[Photo credit to Lobo Jones (Eric Van't Zelfden)]
[Photo credit to Lobo Jones (Eric Van't Zelfden)]

http://hardtimesseries.com - We're premiering tomorrow, Tuesday, April 22nd at 12P (EST), so please visit our website and help us to announce our release via Thunderclap, if you dig our content!

Many thanks to S&A for hosting these entries. If this series ever hits a critical mass, I'll be sure to release my entire production diary (with significantly more details) on our website.

June 17th, 2013 (Cont’d)

[The following was written while we were in pre-production for our second shoot, which was certainly our most involved. Several locations/company moves, lots of characters, lots of coordination. required.]

It's Monday.  At the end of this week, we'll be 3 weeks out from this next shoot.

Anyway, I reaaaally need to lock this strip club down.  I'll hit F_____ (the stripper up) and confirm, talk to Sharifah about the women extras and see if I can't get Tony (the strip club owner) to agree to the terms of my contract (or at least tell me what he wants to amend) by Wednesday.  Tony doesn't seem like he wants to bail, but if he does, I'm scouting another location, Wednesday evening, anyway.

This shoot is going down by hook or by crook.  I keep trying to anticipate things I'm not doing right, though.  Should I insist on getting a contract from this stripper dude, F_____, or should I trust him to come through on the day without offering a deposit, beforehand?  

If I pay $_______ for a strip club [to shoot in] and the stripper doesn't show, we’re fucked. Gotta give F_______ a call, today, 'cause once that money is spent, we gotta shoot.

Not wanting to be too pushy, but also not wanting to get fucked the day of the shoot, either.  Maybe I should call the other actors in case a location falls through and we need to reschedule, as well. We should really find an alternate for Tony's club.

I really don't like having loose ends as far as locations/talent are concerned, [especially] within 3 weeks of shooting.   

June 17, 2013

[Random Thoughts on Creating in Today’s Industry]

The situation of the film industry in the United States has changed for the worst.

75% of the year, we're making films for 18-24 year old males, studios are interested primarily in making movies that can be sold in China and Russia because their economies are consuming sci-fi/superhero shit at astronomical prices, and yeah--all of our top-shelf acting talent is being pushed to television because of the fact that there are more opportunities there than ever been, before.

At the same time (and perhaps what's driving this whole webseries trend) is this massive upswell in Internet content (and also Internet viewership.)  These past several years, we’ve observed that across the board, younger audiences are gleaning content from the Internet more than anywhere else and that we have fewer people than ever who are looking to networks and studios to be tastemakers for the kinds of things that they want to watch.  In short, it's a different world, out there.

At the same time, short films are less popular than they ever were.

a) people have the impression that short films need to exclusively play "a film festival circuit" before being released online.  So imagine this--you spend 3-6 months shooting, editing and releasing a short, you finish it, submit it to film festivals around the country where it screens nowhere else, on any other platform for 9-15 months out of the year and then, are expecting to maybe put it online, after that.

b) Very few short films lead to future opportunities.  Out of the gazillions that are made, how many directors actually go on to get 1) an agent/manager?  2) get an opportunity to do a feature?  3) lead to a script being bought?

Some, but very few.  That's not to say that we don't live in a world where content isn't king and that if you're at all talented that you can't prevail, but I think that doing so is much different by attempting to do so with short films, alone.

Hence, the web series.  Potentially more foolish to do and harder to execute, certainly more costly (kind of like shooting a short film five times over or a feature film, broken into parts) but really, I think, the best way to create a following, remain relevant, and get into more meetings with people that might actually help you do something big.

I've been working on a few feature films, as well, pieces that I've been trying to get off of the ground.  But it's funny--a lot of people have passed on the drafts of stuff I've written so far--and the way I see it, if/when one gets made (I'm not keen on shelving them, just yet) it very well won't be for another 2-5 years.

So what do you do--do nothing?

June 20, 2013

[E-Mail to Producers, Re: Procuring a Stripper’s Services]

Not sure if we've done this, yet, but I just threw this on CL.  Just talked to a friend who’s patronized the services of the other stripper I was thinking about hiring, F__________, and she said that he's...well, he's a little wack.  

She says that he does more "crowd engagement" i.e. walking around and shit and lifting people and giving lapdances than doing some acrobatic shit (which is more of what we need.)   

So yeah, please add the following to the other casting sites, as much as is possible and/or necessary.  Thanks!


SUBJECT LINE: Sundance Alum/NYU Film Grad Seeks Male Dancer for (Paid) Film Shoot (Brooklyn)

A Sundance Film Festival Alum/NYU Film Grad is putting together a webisode shoot that's shooting for 6 hours, Sunday, July 14th. It's a scene in a strip club where a male exotic dancer performs for a large group of aged 20-something women, all presenting dollars, his way.

We basically need a guy that:

- Feels comfortable in a scene where he's semi-nude and can dance his ass-off 
- Can dance well to hip-hop music (we're talking pop-locking/breaking/etc)
- Is comfortable lifting up and engaging with women
- Is attractive/muscular/fits the typical male stripper look

Please hit us up for more information--the film will be shared online in just a few short months and is sure to get hundreds of thousands if not millions of views.

Please send pictures and or video to the e-mail address provided.


· Location: Brooklyn it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

· Compensation: $200

June 26, 2013

[E-Mail to Producers]

Subject Line: “Updates”

Hard Times - Making It, Vol. 1 - Entry #9 of 9 - An Inconclusive (Yet Informative) Final Installment

So yeah, this is happening.

Just dropped off a $______ deposit to Sharay "The Punisher" Hayes (agreement, $_______, after) and have plans to put down $________ on the party space location, tomorrow.

So yeah.  It's going down!

We should look at videos/images of the other strippers that have applied through Craigslist and check if any of them could be a useful backup in case we lose The Punisher, for whatever reason.

Locations and extras, that's pretty much all we need, right now.  Sent over a location agreement that Pamela at Babeland should be looking over, but they still sound like they're down with the cause.

Please let me know if there are any problems that we're running into with regard to any of the aforementioned tasks and thanks again, for all of your hard work!

                                                                                                                       Best, Tahir

July 3, 2013

[E-Mail to Producers Before Next Shoot]

Last (Additional) Task...

Hey All,

So I hit Miche up about this when I dropped a credit card off to her, today, but it'd be awesome if somebody (probably Miche, but she could probably use a partner, too) could head out to some bars/restaurants in the Ft. Greene area at some point between now and Monday and see if we might be able to find a spot to do Scene 1A.

Spots I'm thinking: Frank's Lounge, Mullane's, Deniz's - Mediterranean spot on the corner, 67 Burger, Brooklyn Moon, the Ethiopian spot next to Brooklyn Moon, that fake soul food spot across the street from Mullane's next to the bodega, and maybe one of those hoighty-toighty spots further up the hill (The Prospect) between S. Oxford and S. Portland.  

The most AWESOME thing would be if we could get the place for Friday, July 12th between 12-5pm, but feel them out and let them know what we've got going on.  

Give them the usual spiel about who we are, Sundance, blah blah blah, Daniel's Newlyweeds movie playing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, etc.


What We're Looking To Do: - A 3-4/5 hour shoot 

Nature of the Shoot: A guy is at a bar/restaurant with his girl, tries to pay with his debit card and finds out that he's out of money.  Embarrassed, he tries to skip out on the bill while she's in the bathroom, only to have him have to pay once he is caught by security.  

# of People - 10-15 Cast/Crew

Money - Negotiable (they'll probably say 400, but to be safe, don't give a quote lower than $300-350.  Shit, 200, if they suggest less.)

Equipment We're Bringing: Lights, stands, camera

Liability Insurance - We're covered with a $1mil insurance policy that we can provide the owners with.  

Usual spiel -- Hi, my name's _______ and I'm producing _______, I was wondering if I might be able to speak with the owner/manager about shooting a ______ production here.

Likely response: "Ok, well, when would you be trying to do that?"

Spiel: Friday, July 12th, between 12-5pm.  

Likely response: "Oh, well yadda yadda yadda, business hours/happy hour, blah blah blah"

Spiel: Well, what if we were to do it a bit earlier in the day, like when you're not open?

Likely response: "Oh, well, blah blah blah blah,” (excuses)

Spiel: Well, we're really aiming for Friday, this time around.  

Likely response: "Blah blah blah womp womp." 

Spiel: Well, if this Friday can't work, could we maybe try another date, at some point, later on, in the future?

Likely response: "Blah blah blah.  Sure."

Spiel: Ok, great.  Can I get in touch with you/the owner/manager/operator, somehow?

Likely response: "Blah blah blah.  Sure."

Spiel: Ok (records information)

Likely response: “Y'all trying to bring in all kinds of—“

Spiel: Yeah, all kinds of lights and equipment and shit and possibly a few actors.  We'll probably have to quiet part of the area down, as well. 

Likely response: “Ok, ok.  Well, hit me up and let me know.”

Once done, can follow up with an e-mail (I'll forward y'all one of mine), just to show  them that we're serious.



July 3, 2013


Opening Scene - Possibility

Alternate Scenario - Subway Station + Turnstile Jump + Undercover Cop(s)

 - Potentially Shoot at the Franklin Ave Subway Stop, or Somewhere Similar

Basically, instead of the whole exchange at the bar, Derek instead is at a subway card kiosk, and his credit cards are not working. 

So we start out with Derek and Lark approaching the Metrocard kiosk. It's a regular day--the two are headed out.  

Lark stands by observing as Derek pulls out one card and tries it in the machine.  Yadda yadda yadda, presses a few buttons.  He tries one card, then the next--"sorry--nothing on your card/card declined/etc"

A moment.  Derek is clearly in denial about not having money on his cards.  Lark is like, "couldn't you just get a multi-day pass? (or something like this)"  "He's like, that shit's a waste of money."  He keeps selecting options on screen.  Still none of his cards are swiping.

He looks through his wallet.  No bills.  Looks through his wallet, no other metro cards.

Lark says something like, "hey baby, I got it."  He's like, "nah, that's ok."  And then, he proceeds to the subway turnstile.  She asks him what he's doing.  He's like--about to pass through.  Lark's like, "can you not do that shit?"

And he's like, "it's fine."

He hops over the turnstile.

Lark watches in disapproval.

Derek bounds out of sight, around the bend.

Lark proceeds to the kiosk to refill her own card, a little annoyed at Derek, but not worried -- and then--

Sounds of commotion—scuffling, and then--

Oh shit--Derek is being chased by two undercover officers--he comes back around the bend, then trying to run back through the turnstile--they nab him--grab him--

Lark is like, what the fuck is going on?  One of them flashes a badge.  Cuffs.  Then--

Lark, worried, is like, "I told you not to do that!

Derek is like, "(Come on) Ain't no way I could have seen that coming!" 

Cut to Black --

Title Card - "Hard Times" -