The real and imaginative adventures of Dennis Spielman

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I transformed a truck into a pirate ship for less than $100!

Hello, everyone! Today I’m sharing my video on how we transformed my wife’s truck into a pirate ship for less than $100 as a fun socially distant way to hand out candy for Halloween. 

Now, keep in mind our goal was to keep it simple and under $100. So, here’s what we bought. 

For $20 each, we got these vinyl plastic scene setters that are intended to be hung against a wall to create an old western environment, but we used them to wrap around the truck to make a pirate ship instead.

The star of the show was our candy cannon, which we bought a gray PVC pipe at Lowe’s for about $15. I was inspired by the candy tubes people were making in response to COVID and we thought a pirate’s cannon would be a fun way to slide candy to trick-or-treaters.

Of course, you can’t have a pirate ship without a pirate flag. I got this one at Amazon for $8 and this pack of 12 mini-flags to decorate the yard for $7.

We got a hundred-foot plastic table runner for $10 that we laid out in front of the truck to be our water. 

The rest of the stuff we used, we already had like some projector lights that we shined on the truck, the water, and the sidewalk. 

Everyone loved the idea of the candy cannon. We had some trouble shoving too much candy through it at once and getting pieces struck. Maybe next year we’ll get a wider pipe or have it up higher so the candy can slide down faster.

One problem we had was the wind fighting us we wrapped the wood around the truck. I ended up getting help to put that on. 

Due to the pandemic and recent ice storm, we only had about two to three dozen visitors, but we had fun and everyone loved the pirate ship and especially the cannon.

We got some ideas to improve upon the theme for next year. I hope the video inspires you. Until next time, happy adventures! 

Behind the Scenes at Kendall’s Restaurant for Tales Unveiled

Behind the Scenes at Kendall’s Restaurant

When Jeff and I recorded at Kendall’s Restaurant for Tales Unveiled, I also filmed the session for a behind-the-scenes video. This is a 4K recording of our time recording for the fourth episode, Stirring Up Ghosts at Kendall’s Restaurant, and gives you an inside look what our creative process is like for the show.

This video is a Patreon exclusive. I’ve been brainstorming ideas for bonus content that I can release for supporters of the studio that can be exclusive without making others left out. If that makes sense. Anyway, check it out here. I’ve also added content to The Vault, which includes ad-free versions of the show.

Thank you for your support!

Holiday Cards video still

Holiday Cards by Jarvix

Happy Holidays!

As a special present for you, here’s a music video Jarvix and I made together for the season! Holiday Cards is an original song about trying to find that perfect card to send to a special someone. The video was filmed entirely in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, shot on a Panasonic GH5, and edited on a Mac Book Pro with Final Cut Pro X.

If you want to download the song, it’s available on Jarvix’s Bandcamp.

Here are the lyrics:

All the lights are up
In the city that I love
The air is peppermint
All my season’s greetings
To my friends and family have been
Written, sealed, and sent

All but yours
Not yours

Greeting cards can be
So disingenuous, I don’t
Want to phone it in
You’ve been so important
The past dozen months that I don’t
Know where to begin

Oh, with you
It’s true

When you speak
From the heart
All contrivance
Fades away
For release
Is an art
Share yourself
This holiday

I’ve been on the hunt
For the words that say exactly
What I want to say
Got to find the message
To articulate my feelings
And not be cliche

Oh, with you
With you

When you speak
From the heart
All contrivance
Fades away
For release
Is an art
Share yourself
This holiday

When I speak
From the heart
All contrivance
Fades away
For release
Is an art
I’m gonna share myself
This holiday

Now, for the behind the scenes story.

Back in October, I was itching to film a music video as I hadn’t done one at all this year. (The last one was Friction by The Happily Entitled, which the band has broken up since then.) I thought, perhaps I could find someone to make an original holiday song, which I’m going to blame Fowler VW Blackwatch Christmas albums for that inspiration.

Selfie with Jarvix at Classen Coffee

I reached out to Jarvix and we met up on November 6th at Classen Coffee Company where we brainstormed the idea for Holiday Cards. If I’m remembering correctly, my suggestion was for a song that could show off Downtown in December and would about a unique subject. We also talked about things we wanted to do for the video. One idea was he would be chasing the card and it would teleport him in time and space around the city. Jarvix used our conversation as inspiration to write and record the song. I’m not a songwriter. That was all him. He sent me a work-in-progress version on November 23 and I loved it!

My mocha at District House - photo by Dennis Spielman

Then on Saturday, December 16th we met up at District House to plan out the music video. During our first meeting, we had discussed some ideas for the video, but it was at District House where we decided where to film at, the plot device of going through doors to find the card, and having it end where the perfect card was inside him the whole time. We thought the ending was very Wizard of Oz.

And then we went out to film it that day!

Dusty Gilpin working on the signs - photo by Dennis Spielman

We stopped by Tree and Leaf Clothing to see if Dusty was there and would be willing to help with the signs that you see in the video. Huge thanks to him for helping us out on the spot! We had first tried to visit Lindsey at Collected Thread for the sign, but she was at the pop-up shops. I knew Dusty was also an artist and I’m glad we got him. The sign was important to tell the story.

Behind the scenes of Holiday Cards at DNA Galleries - photo by Dennis Spielman

From there, we went next door to DNA Galleries to film that scene. We made this music video guerilla style, asking for permission on the spot, working each location as quickly as possible, and coming up with shot ideas as we went along. It was just him and me. After DNA Galleries, we went to the Holiday Pop-Up Shops in Midtown, Plenty Mercantile in Automobile Alley, Red Earth (but they were closed), Myriad Gardens, and finally, Bricktown. Everything went rather smoothly with the only hiccups being the sign and Red Earth being closed.

On Monday, December 18th, Jarvix sent me the final version of the song at 2 am and I spent the day editing the video. As I was first laying out all of the footage on the timeline, the video came up way too short to the song. I went back, added b-roll clips to show what Jarvix was looking at when he came out of the doors, and extended scenes the best I could. I still missed the end mark. Then I came up with the idea to show flashback scenes of past holiday memories when he was typing the letter, which are clips I filmed for Uncovering Oklahoma last year. The song finally ended with him typing away, however, with the fast beat of that ending section, just having him typing wasn’t working for me and that’s when I decided to do the splice jumps of more holiday memories. The flashback scenes and the coloring of the music video weren’t thought of in advice.

As you can tell, we did this whole project by the seat of pants to get it done in time. We’re both happy with how well everything turned out in the end and we hope you enjoyed it too.

Behind the Scenes of Quarter Minutes' Summer Episode

Quarter Minutes Status Update

The first episode of my new series, Quarter Minutes, has reached the final cut status and is ready to premiere next month! Half of the Mirror episode and a quarter of the Polaroid episode have been filmed as well. In addition, Kristy and I have written scripts for more stories. We are scheduled to do more filming this week. If we can get another episode or two done this week, I may premiere the show a week early, airing it on October 4th instead of the 11th.

In the meantime, here are two behind the scenes pictures from the Summer episode. These are from the Death Jacket story starring Jessi Kyle and Katie Kochelek. The episode was written and then filmed in one afternoon, taking advantage of a swimming pool and a garden terrace.

Behind the Scenes of the Death Jacket story in Quarter Minutes

Visit for more.

Behind the Scenes: Jabee in Back to the Future

Yesterday, I finally got to do my short comedy video and interview with local hip-hop artist, Jabee Williams. We had actually planned to do this a few months ago, but the release of the album got pushed back and so we pushed back our filming. His album, Black Future, will be released Friday, August 12th.

The premise of the video follows Jabee being picked up by a time traveler to show him a dangerous future he must prevent. It has easter eggs and parodies of other time traveling stories like Back to the Future, Doctor Who, and Terminator.

Selfie with Jabee Williams and  Adam Lee
Selfie with Jabee Williams and Adam Lee
To find the DeLorean, I reached out to some people and Rob Crissinger got me in touch with Adam Lee. Adam was wonderful to work with. He was excited about the project and promoting the local scene in a fun way. If you’re interested, you’ll be able to see his DeLorean up close at Geekinomicon.

Jabee autographs covers of the Oklahoma Gazette
Jabee was also a blast to work with. He loved the project and said it was one of the most fun interviews he’s done. When we were done for the day, he was kind enough to do some autographs for Chris and another girl who was at Prairie Thunder Baking Company (which was where we borrowed the sharpie from). He signed the cover of the Oklahoma Gazette, which featured him.

Interviewing Jabee

Jabee poses with the car

Once we got started, we were on a roll. We only had to do a few takes of each shot and that was more to nail the timing and pacing of the scene. I had re-written the three-page script the day before shooting because I couldn’t get any extras to be zombies. However, I’m glad we didn’t because we went in a different and better direction.

After the interview, we had lunch together. Filming was great. I’m excited to premiere it this Thursday. In the meantime, here are some production stills from the video.

Jabee in Back to the Future - Production Still

Jabee in Back to the Future - Production Still

Jabee in Back to the Future - Production Still

You’ll be able to watch the video, along with an interview with Empire Slice House, this Thursday on Uncovering Oklahoma. The skit and interview will be intertwined, similar to what I did for the Sugar Free Allstars. I hope you check it out then!

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