Being Kenneth Branagh: 11 Tips on Filming a Book Trailer (Part Two)

Two days before previewing the trailer at Balticon 46, I began a series on what has been my life for the past seven weeks: The Janus Affair book trailer. While there has already been a lot invested into this project and critics dismiss book trailers as trendy gimmicks that hardly sell books, I truly believe that it has been a worthwhile and educational ride.

The crowd reaction this weekend to the preview was payback, indeed.

But what is it about book trailers that make authors, agents, and publishers so skeptical? I got a few ideas, and a lot of those ideas came from this project, this idea that has evolved into a glimpse at a fantasy realized: Adapting a book and making a movie. Look, I know something like that is a longshot, especially having an idea of how things work in Hollywood, but it is still pretty neat to see this coming to life.

So far my own experiences between Phoenix Rising and The Janus Affair have taught me a few things in making a book trailer; and in what I thought was going to be a three-part series (but is probably going to go to four), I thought I’d pass along a few ideas to keep in mind when deciding to shoot and produce your own book trailer. Continue reading

Being Kenneth Branagh: 11 Tips on Filming a Book Trailer (Part One)

With The Avengers topping the box office for the month of May, it’s easy to forget the long road paved for Joss Whedon. As I mentioned in a previous blog, this title was a real gamble for Marvel Studios as there has never been a film hyped for four years, using other films to — more or less — ride shotgun for each other, one film feeding into another to build up to this superhero epic. So with S.H.I.E.L.D. bringing it hard to the movies, it can be easy to overlook some of the previous milestones we’ve enjoyed.

If there is one guy I don’t want forgotten in this journey (apart from Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and the amazing storytellers that made all this awesome possible), it’s this guy…

Kenneth Branagh has been my hero for decades in many respects. He made Shakespeare cool. He was in his twenties an accomplished stage actor, but with films like Henry V, Hamlet, and Dead Again, he established himself as an accomplished screen actor as well. While British media found the project beneath him, Branagh made his own gamble, stepped up, and directed one of The Avengers’ cornerstone pieces — Thor. This film consequentially gave those critical haters back in Old Blighty 449.3 million reasons to suck it.

I’ll go on and say it: I have an extremely unhealthy (borderline obsessive) man crush on Kenneth Branagh. (Author Chuck Wendig coming in at a close second.) And right now, I’m getting a glimpse at what it’s like to be him.

As creepy-scary-stalker-boy as this sounds, track with me… Continue reading

The Janus Affair: A Sneak Peek and a Balticon Bash!


Hey, everyone!

Well, here we are — the week it all happens! Balticon!

Before I forget, I do want to give you all a little something to enjoy, audio-wise…

James Langton, you might recall, gave his voice to us for Harper Audio’s kicking production of Phoenix Rising: A Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences Novel. He’s back for The Janus Affair, and we could not be happier about it. Harper Audio gave us this preview for our podcast (you DO know about the steampunk podcast anthology Pip and I do, right?), and after hearing it, Pip and I can’t wait to hear what James comes up with next! We are so stoked to have him bringing Wellington and Eliza to life, and hopefully we will hear him again when Book Three is green-lit for production.

Now, onward to Balticon… Continue reading

Stranger on a Train XIX

Heading home…finally.

Yeah, today was rough. I’m snapping back from the weekend at the Steampunk World’s Fair. It was beastly getting up there, but coming home was a snap. Because of that cluster-fuck journey through traffic hell, I’m planning an EARLY departure for Balticon.It torques me slightly that I’ve got to work Thursday night, but it’s a job. I’d rather have a minor inconvenience than unemployment, and this job’s keeping everyone sane…well, everyone but me seeing as I’ve got two ACX titles awaiting production, a book trailer nearing completion (so close…), and Blogworld NY looming in the distance. How did things get so overbooked?!

Oh yeah. Unemployment. Feast or famine, right?

So, in eight days, The Janus Affair happens. It feels completely different as Pip and I had copies of the book waiting for us at SPWF as giveaways. I have no clue if those attendees (some who knew us from both the book and the podcasts) really grasped that they were getting free copies of the book before its release but there you go. Harper Voyager, it feels, has an entirely different attitude about this title. Are their hopes up? Are they thinking this could be a breakaway title? Who knows…

We sure don’t.

What we do know is that our book trailer is closing in on completion, we got Balticon closing in fast, and I’m trying to keep everything on track. All this, and I have two books to get cracking on. (Writing, I mean…not the ACX titles…)

And technically, Summer still hasn’t even begun. Hoo-boy.

The event this weekend was good fun. Pip and I shopped and socialized. That P.J. Schnyder…what a dynamo. And this book? Yeah, I think the trailer does it justice.

You think I would have this “new book” thing down. I don’t. That fear before a launch — it never gets old.

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Stranger on a Train XVIII

You ever have one of those weekends where you needed a weekend to recuperate?

That’s May for me. So far.

It’s not like I didn’t see this coming, what with Pip’s family visiting from New Zealand, the book trailer, Steampunk World’s Fair, Balticon, Blogworld, and a new book about to launch…oh yeah, and there was this weekend which included family portraits, renewal of vows, and an epic cookout….

Aaaaaaand the Amtrak train in front of us appears to be broken down. Happy Monday.

All bitching aside, yesterday was righteous. Pip looked beautiful, Sonic Boom (even wound up as she was) was well-behaved (for the most part), people were having fun, the food was full of awesome (so those chowing down told me), and I upheld my reputation as a purveyor of fine beer.

Yes, Mother’s Day 2012 was a day of WIN.

Now, looming ahead (just past the broken down Amtrak) is Steampunk World’s Fair. This week I’m supposed to be working on the audio for the trailer, so I’ll be getting my steampunk on this week. Too bad The Janus Affair won’t be ready, so I guess that means Balticon is going to be another party of epic scale.

Train’s moving again. Crisis averted? We’ll see…

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Stranger on a Train XVII

I should be focusing on the job. I should be a blank slate on the way to Alexandria. I should feel a sense of accomplishment from the weekend.

I think I’m obsessing over this book trailer.

It makes sense, you know? Even with the previous night Linc and I took off from editing, I was putting together some audio for it. I couldn’t find the right effect so I put it together in Soundtrack Pro. The end result was exactly what I wanted, and it was built around a basic, elementary sound.

Guess that is what makes a film, or a book, or any artistic endeavor — the details. It’s the super glue of creativity.

My in-laws are in from New Zealand. Sonic Boom is over the moon. I think Pip is far more thrilled than she’s letting on. I missed spending Sunday with them, but I had audio for ACX to record, a Tales from the Archives (this one from J.R. Blackwell) to mix, and a sound effect for the trailer. It was a productive day, but I got to make sure I make time for the family. That’s a detail that really matters.

I think I also need to make time to see The Avengers again. It was a blast. Jose Whedon already had good reason to be proud with Serenity, but he really met unrealistic expectations.

Good on ya, Joss.

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It’s Not about Joss: Concerning The Avengers, Science Fiction, and New York Times Critics

Since 3 a.m. last night, I have been singing the praises of The Avengers, the über-anticipated epic directed by one of the deities of fanbois everywhere Joss Wheedon. Now while this may make me sound like I’m looking down my nose at fanbois and geeks, I disagree — I’m just practicing full transparency, just as I practice in my life a blatant display of geekiness. It’s part of my job. It’s part of my life. I have no shame being a geek. It’s who I am.

This morning (as in the midnight showing) Pip and I saw what I would argue is Joss Whedon’s second-best film (still not as shiny as his best) but his greatest triumph as a screenwriter and filmmaker. Whedon took four of Marvel’s heaviest hitters, threw in three more for good measure, shook well, and created a script and a movie that was balanced, entertaining, and good fun. And when I say fun, I mean “original Iron Man” fun. Already on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes, the reviews are coming in and the movie will, as summer blockbusters do, raise the bar for other movies of its ilk…

I will go on to say, though, if Battleship breaks The Avengers records, I am seriously going to wrap up this blog and hide. For a decade. Continue reading

Stranger on a Train XVI

Back into the groove…

I got a blogpost in the making. You know, one not quite as off-the-cuff as this one, but it’s vitriol might even be too much for me. Then again, after reading this post from Stephen King, I’m thinking if an author’s rant is justified and witty as hell, why not?

Yeah. The Goodreads 2011 Choice Awards and giving good rants — two things I share with the King, baby.

Maybe I’ll work on that vitriolic blogpost, or get cracking on my look back on these past two weekends. I’m still thinking about them.

If you missed it, the trailer filming wrapped Sunday. Two weekends, a cast of eight, and an old Victorian house. It was quite the education and still very humbling that Brute Force Studios would open their house, their props, and their talent to us. This weekend was the Go/No Go Weekend as we needed to get the parlour scene down, or there would be no trailer.

The ladies delivered, and my cameraman worked it like a boss.

Now we get together and start editing. And while The Janus Affair trailer takes shape, Pip and I continue work on By Dawn’s Early Light. That’s Book Three for Welly and Eliza. No release date set, but high hopes indeed. Just as high as the ones I have for the trailer. I dropped in another production shot, this time featuring P.J. Schnyder. I see shots like this and I see the trailer’s potential. Of course I want the trailer to rock the world…but I also want it to blow people away because of the hard work and A-game everyone brought to this production. “Thank you” just doesn’t seem to be enough.

My headache this morning is finally subsiding. It started to recede when I started blogging about the trailer. Coincidence?

No. I don’t think so.

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