The Story Behind The Scenes
Original Posting Date: April 22nd 2009
A month or so after “Risky Business”, Dan is given another assignment in his Planning class which would work well in video format. The assignment is two parts: the first part is research and the second is presentation. The topic? Sugar and its substitutes. Dan approaches his teacher and asks if he can present it in video format like last time. Apparently, she was enthusiastic about this, and let Dan do it solo from the start.
So Dan calls me up, and at first I’m skeptical. I’m not sure how we can pull this off in a humourous format. He and I sit down and go through a list of refined sugar alternatives. I’m really feeling humblah about this one, but we stumble across the idea of honey. We sit down and research it, making sure that we, again, meet the criteria of the assignment. The major points are pros, cons, health benefits, difference from refined sugar, source, and controversy (if any). Man…it was looking more and more like a regular assignment.
So we had two weeks. Already Dan and I had resigned ourselves to the fact that we seem to work best on a deadline…too much time and things don’t get done until the last minute. This qualified as a harsh deadline, because due to my work schedule, we only had two or three days in that two week span that we could devote to the project. So I told Dan I would worry about the structure and outline of the video, and he could focus on part one of his project. After all, it was due in a week, and we had done most of the research. So I took the page that Dan and I had made extensive notes on, and I started thinking about how to pull this off.
First was the character of Denny. Again, we wanted someone new with a totally different personality than the others. Hence, Denny the Pervert. This gummy bear obsession of Denny’s is rooted in fact; Daniel loves gummy bears. It took 0 convincing to get him to chow down on them compulsively. Actually…it might have been his idea. I had just done some shopping, and had picked up both the bear of honey and the gummy bears, and Dan and I were ready to get this all done that evening. We figured that it wouldn’t take long because of how restricted the setting and content was.
Denny eating the gummy bears was one of those sequences where you can’t stop laughing. I seriously commend Dan on keeping a straight face, but at the same time, this wasn’t asking a lot from him. Also, Dan was seriously spot on with music choice to open this short…it’s just dark and creepy enough to show you Denny is a frickin’ creeper. Notice that we kept a similar opening format to “Risky Business”, as it had served us pretty well.
Denny going through the different foods on the table was purposely designed to go from ludicrous to ludicrous. Seriously, grenadine as a refined sugar substitute is like switching from Wendy’s to McDonald’s. And then to go down to potatoes and butter is also pretty silly. But that was actually reflective of our research…I found this project a little unfair to be honest; there really aren’t that many refined sugar substitutes that a kid can pick up and do a project on. I even felt that going into this project. It just seemed a little hard for a Grade 10 Planning project. I just hoped the teacher would be lax in grading.
We hit a wall when we wanted to film a sequence about the source of honey. Dan and I were tossing ideas back and forth about who could explain it and how. We hadn’t done diagrams in these films (yet), and I can’t draw worth 3 cents, so I was feeling like we were low on options. Finally I remember saying to Daniel “It’s too bad we don’t have a bee that could tell it.” DING!!
Nate has been using this superhero character “The Bumbler” in many projects: school PSAs, comics, art projects, Halloween, and Dan’s affiliated side project “A Day In The Life Of A Superhero” (which contains the “actual” National Super Heroes Guild). So when I dropped that line about a bee talking about honey, it took little convincing to get Nate to don his costume once again. Problem was Nate didn’t know how honey was made (I’m totally serious). I had to explain it three times before he was comfortable explaining it back. Whether it was due to this frustration, his method acting, or his inherent need to hit Daniel, Nate actually gave Dan a couple good whacks at the end. That’s right folks, those shrieks of pain from Daniel are real. Dan swore up a storm at Nate, and then sadly proclaimed:
“I don’t think we’ve done a video where I haven’t been hurt in some way.”
The strength of the piece in my opinion is the section on the health benefits. I love the gimmick of “Allow Me To Demonstrate” in videos, and I think it’s even funnier when you have a reluctant demonstrator. This needed to be done in quite a few takes, and some of the merged cuts are pretty obvious. In fact, one of the first cuts was because as Dan was rubbing honey on Nate’s arm, the honey quite logically began sticking to Nate’s arm and yanking out his arm hairs.
The episode concludes with me looking a little husky coming in and trying to summarize the episode with Dan. And that’s not Denny being stupid folks…Daniel was struggling for some answers and covered it by being dense. Good recovery though: Dan brings it full-circle by seeing “Suzy”.
Now…that’s not the full episode. Out of all the videos we’ve done, this is the one where the submitted video differs the most from the posted YouTube video. There was a whole section where Denny is caught playing with Tow Mater and Optimus Prime, and has them debate the pros and the cons of honey. As amusing as that was for the assignment, it was long, it killed the flow of the video, and it’s only mildly chuckle-worthy. I was totally fine dropping it. The order of the sequences were different as well. The video clocked about 15 minutes, and we showed it to Doug.
Doug watched it and pointed out the concerns we had as well. We explained this would be the “Assignment Edit” and we wanted to do a “YouTube Edit”…which would be the first (and not last) time we would have two versions of a video (“Fitness” wouldn’t count as such, because the editing down for the contest was really just trimming for time. What we did here was substantial: dropping and reordering entire sequences). Doug himself volunteered to take a crack at editing this film, which was fine as Doug is no stranger to the editing room.
Let me start off by saying that AGAINST my advice, Dan did not finish part one of the assignment and hand it on time. He may have finished it later in the month, but that’s beside the point. I was hoping for lightning to hit the same place twice and for us to get a perfect score again, and strangely enough, he did. The teacher didn’t dock him late marks.
Doug, Dan, and I were all pretty happy with the “YouTube Edit”, and this would be the beginning of Doug becoming seriously involved in production. It started to become pretty obvious that this wouldn’t be the last Planning Project video.