Let's Make an Episode!

This is progressing more or less how I figured it would, with a bunch of people enthusiastically saying "Yeah!!! I’m pumped!!! Let’s do this!!!" at the very beginning, and then realizing that the job entails spending hours watching a crappy John Carradine movie backwards and forwards in intimate detail, and suddenly looking down at their watch and remembering some urgent appointment they have to be at on the opposite side of town.

Looking at the spreadsheet, it looks like there’s about 5 or 6 of us actively contributing jokes, but that’s not too bad. We’ve got more writers than Rifftrax at the moment, and not far off from the first few seasons of MST3K. We’re actually filling up the spreadsheet a lot faster than I thought we would. Two weeks to a rough draft was probably an overly ambitious guestimate on my part, but we’re still chugging along quite nicely.

I do think we might get a few more casual riffers joining in if we can schedule a couple of live stream riff-alongs with an online chat, so they can toss out riffs spontaneously as they think of them, rather than doing the spreadsheet method, which isn’t everybody’s cup of tea.

Regarding some of the comments I’m seeing about my sketch ideas, I apologize to anyone who feels intimidated or that I’ve somehow cut people off. I posted storyboards so other people could see what I’m picturing visually in my head. (As other people were also doing for their own invention exchange ideas, though maybe not quite as fully formed.) That doesn’t mean I’m trying to muscle anybody else out from contributing ideas, or saying “THIS IS WHAT WE’RE GOING TO DO NOW, EVERYBODY ELSE GO HOME.” @Ansible asked for host segment suggestions. I suggested. Nobody has closed any doors or windows.

That said. at a certain point, other people have to actually start wading in and contributing jokes and sketches of their own if they want to feel included. Otherwise it’s just improv night down at the comedy club with a handful of people up on stage providing the comedy, and a bunch more out in the audience saying “ooh, do a joke about sharks!” without actually having anything funny to say about sharks themselves. (Sorry, I’m not trying to sound bitter or hurt anybody’s feelings. Just trying to counterbalance my own enthusiasm for what is essentially my life-long dream project of being a writer on MST3K, with other people seemingly getting upset at me for attempting to write material for an episode of MST3K… in the thread about writing material for an episode of MST3K. :rage:)

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LOL My wife literally said, “something about seasickness” in the opening credits. (We’re co-writing.)

Throwing it out there: Host selection by indirect vote, one vote for your favourite host per riff that is put into the script, regardless of length. (Easy to count this.)

Fictitious example, if Blybttnfzz, euphoriafish, DeepHurting and mccrarys all choose Johna, and together have 200 riffs in the final script, then Jonah gets 200 votes.

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Works for me. When there are definitely certain jokes that seem to be geared towards being either Crow or Tom lines, in most cases, wherever I put “Jonah” you can read “Insert generic Host here.” Every now and then I’ll come up with a line that feels more Joel or Mike-like in my head, but in general, I think we should do our best attempt to write for a generic humanoid host who could be Jonah, Emily, Joel, or somebody we’ve never seen before, since we still have no idea what we’re going to do with this script once we’re done with it.

In a perfect world, Joel swoops down on an immculate choir of angels and tells us our script was so breathtaking that he’s going to have the current cast produce it as an official episode of the series, with either Jonah or Emily as host, and we’re all going to get to see our names up on IMDB as MST3K screenwriters and be taken out for ice cream and mini-golf afterwards.

In a slightly more realistic world, it’s just about feasible that we could find someone (actually several someones) in the fan community with experience producing fan videos and something approximating rudimentary acting talents, who would be willing to don a colored jumpsuit or pick up bot puppets, and act this entire script out for us over Skype green screen (there’s actually a tutorial for how to do shadowrama silhouettes this way), so that we can composite all the bits together and create a truly 100% fan-made episode similar to how the MIGIZI shorts were produced remotely during quarantine.

Or, bare minimum, it ends up being an online video with some text-only caption riffs and a static shadowrama theater silhouette superimposed down at the bottom, using whatever public domain cut of the movie the YouTube copyright bots aren’t going to swarm all over and take down the moment we try to upload it.

I’m just barely savvy enough at using Adobe Premiere to produce YouTube videos because of my 3D printing stuff that I’m willing to step forward and promise the group here and now that if we can pull together and produce a complete script, I will commit to making at least a caption text version of our project happen!

But if somebody else out there has more expertise at video editing, I’m totally willing to let them take lead, since superimposing text and a transparent png image over the top of an existing video (and possibly inserting some storyboards and door/commercial sequences) is pretty much the extent of my video editing expertise.

I’m pacing myself. :wink: A riff or two when I get a chance. I’ve been quite busy with other things, but I am enjoying writing too.


There’s a BIG difference between “suggesting” and saying:

Suggesting leaves it open to other ideas. Saying “I Have” sounds very definitely like this WILL be what it is, and closing down further discussion, especially when there’s a fully fleshed out and “finshed” product.

While I appreciate your “enthusiasm”, I hope you can understand how it could be intimidating to others.

Almost your entire way of presenting your ideas in this thread thus far has been declarative, definitive, and authoritative.

I say this as a person that was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome late into his adulthood, used to talk this exact way, didn’t realize it, scared or intimidated away friend after friend, and couldn’t figure out why until my diagnosis .

I’ve spent over 15 years fighting my natural inclination to talk this way.


I don’t want to cause arguments or make anyone feel less welcome or unable to contribute but… this is exactly how I’ve end up feeling, it sort of turned me off taking part to a degree because it felt like what had been a collaborative project had been taken over.

Blockquote Just trying to counterbalance my own enthusiasm for what is essentially my life-long dream project of being a writer on MST3K, with other people seemingly getting upset at me for attempting to write material for an episode of MST3K… in the thread about writing material for an episode of MST3K. :rage:)

The rage face doesn’t help btw. But what happened was you came in, declared you had a spreadsheet everyone should use and then didn’t present just an idea for one host segment or the invention exchange but instead posted ALL host segments, including invention exchange, in a way that wasn’t a suggestion but what you thought it should be. It’s quite intimidating.

I’m quite a socially awkward and socially anxious person. It’s easy to make me feel uncomfortable. Please don’t feel like I am having a go at anyone.

Anyway, more seasickness from watching the title sequence :rofl:


Just getting into this and caught up, and amazed at the work so far.

As for production, which is now being discussed, I have a green screen. I have a friend who has made replicas of Tom and Crow. I have the Adobe suite. We can definitely produce these.

A bunch of us have at least some basic recording gear.

Why not develop our own hosts, who have been dropped into other experiment stations around the solar system? Then as we get the method down, and maybe realize different collaboration teams, we can do more separate riffs at once.

The invention exchanges can be with each other, or with whoever the Foresters have assigned as our regional tormenter. We can make our own bots if we want.

The Pluto Project can be hostless shorts, just the riffing, because the funding was cut after it was declassified as a planet. With these we can even do solo riffs if we want. I’d already been noodling with that.

Anyway, just some thoughts to toss onto the pile.


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.

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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.

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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.

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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 .

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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.

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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.

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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:

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