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Introduction and A for Atlas

As part of a writing warm-up/rabbit hole/new years project/idea machine I’ve decided to begin working on writing an Encyclopedia.  Not just any encyclopedia, but an encyclopedia on things that do not, nor ever will, exist.  The plan is from now until the end of the year, every two weeks I’ll come up with a new entry.  For now, here is the introduction and the “A” entry.  Enjoy.

 

Introduction

 

So I’ve decided on a bit of a “House of Leaves” set-up for this, mostly to explore options of what I can do after finishing it all this year.  We’ll see how it all turns out, but let me know (as always) of any ideas or thoughts you have regarding it.

 

A for Atlas

HELL-nceforth Productions

Cold sweat drips down your brow, terror creeps in, you lie awake in bed wondering: What if Vvinni Gagnepain’s many famous movies that everybody knows and loves were actually horror movies?  What if, all those years ago, instead of deciding to name this thing “Henceforth” Vvinni decided to make… HELLnceforth Productions?

Beware the Cake

 

Lawn Ornament Demon

WA Zombies

Dark Magics

Small Poster

Game of Thrones S4, Ep1 Preview

As we all know I’m one of the most in-demand writers both on and off the internet, so when George R. R. martin came to me and asked in his grizzled old voice “You wanna make the season 4?”, I hopped at the chance.  It didn’t even matter that I hadn’t read any of the Game of Thrones books or seen any of the TV show, Martin said, he wanted a fresh perspective.  And so, here’s what you can look forward to for the first episode of season 4 of Game of Thrones:

The wind howls at Gotheram’s Cathedral, snaking through the folding chairs of the wedding that had come to pass.  People wake up, unsure whether they’re hung over or just dead.  Glintha the Dragon Queen surveys the wreckage, HER wreckage, and she smiles “Me and my Dragon Arrow did pretty good here. We’re definitely going to be able to take over the Sword kingdom”.  Then she remembers: Bortha the Queen of Knives! Bortha and Glintha, as we all know from the flashbacks in season three, are sisters who were separated at birth by the Old King Randersham because Randersham heard a prophecy from the Mauve Monk that one of his children would destroy his kingdom (also, because he really REALLY wanted a son and he figured having two daughters would just make other kingdoms make fun of him).

Bortha has since ruled from the shadows, using her father as a puppet, which worked great until her sniveling little brother, Hamham, took over and started peeing on all of the furniture.  Now the Queen of knives is cornered, but rather than admit her mistake and join forces with the Dragon Queen Glintha she decides that she’s going to join forces with the treacherous Dwarf King Cerce, take over Randersham’s castle from the inside, and then stab Cerce and cut out his heart, thus insuring that she’ll also rule over the underground Dwarf Kingdom Terrenuit.  Bortha and Cerce ready their poisonous knives when Cerce’s henchman, Babu, sneaks up behind Bortha, knocks her out, and throws her in the dungeon.

Glintha doesn’t know about Cerce’s betrayal, though, in fact she still doesn’t know about Cerce’s ties to the Randersham Castle because her dragonling Frot decided it best not to tell her before the red weeding.  Glintha masses her dragonlings readies them to attack the next kingdom: The Forest Castle of Ragnos ruled by the once mighty King Jazubar (a new addition to the cast this season).  Glintha is shocked to learn that Jazubar, whom she has just figure out existed, had been trading with Kontok and the kingdom of thieves this entire time!  Glintha is faced with a difficult decision: Team up with the thieves who killed her father to kill her sister, or kill the thieves who killed her father and move on to another kingdom and just take slightly longer to kill her sister. Complicating this decision is Kontok’s chiseled chin.

Meanwhile in the Northlands Josk and Hans huddle together in their yurt:
“It is cold”.
“Ya”.
“Life is hard”.
“Ya”.

Cerce talks to Hamham and tells him of his sister’s trechery. Hamham isn’t surprised, and decides to execute Bortha at dawns light. Cerce smirks his dwarfish grin: What id he planning? We’ll find out next week.

Meanwhile on the Coastal kingdom of Broom’s Beard the ship that was traveling to the Noumon continent has returned, and Captain Strom Strummer walks off: Didn’t he die by getting eaten by a whale, you ask? Not Captain Strom! He sliced his way out of the beasts stomach and brought back a whale lung to be preserved in the Broom’s Beard Museum of oddities.  The Captain and his crew have also brought back something even more dangerous: Explosive gunpowder.  Stipples the trade governor smiles to himself: Yes, now we can have a stake in this game. This Game of Thrones.

End of Episode. Oh, although Sanxabaan is still working on raising his undead army.  It probably won’t work, but I don’t want to spoil the season for you guys.  Make sure you watch the start of Season 4 of Game of Thrones on April 6th and remember: If you can spot the anachronisms, make sure to post them to our Twitter page @GOTPROBLEMS and you’ll be entered to win a free pizza!  Now as Old King Randersham would say: I’ll see you on the Road to the Throne!

Call to Forehead

When I told Andrew that I wanted to shoot on 16mm for my thesis project but had never shot on film before, he revealed to me that he had some film in his freezer.  Thus began the night-long shoot of “Call to Forehead”:

Call To Forehead from Andrew Gingerich on Vimeo.

This and “Plastix Ultimate” occupy a similar space, as both were shot on the fly with a significant reason for their existence being that Andrew and I were bored.    That being said, I think both projects turned out stupendously (In fact, SPOILER ALERT, there are some murmurs in the wind that there may actually be a “Call To Forehead” feature coming soon).  Andrew did the majority of the editing of the piece, and it responsible for so much of its grindhouse charm. Even though we had a  whole short worked out and shot, I do feel like the boiling down of the piece into a 1 minute teaser not only serves the story, but also covers up some problems we may have had with lighting, acting, overall production.

This is also perhaps the spookiest film I’ve made so far, and thus begins out foray into October: The Spookiest of all month.  Stay tuned for more of out Spook-tacular.

Skin Removal Cream Ad

Many times during the summer when both Andrew and I were out of Film School we got bored and decided to make a movie.  One of those turned out to be “Plastix Ultimate Meets his Maker”, a story of a person who is unstoppable and indestructible and under the advising from the dark lord of finance.  At some point, he decides to watch and/or invest in Skin Removal Cream (although Pepsi Throwback is really where it’s at), at any rate we needed an ad for Skin Removal Cream.  So, We shot the ad on wonderful VHS, I edited it together, and here we are: Skin Removal Cream.

Skin Removal Cream Ad from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

I never get tired of this piece, and apparently neither do a lot of other people as  ever since it was released into the digital realm it has been one of my top viewed videos and I am more than happy to be known as “that guy who did Skin Removal Cream”.  I think the piece is a fantastically surreal version of a late-night infomercial ad, and the VHS and yellow bland typeface only add to that.  The VHS also did a great job of picking up the sickly green cream and  the bright red poppies, and Andrew got wonderfully into the role of this mysterious Skin Removal Cream Salesman, demanding that I continue to film him as he washed out the horrid cream from his teeth (which is where we got the astute observation that “…you can really taste the pepper”.

No Cash Value

During my junior year of college in my design class I was tasked with making a poster, there were a few stipulations, but overall I had free reign to make a poster on whatever I chose.  So, I decided to turn my gaze to the Ministry of Playwriting, a writing group I headed up in high school that still occasionally met.  We were talking about releasing a book of some of the more coherent writing warm-ups and short scripts we made, and I decided that when this theoretical book was published we’d have a theoretical reading from that book.  So, here’s the process behind the creation of the very real poster to all of these theories.

Firstly, I decided that I wanted to hand make this poster, mostly because one of the signature styles of the Ministry was it roughness and its unpolished nature.  Many of our warm ups featured instantly incorporating something into a script regardless of whether or not it would fit (resulting in multiple bus crashes and giant squids int he middle of emotional dramas).  I also decided that it would be interesting to create the poster on top of script pages from our write-ups, after all this was a reading from the Ministry of Playwriting, why wouldn’t our poster highlight our writing?

The first very rough draft of "No Cash Value"

This first poster has a few issues.  FIrst, I was originally thinking about using hand made stamps to create the type on the poster.  Well, I found out that firstly almost every letter stamp I made would come out backwards (and I was all out of stamp foam), and second I found out that all of the stamp type would come out almost entirely illegible.  Also, for the general format of the post I wanted to invoke both mid-century modern but also the work of Tandori Yokoo.  Unfortuantely during critiques I found that going for an almost direct translation resulted in the conveyance of the idea of “No Japan”, which is nowhere near anything I believe.  So, I decided to take what worked from this design, scrap the rest, and come up with something entirely new from scratch.

THe second try at the No Cash Value poster
A quick note, these posters were actually large rectangles, but when combining all of the image files together in Photoshop it gave me these strange parallelograms.

Okay, now we were getting somewhere. I had settled on to a way to incorporate the zero sign without conveying anything terrible, and that was what would be described as the Squid.  It’s actually meant to convey both a zero and an explosion (One of The Ministry’s earliest motto’s was “If at first you don’t succeed: Explosion”. Needless to say, we weren’t very good writers at the beginning). Also it’s meant to be a squid, as that became our de facto mascot (see also the Ministry of Playwriting coat of arms at the top corner of the poster).  Aside from the Squid tying everything together, we also had a great cluster at the top that conveyed information in a visually interesting and simple manner.  The only thing I needed to work on for the next round was the lower half of the post (everything beneath the Squid looks like chaos, and not in the playful way I wanted. Instead in the ugly, “I don’t know what I’m doing” way), and I still needed to work on the color palette a bit.

The Final Design for the "No Cash Value" poster

So there’s the final design.  It mostly works, although after looking at this poster fairly regularly for the past few years, I can say that the title “No Cash Value” still isn’t reading as a title, and that the treatment of the repeating “May 16 2010”, although interesting and worth exploration, didn’t come out as well as it could have. The 7:00 MST came out fantastically, and I finally found a way to incorporate the magazine photo cutouts while also incorporating them into the overall piece well.  Further, I finally found a great color palette.  So, an overall success I suppose.

Pig Death Machine

Recently the Chicago Underground Film Festival was put on at the Logan theater, and among other things the newest film by Underground Low-Fi filmmaker Jon Moritsugu premiered titled “Pig Death Machine”.  This film, as well as his near 11 other underground films, won him the Lifetime achievement award (which is well deserved, and I suggest you all check out his work.  It’s bizarre, and the type of wonderfully insane and low-fi work that can only come out of an extreme love for the craft of filmmaking).  But why bring this up?  Because I was the art director for “Pig Death Machine”. And This is my Story.

Pig Death Machine on YouTube

It was the summer of 2010.  I was just about to begin my senior year of college and I was planning on taking a trip back to Colorado to see friends and the like before beginning. Then I got a call from the internship director at CSF/SFUAD who told me that Jon would be making his next film (which came after nearly a decade away from filmmaking) in Santa Fe and he was looking for an art director.  I decided to give it a chance and read the script, after all I wanted more work in the art department, and the idea that I would be the art director on a feature film instead of a mere intern was enticing.

Once I read the script, I knew I had to do it.  It’s a nutso piece about raw pork, and plants, and people going insane from eating raw pork and looking at plants, and if you know two cents about me you know this is right up my alley.

Vvinni on the Set of Pig Death Machine
Another plus was that I got to make fake cocaine. A LOT of fake cocaine.

The biggest part of being the art director on Pig Death Machine was figuring out how to make the raw pork that the protagonists eat to get higher IQ levels.  The problem was not only in making edible and gross-looking raw pork, but it also had to be completely vegetarian.  After a bit of thinking I came to a solution: Seitan. After some tests with my art department, we figured out that Seitan actually takes food dye rather well and when suspended in red juice looks an awful lot like chunks of gross, bloody meat. This was FANTASTIC news!

A still from the film "Pig Death Machine"
This is actually a cut of raw bloody fake meat, I thought I had some chunks but I can’t seem to find them anymore.
This girl does NOT like lettuce!
Another still: This one of a woman who begins to hear plants talk and this head of lettuce SCREAM!
Behind the scenes on the set of Pig Death Machine
Behind the scenes in a greenhouse showdown location.

Some of the other set decoration I had to do was create the living space for a woman who likes plants more than people, turn a dog washing clinic into a meat warehouse (I don’t have any stills from that, unfortunately, but let’s just say we used a lot of boxes), and create an Old Mexican drug haven in most exploitative way I could (if you ever get a chance to see the film, keep your eyes peeled for a cactus taped to the walls).  Finally, I also had the chance to create the brand identity of the meat supplier who looses this horrific raw hell unto the world. This was The Meat Center:

The fake logo for a fake meat place.
Cuts of pork and Helvetica. Industrial.

Also there were these labels to put onto boxes:

Lickin' Pete'sLes Rogatons LabelTMC LabelAnd, although it never made it into the film (and granted, it needed a bit more touching to work) there was the logo for a fake farm where the evil hell smartpork was harvested:

Hayman Farms

As I hope I’ve made abundantly clear, this was a fantastic project to be a part of and please keep your eyes open for it in a theater near you (I heard that it may be getting a European Tour, so watch out Paris and Minsk!), and I’ll certainly let my seven readers know when Pig Death Machine is available online.

Accessories to Cake

As mentioned in the previous post about my thesis film Delicious Pound Cake, there were plenty of pieces leading up to the final release.  The first of which are these short videos featured on my Indiegogo fundraising campaign called Cakelogs:

Cakelog 12/27/10 from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

Cakelog 1/10/11 from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

Cakelog: MLK Jr. Day 2011 from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

 

Cakelog: 1/24/11 from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

 

Cakelog: 2/7/11 from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

 

Cakel♥g: Vawuntines Day 2♥11 from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

The Cakelogs were an interesting idea. Mainly, I was trying to fix what I saw as a growing problem with my other video series, Vvinni’s Adventure’s Through Art School, wherein many time they became so long and meandering that I feel it became a daunting task to watch them. So, for every Cakelog I tried to keep them around one minute and have it be quick and to the point. This eventually became a major flaw in them, as I feel with only facts and information the Cakelogs became rather boring and procedural, and this eventually hurt my funding campaign rather than help it.  But, oh well.

Next up is, of course, the “Delicious Pound Cake” Teaser trailer, which I’m fond of. I think it give an accurate idea of the movie (it doesn’t answer the valid question of why a 12 1/2 minute film needs a trailer, but this does: I was hoping to have this out on the festival circuit for some time, and I wanted to give the cast and crew a chance to see the footage and get as excited about the film as I was).

Delicious Pound Cake Teaser Trailer from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

Finally, once funding and festival publicity was over, it was time to begin looking at the Delicious Pound Cake DVD.  This is still in the works (needless to say, I have some major issues with DVD Studio Pro, but that’s the only advanced DVD authoring software out there), but in the meantime here are a few extras to hold you off: A commercial from the Sugar Council of America, and gameplay footage from Salvador’s Chronicles of the Fourth Kind, described as being made by “one of the most visionary humans ever”.  Enjoy, have your cake, eat it, and explode into a miniature sun too.

A Message from the Sugar Council of America from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.

 

Taco Tapir: The Design

What is Taco Tapir?

It’s the best psuedo-Central American/Mexican fusion food that three dollars can buy, that’s what. Or so we can only theorize, as Taco Tapir was created as a fictional taco to win a presidential seat, and the creation of the Taco Tapir was something in and of itself.  The Art direction, and therefore the creation of Taco Tapir, fell to me.

My first step was to create the character of Taco Tapir itself, an enigmatic character created by a company that may or may not actually know what a tapir is.  As such, I spent some time wondering about what kind of cute-ing up a fictional chain would do to a tapir, but then I drew this and realized that they’d do nothing to change the tapir, as it is perfect the way it is:

It's fantastic.
It’s fantastic.

From here, I got working on different styles for this tapir: How do the ears work? How about its adorable and telling paunch? Should it wear a hat? Should it have Maracas? What about a mustache? You can see plenty of the process in this page from my sketchbook:

Images from the creation of Taco Tapir, including many of the failed mustaches of Taco Tapir.
Images from the creation of Taco Tapir, including the face of Taco Manatee.

And so once I had the Taco Tapir shape figured out, as well as its hat, etc. I compiled together the final character design and finished phase one.  The next step was to create taco wrappers and a fictional brand identity for the Taco Tapir restaurant chain. Again: Do they know that Tapirs are primarily South American? Does this factor in to their presentation of Mexican food? Do they even serve Mexican food?  I decided to go for an Incan feel, and keep many of the questions of what kind of food Taco Tapir serves largely as a mystery (I think they’re South American fusion myself). I went through a variety of wrapper evolutions, each time focusing on how to make the overall product believably and well designed and ways to incorporate more and more of the South American feel of Taco Tapir.

The first wrapper a made: Boring, unbelievable, but there were a few nuggets to keep and move ahead with.
The first wrapper a made: Boring, unbelievable, but there were a few nuggets to keep and move ahead with.
The next wrapper design: A bit more of a differentiation in its quadrants, but still not the best. Also, after consulting other designers, Papyrus was deemed too hideous to even use as being hideous.
The next wrapper design: A bit more of a differentiation in its quadrants, but still not the best. Also, after consulting other designers, Papyrus was deemed too hideous to even use as being hideous.

 

The final wrapper design: An Incan-inspired cross, the double tapir, Bauhaus font (which works, in a strangely Tex-Mex-esque way), the Maracas, and of course a star.
The final wrapper design: An Inca-inspired cross, the double tapir, Bauhaus font (which works, in a strangely Tex-Mex-esque way), the Maracas, and of course a star.

The final design turned out well, I think. The only thing I may have changed is the blank space in each of the quadrants, and I’m still not sure about all of the colors used in the wrapper (after all, wouldn’t this be too pricey to mass produce for a restaurant that sells cheap, cheap, CHEAP tacos?).  But, I feel the design certainly reached a good point, and it ended up just fine. It’s a shame it never made it into the final film.

Once the Taco Tapir wrapper was completed, and once I had a firmer grasp on Taco Tapirs aesthetic and advertising feel, I created this short Taco Tapir commercial for publicity and to be used in the larger film work “Write-In 2012” (which will be discussed at a later point).  Enjoy, and vote for flavor.

Taco Tapir Ad from Vvinni Gagnepain on Vimeo.