Ruffus The Dog’s Christmas Carol is now online and available for the world to see and share. You can even watch it here:
It would help a lot if you go to the YouTube site to Like and Comment on the show. That kind of audience engagement – *cough*buzzwords*couch* – really does make a difference.
We’ll also be posting it to our Blip.tv channel and a bunch of other sites very soon – as in: as soon as I can get my shit together to do so.
I promise to write a whole bunch more about how we made it, with photos and clips, and what our next steps will be for the Ruffus project – but for now you can check out what other people are saying by checking out their posts and leaving comments:
Please share this show with as many others as you can. It’s our gift to everyone for the holidays.
Download links will be posted soon – and if you want to watch the earlier Ruffus episodes you can find them on the official Ruffus web site.
And if you really really like JP Houston’s song “Merry Merry” you can find it on our Bandcamp site as a free download. It’s an immensely catchy tune and deserves to be heard over and over again. Enjoy!
P. S. Comments here are also appreciated. Tell me what you think of the show – I’d really like to know.
The full production will premiere online on December 17th. We’re also having a screening at the Revue Cinema that day where Ruffus will appear in person to answer questions. I’ll probably be there too.
If you are in the neighbourhood – that would be Parkdale, west end of Toronto – and if you’re up for a family friendly matinee screening of a Christmas classic then come on by. After the screening there will be a brief Q&A with Ruffus – live on stage! The pay-what-you-can box office proceeds will be donated to the Toronto Public Library Foundation.
The holidays are fast approaching and I made a promise last year that our Ruffus The Dog’s Christmas Carol would be finished and released by then. Here’s how you can help make it so.
When we started the project we attempted, through Indie Go-Go, to raise the full $8,500 we expected we could scrape by on to make the whole thing work and release it to the world. We only managed to achieve $2,090 but that generosity from our supporters convinced us to carry on and go ahead with the shoot. I’ve blogged about that before – here and here and here – and here’s our original Indie Go-Go pitch.
Well now, after almost a year of gradually, inexorably (if not continually) working on the post production of the show we are coming down to the wire. The many favours and dedicated sweat equity contributed, in addition to the much needed cash, have carried us almost to completion but once again we find ourselves in need of real money to ensure the project gets finished at the level of quality it deserves and to enable us to release it to the world on time for the holiday season.
The show will be released online for free streaming and downloading with the option to buy DVD copies, songs, posters, calendars, t-shirts and (hopefully) a graphic photo-novella. But it’s gotta all be done and ready for release before December 15th.
Our clock is ticking.
If you can contribute that would be freaking awesome. If you can’t you can still help us with word-of-mouth, just telling people about the project.
Full Disclosure: When I refer to “we” on this project I am mostly referring to “me”, since I’m the guy who has always chosen to wear too many hats. Hey – I got a fat head – might as well use it, right? But I always say “we” because I am not a one-man-band; I rely upon and have benefited from the extraordinary generosity of my friends and family – all of them colleagues and collaborators in this work with me. I couldn’t do a thing without them.
Thanks in advance for your generosity. If you have any comments or suggestions or if you have any questions please feel free to post them here or via email.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back in the basement and keep working on the show.
The process of using IndieGoGo has been interesting and I’m pretty sure it will prove to be useful for other projects we come up with in the future. Our initial goal was for $8,500 which was a painfully low amount considering how ambitious this production has become. With only 5 days left to our IndieGoGo deadline we have only managed to secure about 20% of our goal – but we’re forging ahead with production regardless.
I’m sure I could have done a better or more aggressive job of promoting our efforts to raise funds but all excuses and caveats aside – I’m a puppeteer, dammit! We did manage to get a very nice mention in BoingBoing which helped draw a lot of attention to all this nonsense we’re up to.
Luckily, I’ve been blessed with a team of friends and colleagues who are both dedicated and talented. Their generous contribution of time and skill will be what makes our version of “A Christmas Carol” really shine.
Our shoot days are coming up fast and I’m looking forward to the four days of hilarity and hard work that lie in store for all of us.
The miraculous Jane Edmondson, assisted by Tatiana Hernandez-Deutsch, has been creating wonderful miniature ealry Victorian wardrobe for our cast of puppet characters. And our designer, Karen Valleau is crafting new puppet characters and just finished an exquisite snowglobe with St. Paul’s Cathedral inside.
Earlier this evening I had a Skype call with our composer, JP Houston – he’s currently in L.A. recording and rehearsing for a European band tour – and he’s been sending me demo tracks of the songs for this production and they are frickin’ awesome. Unfortunately he won’t be able to come to Toronto for the song recording sessions so we’ve been organizing a back-and-forth effort with him sending tracks here – we record the vocals and send them back – and so on and so forth until my brain melts out my ass.
It’s all fun and games until someone’s brain melts out their ass.
And for those who know me well – today I found myself alone in the kitchen making production sketches – and involuntarily let loose with one of those maniacal laughs.
Please, do what you can to help us out – or at least encourage others to help – every little bit is greatly needed and appreciated. The finished show WILL released online on December 21st. So there.
Here’s the original IndieGoGo pitch video:
And here, of course, is the widget that leads you to our IndieGoGo pages:
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go edit some footage of Sinbad the Sailor and these two pigs, Ray & Harry, the Hausen brothers.
I haven’t posted a lot here lately because I’ve been allegedly busy writing the script for the Ruffus The Dog version of “A Christmas Carol”. It was a bitch to finish partly because I’m lazy slob and also because I ignored the advice contained in my own notes and found myself in the trap of trying to remain true to Dicken’s original text.
What was I thinking?
In the original Ruffus episodes we tackled a lot of different kinds of stories, including Dr. Jeykll & Mr. Hyde, Around The World In 80 Days and The Three Musketeers as well as more common fairy tales like The Emperor’s New Clothes, Tom Thumb and The Three Bears. Rarely, if ever, did we ever use any of the original text from those stories. Sometimes we would crib a line or two from a famous movie version – more often we’d stick in some cheesy vaudville gags – but we always managed to find a way to adhere to the spirit of the stories without letting ourselves get distanced from the unique world we had created for Ruffus The Dog.
I watched every film version of “A Christmas Carol” I could find and while I wanted to emulate the Alistair Sim version, entitled “Scrooge”, because it’s my absolute favourite – I knew I couldn’t just go ahead and copy it for both artistic and legal reasons. The words of Charles Dickens in that slender volume of a holiday ghost story are SO tight and nuanced – as opposed to his usually penny-a-word serialized novel ramblings – that it became even more difficult for me to cut the tale down to the bone and still leave enough room for our deliberately stupid puppet gags. At one point I had a draft that was 113 pages – that’s a fucking feature film!
Knowing we can’t do a feature for $8,500 + a pantload of goodwill meant I had to stop wasting valuable time, drag my head out of my sorry arse and get down to business. Hack. Slash. Cut. Revise. Rearrange. Be more inclusive of other faiths. Leave room for the Pig and the Monkey and the Sheep – and find the best places to use JP Houston’s wonderful songs.
Last night – after a day of intense last-minute effort (combined with an interlude for putting zombie makeup on my son) – I finally had a working draft that we can use as the basis for our production.
I credit Richard Williams for his half-hour animated version (which also starred Sims as the voice of Scrooge) for leading the way. While I didn’t copy his structure entirely – partly because it was a tad too abbreviated – it certainly showed me what could be safely excised and still leave the heart of the story intact — with room to spare for pigs, sheep and monkeys.
So it is written – so let it be done.
It ain’t Shakespeare. It ain’t Dickens. It’s Ruffus The Dog – and that’s what we wanted.
Now – on with the task of raising the rest of the cash and getting the team organized to meet our proposed shoot dates for the last week of November. Wait a minute – today is November 1st?
P. S. You can help contribute (if you haven’t already) by visiting our IndieGoGo web pages where we are crowd-sourcing our funding for this episode of Ruffus. Word-of-mouth is as valuable as cash – please tell everyone you know. Thanks!
I'm going to be slowly making some changes to the website both in format and content - and I'm pretty sure even the URL will change.
It's going to be more of a personal news aggregator with a featured video blog from yours truly. We'll see how long that lasts. So bear with me - thanks.