• “It's like the second season of 'Sons of Anarchy' for gamers!”
    Quilt City O.G.R.E.s
  • “...one of the best-acted web series I've come across.”
    RPGBlogII
  • “I have another favorite web series to put beside The Guild and Dr. Horrible.”
    Grumbling Dwarf
  • “GOLD is good enough to be on TV, right now. It deserves (nay, demands!) to be syndicated.”
    Greywulf's Lair
  • “GOLD is a hilarious show dedicated to the hobby, and all gamers should check it out.”
    RPG Labyrinth
  • “...it's funny because it's oh-so-painfully true.”
    the Escapist
  • “...there's an impressively (dare I say it) Altman-esque atmosphere of casual and fresh conversation. And it works...”
    Tilzy.tv
  • “You don't have to be a gamer to appreciate GOLD...”
    NewTeeVee
  • “Kudos to the GOLD guys for producing something that really stands out.”
    Gnome Stew
  • “GOLD is one of the few shows that can tell a niche story to a wide audience.”
    Tubefilter
  • “Clearly a labor of love, well designed, excellently produced, and fantastically written.”
    Blogging the Ennies
  • “It's something like mixing The Gamers with Sports Night.”
    RPGnet
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Recently In the Blog

GOLD at GenCon - Our Schedule
    (August 02, 2011) [READ]
Webseries Hints, Volume 1
    (March 29, 2011) [READ]
The GOLD Guide to Competitive Gaming
    (March 23, 2011) [READ]
Happy Holidays from the GOLD Crew!
    (December 22, 2010) [READ]
Winners: NOTZK Release Contest!
    (December 20, 2010) [READ]
NOTZK Opening Title Design
    (December 15, 2010) [READ]
From the Shadows
    (December 14, 2010) [READ]
Bringing Goblins & Gold to Life
    (December 07, 2010) [READ]
Gold Gamer Recap: Session 13
    (September 09, 2010) [READ]
Gold Gamer Recap: Session 12
    (September 09, 2010) [READ]
Gold Gamer Recap: Session 11
    (September 09, 2010) [READ]
Gold Gamer Recap: Sessions 9 and 10
    (September 09, 2010) [READ]
GOLD and the IndieTV movement
    (September 02, 2010) [READ]
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    (April 06, 2010) [READ]
GOLD Season 1 DVD: Detailed Features
    (March 29, 2010) [READ]
New Desktop Wallpapers for 2010
    (February 23, 2010) [READ]
GOLD Gamer Recap: Session 8
    (February 04, 2010) [READ]
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Webseries Hints, Volume 2 - Understanding Embed

November 17, 2011 | David

It's not enough to create great stuff anymore. You've got to understand at least a little about how web distribution works.

In a recent discussion on the IAWTV Facebook page, a few of us talked about embedding video, and how a broken embed (specifically, one malformed as a result of an incomplete copy & paste) can mean serious trouble for a creator trying to display his or her work. My assertion was this: creators/producers of web content should learn how to properly share and embed their videos. It’s not really enough just to make stuff anymore - we have to understand some of the technical trappings around delivery, or at least have someone on our teams who does.

In response, one of the other creators asked, “what should one do to ensure proper embeds and such?” I thought my answer might be worth sharing here.

Generally, I believe creators/producers of webseries should understand the embed model of at least their primary distribution point. To do so is pretty simple with only a little bit of technical understanding:

1) Go to one of your videos, click the “share” or “embed” link, find the embed code, copy it, and paste it into a text document.
2) Then, do the same with a second video.
3) Compare the two. Where are they exactly the same? That’s the structure. Where are they different? That’s the unique stuff that identifies this particular video.
4) Do the same with a third video and check your assumptions from #3.

Once you’ve done that, every time you copy and paste an embed or send it somewhere, you can do a quick visual inspection of that embed to make certain it’s fully intact. Every once in a while you’ll see the embed structure change, which means you need to do the above again to catch up to whatever architecture change was employed.

Or, if you don’t want to go so far as to try to understand the embed process (I really think you should, but understand if you don’t wanna), always, always double-check. If you paste your embed code somewhere, take a hard look at the beginning and end of the code, and then go back to the video sharing page and look at the beginning and end - are the beginnings and ends identical? Then what’s between them is likely intact as well.

You don’t have to become a technical wizard or memorize a lot of stuff. But sharing your video is important, and getting that video intact to other people for situations like award submissions or portfolio sharing is important. At the very least, being able to tell the difference between a complete copy & paste and a mistaken copy & paste may mean the difference between people seeing your video, and seeing nothing at all.

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GOLD at GenCon - Our Schedule

August 02, 2011 | David

GOLD is going big at GenCon Indy this year. Here's where to find us:

8/4 - 8/7 - All Day, Every Day - The GOLD Booth - 2042
GOLD is at Booth 2042, which is very near the Wizards of the Coast Booth. It’ll be manned during all exhibit hall hours by GOLD cast & crew, as well as some good friends of the show who’ve agreed to help. At our booth, you’ll be able to buy GOLD DVDs, Shirts, Pub Glasses & Posters, get stuff signed by cast/crew, and generally geek out.

Screenings, Games & Panels (more TBD as they are confirmed)

8/3 - 6:00PM (Wednesday) - Mariott : High Velocity Bar - Drinking D&D
The actual games start at 8PM and are invite-only, but the party (at 6PM) is open invite. GOLD creator David Nett (and maybe others) will be there, along with a dazzling array of RPG luminaries.

8/5 - 3:00PM (Friday) - Westin : Council - Producing Independent Series Panel - FLM1128405*
Featuring cool producers, including GOLD & NOTZK producer Andrew R. Deutsch
* tentative

8/5 - 4:00PM (Friday) - Westin : Capitol III - So You Wanna Be an Actor Panel - FLM1128407*
Featuring cool actors, including GOLD’s James Paul Xavier
*tentative

8/5 - 9:00PM (Friday) - Crowne Plaza : Victoria Stn B - Night of the Zombie King: the Adventure - RPG1123161
Playtest of an original adventure based loosely upon the feature adventure in webseries drama GOLD: Night of the Zombie King. GM(s): David Nett & possible another GOLDy to lend a hand. Seats are full right now, but there are often no-shows.

8/6 - 2:00PM (Saturday) - Westin : Council - Technical Aspects of the Series Panel - FLM1128411
Technical discussion of indieTV featuring cool filmmakers, including GOLD’s Andrew R. Deutsch

8/6 - 3:00PM (Saturday) - Westin : Council - Script Writing Panel - FLM1128412
Screenwriting discussion with aweosme indie screenwiters, including NOTZK’s Rick Robinson

8/6 - 3:00PM (Saturday) - Westin Capitol I - Creating Indie TV for a Gamer Audience - FLM1123396
Big budget movies and TV can’t afford to serve the needs of all niche audiences. That’s where indie producers step in. Panelists: Chris Preksta (The Mercury Men, Captain Blasto), Ben Dobyns (The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, JourneyQuest), Ben Bays (AIDAN5), David Nett (GOLD, Night of the Zombie King)

8/6 - 4:00PM (Saturday) - Westin : Council - Directing an Independent Series Panel - FLM1128413
Discussing the specific issues of directing webseries with indieTV directors, including NOTZK’s Rick Robinson

8/6 - 6:00PM (Saturday) - Westin Capitol II - GOLD Season 1 - FLM1128395
Screening all of Season 1, followed by Q&A & raffles for swag (time permitting)

8/6 - 11:00PM (Saturday) - Westin Capitol I - GOLD: Night of the Zombie King - FLM1128402
Screening all of NOTZK, followed by Q&A & raffles for swag (time permitting)

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Nerds, Outcasts, Bullies and Beauty Queens

June 22, 2011 | David

Does the new Miss USA deserve her self-declared "nerd" title? And is nerd-bullying as bad as being bullied for being a nerd?

For many of us nerds, and I suspect this might be stronger in those of us in our mid-30s and older (though that’s just a suspicion), there’s a fair amount of upset over the labeling of Miss USA, Alyssa Campanella, as a “nerd” or “geek.” Not every one of us chooses to express it, but some have done so loudly and angrily. Those loud objectors have been admonished by a lot of our fellow nerds, especially the younger ones (this is where my suspicion above comes from, by the way), for engaging in geek-bullying and geek-gatekeeping; who are they to decide who is and isn’t a geek or a nerd?

And those brighter-side geeks are right. None of us have been appointed gatekeepers of nerd-dom. None of us are the guardians of geekhood. And if Alyssa wants to declare herself a geek, who are we to stop her? Is she really a geek in her heart? Or is she just a casual fan of Star Wars? In the end, who cares? She’s the recently crowned Miss USA, she’s the symbol of an old-fashioned idea of what is desirable in womanhood, and she’s turning that idea on its head and using her platform to encourage anyone who listens to her to embrace Sci-Fi and Fantasy and, more importantly, History and Science. That’s a win, no matter how you look at it.

On the other hand…

For many of us self-described nerds and geeks, that label is sort of a badge of honor. It was the label of the Outsider, the Oddball, and often the Despised. For many of us, “nerd!” was the last thing we heard before receiving a bully’s fist in our face, or feeling the sticky chill of a milkshake poured over our head in the lunchroom. Many of us spent our skinny (or fat), awkward childhoods trying to shed the label by trying out for sports or pretending to know who Larry Bird was or purposefully taking a dive on a math test so that we’d not be thrown into a locker for ruining the curve. Again. Many of us fought a frustrating, demoralizing battle against ourselves and that Outsider label, trying desperately to fit in, before finally accepting and embracing who we were, who we are. For those of us who spent our formative years crying “I am not a nerd!” or sobbing in our bedrooms at night wishing we were not such nerds, that we were strong or good looking or charismatic or stupid or just not so weird, it’s hard to look at the beautiful, beaming young winner that is Alyssa Campanella, Miss USA 2011, and not think, “you are no nerd.”

When I was a kid, “nerd” was an insult. While it generally meant something we should have seen as good, that we were smart and capable, at least where academics were concerned, it was interchangeable with “gay” and “retard” in the schoolyard (this was the 1980s, folks - these were the words we used). It meant that we were socially awkward, that we were physically inferior, that we’d never get the girl (or guy). It was a label we fought, even while we watched Star Trek re-runs and read pulpy sci-fi and played Dungeons & Dragons with our nerd friends. No one, or at least no one I knew, embraced “nerd” as a matter of pride, at least not in public.

I was lucky. I grew up in a very small town, the son of two very smart parents (my Dad was a science teacher and later a chemist at a coal gasification facility, my mom had been a journalism major and was an amazing writer), the brother of three probably smarter siblings (don’t tell them I said so). By junior high I had a close group of friends who, all of us nerds, outcasts, created a support system. Also, because our town and school were so small, even we nerds could play varsity sports (and a couple of us, myself included, did) as well as compete in the Academic Olympics, Science Olympics and Math Challenge (we had all three). At school, class sizes were small and we mostly avoided very serious physical abuse because teachers were ever-present (though getting punched, stuffed in lockers, doused with milkshakes, pushed down the stairs, pantsed, wedgied and other more disturbing humiliations, such as returning to your locker after gym class to find someone had peed through the vents onto your clothes, were still common). We even had girlfriends, some of us, for at least part of our time in High School. I dated a varsity cheerleader for almost a year - not a very nerdy thing to do, unless it’s in secret and you are the lead in “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Of course, that same year, when coming out of the locker room after gym, I was kicked in the stomach so hard I puked, and then admonished to tell no one or I’d be getting it every day. I was sixteen years old. I told no one. That year had its ups and downs. But, because I had strong support in my home life, from my family and teachers and friends, I eventually wore my nerdiness as a badge of honor. I was the Outsider and, though I suffered for it, it was clear to me this is who I was, and who I would be, and I was able to see that, once I got the hell out of high school, what made me a nerd would likely serve me well in life. And it did.

At some point in our society, “nerd” and “geek” stopped being insults and started being desirable labels. I usually point to it starting with the dot-com boom, when the proliferation of powerful and newly-wealthy nerds made starkly visible the advantages of being the smart one in class. As it became clear to everyone that nerds would be the players in our internet society, the trappings of nerdiness began to become cool. Others have speculated the nerd-to-cool drift began with Star Wars and the science fiction boom of the late 1970s and 1980s. There are lots of theories. But it remains that having “nerd” screamed at you in the hallway at school now no longer carries the same painful humiliation it once did. “Nerd” is no longer automatically something to hide. “Nerd” no longer automatically gets you punched in the lunch line. And that’s a good thing. If kids can read comic books in public and not get wedgied, if skinny guys can quote Star Wars without worrying that it will lose them the girl, if a girl doesn’t have to pretend to be bad at math to be popular, if collecting replica Sonic Screwdrivers does not automatically make you a social outcast - this is all a step forward for society.

But none of that changes the fact that, for many of us, our Outsider label means we suffered through humiliation and pain and survived. That the same label is applied to the beautiful and the popular, even such a symbol of an outdated, conformist social ideal as Miss USA, causes a visceral negative reaction in many of us. It’s not fair to Alyssa for us to feel that way, but many of us do.

My friend Jessica Mills, creator of the amazing geek show ”Awkward Embraces,” recently wrote, in an essay against geek-gatekeeping, “...being a geek means that we let a part of ourselves believe in magic, heroism and the best of humanity.” I’m not sure I agree. For me, being a nerd had little to do with that. It always meant I was an Outsider, that society said I should be ashamed of the things I loved and the person I was, even if I refused to do so. It didn’t mean believing in heroes, it meant pleading in the principle’s office for permission to go home and change my pee-soaked clothes. And I can’t help but think that probably never happened to our newly crowned Miss USA.

But I could well be wrong - I don’t know her, and I don’t know what she faced growing-up. And that kind of thinking is not the least bit constructive. No one benefits from my left-over childhood anger. I’ve not had to experience the recent “nerd pandering” backlash so many of my LadyGeek friends (who happened to grow up to be attractive women) are currently facing, which would almost certainly soften my gut reaction to all this. So I agree, intellectually, with the cheerier geeks who say that if Alyssa Campanella declares herself a nerd, she’s a nerd, and that’s a positive thing. I may not have much in common with her, but if her statements help one kid feel like less of an outcast, I’m all for it. I’m for raising the portcullis of the castle of nerdhood so many of us have jealously guarded and letting in whoever wants to watch a full Star Trek original cast movie marathon with me (except we’ll skip Star Trek V, because holy zod how was that disaster even allowed to happen?).

But I think those cheerier geeks should understand why some of us are upset. That frustration may be irrational, but it’s not illegitimate. It’s the anger of the Outsider who feels his/her hard-won identity devalued somehow, even if that’s not really true. It’s not constructive and it’s not permanent. But it’s also not malicious. It’s just human.

- David Nett, Nerd

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Webseries Hints, Volume 1

March 29, 2011 | David

Andrew offers some advice to webseries creators on how to make the most of our work.

Andrew wrote for GOLD Season 1 (Episodes 0,1 & 2), as well as co-exec-producing, directing and acting as cinematographer for much of that season (he also plays Goldy in Episode 4). He’s one of the three writers of Night of the Zombie King, and was cinematographer and one of the executive producers for that entire mini-series. Even more, he did all of the graphic design and titles for NOTZK, and co-designed the GOLD website. He’s the co-executive producer of the feature “Yesterday Was a Lie,” creator of the upcoming series “Alice & the Monster,” and he’s also worked on a handful of other webseries, including the new show Game Room.

Below are compiled hints from Andrew’s recent Facebook posts about doing your best work when creating these ultra-low-budget independent TV series we commonly call “webseries.” Some of these are random and very specific, others are more general - the product of long conversations we’ve had as a team and what we’ve learned these past three years. We’d love to hear your thoughts on them in the comments.

  1. If you cast fresh-faced 20-somethings to play hardened federal agents with a past, the audience won’t take your show seriously.
     
  2. Don’t use camera sound. Ever. Hire a sound person.
     
  3. If you can’t make guns sound and look like real guns and bullet hits look like real bullet hits, don’t do them. You’re just embarrassing yourself and making your series look cheap and amateurish.
     
  4. Write your scripts in screenplay format. This helps everyone involved in the production process from script supers, actors, assistant directors and finally on down the line to the editor, composer and post-production facilitators. This is one of the simplest first lines of defense your production can make.
     
  5. (personal gripe) Make sure your credits’ look and feel match the concept of your show. Studios spend a lot of money making opening credits to get you in the mood for a movie; you should be doing the same for your series. Also, don’t use Comic Sans. ;-)
     
  6. Make a schedule. Create a day-out-of-days. Make call sheets. Make shot lists. Create a full crew address/email/phone list. Do breakdowns. Learn your paperwork. You will thank yourself that you did.
     
  7. Learn editing software. Learn how to compress/uncompress footage. Learn how a boom pole + mic get the best sound. Learn what an AD does. Learn what a PA is for. Learn which lenses are good for which kind of shots. Learn basic lighting techniques. Learn how to apply basic makeup. Learn that you need copies of certain costumes and why. Learn, learn, learn.
     
  8. Be honest. No one learns how to do the right thing from yes men. Challenge your crew to do their best by doing yours. Keep your promises and show up on time. When you can, help others to achieve their dreams because you never know who is going to break.
     
  9. Hold casting sessions for pivotal roles. You’ll be surprised by some actors during this process. People you thought were perfect aren’t. People you thought would never fit that role do. See how they react to direction. See if they prepared or not. Be critical, honest and open to their interpretation of your work.
     
  10. Ask yourself, “Why would anyone watch this show?” You are in a giant sea of content that is flowing and changing every minute. So, who does it speak to? Which demographic? Which age group? Which gender? Is it a broad concept? Niche? Genre? If you want to work in television, you’ll be answering those questions. Might as well get started now with the business side of show business.
     

Follow Andrew on Twitter: @rollandglass

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The GOLD Guide to Competitive Gaming

March 23, 2011 | David

we're so excited to announce the newest expansion to the GOLD universe:

In 2008/2009, we released the first season of GOLD, the Series. In 2009 we also released the GOLD Collectible Card Game, featuring the characters from GOLD. In early 2010 we released Season 1 of GOLD on DVD, and followed in the winter of 2010/2011 with the dramatic miniseries Night of the Zombie King.  Now, we’re proud to announce The GOLD Guide to Competitive Gaming:

The GOLD Guide to Competitive Gaming is a collection of gaming essays by roleplaying gamers from all corners of the industry, including such RPG luminaries as Keith Baker, Monte Cook and Ed Greenwood, as well as dedicated players from unexpected places, such as Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe, veteran actor/voice artist Matthew Mercer, and independent filmmaker Ben Dobyns. The book will also feature essays from some of the fictional characters that populate GOLD and Night of the Zombie King, including maverick player Richard Wright and former American team captain Jonathan Drake. It will feature a wide variety of essays about roleplaying gaming, including tips to make the most of the hobby, advice on becoming a better player/game master, thoughts on how RPG skills may contribute to other parts of a player’s life, and adventure seeds for use in a variety of games. The book will contain both humorous and thoughtful essays, which span a wide variety of genres and game types, including traditional tabletop games, LARPs, CCGs and miniature games.

Contributors to The GOLD Guide to Competitive Gaming include:

  • Keith Baker (RPG designer, creator of Eberron)
  • Mike Bourke (RPG designer, RolePlaying Tips)
  • Jennifer Brozek (RPG designer)
  • Monte Cook (RPG Designer, Dungeons & Dragons 3.0)
  • Ryan Costello Jr (RPG writer, 3.5 Private Sanctuary)
  • Liz Courts (RPG designer)
  • Ben Dobyns (filmmaker, The Gamers: Dorkness Rising, JourneyQuest)
  • Justin Farrington (RPG Writer)
  • Ed Greenwood (RPG designer, creator of The Forgotten Realms)
  • Jeff Greiner (RPG podcaster, The Tome Show)
  • Ed Healy (RPG writer, marketer & broadcaster, Gamerati)
  • Tracy Hurley (RPG writer, Sarah Darkmagic)
  • Chris Hussey (RPG podcaster, Fear the Boot)
  • Patrick Kapera (RPG designer, Spycraft)
  • Chris Kluwe (punter, Minnesota Vikings)
  • CthulhuBob Lovely (RPG writer, MisCon convention organizer)
  • Philippe-Antoine Menard (RPG writer, Critical Hits)
  • Matthew Mercer (actor/writer, There Will Be Brawl, Thundercats)
  • David Nett (actor/writer, GOLD, Night of the Zombie King)
  • Jay Peters (RPG writer, ENnie Awards judge)
  • Scott Readicker (RPG writer, Sandbaggers’ Game Club)
  • Rick Robinson (writer/actor, GOLD, Night of the Zombie King)
  • CJ Ruby (RPG writer, 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming)
  • Steve Russell (RPG designer, Rite Publishing)
  • Greg Schneider (RPG writer, Black Shield Gaming)
  • The Secret DM (mystery RPG writer)
  • Connie Thomson (RPG writer, Geeks Dream Girl)
  • Jason Vey (RPG writer, Palladium Books)
  • Jared von Hindman (artist/writer/humorist, Dragon Magazine)
  • Don Walsh (writer, LARPer, NERO)
  • Patricia Willenborg (RPG writer, Chicks with Dice)

The GOLD Guide to Competitive Gaming will be released from 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming in November 2011, as a trade-sized paperback and PDF/ebook. A limited edition hardcover will also be released. Visit 4windsfantasygaming.com and goldtheseries.com for news and updates.

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Four Tips for Dungeon Masters and Indie Filmmakers

January 17, 2011 | David

Just a few tips on making your project the best it can be from David Nett, filmmaker & Dungeon Master.

I’ve been a Dungeon Master on and off for some nineteen years, I’ve been producing theater for ten years, and producing indie film and TV for the web for nearly three years. In the gaming realm, my past and current RPG groups all seem pretty well pleased with my campaigns. I don’t know it all by any stretch of the imagination, but here are four tips that I try to follow when working on any film/TV/theater/gaming project. These are the broad strokes - the foundations of quality. You can probably have success without them, but I suspect you will fight a lot harder for it.

(For the record: I’m defining an indie film project here as a low or no-budget endeavor of which you are the creator and the primary driver. A project you are hired onto often has its own, very different, set of needs and motivations.)

TIP #1: BE PASSIONATE

Passion cannot easily be faked, and faked passion cannot be long maintained. When you’re creating an indie film project or preparing to DM a campaign, you’re likely not getting paid. In fact, you’re probably losing money. Even if you’re lucky enough to be getting paid, you’re probably working on multiple projects to cobble together rent and living expenses. That means you’re working crazy hours, late into the night, for months and maybe years on the same project. Some of that work will be boring (making budgets, calculating experience), some of that work will be frustrating (wrangling people and their schedules) and some of it will be infuriating (the 50th re-write). Without a burning passion for the project, it is be difficult to complete all that needs to be done, much less maintain high quality.

Passion is also of critical importance in two other key areas:

  • On-Set/At the Table
    Whether you are a Dungeon Master, Writer, Producer, Director, Creator or all of the above, on your indie project you are a leader. The tone you set will infect everyone else working on the project. If you come to set filled with unbridled excitement, that will lift spirits and motivate others to participate to the best of their ability. Your passion and enthusiasm are signals to your people that something awesome is going down. If that passion is genuine and lasting, others will join you and help pull the project to be the best, and most fun, it can be.
  • The Long Tail
    Indie film projects and RPG campaigns can have a long lifespan. I’ve filmmaker friends who just got a DVD distribution deal for an indie film they shot four years ago, which was written a couple of years prior. For six-plus years they’ve been working on this single project, first raising money (crappy), then making it (fun), and then promoting it (alternating fun and awful). If they were not passionate about their project, they could never have weathered all that. GOLD was written in late 2007, and the Season 1 DVD dropped in June of 2010. That’s two and a half years, and only a sliver of it has been the actual making of episodes - promotion, fundraising and technical rigamarole have filled the bulk of that time. And we’re still raising funds for Season 2. My longest RPG campaign, a Ravenloft serial campaign that started in late high-school, lasted five years. And the group got together and played a big conclusion adventure several years after that (those of you paying close attention may notice there a plot parallel to a certain mini-series in the middle of its release schedule ;-). It’s difficult to spend the time and do the grueling work a project needs to shepherd it from inception to successful conclusion without a burning passion for the project.

TIP #2: FIND THE BEST PEOPLE

In both an indie film and a typical RPG campaign, there are a lot of roles to fill - you just can’t do it alone. Here a DM has a distinct advantage over the filmmaker - as a DM you need only find three to six great people. For a typical film, you need actors, a director, camera, lighting, sound, etc. etc. But whether you need three people or twenty people, you need the best possible people. You need people who are enthusiastic about the project and great at what they do, who collaborate and play well with others, and who are willing to take on more than just their narrow role in order to ensure the success of the project.

The best people can be had, but it takes time and work to find them. And, once found, they can sometimes be a pain in the ass, scheduling-wise. You see, the best people are in great demand. They are busy. Scheduling a lot of the best people to work together on a project can be a nightmare. But if you can make it happen, all that work will be absolutely worth it. The best people can save your ass when you make mistakes (and you will). The best people will inspire each other to be their best. The best people will raise the quality of your game or indie film to a higher level than it would be without them (did I mention GOLD’s Streamy nomination for Best Ensemble? Or NOTZK’s IndieIntertube nomination in the same category?).

A word on finding the best people: the best person sometimes needs to be convinced to spend his or her time on your no-money indie project, but the best person is seldom someone who needs to be coerced. Convincing someone is different than coercing him or her. Sometimes the person you think is the best does not feel like your project is the right fit - that’s okay. But if you coerce someone you think is a best person into your project and he or she does not want to be there, you will not get all those best person benefits.

TIP #3: BE PREPARED
Preparation is the key to turning your passion and best people into a successful project. All of the talent and passion in the world don’t get you very far if, when they show up to set or to the table, you have no plan. Careful, detailed planning ahead of time allows you to focus on each task/encounter as it comes, field questions from your people, and troubleshoot when the need arises (and it will). It’s not always the most fun part of the gig, but it is an absolute must if you want your project to go smoothly. For the DM, understanding your NPC/Villains motivations, knowing your encounters and dungeon inside and out, and knowing your PC’s strengths, weaknesses and backstory will provide a rich, deep and engaging experience for your players that just reading out of some adventure can never match. For the filmmaker, solid comprehensive preparation means that your cast and crew is never standing around waiting to find out what comes next and that you’re never going back to your script and wondering “did we shoot that?”

There are a lot of DMs and filmmakers out there who are great off the cuff. In fact, you need to be great at improvising to be truly successful at either - there will always be times when things don’t go as planned, there will always be suggestions from your best people about how things might be done differently, and your ability to improvise will save you in those moments. Strong fundamental preparation allows you to field questions and suggestions from your collaborators, evaluate them and incorporate them into the project.  If you’ve solid planning underneath your session - you know your shots, your pages, your NPCs, your dungeon - you can riff on that preparation to make your improvisation seem as polished as every other part of your shoot/adventure.

TIP #4: SERIOUSLY, BE PASSIONATE
Yes, tip number four is simply a repeat of tip number one. We all do lots of things in this life about which we are less-than passionate. Your indie film or RPG campaign should not be one of them. Your indie project is going to eat your time (and maybe your money) like a ravenous Tarrasque who just woke up from his millennial slumber. If you are not deeply passionate about it, your experience and your end product (if you ever get there) are going to suffer for it.

In the end, a Dungeon Master and an Indie Film creator have very similar jobs: to wrangle a bunch of talented, specialized people together to tell a compelling story over a period of time. Both jobs can be great fun and incredibly rewarding, at least I’ve found them to be so.

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Happy Holidays from the GOLD Crew!

December 22, 2010 | David

This year has gone by so fast!

It’s been a big one for GOLD: a Streamy Award nomination for Best Ensemble, an official selection of the ITVFest (after being a 2009 official selection at the NYTVF), screenings at Dragon*Con, winning the Parsec Award for Best Video Story, and now the release of Night of the Zombie King.

We hope you’ve had as great a year as we have. Now, grab a hot chocolate, snuggle up on your couch, and let us entertain you as the year comes to a close:

Night of the Zombie King Epsiode 2
Watch NOTZK Episode 2: When Black Roses Bloom
In Episode 2, the game gets underway. The old friends fall into familiar patterns, Martin’s adventure tests the players’ skills, tension emerges between Jaz and Brian, Hicks exhibits his old-school roleplaying chops, and Jaz attempts to re-connect with Danny.

Watch When Black Roses Bloom now at www.notzk.com

NOTZK Press
Even with XMas rapidly approaching, reviews have started to come in for Night of the Zombie King. NewTeeVee said, ”The level of authenticity brought to the series is profound...” and Tubefilter says it is a ”a compelling story of friends reunited” with a ”standout performance from Maxwell Glick.”

We’ll keep you posted as more blogs and magazines pick up the story. If you write about NOTZK on your blog or elsewhere, make sure to let us know at goldtheseries@gmail.com so we can spread the word!

Behind the Scenes on the GOLD Blog
As NOTZK is released, we’ll be posting lots of stories about the making of the series on the GOLD blog. Here are some recent highlights:


Keep checking back for more great stuff from the creators and actors in coming weeks!

Last Minute XMas Gifts: the Music of GOLD
So, you’re scrambling for last minute gifts for friends and family? Well, thanks to the magic of iTunes (and other online music services), there’s still plenty of time to get incredible Jacob Carvermusic from artists featured in GOLD and Night of the Zombie King. These amazing artists are among our favorites, and have given generously of their talent to make GOLD a richer experience. Their beautiful work will make great gifts for those you love:

Jacob Carver
Jake’s an astonishing singer/songwriter living in Seattle, whose music is featured throughout GOLD Season 1 and in the NOTZK trailer. His heartbreaking anthem, “All We Were Asking,” from the album “Done Gone” is the title theme from GOLD Season 1. Get his music here.The Monolators
 

The Monolators
The Monolators are a much-lauded indie band out of Los Angeles, uniformly praised for their crisp, lo-fi sound. Their bright, catchy “Silver Cities,” from the new EP of the same name, is the end titles song for NOTZK Episode 1.  Get their music here.
 

The Monolators
Andrew Rose Gregory
While perhaps best known for his work with his brothers and sister-in-law (The Gregory Brothers) in the wildly popular AutoTune the News, Andrew has released several albums of hauntingly beautiful solo work. His lovely “When We Closed Our Eyes” from “The Lost Year” soars over the end titles of NOTZK Episode 2. Get his music here.

For breaking news about GOLD: Night of the Zombie King, keep your eye on the website (www.goldtheseries.com), our facebook page (www.facebook.com/goldtheseries) and follow us on twitter (@GoldtheSeries).

Thanks for supporting GOLD and indieTV. Happy Holidays. We’ll see you kobolds later.

David Nett
Creator, GOLD

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Winners: NOTZK Release Contest!

December 20, 2010 | David

Thank you to everyone who entered our NOTZK release contest on Facebook & Twitter. Here are the winners.

As stated in the original blog post, we picked two winners each from Twitter and Facebook. Congratulations to:

Winners from Twitter:

@Geek_Lantern
@thtrnerd221

Winners from Facebook:

Joe Lonergan
Adam Sawyer

All four winners will receive:

- signed GOLD: Season 1 Poster
- signed GOLD: NOTZK Poster
- signed GOLD: Season 1 DVD
- a few GOLD/NOTZK buttons so they can spread the love to their friends

If you’re one of these four folks, please email your name and address to goldtheseries@gmail.com so we can get your prizes to you!

Sadly, we won’t be able to get these prizes to ya by XMas, but as soon as our NOTZK posters get here from the printer (and we can get them signed), they’ll be in the mails.

Thanks, everyone, for helping spread the word about Night of the Zombie King!

-David
Creator, GOLD

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NOTZK Opening Title Design

December 15, 2010 | David

Cinematographer/writer/graphic designer Andrew R. Deutsch talks about the NOTZK opening title sequence.

Originally posted at the RollandDesign blog: www.rollanddesign.com

The Night of the Zombie King titles were shot entirely on my coffee table in my living room, I recreated one of the tabletop gaming scenes from the episodes. Strategically placing figurines with the translucent dice, I wanted the shadows to dance across the elements to create movement where usually there isn’t any. I ended up shooting about 45 minutes of footage and only using about 15 seconds.


I set up the camera on a small tripod and grabbed an LED flashlight to get that high contrast needed. The light source also could pierce the dice and push their shadows pretty far without losing too much contrast.

The raw footage was then re-colored in Magic Bullet Mojo and edited in Premiere and, finally, the titles were added in After Effects.

All in all I think they worked very well for the content of the series and I’m very proud to have them showcased on such a wonderful show.





- Andrew R. Deutsch
Writer/Exec Producer/Cinematographer
GOLD: Night of the Zombie King

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From the Shadows

December 14, 2010 | David

This is it. I'm proud to present Night of the Zombie King - Episode 1: From the Shadows.

Over the last few months I’ve probably watched this episode five hundred times. That’s not an exaggeration - we edit these guys ourselves, we do the color correction ourselves, we QC the dialogue mix and score, and we do the final sound mix ourselves. And, since I directed Episode 1, I’m ultimately responsible for it, so I watched it even more, just to be sure I hadn’t messed too much up. Even if I haven’t watched it front to back every time, all the viewings in pieces have certainly added up to that.

What struck me tonight, after we’d uploaded what we thought was the final render to Blip.tv and were all QCing it to make certain it was ready for you all to watch, was how short it is. It shouldn’t have been a surprise - we designed the show that way, and from the first table read early this year we knew each episode was between 5 and 6 minutes, more or less. Even so, this episode of which I’m so proud, the first of six I’m very excited to show you, seemed so short to me in those three or four viewings.

So much work goes into this thing we do, so many hours from so many dedicated, talented, professional people. These people, my friends, have poured themselves into this thing. And, in my humble opinion, it shows. Their talent, their dedication - our dedication - I think it makes these short five and a half minutes stand out. I think you’ll agree. I can’t thank any of them enough, so I’ll thank all of them way too little: thanks, folks. You are cool.

So, enjoy our first episode. We’ll have a new one next week, and a new one after that. Each of them will be the result of hundreds of hours of work by a couple dozen people. I’m very proud of each and every one of them. And I think you’ll like ‘em.

Okay. Off to bed. I’ve more cool stuff to make in the morning. Thanks for watching Night of the Zombie King, and for supporting GOLD and indieTV. You, too, are cool.

-David Nett
Creator, GOLD

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