Friday, November 29, 2013

The History of “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions® 2000-2013 Part 4 of 5

A Whole New Media

 2005 the creation of YouTube

Prior to 2005 all the videos made by “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions® were distributed amongst friends or any captive audience Joseph could find.  Joseph wanted to get his production company’s videos posted online since its founding in 2000 but the technology wasn’t readily available.  Completed videos could not even be sent via email because the file sizes were too large to permit mass distribution through mailing lists. The creation of YouTube changed the world and how media is digested.  On a smaller scale it allowed Joseph to share his work with friends via social network and email links.  What no one was prepared for was the global reception the works were exposed to.  The isolated audience for a few hundred people grew to potentially millions.  With all the potential behind this new medium, Joseph resolved to run “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions® as usual.  All the works created are for the entertainment purposes of those involved in the projects and their circle of friends.  If people outside the core audience find amusement in the work it is just icing on the cake.  A successful video will never be gauged solely on YouTube views.

More Fun With Dolls!

In the summer of 2005 Joseph acquired a new video camera that allowed for the use of stop-motion animation.  The goal was to complete an idea he had following the success of Fun With Dolls! called More Fun With Dolls!  A direct sequel to the original, it involved a cross dressing G.I. Joe coming back from the dead and seeking revenge against the man who murdered him.  Joseph wanted to make a grander video when compared to the first one and added more scenes and action.  It was an ambitious project but fell short of the shock value the original had.  It did mark the return of “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions® stop-motion animation division.  It was technically the first official sequel produced by “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions®.

A Boy Lost in Bellerose

While More Fun With Dolls! may technically be the first sequel produced by “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions®, A Boy Lost In Bellerose is actually the first sequel.  It grew out of a TV Production class Joseph was taking at St John’s University.  The class was required to do a still picture project while learning how to use the college television studio.  Most classmates used simple pictures of items they liked.  Joseph noticed how much the assignment mirrored Mr. Burns TV Production class in high school and took the opportunity to duplicate his success by creating A Boy Lost in Bellerose.  He casted himself as the boy and with the help of his current girlfriend Kendra Aliano they proceeded to wander around popular spots in Bellerose taking photos that were not previously explored in A Girl Lost in Bellerose.  Joseph then enlarged the photos and organized them in a way that a story was told.  Since the class was TV Production the project was broadcast live to the TV class and he opted to overlay the main theme music from Last of the Mohicans.  Joseph got another A for yet another piece of video work.  Unfortunately since the project was broadcasted live it was not possible to have a copy for himself.  He also did not wish to have any videos created by him without an “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions® logo appearing at the end of the piece.  So Joseph put the pictures in storage and after attaining the new camera he broke out the photos and also added additional stills that were cut from the class version.  This time around, the first song of his choosing was running much too long so he opted for a song that fit the length of the compiled pictures.  Eruption by Van Halen was placed of the track and while not considered a critical or commercial success it was a nice change of pace by returning to the roots of how “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions® started. 

Broken Hearted

Broken Hearted stemmed from two sources.  The main inspiration for the video was from an amateur video made by a boy in England to the song Broken Hearted by the band Eighteen Visions.  The English boy’s video was disjointed and hard to follow but appeared to be about a boy and girl who dated and broke-up and the boy was broken hearted until he met another girl.  The video reminded Joseph of his own work Photograph.  He decided to remake the English boy’s video by correcting some of the plot errors that appeared in the original piece. 
The second source of inspiration came from Joseph’s real life experience with his ex-girlfriend Stephanie Lehr. Symbolic elements of their relationship were thrust into the video, items such as the Donkey Kong shirt Dave hilariously noticed Joseph wearing while on a date with her, the sweatshirt that he lent to Stephanie when they went ice-skating together.  Also, the ending sequence was mirrored when the girl leaves the boy for an older man.

                                                         The version that helped inspire "I Like To Play With Toys" Productions® video. 

Joseph recruited his girlfriend of the month, Christine, into playing the lead girl in the video.  He had to cast himself as the lead character because no one else was available.  After cycling through most of the story Joseph was left with only the ending sequence to shoot.  He was able to contact David Rerecich who stated they could film the ending sequence at his apartment.  When they arrived Joseph pitched the video premise to Dave who declined the role.  Luckily Bill Wikstrom was intrigued by the story and volunteered for the part.  With principal photography completed Joseph was in the editing room once again.  As he cut the story together the video was running short on time.  Joseph decided to fill in the gaps with lip syncing.  He contacted Mike Cody and asked him to assist with music shots.  It was fitting to have another one of the stars of Photograph perform in a video that paid homage to a video that reminded Joseph of Photograph. 

Mike and Joe on the left in Broken hearted mirroring Joe and Mike on the right in Photograph

After the video was completed Joseph showed the video to the usual audience and was met with the typical positive feedback.  Mike Cody liked the video so much he urged Joseph to post it on YouTube. 

After a brief stint experimenting with YouTube, Joseph became disenfranchised with the website because at the time MySpace, the social network his core audience was primarily using, would not allow YouTube links.  He deleted all his YouTube posts and decided to post directly to MySpace in hopes of reaching his audience more efficiently.  It was sound logic but unsuccessful. 

Without the MySpace media outlet for his videos, Joseph decided to follow Mike’s advice and “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions® first official post on YouTube went semi-viral.  Its view count even surpassed the original video that inspired the creation of Broken Hearted.  Joseph also capitalized on the negative YouTube comments that run rampant throughout the website.  He decided to provoke any person who posted a negative comment into commenting more and more about how they hated the video.  By increasing the amount of comments for the video it helped increase the overall view count and made Broken Hearted the more popular search result.  

Breakin’ Hundred

From 2004 – 2008 the hottest unsigned band on Long Island was Breakin’ Hundred.  The pop rock quartet consisted of Eric Maestre on vocals, Philly Lao on Guitar, Judd Jarowski on bass, and Mark Corso on drums.  Joseph wanted to expand “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions® role and start producing music videos from unsigned bands.  It would be another thread in its arsenal of media products. 

He’d pitched several video ideas to them and the band was enthusiastic about making a video but scheduling conflicts always prevented everyone from gathering together to shoot.  The solution was an animated piece for the song Follow Me.

A more elaborate video followed for the song I’ll See You Again and featured a storyline centered around a man whose best friend dies and the main character becomes a drug addict.  It starred Matt Leabo and Mike Cody and was meant to be a serious piece of work.  It was poorly casted and ended up being a parody of itself.  The project would have been scrapped entirely but was deemed too funny not to distribute.  Breakin’ Hundred was unavailable to shoot band shots for the video so stock footage was used as a frame around the storyline.

The next video Leave Us Behind was footage Joseph recorded at one of the bands shows and then cut to the Terminator 2 movie as if Breakin’ Hundred did a the soundtrack for the film. 


Where To Go was a quick edit job using clips from the cartoon G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.


The last video Die Tonight was delayed by several years and was not actually released until after the band broke up.   Philly Lao requested a music video be made of the song but the band never released the CD so Joseph never attained a copy of the song.  Therefore he could not edit the footage recorded.  Eventually Joseph attained a copy of the song in hopes of sparking a Breakin’ Hundred reunion he cut a video together of the band performing Die Tonight.  It ignited immediate fan adoration and longing that soon the band would return to the stage.  A reunion show is rumored to be in the works.

Mediocre Man

Mediocre Man, a lesser known video created by “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions® was formulated by Joseph while taking a film class at Nassau Community College in 2003.  The class did not allow for the artistic freedom allotted to him in his Holy Cross TV Production class so he put it on the backburner to create at some other point.  The story idea came back into the limelight in 2005 while at a Hofstra Film club meeting with his graduate classmate Jason Kennedy.  Jason wanted to create a video but did not have a story idea.  Joseph whipped out the concept of a man who thinks he’s a superhero and runs around trying to save people from the mundane dangers that they choose to ignore.  Jason loved the idea and stated the title of the work should be Mediocre Man. 

Another year passed before Joseph could begin work on his project, by that time Jason had moved back to New Jersey and was unable to assist in the production of the video.  When casting time came around Joseph sought regulars Matt Leabo, Mike Cody, and a first time performance from longtime friend Joanna Festa.  Joseph and Christine made cameos in the video.  It was a cold February night but filming with such a small and experienced cast made the shoot move quickly.  First time actress Joanna Festa also assisted with jazzing up Mediocre Man’s costume.  It was her idea to create the fancy M that appeared on Matt’s costume as well as the MW she wore at the end of the piece.  Joanna stenciled and cut out the letters for the costume and was an important addition to the overall quality of the video.   Matt’s comedic acting was perfect for the slapstick Mediocre Man roll and Mike Cody was the perfect character actor throughout the story.  

The video has met with enormous praise from all those who’ve viewed it, it was never submitted to the Hofstra Film Club, nor was the envisioned version with the Superman Theme posted on YouTube due to the WMG dispute.  Very few people have been exposed to this classic in its intended version but it is considered by Joseph the funniest thing created by “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions®.  It was also the last video to ever feature Mike Cody.

Even More Fun With Dolls!

In 2008 Joseph decided to conclude the Fun With Dolls! trilogy with its final installment Even More Fun With Dolls!  The stop-motion animation project started right where More Fun With Dolls! ended.  Joseph scaled down the filming of the project to fit more with the roots of the first video.  The story was meant to be as shocking as ever, Barbie witnesses her boyfriend get murdered and then becomes a coked out prostitute who eventually dies at the end of the video.   The song White Lines by Grand Master Flash and the Furious 5 was dubbed over the tale and thus ended a story that began eight years earlier. 

Written by
Steve Rogers,
Christmas Snow,
Joseph Ammendolea
“I Like To Play With Toys” Productions®