For those of you curious about the Call of Cthulhu D20 rulebook, there’s a couple new tidbits. Monte Cook has a small art gallery of stuff from the book up at his site, including two photographs taken during that signing session a few days ago. The left side has John Rateliff, me, Scott Glancy, and Heather Hudson. Thankfully, Rateliff’s hat gave me plenty of cover. There’s also a breathless piece of marketing at WotC’s site with more details about the rulebook you might find interesting.
Friday was fantastic. We packed up the gear and shot six pieces in one afternoon. We did three of them with Mike in Times Square, and three more in a lovely park behind the New York Public Library. A police officer briefly hassled us in the park, but said as long as we didn’t use the tripod we could shoot there. A curious distinction, given that we didn’t have any kind of permit, but so it went. We managed.
Mike was terrific. He’s very talented in general, but he’s particularly good at working without a script. He did terrific work and the footage looks really good.
I’m especially pleased with the sound. This is the first time I’ve been able to shoot with someone operating a boom mike while I ran the camera, and the results are really sweet. It’s still noisy, given that we’re shooting in the middle of New York, but Mike’s voice comes through very well. The new microphone and the homemade boom have proved to be invaluable.
Yesterday was also noteworthy for a minor crisis. We met briefly with some of the producers of the off-Broadway show, and learned they’re doing an email publicity campaign going to 500,000 people. (These are from opt-in lists, such as ones from Playbill magazine and Broadway.com, not spam.) That’s all well and good. But it means in two weeks, half a million people get an email telling them to go to mikedaisey.com. Simon & Schuster is doing a similar project in May for 300,000 people, maybe more. And we’re going to put up a dozen pieces of video on the site to generate even more publicity.
In other words, when even a fraction of those people show up and start watching the high-bandwidth videos, our site is going to explode. We are not ready for that much traffic.
We had this problem on a smaller scale last spring/summer, when our Rear Entry film became an internet and media flavor-of-the-month. The bandwidth to watch the video surged hugely, and we were booted from two servers in quick succession. We ended up with an “unlimited bandwidth!” place in Canada that survived the onslaught for about $50/month. But I expect this spring/summer’s barrage of visitors is going to be substantially higher. Both the show and the book get large media campaigns, and mikedaisey.com is the official site for the whole thing. That’s where readers get sent to read a sample chapter and check the dates of Mike’s book tour. That’s also where theatre-goers go to learn about the show and buy tickets. Odds are excellent we’ll end up with substantially more media interest than we got last time, meaning huge numbers of people may come calling at our URL.
I’ve been brainstorming solutions. The thing is that in the midst of all this professional marketing stuff, we’re still doing the web site like it was for a fringe-theatre show. It’s still amateur hour. Our next task is to work up a budget for expected traffic and convince the show producers and Simon & Schuster to kick in the bucks needed to keep the whole thing running.
Fortunately, they don’t have a choice. They have to do this, or the lynchpin of their respective marketing campaigns goes down in flames.
I knew the site was going to get busy. But it wasn’t until I learned that in two weeks half a million people would be told to visit the site that I realized what “busy” could actually mean. It’s still a nightmare scenario in many respects, and I can only hope we weather the storm and make it all work out.
Meanwhile, we kept at it. Last night we had a terrific dinner at Sherwood Cafe, a nifty place. Today we slept late and then went to Chinatown for dim sum, which was delicious. We didn’ t even get there until 3pm, and the restaurant was wrapping up and getting ready for some kind of large function. It had that curious mix of prim propriety and commercial tackiness I believe is particular to Japan and Hong Kong. The staff was setting all the tables with lovely, brilliant red tablecloths and white place settings, then right in the middle of every single table, presented like fine wine or sparkling water, was a two-liter bottle of Coca-Cola and a two-liter bottle of Sprite. It was just the damnedest thing. Fortunately we were too busy stuffing our faces with the final carts of dim sum to worry about it.
In the bathroom afterwards, two busboys had some sort of altercation. All I heard was, “Fuck your family!” and then “Yeah? Fuck you!”, heavily accented. Curious and amusing.
From the restaurant we wandered Chinatown and shot two more pieces with Mike. One was in a narrow, uneven street riddled with shop signs, and the other was at the entrance to the Manhattan Bridge in front of a Buddhist temple. Both pieces went great. We then took a taxi across the Brooklyn Bridge to the Promenade, a coastal walkway/park with a lovely view of Manhattan’s financial district. I’m not even sure just where the WTC stood in the skyline from that perspective. The sun was setting between the skyline to the right and the Statue of Liberty to the left. Mike stood behind a park bench and did our third piece of the day, a great story about a play where he portrayed a masturbating bishop. We got him in some nice golden sunlight, but I fear the wind was too heavy to make the piece usable. We’ll see when we watch the tape tonight.
We walked back from the Promenade to Carroll Gardens, the neighborhood they live in, with a stop to browse the Garden of Eden. This is a grocery store in Brooklyn Heights, and it’s the most beautiful, wonderful grocery store I’ve ever seen. I thought Seattle was a great place for people who love good food, and it is, but after ten minutes in that little market I realized what a vast gulf separates these two cities. It was almost depressing, but the store was far too magical to get me down.
I believe tonight is going to be a quiet evening here at Chez Daisey. We’ve spent two days walking all over the darn place and we now have nine pieces in the can. We promised Simon & Schuster–who are paying for this project–we’d do 8-12 pieces of up to three minutes each. This means we’re now in a safe zone of sorts. I suspect we are going to end up doing 12-15 pieces and dropping the weaker ones. But the project is officially a success, assuming I don’t erase the tapes or something. It’s a great relief to get this much work down this early in the visit.
Yesterday before shooting in the park, we walked around the library. Oh my God. It’s beautiful, almost beyond belief. The reading rooms were pure poetry, the long rows of tables full of people reading books and writing. In a gallery nearby they presented a collection of artifacts from their archives, including the original handwritten manuscript to Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. I was stunned. There were Real Things in that room, things more real than even I am. Greg Stolze created Cliomancy for Unknown Armies, and I never grokked that school of magick thoroughly until I walked through that room.
It’s all been wonderful so far, and it’s only going to get better.