Now, I should probably preface this by saying that I’ve been writing fiction for going on fifteen years, and I’m only beginning to feel like I’m getting the hang of it. So I’m not sure why I figured: “Hey, I can totally film my own book trailer.” Because, you know, it’s not like people go to school for stuff like this, or spend years honing their craft. And not only that, I thought: “Hey, it would be totally cool to turn the dining room into a Western-themed Rube Goldberg, with different scenes for the different parts of Summer at Mustang Ridge.”
Note to self: Just because you managed to put together some better-than-average sales videos back when you were training and selling horses, that doesn’t mean you should try to tackle a project like this. And stop watching so many Mythbusters reruns.
Nevertheless, off I set on my “this totally counts as work” project, hitting Goodwill for cast off toys and fiddling with the build over the course of a few weeks. I got way too much help from Pixel T. Kitten, who became obsessed with fishing line and developed the habit of carrying all the little plastic trees into the bedroom and placing them on my head while I slept. In contrast, I got just the right amount of help from Arizona, who stayed out of the way until I was on the verge of a frustrated “HULK SMASH!” and then stepped in to tweak my design.
Here’s the plan: Pixel pulls on a string to set the first marble rolling along its way. The marble trips a pendulum that pulls a chock from beneath the little car, which rolls along (symbolizing Shelby’s arrival at the ranch) and bumps into the toy horse, which gets pulled along past the plastic cows by a weight disguised as a setting sun (Foster in loner mode). The horse triggers a fan, which makes a pinwheel spin, prodding marble #2 along its way and sending the cowboy and cowgirl sliding together for a kiss (romance!). And in the end, the book cover flips up to proudly advertise Summer at Mustang Ridge.
Sounds great, right? Except I could never actually get my Rube Goldberg to do all of those things in sequence. More often, the kitten would attack the string, get hung up on the tablecloth and pull everything askew. Or I would wind up the car too much and it would knock over the horse and rider and plow into the cows like some gruesome accident reconstruction. Or the sun would fall on the cows like something out of Armageddon. Or … or …
And where in my mind’s eye it had all played out with elegant simplicity, with chirpy background music—rather like the Honda ad, or the new Panera spot—in reality it all went way too fast for me and my cheap-o camera to follow, meaning that I missed most of the action, giving the video a Blair Witch Project feel and a whole lot of confusing visuals, and forcing me to conclude that Rube Goldberg Goes West (and the drawing-board sequel involving sex toys) would really require far more money and tech savvy than I’m willing to invest.
So here it is in all its questionable glory, done in still life because the moving parts were just too much for me to handle. Enjoy it. Laugh at it. And maybe give me a little credit for knowing when to cut my losses and focus on stuff I can actually manage to do halfway decently. Like writing.
Okay, are you done laughing at me? Not quite? How about now? LOL. Well, how about you share the misery—I’d love to hear about a project of yours that didn’t quite go how you had planned it!