March 1st. Today is a special day in many regards. Spring is oh so close. My stomach is returning to normal after yesterday's Fat Tuesday-athon.
But I'm thinking of two specific reasons that today is noteworthy. On this day, in 1922, William M. Gaines, publisher of MAD, was born.
And on this day, 2017, we are happy to announce that we have completed a full rough cut of When We Went MAD!!
It clocks in at 94 minutes of lean, 100% pure unexpurgated MAD history in a jugular vein!
We are thrilled with how this is looking - it's funny, it's touching, it's celebratory, it's damn good!
We still have a ways to go - but the future for When We Went MAD! has never been brighter. We'll work on sharing some segments with you, the contributors who have been patiently waiting for signs of life from us. Eternal thanks for that - and on to the next step!
These past few months have been spent hammering away in the edit room. Diving through over 30 hours of interviews, we completed a 108 minute radio edit of the film, which is essentially an all talking heads with a few graphics/archival footage cut in version, giving us a true sense of the story. This cut was laid out in a very chronological order, talking about MAD in a decade by decade manner.
Upon completion, we were kindly offered the opportunity to show the film to a handful of industry professionals; people working in the broadcast world and who specialize in the documentary format. Feedback was both positive and very constructive. While the editor and I were quite pleased with the direction of our edit, based on the feedback we received we realized that the film was feeling a bit too clinical. Too much A to B to C and not enough oomph! Stepping back, it became clear that we spent so much time getting the story right, we neglected the essence of MAD, the exuberance felt when growing up with MAD, and the true world changing moment of MAD’s arrival and culture shifting aftershocks.
As a result, we’ve been reediting, moving things around, trimming here, finding more sound bites there, adding temp music, dropping in some great new graphics and amazing archival footage (thank you Ohio State University and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library – I highly suggest you visit) and are within a couple weeks away from finishing the new cut – and I am excited about where this is headed. I have to say, this movie is a lot of fun to watch!
So here is where we stand – once we wrap up this cut we are going to sift through bids on post production – animation, music, color correction, etc. From the business end of the spectrum, I have been painfully frugal with the Kickstarter funds. Although we reached our $50k goal when we held our initial fundraiser, once it came time to collect from the backers there were several who decided not to contribute after all. After that and taxes, we’ve been essentially working with 2/3 of the stated fundraising total.
A huge reason for the length of time this film is taking is due to not paying the editor up front – we are beholden to his work schedule as a result. A good chunk of the funds are still available and from that I have set aside more than enough to fulfill all of the merchandise you, the contributors, are due to receive. That being said, we will need to raise some more funding to complete this and are looking at various ways to do so. Thankfully, we will not have to stop production as we seek this out. We will continue to plug away at When We Went MAD! and it is our sincere hope to have this done in time for MAD’s 65th anniversary in August 2017.
Greetings friends - we're happy to bring you an update of significant importance to the project.
Recently, we had the pleasure of interviewing Annie Gaines Ashton, widow of MAD publisher Bill Gaines. She provided some great insight into the inner workings of MAD and we are so grateful that she sat down with us.
When We Went MAD! will essentially be comprised of interviews, animated images, and archival footage. But in addition to that, we have planned on a series of staged scenes: various moments of people reading MAD throughout the decades to act as a bridge between each segment of the film.
Filming these scenes went through many fits and starts. It has been a long, drawn out process of procuring actors, props, crew, equipment, and a studio, at the ridiculously low cost we needed, but we finally pulled it off.
This is a major accomplishment in reaching the completion of this project, and the footage turned out great.
This coincides with some intensive editing taking place. We are now down to a 110 minute cut, which we think is really good, and when all is said and done we plan on landing at around 100 minutes, giving us some room to add...
Three more interviews. We are still hopeful to land a couple of celebs, we have feelers going out and and trying everything: front door, back door, side door - any door that doesn't get slammed in our face.
We had a meeting with the post production house, where editing has been taking place, to coordinate a game plan for entering the full phase of post: animation, green screen, audio mixing, music, color correction, etc.
Hello! Here’s a brief update on where we are. Unfortunately, attempts to land a couple more celebs have gone nowhere. We’re not giving up, but it’s obvious we can’t keep waiting forever for the possibility of an interview. We are moving on to our last two key interviews, which we are in the process of lining up schedules. These interviews will be the last of those “required” to allow completion of the film, with or without any further celebrities chiming in. As a result, editing is in a bit of a holding pattern, as much could change based on the outcome of what our last two folks have to say.
We’ve also been doing quite a bit of research into photos and television mentions of MAD – this has been quite fun. It is interesting to note that MAD’s rise in popularity was in lockstep with the rise of television. And yet, for as much lambasting as MAD carried out against the boob tube – MAD has had a long history of making interesting appearances on it. We’ve been able to locate some great historical footage and order “screeners” – temporary cuts of the broadcasts that we can edit into the film to see how much licensing will be necessary. From Dave Garroway reading MAD #26 live on the Today show in 1956 to CBS visiting MAD in 1978 – some real gems have turned up. We have several other known moments of television MAD-ness, the challenge is finding what still may exist.
If there are any Today show or Mike Douglas fanatics out there – we’re looking for the 8/30/1976 episode of the Today show – which happens to be the day Tom Brokaw debuted as a host of the show. Oddly enough, NBC does not have that episode. On 9/23/1977 Mike Douglas interviewed Al Feldstein – so if anyone has access to something like that, we’d love to hear from you!
We continue applying for grants from various film-centric sources of funding – keep the fingers crossed as those letters of acceptance/denial will be arriving soon.
Let’s hope for great things for all of us in 2016!
Well, after a bit of momentum via a great interview with "Weird" Al Yankovic, we thought this summer was shaping up to be fruitful. We were on our way to our next interview - contact was made and we made our pitch. Unfortunately, it turns out MAD was not a major influence of our targeted guest - who would have thought! So, we struck out there, but the search continues. We are sending out more requests for interviews, and hopefully we'll get a few bites.
On a positive note, we have tracked down some tremendous footage of the MAD staff at work in 1978. It has great interviews with Bill Gaines and Al Feldstein, but to see the likes of art director John Putnam, production man Lenny Brenner, and associate editors Nick Meglin and Jerry DeFuccio is amazing. Let's hope the licensing fee gods look down favorably upon us when it comes time to tally this thing up.
As the eternal wait to land a few more interviews drags on, we continue to edit and plan for further B-roll shoots. As this has taken far longer than any of us would have imagined, we've decided to keep the flames of interest glowing with some short "Moments of Mad-ness". These will be minute long pieces taken from the interviews we have collected so far. Seeing that Sergio Aragones recently celebrated a birthday, we thought who better than to kick this off. So have a look and hopefully we'll have some positive responses to our interview requests so we can move this project ahead!