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All 8 Star Wars Episodes A Cappella

My vision for this one was not to show my Star Wars fandom through cosplay or geeky obsession but to illustrate how its glorious themes and ideas affect my everyday life. Deep down, I believe we all long to be Jedi knights. (It’s currently at 12,000 views on Youtube … which used to seem like a lot. But with our “Mario Parkour” video at 3M, it’s all relative now … which is good.)

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The Recycled Suit

This one time in high school, the planets aligned, and I was asked to the girls-choice Valentines dance by secret crush, Lilly. Lilly was something else. She sewed her own clothes, she dyed her own hair, and I’m pretty sure she subsisted entirely on a diet of seaweed and soy milk. She spent her afternoons picking up litter and caring for stray dogs. One time, during class, the teacher stopped his lecture because he noticed that Lillie was turning blue. Lilly explained that she was trying to reduce carbon emissions by breathing less.

I really wanted to impress her, so I went shopping for suits. I found this great deal on a wool one, but then I remembered that, according to Lilly, wool was made by animal exploitation. All of the other suits had polyester in them, and according to Lilly, polyester is poisoning the oceans. Soon it was the day of the dance, and I had no idea what I was going to wear. So I made my own suit.

I thought it would impress if my suit was made entirely out of recycled materials, so I raided a newspaper bin and started paper-mache-ing some pants. I knew Lilly had this thing against refined starches, so instead of flour, I held it all together with mud. It’s more earthy that way. For the coat, I made a chain mail out of soda can tabs, which I also reinforced with mud and topped off with a layer of moss … you know, for style. For my hair, I used the most eco-friendly stiffening agent … mud … and topped it off with a hat made out of an abandoned bird’s nest. I’d never felt closer to mother nature.

When Lilly arrived on my doorstep, I opened the door slowly, so as not to give her a heart attack. Thus you could imagine my confusion at the look of horror on her face. I explained that she was looking at a genuine, one-hundred percent recycled suit, but I could change it she wanted. She said, “No, that’s okay.” But I could tell she was feeling awkward. This was probably because, despite her principles, she had chosen to wear a polyester dress. I guess nobody’s perfect.

Anyway, I took a seat in her dad’s Porsche, which was kind of hard to do without breaking my pants and leaving dirty everywhere. I just pretended nothing had happened. Then Lilly drove us to a restaurant. But after parking, we still had to walk a ways, which proved to be a formidable challenge within my stiff enclosure. I moved so slowly, I must have looked like a tree, which would explain why a dog urinated on my leg. I just pretended nothing had happened.

In the restaurant – one of the most expensive places in town – Lilly and I both ordered salads with vegan dressing. I was enraptured by the sound of her voice as she talked about her efforts to save the monkeys in Asia. But it was hard to focus, because I had the uncomfortable feeling that little things were crawling on my body. That was when I realized that I had an ant infestation. Ants started crawling up my neck and out of my sleeves. I would have ignored them, had not Lilly screamed.

“What?” I asked. “Oh my goodness! What kind of establishment is this?” When the waiter came, I complained about the ants, and they got us a new table. Of course, that didn’t stop the ants from coming, though I was able to cover them up with some conveniently-placed dinner napkins.

The dance was at the county courthouse. Again we parked and we were walking to our destination, when I noticed that three or four dogs were following me, sniffing with curiosity. I tried to kick them away, but they wouldn’t leave. So, not wanting to call unnecessary attention to myself, I just continued to walk as they took turns marking me as their territory.

The highlight of the evening was when, at last, Lilly and I were slow dancing to Nat King Cole. As we gazed into each other’s eyes, a squirrel crawled out of my jacket and leapt onto Lilly’s head. It happened so fast, she didn’t even see the squirrel, though she screamed as she felt it clawing around her body. I promptly beat the squirrel off of her, then tried to cover up what was happening by pretending I was getting fresh with her, which must have succeeded, because she slapped me in the face and walked off. Given the circumstances, this was probably the best possible outcome.

Around this time, someone must have thought it was a good idea to open a window, which, in reality, was a terrible idea, because it allowed a pelican to fly in and nest on my head. I tried to cover up the pelican by rearranging my hair, but I don’t think the illusion was working very well, because I was getting a lot of stairs. Needless to say, the night wasn’t turning out too well.

I went outside to get some air. That was when I was accosted by a mob of ten or twenty dogs. Not only were they interested in my scent, they seemed to have a certain fascination with a cat that had somehow managed to get stuck to my back. I hadn’t noticed that before.

Anyway, the dogs were really violent, so I ran back into the courthouse, where Lilly was waiting for me. Apparently she was ready to give me a second chance, which was nice. I must have accidentally left the door open, because soon I was accosted by the mob of barking dogs. In a panic, I pulled the cat off of me and threw it. Fortunately, this succeeded in dissuading the dogs from my body. Unfortunately, the cat landed on Lilly.

So if ever you have a date, and you’re dreading the goodnight kiss, just wear a one-hundred percent recycled suit, and I can guarantee you won’t get one.

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Guerrilla Filmmaking With No Budget and No Time | A Few Tips

On Monday, I was walking around the block with my wife. We were talking about our projects and goals. It occurred to me that I needed to make a book trailer for my novel, GIDEON VERSUS THE GODS OF COOL (which is set to be released on April 26th by Beacon Publishing Group in New York). I would be moderating a panel about making book trailers at a writing conference on Friday (Life, the Universe and Everything Science Fiction and Fantasy Symposium in Provo), and I needed something good to show. Teresa told me it was utterly impractical to undertake a video production like this under such a time constraint. This was my reply:

So after the walk, I continued alone through the neighborhood to enlist actors from neighborhood kids. As soon as I shared the vision, everyone I talked to was unequivocally in. On Tuesday, while waiting for my daughters to finish their gymnastics classes, my four-year-old son and I scoped out the locations at UVU (where, thirteen years prior, I used to “run and gun” similar productions). On Wednesday evening, we shot the footage. On Thursday, after spending the bulk of the day at the conference, I used the evening to edit. On Friday morning, I went to my sister in-law’s house to shoot the final scene (with her as the goddess of fashion). When it was time for my panel, the video was launched and ready to go. The total budget was sixteen dollars (fifteen for two Papa Johns pizzas for the neighborhood kids and one dollar for my gangster cap I wore as the god of coolness).

During the panel, we watched a series of popular book trailers. After each, I asked the audience to show, by raised hands, who would pick up the book being advertised. Many of the trailers had meager responses. For my video, the majority of hands were raised. So the moral of the story is: while I don’t actually recommend procrastination, we can do much more in a small amount of time than we think we can. Now here’s the video:

And now a few tips to the indie filmmaker: (1) all of the effects were from creative-commons-licensed videos I downloaded from Youtube. While I do know how to create my own partical effects in Adobe After Effects, when one has a deadline, there’s no sense in reinventing the wheel.

(2) I downloaded the music from the Free Music Archive (http://freemusicarchive.org). While I usually like to compose my own music, again, when one has a deadline …

(3) The green screen scenes were shot in my laundry room. The small space has actually proved to be a blessing, because it allows me to light the screen by bouncing light off of the walls, which creates a soft, evenly-lit diffusion with minimal shadows.

(4) I didn’t get permission to shoot in any of the locations. The great thing about shooting at universities is that there’s always productions and events going on, so no one will ask questions. Even if they do, you’ll open so many more doors in life when you ask for forgiveness instead of permission :-). Actually I did get permission to shoot in the board room, and if anyone asked, I was going to tell them this. What they wouldn’t need to know was that I got this permission thirteen years ago.

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Puppets Cover “Where Do We Go From Here” | The Gashler Family

Bet you’ve never seen such mad ventriloquism skills!

Another installment from our album VALHALLA | A NORDIC ROCK OPERA (https://stephengashler.com/product/valhalla-nordic-rock-opera/).

It’s always a struggle to teach a child not to act like an imbecile when they get a puppet on their hand. But when it came time to edit, some of my favorite clips were when they were acting like imbeciles.

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“Lifelight” (Theme From Super Smash Bros. Ultimate) | Covered by the Gashler Family

For anyone who may have been wondering why I’ve been sporting a mustache, here’s why:

The fake mustache from our last Nintendo fan film was awful to wear, so I vowed never again.

The goal was to release this video before Christmas, which I worked tirelessly toward, but on top of all the audio and video editing, when Christmas Eve rolled around, and it was two in the morning, I could only assemble so many bicycles and gymnastics equipment before collapsing in exhaustion. Though I released the video in time for Boxing Day, which, I guess, is more fitting :-).

Fun Facts

  • Percy and mommy hate the ending scene. Everyone else seems to love it.
  • Teresa’s spectacular Zelda costume was made by her sister Heather Peavler for a Comic Con event.
  • If you listen closely near the end, you can hear the Nintendo 64 Super Smash Bros. being played in the background.
  • All of the music was recorded in my bedroom (as is all of our music).
  • All of the video game scenes were shot in our laundry room.
  • We didn’t do any of our own stunts, but if you want to see us doing real stunts, check out our other Nintendo fan film, Jump Up Superstar.
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Katy Perry’s “Cozy Little Christmas” | Covered by the Gashlers (A Capella)

We covered a brand new song by Katy Perry (not our usual cup of tea). Following the advice of a famous Youtuber in our neighborhood, the goal was to create something that people are actually searching for. Brilliant, right? So we did a little research and found something so new, it doesn’t appear that anyone has covered it. There’s not even an official music video yet. At the same time, we’re not exactly trendy people, and we wanted to do something unique, so we tried our hand at a capella. Perhaps we were inspired by the BYU Vocal Point concert we attended a few weeks ago.

After I made the video of Teresa and I in our studio, something seemed lacking. I thought of shooting some B roll, but as I listened to the lyrics, I realized I already had all the footage I needed in our previous music videos. It was a perfect opportunity to resurrect Evil Robot Santa, me falling in the snow, Teresa standing in fire, and a love scene between clowns.

It’s too early to say, but since I released the video last night, it’s performed about 4 times better than our usual videos. Neat. Also, in order to stay in line with our cheesy values, we committed a faux pas and changed the lyrics for one phrase. Can you guess where?

At the end of the video, I thank the Katy Perry corporation. I felt inclined to do this after learning more about how the pop music industry works. Without disrespecting any chart-topping artist (as I do love this song and think Katy Perry is talented), the truth is that it takes large corporations and massive amounts of money to make them what they are. Seldom are they self-made, and seldom do they write their own songs. Knowing this makes me feel better about being an underdog. Instead of being dwarfed by superstars with all the talent, independent artists are really up against a bourgeois of music tycoons. Just a few decades ago, it wasn’t this way, but it seems that the proliferation of music through iPods and the Internet was so threatening that it caused a struggling music industry to turn in the opposite direction, scrapping the democracy of the free market and becoming the sole arbiters of what is hot and what is not. In the process, creativity has been stifled, and what’s popular has only gotten harder, louder, more predictable, and less … musical.

Thus it may appear that I’m selling out by covering popular music. In my defense, I’ve created so many videos with original songs that have gotten virtually no traction, that I see no harm in riding a wave in order to gain some momentum. In other words, if the proletariat is to make any advances against the bourgeois, first they must learn to play their game. If projects like this are successful, my other projects will naturally gain more exposure. At the same time, I’ll continue to create original works whether or not they see the light of day. For the most part, what I create is for me and my family.

For example, with our last video, Jump Up Superstar, I knew that we were a year behind the wave, and, not surprisingly, though we poured and our hearts and souls into the video, it’s gotten few hits. But that’s okay. We primarily created this video to record our family’s parkour, gymnastics, and singing skills that we’ve been working on this year, and we’re proud of it.

I create because I have music and stories bubbling inside of me, and I have to get them out. I create in order help my family up their skills and record priceless memories. And I create because it’s fun.

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Timpanogos Storytelling Hauntings 2018 and the Scythe of Sinister Intentions

Oh yeah … I won first place at the Timpanogos Storytelling Hauntings contest on Monday, the spookiest event of the year. The prize was this beautiful work of art, “The Scythe of Sinister Intentions,” which has been great to lug around town. Not only is it a good conversation starter, it gave me an instant Halloween costume without even realizing it. I put on a poncho, because I was cold, and soon people were identifying me as the Grim Reaper.

 

This was the best and fiercest scary storytelling contest I’ve been a part of. Everyone did a bone-chilling job, and I did not envy the predicament of the judges. It was an honor to rub shoulders with so many talented artists, and Mikaela Hansen did a wonderful job in organizing the event.

My story, “Queen of the Flies”, was based on the following premise: what if everything you’ve ever killed were to come back? According to one audience member, as I described a girl’s horrific encounters with bugs, people all over were subconsciously scratching their bodies (the best compliment I could have hoped for). If you’re afraid of spiders or creepy crawlies, then you definitely don’t want to hear my story:

Believe it or not, the story has a strong element of truth. When I was about eight or nine, I was writing in my journal one night when a spider crawled onto it. My older brother happened to be in the room, and he promptly slammed the book shut. Then he wrote around the slimy remains: “Rest in Pieces.” For years (four or five, if I remember correctly), I didn’t want to touch the book. When, as a teenager, I finally confronted my fear, I opened the book, and a spider actually leaped out. I swear it happened. I know what I saw.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you may recall that “Queen of the Flies” is a recurring theme of mine. Years ago, I, Teresa, and my brother Eric made this silly movie for my sister Deanna’ birthday (Deanna had a fear of flies, which fear the protagonist confronts):

Teresa also performed a modern twist on the spooky Mexican folk tale, La llrona, the deranged ghost-woman who will drag your children to watery graves. As I’ve said in previous posts, my wife is scary. And beautiful.