Lost & Found: And other odd short stories by Scott Baron

Talented author Anna Kopp’s review of Lost & Found

Words Matter

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I stumbled across Scott on a writer’s reddit thread and I loved one of his short stories, so when I saw he had an entire collection I had to check it out.

It did not disappoint.

There are four stories, and let me tell you they are so different and yet so similar. The first takes place in an underground city, the second in the Wild West, the third on a ship, and the last in a magical meadow. How can they possibly relate?

It’s the unpredictable nature of each and every one of them that keeps the pages turning. I guessed a dozen different endings while I read and I was wrong in all of them. This might not be my usual fairy-tale style read, but I didn’t mind at all.

I will definitely be checking out more of Scott’s work, and if you’re looking to take your mind…

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Art You Can Use

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We are surrounded by amazing things, and I’m sure many of you are collectors of beauty, as I am. The thing I love about usable art is that you get to enjoy works that please your senses while doing mundane things, like eating for example. Above is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. An art plate by Indiana-based Mab Graves. She has been releasing limited edition melamine plates with some amusing designs (and I just looooove the angry foods).

So this got me thinking. Why don’t we strive to make everyday things pleasing to our tastes? Why are things like plates boring? Why do we eat on placemats that only serve to catch spills, but don’t add anything to our day? I don’t think it would be as tough as it seems to add art to our daily activities.

Of course, some art would be destroyed by actual use, but things like melamine plates are meant to be used, and with a very reasonable price, why not make them daily dishes? If you’re a writer, why not use pens that inspire, like these gorgeous works from J&S Turnings?55009d45764b1-image

This post is a bit off my usual fare, but I am just loving my new plate so much, I felt the urge to remind people who may stumble across my little ramblings that it doesn’t take much to add cool art to your daily life.

If you have cool functional art, please share it, I’d love to see what others are using in their daily life.

Embrace the awesome!

Fraturday

exhaustedwoman_illussmaller1In the film and TV industry, there exists a thing of pure evil. A word that makes grown men shudder. An event that chills even the stoutest of hearts. This thing is called Fraturday.

Crew members are accustomed to working long hours, sometimes upwards of seventy or more in a week (I’ve done days over 25 hours, and weeks over 80, and boy-howdy it sucked!), but despite that hardiness of spirit, when it gets later and later towards the end of the week, we all hope to avoid the horror of Fraturday.

What is Fraturday? That terrible mingling of Friday and Saturday. The loss of your entire weekend to a work schedule that sees you beginning your day on Friday, and getting off work early Saturday, sometimes after the sun comes up.fraturday_rectangle_sticker

As you can imagine, this leaves you a shell of yourself, only wanting to sleep and recover over your briefest of weekends. Social life? Forget it. Maybe you’re somewhat rested by Sunday. Then on Monday you start over again… at 6am. Yes, you heard the madness right. You get off work at 6am Saturday and start work at 6am Monday. Some shows even do this multiple weekends in a row (and occasionally have a crew mutiny).

So the next time you find yourself miserable at the prospect of another eight or nine hour day in a non-industry job, just take a deep breath and remember, at least you don’t have the misery of Fraturday.

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Lost & Found — A collection of odd short stories

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After much procrastination and reworking, I’ve finally released my first small collection of short stories. Four to be exact. A bite-sized e-book to put the first few of my brain babies out into the world. It was hard to stop editing and tweaking them and just let them go out into the wild, but now that they are, the feeling is wonderful. To all my fellow writer friends on the fence about doing the same, I just want to say this: Keep at it and put your work out there. Discovering new stories is a joy, and you can contribute to the body of new work available to eager readers.

As for me, I’m humbly asking those who are interested in quirky and odd short stories to take a chance on my little $0.99 e-book and give it a read, and if you should get some joy from my stories, please take a moment when you’re done to leave a rating or review (the lifeblood of indie authors) on Amazon or Goodreads (or both). It would be immensely appreciated!

Lastly, I know it can be rough out there, so if times are tight and you cannot afford the download, please message me directly and I’ll gladly send you a version for free.

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The Mice of Troon

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It was a fine day in in the town of Troon, though perhaps a wee bit overly damp from the ongoing rain and cold wind blowing in from the sea.

The young boy played by himself in his home, left to his own devices to amuse himself indoors until the weather cleared while his mother finished on some chores. Naturally he spent the morning doing what young boys so often do when stuck indoors, namely he had adventures in whatever way he could.

Now this lad had been born with poor vision, which was a hindrance in some ways, but also led to his greater attention to subtle details. His parents and teachers were often amazed not just by his imagination, but also the way he noticed the little things others might often overlook.

On this particular day, the boy had discovered the knotted cord to the recessed ladder leading to the attic of his home. He hadn’t noticed it before, for him this was a new and as yet un-touched adventure waiting to be experienced. What was a young boy to do but investigate?

He stepped up on a chair, ignoring the slight wobble, and stretching above his head, stood on his toes and reached up until his fingers finally curled around the cord dangling from the ceiling. Victorious, he pulled until the ladder revealed itself and extended down to the floor. Torch in hand, he slowly climbed the rungs towards his mysterious new adventure land, until his feet finally disappeared from view as he stepped fearlessly into the dimly lit attic.

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He spent the better part of the afternoon up there, and after several hours of adventure digging through the treasures secreted away in his newly discovered playground, he came across a small old metal and wood device tucked in a corner. The pine was coated with dust, the metal bits had long ago developed the patina of age. Curious, he decided to carry it downstairs and show his discovery to his mother.

Back on the ground floor, he brushed the cobwebs from his clothes as he stepped into the kitchen, finding his mother busy making mince pies to follow the evening’s supper.

“Mummy, why do we have these in the attic?” the boy asked.

She looked up from her work to see what new mischief her son had gotten into, her eyes falling on the disused device in his hand. She wiped the flour off her hands with her well-used apron and smiled warmly at her son, running her hand through his hair with a loving ruffling as she exclaimed, “Oh, you’ve found some new treasure have you? Well do you know what that is for?

“No, what is it?”

“That’s a mouse trap. They’re used to catch the mice in the house.”

“What mice?” the boy asked, “everyone knows there’s no such thing.”

His mother chuckled. “Don’t be silly, of course there are dear, but the traps are just rubbish at catching them, that’s all. That’s why we got Mr. Jingles the cat, to keep the mice out. Of course he shreds the curtains, but that’s why Humphrey is such a good dog, he keeps Mr. Jingles in check.”

The cat slowly blinked as he looked at the boy with a sly look in his eye, his jingling bell collar chiming out softly as he turned his head.

“No mummy, can’t you see? There aren’t any. Mice don’t really exist.”

“Don’t be silly darling” she replied as she turned her attention back to filling her pies, “Of course they do.”

“But have you actually ever seen one?” He asked. “I think the cat is just playing a trick on you, convincing you they’re real so he’ll have a nice warm place to live and plenty of food to eat.”

mti4otkzmdyzndkzmzu1ntmw            A slight tingling of bells chimed as Mr. Jingles slowly turned his head and fixed his gaze on the boy, giving him a rather nasty look.

 

His mother, however, paused for a moment, digesting the thought her son had put in her mind. “Come to think of it” she said, “when have I actually seen one?” The seed of doubt just planted, suddenly began to take root.

A slight puff blew through the room, and just like that, things suddenly felt different.

“Why come to think of it, I believe you’re right.” she said. “In fact, I know you are. Goodness, I don’t know what I was thinking, of course mice don’t really exist, how silly of me. Aren’t you a clever boy.” she said, smiling at her son proudly.

“You see mummy,” said the boy, “I told you. It was all the cat’s doing.”

“Cat? What cat?”

“Mr. Jingles, the cat Humphrey is always barking at.”

“What cat?” she said once more, “Darling, everyone knows cats don’t really exist.”

“What do you mean?” asked the boy. “I’m sure I saw him.”

No sooner had he uttered those words, he heard the quiet click of paws on the wood floor as Humphrey slowly padded into the room, casual in his gait, tail swishing in a slow arc from side to side. The old dog paused at his bowl, tail still wagging, and looked the boy right in the eye. Even with his impaired vision the boy was certain the dog smiled at him and winked before he looked away, turning his attention to the mound of kibble before him.

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~ For Bean ~

 

 

Pitfalls of Shooting Digital

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Now that digital has more or less caught up to shooting on film, though some purists will still argue that digital isn’t quite there yet and that film looks better, we see many of the constraints of working with film gone, only to be replaced with problems of a new sort.

Exhausting the actors.

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When mags of film would roll out and require a reload, directors were forced to better plan what they wanted and then do their best to capture it efficiently. Unless you were a big production, the cost of film alone prevented doing massively long takes and shooting a dozen different angles just to have more to play with in the edit. Indecisiveness and lack of clear vision was shunned. Unfortunately now with the leeway of digital, we see dozens of takes from a multitude of angles as clarity of vision is often replaced with a wing-it “let’s try this” approach. Actors love to get to try different things, and many times that produces pure gold, but when this new flexibility is abused, actors can get worn down. An entire day shooting a 3 page scene over and over and over would tire even the most seasoned actor, and performances start to drop off. Then there’s crew. They get far less turnaround between days than actors do (9 hours on stage and 10 hours on location, including drive time home and back to work the next day… Teamsters only get 8) and safety and productivity can suffer greatly as your crew wears out. nap on set

Running up the budget.

Another problem stemming from the overshooting/underplanning issue is one directors often ignore, but one that keeps producers awake at night. Budget.

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Paying an entire crew for those extra few hours tacked on to each day because of a less constrained process can cost tens of thousands of dollars an hour. IATSE film crews get time and a half after 8 hours, which they almost always go past. Once you pass 12 hours your crew goes into double-time. If you go long, you’ve essentially hired an entire second crew (money-wise) for each hour you go over, yet you still get the output of one crew, and that’s an increasingly tired crew at that. Then factor in meal penalties (a union crew must be broken for meals every 6 hours, otherwise they are paid a penalty every half hour, which can really add up) and costs skyrocket. One way to avoid running long is by tacking on additional days to keep the overtime low, but we’ve seen in countless times, if you give an extra few days leeway, the 10 hour days will still often creep up to 14 or 16 hours, and now you’ll just have more of those overtime days rather than actually cutting costs.  Adult Supervision (i.e. a producer with balls to stand up to the director when need be) is vital on a set where money is an issue.

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 1.21.05 PMIf you’re shooting on location, you may have to pay the location, neighbors, traffic control, security, rental bathrooms, and other equipment for extended hours as well. Long story short(ish), if you don’t rein in your director the budget can go out the window.

Those poor editors.

I worked a project recently that shot back-to-back takes of 38 minutes and 42 minutes with two cameras operating. That’s 160 minutes of footage shot in 80 minutes of work. These were unusually long takes, but are indicative of what can happen when a director goes off-book. The five most dangerous words in Hollywood are, “Hey, I have an idea.”

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If a director shoots with two cameras and averages three 10 minute takes per setup, then shoots sixteen setups per day on a 30 day shoot, you’re looking at (roughly) 16 hours of footage a day, or 480 hours of footage at the end of 30 days. That’s a month of non-stop viewing on an 18 hour day schedule, not including the actual act of editing.

Now consider that continuous rolls means no slate to break up the action and mark a moment. Unless the director is very good at telling the script supervisor which moments they really like on the fly as they happen, the director and editor will later have to re-watch all that footage to find what they want to use, searching for that needle in a haystack. Amusingly I’ve heard from several editors that almost always in this situation the director will use the first take that they come across that they like, even if there may have been something amazing further down the line.   needle haystack man

I love digital. I believe digital opens up many opportunities to be creative and efficient, but it is also important to not allow the benefits of shooting digital be erased by poor filming practices. Directors need adult supervision to keep them from shooting 2 hours of insert shots of hands from 7 different angles. I’ve seen a director (who happened to be the showrunner, so he got away with it) shoot multiple masters from different angles. The guy had so little clue how to shoot or what he wanted, he was just getting a master, then closer, then closer, then closer from every angle. no_idea_by_workisnotajobIt was a shit-show and the actors (not to their head honcho’s face of course) were even breaking composure and bitching about it.

Use digital as the amazing tool it is, but plan ahead and use it well. If you treat digital like film and follow at least some of the same production practices (for the most part, after all, flexibility of digital is a big plus) then you should still be quite able to shoot excellent material at a much lower cost in terms of money, time, and frustration, than film.

Lastly, Always Remember the 5 P’s: 

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Talking Underpants Make the Semi-Finals!

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A little while back a short script collaboration with my dear Scottish friend Gillian Hay was a quarter finalist in the Shore Scripts Shorts Competition. Adding to that happy event, we just learned we were semi-finalists in the Nashville Film Festival Screenwriting Competition.

To the wonderfully quirky Ms. Hay I must give hearty thanks for springing such an unusual and fun story from her bonny noggin. ‘Twas a pleasure to write and I’m thrilled the judges enjoyed the read.

After all, who wouldn’t want talking knickers?

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If you’d care to give our little tale of talking underpants a read, here’s a link.Audrey’s Knickers