Eden/Eve: As some of you may already know, my boyfriend Sam Saturday is the owner and creative genius behind Saturday Buffet, the fabulous video production company who made the trailers for my books THE TURNING KISS and more recently EVER: THE TURNING. Sam is here at the Smutketeers blog to tell us more about his new video production business, how and why it got started, and a little about his vision for romance book trailers. I hope you’ll all give him a warm welcome! Okay-not *that* warm-he’s mine, ladies. ..:)
Eden/Eve: Hi, Sam-it’s lovely to have you here with the Smutketeers! It feels funny to say that while you’re sitting only a few feet away from me, but the virtual universe is a strange place…So-why don’t you tell people about your background in film and other creative arts?
Sam: Hi, Eden! Thanks for inviting me on Smutketeers. That also feels funny to say considering I’ve been sneaking my way into the Smutketeers world for a while now ;) And for full disclosure, you wrote these questions while I was napping in your office. It’s cozy in there!
Okay, artsy stuff. Let’s see, I guess I can traces my serious creative interests back to high school when I started writing stage plays. My school had a pretty good theater program that allowed students to write and produce their own original works. So for most of my high school career I was writing short comedies, submitting them to theater competitions, having them performed by other students and also winning writing awards (yeah!).
When I was in the twelfth grade I started drawing comic strips. They were really crude–just stick figures making fun of my fellow students and teachers. For some reason I thought my school would want to publish them in a student magazine. Wrong! But I kept drawing anyway, and by my first year of college I was creating original comic characters and drawing strips about them. This would have been around 1998 when web comics were a brand new thing. I figured getting in on that scene was easier than getting a play produced (no actors, producers or directors to deal with!). From about 2000 to 2009 I drew a comic strip called “Load,” self-published my original comic books & art, and had various work printed in other magazines.
At the same time I was drawing my comics I was also earning degrees in both telecommunications production and film production. I learned to write scripts, shoot footage for TV and film, do non-linear editing on a computer, mix sound, add graphics and all kinds of other stuff. For my final projects in film school I wrote one short film and art-directed another. I got into art direction because it mixed my love of drawing and design with my interest in movies.
After college I moved to Los Angeles and got an internship with an established film & TV production designer. Under him I learned to design sets, plan their creation and supervise their construction. Theoretically I learned to build stuff myself, but unfortunately I’m a lot better at planning & conceptualizing than I am at wielding a circular saw! Anyway, I ended up getting hired for art direction gigs on some low-budget films, the highlight being a musical starring Snoop Dogg. It was pretty surreal.
Eden/Eve: Talk a little about how you became interested in doing book trailers for romance authors, and what makes your trailers different from some of the others out there.
Sam: The book trailer thing happened pretty quickly and almost without warning. Over the last few years I’d been making little videos and uploading them to YouTube. Most of the videos were related to my comics. I was taking comic panels, setting them to music and giving the characters voices. Others were weird music videos of me performing my poetry over music. None of this was particularly serious, but I had fun doing it.
For a little over a year now I’ve read a lot of erotic romance books, most of which you’ve recommended. Before you and I met romance was never a genre that I’d known much about. So I’ve been doing a lot of reading to get to know the industry better.
Then earlier this year you and the Smutketeers needed a promotional video made. It was going to be shown at the Romantic Times Bookslovers Convention. For some reason the convention was fast approaching and there wasn’t a video ready. So one night I looked at you and said “Why don’t I just make it?” And that’s how this came about:
Everyone seemed to like it, so I figured I’d give making other videos a shot. So next I made a trailer for your book, “The Turning Kiss,” and people liked that one, too. Around this time Smutketeer R.G. Alexander (hey!) made a very enthusiastic declaration that I should make a business out of this. She was very forceful about it. And quite scary, too :P Well obviously I couldn’t ignore R.G.’s advice, so since then I’ve made videos for other authors, including one for Smutketeer Karen Erickson and another for New York Times-bestseller Shelli Stevens.
In all the years I’ve been writing, drawing, publishing, designing, etc, I’d never once thought about making book trailers. Actually, I didn’t even know book trailers existed before you and I met! But it turns out I really like making them. I get to combine my interests in film, visual design, storytelling and music. Also, this may sound weird, but I like creating something that isn’t necessarily representing “me.” Sure, if I make a crappy trailer then that’s on me, but making a good trailer gets people excited for someone else’s work, which, it turns out, is really rewarding.
To answer your question about what make my trailers different, I would say it’s my focus on pacing and movement. I’m very committed to the idea that trailers need to “move.” Nearly all book trailers are made up of stock images and text, which themselves are not particularly exciting. That’s why I like to keep everything active. I pan and zoom the camera over the best parts of images. I make the text fade in & out in interesting ways. I time everything with the music. It’s really important to me that the trailers I make are not boring. Trailers have a limited amount of time to make an impression on the viewer and every viewer is a potential reader for my client. So keep it snappy!
Eden/Eve: I think most of us writers are so buried in writing our stories, we haven’t had a chance to think about how the process works in putting together a video. Without going too techy on us, maybe you can share some info about how you go about it.
Sam: Most of the process isn’t particularly techy. The important thing is finding the idea. The first thing I do is talk to the author (preferably via phone or Skype, not email) and find out what they want people to know about their book. It’s also important to find out what they don’t want people to know about it, since this can lead to interesting ideas about how we can create mystery. Once I know what’s important about the story I can start working out the trailer’s script (although some authors may want to write the script themselves, which is fine). While the author and I are talking I’ll begin visualizing the video, and at some point during the conversation I’ll just start pitching ideas to see how the author responds. Eventually we’ll work our way to an idea that clicks for both of us.
At that point I’ll write the basic script and find potential images and music. This can sometimes take a few days, depending on my schedule. I’ll then present the author what I think is the best selection of pictures, art and music for their video so they can tell me what works and doesn’t work for them. And once they give their approval on the separate elements I’ll start assembling the video. This is actually the easiest part for me. I just sit down at my desk, edit the images and then bang my head on my computer until a video pops out. Easy! Then I send the video to the author and ask if there’s any final changes they want. And once it’s all done we put the video online and bask in the digital applause.
Eden/Eve: Okay-now tell them why living with an erotic romance author is so awesome! (Lie if you have to-I’m totally good with that).
Sam: I can make dirty jokes under the pretense of suggesting an idea for a book. Also, chocolate is considered a business expense.
Eden/Eve: Since you’re our guest blogger today, we’ll have to take a moment to torture you with the same either/or questions we end most of our guest interviews with. Just go with us on this stuff, okay? There may be a back rub in it for you later…
~Beer or girly drink with an umbrella?
-Can I just have a girly umbrella?
~Boxers, briefs or commando?
-Operation Dumbo Drop.
~Chocolate or vanilla?
-There’s something other than chocolate??
~5 star hotel or camping under the stars?
-Hotels are under the stars, too, you know.
~Tattoos or piercings?
~Hugs or kisses?
-Is this still about chocolate?
…and now for the tough one…
~Muppets or Fraggle Rock?
-That’s a trick question. Fraggles ARE Muppets.
Eden/Eve: You can find Sam at www.SaturdayBuffet.com where you can see all of his current video work, as well as some graphics he’s done for me.
BONUS: And through the end of August, Sam is offering a $50.00 discount off video production to anyone referred to him through Smutketeers!