Interview with David Mack
Last Updated 1/20/1
The owner of Infinity Dog Productions and Webmaster of TechnicalVirgin.com a site that was listed as one of the Top 5 Sites of the year 2000 by Maxim Magazine.
What exactly is Infinity Dog
Productions? What are it's goals?
Infinity Dog Productions is a privately held corporation created to produce and distribute short films, feature films, music videos and television commercials.
It is a legal shell my lawyer helped me put up around my work as a freelance writer and independent filmmaker in order to improve my tax status and protect myself from lawsuits, and to protect my personal financial status in the eventthat my freelance ventures lead me into bankruptcy.
That sounds quasi-legal? You pushing smack on the side? and if you're caught pushing smack will your tax shell protect you?
Um, no, we're not doing anything
illegal ... that I know of. But if someone were to push smack, incorporating would only
make their situation worse -- they'd go from being a first-time offender to a full-blown
racketeer under the RICO statute, which would declare their business a "criminal
enterprise" and seize the whole magilla.
Nope, we're just out to make money by making people laugh, making people cry, and making people pay to see our stuff instead of someone else's.
Whoa whoa whoa....
You sure do know a whole lot about keeping a criminal organization from getting put down by the man, is there something you're not telling me? Could Infinity Dog be a front for some type of underground Buffalo Soldier movement?
Hell, no; I don't have time to
run anything that big.
Many years ago, when I was fresh out of college, one of my first jobs was working as a field reporter for one of the NYC weekly tabloids. One of the stories I did focused on how escort services launder money, and that required research into things like incorporation law, shell corporations, and the RICO statute.
Also, I just happen to be a phenomenally well-read guy. If you'd asked me about physics instead of smack, you'd probably be accusing me of being a mad scientist bent on world domination. And to that charge I would answer, "I am most definitely not a scientist."
Mad scientist? World Domination?
Indie films? You're a busy man, do you own a persian cat? All the best evil warlords have
one. Where do you see yourself going as a professional over the next few years? How about
as a father to an entire generation of genetically engineered soldiers motivated only by
their addiction to Gingerbread Cookies?
I have two cats, but neither is a
Persian. One is a shorthair domestic mongrel. The other is a fluffy Norwegian Forest Cat.
Over the next few years, I have some plans that are so crazy they just might work. Through connections at my full-time job, I am hoping to get in the door to pitch story ideas to such SCI FI Channel original TV series as "The Invisible Man" and "Farscape." My writing partner and I are also always on the lookout for more comic-book writing work -- we're working on a four-issue miniseries for the "Star Trek" comic books right now -- and we've definitely decided to give this indie film thing a fair shot. We're currently planning three new projects for 2001. The first one on the schedule is a sequel to the TechnicalVirgin.com spoof ad; the other two are short films, one of which I think would be a good candidate for the SCI FI Channel short-film series "Exposure."
As for genetically engineered supersoldiers with a jones for gingerbread cookies, that's not really in the budget at the moment. Let me talk to my tax lawyer; the R&D costs might be deductible if we shoot a documentary about it.
Let's take a moment, a very brief
moment, to talk about Technical Virgin. I've read through the site, but for the benefit of
our reta... readers... could you explain exactly what the site is about? and are you
drawing from personal experience?
TechnicalVirgin.com is a Web site
that was created as a parody of the teen-abstinence movement in general, and the
organization Not Me Not Now in particular. It is designed to look and feel a lot like
their sites, by using shots of very ethnically diverse teens and adopting a deeply sincere
tone. We have a video ad, testimonials and much more.
Where TechnicalVirgin.com veers into parody is that instead of telling teenagers to avoid all sex, we tell them to avoid pregnancy by choosing instead to have anal sex and homoerotic encounters.
The idea behind this approach was that I and my writing partner, a guy named John Ordover, believed the teen-abstinence movement -- which is controlled, for the most part, by the Religious Right -- is full of s***.They take a very unrealistic view of the kinds of sexual behavior that modern teenagers are engaging in; they counsel abstinence, and their best argument is that it could lead to pregnancy or AIDS -- just total scare tactics. As for alternative lifestyles, the message they're pushing on kids today doesn't even acknowledge there are such things.
A recent article in the New York Times pointed out that teens today are having a lot more oral sex and anal sex than teens were just a few years ago, and it's because they've misinterpreted the teen-abstinence message to mean that anything other than heterosexual intercourse is abstinence. Which is just stupid, and also quite dangerous. So TechnicalVirgin.com was intended on some level to serve as a wake-up call: "Teach your kids all the facts, or this is the kind of stupid behavior you'll get."
As far as my personal experience
in the subject, it was during my senior year of college. I fooled around with this girl,
and when the time came to get down to the nitty-gritty, she explained to me that she
didn't engage in straight sex; she said she would only have anal sex because she wanted
"to remain pure for marriage." Her exact words. And I guess that's part of what
was festering in my brain when I developed Technical Virgin -- the notion that a girl
thinks she's pure because she only let guys in through the back door. A very disturbing
concept, in my opinion.
"A recent article in the New York Times pointed out that teens today are having a lot more oral sex"
I want contact info...
The article appeared in the Tuesday, December 19, 2000, edition of the New York Times. The story is probably still on their site. Maybe if you call the reporter who filed the story, they can hook you up.
What has been the response to
Technical Virgins "message"?
As for response to the site and
its message, it has been kind of a stealth success. I received a few e-mails now and then
from people who were savvy enough to follow the link to Infinity Dog's site and realize we
were totally responsible for Tecnical Virgin. But I had no idea the site was really
getting noticed until just a few weeks ago.
My webmaster called me and said the traffic to the site had begun choking his server bandwidth, and he wanted to know if I would consent to place advertising on the site to recoup the costs. I said sure, and asked what kind of numbers we were getting. Turns out we're getting about 150,000 visitors per month. Last I heard, the video had been viewed more than half a million times.
A couple weeks ago, my partner and I were invited to talk about TechnicalVirgin.com on "The Big Show with Adam Paul" on eYada.com. So we did, and the interview went pretty well. The next night, I came home from work and found I'd received a call from The New York Times, wanting to talk to me about TechnicalVirgin.com. I spoke to a reporter named John Shwartz. I don't know if that story has run yet, or if I'll even make the cut when it does. But it was pretty cool just to be called. If the Times mentions our site, I think I'll send a clip to The New Yorker next -- milk this for all it's worth, you know?
Sounds like you could have a middle sized cash cow on your hands. Any chance I could leech off your success, I can practically guarentee you 50 hits. j/k.
EDITORS NOTE: FOR THE READERS
INFORMATION IT IS COMMON PRACTICE FOR US WEB PERSONALITIES WHO FALL UNDER THE
"PATHETICALLY UNSUCCESSFUL" CATEGORY TO ATTEMPT TO SYPHON OFF OF THE SUCCESS OF
OTHERS, OTHER EXAMPLES OF THIS OPPURTUNISTIC BEHAVIOUS CAN BE FOUND IN THE FILM INDUSTRY,
THE LEGAL SYSTEM AND CANNIBALISTIC TRIBES OF SOUTH AMERICA.
Now, let's just say for the sake of argument, Infinity Dog has to be put down after a wicked case of Parvo and the only thing you are known for is being the guy who said Butt Sex is the way to go? How will you sleep? Will you be able to look your grandmother in the eyes when she asks you did after college?
All my grandparents were dead of natural causes long before I created this.
EDITORS NOTE: GUESS NOT...
And this would hardly be
"the only thing I am "known for." I co-wrote two episodes of "Star
trek: Deep Space Nine," have bylines on a number of short pieces published in
paperback, have worked on several CD-ROM games -- including the newly released Star Trek:
Deep Space Nine - "The Fallen" -- and I am working right now on my first
full-length book for Simon and Schuster, "The Starfleet Survival Guide." I also
share the writing credit (with my pal Keith R.A. De Candido) on a new Star Trek e-book to
be published in 2001 titled "Invincible."
If by some sad turn of events the short-film effort leads me to ruin, then I'll simply file Chapter 13, dissolve the corporation, and take a huge tax writeoff. But I just can't see that happening. I'm simply too good.
EDITORS NOTE: I'M GLAD I FOUND SOMEONE AS HUMBLE AS MYSELF TO INTERVIEW.
I must admit, I don't know anyone
other than myself who boasts to reading the credits of video games (I seriously do) so....
*decides to shut his mouth while he's ahead so he can finish the interview*...
Seriously though, you've got alot of accomplishments under your belt. Now for the question that's been burning a hole in all of our brains... Being a maker of independent films how do you feel about the success of The Blair Witch Project?
EDITORS NOTE: I SAW 15 MINUTES OF THIS FILM WHILE TRYING TO TALK TO THE GIRLFRIEND ON THE PHONE AND STAY AWAKE. I FELL ASLEEP SO....
Man, oh, man -- are you going to
be sorry you asked that. That film is one of my all-time biggest rant-generators.
Let me say right off, I don't mind that it's a huge success. The filmmakers came up with a workable idea, got it made and marketed the living hell out of it. Sure, the hype was annoying, but it's not as if they were the only ones who ever shoved a product down the American public's throat. Hell, when the SCI FI Channel recently promoted a special called "Shadow of the Blair Witch" as a promotion for the sequel, I wrote the copy for the Web site. Frankly, the folks behind BWP deserve to get huge piles of cash for as long as people will give it to them, and more power to them. After all, I'm in this for the money, so I'm not going to sour grape because they hit it big first.
My gripes about "The Blair Witch Project" are:
1) the glaring unprofessionalism of its filmmakers;
2) the glee with which they boast of their unprofessionalism; and
3) the fact that they were granted production credits -- and,
consequently, admission into the prestigious creative guilds that
govern those credits -- for work that they did not actually do.
Speaking to the first point: They marched their actors out into the woods, deliberately stranding them. They left them there with the film and video cameras, and no crew. No supervision. The production had no insurance. Those three actors could havebeen hurt or killed, and there would have been no way for them to summon help. (They had no cell phones.) At night, the producers went out into the woods and terrorized the actors, who were left to film their own terrified reactions.
For a filmmaker not to be there offering feedback to the cast is unconscionable. It demonstrates a total disregard for, and ignorance of, the actor's craft.
Essentially, the film is one long hazing ritual captured on film. It had no script, only vague outline notes on index cards that were left for the actors, who for two weeks never saw the crew or producers. They were left to improv their own dialogue, block their own scenes, shoot their own footage.
In short, this was a poorly conceived and amateurishly executed project, and one that should not be glorified lest other, less fortunate souls try the same stunt and wind up in serious trouble.
Speaking to the second point: The producers, when questioned about this unorthodox production method, laughed about the fact that while the actors were stranded -- in the pitch-dark woods, in the rain, not knowing when or if the producers would come to terrorize them -- the producers were eating Mexican food and drinking Margaritas at a nearby restaurant.
In short, they did not act like
filmmakers. They acted like drunken frat-jock assholes.
Speaking to the third and final point: There is no screenplay to "The Blair Witch Project." The filmmakers did not write a single word of dialogue. They did not write a single scene of any kind. They offered nothing beyond simple index cards with cryptic notes to their cast. The only real writing they did was on the Web site for the film, and that does not count as a screenplay or screen story.
The filmmakers did not direct a
single scene of the film. They offered no input on blocking, camera movement, lighting, or
the reading of the lines. How could they? They weren't there. In fact, the actors
themselves performed all these tasks without supervision or assistance.
Yet the credits for "The Blair Witch Project" read "Written and Directed by Daniel Myrick & Eduardo Sánchez." Huh? How the f*** did these clowns get "written by" and "directed by" credit when they wrote nothing and directed nothing? Understand that by receiveing these credits on-screen, these guys are entitled to much larger shares of the film's residuals, and they were admitted into the Writers Guild of America and the Directors Guild of America -- which are both very difficult to get into. (I myself am a member of the Writers Guild of America; until I am lucky enough to direct a feature film or earn more than a certain sum of money in a single fiscal year as a director of union-backed projects such as commercials or music videos, I will not be eligible to enter the Directors Guild.)
There are people who work for years perfecting their craft and busting their backs to earn the credits and get the work that will entitle them to enter these creative guilds, which offer legal protections and a variety of services to their members. Then these two f****** clowns come along, having neither written nor directed a single moment of "The Blair Witch Project," and they now belong to both guilds. This is a slap in the face to everyone who has earned their place in either guild.
How should their credits have been handled? They both deserved to be recognized as the film's producers, and as its editors. The writing/directing credits should have gone to its cast, who actually fulfilled those roles. Instead, two poseurs
EDITORS NOTE: THAT'S CLASSY WAY TO SAY POSERS I GUESS...
have been welcomed into two of the most important creative guilds in modern entertainment, even though they don't have a clue how to write or direct. And that pisses me off -- as a filmmaker.
Sorry you asked? Of course you are.
EDITORS NOTE: NOT REALLY, VERY VALID POINTS.
I pretty much got the affirmation
I was looking for...
Approximately how many films have you worked on, and how many of those through Infinity Dog?
The Technical Virgin ad was the
first one I've produced since starting Infinity Dog Productions. The company was
originally founded so that I could legally solicit investors for a feature
film project that never got off the ground.
Before that I produced 11 short films, most of them execrably bad, and six video projects, all of them awful. I worked as a "parking P.A." -- a production assistant who has the miserable and uncredited job of going into a neighborhood a day or so ahead of a film crew and clearing out all the parked cars so that the production vehicles will have some place to park -- on the Martoin Scorsese segment of "New York Stories" and the Paul Mazursky film "Enemies ... A Love Story." I also worked on the senior thesis film of Harry Elfont, who went on to become a Hollywood director of such films as "Jingle All The Way," starring Arnold Shwarzenegger, and "Can't Hardly Wait," starring Jennifer Love Hewitt, and the upcoming "Josie and the Pussycats." Harry refused to read a script I wrote, and he doesn't return my calls anymore. F****** prick. I nearly got killed working for him and this is the thanks I get. <grumble grumble>
The episodes of "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" that I co-wrote with John Ordover are Starship Down" (1995) and "It's Only a Paper Moon" (1999).
Harry Elfont... if it's any consolation, I've heard of you and I haven't heard of him. I recognize his "work"... it's a shame he gets paid... Jingle All the Way To Hell, and he can dingle his sleigh bells on the way.
EDITORS NOTE: I HATE CHRISTMAS MOVIES, WITH THE HUMBLE EXCEPTION OF LETHAL WEAPON.
Do you think Infinity Dog could move solely towards net productions and net-films or are you too passionate about the glamorous world of film making? Any future net projects?
Well, for the immediate future
the Internet is going to be the primary venure for Infinity Dog's work. The ads for
Technical Virgin will be seen exclusively online for a while to come, along with some
other short film clips that are on Infinity Dog's multimedia page.
But the appeal and lure of seeing my work broadcast to a wide audience, and the dream of seeing it larger than life on a movie screen is simply too powerful a dream to give up. I'll work on the Web as best I can for as long as I need to, but I will continue to work toward the
goals I've pursued since I was 14 years old.
Have you even read anything on
The Electric Reel? When you see this picture what do you think? Art?
I've poked around a bit on the
site. As for this image, it seems to imply fish bestiality, combined with the odd notion
of autoerotic asphyxiation by drowning.
As for the question, "Is it art?", that's hard to say. Art can be described in some sense as an aesthetic work intended to evoke an emotional response. Whether that
response is revulsion or amusement is irrelevant, if you believe the purists. So I guess I might consider it art. But that doesn't mean I think it's *good* art.
Ummmm.... I don't know what all
that was about. It was actually a picture of me f******a fish.
Do you have any closing statements or arguments you'd like to make. Do you feel I've missed any vital points? Anything you'd like to say, maybe give a shout out to your mom... the President, whoever... BTW I noticed you put the award from Jane, what if I quickley fabricated an award and made it look official.... think we could do business? *ties your pets to the railroad
tracks* well how about it?
Thanks, I think my site has all the icons it really needs.
EDITORS NOTE: CAN'T BLAME ME FOR
And no, no closing arguments, "final thoughts" or shout-outs. Except ... maybe one to Kristen J., a.k.a. carbongirl. I'm too short, I'm too old and I'm too far away for her to give me a chance ... but a guy can still dream.
EDITORS NOTE: I HEAR YOU THERE... WAIT... I'M NOT SHORT OR OLD... AND I'M WILLING TO TRAVEL... HEY, KRISTEN...
And on that note I bid you
farewell and good night.
-- David Mack, Infinity Dog Productions