Thinking about Hal

Posted by Sally

So, I’m sitting here trying to figure out how to make this movie. You see, I’m at a bit of a cross-roads. They call this kind of movie a “hybrid essay film”, which means it’s half an essay film (evolution of a theme/idea rather than a plot) with something else, in this case Hal’s ‘journey’. I’m less worried about the essay part as I was always pretty good at writing those things, but Hal’s ‘journey’ is what’s stumping me.

When we first dreamt up ‘Peep Me’ and pitched it to broadcasters we said it was one man’s personal journey into the world of peep as he researched and wrote his book ‘The Peep Diaries’. Unfortunately Hal’s fingers work a lot faster than the world of film financing and Hal’s book is already written and published and we haven’t started filming yet. Hal has ‘figured it all out’, drawn his conclusions and is now sitting back and reaping the rewards. In fact, he seems downright bored whenever I ask him anything about it. So what’s his ‘journey’ going to be now? I suppose I could just take Hal out of the altogether and stick to the essay part, but for some reason I’m resisting that solution. I just don’t think ‘peep culture’ is best explored through a straight interview style film. We need to experience it, feel it, connect with it, and we need to do that through a person.

Okay, on the plus side: Hal didn’t really experience ‘peep’ in any deep, meaningful way when he wrote the book. Sure, he came up with a few gimmicks: tracking his wife on GPS (which he told her about so was kind of lame anyway) and throwing his Facebook party which only one person showed up for (a great idea and one that I still wince over when I think how amazing it would have been to capture for the doc). But he never made any real relationships with anybody online, never really revealed anything about himself personally, never really tried to get on a reality tv show, never truly peeped himself at all, except for a few half-hearted blogging attempts. Is that one of the reasons he has come down so negatively on ‘peep’?  It’s easy to judge from the outside looking in, and indeed I don’t agree with everything he says about peep. I don’t think it’s all shaped by a desperate yearning for celebrity - I think there is a genuine need to connect and in a lot of cases that connection is made and blossoms. Not every online relationship is shallow or perverse.

So perhaps it’s a matter of moving the goal posts. Hal’s written the book but now he’s got to live it. What will he discover about himself and the world of peep that might surprise him? Or by revealing all, and doing it in-front of our documentary cameras so we can turn it into, let’s face it, peep entertainment - will that just re-inforce everything he’s said? And is that journey enough?

Thoughts anyone?


There are -6- Comments: , Add yours…

1 count
Brenda Kovrig

Sounds like a hard case.  How about an online peep shrink?

2 count
Katie McKenna

Awesome website!  What about Hal as “Peep Guru”: compares notes/ shares advice with other people who ARE going through the process for the first time?  I totally agree with you that the audience draw is watching people experience something, not talk about it in past tense (notable exception: “Touching the Void” (!)). 

I think Susan Boyle needs a Peep Guru right now, maybe Hal should give her a call…

3 count
Brett Bell

My first question is, when you say “...he seems downright bored whenever I ask him anything about it,” what’s your sense about how invested he is in the documentary project?

The journey to me begs a light “Be careful what you wish for,” approach, but I admittedly write conclusions first and work my way backwards.

May have some more thoughts on this, depending on the answer to my question…

4 count
Emmalene Pruden

As someone who peeps, I do have to say there is much more than ‘celebrity hopefuls’ to peeping. I do it for fun…if he is doing it as an outsider looking in, he won’t understand it.

Perhaps he should have started really peeping himself more so that he would have an audience to relate to before starting the doc. You can’t peep if there is no one to peep to - but you can’t start peeping and expect to automatically get your ‘audience’

I find out of the serious videbloggers like myself, we don’t do it for celebrity. We do it to connect to people - which isn’t to say we are loners or anything, but we will all also admit that if someone liked something we did or said enough to garner some public attention, then yes, bring it on - but to assume that’s the only thing?

If I videoblogged just for attention and celebrity I would have just blogged naked

5 count
Lisa Sargese

Hal blogged (or was it an article recently about Oprah being a pioneer of Peep. He spends quite a few paragraphs justifying (or was it cleverly masking) his desire to be on her show to promote his book. THAT’S interesting. The very thing he criticizes others for (he wrote that it was delusional of me to think I could get myself on Oprah)is the very thing he spent an article writing about. He says it’s because he wants to sell lots of books. Um, yeah and what else?? There’s more to it than just selling books. There’s the story of Hal wanting to be acknowledged. That’s a story worth watching. Hal realizing he’s not so different from all of us in Peep land. He can cloth it in rational arguments for why his book goes well with Oprah’s agenda all he wants. Deep down he’s just like the rest of us humans. He wants attention and approval. The more attention and approval the better. Hence, his desire to be on Oprah. His recognizing that in himself will make a great doc.

6 count

Sat., July 25/09

Well I’ll give you my 2 cents…

I realize that I don’t know Hal, and I don’t know much about the taping in his home so far (that is the technical side of it).

Hal seems quite wrapped up in his work. I am peepviewer in the chat, and I have been in the chat several times this week, albeit for short periods of time, maybe 15 to 20 minutes at a time, is the longest. So you can take all of that into account.

But in my opinion and observation, he ignores the chatters quite a bit. He might respond to them… eventually… but they’re the last priority on his mind after his work at the computer, or his chats on the phone or visits with other people in his office.

I have chatted on a chat program called mIRC for the last 10 years. People won’t stick around in a chat room if they’re being ignored. Some people won’t even stay if other people take too long to answer. Most mIRC chat rooms have a theme, so people come there to chat about that theme and connect with others who also are interested in the chat room’s subject or theme. In otherwords, people go to a chat room to get some personal satisfaction.

But in the peepdiaries chat room, I feel that if I’m going to stick around, that I have to give up my notion of getting any satisfaction, because I feel like I’m sitting in that chat room serving Hal as a guinea pig. He has his chat room of viewers, a lot of them sit there and say things that are not conductive to intelligent or useful conversation; but regardless, I think Hal forgets we’re people and that he feels he can just ignore us whenever it happens to suit him.

Perhaps what would work best is that he have dedicated times per day where is going to interact with the chatters. That means no phone interviews and no other distractions during that dedicated chat time. During such dedicated chat time, he could elect to do something in the house rather than just sit and chat. He could cook for example, or put a load of laundry in the washer/dryer. Anything like that, as he long as he checks to see what the chatters are saying every few minutes.

It would also help a lot if he posted his schedule of activities on the same page as the peepcast. That way he could post as it comes up, or play it by ear, as it were. Because some people in the chat room actually value their time, and they don’t want to waste time coming by if Hal is in his “ignore the chatters” mode. Or if Hal is busy doing something else like giving an interview on the phone, talking to his producer in his office, it would help to see a brief description of what he’s doing and when he’s doing it, right there beside the peepcast box. So one can decide if it’s worth their time to stick around. In otherwords, you have to offer your chatters some satisfaction that they can obtain, otherwise I see his “chat experiment” as dying a slow death.

I’m use to going to chat rooms where I interact with the people, and the conversation is at the very least, semi-intelligent. And for sure the main person (Hal in this case) is actually talking to the chatters like they’re people and not human guinea pigs there for his usage only.

I don’t know, perhaps I’m being too harsh, but I have been quite turned off by the chatting experiment so far via the peepcast.

I do find that Hal’s book and this documentary seriously beg the question of why did Hal want to do this? Why did he want to write the book and do the documentary, other than to make a buck?

I mean he says he doesn’t like to peep. If this is the case, why bother writing about it? What’s going on in his mind that attracts him to the subject at all? Why doesn’t he just not peep, and not write about, and not think about it? I mean he seems content there in his world, working hard. He doesn’t seem to me like he needs a whole lot of other people to make him happy or at least content.

And just for the record, I’m not the most social person in the world either. But when I go into a chat room I expect to pay enough attention and respect to the other chatters to at least act like I’m interested, and perhaps maybe form a relationship. Until I see how the other chatters are going to react anyway.

I hope that helps. I’m not just trying to critize for no reason. But unless Hal changes something, I see chat continuing to go down hill. I get the impression from him that he doesn’t really want to talk to us chatters like we’re real people or something with feelings. I get the impression that he finds us his last priority, an annoying one at that too.

Perhaps the suggestions I have made herein, will help improve things.






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the chocolate box bloggistas

Chocolate Box Entertainment is the yummy fusion of two award winning producers – Jeannette and Sally.   more...

Sally Blake

Sally has 12 years of experience in the radio and television industry as a writer, director, editor and producer.
She cut her filmmaking teeth in the bizarre world of professional wrestling,   more...

Jeannette Loakman


Jeannette is an award-winning producer with over 12 years of experience in the television industry. Jeannette was recently nominated for a Gemini for Spam: The Documentary, a critical and ratings hit.


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