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Old October 23rd, 2003, 06:45 AM   #1
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Lady X: Episode 20 released!

Lady X's visit to Chicago initiates a cat-and-mouse game between her agents and the local Syndicate agents. What could she possibly want in the heart of America's Midwest?

Watch Episode 20 now! Go to http://www.ladyxfilms.com and click the "Current Episode" link.

The Lady X Crew

================
Episode 20 Details:

Directed by: Ken Tanaka
Produced by: Ken Tanaka and Jennifer Newman
Director of Photography: Ken Tanaka
Boom Operator: Ian Johnston and Michael Heger
Written by: Ken Tanaka

Principal Cast: Herself (Lady X); Michael Mercurio (Henshall); Anthony Biliunas (The Boss); Mary Bliss Mather (Robin); Jennifer Newman (Mara); The Snatcher (Michael Heger); Alonzo (Brad Davidson); The Tourist (Christine Tanaka)
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Old October 23rd, 2003, 12:20 PM   #2
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The best narrative flow of any of the episodes.
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Old October 23rd, 2003, 12:22 PM   #3
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I like it! It's nice to see a bit of comedy in the series.

One of the things I was hoping to see when I discovered Lady X was a variety of genres explored by the different crews. I'm still hoping to see a film noire treatment, and maybe a spaghetti western.

Did you use Soundtrack? I liked the different musical styles you used. Anything else production related you'd care to share would be great, too!
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Old October 23rd, 2003, 02:58 PM   #4
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Episode 20 does have a nice flow. It brought me in and kept me there through the whole episode. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Of course I'm a sucker for a good story.
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Old October 23rd, 2003, 03:03 PM   #5
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Keith: Coming from you, the co-producer of one of our best and most popular episodes, that's a real compliment. Thank you!

Mark: Thank you. Glad you enjoyed it. The series' framework certainly lends itself to action. But it really opens up many possibilities for comedy, too. In writing the episode I really wanted to do a comedic episode that poked a bit of fun at the framework. At the same time, however, I had to be careful not to parody it too hard since that might be a bit of an insult to my fellow producers. (Not to mention my fellow executive producers.) So the result was an episode that focused on the cats and the mice, portraying them as two sides of the same coin.

Yes, I used Soundtrack to build some of the music. Since I wanted a predominantly blues-y theme I added a loop library from Sony Digital Pictures (ie. Sonic Foundry) titled "Whiskey, Cigarettes and Gumbo" to the library. I am not a musician by any means, nor have I ever used a looping tool like Acid. But with a bit of practice and luck I was able to cobble some short pieces together that filled the bill. (The "Meeting", "Snatch" and "Delivery" scenes, as well as the bass riffs behind the mustard scene.) Soundtrack, as you may know, is still a bit buggy and requires some patience. But it certainly has a bright future and is a very capable and expandable tool.

Darn, I really like your "spaghetti western" idea. Perhaps where all of the lip synch is off and all of the actors are of different enthnicities. Now -that- would be a real stitch!

[EDIT]
Thanks very much, John. Hey, you sure did your share of comedy in your episode, too! I laughed out loud while compressing your episode!
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Old October 23rd, 2003, 04:16 PM   #6
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Great work Ken!

The best actors so far I think. The best narrative flow too.

Excellent photography as well. Very consistant, with good editing choices.

Thumbs up all around. One of my five favorites.

Oh, and funny too! Although we guessed the item in question early on, the missus and I had a laugh at the ending.
Especialy with the "margaritas and hot dogs" dialogue.
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Old October 23rd, 2003, 08:48 PM   #7
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More proof that Chicago dogs are the best !

Originally I thought the quick cuts during the first conversation between the agent and his boss were too quick.....but after watching it again I realized that I followed the story closer due to your editing & shot selection.

Great job Ken and crew !
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Old October 23rd, 2003, 09:18 PM   #8
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Thank you very much for your remarks Dylan and Dan.

Cutting that first scene was really quite a challenge on two fronts; time and sound. The full scene's sequence runs approximately 1:45, far too long for the 7 minute version. So the challenge on this front was to cut it while still conveying the relationship between the Boss and Henshall.

As (bad) luck would have it, major construction work began next door to this scene's location the week of the shoot. And I mean -right next to- the set. No way to change the location. The room was a large space with 25'+ ceiling, terra cotta floor and floor-to-ceiling glass on 3 sides...a lot of echo and resonance. The sound of back-up beepers and drills was pervasive throughout the dialog tracks. If you listen closely you can still hear the hint of a a couple of beeps nestled far out of reach in the dialog.

Using the Senn MKH416 rather than the ME66 or ME67 really worked in our favor on this scene, as it did a remarkable job of keeping a great deal of noise out of the tracks, making the post scrub a bit easier.
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Old October 24th, 2003, 10:58 AM   #9
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Hi Ken,

Very nice movie. I've watched it twice and it's great to notice some new details that I overlooked watching it the first time. A lot of hard work had gone into making it, and I think you can tell that because of the fact that it's pacing so smooth and natural (only a small glitches here and there in the acting, but most of their work looks good and fits the story).

Funny to hear that serious, cool voice of the agent. BTW, when he asked the guy on the street to help him stealing the bag from the girls, I was thinking of the movie Hannibal.

Actors, shot composition, music, locations, audio, everything was in it's place.

Funny you used the hotdog as the fun and key-item for your episode. The first thing that came into my mind when I started out developing my script for Episode 16, I was also thinking of a fun episode based on getting a snack for Lady X (a hamburger or a "kroket" (a typical Dutch snack)). My wife told me that would be to cheesy and I thought she was right. But when I watched your episode, you worked out the same idea and made it look really great!!

Peter
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Old November 12th, 2003, 11:41 PM   #10
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Hey Ken, just saw the short.
Really digged the whole look and the lighting of the first scene with the two guys. Nice use of browns really compliment the visual look of the scene.

I liked the scene with the guy in the bandana, when he chases her, you got a real nice shot of the guy with a shallow depth of field. Looks professional. Cracked me up when he flipped off the main character as he ran away. Overall it was really well shot, so props on that.

The Boss character was a little stiff in his acting in my opinion, but other than that everyone else seemed to hold their own. Looking forward to seeing more from you.
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Old November 13th, 2003, 12:08 AM   #11
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Brad,
Thanks so much for your comments.

That long shot of Mike Heger (bandana) creeping up behind "Robin" was done with the XL1s and 16x manual lens from approximately 1 city block away. It took a lot of focus riding but we finally got it right in 4 takes. (During one take a passing police car slowed, probably thinking he was witnessing a purse snatch in progress. When he saw the camera and rest of the crew he took off.)

The cut-aways from the flip-off were pure serendipity. While setting up for the snatch shot, above, Mike Mercurio ("Henshall") was waiting across the street for his next scene. I glanced over and saw that he was in an ideal spot for b-roll onlooking shots. So I just turned the camera around and shot him from across the street. To this day he doesn't know where those shots came from.

Yes, Tony did seem a bit stiff in some of his dialogue. That's strictly my fault as a rookie director. He was actually one of the more experienced film actors in the cast (with a small part in Road to Perdition to his credit). As I learned, some actors just intuit their part and others need stronger direction. As I came to know him better, I saw that he could have convincingly played that scene any of a dozen ways. My bad.

Thanks again, Brad.
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