Dawn of A New Era
It was 2008 and Joseph met a former actor by the name of Fernando Rosas. He’d worked on such films as Autumn in New York, Table One, Shelter Island, and an undistributed project called Cemetery of the Damned. The two clicked instantly and Joseph recruited him in 2009 to appear in a story about a boy who’s scared of open spaces.
Agoraphobia’s plot revolved around a boy who never left his house but was enamored with a neighbor who lived nearby and dated an abusive boyfriend. They would correspond via written letters. Fate intervenes and puts the girl in danger and forces him to choose between the safety of his home or the fear of open spaces in order to save her. He ultimately chooses to save her and they live happily ever after.
Fernando was cast as the main character. Joseph recruited Joanna Festa’s cousin Carolyn Paredes to play the leading lady with a cameo from her sister Patty Paredes. The cast was rounded out with David Rerecich playing the abusive boyfriend. Former Holy Cross classmate Charlie Olivia was going to be the cinematographer but came down with the flu right before the shoot and had to cancel. Shooting was done over the course of two separate Saturdays during warmer days in March. It was set as a music video to ease Fernando into the world of “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions®. Joseph also had the system down to a science at this point. Everything went off without a hitch and the video was cut together using the song Satellite by P.O.D. It was a dramatic video with more artistic shots than “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions® usually produced. The experiment was a success and received much critical acclaim. It also set the foundations of what turned into one of the best directing acting collaborations “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions® had seen since Matt Leabo’s first appearance in A Girl Lost in Bellerose. Fernando was a natural talent and the next breakout star.
Fernando Rosas was an enigmatic individual who was typically known as a lover and not a fighter. In Fernando’s youth he had acted in professional works but had taken an extended sabbatical in the past decade to focus on himself. By the time he met Joseph he was looking for the opportunity to dust off the cobwebs and get into the acting scene again. “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions® was a good launching point to reacquire his skills. His easy going persona fit right in with past recurring actors such as Mike Cody and Matt Leabo. His prior experience helped push performances to another level. Fernando’s natural acting ability brought “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions® to a new level in presentation. After his introduction with Agoraphobia, Fernando’s skills were about to be tested in ways he would have never imagined.
|Fernando trying to fulfill his life long dream of becoming Johnny Depp.|
It was supposed to be Joseph’s last music video. It was an idea so brilliant that he was never going to top it. He also wanted to take “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions® into more scripted content. Jessie’s Girl was going to be the swan song. The idea came about after several fans requested a video for the song Jessie’s Girl by Rick Springfield. This was mostly because Joseph was known to heckle live bands to play the 80s pop hit wherever he went. Joseph found the song to be hilarious but never had any vision to create a story for it. He felt nothing could top the campy awesomeness of the original video. As repeated requests mounted Joseph lulled over some ideas and then it occurred to him. What if Jessie’s Girl was a blow-up doll?
|Jessie's Girl was from the Finally Miley (Miley Cyrus) blow-up doll collection courtesy of Spencer's Gifts retail outlet.|
He ran the idea by Fernando who found it hilarious and requested the part of Jessie. Joseph then began to flesh out the story. It became a man’s obsession over his best friend’s blow-up doll girlfriend. The obsession would culminate into a hostage situation and the doll getting popped and deflating. Joseph then decided if it was a hostage situation he would need a police officer. He recruited Dave Rerecich to make a cameo as Captain Floral Park and his overzealous police antics are what cause the gun to fire and kill Jessie’s Girl.
|Dave's cameo as Captain Floral Park. A character he continues to vow he'll never play again, until Joseph harasses him for one more final appearance.|
Joseph booked an evening to shoot the video and invited everyone who had ever worked on an “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions® video to participate in this last music video. Scheduling conflicts prevented almost all from attending the shoot. It appeared as if Jessie’s Girl was going to be a dud before it even got off the ground. Joseph was determined to finish shooting the project no matter what. Unable to attain enough actors he cast himself as the leading man and named him Noah Drake after Rick Springfield’s character on General Hospital. He bought a cheap doll at Spencer’s Gifts and shot his video as best as he could. The entire video consisted of a cast of four people but that’s all it needed.
|Joseph named the character Noah Drake after Rick Springfield's character on General Hospital.|
While in post production Joseph was unhappy with certain shots taken during the video and proceeded to do a few reshoots. This was the first time “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions® ever did a reshoot for a music video during post production. It was essential that the last music video end on the comedic tone he wanted. After editing was completed Joseph premiered the video to rave reviews. Everyone loved it. It garnered the biggest laughs since Fun With Dolls! was first shown back in fall 2000. It was the perfect closeout to a major chapter in the history of “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions® but it wasn’t the end.
A Lesson In Drinking
Following the success of Jessie’s Girl in 2011 Joseph trademarked “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions® to ensure it would remain his creative entity. The first video that was to be under the new trademarked logo was an animated short called A Lesson In Drinking. The concept came about in 2005 while Joseph was wrapping up his time in college and his work on The Late Show with David Letterman. He wrote what was supposed to be a comedic live-action short about teenagers drinking. Joseph based it off actual events in his life and submitted a first draft to David Rerecich who did a rewrite in the same fashion as he did with Officers in 2004.
Joseph did not wish to repeat the same mistakes of Officers and this time contributed more stipends to the rewrites. Dave eventually lost interest in the process due to the demands surrounding the script revisions. Joseph then showed the script to some Late Show coworkers in hopes to get some feedback on how to enhance the story. He received positive feedback from the work but nothing constructive. The script was eventually shelved while he focused on other projects.
As the years went on Joseph was stuck trying to figure out a way to get a young cast to act in his teenage comedy. His regulars were aging and could no longer believably play high school kids. He got the idea to animate the story using simple round clay creations he called Potato People. His main motivation behind the idea was to make the mother blue, the father red and the son would be purple. As the years progressed he looked into the logistics of creating such creatures and even in its simplest form it would be too expensive and time consuming. Joseph eventually settled on animating the video using Legos. He created a series of test videos featuring audio from Batman: The Animated Series that he reanimated shot for shot with Batman Legos. Joseph submitted a copy of his Lego Batman to producer/animator icon Bruce Timm at the 2011 New York Comic Con. During the 2012 New York Comic Con, Bruce Timm revealed at the Warner Brothers Animation Panel that WB Animation would be releasing a CGI Lego Batman. Some may feel this instance was unjust because Joseph was perhaps a catalyst for the Warner Brothers idea. Joseph did not see it this way though. He felt it was truly a great moment for “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions®, it meant that he had ideas that were genuinely marketable. He also held no intellectual property over the Legos or DC characters. There was no claim over an entirely original animated story whose character designs are Legos.
After Jessie’s Girl wrapped Joseph wanted to begin his work on skits. He went to his library and pulled out A Lesson In Drinking. Shooting was a breeze because he was able to record all the different actor’s audio separately and animate the scenes later. It took Joseph another year to get around to animating the work and in 2013 after seven years from its inception A Lesson In Drinking premiered. David Rerecich who co-wrote and did a voice was very surprised in how well the story worked. All the actors were proud of their performances and enjoyed the silliness of the work. Its generally positive feedback has opened the door for future animated skits.
While working on Jessie’s Girl a nagging idea shot into Joseph’s brain about a sequel. He’d done his best to dismiss the concept because it was supposed to be his last music video. He did casually mention the idea to Fernando Rosas while shooting Jessie’s Girl and Fernando loved the idea. This was not the deterrent Joseph was hoping for. Whenever Joseph heard the song No Easy Way Out by Robert Tepper and Separate Ways by Journey it would instantly remind him of the Jessie’s Girl 2 story idea. Joseph discussed a sequel idea with David Rerecich who stated that the original Journey video was a classic that could not be altered.
|Matt considering if he should reprise his role as Bobby Sunshine.|
Taping was done over the course of six months in order to account for all the actors’ schedules. When production finally wrapped and the video premiered it was met with the same adulations as Jessie’s Girl. Joseph even added homage to Rocky IV as tribute to the song No Easy Way Out which helped inspire this epic sequel.
It was February 2013 when Joseph finally decided to create iliketoplaywithtoysproductions.com. He wanted to start a .com since the late 1990s when he became a reader of DaveMMR.com. The idea evolved into a website for “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions® back in 2000. Sadly he didn’t have the time, money, or computer savvy to design his own website. As technology improved and became more affordable in the past decades Joseph began researching what a website would entail. He recruited a small writing staff of people consisting of Steve Rogers, Christmas Snow, himself and an assortment of other guest writers to ensure a steady stream of weekly updates. All the silly writing is a secondary to the primary focus of the website which is amateur videos. Whether the videos are produced by “I Like To Play With Toys” Productions® or another entity it is created to ensure that there is an easy to find outlet for fans to view the latest creation.
“I Like To Play With Toys” Productions® started out as a silly name required in a high school TV class and has grown in a small but loyal community of people that create stories for theirs and their friend’s entertainment. If strangers happen to enjoy their silliness as well that’s an added bonus. The future of the company is to continue to produce videos but also challenge itself. Perhaps another attempt at a full length movie could be in the works or just the next viral video of the week. Whatever it might be, you’ll have to keep logging on to find out.
“I Like To Play With Toys” Productions®