Housecleaning (A Mail Update)

Posted: August 20th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 8 Comments »

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My dad is awesome and I love him very much, but we have some incompatible outlooks on life.  Luckily, they’re not too bad, but they do occasionally crop up out of nowhere.

Visiting my combination bedroom and GET LAMP distribution point, we were discussing a variety of subjects related to economics, net neutrality, Google projects, Sun/Oracle, the various hilarities related to current politics, when, in that 180 degree turn in the conversation that only parents can achieve smoothly, he gently enquired:

“So, when are you going to start looking for a job?”

I looked up from my desk, where on my left were stacks of GET LAMP coin-box packages, and my piles of customs forms, and my boxes of coins, and said “Dad, this IS my job.”

And seriously, it really is. I’m spending 10-12 hours a day on packaging, printing labels, filling out customs forms, tracking bounces, contacting requests, and preparing special sets of outgoing packages.  It is a full-time process right now, and while I am easily going to overtake the orders, there were 8 months of backorders to fill.  As a special bonus, I’m getting close to running through the initial 2000 coins for GET LAMP and a week and a half ago had to go ahead and order the next 1000. In other words, I am employed, but the jerk upstairs who signs my paychecks is in fact me, and I don’t get paychecks, although I guess if I wanted to impress my dad I could write checks to myself once a week.

I think I’ll hold out on doing that.

Boxes

So here’s where we are, for people generally wanting to keep up on things.

INTERVIEWEE COMPLIMENTARY COPIES ARE STILL GOING OUT

ADVENTURERS’ CLUB COPIES ARE STILL GOING OUT

If you’re in this group and want to verify your address with me, I’d appreciate it. I’m contacting people by hand to do verification and I’m stepping through this slowly, because there’s a lot of people in both groups (over 130!)

DOMESTICS ARE SHIPPED OUT UP TO ORDERS ON AUGUST 2ND

INTERNATIONALS ARE SHIPPED OUT UP TO ORDERS ON AUGUST 2ND

That sounds pretty crazy for the Internationals, but wait:

INTERNATIONALS HAVE BEEN LABELLED AND ARE READY FOR SHIPPING UP TO AUGUST 2ND

International postage is expensive and I am doing these in huge batches, causing thousands in postage costs in a short time.  Every day, I’m highly amusing my local post offices with my massive piles of DVDs, and some of the clerks have become like Rosie the Riveter with the packages. One of them hopes you all like the movie, by the way. I told her about the people posing with coins. She was happy to hear it.

I’m working to get these packages out very fast and kill the backlog. I promise I am.

Updates about this will continue, as they happen.


GET LAMP: The Tour (Update: Page is Live)

Posted: August 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 15 Comments »

This came up very fast, within the last 12 hours actually, so if it seems like you haven’t heard of this before, that’s why.

Last year, the JetBlue airline offered an insane “All You Can Fly” deal for one month, from the beginning of September through to the beginning of October. A lot of people took advantage of it, shot documentaries, did travelogues, or just decided to have an unforgettable month.  I wished I could have gone along, but I had a day job then and it wasn’t the kind that bought into those sort of dreams. Or any dreams, come to think of it.

Well, they did it again. It took me 30 seconds to consider it.

So, I already have things going on through September, but I had a lot of days with nothing specific planned. I guess I now have things planned.

This is where the people who have enjoyed or wish to enjoy the movie come in. After considering what to do with all this, I have decided a GET LAMP tour is the way to go.

Here’s how it’ll work.

Obviously, my motion is dictated by the JetBlue flight map.  If they don’t fly somewhere, I can’t go there.

If you’re located in one of those destinations, have a screening room or a way to show things on a projector or otherwise can let me show GET LAMP, send me a mail at tour@textfiles.com.

I’d prefer open events, but if you’re part of a company and want something internal, I’ll happily talk to you. Doing something during the day at a business and then that evening at a hacker space or art space would be ideal.

I’m comfortable with crowds, generally entertaining, and I love Q&As. The movie is one I’m proud of and will happily discuss for quite some time. I think the subject is also fascinating and will happily discuss that as well.

For people who know me primarily for my other endeavors and mostly just want me to show up in general, I understand and am happy to talk about those things too.

Does this sound interesting to you? Mail me and we’ll discuss it.

As dates become known, I’ll add them to the site and make sure they’re well announced.

A promotional tour! Who’d have thought it.

Update: There is now an official JET LAMP Tour Page which I’ll be updating.


Tech Support and Lamp Game Pages

Posted: August 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 10 Comments »

Because GET LAMP has actual interactivity in the movie, it relies on a number of DVD specifications that, it turns not, are implemented strangely on various software and hardware players. They all work, to be sure, but some seem to not want to highlight menu items.  The easy solution is just to run the non-interactive version, but I wanted folks to at least have the chance to enjoy what they paid for properly. Therefore, there is now a GET LAMP Technical Support page that walks you through what’s going on. If any similar issues arise, that’s the page they’ll end up in.

The fact that highlighting within chapter-located links is implemented spottily among DVD software/hardware players showed up right towards the end of things, and I went with forging ahead with the solution instead of some other possibilities that would make things even worse. (Imagine the fun I had checking out those.) DVDs are basically huge trees of interlinked assets with properties on these links, and players all have different attitudes about it. Most surprising is VLC, which you would think would play most everything right (and which is the player I suggest for everything). It doesn’t highlight! But I suspect that this feature I used is in such a tiny percentage of DVDs made that nobody cares. Maybe somebody will care now! That’d be great!

When I was working on this documentary, I wanted it to have certain aspects of the very games they were talking about. One of these aspects was the interactivity, but another was that sense of seeing something differently, of engaging with the work in a way that was completely at odds with how you would normally interact with it.  This led to the fact that there’s a lamp in nearly every shot.  I’ve had a number of letters about people trying to find them all, so I figured it was time to be clear which didn’t have a lamp shot (usually because I only used closeup shots of the person). Therefore, the new Lamp Game page lays it all out for you. Happy hunting.


Another Round of Shipments

Posted: August 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 6 Comments »

I shipped out a few hundred international packages today, along with a few Adventurers’ Club boxes (I have to personally verify mailing addresses for those) and some complimentary interviewee copies (same).  The postage for this run was $1,100, in case you’re wondering how all that goes.

GET LAMP Packing August 2010

I estimate I’m up to all international orders up to December 24, 2009, and all domestic orders up to August 5th. That international date sounds absolutely horrible but you have to realize there were a metric ton of pre-orders when I put out that special ‘blind fan’ price (buy it with no information about the final product, at a discount). Once that hump hops over, it shoots through the months rather quickly.

I’ve looked into various online postage for international packages, and it’s just too weird and heinous. The method I have is tedious but not entirely bad, and the resulting package is cleanly marked and looks like just the kind of thing that should go through with no problem.

If you’ve never done it, international mailing in the US is one of those things that’s basically setting up a process, no matter how weird and strange, so that it does what you need to do, and in my case, then doing it a couple thousand times. Choosing the right things to declare, the value to place on the items, and the rest… it’s all part of the big setup. And then the tedium.

All the internationals up to about July 18th are already packaged – it’s just a matter of labeling and going to the post office. Against all odds, I found a post office that is excited and delighted (really) about this many packages and this much postage going through them – I think they’re worried about budget cuts and the sudden influx of thousands of dollars in postage is going to make things very good for them. They’ve even given me a phone number to call to let them know I’m coming in so they can have staff waiting for me.

Isn’t life weird.


Zoe Blade

Posted: August 11th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 5 Comments »

Zoe Blade saved bacon I didn’t even know needed saving, some time ago.

When I was first trying to figure out what music would work with GET LAMP, I was editing sequences with no idea what would go in the background.  It’s easy to fall into using just any old music you find on the internet, or even worse, use very popular, very commercial songs you have no hope of paying the rights to.

So in my searches, I happened along to Zoe Blade, a musician in the UK, whose sweeping chords and long, thoughtful pieces added a whole new feeling to the sequences I was putting together. We made contact and over the next months, we generated or pulled in tons of musical pieces that ended up all over the GET LAMP DVDs.

So Zoe (along with some others, of course), turns the feelings of GET LAMP into ones of contemplation, ease (or unease) and really brings so much to the table.  I think it’s fair to say the documentary wouldn’t be half as compelling without her music.

She gets a credit if you flip through the Introduction section of Disc 1, along with Tony Longworth, who I’ll talk about in the future.

So, most of the music that we might think of as “GET LAMP Music” has turned up on an album that Zoe has now put out, called Hello Calm.

And, in a wonderful kindness, Zoe has released it in all sorts of formats, from FLAC to MP3, and is also releasing it Creative Commons BY-NC-SA, like GET LAMP is.

So go ahead and enjoy what could be thought of as “Music From GET LAMP”, although to be honest GET LAMP is “the movie with music by Zoe Blade”.


A Lot of Mailing

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

I know that as far as you, the customer, is concerned, my delivery rate is 100% or 0%.  I understand that perfectly.

Today I boxed, taped, labelled and otherwise prepared about 350 boxes.  Some are free copies to interviewees, some are Adventure Club boxes, and the vast majority of these are standard GET LAMP boxes going out to customers.  This is quite a situation!

Updates as I go.


Uh, Wow.

Posted: August 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 12 Comments »

Folks, I throw up my hands – I am blown away by how many orders are coming in, how many kind words, how many links and fanmails and references and the rest.

I am trying to set a goal of having all orders out by Friday, international or other. It is touch and go whether this can be achieved, but I certainly will have a good majority if not all. I am truly humbled here. This is the absolute best problem to have.

I just sent a check to the coin company, because we’re starting to enter the general realm of selling out the initial run, and making new coins takes about three weeks. Oh, and the coins cost 20% more this time because the price of gold has gone up. Who knew gold prices would affect a documentary? Ken Burns never has this problem. Anyway, every copy gets a coin, that’s a guarantee.

Thanks, everyone!


Creative Commons

Posted: August 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 9 Comments »

The GET LAMP works are licensed Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 with the exception of the Infocom documentary, which is licensed Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0.

For a lot of my audience, just writing all that extends into uninteresting territory, and I’m quite understanding of that. It can tire me too. Creative Commons, the branded idea, is relatively new (under 10 years) and it is one of many tools available to creators in the modern technological era related to ownership or distribution of their works.  I like a lot of what they’re trying to do, but not all of what the result has been. Obviously, I like enough of the approach to continue to license my works under it.

When the BBS Documentary came out, I licensed it Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike. After some interesting exchanges, I wrote a very long weblog entry about it, which has some small amount of profanity, as is my wont.

Here we are at the second film being released, a situation I am very delighted about, and I am seeing some of the same writing/discussion going on that inspired the first entry, so I thought I’d drop a condensed version of the same thoughts.

Essentially, I released and will continue to release films I make under Creative Commons because I do not like the draconian policies of copyright law as they currently stand. I am not comfortable releasing the work into the public domain, but I am similarly of the opinion that a lot of copyright, especially since 1998, has become so draconian and vicious that perfectly moral uses of the works have been removed. It breaks my heart when I get mail from schools and colleges asking if they have my permission to show my film to students.  Or from people running conventions to show it in a room at the convention. I am fine with this and it’s a sign of how things have gone that these questions are asked.

On the flip side, however, I have also seen a lot of examples, then and now, of assumptions being made of what I “want”.  For example, it’s been said that licensing my movies Creative Commons means I “want” it to be torrented, or duplications made of the DVDs and the rest of the materials that are easily duplicated and then spread as far as possible.

That is not what I “want”, any more than not locking down windows in a building means I “want” people to enter through the windows instead of the (unlocked) door. It can be done, and in the case of torrents and the rest, I’m not going to go all Harlan Ellison about the situation. I would prefer, all things equal, that people buy the work I made, and to do so not because they’re afraid of some application of law and legal threat, but because they want to buy it. There’s no middleman, here. You are buying specifically from the filmmaker/director, and the item that arrives at your house was in my house a short time before.

Creative Commons essentially restores some abilities and freedoms to do things with content that have existed for a long time, and does so by providing some basic licenses, easily applied, that are in simple language for all.  I am not convinced they’re 100% effective in a knock-down drag-out legal fight, but at that point all parties have lost anyway. What it does is lift an awful lot of unneeded stress for everyone, and lets people enjoy the product.

I’ll happily discuss this in more details in the comments, but that’s the basic statement I wanted out there.

Enjoy the movie.


And a Thousand Coins Rain Down

Posted: August 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 25 Comments »

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I’m catching up on Glee, as a few people indicated it would be a good show to check out. They told me this quite a few months ago, but when you’re editing a movie, you can’t exactly sit and watch other audiovisual production without distraction, guilt, and an inability to follow the plot. As I enter into some of these more rote procedures of mailing and distribution, I can afford some attention to musicals and plotlines.

What I have before me are 150 coins, the set of lower-numbered coins which will end up with the Adventurers’ Club. The 50 boxes are scattered among the floor that was full of the boxes that went out this week, as well as near the stacks of to-be-labelled international boxes. The internationals require 2976 customs forms, and even with pre-printed labels for everything, there’s still a lot of handwriting to do. (The box/coin combinations are 9 ounces as I know very, very, very well at this juncture.)

As I put this all together, these hundreds and hundreds of outgoing packages, other ones are landing in homes throughout the country.

People are taking photos and sending them in:

I was especially touched by this one:

There’s a few things I want to say, just general things, as this very special time for me takes place.

First of all, I love being part of the fabric of life and culture. I’ve made something (with a lot of help from a lot of people) and my work is going to be talked about, loved, hated, misunderstood, worshiped, dismissed, and everything in between. People react to the subject, the way the subject is approached, the delivery mechanism, and all other aspects of this creation. As someone who’s trashed some pieces of work I’m sure a team worked on for years or cried to the heavens about how the world just doesn’t recognize how much my favorite stuff rules, I know how all that plays out.  I know I did what I set out to do –  concepts and events are living again inside heads that in some cases haven’t been really, truly addressed for a long time. I am pleased and content.

Next, with very, very scant exceptions, everything about this project from the editing and subject matter and omissions and inclusions and cover art and what have you are the result of specific, thoughtful choices I made to the  best of my ability and perspective. They’re points of pride or shame accordingly, but they’re mine. I am sure I will smile and bow at some junctures and raise my eyebrows and look concerned at others.  I can’t take the good and shuck out the bad as being a case of choices made by others than me. They’re all me. I am comfortable with this.

Third, I know that nothing like this comes without cost, personal and otherwise. I’ve paid various prices to bring this project to life. I am, regardless of the process of doing so, pleased I chose to pay them. Very, very pleased.

Finally:

When I was a teenager, I dreamed of running a BBS. I even had the name: The Works, named after an obscure computer graphics project that gave my imagination a lightning strike. I put this name on floppy disks and it wasn’t until 4 years later that I booted up a computer with a phone line I’d convinced my dad to get me, and I named it The Works BBS.

In 2002, freshly into work on what would become BBS: The Documentary, I spontaneously decided my next film would be about text adventures and it would be called Get Lamp. I registered GETLAMP.COM in May of 2002, three years before BBS was finished and out the door. Here it is August of 2010, and more than eight years after I am now sitting in a room with thousands of boxes, on pallets and in boxes and envelopes, bearing the name GET LAMP. I’m sitting here and people are mailing in photos of themselves, holding my dream in their hands, waving as they enjoy GET LAMP in their own way, on their own terms.

I dreamed it, and it happened. It’s happening. What more could I possibly ask for?


Team Orcutt Taps Out; The GET LAMPs Come and Go

Posted: August 6th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: production | 25 Comments »

Team Orcutt finished up their (paid) run with me today, with an open offer to return if things heat up again. What we all did together was prepare the packaging for over 1000 copies of GET LAMP, and mail out or label for mailing out all the domestic copies sold before July 18th. Since the first pre-orders came in December, that was quite a backlog to shoot through. There’s a couple crates of domestics by the door ready to head out today (Friday) and then, again, I’ll be caught up to July 18th on domestic.

Here are the international bound copies, ready to get mailing labels and customs forms.

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At this moment of writing, I’m only up to April 14th with internationals in terms of boxing, but I’m about to dive down into the remaining pile and keep going.

While we were going through this pile of to-be-boxed GET LAMPs, a truck arrived with the balance of my order.

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All I can say is, it pays to have a forklift. The moral of the story is always have a forklift.

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That’s my brother, Brandon. He says hi.

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So, as previously discussed, piles of boxes of GET LAMP are heading to hundreds of homes around the world.  I hope it was worth the wait. Let me (and the world) know if it was.