Monday, March 27, 2006
We've created a trailer for the movie Slither as part of their Slug it Out contest. You can help us out by rating it up! (Of course user ratings don't actually influence the contest results, but It can't hurt) The spot is at http://www.slithermovie.net/slugitout/index.php?id=12 scroll down and click on "Sacred Bond" by Adam Dickinson, and the rating form will be at the top. Thanks for your help! Vote early and often!
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Some more info on the new film, just posted on MySpace:
You want to be in a movie.
You have ALWAYS wanted to be in a movie.
Your best chance to be in a movie is RIGHT NOW.
On April 8th, 2006, we will be filming "The Frequency Of Damnation" and will need extras. More information will be posted later as we decide on the location. If you are interested, email us!
Thursday, March 16, 2006
...is coming soon to a website near you! Complete with chases, blood and terror!
We'll announce it on this blog when it becomes available for online viewing / download.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
There's something kind of nerve-wracking about taking something you've poured loads of time and energy into doing in complete solitude, and paying a complete stranger to criticize it.
At any rate, that's what's going on, and it's what's going to get us closer to creating a feature film. Johnny Immortal is now (for the time being) complete. The feature-length screenplay we are NOT going to be able to do as a first time low-budget indy thing is written, and out of my hands in the hands of the all knowing contest judges. It's in the mail. One more script has been added to the pile of 40,000 scripts written each year.
And now, on to bigger and better things. Or smaller and better in this case. Today begins the next script. The one we ARE capable of producing without a huge infusion of cash (and / or major rewrites).
God help us all.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Some films are made with so few problems that they appear as if blessed from whatever deity you choose. Some films are a complete pain in the ass with problems occurring every day of the process -- some of which make you question why you bother. Most fall in between. The funny part is that it hardly ever has anything to do with quality of the end product.
To make a movie you have to be ready to sweat -- and hurt -- and cry on the inside when you're telling everyone how great it is. Luck doesn't hurt either. The question remains: why do I make films? Keep reading for your answer.
For some reason, The Robbery was a very painful process for me once post production began. The process of working with Adam when he wrote the script and doing screen tests and storyboards with Bruce felt so easy. The first crises that I recall came when my green screen (some people prefer to use blue for Chroma but green seems to work better for video) that was being shipped from India failed to arrive before the weekend we were to shoot. I swallowed my pride and went to Walmart to purchase all the fluorescent green fabric I could get my hands on. I actually had to go to two to get enough. Since this was a cheap fabric, I knew that post-production was going to be 10 times harder than I had hoped. One hour before shooting we were ironing the green screen fabric we had just nailed to Bruce's dining room wall. You see, keying around wrinkles in cloth is next to impossible. Since I was the one doing it I didn't mind. I'd hate to force anyone to do that much seemingly pointless work.
About halfway through the shoot, we discovered that I hadn't communicated fully to Bruce certain issues he needed to be aware of when he did the storyboard. It was completely my fault since I was present for the entire storyboarding process and should have noticed what was wrong. The problem was the discovery that we were about to break the 180 degree rule. In a normal film set you have the props, background, etc. as a frame of reference. In fact its rather difficult to break the rule when working on an ordinary set. Since we were making a virtual film shot entirely in front of the green screen, the only frame of reference was the story board and the images in my brain. I felt like I was exercising a muscle that was nearly atrophied from lack of use. Somehow we did not break the rule and the film made visual sense. I think it was luck that saved my ass but I will never forget that experience -- I don't think Adam or Bruce realize that had I screwed up, the film would probably be unsavable without reshooting half of it. I kept a straight face and said it was fine when I was only fifty percent sure.
Of course I always get comments about self-confidence issues from friends and coworkers so maybe I had a better idea of what I was doing than I am letting on here.
My memory of October 2005 will always be about the shoot. It was a good shoot. I had great help and am really happy with Scott & Dave's performances. They are brilliant actors and I hope to work with both again. Everyone was amazing. Karen, Melissa & Neil were more help than they know -- especially Melissa who is just an absolutely amazing director herself. Neil was great and I think he learned a bit about filmmaking. Karen as always was fun to have on the set and added a lot of comic relief. I'm not going to get into how much effort was exerted in finding the blouse she wore in the film though.
Once the film was done, I began procrastinating on post. I did a little here and there for about a month until Adam started urging me to get things done. Our original deadline was Christmas but that wasn't going to happen as fate had other plans. Had I not procrastinated, this probably would have been avoided but hey, I'm human. I procrastinate. I never seem to learn, either.
Around Thanksgiving I got a virus on my PC -- at least all the virus markers seemed point to that date. While working on the film I got fed up with putting off a Mac purchase so I just went and bought a refurbished one from Apple. Good thing I did that. The virus finally kicked in about 10 days before Christmas and knocked my PC offline. I could barely get it running in safe mode -- and when I did, I found a lot of files in the main windows directory with just a single letter nor a weird little square shape for a name. I did have After Effects on my Mac so one of the times I got my PC to work, I transferred the rough edit project file to the Mac via CD-R. Since this was a Premiere 6 file, it was supposed to open in After Effects without any problems. It did not, throwing off sync here and there. This was a challenge to edit since it is very hard to play a movie file in real time in After Effects with only 500 mb of ram (you have to lower the video quality for playback and I just hate doing that). I basically was forced again to imagine what a lot of things would look like in real time since I could not preview them that way.
This was the point in which I was tempted to say the film is much better in my head than in reality, but aren't they all? Despite my pessimism and sarcastic remarks, The Robbery is a really good film and I hope you download a copy from the main page.
So somehow the film was coming together when amazingly I managed to wipe out everything on the video drive on the Mac. I assumed I was saving to the video drive and backing up to the internal Mac drive when I was doing the exact opposite. I erased everything I had done, which at that point was probably 60 hours of work. I ended up purchasing a $70 program to recover the After Effects project files after trying for days to find something for free. Unfortunately I tend to be cheap so I always waste days looking for freeware solutions before I spend the money. Won't I ever learn?
Not everything was recovered and I estimate about 20 hours of work was lost. I wanted to go around punching people. I was not in the holiday mood and just wanted to sit in my tiny apartment editing rather than go out. Bruce dragged me to a New Years' party where I got to flirt a little with the very cute host of the party. She didn't care for me very much but I had fun. It was a good break and probably a very good thing I didn't sit at home editing since I'd probably be insane by now.
So nevertheless I got the film edited before Sundance 2006 where we gave away some DVD's. In the meantime, I somehow brought my PC back to life and was able to make some fixes in Premiere. What's really strange is that I ended up having to remove a controller card for a send cd-drive I have in the machine to get it working. Perhaps the card failed at the same time as a virus? I have no idea. Still Norton Anti Virus found some very nasty things in the machine as well (70ish viruses / spyware progrrams)
There were also a lot of issues in rendering The Robbery and other films for internet viewing but that was not so bad in comparison to the hell of post production. Somehow it got done and it turned out really really well. I'm proud of The Robbery.
Strangely Territory went off without a hitch and was completed from idea to final film in three weeks. Of course having a deadline imposed by the First Sundays film festival helped a lot. Also Territory had a lot fewer shots and was much more cartoony which allowed me to get away with far more in post. The Robbery has something like 80 shots and each required extensive rendering and rerendering as errors were discovered. I remember Territory as being so pain-free, that it was the reason Adam, Bruce & I formed Words Pictures Movies. I made a film years ago called Being Joe Beercan which was very painful to make and remains painful to watch. I should just rename it Inexperienced Director Makes Movie. The process and end product often have zero connection, at least in my limited experience. Its sometimes better to stay focused on the end product than get too weighed down by crises within the process.
I think the source of all the problems was poor planning on my part. I wanted to rush in head first and the stress was the result. Fortunately a good film was also the result.
I can't speak for Adam or Bruce and hope they'll post their thoughts about how The Robbery went from their perspective whenever they're able. I speak only of my perspective of the whole process on here and I suppose this counts as the directors' commentary for the film I had wanted to do for a dvd.
After all this whining, I still have one conclusion: as Director & Editor, I helped make a movie. It is short, clocking in just under 6 minutes. It has a few flaws, like the interior of the bank is a little darker than it should be. However, it is a movie and it is done. Far too many indie filmmakers drop projects when they hit a brick wall and the trick is to keep working through those road blocks.
People all over the world are downloading it from Google Video and other sites. It is a real thrill to see the download stats on Google's site. Whenever I show people any film, those minutes they watch, their eyes glued to the screen, their faces showing hints of the changing of their emotions in their souls is what I live for. I have taken them into a new world, one which I helped create. The sweat is worth it. The fears realized and frustration weighing on my soul for weeks are all worth it every single time.
If you want to make a movie, grab a camera, write a script, get some friends together and make it. Its a hard journey but the light at the end of the tunnel is more amazing than anything you can imagine. That is why I make movies.
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