I don’t think I’ve talked a lot about this project here because I haven’t had much to share about it except for rough, home-recorded demos that sound kind of like they were recorded underwater, but for more than a year now, I’ve been working on a musical webseries called The Breakout. But now, there is more than enough stuff to share about it!
The Breakout is about a misfit high school kid’s quest to rescue the girl he loves from a psychiatric hospital, and the weird friends he makes and adventures he has along the way. And on May 3, 2015, in San Francisco, California, excerpts from the show are going to be performed live on stage!
As part of a showcase run by a Bay Area theatre group called Play Cafe, we are going to perform 20 minutes from the show, and excerpts from shows by a few other Bay Area-based musical theatre writers will be featured as well.
To fit into the 20-minute format, the script needed to be significantly cut, the songs needed to be revised, and I needed to arrange the whole thing for piano — which means I didn’t get a lot of sleep over the past few weeks. But now, I’m back to at least 5 or 6 hours a night, because most of the front-end work is done.
Oh, by the way, I’m also playing a supporting role in the show! Hey, at least I won’t have to memorize the lyrics, as I’ve heard myself singing each song probably thousands of times.
I’ll be sharing photos and clips from the rehearsal process here soon — for now, if you’d like more information about it, you can check out (and like!) its Facebook page.
Yesterday, me and Robin Yukiko, my Steve’s Quest co-star, appeared on the Super Geeked Up podcast. We sang some carols with the lyrics changed to refer to geeky pop culture phenomena, talked about our show, and played some movie trivia games. I’m sure I need not add that hilarity ensued.
Here’s the video of the show — I hope you enjoy it and that your holidays are thoroughly splendiferous!
I’m excited to share with you a video we shot of me and Robin Yukiko, who plays Sabrina in Steve’s Quest, performing “Right in Front of You,” which is the song I’m most proud of in the series. Check it out:
Recording and shooting this was a literally cross-continental production. We recorded Robin’s vocals in what was basically a guy’s basement in State College, Pennsylvania (though it was a very well-equipped basement), near where she lives, and then I went back home and did my vocals at The Annex in San Mateo, California. This has been a bi-coastal project from the beginning, which works fine for me because I have a lot of relatives and friends on the East Coast of the U.S.
The stripped-down, in-studio style of the video was inspired by all of those videos on Broadway.com showing the original casts of shows recording their vocals. For a long time, I thought “I’ll know I’ve made it once I have a Broadway.com in-studio video,” and now I guess I have the next best thing!
I hope you enjoy the song and I’m looking forward to hearing your feedback.
Ladies and gentlemen, feast your eyes and ears upon another sumptuous Steve’s Quest episode!
I know it took a long time for us to release this one, and I hope the suspense wasn’t too nail-bitingly intense — we went through some personnel changes on our animation team, and this is still quite the learning experience for me. But I think you’ll enjoy the finished product — it features some very talented folks, including singer-songwriter (and former leader of my songwriting class) Robin Yukiko and my longtime (i.e., like 30 years) collaborator Tim Edgar.
This has been a wild ride so far — Steve’s Quest Episode 1 has now been screened at eleven film festivals, and won four “best animated short” awards, despite being a webseries and thus not the kind of thing film festivals usually take to. More importantly, working on this project has convinced me that, if I have a strong enough desire to do a project, no matter how daunting it looks or crazy it sounds, it can happen!
If you enjoy the video, which I’m pretty confident you will, I’d appreciate it if you’d hit the “Like” button under the video on YouTube — every bit of social media sustenance counts! More content is coming soon — we’re putting the finishing touches on a music video for a song from a later episode that shows the actors performing in the studio, “Broadway.com” style.
The video for the first single from my four-song EP, “Howl at the Moon,” is now live (and posted above)!
This project has been several months in the making, and I’m enthused that it’s finally done. The director and I decided to shoot the video in a classic ’80s hard rock style, with dramatic bits intercut with shots of the band playing, and I think we achieved the look we were going for (and hopefully Motley Crue and Skid Row fans will agree).
This was my first time being in a music video, and it was definitely an eye-opening experience. The lion’s share of the shoot, in the part I was featured in, was spent trying to get the camera angles right, and to make sure the right amount of steam filled the room (there were dry ice machines on the set that were misting about every 10 seconds). As you will see, there are a lot of closeup shots of me singing, and the biggest challenge for me was trying not to move my head out of the frame while still performing with my usual manic intensity.
It was a bit overwhelming to see so many people (including the cast and crew) gather together to work on my project. Of course, I found myself having the usual doubts — “am I actually important enough for all of these people to be working on my video?” and so on.
I think the best perspective to take on something like this, in order to get beyond the hangups about “being important” and so on, is that it’s really just a bunch of people getting together to have fun — which, for the most part, is what we did.
I hope you enjoy the video, and I look forward to hearing what you think!
A few weeks ago, I composed the music for a promotional video (embedded below) for a foundation called Breakthrough Silicon Valley. It was definitely exciting, because I’ve wanted to do this type of work for a long time. Ideally, this sort of project will help me find other opportunities to do music for film and television.
The most challenging part of this project was that the tempo (speed) changes that happen in the music needed to be precisely synced to particular moments in the video. You may notice this at the end, for example, when the final piano note plays at the same time that the Breakthrough logo appears. But I do think the detail work we put into the video was worth it.
I hope you enjoy it — I’ve definitely got more musical stuff in the pipeline.
Well, it’s taken longer than we expected (as I guess it always does), but Episode 2 of Steve’s Quest is almost ready to go live! To give you a taste of the graphical goodness to expect, I’ll post below some screenshots from the episode — which, by the way, features even more over-the-top animation and music than our first offering.
Also, for those of you who didn’t see the post on Facebook, I’m pleased to announce that Episode 1 of Steve’s Quest has been selected to be screened at Gen Con, which is the U.S.’s largest gaming convention, in August. I actually went there last year, but I didn’t realize that it had its own film festival until I started doing festival submissions.
This year, my friends and I get to go for free, which is quite a thrill for me, since I’ve known, and been rabidly gaming with, the same friends for more than 25 years. I may also be speaking on a panel or two regarding indie filmmaking, and I’ll try to post a video of the panels if I end up participating in them.
Sabrina (Steve’s love interest), her coworker Rona, and the sinister presence known only as The Boss.
A closeup of Sabrina. The artists convinced me that she should not have a nose, because it gives her a more streamlined look.
Steve smiling as he asks Rona to come to his party, but a bundle of nerves on the inside.
Just in case you doubted that The Boss was a sinister presence.
Hope you enjoyed these!
Two weeks ago, I had a blast shooting a music video for “Howl at the Moon,” which is the first track from the album I recently released. My favorite part was that my brother Tim came up from LA to appear in the video (he also played guitar on the song), and I got to shoot the breeze with him and the rest of the band during the inevitable long breaks between takes.
The video is being edited right now, and I’m anxious to share it with you. For now, I’ll show you some screen captures from the footage we got. The intensity you see on my face, for better or worse, isn’t an act — I get pretty maniacal when I’m in performance mode.
My fingers can get fairly maniacal too when I’m playing piano.
The full band (at least, for the purposes of the video) — Tim is on the right. Justin Vanegas, who also appears in Steve’s Quest, is on bass.
Anjelica Zanipatin-Solis, who plays a widow in the dramatic scenes that are intercut with the shots of the band (yes, there are actors in the video too — I went all Cecil B. DeMille on this one!)
This shot showcases the dry ice that filled the room while we were on the sound stage — it gave the lighting a murky, mysterious quality.
Aleksandra, the makeup artist from the shoot, in a cameo role as the widow’s document-carrying officemate.
That isn’t a black screen (or a green screen) in the background — it was just really dark.
I hope these were fun — looking forward to showing you the video!
I’m pleased to announce that Episode 1 of Steve’s Quest: The Musical just won an “Award of Excellence” from the Best Shorts competition. The competition has included some pretty amazing work, including a short film (“Mr. Hublot“) that won an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. Obviously this means we will also win an Oscar and it’s just a matter of time.
Also, Episode 1 has just been selected by two film festivals, the Blue Plum Animation Festival in Johnson City, Tennessee and the Studio City Film Festival in Los Angeles. I live in California, so I’ll definitely be going to Studio City, and I’ll visit the Blue Plum festival as well if it means I’ll finally get the opportunity to meet my animators (who live in Georgia) in person.
It’s hard to believe that, about a year ago, I was doubting whether we would ever find a way to finish Episode 1, and I was already making preparations to follow my Plan B, which was to do a show about magical puppets who live in a sewer (but I will eventually make that one too — you mark my words)!
Looking forward to sharing Episode 2 with you, which will be live soon!
I was honored to be interviewed by Kimberly Lew over at Emerging Musical Theatre, which is a blog that covers some amazing, contemporary composers and shows. We talked about the origins of Steve’s Quest, the Comic-Con panel the cast and crew will almost certainly, eventually, do, the reasons I decided to play the title role, and the proverbial “much, much more!” Enjoy.