Viewpoint: A Convention of States

Hey friends,

At last, the first production under the banner of March, ushers in. I gave hint of this project, last post, in Welcoming March. In particular, I gave a vague tease that suggested the screwball Chet McCrimpson and his emergent cohost, Lawrence, from This Time in History: The Battle of Gettysburg lore, may be making a consecutive comeback.

They do, as the curtain is raised on, Viewpoint: A Convention of States.

Viewpoint - Convention of States thumbnail

A deranged Chet McCrimpson raises his “trump” card in the title card of Viewpoint: A Convention of States

Myself and TR reprise our roles as Mr. McCrimpson and Lawrence, back for a short sequel of sorts that neither of us saw coming after making This Time in History—especially so soon after making and releasing This Time in History.

The production of Viewpoint: A Convention of States never would have been conceived, if not for the ignition brought on by a wonderful opportunity. This opportunity was presented by the Citizens for Self-Governance. Specifically, the Convention of States project.

James Ware, the man who will have as many mentions in the Wes Brooks Productions annals as Columbus has had about the world’s rotundnesshis mother, sent word of a scholarship, my way, in late January.

COS wanted a graphic design, or, a three minute video, that promoted them in a creative way. The contest was, or, as it has yet to conclude, is, a monthly contest whose run began in January and ends, this month.

January had an assigned genre: Comedic. February called for a more serious tone. But March, bless ’em, was ordained free reign across the genre spectrum. This allowed for a twisted Chet McCrimpson and an exuberant Lawrence, to make the scene, once more.

Viewpoint - Convention of States, Tape I (03-19-14)

A silver-tongued Chet McCrimpson, in Viewpoint: A Convention of States

My wonderfully busy January and February swept the scholarship contest past the two calendar pages, but my doing the project remained in the back of my mind. Throughout my weeks, I had visualizations of the film, in concept, tone, and dialog ideas.

At the dawn of March, I finally set my sights on going through with it. I brought the notion to TR, proposing it’d be a bit of a This Time in History reprise. TR had thoroughly enjoyed making This Time in History, and was receptive to commencing on another project.

Before mutually establishing a day to shoot the untitled, unwritten “reprise”, TR wanted to make sure his name was going to be put on something he could stand for. A week passed, until he excitedly “signed on”.

Viewpoint - Convention of States, Tape I (03-19-14)

TR as the idyllic American—a newly characterized Lawrence, in Viewpoint: A Convention of States

The shoot was scheduled for March 19th, from 10:00 AM through 2:00 PM. On March 18th, the eve of the shoot, I had no script. Nor had it been started. I sat down and began it at 4:00 PM. Several hours later, the only line I had written, was the script’s first.

CHET McCRIMPSON: Hello everyone, and welcome to Viewpoint. I am your host, Chet McCrimpson. It is my distinct honor and privilege to appear among you for this edition’s installment. Today’s topic… There have been some stirrings as of late, concerning the notion of States’ Rights… As if the fifty states are a shining sacred salvation unto the federal despotism… As if some gleaming deliverance of the people from the draconian oppressor. I implore you… Do not believe these falsehoods. This delusion is the product of an aberrant agenda, advocating for the subversion of this country. Purely unpatriotic in its impertinent implications towards our nation’s leaders—those who have dedicated themselves to the precious preservation of the heart of this nation: the federal government.
The first line, uttered by the icy host of Viewpoint, Chet McCrimpson (above)

It was a heck of a monolog. I put some craft into it. In reflection of where I was, mentally, when I picked up the pen in haste, I was not at a good place. I was discouraged by my progress and a sloppy, energy-lacking, directionless few lines that followed Chet’s introduction. At 9:00 PM, a solution occurred to me: sleep.

At 5:00 AM, my alarm went off, and I went back to work, having designated myself four hours to write the script before shooting it. What emerged was a witty, punchy, refined, humorous, and inspirational script. Not stopping to carefully give it a final read, I had faith that it would be good. I was relieved with joy at my heavily succesful, and redemptive morning.

10:00 AM. TR arrived. I handed him his copy of the script, and finished storyboarding the four frames that made up the show, while he read it. He loved it.

While the shoot could’ve easily been without the two pages of storyboards, the storyboards gave me a sense of direction and order, regardless. At the start of the shoot, however, I abandoned scribbling storyboard frame numbers alongside lines of dialog. We played it by ear, and that saved us the time of my being a nitpick. Some lines of dialog we shot in only one fixed angle as dictated in the storyboard, while other lines we shot twice, in both fixed angles as dictated in the storyboard, for that particular character, allowing me more freedom in post. The on-the-fly method saved us time, was freeing, and proved just fine.

This really became the project that came from nowhere. While I’d known what I wanted to do, I had not envisioned it to the degree the final product shimmered with. In comparison to This Time in History: The Battle of Gettysburg, this pseudo-sequel took it up a notch.

Most notably, Viewpoint: A Convention of States, is the first WBP production to be released, that was written. In This Time in History, all we had was my basic vision, and our research outlines. It was an improvisation between the three of us, under my direction. In Viewpoint, every line of dialog is performed, word-for-word, with very few, microscopically miniscule exceptions.

Without any time for the actor to soak in the script, TR would study his lines several times, with much diligence, until he’d memorized it, and performed it, on camera, without reference. I pushed the limits of what he could do, and he nailed it.

The only line he did not memorize, was the statistical monolog he gave to McCrimpson, as I held a laptop “teleprompter” over my face, seated in McCrimpson’s chair. For the longer lines of dialog, especially towards the end, I highlighted chunks of the line—sentences of the line, on the laptop for him to memorize. He would study the lines until I took the laptop away from his gaze, or he said he was ready. TR did an immensely fantastic job. His performance was as excellent as his learning of the lines.

We shot my lines and angles first, and at the start of it, while learning lines as the camera ran, I joked, “Gosh, I don’t know my own lines,” and, “You don’t know how much work it takes until you do it.” I’m told I’m gifted at line memorization, but I don’t think I could have done what TR did that day with as much efficiency.

The most major contrast to This Time in History, is the characterizations of Chet McCrimpson and Lawrence. I did not realize how strong the change was, until pulling up the first few seconds of This Time in History, during an afternoon in post-production.

In This Time in History, Chet is a quirky personality, with an academic ego and self-inflated distinguished posture. But, overall, he’s pretty lovable. To me, he seems the most likable character in This Time in History. In Viewpoint, he’s a vicious villain. His identity and humor, of course, is still there. But a new decadence of charisma befalls him, here. His sharply edged dialog and fast tongue makes him an overbearing persona—a looming figure of villiany. He’s quite entertaining, I find, but in contrast to the humble and virtuous Lawrence, and the purity and real vision Lawrence promotes, the treacherous lines and politically opinionated lines of the fictional McCrimpson, are not fictionally inoffensive or without actual weight. That’s a big difference in characterization. Also, in This Time in History, Lawrence was, more than anyone else, the villain. He won’t be appearing in the Rouge’s Gallery, anytime soon, but his impulsive hotheadedness, youthful egotism, not to mention his intrusion on McCrimpson, glibly threatening to take over the show, significantly rivals Chet in character evolution. In Viewpoint, Lawrence is a hero—the voice of reason. Lawrence speaks plainly, yet with power. With humility, he pronounces truth and promotes a vision of America larger than himself, making him almost larger than life, as an idealized American citizen: vigilant, patriotic, and without ulterior political agenda. TR was far more comfortable in slipping into the shoes of this Lawrence, than he was with the previous. What was Daffy is now Bugs, and what was Bugs is now Daffy. 😉

Viewpoint - Convention of States, Tape II (03-19-14)

TR, as Lawrence, in a sincere moment of patriotic passion

A constant direction of mine when filming was, “fast, fast, fast,” or simply, “faster…” With a designated three minute window, I knew it would be tight. The final film is a little over twice as long as three minutes. That’s why two versions of the film, are released, before us:

  • The COS Cut
  • The Director’s Cut

For Wes Brooks Productions, and time, eternal, the Director’s Cut of Viewpoint: A Convention of States is officially the definitive version. But, for COS and the contest submission, I picked up the butchering knife where I’d left it after slicing up Trekkies Into Darkness‘ first rough cut, and gave Viewpoint an equal treatment. A lot is lost, and, in my opinion, it is an inferior cut. But it still holds up well, considering, as I did the best I could at preserving key points and pivotal moments.

In order to win, viewership is needed. Fulfilling my self-typified reputation as a last-minute-wonder, I need all the views fate can muster, before March 31. Here’s what I’m asking: give the three minute version a watch. Then, you may watch the complete version at your joyous discretion.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the production details I’ve taken us through, as now, it’s time for the treat at hand…

I.

Watch Viewpoint: A Convention of States

II.

Watch Viewpoint: A Convention of States – The Director’s Cut

When first hearing of the scholarship contest, the prize money was what caught my attention. But, as I learned who COS is, and learned of their intentions, I firmly knew I could get onboard.

Participating in the Convention of States’ scholarship has been a sheer pleasure. Not only in aspects of the film, produced, but in my Americanism. My appreciation of the U.S. country I am privileged to be native of, has really elevated in me, in a personal way.

That infectious spirit of nationalism, known to countless souls, past, infused me as I penned the words whose virtues were inspired by those who consecrated the land to liberty—something the world has never known on such a magnificent, large, and affluent scale. America is a bit of a world miracle.

I’d like to bid farewell until Who Will Survive, with a handful of Thomas Jefferson quotes that are as sacred now, as they ever were; as Jefferson knew they would be.

As the world advances, and the darkness grows darker, so does the light grow brighter. These powerful words ignites a whole cavern of darkness, submerging it by the breadth of knowledge and virtue such as this…

“The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty…. And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure.”

“He who knows nothing is closer to the truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods and errors.”

“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.”

“What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance?”

-Thomas Jefferson

America is an incredible land, and has much to reap if its beauty is maintained.

Enjoy,

~Wes

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