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The Script: Creation of a Video Comedy

Despite the title including the word “comedy,” I will forewarn you that it is a bit more serious than my usual fare and is one of those “Things I Have Learned” kind of posts.  As it is a very specific topic that entails a bit more than just what I have learned in the creation process for the Hearst Castle Ghost web-series, I have opted for a separate entry all on its own.  As with most things, it is best to start with the basics and move forward.  In this case it is the screenwriting software.

Over the years the various dramatic industries have developed a standardized method for writing and formatting a script.  Whether the script you are writing is for theatre, television, the big screen, or even a simple web comedy series, there is an industry standard in place for how your script should look and behave.  While I am not going to even attempt to explain all the dos and don’ts for writing a script, I am going to tell you to use a screenwriting software package to do it.  I am also going to tell you to read the various formatting instructions and other such articles that the screenwriting software package has available.

There are plenty of screenwriting software packages out there, several of which are free.  If you are willing to pay for one and can afford it, Final Draft is pretty much the industry standard and what we use on Hearst Castle Ghost.  To be completely honest, the software is a bit clunky and in need of a UI overhaul, but despite that it works and works well.  Ultimately, the reason we chose Final Draft is because of the number of articles on their website detailing everything script writing from A-Z.  As they were kind enough to effectively put together what amounts to a free online course in screenwriting, we decided supporting them with a couple of software purchases was the least we could do.

On the subject of standards comes the major part of this blog post: uniformity of story, aka continuity.  There are two parts of this that we deal with in writing our web comedy series, the first being what I call canon. 

For Hearst Castle Ghost there are a few things which we consider facts and are not open to debate or interpretation.  That John Doe, aka the Ghost, is a deceased vagabond is canon.  No matter what actor we put in the role of the Ghost, that fact is not going to change as it is the very basis of the video series.  Brad’s life before becoming a docent is canon, the premise for the first three seasons revolves around slowly revealing that past life.  If we changed these things, we change the show’s foundation and it is no longer the Hearst Castle Ghost, but instead some other random show.

The second bit of uniformity in script writing that needs to be carefully crafted in each story is the actor’s interpretation of the character.  You brought specific actors into your production for a reason and they each have their own method or style of portraying their character.  As that style fleshes itself out, a good writer will include these changes in future scripts.  An even better writer will do a read with each actor to incorporate changes up front to the initial scripts. 

As writers we need to learn to not get butt hurt when an actor changes the lines we lovingly crafted.  It doesn’t matter how funny a line might have been, if the actor doesn’t feel the connection with the line it will just come off dull.  So be flexible, except when it comes to canon.  In those cases – where a line change conflicts with the story’s canon – the actors must be a little flexible as well.  Good actors will accept that.

When you are a solo writer for a show, keeping most of these things straight is relatively easy.  Even if it is all jumbled around in your head, the continuity is there.  When you are working with additional writers it becomes a lot more difficult.  Note cards and the sharing of them become a must.  A full write up of all things canon, including character motivations and backstory, is also required. 

While it might be true that you do not want to include too much character direction for your actors, as it stifles their creativity and the talent they are bringing to your screenplay, the same is not true for writers.  There is no such thing as too much information, too deep of a backstory, too many descriptions, or too in depth of a plot summary.  And all those write-ups should continue to grow as the story does because it helps keep future stories on track and, yet, provides a way to keep it from getting dull.

The other side of the coin is that you, as a writer, must be willing to read and absorb the backstories and character biographies penned down by the story’s creators and other writers.  You might have some brilliant ideas for expanding on someone else’s universe, but the creators and previous writers included physics for a reason.  You need to respect that.  After all, no fan has ever accepted “We changed writers” as an answer to why a story suddenly and completely changed directions (*cough* Star Trek Discovery *cough*).  Just saying…

Hearst Castle Ghost is Batman

Unsung Heroes

I’m just going to get this out of the way up front: video editing sucks.  Don’t get me wrong, my body becomes a huge endorphin factory every time I playback a video segment which I had spent hours or days working on.  That sense of completion and pride in the finished work is just amazing.  But the task?  The job?  Well, that’s the part that sucks.

I’ve been working on a few different video segments based on our time at Comic-Con and, suffice it to say, there have been more than a handful of times where I have been yanking hair from my head.  The sheer amount of time it takes to edit the video portion of some of these clips has had me promising the media gods all sorts of things, including human sacrifice.  Ok, maybe it was computer equipment sacrifice.  Or perhaps it was just me wanting to throw the computer across the room and smash it into a thousand pieces.  It’s all the same thing.

Obviously, one part of the problem is my inexperience with video editing.  It has never been my full-time job, so I have only ever really had to dabble in it. 

A second problem is the footage I am working with.  Yes, I recorded the video but as it was all live and unscripted, we really couldn’t do retakes.  I got what I got.

The third, and most frustrating, problem is the tools that are out there for editing video footage on a computer.  They suck.  The vast majority of software packages are designed to edit videos of your child and/or cat (usually the same entity) doing something that every other child and/or cat does; or, if it is really special, impersonating a dog which, let’s be honest, every child and/or cat does.  Slightly above those software packages in price and usability is Adobe Premiere.

If you have read my previous posts, or had the unlucky occasion to discuss the topic in person with me, you know my love-hate relationship with Adobe Premiere.  It is the best software package on the market for the semi-professional video editor.  It is the most frustrating software package on the market for the semi-professional video editor.  I won’t dive into the wheres and whys at this juncture, but I did become exceptionally frustrated with using Premiere while editing one specific piece of footage for a Hearst Castle Ghost promotional video.

The video was supposed to be a sort of flashback to Brad’s vacation at SDCC2019, highlighting some of the things the Ghost did while in San Diego and how that turned Brad’s vacation into a stress factory.  One of the segments involved the sign used to harass the “Jesus People” across the street from the convention center.  Try as I might, I could not get Adobe Premiere to do what I wanted with this video.  After many long hours of frustration with Premiere, I wound up exporting the frames as jpg files and manually edited each one inside Adobe Photoshop.  Two minutes editing time for each frame.  Thirty frames a second.  It was a 13 second clip.  Do the math.  

After I finished up all of that and several other clips, I ran into audio problems with two of the larger, more important videos and had to scrap the whole thing.  I am not ashamed to admit I cried.

Despite that, I did end up learning a few new tricks in video editing and added some items to my “Things I Have Learned” list.  I also wound up with one video that gave me that endorphin shot when I finished it.  I was (am) so in love with this clip that I immediately shared it out to a ton of people (read: I sent it to my mom). Although the parent video has been scrapped, I have decided to share it out with the rest of the world as well.

I still have every intention of including this in one of the upcoming promotional videos, but it is too much fun not to share on its own.  Trust me, hit play with volume on.

Anyway, I guess the point of this post is to say video editing is a lot more difficult and time consuming than most people believe.  I have only had a small taste of what these people do, but I do know that a video editor can make or break a web series, television show, or movie just as much (or more) than the writers, actors, and directors who get all the huge title sequence credits.  They are the unsung heroes of the entertainment industry who devote countless hours making everything look great long after everyone else has gone home.  Productions are collaborations and we should never forget that. 

Now go outside and play.

I Don’t Do Sales

There are a few things that I don’t have some natural talent for, maintaining a healthy cholesterol level is one of them. Sales is another. The good news is they have statin drugs for the cholesterol problem. The bad news is that I continue to suck at sales even after experimental drug use.

I understand the concept of sales well enough: I have something of some intrinsic value and I promote that something in order to persuade others to trade me something of equal or greater value for it. I also understand the seeming importance of sales in the real world; salespeople are consistently some of the highest paid individuals in almost every company out there. But for some reason I just can’t seem to do it.

Even self-promotion is something I am incapable of doing and that might seem odd for a narcissist, but you must remember that Narcissus didn’t go around telling people he was beautiful, he just was. His beauty sold itself. And while I wouldn’t fool myself into believe I am incredibly beautiful, I am incredibly talented and believe that talent should sell itself. As a matter of fact, I think everything should sell itself, or not, depending on the case.

Which I guess is my problem with sales and why I suck at it. Or rather that I don’t do sales. I do, however, write some funny ass shit. I also think I do a pretty good job of acting, directing, and video editing. Greg does a damn fine job of writing and acting. The cast and crew we have been surrounding ourselves with are all mind-blowingly awesome at their jobs. And to me, all of that talent should just sell itself. But that’s not the way the world works, is it?

So, here’s the deal… We will put together some amazingly funny and warped episodes of Hearst Castle Ghost in the coming months. We will dump each of those episodes to our YouTube channel for you to enjoy starting sometime in November 2019. And we will try to convey a small portion of that funny in a few promo videos between now and then. In exchange, if you think this comedy web-series is something you might enjoy (or if it is after series release and you know it is bust-a-gut, side-splittingly funny as all hell) subscribe to our YouTube channel and tell a few of your friends about us. Then send them here to read this so they can do the same thing. Because I don’t do sales.

SDCC Tentacle Porn sign

California Recap 2019

We’ve been back from California and Comic-Con for a few days now; the suitcases have (mostly) been unpacked, the merchandise handed out or given away, the laundry has been washed, and life has been returning to some sense of normalcy.  Except, and no one is quite sure how, apparently Greg has gone viral as the Hearst Castle Ghost via his sign making fun of the religious protestors outside the San Diego convention hall.

Let me stop, rewind, and start over at the beginning.  Greg and I met up in Los Angeles, CA two weeks ago for Comic-Con International.  The plan was (as it has always been) to see some sites, have some fun, and then make our way to San Diego for the convention.  The moment we both landed in LA we promptly headed up the coast to San Simeon to visit the most haunted place on Earth, the Hearst Castle.

Now, I need to pause here a moment as well because if you have never been to visit Hearst Castle before you are (A) missing out and (B) not aware that they take a green screen photo of you before getting on the tour bus.  This is important to note because Greg was wearing a dark green shirt and I had surgery three weeks prior.  This combination might not seem like a big deal except in order to ensure Greg’s upper body didn’t disappear from the photo they made everything more yellow to offset the dark green shirt from the bright green backdrop, no problem unless your skin was very pale from surgery. 

I make issue of this because after seeing the resulting pictures Greg immediately dubbed me “Skeletor” (a name he used the rest of the trip) and purchased the pictures.   He has since started up an Instagram account for Hearst Castle Ghost and I am certain that this photo will get scanned and uploaded by him at some point and time.  It is not a very flattering picture, but what is a person to do?

We eventually made our way down to San Diego in time for Comic-Con.  As promised, I dressed as Brad Guy on Thursday and Friday of the con.  While no one knew who Brad Guy was or that there was an upcoming web comedy called Hearst Castle Ghost, I did get to meet a lot of people who had visited and loved Hearst Castle (many of whom thought I was an actual volunteer there).  I, of course, used this terrific opportunity to educate people on the most haunted place on Earth.

Additionally, and as alluded to by our promo video, Greg made several appearances as John Doe, a.k.a. the Hearst Castle Ghost. We hit some panels, we had some fun, we shot some pictures, and all was good until Sunday – the last day of the convention. Greg, still dressed as the Ghost, pieced together a sign and decided to head down toward the convention.  Camera in hand, I followed.

Greg setup shop in the main pedestrian thoroughfare across the street (and train tracks) from the San Diego Convention Center.  His sign was made up with an erasable whiteboard that he decorated to advertise for HearstCastleGhost.com, which was great and he even had a nice friendly message on the board which he paraded around…

Here for the Cookies

This might seem well and innocent enough; just a good bit of advertising for our website and web-series until you realize exactly where he happens to be standing…

Here for the Cookies Location

Yes, those are the preachers that haunt Comic-Con International every year, telling all of us that we are going to hell for wearing t-shirts that have the names of fictional people on them (let the irony sink in as you look at the pic).  And yes, all the way over to the far left of them is the Ghost holding his “I’m just here for the free cookies” sign.  Despite his choice of location, his sign reflecting “true peace and love” caught the attention of several people in the crowd.  As the police were setting up the barricade around the Christian protesters, one of the protestors saw Greg and his sign and informed the police officer, “He’s not with us.”  Greg, not skipping a beat, and in perfect Hearst Castle Ghost vocals responded, “Hey, com’n buddy.  We’re all brothers in Christ, aren’t we?”

The Ghost loves cookies

All and all not too bad.  Someone came by and gave him a fuzzy purple hat to wear, which was very nice. What was most amazing, and for reasons that they will probably later come to regret, the NBC Superstore stand workers took the Ghost over for photos and sent him away with a cookie. 

#nbcsuperstore

How nice is that?  Thus, all was well and right with the world, until he remembered his sign was an erasable whiteboard…

It is erasable

And a new sign is born

The Ghost changed the whiteboard from his love of cookies to one of true fear…

Fear Cthulhu

To one that made a few mothers passing by cringe and speak up against the Ghost and his sign…

Spoiler Alert Santa is not Real

Seriously, several mothers (I am assuming it was their own children they were dragging around and not just little-ones they kidnapped) had unkind words to say about the Santa sign.  The hypocrite that stands out the most was the con-going mother with two children between the ages of 8 and 11 who complained that, “He needs to erase that sign, there are children present,” all the while a guy was on a megaphone shouting to her children that they were going to “burn in hell with the gays and child molesters” (his words, not mine) because they worshipped false idols.  Yea… Piss off lady and get some perspective there.

Anyway, the sign eventually landed on the following message and remained that way for the next few hours until the “Jesus People” packed up and left.

#tentacleporn

SDCC Tentacle Porn sign

Oh, the look of pride in that last picture as he holds his sign brazenly pointed at the religious preachers which reads, “Secretly Masturbates to Tentacle Porn.”  Shortly after this last change was made, Greg became swamped by people telling him he was their hero, giving him high-fives and fist bumps, or asking to have their picture taken with him.  He’s a celebrity Ghost afterall, so it was not that surprising.  What was surprising is the number of women who wanted a picture with that sign pointed AT them.  As Greg has said before, “these are our people.”

A good con was had, Greg got to make fun of people and almost gave himself heatstroke, and we packed up and left.  Fast forward a few days later when, back home, I was telling someone about the con when she interrupts my story with, “Did you see that guy with the tentacle porn sign?  He’s everywhere on social media.”  Umm, yea.  Apparently, Greg, as the Hearst Castle Ghost, has spread far and wide across the Interwebs, yet no one knows who he is.  But now you do.

Comic-Con Bound

I have been waking up the past few mornings to the glorious vocals of Andy Williams singing the title verse of “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year” in my head.  Aside from Thanksgiving, I have never been one to celebrate holidays, so for me Comic-Con International really is the most wonderful time of the year.  Half a week of gaming, celebrities, comics, toys, movies, panels, and cosplayers, all in a city filled with geeks (or as Greg calls them, “our people”).  Just doesn’t get any better than that.

As a bonus this year, I get to slack off on my costuming and will be going dressed as Brad Guy from our upcoming web comedy series.  But if you are here reading this then you probably already knew that part.  What you might not know is that Greg has decided to embrace his calling as an obnoxious loud mouthed drunk and will be appearing at SDCC2019 as John Doe, aka The Hearst Castle Ghost!

I will admit I am a little nervous over the prospect for a couple of reasons.  The first is the worry over Greg walking around the convention and San Diego in a bathrobe, t-shirt and boxer shorts.  I’ve shared a hotel room with him and can say that no one should be subjected to that image in person.  The second is the worry over the Ghost being exactly who he is:  an offensive drunken drug-addled ’60s throwback yet loveable ghost.  But these are “our people,” so what could possibly go wrong?

There may or may not be a video forthcoming in honor of Brad Guy and the Hearst Castle Ghost attending Comic-Con, so check back here and on our YouTube channel over the next few days.  Once SDCC starts, keep an eye out wherever batshit crazy people congregate in or around the convention, because that is where you will likely find the Ghost hanging out.  Have fun and we will see you there!

Things I Have Learned – Part I

I had initially planned on naming this rant “Things I Have Learned,” but as we will be in production for season one in a few short weeks (August and September 2019), I am positive there will be more things I will have learned following that debacle and thus another post.  My second thought was “Things I Have Learned Pre-Season One,” but that seems a bit long and could ultimate get incredibly long if the web series actually takes off and goes into multiple seasons.  Can you imagine “Things I Have Learned Post Season Ten But Pre-Season Eleven?”  It just would not do and can you really have 11 seasons about a drunken drug-addled ’60s throwback pseudo-racist and sexist yet loveable ghost?  Pretty sure even one season is unrealistic with that as a premise!

Instead, we have Part I of what will be as many parts as the number of times I get frustrated and develop a list of things that need to be voiced out onto the Interwebs, regardless of whether anyone else agrees with or even wants to read them.  Many of these things I knew about prior to starting the Hearst Castle Ghost web series project.  Many of these things I will bring up repeatedly.  Some of these things may get their own rant someday.

You might have experience with some of these things and agree with my point of view, in which case, “Good on ya.” You might learn something from my mistaken ideas or mishaps, in which case, “You are welcome.”  You might disagree with some or all my points of view, in which case, “You are a moron not entitled to an opinion.”  No matter which of these cases may apply, here is the list of some of the things I have learned in starting up the Hearst Castle Ghost Internet comedy:

Production Crews Are Necessary

Low budget does not mean without help.  There are some things you can do by yourself, but when it comes to filming multiple actors you need a director present to keep things flowing.  The same is true for the need of camera operators when you are filming multiple angles.  At a minimum these two groups of people are a requirement for any media production with moving parts and you should not try to fill these roles alone.  This is even more critical if you are in any of the scenes.

We shot the preproduction footage in Tennessee where Greg currently resides.  As a result of the location I lost access to any and all support staff which I would normally call upon for a quick hand during an hour or two of shooting.  Thus, all the production staff roles fell on my shoulders and we were forced to record plenty of extra takes as we had no external eyes ensuring things stayed in frame.  Thankfully season one production will be occurring on my stomping grounds where I will have access to a host of professionals whom I can bribe with food (aka alcohol) for assistance.

Auto Anything Is Evil

We live in an era of technological marvels that continue to expand and improve daily.  These things tend to make our lives easier and quite often will remove the guesswork for many tasks, as is the case of autofocus and auto-exposure on digital camera equipment.  If you happen to be taking pictures or shooting videos of your cat doing the same exact thing that everyone else’s cat does, then this modern marvel is just perfect for you (I would also recommend leaving the lens cap on).  If you are filming anything else, then these functions are no longer marvels but instead saboteurs out to destroy your time and efforts. 

Do yourself a favor, turn off auto anything on your cameras and instead pay a friend some chocolate (liqueur) to keep an eye on the recording screen and occasionally adjust a level or two.  Pretty certain a four-year-old would be more consistent than the digital cameras within anyone’s price range.  Either that or be ready to hate your life in post-production.  The choice is yours.

Last Minute Orders Are Never On Time

This is a given and one of the universal rules that apply to everything in life.  This includes rush orders; we all know they aren’t a real thing but instead a check box that adds an idiot tax to any order.  Don’t depend on anything being shipped to you to arrive on time and you will never find yourself spending 10X the original price for a quick replacement.  Granted, if you want the original order to arrive tomorrow, simply purchase a non-returnable replacement at a brick and mortar store today.

Never Film Without Air Conditioning

Obviously, there are instances where you have no control over the temperature of a set, such as for outdoor shots.  For everywhere else, make sure you have air conditioning available and that it can cool your set down to below freezing levels.  Not only are costumes and makeup hot but lighting and electrical equipment generate a ton of heat and will quickly turn your 18 degree set into a 37+ degree oven before you can say, “Action.”  And no one wants to see back sweat.  Just saying.

Proper Lighting Is Key

You want to be able to control as many aspects of your filming as possible to improve your chances of success.  Or at least a successful shoot.  One of the easiest things to control is your set lighting.  Given the choice between a god-like camera and some extra lights, you will want to choose the lights every time and twice on Sunday. 

For Hearst Castle Ghost we shoot almost everything against a green screen background (chroma key), so this is vitally important.  If you shoot live chroma key, you cannot survive without proper lighting.  However, even for simple shots against a plain white background you are better off purchasing a camera that is a step or two down and spending the difference on lighting.  You will thank yourself in the long run.

Adobe Premiere Needs A New UX Team

I’ve had this argument before, but Adobe Premiere needs a complete user interface/experience overhaul.  I know all the counter arguments of, “It has always been this way and the professionals using it are used to it,” etc. To which I reply with an enthusiastic, “Bullshit.” I have yet to find a person who only, and I mean only, works in Adobe Premiere and, as such a person does not exist, there is no person in the known universe who is not used to using CTRL-Y to redo the last operation.  So, piss off Premiere purists, you and your product’s UI are outdated and in need of some serious reworking, much like the first ten generations of airplanes that crashed 50+% of the time regardless of how use to the controls the pilots might have been. 

It Is Easier To Herd Cats That You Don’t Mind Hurting

Working with people in general can be difficult and working with artistic ones is very much like the old metaphor of herding cats.  Herding cats is always going to be a challenge, but it is much easier to do when you can give a cat a good shove with your foot to its hind quarters (aka a swift kick in the ass).  On that same chord, there is no denying it is far easier to work with people whose relationship is a paid one rather than people who are your friends or family.  That difference in difficulty is often based on your willingness to provide said swift kick in the ass. 

Effectively, paid people are more likely to follow your instructions or carry out a task on time than those that are friends or family.  With friends and family you run the risk of hurting the relationship by placing that same level of demand on them.  Paid people you can fire.  Friends and family you have to bury.  See the differences?  That is not to say that working with friends or family doesn’t have its benefits, but you need to be aware of the hurdles and assess your ability to put foot to hind quarter.

A Soliloquy On Facial Hair

I am my father’s son.  I’ve heard it all my life, “You look just like your father.”  There has never been any denying that.  So, when I was 8 or 9 years old and my father had grown out a mustache, the image stuck with me.  A few years later when he had grown out a beard for a brief period of time, I recorded every detail to memory.  These were images of my future should I opt for facial hair; thus, they were important images for a child entering adolescence and eventual adulthood.  Images that let me know that I did not want facial hair.

I won’t go into the various analysis I made regarding the growing of hair on my face versus my various features, but we will say it is enough to know that it was not something I liked the look of on my person.  Or rather the potential look of.  And for forty years I had kept myself mostly clean shaven, with never a whisker making it past a day or two.  That is until a trip to Europe kept me unshaven for an extended period.

I had arrived in Stockholm SE by way of Amsterdam NL, on what was to be a two-month long trip across various European countries, only to discover that my bags had decided to remain in Amsterdam.  I can only imagine the discussion the various pieces of my luggage had in order to come to the decision to jump ship on a two-hour layover; I, however, cannot imagine that they did not know the second to last leg of the trip was two weeks in Amsterdam.  Surely, they understood that there was plenty to do and see in the beautiful city of Stockholm and that Amsterdam could wait?  Apparently not, for it took an entire week for my clothing and toiletries to arrive and I am convinced to this day that my possessions, to the one, had squinty red eyes upon their arrival in Stockholm.

But I digress.  Not wanting to purchase all new items, during the week of the missing luggage I made do with clothing borrowed from friends and the toiletries available from the hotel front desk.  Unfortunately for me the hotel did not have a razor or shaving cream available, thus I went the week without shaving.  When my luggage finally arrived in Stockholm, and for reasons I can only blame on a contact high brought about from my errant possessions, I decided to go the rest of the trip without shaving.  “Just let it grow,” was my motto.

A little over a month and a half later and I was on a return flight to the United States from Manchester UK.  To say I was anxious to remove the facial hair would be an understatement of magnitude along the lines of saying my eyes may have been a little pink during my time in Amsterdam.  I don’t think I made it an hour in my house before my face was once again completely clean shaven.

I did manage to learn a few things during that experiment.  The first is that – at the time – 98% of the gray hairs on my body were located on my face.  That number has since dwindled down to around 90% as random gray hairs continue to sprout up across my body where before there were none.  The second is that I absolutely hate having facial hair.  It itches.  It pokes and pricks my skin.  It feels unsanitary.  And, to be honest, I really do not like the look of it on my person.  I really am my father’s son.

I mention all of this because when it came to the discussions Greg and I had regarding the appearance of various characters, he decided that Brad Guy should have a goatee with soul patch.  Granted, I had decided that the Ghost would have a scraggly, unkept beard so there is a small sense of fairness there.  However, Greg has had facial hair in the form of a goatee for the past 20+ years.  Additionally, he had already grown out a scraggly, unkept beard for a commercial he was shooting for another company.

I, on the other hand, had to grow out this goatee for our initial promotional video footage.  Despite intending on going to Comic Con International as Brad Guy and thus a reason to just keep the goatee, I had to immediately shave it off (as well as all my body hair from ankles to earlobes) for a quick round of surgery the week after shooting.  I am now going through the horror of growing the goatee out once again; which I am convinced contains more grey hairs with each time I regrow it. 

I hate it and it is absolutely driving me nuts.  At this point I am determined to dress as Brad Guy for the first two days of SDCC2019 so that I might shave this infernal thing off before the weekend.  Which will be heaven. Until I return home and must start growing the blasted thing out again for filming episodes of Hearst Castle Ghost in August and September.

I have no proof, but I am absolutely convinced that Greg’s arguments for Brad Guy to sport a goatee – no matter how logical his reasoning may have seemed – was strictly meant as a way of punishing me for some past wrong I perpetrated against him early on in my life.  Some grudge he has held firmly to for all these years which I likely forgot about moments after the occurrence.   I am my father’s son, but I am also apparently the target for my brother’s perverse sense of humor.  The things we do for art…

The Ghost Emblem

Making the decisions to proceed with creating a video web-series for the Hearst Castle Ghost and to attend Comic Con International 2019 as one of the main characters, Brad Guy, created a few additional projects for me.  One project that stood out for both decisions was that I needed a costume.  Not only for Brad Guy, the unofficial head of the tour guides for our fictional version of the Hearst Castle, but also for the other tour guides.

Being that this is a low budget production, lacking a team of costume designers and seamsters, it seemed prudent to keep the tour guide costume simple, using off the shelf garments where possible.  Luckily the series is based off a fictional version of a very real place complete with previously existing tour guides.  Even more luckily, I had managed to capture several images of the tour guides when Greg and I first visited the Hearst Castle.

If you were to take the time to search the Interwebs for images of Hearst Castle tour guides you might notice there are two main styles of uniforms depicted in these images.  Older images show tour guides in the standard California State Parks style ranger uniforms, which means khakis and fishing vests.  This makes sense, as the Hearst Castle was deeded to the state of California in January of 1958 and became part of the Department of Parks and Recreation.  At some point, and without knowing the internal politics involved, the uniform style changed over to that of a California museum docent.  I would hazard a guess that this change corresponded to Hearst Castle literature referring to the park as a museum as well.

I will admit some indecision as to the choice of uniform style for the web series, but we ultimately opted for the more up-to-date museum style.  I think this decision had more to do with wanting to use the word “docent” in a script or two than anything else.  Just comedy gold.

Regardless of the uniform style, one thing that remained static across all the uniforms worn at the Hearst Castle was inclusion of the California State Parks embroidered patch.  Or in the case of Brad Guy – for reasons that will be included as part of various episodes – the California State Parks Volunteer patch.

California State Parks Embroidered Patch   California State Parks Volunteer Embroidered Patch 

Being overzealous and wanting to get as much accomplished early-on for both filming the series and appearing at Comic Con, I promptly found the patches for sale online and ordered several quantities of each.  One item off my list quickly and easily.  Or so I thought.

A problem occurred to me sometime after the patches arrived but prior to attaching them to the various articles of clothing that encompass the docent uniforms.  For the sake of filming we are a satirical comedy and thus can impersonate California State Park officials with impunity.  For the sake of attending Comic Con International, held in San Diego California, I would be a random guy impersonating a California State Park official while in the state of California.  While I am certain our attorney could keep me out of prison, getting arrested or even harassed for appearing as a state employee would in no way benefit the show or my own personal enjoyment of SDCC2019.  Effectively, the patches go too far.

A new patch was necessary and as I was already attached to the idea of a slightly different patch for the volunteers (i.e. Brad Guy) I decided to base the fictional patches off the real-life ones.  A little design theft, some simple image editing, a dash of advanced Adobe Photoshop, and a smidgen of retweaks gave me the basic patch designs ready to be sent off to the embroiderer.

Hearst Castle Patch Artwork   Hearst Castle Volunteer Patch Artwork 

It was while I was in the process of designing the new patch artwork that I had started work on our Internet presence, namely a YouTube channel and this here website.  An emblem, or logo, was needed for both and what would make a better emblem than the patch I was already designing?  Back into Photoshop for a little additional tweaking, some consultation with Greg, some more advanced Adobe Photoshop features and a lot of how-to videos.  The end result?  The Hearst Castle Ghost emblem in all its glory.

There you have the story of the origination for the Hearst Castle Ghost logo.  I am considering this a work in process as there are several web and physical print media pieces that will utilize this logo, each having different RGB, CMYK, Pantone and thread index color requirements as well as rasterized resolutions versus vector artwork.  I have already had to create a second complete remake of the logo because of one of these physical media requirements, which may or may not pertain to items we’ll be handing out in San Diego in about two weeks’ time (from the date of this post).  But, as the Ghost has sworn me to secrecy, I couldn’t possibly comment on that.  Enjoy.