(A Random Post)

WAMBAG.COM Goes to CNAnime 2007: Bri’s Commentary

Before we begin, if you haven’t seen this seminal work of cinema art, please mosey on over to the Google Video Link (here) or the four parts on Youtube (1, 2, 3, 4). Also, Al’s writeup is quite thorough and entertaining, rendering my version irrelevant and unnecessary. So check that out too.

Part of me still cannot believe that we pulled it off. And although we’re not knee-deep in hookers and blow, as I originally hoped, I can only assume that our work here foreshadows an above-average future.

*****

WAMBAG Studio Logo:

The reason we filmed this was because we had finished the marathon session of filming my guitar scene (more on that later) and then ran into “technical difficulties” with my video editing software. I was starting to freak out, so we left to get some fresh air.

I filmed the ferry shot at the end, and almost ruined it with my own stupidity:

Will: Watch the ferry!
Brian: Aww, the ferry’s in the way!
[Brian puts the camera down.]
Will and Al: No, that’s good!

Intro Talking Heads:

The only preparation that went into this whole production was two nights of MSN chats between Will and me. Originally, my character was named “The Smarmy Guy.” I tried my best to be creepy, but after my first interview, I didn’t have the heart – or stomach – for it. With alarming speed, my real-life awkwardness and ineptitude when interacting with females bled into my character. To touch on Mr. Lee’s comment that I was the most consistent that day: it’s not hard to be consistent when you’re not acting. I’m pretty sure that in future projects I’ll be a dismal failure unless I’m typecast and always play the same role. In a way, I’m probably the Tom Cruise of the WAMBAG. And yet, in most other ways, I am the total opposite.

I have to give credit to Al for thinking up the cactus bit. This is the first of many scenes that I will screw up so badly that filming will last about ten minutes. I am the weakest of the three of us at suppressing smiles, and I really Falloned this scene up.

Of course, Max deserves a shout-out for the awesome T-shirt designs, which were made under short notice.

You see Will drinking what I hope looks like some potent potable mixed with coke (I like to think it’s Scotch and Coke, which apparently was the preferred poison of The Beatles, before they discovered acids). We originally wanted Will to be a flat-out alcoholic, and he even had a flask with him that day. Unfortunately, the flask footage didn’t really fit into the video, and the idea was essentially scrapped.

The Snatch intro? Ever since I saw that trailer, I have always wanted an excuse to do that. So even if the rest of the video sucked, I would have been ecstatic for this alone. Please note how we couldn’t keep the homoeroticism out of our film for five minutes. Also note that you can see the cameraman in the mirrors. In about 20 years, when I re-master the special effects, I will remove the unwanted reflections. I will also make Greedo shoot first, because Han should be the good guy.

For the escalator jump shot, I originally wanted us to jump in unison. The shot would freeze mid-jump, and after it, we all crumple to the floor. Thinking back, that was a horrible idea. The reason we didn’t film that was because while we were running down the up-escalators, a janitor yelled at us for such dangerous activity and forbade us from doing it again. Hence, we only had one chance for the shot, and none of us really knew if we were going through with it or scrapping the shot. In my opinion, Fortune smiled upon us, and we got one of the only scenes that still elicits some reaction out of me.

The Car:

If I had a time machine, I’d go back and tell past-Brian to cut everything but the initial Spice Girls and LondonBeat parts. Everything else, albeit fun, is purely self-indulgent. By the way, Al really kills with LondonBeat.

First interview montage:

I apologize to Princess Emerald. That bit about kidnapping children is a straight up abuse of editorial power.

Bleach interview:

While editing the video with the guys, I was still under the impression that we would be famous and get a gagillion hits a day. I started to look for catchphrases we could put on official WAMBAG t-shirts/merchandise. The first one comes up during Will’s Bleach interview: “Do you want to explain Kon, sir?”

I really enjoy the talking heads style that we shamelessly cribbed from The Office. I wouldn’t mind utilizing them again in the future.

Clover Cosplay:

For the longest time, I believed the Clover Cosplay interview was completely unusable. Then, in one crazed, opium-filled afternoon with Will and Al, everything changed. And that is how the driest bit of the movie was created.

Just like the cactus scene, I messed the guitar scene up way too much. I’m not very good at performing songs and lyrics without a lot of practice. But to be fair, Avril put an excessive amount of pronouns in those verses.

Things of note: I wanted to look like an even bigger douche than I already am, so I “popped” my collar. If you look carefully, you’ll notice that one collar is up, but the other fell down during shooting. How embarrassing. Also, if you look closely, during the staring part, I barely crack a smile for a split-second. That’s weak.

T-shirt catchphrase #2: “I love Rumors.”

Conan the Barbarian:

I still can’t believe that this interview is completely unscripted. This is one of many reminders that that Will and Al are better at improv than me. T-shirt #3: “I was thinking of something that I have to do later in the day, which I will now do… later.”


Another talking head:

We had yet another lucky break: a lot of people tell me that they thought the “Bri is sick” plotline was prefabricated. In actuality, I was sick during filming and was popping cough drops at a rate that could only be described as “psychologically-dependent”. This had the unfortunate side-effect of making me look like a cow eating grass, as apparently that’s how I go to town on the lozenges.

Action montage:

I never used to like the Arctic Monkey’s “I Bet You Look Good on the Dancefloor.” Little did I know that all it took was editing a tedious scene at 4:00 in the morning for me to really warm up to it.

I’m also glad that the “American Gladiators” bit made it in somehow. The original can be seen in Teaser #3.

Anakin:

As Al mentioned, Anakin totally cockblocked me, which is kind of a blessing in disguise. If I had gotten that interview with those girls I would not have talked to the Bondage Girls.

Notice how he pushes Al away when he approaches Will, and then only relents his assault after Al tells him to.

Vomit:

Will’s crying really elevates the scene from a funny gag to one of the most awesome bits of the film, in my opinion.

Zuko Interview:

I interviewed this guy in ’04. He never disappoints. Now, I have a horrible attention span, and zone out a lot when I’m interviewing people. I was as confused as you viewers when I snapped back to reality and realized he was explaining the 11 causes of World War II.

The “I want to die” part was actually from another bit we planned to do (which is a deleted scene on the DVD, which you should buy). Like every other scene I’m in, this is not acting. I actually felt like complete shit, as the sickness was starting to overcome my natural defences. If it wasn’t for a timely save from Extra Strength Tylenol, I probably would not have made it through the day.

Metal Gear Ninja:

I think Max deserves a shout-out for operating the camera. Besides a questionable boob-tracking shot during my Free Hugs interview, his camerawork was exceptional. Notice the crash zoom to the exclamation point at exactly the right time. There are many instances where Max does quality work, but this one was my favourite.

T-shirt #4: “Twenty Girlfriends – that’s the Ninja Way.”

Interview Montage:

Those Free Hugs girls said I was cute. That is depressing, as apparently I’m only considered cute by 15 year olds. My life is a mess.

Bondage Girls:

I’d like to thank the Bondage Girls for doing all the work. It was the end of the day, I was freaking out because I didn’t think I had any good interview footage, and then these saviours appeared.

If you’re astute, you will notice that I completely roger the haiku. It should be: “Your eyes are pretty / If I said your body’s fine / Could I grind on it?”

Crying:

That “boyfriend” rejection was actually my first interview of the day. I still thought I was going to me a major creep, and honestly couldn’t go through with it after that experience. I get rejected by women every day in real life. I didn’t need to go through that while I was enjoying a weekend out of town. And in case you’re wondering… Yes, I have no balls.

Fight:

From the limited feedback that I’ve collected, this scene actually gets the most criticism. Admittedly, it has always been a dream of ours to film such a scene, so it’s 100% self-indulgence. I think in the future, we either go for ultra-ridiculous violence (like Hot Rod) or ultra-pathetic (like the Michael vs Dwight scene in The Office).

Will punching me at the end is totally improv, and it is totally awesome.

We tried to get Al kicked out by convention staff for being shirtless, but by the time we filmed this scene, all the staff had either left or were at the masquerade.

It’s hard to see on the internet version of the video, but there’s a blurred circle over Al’s extended middle finger.

I actually discovered the end credits song accidentally. I had read one of Al’s previous posts, which talked about “I am John” by Loney, Dear. I decided to see what the fuss was about, and downloaded what I thought was track 2 of the Loney, Noir CD. I immediately fell in love with the song, and wanted to put it at the end of a short film I was planning in my head at the time. I later found out that it was actually “Now, let it go.” The rest is history (not really).

*****

A few final, random thoughts:

I think the most memorable part of editing the video was seeing “WAMBAG.COM” pop up for the first time, with Loney, Dear in the background at 10 in the morning after editing for 22 hours straight. I have done a lot of video projects, but this is by far the one I am most proud of.

When I don’t get hired by any hospital in Canada, I’m pretty sure that it will be because they Googled my name and found this video.

Our friend Dan Chiu helped us for part of the filming, and was even featured as a crazed fan, like Mel from Flight of the Conchords. Unfortunately, his bit didn’t fit into the movie, but you can see it in Teaser #1. Likewise, I am disappointed Teaser #2 never made it into the movie. I think that when I made the teasers, I subconsciously knew that these scenes would never find a home in the final product.

All in all, I think we did a great job, and I can’t wait for our next project. That being said, I’m going to take this time to tell you that I frequent the forums of Quarter to Three, a messageboard where videogame developers and reviewers hang out. I posted our video there, and Tom Chick, who is a noted video game reviewer AND the actor who plays Gil (Oscar’s gay boyfriend on The Office) had this to say about our video:

“Good for you guys for doing this, Brian. I agree that it needs to be a bit shorter. Also, for what you guys are doing, I would have liked the camera to be much closer to your faces. Way too many medium shots. Tell the guy with the camera not to be shy and to get up closer to you, particularly since a lot of us will be watching in tiny windows via Google video!

But you guys have a nice rapport and the editing in particular was very well done. Loved the 70s intro gags and the time stamp freeze-screens. Although I would recommend against using well-known musical riffs like the ones from Flight of the Conchords and Arrested Development. Your own riff is a great place to claim some character and you miss out by invoking someone else’s music.

Anyway, good work!

-Tom”

As Will pointed out to me later, Mr. Chick has a Wikipedia page that you can peruse. So, the next time we advertise this video, we can say that an actor from The Office likes it. How awesome is that?

And on that note, I will bring my commentary to an end.

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Destined to fight the world's evil, The WAMBAG endures massive battles involving impossible stunts, races on horse-pulled carriages, and the desecration of enchanting medieval castles (all done with dizzying computer graphics). Not only does the eye candy keep on coming, the tongue-in-cheek writing and deep Transylvanian accents perfect the film with a dose of dark humor.

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