Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Happy 4th Guildversary!

The web sensation "The Guild" has been thrilling fans for four years today, with the fifth season premiering this week. It's star and creator, Felicia Day, talked to Hollywood Reporter about the show's journey from a "kitchen production" to a world wide phenomenon.

The article was, as Felicia always is, very inspirational. The story of one person with an idea going against the odds and beating the system is always fascinating, and in the new media industry, THE GUILD is the David that took down Goliath.

Along the path, Felicia assembled an amazing cast and crew, including producer Kim Evey, Director Sean Becker, and of course, Amy, Jeff, Sandeep, Robin, and Vince.

I was fortunate enough to come aboard right at what could be argued as the tipping point for the show, with the "bonus feature" music video "Do You Want To Date My Avatar?" The video broke records, and went No.1 on several charts, including iTunes. People who had never played a video game or watched a web series were suddenly aware of The Guild, and the cross-over audience catapulted the show to numbers that previously were reserved for network television.

I had a great time working on the music video, but I had no idea at the time of the opportunities and adventures my association with The Guild would lead to. After reading Felicia's article, I thought it might be fun to chronicle my involvement with the show on this special day. I went to my iPhoto, opened The Guild folder, and realized that I have over 4,000 photos! So I cancelled my lunch meeting, and put this quick run down memory lane together for you...

Photo 1: This is the first thing I made for the Guild. I started several of the Avatar weapons at the same time, but since Zaboo's Ram Staff had so many processes to go through, I focused on it from the get go.

Photo 2: The finished staff. Despite all the crazy dancing and gymnastics Sandeep did, the ram skull survived the entire video shoot unscathed. It wasn't until the green screen day on season 4 that he smashed it to bits...

Oh, but I fixed it! :)

Photo 3: Clara's wand was the next item to be finished. Kenny from Knights of the Guild Podcast actually came by the BarnYard each day that I worked on these, and filmed the whole process. You can watch me build the Vork sword on The Guild Season 3 DVD. Maybe I will be able to release the other prop "How To's" in the future.

Photo 4: I had seen the Guild on line prior to becoming involved, but it was still amazing to see the Avatars come to life!
Photo 5: By far, Tink's bow was the most difficult to build within the short schedule.

Photo 6: The Avatar video happened to be shot on Felicia's birthday, which just made being involved that much more exciting. She got this awesome treasure chest cake, but the schedule was so busy, there was hardly time to celebrate.

Photo 7: A short time later, when production was wrapped, Kim threw Felicia an 80's themed "Birthday Prom". I volunteered to decorate, and we transformed a school auditorium into a flashback bonanza. One of the pieces I did was this Nagel style portrait of Felicia.

Photo 8: I also brought a ton of my 80's props, and set up little photo ops around the room, including an Indiana Jones temple, The Muppet Show stage, a Miami Vice backdrop, and this Jedi scene. Kenny and Jenni from the Knights of the Guild podcast pose with Jabba and 3PO.

Photo 9: This is one of my favorite pictures. Felicia and I with my Delorean. Yes, that is the dress from Pretty in Pink Felicia is wearing. Costume Designer Sarah Trost made it for her. And yes, sadly, I used to dress exactly like this in the 80s.

Photo 10: The next big Guild event for me was Comicon. The Avatar video was premiering, and I brought the weapons down so the cast could appear at the panel in full gear. I helped them get ready back stage.

Photo 11: This was the same Comicon panel where Kim announced that Wil Wheaton was joining the cast. It was also when Kim coined the phrase "Sneak Preak!"

Photo 12: I am not the most tech savvy guy, and one of the things I have gotten from my Guild experience was new insight to a computer driven world. Felicia convinced me to join twitter. Kenny talked me into starting this blog. Brian Kameoka taught me the value of social media marketing, and the fact that there are ways to do it everywhere, all the time! Here, he is live in the Guild's chat room during the panel via a wireless tether.

Photo 13: After the madness of Comicon died down, I was having lunch with Felicia and mentioned a story line idea I had for The Guild involving faulty merchandise. She felt that the concept could be a stand alone video, and possibly focus on the Internet rumors that the show had "sold out" due to it's popularity. We decided to turn the whole thing into a Christmas special, and I wrote and directed a series of mock commercials for Guild products.

Photo 14: To go along with the concept of "selling out", I wanted to fill each segment with celebrity cameos. I called in my friends, many who were already Guild fans. Here I am directing David Blue and Brea Grant for the Tink doll commercial. If you have never seen any of these, check them out!

Photo 15: Here is the prototype for the Zaboo pheromone spray. The commercial stars Kevin Thompson, Alley Baggett, and America Young.

Photo 16: So not safe for children! The Bladezz Switch blade work in progress. Alex Albrecht plays the dad.

Photo 17: Clara got the Mommy and Me cookie jar. Monica May from Power Rangers SPD shows us how to use it! Oh, and that framed photo in the background is STILL hanging in my kitchen, two years later!

Photo 18: The Vork Unbreakable Bank sculpture. I am lucky as an artist to be able to have direct access to the actors, allowing me to have the best reference you could ask for to get the best product possible.

Photo 19: Of course, not everyone is always cooperative!

Photo 20: Felicia got the Codex Answer Orb. I started with a scaled printout.

Photo 21: Layered on some clay..

Photo 22: And made this fake toy!

Photo 23: One of the things I love about directing is being able to create the illusion that we are somewhere else. With the exception of the toy store for Tink, all of the Guild Sells Out spots were shot at my house. Here, we are transforming part of my yard into a White Trash Winterland.

Photo 24: My living room was decked with Guildie goodness.

Photo 25: The last shot of the day was the intro video with Felicia and Sandeep. Here, Felicia wraps gifts with money! I am being freaked out by the creepy half Santa...

Photo 26: My favorite aspect of the Guild is the sense of family, and how everyone is involved hands on. Sometimes quite literally! Here, producer Kim Evey steps in as the hand model for the DVD plug at the end of each commercial.

Photo 27: My next Guild adventure was centered around another holiday, April Fool's Day. By this point, the show had established a reputation for hijinx on the 1st, and the Knights of Good had to come up with new and clever ways to prank people who were most like expecting something.

Kim cooked up "Lil' Guildies", a fake animated Guild spin-off. I designed and directed the show's opening, paced to the Paul and Storm intro song. The joke was that the opening was all there ever was!

I have to imagine people liked it, especially with fans such as @jesreaves sending us these amazing Lil' Guildies hand made plushies!

Photo 28: The "How to make Vork's sword" video resulted in a lot of people asking me for pointers on the other weapons, particularly Codex's staff. Felicia dropped by the BarnYard and helped me build one, the video of which can be found on this blog and on YouTube. The end product was signed by both of us, and was auctioned off to raise over $5,000.00 for charity!

Photo 29: I was just finishing up on "Legend of Neil" when The Guild season 4 started up. At first, I thought I was only going to be able to squeeze in a few specialty props, such as this Wig Warmer that Zaboo buys for his mom. But schedules alined, and I was able to assume Production Designer duties for the show.

Photo 30: Most of the sets were already established from previous seasons, but I was able to sneak in a few new additions here and there. I wanted to create a character that Tink would be into, a sort of angry Hello Kitty, so I could have a common thread of design weave through her presence in the season. I came up with B!TCH KAT late one night, and after surprisingly quick email responses from Felicia and Sean Becker, I was able to make a few posters to hang in Tink's room by morning.

Photo 31: One of the new sets for season 4 was Ollie's Cheesy Beard office, which was actually built in my living room! I tried to dress it like a maintenance closet that Ollie attempted to spruce up, adding little touches like this cheesy ocean mural.

Photo 32: The biggest set design for season 4 also happened to be the smallest set for the Guild! I built the Knights of Good Hall in miniature so we could offer scope and scale on a web series budget.

Photo 33: The cast was shot against green screen and composited into the miniature. Since they were playing their avatars again, the weapons were employed once more. Simon Helberg made a guest appearance as The Kevinator, and I built his suit of armor.

Photo 34: After a late night storyboard session the day before we shot, Sean decided Kevinator needed a helmet so Simon could be a big reveal. I started sculpting this in WED clay about 8pm, and had the final painted fiberglass copy on set 6am the next morning. Simon said wearing it was like huffing glue...

Photo 35: My favorite part of season 4 was painting Team Cawkes. Wil and Felicia came over to pose for a photo session. My Boston Terrier Print tried so hard to get in on the action that Felicia and Sean cast him as the result of Kevinator's spell on Zaboo's mom.

Photo 36: I painted what Felicia would call "lady porn" in acrylics on canvas. The image was used on buttons for the 2010 Comicon panel give away, and is available as a poster at You can also watch a featurette on how I painted Team Cawkes on iTunes.

Photo 37: I also production designed the Guild's next music video, "Game On". There were quite a few sets I put together, but my favorite thing has to be the fake elephant that Felicia and Zaboo ride on.

Photo 38: Well, painting Amy Okuda gold ranks pretty high up there, too...

Photo 39: I was invited to sit on the panel to present the Team Cawkes episode, and Game On at Comicon that year. It was very overwhelming to sit in front of 3,000 people! Luckily I had Jeff Lewis next to me, making everyone laugh and calming the nerves! It was an unforgettable experience. Plus, I got a purple squid hat!

Photo 40: The span of time since season 4 till now has been filled with Dragon Age, Rock Jocks, and Guild season 5, all of which I cannot show anything from yet. But trust me, there is plenty to show when the time comes! In the mean while, check out the comic cover I painted for the Kim Evey penned Clara one-shot from Darkhorse.

Photo 41: If you are still reading this after over 40+ photos, I imagine you are a fan of The Guild. If you aren't, it's probably only because you haven't seen it yet! Jump over to and see what all the excitement is about.

I have definietely made a concious effort to not have my blog be Guild-centric, and talk about as many of the other projects I work on as possible, but as you can see, The Knights of Good get a lot of my attention. I have been blessed with a successful enough career that I can work on almost any Hollywood project I choose, but when Felicia calls, it's hard not to sign on for what she has planned. Her attention to detail, ability to craft a story, and understanding of the medium make everything she sets out to do a worthy endeavor.

Photo 43: And if there is one thing I learned from Miss Day that rises to the top as the most important rule of good entertainment: It's all about the fans!

Thanks for your support in making this show what it is, and Felicia, thank you for letting me be involved! So looking forward to watching season 5!