Let's Make an Episode!

Same. :blush:


Wow, really? The best I was hoping for was a static overlay of the theatre seats and the bots + host.

If we are going to have host segments, like a full episode, we’re going to need some visuals. So far it looks like two options: the slide show, and the fan film. No lie, I’d love to explore the fan film option, and really figure out the possibilities and limitations.

The big negative striking me is that (as you mentioned) it’s a new host. No Joel, no Jonah. But if Emily has taught me one thing, it’s that the Mads have franchised their idea, and now everybody’s doing it.

I can’t help you much, @abskani , but I’d love to hear more.

1 Like

I think we’ve got four or five plans we could consider, ranging from easy to insane.

Plan A is simple: text riffs over a preexisting copy of the movie. We can definitely accomplish Plan A. The only thing it costs any of us is the time it takes us to write and put the show together.

The good news is, even if we do decide to attempt plan B, C, or D later, Plan A is always going to be our first starting point, because anybody providing voice or puppet work is going to need to have a copy of the movie they can look down at and read their lines off of synced up to the appropriate time code.

Plan B would be to take Plan A, but try to build in some of the classic MST3K elements like inserting door segments, commercial breaks, and possibly storyboard versions or extremely primitive Flash style animations of the host segments. If we could find people comfortable providing voice acting (even if they sound nothing like the original actors) we could also potentially insert that at this stage too.

Plan C is full on, every single bit of the script filmed… but with no on-screen human actors required. Yes ladies and gentlemen, I’m talking about putting on a good old fashion puppet show!
We’d need to build 2 to 4 brand new bot puppets (hand, rod, or bunraku, or possibly a combination of all three) then shoot all the host segments in front of a blue screen or small scale backdrop. Thankfully, because there would be no human actors involved, the puppets could be at a much smaller Sifl and Olly sock puppet scale and any sets we built would be at most 6 feet across, instead of taking up an entire room, and theoretically, one puppeteer could puppet two characters at the same time.
Also, we could cut down on human voice acting if instead of Mads, we had a Nomad-style computer built by Dr. Forrester that speaks in an entirely computer synthesized Stephen Hawking voice. And if push comes to shove, we could technically use computer generated voices for some or all of the bots too, though it’d lack the comic timing element of a real human. Having some experience in this area, I can tell you Plan C is doable… but we’re getting to a point where at least some people are devoting time and materials that are going to require money and significant effort.

Plan D is a full on fan production with a human host, human Mads, full sized props, costumes, and the works. Let me be clear… Plan D is a suicide mission. We could give it a try, but as someone who’s been involved with fan films and theatrics, let me tell you, it is not something you want to go into half-assed. Most fan films fail disastrously unless everybody involved is extremely competent, knows exactly what they’re supposed to be doing, and the writers/directors/producers are 100% sure what they want and how to realistically go about accomplishing it given the confines of their available resources and production budget. If you don’t have every single bit of the project nailed down before you start investing your time and money, it will blow up in your face.

Bare minimum, for Plan D to succeed, we’re talking at least one moderately talented actor with good comic timing to be our Emily/Jonah, plus at least two passable voice actors (also with good comic timing) to be our bots. We need two puppeteers (if the bot voice actors can’t pull double duty), potentially up to two more human actors to play the Mads, somebody who can be in the same room with these people and record them performing their bits using a reasonably high quality camera against a blue screen background, in a place that’s large and quiet enough that it is possible to do so without nearby traffic, wildlife, the neighbor’s dog, or planes flying overhead getting recorded at the same time. Somebody to make costumes for all the cast and their bots. Somebody to build all the physical props, which will then have to be shipped to wherever the filming is taking place. Somebody to edit all the material together when it’s done. And all of these people willing to commit to completing the project, without being paid, and probably having to invest some of their own money to pull it off.

If we believe we can somehow miraculously pull all that off, I’m game if other people are, but realistically, I say we take it in exactly the order listed above. First A, then maybe B, just about possibly C, and if we somehow manage to pull that off, “what the hell were we thinking” D.

1 Like

And just to put this out there… If, and I do mean if, we get to a stage where Plan C is starting to look like someplace we want to go. I could take care of a lot of the heavy lifting when it came to the physical pre-production of the show.

Designing and fabricating scratch-built 3D printed objects (everything from action figures, to puppets, to full-sized cosplay/theatrical props) is kind of my thing, and I’ve been doing it for years.

I have multiple resin printers, including a large scale Phrozen Transform (about the size of a mini-fridge and the largest you can currently buy for home use) sitting right here in my office, and I’m familiar enough with CAD and basic articulation/puppeteering techniques that I could totally build us some fully articulated M. Waverly or Growler-esque robots in the MST3K style at a smaller hand-puppet sized scale, and probably even a theater doors sequence, miniature SOL model, MST3K moon, and any other small puppet-sized props we happened need.

Note that while I just tossed that out there like it was no big deal, keep in mind that all of these things would end up costing time and money to produce. Nowhere near the thousands of dollars it’d take to pull off anything as elaborate as a full-scale live-action fan production, but certainly we’re talking a couple hundred bucks minimum in terms of resin, paint, and other material costs to build and assemble everything. While I could probably shave quite a bit off our production budget, just because I already own a lot of the tools required, at a certain point, other people would have to start chipping in. This wouldn’t be a completely free venture.

As an added benefit, I’m married to a woman who designs and sews theatrical costumes professionally for a living and lists “being Beez McKeever” as her dream job. She frequently builds all sorts of costumes for her ever-expanding collection of creepy dolls, so while I could take care of most of our puppet-scale prop needs, she could take care of puppet-scale costuming and other fabric related elements. Both of us being in the same house means that your entire physical pre-production staff would be in one location, and can make sure that everything functions on a technical level prior to filming.

That still leaves all the actual production and post-production problems like finding voice actors, competent film/sound editing, someone who can play music and record (and possibly sing) or show’s intro theme and closing credits, actually shooting all the miniature and puppet sequences (everything I built would either have to be shipped to whoever was doing this part, or I’d have to convert a corner of my garage into a small production studio and attempt to do it myself using an old iPhone 7 and whatever low budget camera tricks I’ve picked up along the way from the Sam Raimi and Best Brains school of DIY filmmaking)

And before we attempted any of this, we’d probably also want to make sure that the current MST3K production were actually on-board with us producing an entirely puppet-based tribute/rip-off show and posting it online where other people could see it. (I’d hate to go to all the time and effort to produce something like this, only to have it taken down with a “cease and desist” letter three days later.)

Talk about anything beyond text riffs and storyboards make me nervous for EXACTLY this reason. I’d hate to see someone’s life ruined because they tried to copy their fan love TOO well and got their pants sued off.


I really would like to see plan A-alpha: A written and polished script would be a success.

At the most, I’m envisioning plan A-and-a-half: Rifftrax-style voiceover of film, with host segments scripted but left at that.

Anything beyond that is a different project in my view.

I don’t want to think huge and fail. Also, there could be a point where it no longer is fun for everyone and just fun for a few people.

1 Like

Agreed. I don’t think we should shoot for the moon with this one. Need to get our feet wet and see what doing bare bones production is all about. I’ve got 7 kids and step-kids and a full time job and my wife works 60+ hours a week. I don’t have that much time to devote to this. I suppose we could all say, hey this is where I draw the line wrt my involvement but if you want to go beyond that then it’s on you. For me, it basically starts and ends with riffing the movie. The host segments and invention exchanges don’t really get my juices flowing, but I respect that it does for others and I hope y’all have a freaking blast doing those portions.

I think I would personally want nothing more than your plan A.5 idea here and even that I think would fall flat if not done properly. Comedic timing, attitude, cadence, articulation…all important and I don’t think we have a real appreciation for that side of delivering the product that we maybe should. Part of me just cringes that we’d have a funny script when said in our head as the voices we all know, and then it gets put to film, so to speak, and it’s just not right.

Honestly, that’s for everyone else to decide, as far as I’m concerned. I just get enjoyment from riffing the movie and a few of you reading my quips and getting a chuckle. I don’t need much else than that.


I’m a big fan of of the “CC BY-NC” 4.0 license, and in my opinion, all of these works should be released under that license.


The Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial International Licence provides content creators the ability to create and share content, and allow OTHER creators to take that content, remix it, and create and share MORE content based on that content, but still requires that all contributors be “attributed”, or credited, for their work, and the work isn’t used for commercial purposes.

It’s my suggestion that all Fanficisodes use this license, as it would allow for maximum collaboration with attribution, without anyone “cashing in” on the work of others.

Whenever my uRiff program is finished, all works made THROUGH it will inherently need to follow that license.

What do y’all think?


I think that’s beautiful, @Ansible .

1 Like

It’s an easy decision, even @DeepHurting acknowledges it. You take plan A and you turn it into plan B. Many of us (myself included) are only interested in writing. Once phase A is completed, people like DH and abskani can push into phase B (or C or D).

Yes, at least the initial project was defined by Ansible in the first post: a rough script. Let’s tackle that, then for those who are interested in taking it from script to screen can take over.

What do you think, @DeepHurting and @abskani ? Would you create a new post in The Extended World of Riffing to plan this?

This is going to result in several versions of the fanficisode - I think that’s great. The script and SRT (subtitle file) might come out first, followed by a movie video with subtitles built in (lacking host segments), then a video with voiceover and possibly slideshow host segments, and finally a made-for-Internet motion picture starring Joel McHale as Craig Randall and Dwayne Johnson as Dr JR Matheny. Coming Summer 2028.

Legal issues are beyond the scope of my caring. (Clicks on link) Okay, wow, this is super easy to follow. And international (thank you!) Sure, I’m in.

1 Like

I’m really enjoying this thread so far. Are we going to make a Tom and Crow, or create our own puppet designs? I’ve got a couple original pieces and I’m currently working with some people on Facebook to make castings of their own pieces, so we could probably make Tom clones if the script calls for them.

1 Like

The only shortcoming of the CC BY-NC license is it forecloses the possibility of Plan G: Joel ends up liking our episode so much that he wants to use it for a real episode of MST3K.
I don’t think this is a realistic concern though. :upside_down_face:

1 Like

I suggest we write on (for now) assuming a standard SOL crew with Tom and Crow.

Building new bots would definitely fall under plan C. (or at least B and a half) and there’s lots of fiddly production level technical stuff we’d need to figure out before we started designing. Most importantly… what scale would the puppets be built at? (the smaller the puppet, the fewer articulated elements you can add, but the easier they are to wrangle) and what the ratio of puppet to puppet wranglers would be. (Would we want one person to be able to operate two puppets simultaneously? One puppet per operator? Or go full Fraggle Rock?)

I agree that anything beyond option B would basically be it’s own project run separately from the “hey, let’s get together and riff a movie!” project, which is what most of the people are here for.

Absolutely. All my own stuff is released Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
CC BY-NC-SA, and I’ve never had any legal issues.

As long as we keep it strictly non-commercial we’re probably safe from a legal standpoint, though you can still open yourself up for trouble if you do anything at all related to the project that involves asking people for money (i.e. a Kickstarter, Gofundme, or Patreon) that could be construed as “attempting to profit” or anything that exactly duplicates a registered trademark (like the MST3K moon logo). This is another reason why going all the way to option D is probably a foolhardy idea.

Mind you, video content has a whole slew of other issues to worry about, most notably YouTube and Vimeo’s “shoot first, ask questions never” content violation policy, which is pretty much designed to screw anybody who isn’t a major motion picture studio. Their automated copyright bots couldn’t give two :poop:'s whether your video is protected under fair use, parody, CC license, or anything else, and are notoriously bad when it comes to making attribution mistakes. And if somebody out there decides they want to file a copyright complaint, even if they have no legal grounds to do so, they’ll yank your content with no explanation whatsoever and it’ll take an act of God to get it back up again.

I’m friends with some of the guys over at Cinema Insomnia (I went to high school with their producer) and even though they primarily use public domain movies and are extremely diligent about working out copyright stuff with the original content owners, it is a constant battle trying to prevent their episodes from being taken down. (And in fact, they recently lost everything they had up on Vimeo, and due to their 3-strikes policy, it looks like it’s not coming back.) The content bots don’t know or care whether your video is the public domain version of a movie, or the slightly different cut that was licensed 20 years later, and will even trigger for stupid things like insisting you’re illegally showing a Tim Burton movie, because that film includes 30 seconds of archive footage from the public domain movie that you’re attempting to screen now. :confounded:

Before we attempted anything as complex as Option C, to cover our backsides, I’d say we would still want to reach out to Alternaversal and see just how comfortable they were with us using certain aspects of the show… especially any usage of the title Mystery Science Theater 3000 and the shadorama theater effect, which have been legally problematic in the past.


Again, I think we’re putting the cart before the horse here. Let’s worry about all this crap down the road. That may never come to fruition and you will have wasted a lot of time on something meaningless. Maybe after we get 3 or 4 movie riffs under our belts we can talk about making an MST impersonation but I just think it’s a waste of focus to go there now.

The more we talk about these grandiose visions, the more insurmountable it will seem for someone that wants to get involved now. It seems like we’re 40 steps ahead of where we actually are. If you want to talk production, please, I implore you, create your own thread in the riffing forum and talk about it all you want. Literally no one will stop you. But it’s just noise at this point of the process.


Is there another google doc for scripts or brainstorming the opening segment or mid movie skits? I see DeepHurting provided a whole storyboard but may have missed if there was a localized location other than this lengthening thread.

I had two kernels of ideas for segments but don’t know if there’s enough there to flesh out:
One where an increasing frustrated Jonah is trying to interview Cave Torgo through the hexfield who blankly stares at him.
The other is the bots asking Jonah for things like TVs and other toys, and Jonah keeps pulling scale models out from under the desk. The bots progressively ask for more and more ridiculous items and Jonah always provides.

This was proposed, but not created yet (I don’t think). You could get the ball rolling here by starting a new post in The Extended World of Riffing category:

Fanficisode: Host segment discussion

And you might also care for:

Fanficisode: Invention exchange discussion

We didn’t add host segments to the Google sheet simply because there is no need to track it on a timeline. And doing text editing in a spreadsheet for no reason is just painful. So maybe your idea of a Google doc is the way to go. Want to set one up?

1 Like

Topics created in the riffing forum.

Fanficisode: Best riff submission for Co-Directorship

Fanficisode: Shorts discussion

Fanficisode: Host segment discussion

Fanficisode: Invention exchange discussion

Fanficisode: Production discussion

And of course, the riffing discussion can be found here:

Fanficisode: Riffing on The Incredible Petrified World

Feel free to jump over there and join the discussion. NOTHING is finalized at the moment and we welcome any and all involvement from anyone that wants to join in on the fun.


I was definitely testing the waters for who may interested in the long game on these. If it’s just a script and we are having fun with that, fine by me.

I do know voice talent, who are fans. If we just have riffs with no segments, that’s fine too.

As for the invention exchange and host segments, I thought it would be a fun other project where anyone can set up an invention exchange from their outpost, where we don’t have to worry as much about matching the look of the show. They can just be inserts with you and your bots or solo, added material to break up the movie.

Short version, seems we all have interest in varying levels, and some people will be up for going a bit further, but nobody needs to feel obligated to any part they don’t want to do.

If we are using the public domain prints, and we get good at this, we can always suggest a fan section of the GizmoPlex. If they don’t go for it, i believe the term is “Keep circulating the tapes”.


FYI, I’ve gone radio silent because work’s been crazy busy. But, I haven’t forgotten about this. Still working slowly and methodically on my solution:


Looking forward to it whenever it’s ready! In the meantime we can keep working out other parts of the project. WHole lotta learning curve and whatnot going on.