Director’s Notes

Earl Gray, the Director of The Forever Club, posted on social media about his experiences while making the web series.

Some excerpts appear here…

DAY 1:

The guy next to me at the bar is boo-hooing into his rum & Coke. His best friend slept with his mistress (like he gets to be married and have a mistress, too), and they fought, him and his best friend, wrestling on the floor of their office (they’re business partners) crying and bitching like little boys until he punches his friend in the face and jumps off him.

“We’re done,” he shouts at his friend. “Through, over, end of story.”

Which is good by me, because I’m tired of his story (what is this, a screen test for a Netflix drama?), and I want to be left alone with

But it gets me thinking:

Should friends ever end like this? Shouldn’t there be a secret code, some forgiveness phrase (like “No problems” or “Have a nice day”) and suddenly everything is back to normal, we’re friends again, all hard feelings put aside?

Shouldn’t we all have that kind of escape clause in our lives?

“The Forever Club,” I think. A safe space where no matter what you do, not matter how crazy you get, your friends always forgive you. Forever Friends. In a Forever Club.

The boo-hooer gave me the idea, so I buy him another drink.

And then another.

And again.

“Thank you,” he mumbles before he passes out.

“Have
a nice day,”
I say.

DAY 2:

My brain, the next morning. Yes, Mr. Gray, you can put it back together again.

DAY 4:

I’ve never made a web comedy before, but who has? @StrangeNewWorld

Looking for great actors in this town is like finding pirate gold on a beach. There’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 grains of sand, and just as many pirates, but not one speck of gold.

Except for Heather Casseri.

Yesterday, I saw her in a bad knock-off of Death of a Salesman. It was a play called “She Dies,” and in it, Isabella is a woman who retires from her job as an Uber driver and settles into a fantasy world where her ex-customers drive her to all her favorite memories.

She does a drive-by to see her first kiss, her first communion, her high school graduation, and her first, second, and third marriages.

She does a stop at her only child’s 21st birthday party, and she watches as the girl is liplocked by an elderly Uncle Henry.

In the end, her last driver, a Homeland Security instructor at Buffalo State College, drives his car headfirst into the Niagara Gorge, killing them both.

Isabella dies in bed, which she never left, because at late-stage Alzheimer’s, the whole play is a fantasy.

Awful stuff. Laughed out loud at the end, which pissed off the couple who were weeping next to me…

A

n

y

h

o

w xxxx that’s how I met Heather. Saw her at the after-party, and met the playwright, a wannabe Arthur Miller. The playwright dragged her down, but Heather floated to the top again as Isabella.

Later on, in a bar next door to the theater, I pitched The Forever Club to her. She went for it, called a few friends, and now I have a cast:

Will fame change them into monsters?

DAY 12:

Today, I scouted locations for “The Blank.”

The episode is about a missing person who may or may not be an excuse for a prank. The Club gets involved. They search everywhere, but find nothing. Me? I don’t even know the end yet.

The web work I do, locations are not a big thing. Most of the scenes are special effects, but the video shoots need authenticity. That’s real locations where real people are talking about real things to other real people.

Lucky for me, this town is prime real estate for locations:

I don’t need 100.

For episode one, it’s an art studio borrowed from a local artist. Plus a small office at a WNY college. And a bar.

There’ll be a bar in every episode.

A bar will never be missing.

DAY 23:

Our first video shoot.

Actors are extroverts, so you never have to worry about keeping up a conversation, they’ll do it on their own.  

If you’re depressed, see an actor. A smile is half of what they do.

Work is scarce, and not well-paid, and if you offer actors $20 an hour, they’ll be loyal for life. If you give them $30, they’ll move into your house and bring you breakfast in bed.

But having a conversation?

I’m sorry. I hate myself for saying it, but actors are changeable as the weather. They love you one moment, and then in a heartbeat, the weather changes.

DAY 35:

Story idea:

All the Club members stop sleeping. There is no physical or psychological reason for thisโ€”they just don’t sleep. Ever.

As days go by, each friend loses touch with reality:

Gabe walks the streets, day and night, like a zombie (video). Light hurts his eyes. Fur is growing on his ears and forehead. His voice grows deeper and growly like an old, sick dog.

Jordan nods off in class, loses track during her lectures, and blames it on “ennui.” She eventually calls in sick and stays home. Dressed in her blue terrycloth bathrobe, she watches TV non-stop and binges on Raman noodles and Milky Ways. The TV is not on; she just thinks it is and dumbly watches imaginary versions of her favorite shows (video).

Cj paints a series of self-portraits. In each one, he becomes less and less distinct, like a fading pattern, until he entirely disappears (video). All that’s left is a paintbrush.

Paranoid from lack of sleep, Karen thinks the others are plotting to kill her. She sets up an elaborate series of scenarios where she kills everyone in the Club first. She plans to hide their bodies in a subway car, in plain sight, so when they are discovered, it seems as if they have finally overcome their insomnia by riding the subway car until they fall asleep. As her delusions intensify, Karen escapes to Cleveland (video).

DAY 40:

“The Blank” done.

Videos uploaded.

Text, images, animations, and audio added.

Customized for portable devices, desktops, and laptops.

Credits page completed.

Time for…

DAY 43:

I never went to film school. I never directed a play. “The Blank” is the first time I’ve done anything like this before.

But I’ve seen a lot of TV and play games and read stuff on the web. What else do I need to know?

If you watch me in action, you’ll see I’m a natural born director. They don’t get any more natural than me. ๐Ÿ™‚

DAY 44:

Writing and directing a web comedy is like competition drinking: if you’re not the last one standing, you lost the competition. Period. End of your story.

You want to direct your own web comedy? Start drinking.

DAY 51:

Shooting for “Let’s Get Drunk!” began today.

We are shooting in local bars, and the actors are drinking real drinks. A good Director’s choice because I’m getting very authentic acting. Karen threw up on the video arcade game. Jordan is flirting heavily with the bartender. Gabe even fell over during one of his sequences.

But there’s a problem. Xavier, who plays Cj, doesn’t drink. I slipped him a rum & Coke, but one taste, and he pitched a Scene.

He said I was Trying to Poison Him. I had Polluted the Sanctity of his Holy Portal (whatever that is). I had defiled the Memory of His Mother, who Died of Alcoholism.

It was a Scene, and I got it all on camera. Great stuff. Golden Globe material.

After he cools down (maybe never), I’m going to post the outtakes.

DAY 55:

Today, my backers pulled out of the project. They were my money men, but they ran out of money.

Or so they said on the phone.

In their email, they used the words “juvenile,” “psychotic,” and “a black hole” to describe the project:

Screw ’em. I can run this show on a shoestring.

DAY 60:

“Drunk” is in the can. Not my greatest work, so I’ll probably put it later in the series, but still, IN THE CAN. And so am I. For three days, and counting…

DAY ?:Not sure what day this is…

DAY 84:

Today, the cast quit. Walked out of the “Einstein Says” shoot.

“What is it?” I asked running after them.

“Is it money?”

“The critics?”

“My directing style?”

“We want dressing rooms with our names on them,” Colleen said. “Not bathroom stalls in dirty bars. Dressing rooms.”

“Will you take bathrobes?” I asked. “With monograms?”

They did. Macy’s specials. Their names stitched in gold thread on the breast pockets. I even threw in matching slippers.

The weather in Actors World was sunny again.

DAY 101:

DAMN! ###%%@!

DAY 102:

I’m not Einstein, and neither is my coding guy. Because of him, I lost the site for a day.

DAY 121:

“Einstein Says” is DONE! I think I’ll make it the second episode, with “Let’s Get Drunk!” going third. People may not be ready for all that drinking so soon in the series.

This might be the last episode for me.

All the drama, time suck, and $$$ are wearing me thin.

I said I could do it on a shoestring, but I don’t want to BE a shoestring.

Without a shoe ๐Ÿ™

DAY 122:

DAY 140:

On to the next project. 

GO TO DIRECTOR’S NOTES #2

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