So what where they?
Therein lie my first challenge. Stepping into a market that is already flooded with quality (both good and bad) videos, competing with well-known directors and voice actors in the 'industry' was tough. As with any industry (writing included), the little fish seldom get noticed. Fortunately determination, a well-developed story (and reasonably well-written scripts) were on my side.
Sourcing various items that would allow me to manipulate The Sim 2 to tell my story proved fairly easy. A simple search on the internet for 'Sims 2 Mod' and 'Sims 2 hacks' offered countless sites with gaming objects that would enable me to manipulate The Sims into actions and interactions needed to create Family Secrets.
The next challenge was sourcing voice actors. I was lucky that a few voice actors (fellow machinima directors) were willing to provide the voices for my characters. Sadly, for various reasons, for some actors the relationship did not last and we went our separate ways. I have been fortunate that I've only had to replace three of my main characters so far.
Of course, it's all well and good producing a machinima series. With no-one knowing about it, what's the point? Enter a colleague (and now very good friend) of mine that has a web-design business. He put me onto Weebly.com to design my own website. Granted, I knew nothing about web design or style sheets and had very limited knowlege of HTML. For those following the series from the beginning, will recall my very first web layout. Enough said. Nine months later, the website has undergone several changes and is slowly becoming better with every update.
By far the biggest challenge this year has been the actual production of the series. Taking roughly two to three weeks to produce a ten minute episode is probably more time consuming that what I had anticipated. Nine months and 15 episodes later, it's still challenging to meet my self-imposed deadline for every episode.
Despite this, seeing the fruits of my efforts, reading the comments on various sites regarding the series and the website traffic, makes it worth it.
I started 2009 out with the intention of having at least one of my novels land in front of either an agent or a publisher. Neither of those has happened. Instead, I have launched my own website, started a blog about writing, produce my own animation series and keep fans of the series updated via a Facebook group and Twitter.
So what will 2010 have in store for me?
Hopefully, December 2010 will see the climatic conclusion of Season 1 of Family Secrets (2 more season to go). My visitor count on the website will increase. I will get more people reading my blog. And hopefully I'll find somewhere in between to work on the first draft of my third sci-fi novel.
As my father-in-law always says: "May the worst of the year to come be as bad as the best of the year gone." With that in mind: "Please fasten your seat belts, stow your tray tables and put your seat in the upright position." 2010, here we come!