Purpose | Steve's Quest: The Animated Musical Web Series

The Breakout (My Upcoming Musical Webseries) Live on Stage!

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I don’t think I’ve talked a lot about this project here because I haven’t had much to share about it except for rough, home-recorded demos that sound kind of like they were recorded underwater, but for more than a year now, I’ve been working on a musical webseries called The Breakout.  But now, there is more than enough stuff to share about it!

The Breakout is about a misfit high school kid’s quest to rescue the girl he loves from a psychiatric hospital, and the weird friends he makes and adventures he has along the way.  And on May 3, 2015, in San Francisco, California, excerpts from the show are going to be performed live on stage!

As part of a showcase run by a Bay Area theatre group called Play Cafe, we are going to perform 20 minutes from the show, and excerpts from shows by a few other Bay Area-based musical theatre writers will be featured as well.

To fit into the 20-minute format, the script needed to be significantly cut, the songs needed to be revised, and I needed to arrange the whole thing for piano — which means I didn’t get a lot of sleep over the past few weeks.  But now, I’m back to at least 5 or 6 hours a night, because most of the front-end work is done.

Oh, by the way, I’m also playing a supporting role in the show!  Hey, at least I won’t have to memorize the lyrics, as I’ve heard myself singing each song probably thousands of times.

I’ll be sharing photos and clips from the rehearsal process here soon — for now, if you’d like more information about it, you can check out (and like!) its Facebook page.

New Steve’s Quest Music Video

I’m excited to share with you a video we shot of me and Robin Yukiko, who plays Sabrina in Steve’s Quest, performing “Right in Front of You,” which is the song I’m most proud of in the series.  Check it out:

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Recording and shooting this was a literally cross-continental production.  We recorded Robin’s vocals in what was basically a guy’s basement in State College, Pennsylvania (though it was a very well-equipped basement), near where she lives, and then I went back home and did my vocals at The Annex in San Mateo, California.  This has been a bi-coastal project from the beginning, which works fine for me because I have a lot of relatives and friends on the East Coast of the U.S.

The stripped-down, in-studio style of the video was inspired by all of those videos on Broadway.com showing the original casts of shows recording their vocals.  For a long time, I thought “I’ll know I’ve made it once I have a Broadway.com in-studio video,” and now I guess I have the next best thing!

I hope you enjoy the song and I’m looking forward to hearing your feedback.

Video for My Song “Howl at the Moon”

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The video for the first single from my four-song EP, “Howl at the Moon,” is now live (and posted above)!

This project has been several months in the making, and I’m enthused that it’s finally done.  The director and I decided to shoot the video in a classic ’80s hard rock style, with dramatic bits intercut with shots of the band playing, and I think we achieved the look we were going for (and hopefully Motley Crue and Skid Row fans will agree).

This was my first time being in a music video, and it was definitely an eye-opening experience.  The lion’s share of the shoot, in the part I was featured in, was spent trying to get the camera angles right, and to make sure the right amount of steam filled the room (there were dry ice machines on the set that were misting about every 10 seconds).  As you will see, there are a lot of closeup shots of me singing, and the biggest challenge for me was trying not to move my head out of the frame while still performing with my usual manic intensity.

It was a bit overwhelming to see so many people (including the cast and crew) gather together to work on my project.  Of course, I found myself having the usual doubts — “am I actually important enough for all of these people to be working on my video?” and so on.

I think the best perspective to take on something like this, in order to get beyond the hangups about “being important” and so on, is that it’s really just a bunch of people getting together to have fun — which, for the most part, is what we did.

I hope you enjoy the video, and I look forward to hearing what you think!

My New Soundtrack Piece

A few weeks ago, I composed the music for a promotional video (embedded below) for a foundation called Breakthrough Silicon Valley.  It was definitely exciting, because I’ve wanted to do this type of work for a long time.  Ideally, this sort of project will help me find other opportunities to do music for film and television.

The most challenging part of this project was that the tempo (speed) changes that happen in the music needed to be precisely synced to particular moments in the video.  You may notice this at the end, for example, when the final piano note plays at the same time that the Breakthrough logo appears.  But I do think the detail work we put into the video was worth it.

I hope you enjoy it — I’ve definitely got more musical stuff in the pipeline.

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Steve’s Quest Episode 2 Screenshots

Well, it’s taken longer than we expected (as I guess it always does), but Episode 2 of Steve’s Quest is almost ready to go live!  To give you a taste of the graphical goodness to expect, I’ll post below some screenshots from the episode — which, by the way, features even more over-the-top animation and music than our first offering.

Also, for those of you who didn’t see the post on Facebook, I’m pleased to announce that Episode 1 of Steve’s Quest has been selected to be screened at Gen Con, which is the U.S.’s largest gaming convention, in August.  I actually went there last year, but I didn’t realize that it had its own film festival until I started doing festival submissions.

This year, my friends and I get to go for free, which is quite a thrill for me, since I’ve known, and been rabidly gaming with, the same friends for more than 25 years.  I may also be speaking on a panel or two regarding indie filmmaking, and I’ll try to post a video of the panels if I end up participating in them.

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Sabrina (Steve’s love interest), her coworker Rona, and the sinister presence known only as The Boss.

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A closeup of Sabrina.  The artists convinced me that she should not have a nose, because it gives her a more streamlined look.

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Steve smiling as he asks Rona to come to his party, but a bundle of nerves on the inside.

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Just in case you doubted that The Boss was a sinister presence.

Hope you enjoyed these!


Savory Screenshots From My Upcoming Video

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Two weeks ago, I had a blast shooting a music video for “Howl at the Moon,” which is the first track from the album I recently released.  My favorite part was that my brother Tim came up from LA to appear in the video (he also played guitar on the song), and I got to shoot the breeze with him and the rest of the band during the inevitable long breaks between takes.

The video is being edited right now, and I’m anxious to share it with you.  For now, I’ll show you some screen captures from the footage we got.  The intensity you see on my face, for better or worse, isn’t an act — I get pretty maniacal when I’m in performance mode.

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My fingers can get fairly maniacal too when I’m playing piano.

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The full band (at least, for the purposes of the video) — Tim is on the right.  Justin Vanegas, who also appears in Steve’s Quest, is on bass.

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Anjelica Zanipatin-Solis, who plays a widow in the dramatic scenes that are intercut with the shots of the band (yes, there are actors in the video too — I went all Cecil B. DeMille on this one!)

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This shot showcases the dry ice that filled the room while we were on the sound stage — it gave the lighting a murky, mysterious quality.

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Aleksandra, the makeup artist from the shoot, in a cameo role as the widow’s document-carrying officemate.

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That isn’t a black screen (or a green screen) in the background — it was just really dark.

I hope these were fun — looking forward to showing you the video!

Interview on the Secret Origins of Steve’s Quest


I was honored to be interviewed by Kimberly Lew over at Emerging Musical Theatre, which is a blog that covers some amazing, contemporary composers and shows.  We talked about the origins of Steve’s Quest, the Comic-Con panel the cast and crew will almost certainly, eventually, do, the reasons I decided to play the title role, and the proverbial “much, much more!”  Enjoy.

How To Make a “Location-Independent” Webseries


One thing you may not know about Steve’s Quest: The Musical, the animated musical webseries I wrote and directed (which is now live!), is that the cast and crew of the show are “bicoastal,” meaning they are located on both the East and West Coasts of the U.S.  The upside of this arrangement was that I got to work with exactly the people I wanted, but of course working with people mainly over e-mail and file sharing came with a unique set of challenges.

In this piece over at The Snobby Robot, I talk about how we’ve worked through the challenges that came with being on opposite sides of the country, and what I’ve learned from the process.  Enjoy!

Steve’s Quest Episode 1 is Live!

The wait is finally over — Episode 1 of Steve’s Quest, the animated musical webseries I wrote and directed, has hit the interwebs!  Here it is, for your viewing pleasure:

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As you’ll see, it’s an eclectic and spicy blend of hard rock, science fiction, computer games and software engineering (yeah, basically a mixture of things I like).

If you enjoy it, and I’m pretty confident you will, please take a moment to hit the “Like” button on the YouTube video — that will help the show, and the hyper-talented team, get the attention they deserve.  If you would like to share it with people in other ways as well, please do!

Here’s a fun fact:  as far as I can tell, this is the first animated musical web series ever.  Yeah, I mean the first one in the world, and potentially in the universe. It’s daunting but exciting to be creating a new art form, or at least a bizarre hybrid of old art forms.

This show is the culmination of more than two years of work on the writing, storyboarding, animation, casting, and vocal and audio recording — not just by me, but by the nearly twenty people who have contributed their talents to the project.  Not surprisingly, it’s hard to express how pleased I am to see it come to life.

Looking forward to hearing what you think. Episode 2 is already well on its way!

Steve’s Quest Official Trailer

We finally have a definite release date for Steve’s Quest, the animated musical web series I wrote and directed!  Episode 1 will go live on March 14.  The weird idea for a musical I had on one fateful plane ride in September 2011 is, at long last, coming to fruition.

I know I’ve given some release date estimates in the past that proved to be, shall we say,  overly ambitious, but this time I have the full episode in hand (or whatever the digital equivalent of having something in hand is), and there are no remaining obstacles in Steve’s Quest‘s path toward domination of the interwebs.

Enjoy the trailer — I’m looking forward to hearing your reactions!

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