Posts by: casimir

New Video: Pants Problem!

I recently made a video about a real-life problem I faced:

This is all true. I am missing pants.

It’s slightly NSFW (if you can’t explain why you’re watching a video wherein the main character is sometimes not wearing pants).

Dallas Interviewed

Rooftop Films has been very supportive to the Internets Celebrities, showing three of our movies over the past two years.

Now, they’re showing 100 movies from Rooftop’s 2008 summer series on – including Checkmate – and supplementing their posts with interviews and other filmmakery things.

To enhance the Checkmate experience, Rooftop sent us some questions, which Dallas answered.

Talk it up – Media Soundoff Interview!

I got thoroughly interviewed.

And in that interview, I talk about:

The spectacularly casual origin of The Internets Celebrities.

The splendidly exciting ascent of Crying, While Eating.

The viscerally humbling experience of film festivals.

The thrillingly unpopular (but close-to-my-heart) Hello Curve.

For anyone making video out there, I talk some talk about the tools I regularly use for the editing and the shooting.

Shout to Jesse Thorn from Sound of Young America (who was interviewed last week) for putting Emerson and Lyle of Media Sound Off in touch with me.

Thanks for listening!

Bigger and Louder

I cringe right before the movie plays. When an IC video goes up at a film festival – projected on a bigscreen with a pro surround soundsystem – I wince and I cringe. I cut our movies on my laptop with my computer’s speakers the guide for my audio mix. Part of that is convenience and part of that is a belief that soundmixing is most successful when it’s crafted for the medium where the video will be seen the most. In this case, we are of the internets and most people watch our videos with only computer speakers. So I crank the mix and don’t worry too much about nuances.

Then the videos go and get into some festivals and screenings get scheduled and there I am in the audience, eyes squinting and heart mildly pounding. It’s overreacting of the first degree but at this point, it’s kind of my M.O. when it comes to sitting in an audience and taking in a nice IC flick – big and bold.

So if you’ve ever wanted to see me wince charmingly through unsmooth changes in aural ambience, or even better, want to just see Bodega or Checkmate on the bigscreen, the opportunity is nigh.

Peep bigscreen game:

Friday, September 12
CHECKMATE plays at Rooftop Films
NY Nonfiction Show on the roof of New Design High School
350 Grand Street between Essex and Ludlow in Manhattan
830pm = Music
9pm = Movies
11pm = Open bar at Fontana’s on Eldridge just above Grand St.

Saturday, September 20
BODEGA plays at the Last Supper Festival
At 3rd Ward in Bushwick, Brooklyn
195 Morgan Ave.
6PM – 1AM = Food (!), films and music

October 1 – 5
BODEGA plays at the Woodstock Film Festival
Woodstock, NY about 2 hours north of NYC
Friday, October 3 at 11am – Short Documentary Program
Sunday, October 5 at 11:15am – Short Documentary Program

We are going to hit all these festivals.

If you ask us, we will save you a seat.
If you nod knowingly, we will bring you back some free beers from the bar.
If we don’t see you there, we will give away your drink tickets.

Dollar Bills Go Flying

At the end of Checkmate, Dallas and Rafi make it rain:

I’d originally wanted to make a movie where people pay for everyday things by making it rain (a mother and child buying groceries, adding to the collection plate at church, the tooth fairy, etc) but in the end, I really just thought it’d be funny to make it rain on a sunday afternoon on a street corner. It wasn’t clear that this scene would make it into Checkmate when we did it. But when I saw video of Dallas chasing that one single down a storm drain, it seemed metaphorically appropriate. I still think a movie about people who make it rain with coins would be a hit.

I like to be prepared before we shoot. The night before we met up, I decided to test out the act of making it rain. Without a handy stripclub, I gathered my singles and attempted to rain dollar bills in my living room. I was trying to answer these hard questions: Do you throw the bills straight up in the air? Do you want to fan them out before you throw them? Should they go all at once or do you save some for a follow-up toss? Do you say the words “make it rain” in a sinister voice when you throw the dollar bills in the air? Or is it better to stay silent and let the cascade of 1s speak for your player status? The answer to these questions is unique to every rainmaker (I like to say “Make it Rain” in a sinister voice and keep my hands extended after throwing the dollar bills straight up in one blast).

But my primary observation about the act of making it rain is that it’s over very quickly. Sure, you might feel fresh for a few seconds. But then gravity asserts itself, leaving you with a hard choice: walk away or scramble on the ground for your flung currency.

The Internets Celebrities choose the latter – as you can see in the extended, uncut, unrated, Make it Rain scene.


The Internets Celebrities all have dayjobs.

Dallas works as a construction manager.
Rafi is a programmer for a non-profit.
I make commercials for cable channels.

Dayjobs are how we make money.

We want to make money off of our movies.

Not fuck you money. Not retarded money. Maybe just a little make-it-rain money? No, just enough money to support taking some days off work, to justify spending some night-time hours on an edit and maybe most importantly, actually paying the good people that shoot, score, design and help us craft the IC flicks.

So we’re asking you kind souls who have enjoyed Checkmate or Bodega, Ghetto Big Mac or Cereal is Dope, Rock the Bells or Hip Hop Honors to help fund our next movie.

We’ve even implemented a handy widget on the right side of this site where you can throw us whatever loose digital dollars you’ve got floating around.

Seriously, even 1 dollar would be appreciated. The great thing about our internets is that we’re lucky enough to be able to get our documentary on check-cashing places in front of almost 500,000 people. If even a fraction of that group pitched in a dollar each, we’d be able to make movies our dayjob.

Now, we don’t have tote bags. And we’re working on T-shirts. Sweet Jesus, we’re working on some T-shirts.

But what we can offer you as a small token of our appreciation is a producer credit.

We don’t have a patron at the moment. We don’t have an agent. We don’t have any sponsors yet. So, basically, we’ve got a lot of room in our end credits and we want that space to go to the people who fund our next movie – essentially producing it.

The producer on most projects is the one who either comes up with the money or handles the money’s distribution throughout the set. For a $1 minimum contribution, you will be listed in our next movie’s end credits as one of our producers.

The wheels are turning on the next project and it’s going to be great. We can’t talk about its content yet as we don’t want to be scooped. But if you’re interested in finding out more before committing some cash, email us for a short synopsis on the next opus.

We’re always happy to discuss future projects with our producers.

Thanks very much for any consideration.

Bloody Good New Video

When you hear a song as funny as “Always” by the Hazzards, you know it needs a video.

True story, I was not super amped to begin with on this project – if only because I was so used to the more lo-fi, documentary productions I’d been doing here with the ICs. I’m not saying it’s easier but working on a set demands more precision and timely execution than shooting the hell out of documentary shooting ratio. I could not have done it without a lot of excellent people: Matt Elkind, Kayla Graffam, Oliver Butler, Sigal Inbar, Sydney Maresca, Anne Harris, Simon Astor, Hannah Bos – to name just a very few.

But I think it came out great. And I’m really glad I directed it.

No Promo

Since I make most of my money by writing and producing commercials, I thought it’d be fun to apply a cable channel’s logic to the Internets Celebrities video flow.

We’re about to drop our biggest documentary yet and in service of that, I thought I’d tease the premiere.

The good/bad thing about promos (on TV or otherwise) is that the science of ratings is inexact. Trailer-makers and promo-producers can never take the full credit or full blame for the size of an audience (or lack thereof). It’s basically viewed as a can’t hurt type of format. Promos get a lot of scrutiny (sometimes too much) because they’re often the first chance that the audience has to look at the actual show.

I just want promos or commercials I make to leave the viewer with the same feeling I get from watching a good trailer in the theater: Damn, I’d like to see that movie.

Failing that, I’d settle for a WTF.

In any event, the above promos are two jokes that I liked a lot from the footage we shot for our new doc that didn’t fit in the final cut. Or maybe they’re in the final cut. Or maybe I’ve said too much.


My mom asks: “How many movies do you have on youtube now?”


“Oh.” She chooses her words carefully. “ I hope you don’t wake up at 40 with just 100 movies to show for it.”

Clearly, to her, short films still retain the traditional stigma of unimportant filmmaking. 100 short films would just be 100 pieces of a compromised totality.

I contend that this is an exciting time for short films with lots of places that want them and the average attention span of the average viewer getting shorter and shorter. More can be said in a smaller period of time – blah blah blah.

That was the kneejerk response I had to my mom’s statement – wherein I defended short films as a viable form and posed the comparison of 100 good shorts against 2-3 mediocre to crappy features. But her purpose wasn’t to denigrate shorts. I think she was just making sure that what I was doing was what I wanted to be doing – that it wasn’t just habitual.

Would 100 or whatever the amount of short videos I’m on pace to make by 40 be a satisfying goal for me?

Even though it’s kind of a misleading point-of-view, I sometimes look at my output with a legacy mindframe. Would I be happy having made this? Would I be happy having made that? Despite it being natural, this impulse feels misleading because it implies a life lived intending to serve one (hopefully) very distant moment of reflection. But it is a type of narcissism that puts your work into perspective. It makes you render the short view you take for granted with the long view superimposed over it.

I’ve wanted to make movies since I was 14. And I thought for a while that how to do this would become obvious if I was flexible enough. It took me a while to acknowledge that beyond developing a spectrum of necessary skills and experience, filmmaking involves answering a lot of hard questions. I think that’s true for any major life choice. You have to basically seal off paths so that you don’t get sidetracked or even worse, lost. You answer questions about what you want to do to make sure it’s specifically what you want to do or in service of that mission.

I bring this all up because I’ve been fascinated lately with all the possible permutations of goals available to the ambitious filmmaker or filmmaking group out there. With the internets going nuts and more and more places hungry for content, there are a huge amount of micro-goals. There are more ways than ever to make money, achieve artistic satisfaction and compromise one’s films and/or identity as a filmmaker. The ICs lately have had some emails back and forth about what our goals are and despite all seemingly being after the same prize (success in all its vague possibility), I wouldn’t say that we were able to answer all of the questions in front of us. Nor did I get the impression that we’d even asked all of the possible questions.

Our origin – as Dallas touched on a few posts back – was fairly serendipitous. Our first movie is still our most popular – in terms of number of views (or hateful comments – whichever you trust more as a metric) – and it was born of 2 hours of filming, 15 minutes after Rafi and I met Dallas for the first time.

Considering we barely prepared for that movie, there is a feeling of leaving things up to chance, of not taking the time to prepare and letting the chips fall where they may in future movies. Why ask questions? Just keep getting together with a camera and a concept and let ‘er rip.

But choosing happenstance as a key function of our aesthetic would be like basically choosing the laziest goal we could. Why not try and refine the strategy and get on the same page in terms of intention? Once your intentions are in sync, you become a much more efficient filmmaking squad. Ideas that don’t mesh with that intention can be thrown out with little dialogue and your energy can be focused on a more narrow field.

So here are some of the questions we were considering:

  1. Should we only make movies about one topic? (i.e. food, social justice, etc.)
  2. Should we try to make money?
    1. Should we try to make A LOT of money?
    2. Should we let money just kind of happen?
  3. Should we make lots of movies?
    1. Should there be a schedule to our output?
      1. A new movie every month? Every week? Every year?
    2. Should every movie be above a certain standard of goodness?
    3. Or should we let a couple of lesser movies squeak through because they cover a timely topic?
      1. Should timeliness trump quality?
  4. If we do decide to make money, how should we do it?
    1. Should we go after sponsorship?
    2. Should we charge people to see our movies?
    3. Should we try to make a DVD and sell it?
    4. Should we try to get signed to a website or channel with budgets for filmmakers?
    5. Should we just make the movies that we want to make having faith that good ideas will breed funding?
  5. Should we make movies for the Internet only?
    1. Should we consider how something is going to look at a film festival?
    2. Are we trying to get picked up as a TV show?
      1. Fuck TV!

The obsessive part of my personality likes the idea of creating this kind of questionnaire. Were we to establish that we only wanted to make monthly, lucrative movies about food above a certain level of goodness which we didn’t charge people for in the hopes of landing a sponsorship and playing on TV, we could close off the other circuits and narrow our focus.

The downside (besides eliminating some of the spontaneous discovery that I think filmmakers like myself tend to appreciate) is that we would have to live with those choices.

Goals are a hard thing to consider because they’re not like the goals you have when you’re a kid. When I was 14, my goal was to be a filmmaker. Now, my goals in terms of movie-making seem to be (in this order):

  1. Making LOTS of moves capable of being seen on multiple platforms.
  2. Making short videos that play almost exclusively on youtube where hopefully they get seen by lots of people.
    1. Making short documentaries about food, holding New York City accountable for its discrepancies and rap shows.
    2. Making music videos for my friends’ bands.
    3. Making short comedies.
  3. Writing/Conceptualizing a good feature that my friends and I can make
    1. Narrative or Documentary
  4. Writing a good feature that someone else can make which hopefully pays well
  5. Making commercials which are artistically satisfying and pay well
  6. Letting money just kind of happen
  7. Getting shorts into film festivals

Ask me on a different day and the goals change order, develop new tangents and inspire doubt. But I think breaking your mission into categories, parts and interchangeable pieces ensures you’re thinking about your work and makes it more doable. You keep moving the parts around and ultimately, you develop your life.

So to return to my mom’s query: Would I be happy having made 100 shorts by the time I’m 40?

The answer is no.

But I might be happy having made 200 shorts, 1 excellent feature (narrative or documentary), 1 well-written but ultimately unsuccessful feature, 50 artistically satisfying and lucrative commercials while seeing a couple of those shorts play Sundance, Tribeca and Clermont-Ferrand – and being funded by a wealthy patroness of the arts.


1. A block of written text at the end of a movie that explains what transpires after the time in which the movie takes place.

“While I found Unbreakable an excellent movie, I did not appreciate the textplanation at the end of the film that told me what happened to Mr. Glass.”

At Urban Dictionary, they say a textplanation is “a lame way to get out of actually calling a person.”

But I like my use of it a lot better.

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