Mailout for May 17,2010

Episode 8:  I Fall To Pizzas

 Yes, of course it is a reference to Ms Cline. And Mike Nesmith’s version of the same tune.

   But apart from that, it’s also about this clash of the titans of the battlefield that is Chiron Beta Prime.

The full story of the making of this epic scene is described in absolutely no detail in the production blog.

 But we must take time out to thank Craig Zemba for the use of his remote controlled Mark II Tiger Tank which, after some modification, portrays the ultra futuristic Mark XVII Battle Tank. How many silver antennaes stuck on a Mark II Tiger Tank with blu tac are required to make this conversion? Two. If that’s all you’ve got.

Now that’s what I call movie model magic

As can be seen from the accompanying screen grabs, we did our model shots on the weekend at the old quarry site at Red Rocks. These shots show the Hand of God (ie Cormac) setting up the mobile model shot for the Mark IV Battle Tank. By setting up I mean he pushed it along the ground with most of his fingers outside of the range of the camera’s unblinking gaze. There was an unfortunate suspension failure which put an end to that particular escapade, but not till the invaluable footage was in the can.

The Mark IV Battle Tank with special Giant Hand attachment.

This shot shows how amateurish and silly model shots can look before undergoing the rigorous and exacting post production we do on all of our special effects work, which you will see in the next exciting episode.

The Mark IV, right, readies to unleash its hellish barrage against the stolen Mark XVII.

And my I say that even getting to the smallish ridge on a very, very windy day carrying model tanks, camera gear, a plastic box full of junk and a stinky hangover probably makes us cinematic legends. Of course, a moment’s inattention or a loose, critical rock, could have got us into the Dominion Post’s dickhead of the day section. It’s what we do. Even if we shouldn’t.

Cormac hit me.

From right, Commander Lex, Gunner Gossamer, and Sous Chef Bill as Bubble Boy.

Again and again and again. We were shooting the final scene for episode nine last night, it was late (well, 7pm) and I wanted to get home to see the new Dr Who.

I mentioned we didn’t have much of a cliffhanger ending (which is what we know everyone is waiting for) and Cormac lamented he hadn’t been able to smack me around, as is his manner. So we combined the two in a way which we hope will find general acceptance among our small, but dedicated, crew of watchers.  Episode nine. Boobs AND whackings. You heard it here first.
Here’s today’s mailout. Another for the ages.


Super Awesome Mega Battle Tank

Episode 6: Sconed By Bryce

 In which Bryce’s full photonic artillery barrage shakes loose some cannage carnage upon our heroes. Or at least the three members of the Kiwi Brains Trust. Luckily, the KSP is always prepared. For the other thing that never happens …

Chris Nixon plays Dobbo, the Australian Robotic Service Enterprise’s online tactical help. Luckily for KSP, he’s helping Bryce the Destroyer.

 And due to general doltage and running late due to the newest Dr Who starting  last night, I forgot to plug Celtx in the credits. Great  free scripting software. Really. Herebe the link.

Why making even a crap movie with no crew can be a nuisance

Yesterday (April 29, 2010, for those seeking a timeline for the historical record) I had to do some pickup shots for the Scone in a Can falling on my head.

The one below we shot on Sunday last, but I didn’t like the framing.

Scone in a Can. The new taste sensation.

So I called upon Steven to do the shots in the secret studio lair. It was a relatively easy thing to drop cans onto my head. I hasten to add Steven dropped the can with enthusiasm and accuracy. I, alas, forgot to dress the set with the flashy light thing we use. Of course by then he’d gone back to work and so I got back in my uniform, and tried to film myself as I tossed the can in the air and tried to get my head under it. Funnily  enough the body rebels when it is suggested that gets under a falling weight, even a lightened can with only a rock in it for heft.

I will let the results speak for themselves in Episode 6.

Everything gets fixed in post production.  Bill.

Anzac Weekend 2010

Not a shutter was shatted this weekend due to various family responsibilities and the time being to remember our service people, and not just the bar staff.

This was the mailer for Episode 5. Allegedly our best yet. Well, I allege it is, and I should know.


Super Awesome Mega Battle Tank

Episode 5: Spear a Thought

The hot teaspoon gag. Invented 13 seconds after teaspoons were.

 Whay the hell happens in this episode? Lots and lots and lots. There’s slapstick, flashbacks, plot exposition, fun with mashed potatoes, even an incoming photonic artillery attack.

It is also when we bid farewell to Uber Commander Shane Wilson who has acted the rest of us off the screen one too many times. Unless …

 And because the Au Contraire Science Fiction Con folks were super awesome mega kind enough to give us a link, here’s one to them. It’s on in Wellington in August. There’s a video competition as well, which may be another chance to whore SAMBT.

For those wondering where we got the snappy animation credits at the end, that’s for the very wonderful, and amazingly free, Celtx pre production and scripting software. All the way from Newfoundland. Yep, just like the big doggies.

Great for theatre, comics, movies, and whatever the hell this stuff is.

Pizza-covered Gossamer

Bill writes:

Yesterday’s shoot with Cormac C, Alex T and Bill O’B, was ably assisted by resident boom chick and resident English/Dramery consultant  Janet G. 

 The highlight for moi, baby, was getting to spit well chewed and spittle-laden bits of cold pizza all over young Mr Cormac. (Young Mr Cormac, in the vein of Young Mr Grace for those who remember Are You Being Served. )

Rambling aside with some point to it: Are YBS was one of that era’s British comedies that knew there is something very comforting for viewers in only having two scripts, and 58 line of dialogue. The other classic example is It Ain’t Half Hot Mum. And one of the characters in that was the inspiration for Cormac getting a good coating of pizza a la Bill. I think the only time Gunner ‘Nosher’ Evans had a line was when he had a mouth full of biscuit, and I always thought that it was tres funny indeed when he would spray people with the crumbs while making conversation.

Of course, there is rather a very large line between funny tv behaviour and acceptable personal behaviour, but I do confess to often talking with my mouth full, and indeed spraying people with food scraps. Cormac, on the other hand, is a very fastidious fellow who takes great care of his personal appearance and grooming. In the past, he would have been called, by less evolved people, a big homo. Nowadays he is a grand example of what is sometimes called a metrosexual. The Sergeant Major from IAHHM might say Poof! but that was then, and this is the future.

Anyways, I had one pizza, and a lot of videotape to do a number of takes of me going zwoosgragragrawhoompha into his face. Well, face, shirt, trousers, the desk in front of him, the chair behind him, and probably the wall behind that.

Didn’t. Flinch. At. All.

Well done that man!


This is the mailer for episode 4.

One of the strengths of speculative fiction, also colloquially known as science fiction, is the chance to ask, What If ...

What if, perchance, we are all small clockwork machines made of sawdust and stitchings in some dark, bizarre experiment? What if we are but self aware dream creatures in a minor god’s musings? What if three guys in a tank bought from The Warehouse during a March Madness sale are the last chance for civilisation? And what sort of civilisation could these clowns possibly be protecting?

Episode 3: Spear me the Details

Actually, it could be Spear Change. I was trying to be witty with the episode names but completely lost track of what was happening in each one.

So there is a brief shot of a spear in this.  But I am not going to be too doctrinaire about headings. For instance, I don’t have anything for Episode 5 which Cormac edited last weekend.  Maybe something like Space Boobies from Planet Zorbatron will do.

Anyhow, this is how the publicity email went.


Every Episode Three of every mega low budget Wellington Internet science fiction series ever shot includes cheap incoming visi-screen messages and an off-screen character called Spanners. It is kind of a rule of cinema. This Episode 3 is no exception.

Watch as special guest star Shane Wilson acts the rest of us off the screen with his own particularly brilliant channeling of Shane Wilson as the Uber Commander, and all is revealed as to the slight lack of military abilities of the SAMBT attack crew. And then there are the aliens getting closer, as they invariably do …

(If you are having problems getting the vid to play when you click the episode, just roll your mouse over the viewing screen. Well, technically it’s the visi screen. It should load then. This easy-to use-functionality is brought to you by Australian Robotic Service Enterprises. And Microsoft.)


The latter bit refers to the quirkiness Corm has had getting the viewing screen to work with Internet Explorer. People have to click on the episode name and then move it over. As is obvious to everyone, he has pulled his hair out trying to get it work but technology, and A.R.S.E have conspired against him.

Episode 7 is shooting today (Sunday, April 11).  I should have a deep, throaty voice due to a chest cold, which no doubt will add to my smouldering allure. I shall try not to cough phlegm up on camera …

For the archives …

These are the invites that were sent out for viewing on Monday.

I suppose I could more time and effort into them, but why break the efforts of a lifetime.

Anyway, Cormac edited episode 6 yesterday and it is looking, well, just like episode five, but with an extra numeral built in. Episode three unveils the acting glory of Shane Wilson. Seeing as Mr Wilson is a teacher at St Pat’s in Wellington, that should boost our viewership up by as many schoolboys who want to see their teacher say “fuck” on youtube.


Episode Two: Tanked Up 


 Considerably shorter than Lawrence of Arabia, more moving images than War and Peace (the novel, not the movie versions) Episode 2: Tanked Up is now online for 4 minutes and 19 seconds of roller coaster action. As long as you view it while riding a roller coaster. Otherwise it’s three guys in a cheap set on second hand car seats.


Episode One: Farquiddity Base

 In which our heroes begin their hunt for Bryce the Destroyer who has stolen the Kiwi Space Patrol’s only Mark XVII Battle Tank.

 Watch as they set out on 13 (or so) epic episodes to bring Bryce to justice, and the Battle Tank home so the Greymouth Hospital Detoxification Unit isn’t repossessed by the finance company.  

Along the way they’ll deal with shoddy sets, turgid special effects, continuity lapses, poorly focused and badly-lit scenes, ill-tempered aliens and, of course, Bryce.

But no matter what happens, there will always be a chance to smack Sous Chef Bill around. At least until he gets his scone mix right.

 Tune in every Monday morning for your exclusive chance to see another exciting instalment of Super Awesome Mega Battle Tank.

 If you don’t watch it, you won’t see it!!!

And that’s why you do backups.

Alex, right, Cormac and Bill display their true acting craft by only hinting at the feelings that lie beneath.

The first upload of episode two, Tanked Up,  ended up with really  bad audio sync problems. I consulted the oracle of Google, onto to find that the two possible solutions were to try again, or change the codecs of the encoded codey code by manipulating the whangle fang doogulus formula. So I reloaded it after resaving it as an svcd file format rather than the dvd format that Ulead 11 offers.

The file is not only much smaller, but there’s not real drop in quality I could see. (Yes, thank you for that comment). By this stage I had found that the original Ulead editing file had corrupted, or been possessed, or dispossessed, and I resorted to using the episode 2 file I had sent to gmail as a backup. Yes, as Cormac says, if you don’t back up the episodes, you’re a big fat hairy monkey boy. I don’t know whether that applies specifically to me or everyone in general. We’ll say everyone.

So, that’s the final excitement that went with that.  All’s well that loads well. Now, perhaps I should save episodes four and five …

March 28, 2010 – A day that will go down in infeebliosity

Well, Episode 1 – Camp Farquiddity has gone up at the website.  As of today we have four episodes pretty much completed.  I was going to do a one-episode-per-week mad rush with adrenalin surges and a side order of craziness as our modus operandi but Cormac “Mr  Sensible” Cossar said we should have four or five up our sleeve in case we get behind.

Which is smart. A little too smart …

Anyway, of the four in the can, this is by far and away the crappiest. When I first saw the footage we had I thought it was pretty much unsalvageable, and as I had already screwed up Day One with the microphone nonsense, I was a bit forlorn.

But it came back from being amazingly god awful to something god-awful lite.  Given it was made by four people in a basement, without a great deal of experience, talent or cocaine, it is … still crappy.

There is plenty to comment on … the wide shots which should have been much, much tighter; the loose acting which should have been much, much gooderer, the focusing, the continuity, the model work.

But the making has been the thing. Oh  how I love to hear the laughing lilt of IT workers as they do take after take of me getting hurt or injured, however slightly, in whatever ways they can come up with. Mr Cossar, Mr Tashkoff, I salute you.  Pricks.

Anyway, yesterday being a Saturday we did the seatbelt scene for Episode 5 and then did Dobbo the Australian Robotic Service Enterprises online help which was done by Chris Nixon.

Back, many years ago Mr Nixon was one of the stars of a Massey University Drama Society production of, as I recall, Trelawney of the Wells. Nowadays he baffles clients with his brilliance or some other b word at the NZIER where he specialises in economics for animals, or something.

I dragged him in based on his ability as a former MUDS feature player and he didn’t disappoint. First he went out and paid for a tee shirt because I had forgotten the Aussie one I was going to get him to wear. Then, when he didn’t get his second piece to camera right until well after the 27th take, he courageously kept going. Now that’s determination for you! Next time, he’ll just have to LEARN HIS FECKING LINES!!  OK, so I didn’t send them to him till the morning of the shoot. Is that an excuse? I mean, he’s an economist for goodness sake!

On the Friday Cormac and I had fun dropping Scone in a Can on each other. A real can as well. With the label done by Steven Qian. Many takes on Cormac’s nude nut. Commitment, that’s what we’ve got. We’re picking up that talent stuff next week from the dairy.