboot of S.W.A.T., graduated from Vermont’s Middlebury College before landing his first postschool gig, writing ads for a Top 40 radio station in Burlington, filling in for someone on maternity leave.

“There are a lot of things where it was simply, ‘We’re having a mattress sale this weekend, everything is 30 percent off, sleep better, come in.’ Just-the-facts-ma’am ads. But every now and then, you’d get a chance where the client would be like, ‘Write something! Present it!’” recalled Ryan.

Ryan explained that Burlington was a “small enough market” that there weren’t many advertising agencies.

“The radio station sales people would come back and say, ‘We’ve sold 20 spots for this company. Call the owner, Joe, at this number, and see what they want to sell,’” Ryan said. “Sometimes Joe would be very specific about what Joe wanted, and sometimes Joe would be like, ‘We know we want ads, but what do you have in mind?’ And they’d let me go off and write something. That’s when the job was fun, when you could write something.”

The job required Ryan to do a lot more than just write the ad copy—he also had to produce ads. “I’d grab DJs and say, ‘Here’s the copy. We’ve got to do this,’” he said. “And, ‘What music are we going to use?’ I had to make sure it was actually hitting the air.”

But how did advertising experience help in the television world? Ryan said all of that juggling, prepared him to call the shots on The Shield, which debuted on FX in 2002, as well as his current shows, S.WA.T., which he created with Aaron Rahsaan Thomas, and NBC’s Timeless, which will return next year for its second season.

“In a strange way, it was the beginning of being a showrunner,” said Ryan, whose previous series include CBS’ The Unit, FX’s Terriers and Fox’s The Chicago Code.  “There’s different aspects to the job, and it’s working with talent, and writing….”

Read it all at Adweek