Thursday, December 22, 2016

#20 - Merry Christmas, You Ho Ho Hoes

Hey, cheap labor is cheap labor, amirite? Though it's debatable whether lugging Christmas decorations out of storage and stringing them all up is better or worse than a sad handy-J, we both want to wish everyone (prostitutes and non-prostitutes alike) a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a Happy Festivus, an Awesome New Year, and any other random holiday you may or may not celebrate. We'll see you next year!

Cheers and stay festive, friends,
Brandon and Bryan

(Yes, that's my real Christmas card this year. Close friends and family members have been, uh, blessed* with a physical copy)
*absolutely not the right word

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Time I Almost Met Adele And Then Got Banned From Her Studio

Hey, guys. Bryan here. We interrupt our regularly scheduled schedule to bring you a story for the ages (well, at least around this kind of joint). I mean, it's not often that I get to begin a story with "So I was in Hollywood at a music video shoot" nor do I often get to end it with "and then I got banned from Adele's studio." But that's not clickbait. That's exactly what happened. I went to a music video shoot, and as a certain orange someone might say, it was...

donald trump tiny hands

So as some of you know, in between co-writing hilarious novels like Tuck Watley: Freedom Fighter Fighter (WARNING: SHAMELESS PLUG), I also am the social media manager for an up-and-coming pop star. Basically, I'm the dude that uses my experience here as a D-list Internet celebrity to help her build her brand, put out social media content that doesn't suck, and grow her into a digital superstar, in addition to a bunch of other stuff like proof-reading/improving anything she writes, and even writing the script for her WIP reality series (apologies to the 4 people that thought reality TV was real).

Well, all of last week I was in Hollywood, California, helping my pop star prep for her first official music video shoot, which we were all super excited for. Our five person team was putting in ten hour days in preparation for this thing, including dance rehearsals, because Pop Star wanted to show off and bust a move in this one. Also, although I did storyboard another music video she's going to later shoot, I did not storyboard this dance video, probably because I still use phrases like 'bust a move'.

Pop Star (center), choreographer (to the right of her), dancers, and Director Assface (we'll get to that)

So writing and storyboarding this thing was in the hands of Director Assface, who had a fully written outline, loads of cool ideas, and a really douchey, pretentious mononymous stage name that he insisted everyone call him. In other words, he seemed like the real deal!

He swore up and down that we could shoot this all in one day, since we only had him for 12 hours. We thought it was kind of weird that he wanted everyone to show up at 11 am, but he assured us it'd help the creative process and that we'd have enough time to shoot.

And then the craziest thing happened. The creative process went to shit and we didn't have enough time to shoot anything.

I'm actually in this shot, but I'm so white you can't see me
It certainly didn't help that while everyone else was ready at almost all times, Director Assface's crew took their sweet, lazy time building sets. We didn't get our first shot until 3 pm. That's FOUR solid hours of waiting around, doing nothing. And by the time the sun set, we barely had the second shot completed. Mind you, once the good takes are edited/sewn together, that's like 30 seconds of usable footage. This in the first 5 hours of the day.

Yeah, that's not good.

You know you're bored when even with palm trees and a beautiful sunset you still look dead inside
In between awkwardly standing around, pretending like it wasn't weird that people weren't doing anything, I got to chat with the two male models who were hired for the day. The first male model was hilarious, only in that I'm comfortable saying he is without a doubt the dumbest human being I've ever met. Like, I don't know how he functions in day to day life without hurting himself. I wish I was kidding, but this handsome, chiseled manchild was everything you'd expect in a stereotypical mimbo.

I have plenty of stories, but as an example, this is an actual conversation that took place after he changed into his costume (a black suit).

Me: You look rather dapper, sir.
Mimbo: Why thank you, sir! You look dapper... as well!
*I'm wearing a faded t-shirt and jeans*
*uncomfortable pause*
Mimbo: Now... could you please explain the definition of that word?

He also stared at my t-shirt for an inordinate amount of time trying to decipher the joke (it says "I don't want to taco 'bout it" and has a picture of a very sad looking taco) before reading it out loud very slowly the way a third grader might, suddenly cackling like a mad man, and saying, "Ohhhh, I get it!" He then asked me if I made it. If I somehow made that t-shirt by myself.

Yes, people like this actually exist.

If everybody looks cold and miserable... well, it's because they are.

The second male model (very sad looking black dude on the right, pictured above), meanwhile, was the opposite of hilarious. He sat in a corner for 8 hours looking like he wanted to hang himself, probably because that would have at least given him something to do. Everything was so behind schedule that he was eventually sent home, having not been in a single shot, his time wasted. By this time, with only a few hours left of shooting, the third shot had barely been set up.

Now mind you, in his original outline, Director Assface had this quirky idea to have Pop Star, the dancers, and some men dress up in traditional Muslim garb, except the men would be in burkas and the women would be showing their faces. They'd dance together and have fun, and it'd just be a twist on the culture. A little provocative, but nothing crazy.

But on set, there were no men to stand in for this shot. The dancers were given burkas, and Pop Star was the only one whose face was showing, so the dancers basically looked like her own personal harem.

And the shot that Director Assface had in mind, which took 2 extra hours to set up, outside, in the freezing pitch black darkness, was a set that looked like a war-torn ghetto. In other words, he wanted to have Pop Star dance with a bunch of women in traditional Muslim garb on top of exploded cars and extinguished tire fires, to create a scene that essentially looked like they were a bunch of terrorists popping and locking over their most recent bombing.

Now, I don't write scripts for dance videos (yet), but I'm pretty sure that's a terrible fucking idea, unless the point of your music video is to waggle two giant middle fingers at all Muslims.

I, for one, would love to tap dance on an exploded car in the ghetto, but probably not in a burka

Pop Star was furious, and they ended up just shooting a quick dance routine in front of the white backdrop (yawn). Time ran out, with only the first portion of the video filmed (and barely any of the dancing she practiced months for being shot), and as of right now Pop Star has no idea what the hell she's going to do, because she was promised a killer music video and got nothing. Plus, this all came from money she saved up herself, and I'm sure I don't have to tell you how ridiculously expensive this all was. It's not like she can just fire the director and start a whole new video shoot from scratch. This was it. All or nothing, and we got... well, a whole lotta nothing.

So if you're wondering, this is why I can't yet introduce her to you by name (though I want to, soon) or name drop Director Assface, because we don't know if this thing will get dragged to court. Hopefully not. We don't want a fight; we just want a damn video.

And ultimately (because I like to make things about me), this whole fiasco even ruined my own job for the day: behind the scenes. Pop Star had brought along her own personal camera man, who was going to follow me around for the day and have me ask people questions as the process was completed.

I thought it would be fun to have everyone who was a part of the production dance with me individually for a quick and silly 30 second compilation montage, and then to ask everyone a serious question and a funny question about production. And yes, I can dance (like a jackass).

Once upon a time ago, Brandon's security camera caught me in the act of dancing

And the funny questions I had planned were going to be great, too. For example, I wanted to ask the dancers: "Does it make you angry that professionally, strippers also call themselves dancers?" I even had a good one for the director: "This video is all about female empowerment. As the male director, aka the guy who bosses all of the ladies around, would you mansplain to me the importance of your role?"

But since nothing was completed and everyone was in a pretty sour mood, that didn't happen. As a dude who knows comedy, I know it's all about reading the room, and you can't force people to be in a silly mood, especially professionals in the middle of their job who are being frustrated by a lackluster work environment.

Maybe next time you can see me acting like an idiot with cast and crew.

Choreographer: Now I want you to stand in front of the whole class and say you're sorry.
Director Assface, mumbling under his breath: 'You're sorry'.

But that wasn't the craziest part. No, the craziest part was that the whole time, Adele was shooting her own music video in the studio directly beside ours. Her stage manager (super cool guy), came in to our studio just after noon and told us that yes she was there, yes she'd be there all day long shooting, and just asked us to respect her privacy. We, in turn, told him that Pop Star saw Adele as a huge inspiration, and that it would mean the world to her if Adele could pop over just for a minute to say hi to us.

The stage manager said that he couldn't promise anything, but he'd pass it along to Adele during a break and leave that all up to her. But he seemed optimistic. Suddenly the mood was lightened again. Everyone was stoked at the idea of meeting Adele. Maybe this whole thing would work out after all!

Oh, but don't worry, faithful readers, because Director Assface made sure to fuck that one up too.

Two hours later, the stage manager burst through the doors and shouted, "Who the fuck is the dumbass in the dreads?"

Dumbass-in-the-Dreads, looking lost and confused while Director Assface is working tirelessly to create his masterpiece (LOL JK he's just fucking around on his cellphone)

We were a little confused, because that didn't register at first. But the stage manager repeated "Who the fuck is the dumbass in the dreads?" while simultaneously sounding like he wanted to murder us all.

You see, Dumbass-in-the-Dreads, one of Director Assface's crewmen, had wandered off to Adele's studio while he should have been setting up a shot and had the brilliant idea to play Peeping Tom and film her with his cellphone while she was in the middle of shooting. Adele caught him, freaked the hell out, and brought all production to a grinding halt while her stage manager ran out to find him (Dumbass-in-the-Dreads had fled the scene, of course).

Needless to say, we were all ripped various new assholes by her stage manager, even though we had nothing to do with it, and were warned that if any of us so much as went near Adele or her studio again we'd be given the DJ Jazzy Jeff from the lot.

And so that's the story of how I almost met Adele and then got banned from her studio. Which is a damn shame... because I'm sure she's gonna regret that for the rest of her life.

Cheers and stay classy, friends,
Bryan (and Brandon)

Music: My wonderful pop star
Beer: No one drinks or eats in Hollywood (but I've never looked more fabulously waifish)