Now Playing: Halloween Weirdness

After months of work, our latest episode of English Weirdness, a very special Halloween episode, is now playing on Youtube.

I am especially proud of everyone who helped make this video possible, and it was far from easy. We faced a gruelling shoot, and a long and challenging post-production. Now, our goal is to introduce ENGLISH WEIRDNESS to new viewers everywhere.

So, please SHARE this video. “Likes’ are nice, but they don’t get our videos in front of eyeballs, and there are millions of English learners in the world who might enjoy our series if they only knew about it. Please help us Spread The Weirdness. Share the Youtube link, this website link, or anything you can to let others know about our series.

In case you’re wondering–this isn’t about making money; it’s about sharing my love of crazy and weird English with others who can learn from it. Enjoy the new video everyone.

And happy Halloween!

-P

Sakata Students Meet Aya and Guilherme

In our most recent ENGLISH WEIRDNESS video, a multi-cultural couple, Gui and Aya, confuse each other with their weird article usage. Several people have commented that the acting in this scene was very good, that the performers really seemed to be a bickering couple.

The truth is, these performers had never met each other before the day we shot that scene. The result is a testament to the great performances by both Guilherme Cariani and Aya Hioki, and the coaching they received from Felipe Cesarini, our performance advisor.

Last night, in our latest online class with Sakata Minami high school in Japan, the students had a chance to review the grammar analyzed in this episode, as well as interview both Guilherme and Aya about their experiences learning English and studying in Canada.

As usual, the students had interesting and challenging questions for me, and made me think carefully several times. I love their curiosity and dedication to figuring out even the most complex English language issues. Good job!

-P

Now Playing!

It took longer than we wanted to make this release happen, but ladies and gentlemen, our latest episode of English Weirdness is now playing.

Thank you to all our viewers and supporters for making this episode possible. And, thank you to all the “Weirdos”, the talented and dedicated student volunteers who acted, assisted and produced this project with me.

Please help us spread the WEIRDNESS to all the English language learners out there in the world who might find these videos useful and enjoyable. SHARE this post, or any of the myriad other postings I’ve made, on your social media platforms, connect your networks to mine, or subscribe to our Youtube channel. Together we can expand our network of viewers, bring ENGLISH WEIRDNESS to learners worldwide, and continue to make these videos.

Thanks for watching everybody, and remember, WEIRDNESS IS COOL!

-Paul

Episode 8: Longest Episode, Longest Shoot.

This past weekend, the English Weirdness team and I completed photography of our longest episode, and longest shoot to date. Intended as our special Halloween episode, and scheduled for release in early October, episode 8 was written as the first of our new 30-minute episode formats. This longer-form video may not suit those in search of quick Youtube thrills or tutorials, but English Weirdness has always been intended for a curious audience determined to learn and understand English on a deeper, more meaningful level. Shooting this monster, however, involved far more time, and in the end spanned over three entire shooting days over a three-month period.

After intense preparations in June, we began shooting this episode on a Monday evening in July, at the ELS school campus where I work and where most of the Weirdos have studied and graduated from, after classes finished at 4pm. It was a regular school day, so the school was packed with students and noise until they vacated the building after 4. We needed to shoot the video at night to get the right spooky effect for our scary story’s needs. We began setting up and shooting soon after 4, and worked non-stop late into the night.

The shots we captured were amazing, the performances great, but by the time we got to around 0400, it was clear that everyone’s energy, ability to concentrate and think clearly, were close to spent, even though we had only shot about 1/3 of the 30-page script. After a brief conference, Uriel and I chose to wrap the shoot, send everyone home to rest (most of us had to either work or attend class the following morning), and schedule another shooting day to complete the episode.

Cut to: August 10/11, and the re-shoot. We shot all day Saturday, and all day Sunday, both days from 0800 until close to midnight. It was exhausting, but by the time we wrapped Sunday night, we had captured everything we needed, with very little compromise, to complete episode 8.

That brought to a close a very intense, grueling and busy summer of shooting English Weirdness. The EW season is not done–we’ll shoot the last two episodes in the winter–but we’ve got enough material to move into an Autumn packed with editing and releasing several new episodes. As well, at some time in October or November, EW will move to its own “TV” channel, on which you can subscribe or view the various episodes, so there’s still a lot of work to be done. Nonetheless, it is nice to feel a bit of relief at having gotten ‘in the can’ a summer’s worth of great footage. I am thrilled to have been able to watch the EW team accomplish what they have. This time, we added some new members, or ‘Weirdos’. Camilo joined us as our Uriel’s Camera Assistant/Gaffer/Sound Recordist, and did a great job. Eduardo joined Guilherme in providing all-round muscle and production assistance. Aaron returned to provide me assistance supervising script and continuity. Their hard work and dedication to realizing the Weirdness vision, as always, inspires me to continue this project. So, onward we go. Next step: editing and releasing.

Hyeri gets into character

Weirdos Go the Distance!

I’m always amazed and touched when we shoot an episode of English Weirdness. The efforts and dedication of our small band of volunteer ‘Weirdos’, almost all of whom have precisely zero experience with film-making, are unfailingly impressive.

Over the past weekend however, these efforts assumed new heights when we did a marathon four-day shoot of three new episodes. Our plan was to maximize our shooting budget by hammering out three full episodes worth of material in one stretch. It sounded good on paper.

Beginning on Friday afternoon, working well past midnight, then onto Saturday morning until after midnight again, the same on Sunday, and then onto Monday. Monday of course, we all had school; the students needed to get their tired butts into class, and I of course, had to teach. Then came 4pm. That’s when we began shooting our special Halloween episode 8. We shot and shot, deep into the night, until Uriel and I made the decision to act responsibly and wrap the shoot. It had become clear that our team was exhausted, our performers getting incoherent, and with my own cognitive capacities fading, things like safety and health had to take priority.

So we got two full episodes completed over the weekend and half of episode 8 done on the Monday night. Wrapping the shoot and striking the camp halfway was certainly the responsible choice, but I did feel somewhat disappointed and frustrated for the team, who had already given so much of their time and effort.

In the end, we opted to schedule one more day in a couple weeks to complete episode 8. This involves calling the team back in for another day of effort, which I know is asking a lot. But, in true Weirdo fashion, everyone agreed and seemed ready to go for it. As ever, Team Weirdo remained singularly dedicated to producing this series. What this says about the series or me, I can’t say. But it says a hell of a lot about these young Weirdos, their willingness to get involved in an unusual and challenging project for which there are no immediate rewards, other than some decent pizza (in lieu of pay!).

All I can say, to each and everyone of you hammering Weirdos, is THANK YOU. I am forever grateful for knowing you and being your teacher.

Sakata Students Meet Diego

This past week, we held another online class with the keen students from Sakata Minami High School in Yamagata, Japan. As always, the all-girl class impressed us with their interesting questions and curious thoughts. In fact, they even had me ‘on the ropes’ for a moment when one of them asked me a tough question I wasn’t sure at first how to answer. These, in fact, are my favorite type of questions, so…well done girls!

Having watched English Weirdness, episode 2, the girls were eager to interview the star of that video, Diego Molina. Wearing a longer beard than he sported in the video, I think he surprised the girls, who nonetheless seemed to enjoy meeting him. Diego told them about his experience as an international student, coming from Venezuela to Canada five years ago. He has since made Vancouver his home, and even married a Canadian.

There were some guests online with us too. Apparently, over 30 educators from around Yamagata prefecture were in attendance to see what this Global Skills program is all about, and perhaps too, who this weird Canadian English Instructor is. By all accounts they were impressed with our project and have taken an interest. Who knows? Maybe they will join our little revolution in English education in Japan, and help us Spread the Weirdness.

Corporate Support Packages Now Available

If your company wants to support English Weirdness, you can now do so through Patreon. For a monthly contribution of $50 and up, your company will have access to our VIP Facebook group and its members, and we’ll place your brand logo in our video, or if you’d prefer, an End Title link to your Youtube channel. Visit our Patreon page here:

What’s Your Weirdness?

We’re preparing new episodes and the next season of English Weirdness videos and would like to invite your collaboration. Your input will help us better understand which English grammar problems to focus on in future episodes.

Whether you’re an English learner or an English instructor, we all have some areas of the language that we don’t fully understand. So we’d like to know which ones baffle YOU? What grammar confusions, contradictions, inconsistent rules, exceptions, irregularities or other weirdness drives you bananas?

Use the comment box at the bottom of this page to add your suggestions. We’ll put them on our list and perhaps develop new Episodes of English Weirdness around them. Thanks for your input!