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May 31 2009

Coverage of Joss Whedon's keynote address at Wesleyan. On Saturday night Joss gave a lecture on "Defining American Culture: How Movies and TV Get Made" at Wesleyan University. Topics of interest included The Cabin in the Woods, Dollhouse, Goners, Dr. Horrible and that Buffy movie. More coverage can be found at Still Indie.

Whedonesque's XanFan32 was there as well and their posts on what Joss said can be found here and here.


"mystical vampire yarn"?

More important than nitpicking, thanks to Cinema Source for actually providing a write-up. I've been boggling at the lack of anyone online discussing the event.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-06-01 07:43 ]
I wish at some point someone would ask Joss for how long Universal owns Goners. The article does seem to give the impression that it's dead as far as Universal goes. It would be nice to know if there's ever a point at which the rights revert back to him.
I've been boggling at the lack of anyone online discussing the event.

If it's not on YouTube then it didn't happen.
Yeah...the Elisha thing is kinda weird, especially when they keep saying it over and over again.
Ha! "BenVerine"; now there's a movie I'd go see.
I had heard a little about this, but why did the Sci-Fi Channel change their name to "SyFy" ? To quiet the sticklers who like to make a huge distinction between the term "science fiction" and its shorthand ?

Has Joss always had an earing ?

[ edited by Kris on 2009-06-01 08:20 ]
Has Joss always had an earing ?

It made for a painful birth, for sure.
I'm a fan of the jossring.

I promise never to call it that again.
Does anyone know what Goners is about? Did that ever leak? Is the script out there? I'm really curious, especially if it never gets made.
bonzob, this likely is the fullest list of what's been said about the movie.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-06-01 08:56 ]
I am thinking (especially with the "Elisha" -- is this as opposed to Eliza Cuthbert?) that Benverine is perhaps meant to be written out as Ben Vereen :)
How badly researched can an article be? Elisha?
And how did the ratings go up towards the season finale? They were actually terrible and going down if I remember correctly.
I think this is just a writer who relies on Spellcheck. We also have "unphased" for "unfazed". If it is a word, or a name, albeit a different word or name than the writer wanted, it's not highlighted. And, yes, it was surely "Ben Vereen" that Joss meant as well.

It's a good article, and the writing is fine, except for the spelling; so it's not as if the writer doesn't care. Some people just have a spelling problem, and Spellcheck is an imperfect solution.
I know it's a contentious topic so I won't go much into it, but I found a few sentences in the last paragraph odd. Was this a question posed directly to Joss, or did the author just read another recently published article online and decide to stick it in at the end?

It was also neat hearing his opinion on a new Buffy movie without him. I think after a few days I've more or less made my peace with the project, if only because we do have the comics (for now), and the show has been over for a while. The worst that could happen is that the movie would be terrible and it'd be just another non-Joss Buffy story that I'd discard from my mind!

EDIT: Also, if what was written was true about what the Marvel guy said, that makes me pretty angry. I already stopped reading Marvel comics once they got the new team for Runaways (didn't like 'em as much as the Vaughan and Whedon teams), but they're not doing themselves any favors with attitudes like that.

[ edited by archon on 2009-06-01 10:57 ]
Well, he obviously added his own information to the blog. Which is fine, he's not suggesting he took notes and wrote a news story. I am also very confused about "Elisha." The Ben Vereen jokes were hilarious, actually. Bix, the Goners reference was literally one sentence... mentioning that he didn't think it would ever get made. archon, that is an accurate description of what Joss said. That the Marvel folks were like "Hey! We're going to use your ideas, isn't that great?" And Joss said "am I getting paid? No? Oh."

As for Dr. Horrible, he did say that he might try to do something else on that level, in that straight-to-Internet way. I didn't get the feeling it *wouldn't* be Dr. H, he really didn't lead me to believe he had any other thoughts than, "hey, let's do that again." Saying he deflated rumors of Dr. Horrible 4 is a little strong, in my opinion. Nothing that direct was even hinted at.

And as for the last bit? That's completely his opinion. Nothing of that nature (a Serenity sequel, a Firefly reunion) was even brought up... not by Joss, not by the audience.
"Goners" was a vampire-centric story? Interesting... that little factoid has never been brought to light until now. God, I wish he could buy that script back from Universal and shop it elsewhere!
Dollhouse budget is cut in half? Yikes. Good thing Joss knows how to still bring quality on a low budget.
Darn, they fixed it! Nevertheless, my new catchphrase is, "It had to be Elisha."

ETA: Thank you, ghm101!

ETA: And thank you, fortunateizzi!

[ edited by Pointy on 2009-06-02 01:04 ]
Great article, Looking forward to seeing Goners, lt sounds like a good movie.

Sci-fi changed to SyFy because they couldn't copyright the former.
I’d like to apologize to people for the spelling errors in the original post, and the fact that I did, admittedly, list Eliza as Elisha for reasons passing understanding that may or may not have had to do with exhaustion…

I was planning on reading over the article today after I woke up when I would have a shot at revising it, so I hope that I have managed to take the criticisms into account. I didn’t think Whedonesque would have a link prepared so quickly, but I appreciate the support.

The last bit is just me musing about a possible continuation of Firefly that actually echoes the sentiment of another blogger I was reading recently, and the quotes are as close as I can remember to the actual event as I did not have any devices to record with. We weren’t even supposed to take pictures during the event, so I interpreted the Q&A as being okay and went from there.
Thanks for explaining and thank you for the write up.
Thanks ghm101, great write-up, I've been waiting since it happened for someone to give us details

Great article, Looking forward to seeing Goners, lt sounds like a good movie

You're going to have to look forward a long way. Goners is the one he thinks is dead. Though they've just finished filming Cabin in the Wooods
Yes--thanks ghm101 for taking the time to get it online for the rest of us!

Also, I read the comments before looking at the article and the earring discussion had me worried...was it going to be Harrison Ford style or something cool. Not that Harrison's isn't cool...but it's not. Han Solo wearing a diamond stud in his ear never sat right with me. Anyway, in pure Jossy fashion, it's subdued and cool. All is well in the world.
Dollhouse may have lost half of its budget but how much of the 1st year's budget was tied up in building the set?

Thanks for the write up ghm101.
the Goners reference was literally one sentence... mentioning that he didn't think it would ever get made

XanFan32, so the description of the movie in the linked item is wrong? I'm finding it a little difficult to believe that after all this time Joss suddenly copped to it being a vampire movie, something never previously said, but if he did, then that's newsy.
Thank you ghm101, you make it possible for the rest of us to enjoy this speech which we could not attend, now if there was just video available....
Where does it say Goners is a vampire movie?
Ah, it's been edited. It now says "mystical fantasy yarn".
The Goners reference was indeed a single sentence about it not appearing as though it would be made, the quote used in the article is noted in the article as being from an earlier interview and not the talk this past evening.

The vampire reference came afterward during the signing of materials where he talked about his grad film that he had burned the negative of (a vampire story, no surprise there) and how it compared with Goners on a thematic level. It's not really a vampire story per say, and that's why I changed the wording.
This article left me with a mental image of Hugh Jackman unleashing the claws, then suddenly breaking into a song and dance number with Ben Vareen singing the lead.
The great thing about that, crippledlion, is that, from what we know, Jackman could actually hold his own with Ben Vereen on a musical stage.

And now I've got an image of Dr. Horrible singing "corner of the sky" in my head.
Joss seemed very pleased with what they had shot and stressed that they weren’t going to give away any of the film’s plot because, unlike a lot of movies, “we have one.”

Ah, a fun Joss quote. Afternoon made.
"I feel a great sense of amusement at the concept." ain't the only one.

I wish I was cool enough to give a keynote address. Especially one where people actually show up and write down some of the things I say...
What do you call a very large mustelid who sings "Ease On Down the Road"?
I need to go to an event where Joss speaks. Someday, somehow. Thanks for the write-up ghm101!
"Benverine" ? I think that's for when your sinuses get clogged.

I'm actually picturing Ben Vereen whipping out adamantine jazz hands and dancing feet, and I like it.

Yeah, I was pretty sure the specificity of Goners as a vampire thing was notsomuch - but I'm saddened to hear (again) about the unlikelihood of Goners being greenlit.

Sooooooo - he burned the negative of his grad film that could be compared with Goners on a thematic level. Hmmmm - doesn't say any and all prints were destroyed. Do it? I'm sure it would be fascinating to see, but I also know I'd DIE 1,000 DEATHS if anyone were to dig up and watch my senior video project. *sigh* And I've got no public attention shining on me, nor any professional filmmaking career whatsoever to protect.

Well, maybe now Joss will consider collaborating with us at Goners to produce the "Goners Sockpuppet Singalong Blog: Mia and Violet's Awfully Big Adventure."

You can still join us at Goners - "Home of lost causes, and forsaken beliefs, and unpopular names, and impossible loyalties."

Thanks, ghm101 for the write-up and incidentally, a nice side shot of Joss. (I'm pretty sure, btw, that we've been noticing and then re-noticing Joss' earring for some years now.)
Others can have not given up hope on Firefly. I refuse to give up hope on Goners.
It really sounds like Joss has very little (if any) interest in being a part of the new "Buffy" at all... which, is kind of surprising to me and yet not surprising at the same time.
You know one thing about Joss's comments that he wished more people would try to do what he did with Dr. H, is that I'm thinking if someone OTHER than "well-known television and movie producer" Joss Whedon did it, it would never break even.

Since I think he did a full (albeit cheap) production, if someone who wasn't well known tried this it would probably be a huge gamble. Whedon doesn't have to market his name, Ricardo Flagstaff from Springfield Illinois probably does.
Joss should make his own version of Project Greenlight where his home-version of ME produces something the length of Dr. Horrible that wins something. They could even make a *ahem* reality show out of it.
Regarding no follow-through with new media...

I always felt that people would do better (or survive) producing their own internet media if they pooled together resources. Maybe even make their *own* network in a sense. Have a host site and studio that shares equipment and take it from there. But instead of the network capitalizing on the independent projects, it's mostly used for structure (i.e., no product is "reviewed" or "turned down", just pay for the services of the equipment).
What there needs to be - for right or wrong - for internet project development is a studio. Several, in fact. Indy, well funded, well managed. Who can finance and direct internet stuff, and then distribute it online via existing technology.

The thing is, I have ideas. I have ideas which - frankly - aren't that bad. And I'm a massive critic of myself - I don't even rate my own shaving. But I've got absolutely no way to realise them. Even if I got the crew together, I wouldn't have the equipment. Or if I got the equipment, I wouldn't have the crew.
Since I think he did a full (albeit cheap) production, if someone who wasn't well known tried this it would probably be a huge gamble. Whedon doesn't have to market his name, Ricardo Flagstaff from Springfield Illinois probably does.

True to some extent, but people like Felicia Day and Sandeep Parikh are already doing it. Joss has always been pretty up front about the connections he had and the favors he called in to make Dr. Horrible while encouraging other people to try their own small-scale internet projects. And if you read XanFan32's comments, Joss noted that when he says people can do "anything" he doesn't mean anything and also on the same scale as Dr. Horrible.
Gossi - lets set up a production company! It could be called "Cheesecake or Pie" and erm...I could make the tea.

ghm101 - thanks for this, it was really interesting. Wish we had a transcript! I would love to hear Joss talk about the business.
I'd certainly settle for a transcript, but given the devotion of Joss' fanbase and his prominent public profile, it's hard to believe there is no video (or even audio) record of this speech.
Videotaping wasn't allowed according to XanFan32.
I was there!! :)

And yes, there was no video or photography allowed during the speech.

I have a write-up with photos from before and after, though. You can see it at my livejournal here. (There's a pic of me and Joss together! My dream come true! haha.)
Joss has spoken before about pondering the idea of creating a sort of Roger Corman studio for the Internet.
I hope it wouldn't be exactly like a Roger Corman studio as -- well -- I'm not a fan of most campy-ness.
His point was that a lot of people cut their teeth on filmmaking by working for Roger Corman, and there really isn't an equivalent entity today.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-06-01 23:05 ]
Thanks, fortunateizzi - and thanks for the photos, too.

Man, I'm happy Joss has so much to do these days, but I wish like hell he got a chance to take a break before being flung headlong back into Wallhouse.

Seriousfully, it ain't right.
It seems that in order to make a production that is completely removed from the entertainment industry, you still have to be connected with the industry. I am sure there are tons of people who would like to do something in this vein but do not know actors or crews who are all willing to work for almost nothing for a project that could end up on YouTube. I like the idea and hope one day soon it takes off, but as always, the reality makes for a very flawed inception.
At the moment we have Youtube at one end (plenty of cats on treadmills) and Hulu at the other (Dollhouse etc)

What's needed is something in between. Some site with some quality threshold, not as hard to break in as selling a script to Fox or Universal but not where anything can be uploaded like YT.

Indie film has been around for years, with film students with at least some training in sound, lighting etc as well as writing, acting and direction, but the technology for getting that work seen and available to the masses has not existed.
But the cost of such a site must be within the reach of someone willing to take a risk.

Because if a site like this reaches a critical mass of new and enjoyable quality content then it should be able to be ad supported and self funding.
Well. film students have been making student films for a long time and have been getting actors and crew to work for nothing or next to nothing on them...

I did one years ago. I wish I had a copy.
Thanks for all the coverage, those who got to go. I feel slightly less crushed about not having been there now. ;)

(Incidentally, I think "Find your strange" is one of those brilliantly pithy Joss quotes to live by. If it isn't on a t-shirt by this time tomorrow, something is seriously kookoobananas.)
I'd love to see Joss's films from Wesleyan. He mentions another one on the 'Serenity' (the episode) commentary; I think he said it was a western in space too. It would be fascinating to see them
Ha! student films - there was one I was in years ago for some Boston University film students that I'm happy to say I not only don't have a copy of, I never saw the final, if it ever happened.

Ohmygod, it must've been just godawful. *blushes from embarrassment just thinking about it.*

I heard the director got a McDonald's ad on the strength of it, though.

I think the script had me sticking my head in an oven after throwing a tantrum, but it's kinda mercifully faded from my memory.

Bet yours was better, newcj.

Re: creating great web series - I realize that a decent budget and production values can be a factor in making the great & ambitious work one pictures - but then I think about what evilworldofhiglet did with just one static camera, a laptop, a phone, a voice and a pair of hands, and I remember what's possible.
Thanks so much for the LJ link, fortunateizzi, you lucky lucky girl.
I bookmarked you ....
your banner illustrates the same BtS preference as me. ;)
I checked with Wesleyan's Office of Alumni Relations and was told that this event was not recorded by the university either. Some great quotes in part two of Anna Pinkert's write up, thank you, Anna!
Thanks for the link, Pointy!

As I noted in my last post, Whedon started shooting the second season of Dollhouse on Monday. Budgets have been cut, and he’ll be shooting in HD video instead of film.

I actually don't believe they start shooting this week, more like the first writer's room meetings, but it is interesting to know that they will switch to video instead of film. Don't think this has been mentioned before.

[ edited by wiesengrund on 2009-06-02 14:52 ]
Oh, this is a good 'un - thanks, b!X.

"When he is writing a script, he will envision the tag line, the poster, the trailer, every piece of the marketing out of the love for the entire process. 'Of course, the marketing dept. at the studio didn't follow a single one of my ideas,' he laughed. He is not averse to merchandising either (one of the first questions the studio asked him when he pitched Dollhouse was 'Can we make dolls'?)."

Well, of course - first thing one of many of us thought, too. And we'd a bought 'em - still would, I fancy. Not faceless, soulless promo thingys - action Echo, dammit. Adelle and her awesome wardrobe! Topher with Printy the Chair.

Sure wish to hell that the marketing department would pay attention to Joss. I realize that marketing folks may know a lot of stuff about marketing that Joss ( & his fans) don't - but there are also the blinders of the "expert" - so rooted in the way "things are done" that they wouldn't get a fresh idea if it smacked them in the face. Unless you put them in an imprint chair. Which I humbly suggest.

And god knows a lot of the marketing was off-putting to Joss' fans. Well, at least to me, anyhoo. Though I loved this. Still, it seems obvious to me that Joss would best know his fandom - at the very least the earliest and the heart of show's viewing audience - and the likeliest buyers of product, which cough makes them the cashola.

"There was one person who asked a very specific, geeked-out question about Episode 10 of his Buffy comic book series and he knew EXACTLY what the person was talking about (I assume he goes to conventions from time to time and is prepared for everything lol)"

I expect this is more because Joss knows the universe he created extremely well (especially such recent material as Season 8) - by heart in fact - rather than any preparation schooled by his convention experience.

" 'It took me basically until now,' he said, 'to realize that my vision of a beautiful teenage girl on the outside of society who can kill vampires is actually my avatar, the representation of who I am inside.' "

This came up recently in another interview - I've always thought that the Buffster was Joss' anima.

Finally, this the second time this week that Leonard Cohen has been written about recently by someone also writing about our Jossir. I find the two go together quite well.

So - thanks, Chris Huff - very nice write-up for us masses.

(And I wish Joss could get some R & R.)

ETF: typo and a thing.

[ edited by QuoterGal on 2009-06-02 20:55 ]
There is another write-up about the event here.

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