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A Thousand Thank Yous

22 Oct

Ruby Skye P.I. October 2010June 18 – that’s the day I got the email from the Independent Production Fund saying they would finance Ruby Skye P.I.: The Spam Scam. That was 132 days ago. Almost 19 weeks. Four months. Not long at all.

In four more days you’ll get a sample of what we’ve accomplished in that time. But that’s end product.

We’ve tried to be as open about our process in getting here as time allowed. One thing that should be clear by now is that we’ve been having the time of our lives. Not enough time… And yeah, the budget was lean. But our team has been phenomenal and more than made up for the lack of cash with passion and dedication.

Before we lift the curtain on the final product, I want to say thank you to everyone who brought their passion, commitment, energy and time to this project for no money or way less than their market value.IPF

First thank you to Andra, Carly and the board of The Independent Production Fund for giving us this shot. We hope to prove to you that your investment in web series was a very smart and forward thinking move.

Our beloved sponsors! Ruby Skye P.I. is only possible thanks to the generous support of our sponsors in corporate Canada, local small businesses, organizations and the creative contributions of many, many independent film, video & digital artists. These include: Berman & Co. The Dragon Academy,  Eastern Script Inc., Steven Golick at OslerPolaroidPost City SoundPS Production Services,  Rocket Science VFXTEACH MagazineFat Cat Wine Bar,  The Big Chill,Believerville ProductionsChoroid FilmsInkling Entertainment Inc.Montefiore Films,  Brendan Meadows Photography Inc.Richard Maslove MusicFilm & Event SolutionsTotal Two-Way – MotorolaTrew AudioOffice Coffee Solutions. I want to apologize for the fact that I couldn’t get your logos to look any better on this page. But I promise that on Monday, when we open the new site, your logos will look gorgeous!

Best Crew on the PlanetTeam Ruby Skye: Crew, volunteers, social media and research support, post-production team, the parents of our cast, fabulous kids who were extras, background filmmakers — of all ages, our spouses…  So many people contributed to this project with time, passion and perspiration.  I can’t name you all here now, but I love you all and will be forever in your debt. What a thrill to work with so many good looking, hard working, smart, funny people.

Our cast, both young and old: you guys have been fabulous and funny. You breathed life into the characters and the script. I can’t wait to share your work with the world wide web.

Steven! I wouldn’t be here without your encouragement and support. I think you owe me lunch!

Karen — a.k.a. Kevin O’Leary  — your brilliance never ceases to astound me plus you keep my eyes focused on the prize.

Kelly, my creative doppleganger. When I’m too tired to see straight, I know I can close my eyes because you will push for perfection.

Kerry, there is not a minute that goes by that I don’t whisper a thanks to the universal powers that brought you to this project. Never leave me!!

My final thanks is to all of you who’ve been following the project from afar, cheering us on. We feel an incredible sense of community around us. Your support has kept us going and fueled and nourished us. We hope we’ve done you proud.

We’re going to go dark now to focus on getting everything ready.

Curtain goes up Monday at noon Eastern. See you then.

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Friends of Ruby Skye P.I.

22 Oct

Most of the official @RubySkyePI tweeting has been done by the phenomenal Dorice Tepley with support from Kerry, Karen and I.  All of us have felt amazing support from the Twitter community.  Today being Follow Friday, we want to say thanks to some of our wonderful Twitter fans.  You’ve made these last weeks and months so much easier!

Angus Swantee: @angusswantee; Judith Klassen: @judecast; Ruffus The Dog: @ruffusthedog; Canadian Film Centre: @cfccreates: Nora, Dan, Carma: @sparkcbc; Suzi Shelton: @SuziShelton; Margot Leblanc: @margotleblanc; Stephanie Law: @sphinxmagic; Caroline Godin: @carolinegodin; Billi Dee Knight: @billiknight; Jenn Schachter: @jennschac;
Emily Schooley: @the_emi;
Richard Baldwin: @songteller;
Sharon: @creehawk;
Kelly Lynne Ashton: @klashton27;
Nathan Estabrooks: @skoorbatse;
Ian Yorski: @IanYorski;
Suzanne Keppler: @srk_to;
GopherX.net: @GopherXdotnet;
Bianca Filoteo: @biancafiloteo;
Henrietta Walmark: @ettagirl;
Emme Rogers: @EmmeRogers;
Garner Haines; @garnerhaines; Chubby Kay: @ChubbyKay; Jesse Abundis: @jessenovels; Christopher Bolton: @billybuck; Elize Morgan: @elizemorgan; Jennica Harper: @jennicaharper; Micah J. Reid: @mjreid;  KrysstaKM: @KrysstaKM; Lindsay Stewart: @lindsaymstewart;Marilyn Thomas: @MonkeyMarilyn; Robbo Mills: @RobboMills; Scott Albert: @ScottAlbert; Brandon Laraby: @BCLaraby; The Shorts Report: @shortsreport; Andrew Williamson: @OffIslandFilms; Shawnee Rockett: @ShawneeRockett; David Clive: @_creeboy; Mary Henricksen: @garryoakgirl; Stitch Media: @stitchmedia; Shawn Rockett: @ShawnRockett; Shaw Rocket Fund: @RocketFund; Erica Landrock: @ericalandrock; Lucia Mancuso: @lulula; Jessica Frey: @WGCFrey; Courtney Wolfson: @CourtneyWord; Laura Brodie: @laubrodie; Ross McKie: @rossmckie; Fraser Mills: @filmarmy; Katherine Fletcher: @kathfletcher; Michael Dolan: @EvilPRGuy; Shane Lindley: @ImaginaryEric; Gail Renard: @GailRenard; Liz Hover: @LizHover; Chris Bucci: @cbucci_bookman; Will Dixon: @wcdixon

Comment on Our Comment Policy

18 Oct

One week from today, when Ruby Skye P.I.: The Spam Scam launches, we’ll also be launching our new site. And it’s going to be fabulous!
As we’re getting it ready we have to prepare some policies about how people can use the site and what our responsibilities are to the audience.

I’m getting four documents ready:

  • A comment policy
  • An advertising policy
  • A privacy policy
  • A web safety policy.
  • I will be sharing them here as I draft them, so that you can feed in.

    rubyskyepi.com is meant for kids so we want everything to be clear and easy to read.  We want the site to be a safe environment that parents, teachers, librarians and other adults feel good about recommending to kids.  That’s why we are publishing these policies in advance.  We want input from the community.

    Here’s the comment policy:

    We want to know what you think about Ruby Skye P.I.  The site has lots of places to leave comments and questions or talk to other members of the community.  You can leave messages for Ruby on her blog and she’ll answer lots of them.

    To keep rubyskyepi.com a safe and positive place be nice to other people, smart about sharing information and enjoy what we have to offer.

    If you need us to spell it out, here are the things you can’t do:

    • No swearing, flaming, bullying, racism, sexism or just plain being mean.  We’ll take down comments that are hurtful to others.
    • No selling, advertising or spamming.  We’ll remove that too.
    • No personal information about yourself or anyone else.  That’s right, that stuff’s going too.

    Some comments won’t appear on the site until we’ve read and approved them.  We’ll try to be quick about it but if you write a comment and it doesn’t appear right away, don’t worry.  We’ll get to it.

    Now, go ahead, comment, share and have fun!

    Let us know what you think.

    Coming Soon!

    17 Oct

    Ruby look8 days until we launch Ruby Skye P.I.: The Spam Scam.

    On Monday October 25, 2010 you’ll be able to watch Chapter 1: Animal Farm. We’ll release two video chapters each week for six weeks.

    Like the chapters in a book, each chapter in The Spam Scam is a different length. Some are longer, some are shorter.

    Goofy RubyBesides the video, they’ll be tons more fun on rubyskyepi.com. Pretty soon our new website will be up with tons more pictures and backstage information, plus Ruby’s blog, her latest theories and more.

    8 days till Chapter 1, but lots of action between now and then. So keep tuned to this space.

    Ban Plastic Water Bottles!

    15 Oct

    It’s Blog Action Day and this year’s theme is water.  Ruby Skye P.I. producer Kerry Young guest posts today explaining how we kept the crew hydrated through some of the hottest days of summer without creating a mountain of plastic water bottles!

    This is the cry on the petition signed by many of the characters in Ruby Skye P.I. and the reason our set was a plastic water bottle free zone.

    Starting at rehearsals and all through the shoot every member of our cast and crew was given a personal stainless steel water bottle and a marker and some tape with which they could make it their own.

    Office Coffee Solutions donated a bottled water cooler and several giant bottles of water so that we could keep everyone hydrated and cool during the shoot. We took our water bottles and our cooler everywhere we went, even out into a park during one of the hottest days of the summer.

    From Episode 6, scene 34 of Ruby Skye P.I.: The Spam Scam:

    HAILEY:
    65 million water bottles end up in landfill every year.  Plus all the ones littering our rivers, lakes and forests.

    Tap water is safe and delicious and there are all kinds of different and fun styles of reusable water bottles readily available these days. We at Ruby Skye P.I. encourage you to stop using plastic water bottles and help save our rivers, lakes, and forests!

    Taking Blog Action

    15 Oct

    It’s Blog Action Day:

    Blog Action Day is an annual event that unites the world’s bloggers in posting about the same issue on the same day. Our aim is to raise awareness and trigger a global discussion around an important issue that impacts us all.

    This year’s Blog Action Day theme is water and we at Ruby Skye P.I. are delighted to take part and to have something to contribute to the conversation.

    The impact of disposable plastic water bottles on the environment was a serious concern for the characters in The Spam Scam, the Ruby Skye P.I. mystery which launches on October 25th. Hailey Skye, Ruby’s little sister, spends a great deal of story time collecting signatures on a petition to have plastic water bottles banned by the city.

    When my co-producers, Karen and Kerry read the script, they agreed that we should follow the example Hailey Skye was setting. Today, we’re devoting our production blog to Hailey’s cause. There are a few more posts coming through the day. But for now, we encourage you to sign Change.org’s petition calling for an international treaty to provide clean water everywhere.

    The text of the petition is below, you’ll have to go to this site to sign:

    Dear Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,

    I support the UN’s life-saving efforts to accomplish MDG seven: By 2015, halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.

    Safe drinking water and hygienic sanitation facilities are basic necessities required for health and for success in the fight against poverty, hunger, child deaths and gender inequality around the world.

    It is also central to the human rights and personal dignity of every woman, man and child on earth.

    Thank you for all that you are doing at the UN on behalf of the world’s poorest communities.

    [Your name here]

    Teasing the Teaser

    12 Oct

    Madison Cheeatow as Ruby Skye P.I.Tomorrow!

    That’s when we’re launching our second teaser, Meet Ruby Skye!  It’s a fun look at who Ruby is and a chance to get to know a little more about the actress who plays her, Madison Cheeatow.  You’ll also get up close and personal with Kevin Gutierrez, who plays Griffin Lane and with Marlee Maslove, who plays Ruby’s little sister Hailey.

    But that’s tomorrow.

    Today, why not take a second look at our first teaser, Ruby Skye and the Case of the Missing Brownies.

    If that leaves you wanting more Hailey, here she is in her own web series, Hailey Hacks:

    Fine Cut

    10 Oct

    Ruby SkyeWhen we first began editing the episodes of Ruby Skye P.I.: The Spam Scam we had to make some style calls.  There are some among us who argued that the way to win a young audience was with breakneck pacing and MTV style editing.  There was a second faction who felt that would be sacrificing content for style.

    The stakes are high.  We need an audience.  We’ve thrown ourselves into this project heart and soul – because we love the story and the character of Ruby but also because we want this project to be a model for a new way of creating entertainment.  This project is a prototype for entertainment properties that are controlled by creators every step of the way.  But that way has to lead – eventually, at least — to money.   Creative freedom is a wonderful thing but the rent must still be paid.

    Money follows audience.  If we can build an audience for Ruby Skye P.I., we’re pretty sure we can raise money for more episodes and new projects.  And other creators can follow the model to do the same.

    But we’ve got to get an audience.  Of kids.

    Adult viewers will be great too.  Please, watch our videos often, especially when you’re in cafes and airports and using other people’s computers because clicks from different IP addresses are especially lovely.

    But views by kids – children, tweens, teens and families – are the ones that will prove the success of this project.

    So the discussion about how to best attract young viewers was crucial to us.

    There’s one school of thought that kids have grown used to intense, fast-paced entertainment thanks to Sesame Street, MTV, videogames and the like.  Sometimes the fact that YouTube videos are so short gets mixed into this argument – leading people to think that if you don’t grab your audience in the first couple of seconds and get out in less than three minutes all is lost.

    There are merits to some of these ideas.  I do think it’s important to pump entertainment value into every second and not to waste time.  But I reject the view of kids that underlies some of this.  I don’t think kids have short attention spans and I don’t think you have to use visual trickery them to get their interest.  If you give them some quality, they’ll give you their attention in return – and for a long time.  If it’s a great story experience.

    What’s my evidence that this is true? Two words: Harry Potter.

    Harry Potter volumesShort attention span?  Excuse me.  Seven fat volumes.  And kids didn’t say, I can’t read this whole thing.  They said, yay, that book’s going to last a good long time.  Then they tore through the entire 600 pages in a weekend and turned the book over and started again from the beginning, this savouring every word.

    If Harry Potter teaches us anything about kids it’s that they are smart and they know what’s good.  You don’t have to dumb anything down to entertainment them.  In fact, the smarter and deeper the story is, the more they seem to like it.

    Which is why when it came down to it, we did not adopt rock’n’roll editing techniques for The Spam Scam.  We’ve shot something that’s quite beautiful to look at.  It has some terrific performances.  So instead of using an editing style that was mostly designed to trick you into thinking that something was happening, we chose one that we felt suited the story; a style that helps us tell the tale.

    Like many of the other difficult choices we’ve faced along the Ruby Skye P.I. road, this one was solved by reminding ourselves to respect our audience and by letting the needs of the story be the determining factor.

    A Date and Some Advice

    8 Oct

    Ruby Skye with LOGOOctober 2010 is a very special month.  Like all Octobers, it has two lovely events that are all about eating:  Canadian Thanksgiving which happens to be this very weekend and Halloween to end the month.  So October is always good.

    But this year, October has a few extra noteworthy features.  This Sunday will be 10-10-10 – the tenth day of the tenth month of the tenth year of the 2000s.  That’s pretty cool.

    Sunday the tenth is the second of October’s five Sundays.  It also has five Fridays and five Saturdays.  Who doesn’t love a month with five full weekends?  Especially when this one is a three day weekend (at least for Canadians).

    Which is why October 2010 is the perfect month to launch Ruby Skye P.I.

    But when?  When in October?

    Glad you asked because now it can be told: Ruby Skye P.I. launches on October 25, 2010.

    The twenty-fifth!?  Do you know how far away that it is?

    Seventeen days.

    I know.  It’s a long time to wait.  But the time is going to fly by, I promise.  And we have tons of things in store for you over the month to keep you entertained and happy.

    The first is a new video made by our good friend Jennifer Liao of Believerville Productions.  It’s full of advice for young and aspiring actors from the three of the actors in Ruby Skye P.I.: Ali Adatia, Kirklynne Garrett and Ryan Egan.

    To Do Lists

    7 Oct

    Big Chill Ruby rehearsalI’m sitting down to a huge to do list this morning.  Things have gotten kicked up a notch on the post, website and social media fronts.

    I’ve seen cuts for six episodes.  ADR, spotting and mixing dates are on the calendar.  We’ve had to make some style decisions about the episodes that had us questioning the very values and concepts that brought us to this project.  I will talk more about those values in another post, but in the end, Kelly and Kerry and I have come back to the basic underpinnings of the project.  We still believe that kids are smart, that they want rich story environments and that you don’t have to trick them with visual effects and jolts per minute to get their attention.

    Editing and post have been challenging, but ultimately satisfying and I like how things are turning out.

    Our website design is done and so is most of the build.  We’re busy amassing content to populate it.  That’s a huge job.  Among other things, we’re putting together all the bios and photos of cast, crew and characters.  Early this afternoon, we’re deciding on official pictures for each of our characters – for the site and for promotional purposes.

    Hailey and Ruby sister loveThen we roll right into a social media session where we’ll arc out our strategy for pre-launch, launch and roll out.

    I have many deliverables for today.  First, I need to create a Flickr set which will feed into the new website.  Then I will go through the character descriptions that Julie drafted and do a quick pass so they are ready for upload as soon as we pick pictures.  I have to craft what Karen is calling a “Creator’s Statement” which is a sort of mission statement for the project.  Over the long weekend, I’ll grab Julie and we’ll write episodes synopses.  Oh yeah, and there’s ADR to write.

    All this between looking at cuts and juggling other responsibilities.  It’s a lot, but it’s incredibly fun and gives me an excellent reason to swill coffee all day long.

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