Jan. 22nd, 2017

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Sunday challenge time: your prompt for today is:

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Oh my God, you guys, there's totally a motorcycle gang called Rescue Ink that goes es around finding lost pets and stuff. They're like a real-life Unkind Ones!

Check out their website: http://www.rescueink.org/
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Created by Jose Rivera and Karl Schaefer, with film director Joe Dante as a creative Consultant, Eerie, Indiana was a series about a small town. A bizarre small town. Marshall Teller (Omri Katz) and his family moved to the town of Eerie full of weird citizens, real urban legends, and other strange happenings. Marshall befriended Simon Holmes (Justin Shenkarow), the only other seemingly normal kid in town, and together they faced things like Bigfoot, world-conquering dogs and Elvis Presley (Steve Peri), alive and well. Halfway through the season, the show was retooled to introduce Dash X (Jason Marsden), an amnesiac gray-haired teen searching for the clues of his past.

The show blended serious and comedic tones, contained numerous in-jokes and movie references, and had several episodes directed by feature film directors; all of which made it a critical darling. Unfortunately, the series failed to find much of a sustainable audience and it was cancelled after a single season of 19 episodes; one left unaired in its original run. The show aired in reruns on The Disney Channel from 1993-1996 before moving to Saturday mornings as part of the Fox Kids block in 1997. There, the show reached a new audience and a newfound popularity. It inspired FOX to greenlight a spin-off called Eerie, Indiana: The Other Dimension utilizing the same premise with a new cast set in an alternate dimension. Unfortunately, the new show failed to capture the same popularity and it also ended after a single season.
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Dante: People hire me for various reasons. But when you sign on to do a TV series, you must adopt the style of the TV series. Now I can shoot the stuff any way I want. But I know that in TV, you do your cutting. You hand it in. And then you see it on TV. And it’s always different. Because the show runners come in. And they change it to the style that they prefer. So you shoot a lot of long takes. But you just have to give them enough material for them to turn it into what they want. It’s never an expressive job. You don’t really feel you’re putting yourself into it. Although as much as I could, I stuck myself into it. And I stuck people who were familiar to working with me in the show. And it was, I think, a little bit different. A little bit offbeat from the usual episodes of the show. But the problem with doing a show like that, there’s an overarching storyline that happened before you came and that’s going to continue after you’re gone. So there’s really not a lot of space for you to insert yourself. Because you’re doing a job of work. And you’re not the auteur of the show. The auteur of the show is the writers. Because they’re the ones who are mapping out this entire scenario. The great thing is if you can get in on the ground floor and get in on the pilot.

Correspondent: Yes.

Dante: If you do the pilot for the show, which I did for Eerie, Indiana, then you get to not only choose the cast.

Correspondent: You set the aesthetics.

Dante: You set the aesthetic and you get to influence the way the stories go and which direction they go. And even sometimes who’s hired to direct them. So that’s very creative and interesting and fulfilling. Doing one-offs is financially rewarding and a chance to work with a lot of talented people that you probably wouldn’t get to see otherwise. But it’s never like making a feature. It’s never like saying, “Okay, this is my movie.” And that’s why I prefer on TV to do anthology shows. Because it’s much more like doing a short film than it is to coming in and doing it. Illustrating an episode of somebody’s series.

Correspondent: Is it also a way of staying in shape so you don’t atrophy?

Dante: Well, it’s also a way of paying the mortgage.

Correspondent: (laughs) That’s true. That’s really the reason you did the CSI: New York episode.

Dante: Uh, I did it because it would be fun. But also, yeah, I did it because I wasn’t working. The great thing about Eerie, Indiana was that if I was going a feature, I could do that. I could go away and then do more Eerie, Indianas. But then it went off the air. And then I couldn’t do that anymore. So the trick is to try and find a way to keep yourself employed that doesn’t turn you into a hack. Basically. I mean, I always try and do things that — for movies, my yardstick is I don’t make movies that I wouldn’t go see. And I think if more people did that, we’d have better movies.


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Eerie Indiana

September 2017

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