Busy Week: CMU, Seton Hill, Tufts, Alpha One Labs

Posted: September 30th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Interactive Fiction, production | 1 Comment »

Greetings from a wedding up near Woodstock, NY. The rain has been falling, the landscape is beautiful, and mobile phones absolutely don’t work at all.

Luckily there’s a satellite link for internet and here I am. After this lull (during which I need to mail out a huge amount of orders), I have showings pretty much all next week. Here’s some details on them.


I have a showing at 5pm. My appearance is sponsored by the School of Computer Science, the Game Creation Society and CMU Computer Club and will be at Rashid Auditorium, Gates&Hillman Centers 4401, at 5pm.


After sitting in for some classes with Dennis Jerz from the film, there’ll be a showing that evening at 7pm. Details galore from this press release from Seton Hill: “Scott will present Get Lamp, a documentary on word-driven computer games in Seton Hill University’s Media Sphere, which is located behind Cecilian Hall in the Administration Building on the University’s hilltop campus. This event is open to the public and there is no fee to attend.”


Tufts is doing this awesome Interactive Fiction Month for October 2010, and I’m one of the events. I’ll be at the Tisch AV Room 304, along with Nick Montfort and Andrew Plotkin from the film. There’s all sorts of crazy cool presentations for the month, so check those out.


An excellent hackerspace in Brooklyn, Alpha One labs is having a showing of my film on October 7th at 7pm. You need to get a free ticket to show up, so go to the page to get your information and ticket.

Man, maybe I need an opening act.

Why GET LAMP is not on Netflix (or iTunes)

Posted: September 25th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 12 Comments »

As GET LAMP spreads around the internet and attracts various waves of interest, a number of similar comments tend to appear under the stories, assuming the stories allow comments.  Many of these are the hypothetical assumptions made by people who have not seen the actual product speculating on the quality, worthiness and content of the product. I don’t see much reason to address these, because my response is, essentially, the product.

However, another very specific line of comments (and there’ve been e-mails too) are along the lines of “I am waiting for it to be on Netflix” or “Why is it not on Netflix”.

To be clear: I have no plans for the film to be on Netflix or iTunes, at least not for the foreseeable future. For some, that’s the end of the conversation, making them file out the door. But for the greater good, let me explain the thinking.

First, it’s best to delineate iTunes and Netflix.

iTunes is more of what you would call a digital download store, where you connect a client to a service (that is rather easy to use) and pay money to get the ability to watch or listen to media. My reasons for not being on iTunes at the moment is that it’s rather an unpleasant experience as an independent filmmaker to get onto iTunes, and it involves signing away a lot of things I don’t like to sign away. It is not possible for individuals to pay some fee or otherwise do “stuff” and find themselves on iTunes, selling their media, and get a check in the mail or a deposit in a bank account.

To get most anything onto a “standard” broadcasting or download service requires E&O insurance, where you pay thousands of dollars in case it turns out that Steve Meretzky was referred to as a poodle or you claim that lamp oil is safe to drink or whatever.  That’s money right out the door. But also, you need to go through a distributor. iTunes won’t work with individuals, like I said; you need to have a distributor. And I don’t like distributors.  More on that later, I’m sure, but let’s shorthand it by saying that there’s very little a distributor would do for me for the amount of money they would take out of sales to do it. So iTunes is out.

Netflix is a whole other animal.

Netflix is a rental store, essentially, renting you DVDs. Don’t confuse the streaming aspect of it as being something other than an extension of the rental – the contract Netflix has with companies that agree to do streaming is that they essentially have real DVDs somewhere, or have paid for instances of the DVDs to exist, and when you watch the DVD, you are holding a “slot” in some bank of machines representing those paid-for instances or DVDs.

Rental stores are not a filmmaker’s little buddy, on the financial side. They buy one copy and give it to many, many people. The same situation exists with libraries, of course, but there seems to be less confusion about the nature of libraries – nobody thinks the filmmaker is making bank off the copies libraries buy, but instead realize these are situations where the libraries themselves are providing access to their membership. Well, the same situation exists with Netflix, except replace “membership” with “customers” and “access” with “sales”.

Netflix has a form where you can request copies of a movie be available. If you want to do that, go ahead – if Netflix contacts me and wants X amounts of copies of GET LAMP I will sell them to them. I don’t think they’ll do it, but go ahead and do it, you have my full support in doing so.

Recently, Netflix put up an option to allow filmmakers to directly submit films to Netflix. But the fact is, that’s not what’s going on – in fact, they’re taking names and then submitting the incoming forms to a distributor, and as I said, I don’t want to work with distributors. I did 99% of the work on the film and I don’t feel like paying someone upwards of 50% to do the final 1% of work. (That’s just my thing, but probably not a surprise if you’ve been watching this weblog and production.)

I realize some people want the ability to download the movie and eschew the whole “package” thing, and I will probably create a high-definition downloadable version of the main feature in the future (and as per the upgrade guarantee, my current customers will not pay a dime for this digital download version). But as it stands, I much prefer the DVD version, with its multiple audio tracks, the roughly 30 features (including a half-dozen self-contained documentaries of various lengths), the subtitles and the DVD-ROM section.

So there we go. I’m always willing to talk about it, but that’s what’s going on on this side. People are ordering the movie quite a lot at the moment (and I thank all of you) and the Creative Commons license means that you can certainly share the movie with your friends (so go ahead and everyone go in on buying a copy and sharing it), but I’m not seeing a Netflix streaming version coming soon.

And there you go.

JET LAMP: Colorado and Houston

Posted: September 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 2 Comments »

The next swing of the JET LAMP showing tour is going to start this upcoming week, starting Sunday.  Two dates in Colorado, followed by an appearance in Houston.

Nonesuch Theater, Ft. Collins, September 26, 8pm.

The lovely Nonesuch theater will be hosting me Sunday night. As they say, “Nonesuch is a beautiful, downtown entertainment venue with 49 traditional seats, an intimate stage and a cool lobby serving beer, wine and other refreshments.”

Cinebarre, Thornton,  September 27, 8pm.

Cinebarre is located just outside Denver and will be showing my film as well. It’s at 10001 Grant Street. Like Nonesuch, drinks are available if this is critical to you.

Domy Books, Houston, September 28, 8:30pm

And finally, I’ll be making an appearance at Domy Books in Houston. A lot of folks have been helping me in Houston, and this looks to be a really fun time.

I hope to see everyone there!

Question and Rant at Portland

Posted: September 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 2 Comments »

The Portland Commodore Users Group has posted the question and answer session that came after my screening. I went on for quite some time and I cover a lot of different things, and if there’s anything regrettable in there, then obviously I was misquoted. All in all, it’s about an hour, including some good introductions from some of the members of PDXCUG.

Get Lamp Screening Q&A in Portland, OR – PDXCUG.org from PDXCUG Admin on Vimeo.

If you’re unable to make it to a screening, imagine you’re sitting on the edge of your seat with a nice drink in your hand and the movie just finished.

Here’s PDXCUG’s weblog entry on my appearance.

September JET LAMP Dates Firm; Working on October and November

Posted: September 17th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 2 Comments »

Some housecleaning regarding the tour dates.

The dates are now firm for the rest of September. What you see is what you get. We’re still working on exactly where in Denver I’m showing GET LAMP on the 27th, but otherwise, this is it.

I started to notice that promotion and getting the word out about my screenings was getting harder while simultaneously touring, and that filling in backorders while home for short stretches was really getting difficult, so I am going to leave the gaps in the schedule as they are.  Also not listed in the schedule is that I’m attending two weddings and had a number of events I was showing up for not related to the movie, so those are there too.

I’m still booking for the other months, October and November. I’m not averse to paying airfare; it’s just this All You Can Jet deal was really, really awesome – the first leg of travel already paid off what I paid for it. Do this again, Jet Blue!

So expect more dates – just not in September.

Remote Q&A at the Bergen ELC Seminar, September 20th

Posted: September 16th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | No Comments »

This is mostly for the great and grand record, but I am doing a Skyped-in Q&A for the Bergen Seminar on Electronic Literature Communities.

Nick Montfort, who made some great appearances in the film and who also has helped me for years behind the scenes, is doing a presentation about interactive fiction at the University of Bergen in Norway. The evening of the 20th, they’re showing GET LAMP and I will be skyped in for a quick Q&A, which I’ll likely be doing in the downtime between classes that I’m talking at in Pomona, CA. Jetsetting, that’s me.

I don’t think anyone is going to hie themselves off to Norway to see the movie, but there you go.

Here’s the awesome poster, which has me listed as one of the performers. That has to count for something!

Date Added: Machine Project, Los Angeles, September 20th (Lecture)

Posted: September 15th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | No Comments »

Another date has been added.  This is not a screening, just a lecture and presentation, but I bet you’ll have a fun time anyway. I can get pretty out there sometimes.

The lecture’s at Machine Project, in Echo Park in Los Angeles, and here’s the info about the place.

Even more importantly, here’s the stage!

Now, who doesn’t want to be a part of that? I’ll have copies of the movie, of course, as well as copies of the BBS Documentary.

See you there!

JET LAMP at Noisebridge in San Francisco, Sept. 17

Posted: September 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | No Comments »

The next big stop in the JET LAMP tour (after I go back to my home to fill orders and get a bunch of packages into the mail) will be a showing in San Francisco on the 17th at the Noisebridge space. Noisebridge could be called a “Hacker Space” but it has a wide variety of events and happenings that transcend just technology. They’ve gone through a bunch of iterations in the years they’ve been active and I’ve been there at various points, and things have gone along swimmingly for them.

The showing will be at 8pm – if some forward-thinking company or group in the SF Bay area wants me for a noontime showing, I’m available for that, having arrived the previous night. However, Saturday and Sunday are out – attending a wedding of an old friend in a very distant town in California, accompanied by many other old friends.

And after that.. the Los Angeles area, that Monday!

Salt Lake City: Huge Success. Next: San Francisco

Posted: September 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 1 Comment »

Do I need to say more about Salt Lake City’s showing tonight than this?

Well, yes, I have to thank Mike Rubin for putting together an amazing event and venue, and getting the word out to a great audience who showed up. And I only cursed during the Q&A once!

People were into the showing, and this marks the first time anything I’ve made has ended up on a movie marquee, or that I’ve had my film shown by itself as an event. A lot of firsts, this evening!

My next big date is in San Francisco, with what’s possibly two showings on Friday the 17th. Clear your calendar, Bay Area!

JET LAMP: Detroit and Washington DC showings, Skype Q&A, September 11

Posted: September 10th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | No Comments »

The Portland show was absolutely fantastic. I will write a more informative and complete entry about it shortly.  Here’s a salient photo, courtesy of Andrew Stern:

But now dates are compressing and coming up very fast, and final details are snapping into place very quickly, and one of the side effects is a few dates are happening very soon and I wanted you to be aware of them.

Tomorrow, September 11th, two hacker spaces in two different cities will be showing GET LAMP and then having me skype in with a Q&A afterwards.

One is in Detroit, Michigan, at a space called i3 Detroit. Here’s the page with information about it.

The other is Washington, DC, at a space called HacDC. Here’s the page with information about it.

For my own bit, I’ll be skyping in from Salt Lake City, where I have a showing on Sunday Night at 7:30, at Brewvies, a cinema pub.

As always, the good stuff is on the JET LAMP page.