I wanted to write a bit about this video, since it holds a special place in my heart, and comes from an interesting time in my life.
Believe it or not, I’ve been working on Critical Hit! since 2006. For real. 2006. And it was finally finished in late 2013… SEVEN YEARS LATER.
So, first of all, I’ve had this weird imaginary weight on my shoulders for that entire time, and I’m relieved to finally be done with it and have a finished product out there for people to enjoy. (And I’m trying not to think about the steps necessary in promoting this video and sharing it with the world. Yikes.)
But, yeah, 2006. It was a time when Mr. Ghost (a video-making trio made up of me, Dyna Moe and Bill Buckendorf) was coming to an end, and I found myself not really knowing what to do.
In past years — thanks especially to Channel 102
(now called Channel 101 NY) — Mr. Ghost made a web series pretty much on a monthly schedule, and it was fun, it was productive, it was challenging. It was also stressful, time-consuming, and exhausting.
I can’t really state enough how grateful I am for the opportunity Channel 102 brought to the NYC comedy world. Not only did I learn a lot about making videos, but at the end of it all, I had something to show for it. A real finished product!
And all that really sucked, as endings and break-ups often do, but I still had these plans and dreams and ideas for a Dungeons & Dragons-like show, and so I went ahead. Draggingly slow, but still.
My earliest email I can find about Critical Hit! is from 2/24/2006, to Birch, where it was still a web series (not just a web pilot) and he was gonna play an Elf Druid, not a Magic-User. Boy, did things change! Am I right, folks?
BTW, someone asked me “How did you book all those great people?” Well, in those days no one was famous. We were just UCBers and, I just asked them. I’ve always considered one of my strong points to be casting the right person for the right role (and writing it tailor-made for them). But I just asked.
And nine months later we shot the bulk of the pilot. NINE MONTHS.
In that time I rewrote the script a dozen times, ordered costumes and weapons (after being given money by my brother — an act of kindness I’ve never forgotten, even if I’ve never repaid it), got advice from a park ranger on how to shoot in Central Park without a permit and not get thrown out, and, most time-consumingly, figured out the schedules of 14 or so actors. Also, real life and the inevitable sadness that follows a break-up.
Anyway. The day we shot was perfect, I can remember that. It was one of those beautiful fall days that you’d want to spend outdoors. We didn’t get hassled by The Man, everyone was in high spirits (getting to play with fake weapons will do that), and while I felt I was too distracted to be much of a director, it’s a very positive memory.
Six months later we shot the interior scenes. Same sort of reasons/excuses — finding a suburban-y location in NYC isn’t easy, but Michelle Dobrawski graciously lent us her East Village living room for the day. Plus finding teen actors (thank you, Louie Pearlman!) and assuring their parents I wasn’t a predator. And the usual scheduling nightmare, only now with teens and parents.
But we shot the rest and it was fine and dandy AND THEN I DID NOTHING WITH IT FOR LIKE THREE YEARS. What the hell?!
(It’s also worth nothing I didn’t even work on other video projects at the time. I improvised and coached and taught and did a lot of live-stage projects, but that’s all now lost in the time and space. I wish I had made more things that were less ephemeral.)
Then in 2009 I finally asked Bill (who shot the pilot) for the footage… AND THEN I DID NOTHING WITH IT FOR THREE MORE YEARS.
I dunno. I can’t even.
Finally I gave the footage to a friend to edit and another friend to add special effects and they worked on it in their spare time and I didn’t think about it or prod too hard until I realized I was moving to LA, and then it was finally finished… AND THEN I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING FOR LIKE TWO MONTHS.
I can blame moving to LA, but I was also looking for a “right time” to release it, whatever that means, and it’s also this fear of putting out your work — and this is something I wrote almost eight years ago, so I’m a different writer and creator now, it’s kind of embarrassing — and everyone looks so young, and this is before HD cameras, really, but then it was Bobby and Jon’s birthday and I figured “Now is the time.”
It took a long time, but it’s done. The weight is off my shoulders, I hope you enjoy it, and I hope in the future I don’t let procrastination get the best of me (says the fellow who has another web pilot that’s been in post-production for years).
- Making stuff is scary and fun and can take a long time.
- Eff that, make it anyway, then finish it.
- Ask. Ask people you admire to work with you. Ask friends to help you.
- Dreams do come true?
Thanks for reading this.
(And if you did find this story interesting and/or thought the video was fun, please reblog it and share with your friends. That’s always the next step, after post-production — sharing and spreading the world. I appreciate it, and thank you for your help.)