Thursday, May 26, 2011

He's back -- Willsin Rowe

Who's back? Why the naughty, the bawdy, the multi-talented Willsin Rowe. As you may recall, he is an author, cover artist, trailer creator, and musician — not necessarily in that order. ;)

How about a recap for our new readers, please tell us a bit about yourself, Willsin.

Hi, Cassie. Thanks for having me back. I might have to leave a toothbrush here, just in case!
The Willsin Rowe story? I fall in love with a scent, a playful expression or an act of casual intimacy more easily than with physical beauty. When confronted by any combination of those I am a lost cause.
I have done many things over and over. I have done even more things only once. I have half-done more things than I care to admit.
I don't yet know if I can ski, speak Italian or keep calm in a life-threatening situation, but I have my suspicions.
I play bass in a swampy blues band. I love to sing and don't let my voice get in the way.
I am intelligent but not sensible. I am polite but inappropriate. I am passionate but fearful. I am honest but reticent. I am neither stylish enough nor scruffy enough to be cool.

For this blog post, let’s talk about music. Not only do you create awesome movie trailers for lucky authors but you’re also a musician in a band. This has got to be juicy. I’m guessing that you were a musician first. Let’s hear all about the music man.

At the age of 16 I decided I’d like to play guitar instead of just wishing I could. I appropriated my dad’s unused guitar and used a book to teach myself how to play. Then classical guitar lessons, which I maintained for a little over a year, developing to a high enough standard to be accepted into a music course in a distant town. I was only 18, and it was an enormous slice of experience. Moving away from home and to a new town, absorbing all kinds of musical knowledge and practice, experimenting with different instruments and finding out I had a natural ability to get a reasonable sound out of almost anything. That was where I first played a bass guitar and it felt like a home-coming. And even more importantly, it was in that music course that I met my amazing wife.

What instrument(s) do you play?

My main instrument is bass guitar, but as I say, I started out on guitar and can still play to a reasonable level. I can also handle myself (heehee) on drums, and can manage keyboards, too…if it’s a really slow song.

Keyboard player here. Leader of the band?

No…I’m kinda the perpetual second-in-command. It wouldn’t matter if it was a two-piece, three-piece or twelve-piece band…I tend to end up as the vice-captain!

How many bands have you been in over the years? In a band now?

If we include all attempts at getting a band off the ground, the number would be somewhere around 20. If we restrict it to bands that actually played publicly, then it drops below 10. Then if we just make it the bands that actually got paid…then it’s 6. Including the current bands. I’m in three at the moment. The chief one is called The Medicine Show (where I go by the name “Burnin’ Log Dawkins”). I’m also a part-time multi-instrumentalist in a band called Thuggee Tennessee, and as chance would have it, my new next-door neighbour is a drummer who needed a bass player, so that’s the third band.

Play often? Where?

The Medicine Show is on a bit of a rest break at the moment, but we’ve played around our home town (Brisbane) quite a bit over the years. We also did a tiny 3-gig tour of Melbourne in 2008. We’ve played support to both Nashville Pussy and Wolfmother in our time, as well as a bunch of Roller Derby gigs. Mmm…derby chicks… Oh, and we recently signed a distribution and development contract which should see our songs on iTunes in the very near future. Yay!

Congrats!! Oh dear, I sound like a groupie, but inquiring minds want to know. Over here, we’ve had some strange names for bands. Ever been in a band with a weird name?  What was it?

It’s not hugely weird, but I was a founder member of a band called Planet Cake back in 1994.

Well Planet Cake is different. Ever name a band?

Yep. Planet Cake! Everyone naturally said the name like you’d say “Planet Earth”, with the emphasis on the last word. Originally, though, I intended “Planet” to be an adjective, as in “Oh, I could really go for a nice piece of planet cake right now. Do we have any?”

Now I want cake. Ever write a song that was played for a show?

Oh…I’ve written plenty of songs over the years, but not a lot are fit for public consumption! I recorded a few of them back in 2002, and have shared them with select people who are far enough away that they can’t hit me. I wrote a single song for Planet Cake which only lasted for two gigs. It was the wrong kind of song for that band, but we were desperate to swell our playlist towards the mythical ten songs! The song was called “Dig Me Up”, and it was really quite…um…not so good…

Because I know my readers want to know this, I have to ask, did the girls throw panties at you on the stage?

Did I mention that I’m the bass player? That should answer that question!

We’ll get a tad more serious. Just a tad mind you. How did you get started making trailers?

It was a step-by-step process. I’d already made a few little music videos for The Medicine Show. I was also making covers for Excessica, my publisher, and the head honcho / publishing guru there, Selena Kitt, suggested I should freelance my services. Encouraged by that, I bought myself a brand new iMac and the Adobe Creative Suite. That iMac also had music and movie software, so I just started out by making a trailer for my friend Katie Salidas. That trailer, House of Immortal Pleasures, gained quite a bit of notice and again it was suggested to me that I could probably make a bit of a business out of it.

Since I’ve watched several of your trailers, which are excellent by the way, how long have you been creating trailers?

Aw, thank you ma’am. I made my first trailer back in 2009, but it was really quite simple and poor. I don’t believe it exists anywhere any more, thankfully. Through the urge to extend my ability, I’ve experimented further and further since then, incorporating animation and sound effects…and lately, even voice-overs.

Do you make trailers for authors or publishing houses or both? Can we ask you to create a trailer for us?

It’s always been at the author’s request, and yes, anyone can make a request. I’ve not dealt with publishing houses so far for trailers, but only because they’ve never asked!

Publishers pay attention!!! When you’re requested to make a trailer, does the author give you an idea of what she/he wants like email you a form? Or do you have to read the book or excerpt?

Well, unlike with covers, a trailer can obviously be made after the book is released. On the odd occasion I’m lucky enough to read the book before I make a trailer. Usually, though, I end up working from a similar brief as with a cover request. A blurb and excerpt, and brief character descriptions. The chief difference with a trailer is that you can’t afford to be too wordy. Even a half-page blurb is usually too long. That’s where my work in flash fiction helps me. You might not be able to tell from these answers, but brevity is one of my strengths.

Do you email the author what you’ve created up to a point, like half-way, to double check if that’s what the author/publisher had in mind?

That’s definitely an essential step, but one that I learned the hard way. Even the best description can fail to convey the look of a scene or an entire trailer, so it’s very important to let the author see what I’m doing. I strive to make my trailers a “point of difference” product. So letting the client see the “rushes” is very important, in case I’m pushing things too far for them! A three-second animation can have as many as a hundred frames in it, sometimes more. Each frame has to be made individually. So if I had, say, the hair colour wrong, I’d have to make every frame again! The same applies with the music. I send the authors my composition as a separate file so that they can listen without visual distraction. Only at the end do I combine the sound with the vision.

That's fascinating and what I've been wondering about. Anything that you know now that you wished you knew before you started?

Always get specifics. Ask plenty of questions before starting!

So true in so many areas of life. Floor is yours, Willsin the music man. Share with us a few trailers, links to find you online.

This is the trailer that started it all! And it’s a bonus that it’s for my buddy Katie.

House of Immortal Pleasures:

This was the first trailer in which I attempted a voice-over. I think my American accent needs a little work…

And the trailer for my pet story.

The Three-Day Hump:

Here’s a music video for my band, The Medicine Show. This was the first time I’d attempted animation, and I used some of the artwork I’d created for band posters, along with stock footage.

This Father’s Son:

PS: The crying boy is my younger son, aged 3. The way I’ve edited the video makes it look like he’s deadly scared of something…in truth, I was just trying to get him to take a nap and he was doing that whole “I’m not tired!” thing…heh…

And here’s our version of the famous “Bad To The Bone”. The live footage is from our gig supporting Wolfmother. A lot of the other footage comes from my wife’s family farm.

Bad To The Bone:

My covers/trailers blogsite:

My shared writing blogsite:


Willsin Rowe said...

Thank you once again, Cassie. Such great questions. They really made me think. I also just the video of This Father's Son...the innocent golden-headed child at the end? That's ME! Aged 3. (Of course, the cheeky little sod who pokes his tongue out...that's me, too...aged 4...but let's focus on the little angel version of me!)

Cassie Exline said...

Ooops too late, the cheeky you took over. Loved the videos, awesome work. Thrilled to have you as a guest once again.

Katie Salidas said...

Yay for another Willsin interview!!! He is so multi-talented, isn't he?

Good job Cassie and Willsin.

P.S. I'm going to re-watch that video now so I can play "spot the Willsin." LoL.


Sharazade said...

Nice! Now I want cake too. But more than that, I want a book trailer... "Transported" is getting re-released soon in a new size. Maybe it could have a release trailer!

Cassie Exline said...

Katie, it's hard to believe him as an angel, now cheeky... But I watched that video first. I had to see.

Cassie Exline said...

I still want cake, Shar. Willsin is definitely the man to make your trailer.

Janice said...

I really liked the book trailers.


Willsin Rowe said...

I maintain that the tongue-poking version was just a momentary aberration. And I was doing it at the behest of my mother!

Thank you all for checking out my wares, and for commenting.

I could really go for a nice piece of planet cake right now...

Cassie Exline said...

Willsin, had to mention planet cake, didn't you? Now I want cake with my coffee.

Cassie Exline said...

Thanks for stopping by, Janice. He does great work doesn't he, even if he isn't an angel.

C. Zampa said...

Good to meet you, Willisin, and totally enjoyed your videos!

Willsin Rowe said...

Thank you for dropping by. Should I call you C? Or Ms. Zampa? Either way, it's lovely of you to read, watch and comment. Thanks!

Cassie Exline said...

Thanks for stopping by Carol. His videos are good aren't they. Hope you got to see them all, noticed a link wasn't working on one.

Savannah Chase said...

Willsin you are very talented....Fantastic interview....

Cassie Exline said...

He is talented. Wonder if it rubs off? lol Thanks for visiting, Savannah. You're always welcome.

Willsin Rowe said...

Thank you for dropping by and reading the interview, Savannah. And thank you for the compliments, too. It really is a pleasure to be interviewed so well. Cassie, if there's talent to be rubbed off, I hope it works both ways! Actually, that whole sentence just reads a little bit dirtier than I meant it to...