New vlog series

Hey, I’m still alive and blogging, surprise!

Exciting things are happening, one of which is partially responsible for me not blogging quite as much. But first, something I meant to post last month:

“The Masked Loiterer” won Best Screenplay and People’s Choice awards!

Sure I was sad I didn’t get Best Picture again, but I was still really happy to take home multiple awards for the second year in a row. If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the film:

 

So onto the other bit of new business – I started my own web series at the Herald & Review! I’ve been producing news video there since 2006, and filmed blogs with many of the reporters, but was never the lead for any of them. I had a few blogs pre-written for this page, and realized they all were pretty universal, and could work as a blog entry for work. After talking with my boss we decided that it could be fun to have a video series where I talk about my experiences behind the camera. So that’s what I’m doing in “Behind the Lens with Hugh Sullivan.” I’ve also moved my “Just the Tips” series from my YouTube channel into “Behind the Lens,” so I have lots to talk about!

So check the videos, and subscribe to the Herald & Review YouTube channel!

Top 20 again!

I can’t believe I haven’t written anything since April. (Actually I have about 5 extremely long posts started, but I need to edit them down…)

We’ve done some pretty cool stuff since I last posted here, so I’ll just get with the updatin’.

For starters, I’ve put out a few more sketches, and hope to keep up with that. If I can consistantly crank out some short, funny sketches in between the films, I would consider that a personal victory.

Here are some you may have missed:

On top of that, we also had some success in another contest. Jim Vorel (co-worker and Ricky Junkyard of “Chupacabra Country”) is a craft beer enthusiast and found a contest that combined our two interests. It was called the “30 Seconds Over Chicago” Craft Beer Advertising Competition.

The first part of the contest was to choose one of 30+ breweries and pitch an ad to them. We pitched to Triptych Brewing in Savoy, and when they chose it, we won a free keg of their beer!

The next part of the contest was producing the ad, with the help of Dohorty’s Pub & Pins, who let us shoot in their bar. The ad was screened at the Double Door in Chicago, along with all the others. There was a cash prize for the top 3 ads, but we didn’t win anything there. I wasn’t expecting much, because instead of having the 3 judges choose the winners, it was an audience favorite vote. Which meant that the winner was whatever filmmaker could get the most friends into a bar on a Wednesday night in Chicago. It was still fun, so here’s the ad!

After all that, we finally got to work on this year’s entry to the Land of Lincoln 21 Film Project, “The Masked Loiterer.” The idea came from a small article written by Jim Vorel for the prop newspaper in “Operation: Call Drop.” It’s the top article on the right:

Production was a lot of fun, but it was also extremely stressful. This was by far the most ambitious project I’ve ever done, with more props, special locations, and costumes than I’ve ever needed before. I am very lucky to have friends that were willing to step up and help out, taking a ton of work off of my shoulders.

In the end we were able to get a big crowd out protesting in front of the Macon County Courthouse, shoot a “burning at the stake” scene, have a police foot-chase, and drive around in an old Cook County Sheriff’s vehicle.

I was really happy with the outcome of the film, so it’s nice to know it will be shown for a big crowd at the Decatur Civic Center on Friday, August 2nd! (More information here!)

I’ll find out later this week if I am nominated for any awards this year. After winning “Best Direction” and “Best Picture” last year, it would be great to come back and bring home another award.

I was asked to hold back the release of the film until the August 2nd screening, so until then, here’s a teaser trailer:

Autograph book

I don’t have an autograph book.  I did one time, in the 2nd grade, when my aunt took me to Disney World in Orlando, Florida. I walked around all week getting signatures from Mickey and friends.

It’s funny to imagine those poor sweaty teenagers fumbling with those giant gloves trying to scribble out a signature for some dumb kid in a mouse-ear hat. I had to dress up in one of those giant costumes in high school (I was playing the role of Casper the Friendly Ghost for the Special Olympics) and I feel their pain.

"I don't have a photo of me as Casper, but it was just like the Lambchop suit. And no, that's absolutely not me on the right."

Once I got back from Disney, I didn’t fill up the book anymore. Future encounters with  celebrities were all by chance, so I had to think on my toes and have them sign something that I had on me. When I saw Fastball a couple years ago, I bought an album for them to sign, since I wanted the album anyway.

But when I was going to meet photo/video master Vincent Laforet, who I swooned over last year, I wanted to bring something more unique for him to sign. Since he was a big inspiration for me, I thought it would be neat to have him sign my clapboard. At first it seemed like a nerdy idea, but now I really like what it’s turned into.

Instead of his signature sitting on an album or photo that will stay on a shelf or in a box somewhere, this clapboard comes out with me whenever I’m working on a movie. So every time I slate a shot, I see a reminder of a time I met one of my idols, which is pretty inspiring.

So I’ve decided to make this clapboard my official autograph book. If I fill it up, I’ll have to retire it and start a new one, but that won’t bother me at all.

I’m just getting started with it, and got my second signature a few weeks ago when I saw Henry Phillips in Mason City. Although his main thing is music, he also has a hilarious web series on YouTube called “Henry’s Kitchen,” and just produced a movie called “Punching the Clown.”

Since he is active in filmmaking, and “Henry’s Kitchen” was the thing that hooked me as a fan, it made sense to have him sign my film-related “autograph book.” I also had him sign a copy of his movie, since I purchased it at the show.

Now that I have a practical way of collecting autographs to keep me inspired with my filmmaking, I feel like I need a better one for music. I can go back and look at all of the signatures I got from bands on ticket stubs and scraps of paper, but I don’t see those while I’m playing the piano.

I’m wondering how hard it would be to yank a key off of my keyboard at home and get signatures on each one.

(Artist's rendering. I didn't actually sign my own piano)

I wouldn’t get it on the top where it would smudge off, but I think it would be cool to have one on the side of the key, that would be revealed whenever I played the adjacent key. It’s something to think about, and I’ll definitely post a photo if I ever decide to follow through.

When Spring Gives You Snow

It’s been a long time since I made a snowman, so when nature surprised us with over a foot of snow in late March, I decided it might be my last chance this year.

And since all I want to do is make movies, I figured it would be a good idea to make a snowman that could pitch in. So I made myself a boom operator:

Check out some more shots on the Galleries page!

Obviously I wasn’t going to leave my mic out there, or the sweet prop head and wig, so after I took the photos I made a proper snow head.

The next day, the weather was a lot warmer, so he was melting pretty fast. He started leaning to the left, and by lunchtime his left eye fell out.

Alida said he looked like the governor from The Walking Dead, so I made the proper adjustments. What do you think?

Next time I’ll duct tape a knife to the hand and make a Merle.

Last Month

Whoops. I’m really behind on this, but determined to keep up with it.

Primarily this blog is meant to share my creative work, but I like having these weekly posts for a couple reasons. First, it gives me room to elaborate and talk about things that I have to keep really short on Facebook or Twitter.

And second, when I include some of the other details and events from my life that aren’t directly related to the creative work, it helps give me context. I can see what was going on during times of creative struggle and success. And that’s fun to go back and keep tabs on.

Since I have a ton of ground to cover, I’ll keep this short.

Tuesday, Jan. 30th: Filmed semifinals of the Okaw Valley Conference Tournament.

Wednesday, Jan. 31st: Met a 106-year-old man, and filmed his birthday party.

Friday, Feb. 1st: Made my annual trip to film Give Kids a Smile Day, where local dentists provide children with free dental care. The dentist also has an arcade and a different cartoon playing at every chair.

After work, I filmed a new episode of Just the Tips:

 
Saturday, Feb. 2nd: Had our weekly sketch writing meeting and shot this sketch:

 
Sunday, Feb. 3rd: Helped Alida with a family shoot in morning. Look at this awesome shot:

After catching the end of the Super Bowl game with some friends, I watched Punching the Clown, a movie starring Henry Phillips. If you’ve never heard of this guy, check out his music and his tragic cooking show. Once you’re a fan (because you will be,) rent Punching the Clown. He’s coming to Illinois this month and I’m really excited to see him live.

Tuesday, Feb. 5th: Filmed Jabali Afrika, who were playing at Richland Community College for Black History Month.

Wednesday, Feb. 6th: Finally got to see Alida’s favorite band with her. She’s been a huge fan of Matchbox 20, and it was my first time tagging along to a concert. Not only did she get to photograph the show, she was able to have Rob Thomas autograph a photo of the two of them together over 10 years ago! Here’s one of her shots:

Thursday, Feb. 7th: Filmed Girls 2A Regional Finals.

Friday, Feb. 8th: Posted the latest, and most filthy, episode of Ken Reads Erotica. Seriously… this one is not for the faint of heart or weak in stomach:

 
Sunday, Feb. 10th: Walking Dead returns! Was really impressed with the countdown they had for this one:

Thursday, Feb. 14th: Had to drive to Altamont for girls basketball. Video HERE!

Friday, Feb. 15th: Filmed a great game that was forced into overtime with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer.

After the game, I met up with a group to celebrate with health reporter Annie Getsinger, who is leaving us to continue her career closer to her family. She’s been a big part of our newsroom clique and lunchtime hangout crowd, so it’s sad to see her go. But, we had a hell of a bash to send her off. Here are some highlights from an old series we used to do called “What the Health”

 

Saturday, Feb. 16th: Caught up with a friend who we hadn’t talked to in a while and watched Seven Psychopaths, which is an awesome movie.

Sunday, Feb. 17th: Filmed an episode of Just the Tips about storing huge camera rigs!

 
Tuesday, Feb. 19th: More basketball: Mt. Zion @ MacArthur.

Wednesday, Feb. 20th: Filmed a meeting centered around stopping local violence. During the meeting, local 5th graders shared letters they had written to prison inmates, explaining how their lives are impacted by having loved ones in jail. Pretty powerful stuff.

Thursday, Feb. 21st: The sting of waking up early is soothed by free food whenever I have to shoot the Community Leaders Breakfast!

Friday, Feb. 22nd: Drove up to Bloomington to film girls state basketball semi-finals.

Tuesday, Feb. 26th: Had a foggy drive to Mattoon to film regional basketball. Two games: Mt. Zion vs. Charleston and Taylorville vs. MacArthur.

Wednesday, Feb. 27th: Sectional semi-final- Monticello vs. Clifton Central.

Thursday, Feb. 28th: The next installment of Ken Reads Erotica:

 

Saturday, Mar. 2nd: Opening night for the annual St. Patrick’s Day play, put on by my family and friends, back in Chicago. Mom performed an awesome rendition of Frank Sinatra’s “Chicago,” with my dad and brother playing bass and drums, respectively, in the band. It’s always fun to get back to the neighborhood and see the show.

If you made it all the way down here, thanks for reading all that. Or for giving enough of a crap to even skip to read the last sentence. High five.

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