Sunday, February 26, 2006

Wow...


Quick update. There's a side of imdb(Internet Movie Database) called imdbpro, which has lots more details about films and people. It also rates people according to a Starmeter and movies by a Moviemeter--gauging their ranks on how often people search for their names/movies(including being linked from search engines)

The highest I ever saw my first movie get was around 2000, and that was the week of its release.

FOC has been hanging around 14,000--yes, there are a lot of movies out there.

I just checked five minutes ago and it's 192.

Sweet! And if you've seen the movie, go rate it! If you haven't seen the movie, go rate it a 10!

It was like a 7 earlier in the week, and all of a sudden some bastards have been slamming me with a 1. I think they probably mean it's the best movie they've ever seen(hence, #1) and are just confused by the numbered system.

Yeah, that's it.

Final Destination 4: Walmart

I should have known. The clues were all there for me to see, but just like the other Final Destinations you don't REALLY know what they're pointing to.

The first clue was when Stewie called me to tell me my message board had been hacked by Turkish hackers. Yes, I kid you not. I checked, and sure enough, it had been. I promptly took it down.

Then Stewie even mentions Final Destination 3--this would be called(in a screenplay) "on the nose" dialogue, and it's a bad thing--but I didn't recognize it. We chatted and I hung up.

Later I get to the post office to check the PO Box for headshots/audition tapes. Try not to shudder with dread, but in a mailbox that's normally packed full of stuff there was only one manila envelope. And it was empty!

That's right, some hopeful actor had either forgotten to put his headshot in the envelope or someone had opened it carefully, removed the headshot, and resealed it.

Or, I should have known--it was Death trying to send me a message.

I'm at Wal-mart after that. They didn't have the dvd I was looking for, so I'm walking out to my car when I hear this metallic rumbling. It's VERY windy tonight, so I kinda ignore it at first. I'm only about thirty feet from my car.

The noise continues and it's getting closer. I turn toward the sound.

The wind has blown a shopping cart out of control and it's barreling across the parking lot. I'm a little slow to notice, but It's heading straight for my car!

I used to be a pretty fast guy. I played baseball and football. I'm not so fast anymore, but believe me when I tell you that at that moment I was The Flash.

I raced across that thirty feet in like two steps and I'm not exaggerating: I stopped that cart about 8 inches away from my passenger side door.

And that's when I realized that all the signs had been leading to this. I had averted the disaster, but just barely.

I only wonder now who the disaster has skipped to...

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Oh what a night...(Part 2)

Okay, I'm back from a day of horrible open auditions. If you haven't read part 1, scroll down and read it, then come back. I'll wait.

So, the movie finally starts. The screen is too dark, I can tell pretty fast. There are slight roll bars also, so the picture isn't as near as good as it could be. The sound's nothing to write home about either.

I take a table in the far back so I can gauge audience reaction. Frank sits with me. We're alone there, which is the way I like it.

Then some big guy comes over, takes off his coat and sits right next to me. Introduces himself. And I'm thinking: "You gotta be shitting me." He's invited himself to my table and he proceeds to try to talk to me during the whole flick. Trying to sell me on how he's also a writer/director/songwriter/composer/900 other thing--which means he's not good at ANY of them.

My wife shows up somewhere in there, and this dick has her seat. So she sits at the table behind me, and then I wait a couple minutes and get up and go sit next to her. I'm sure it must have seemed rude to the guy, and I'd just like to take this moment to tell the guy: "Too fuckin' bad."

Okay, so back to the movie. The lights from the tall buildings outside are casting shadows on the movie screen, further obscuring the image. And then I guess the John's Hopkins people showed up, 'cause all of a sudden you can hear music pounding from downstairs.

I just tried to ignore it all.

The movie ended. People clapped and came over and congratulated me. You can never tell who actually likes your movie and who just says they do because they're hoping you'll do something for them.

Later I did hear that at most of these dinner movies people pretty much talk non-stop and network, and that this was the first flick they had there where people stopped talking and started watching the movie.

So upstairs we all go--they have a bar and karaoke up there. Pretty funny to watch. But honestly, I'm tired and don't like to network. I want to leave. But since the club has said they're going to give us some money, I hang out. I talk with a hottie Asian chick who does casting(and may even appear in a small role in FOC2).

Fast forward to 1am. I'm REALLY ready to leave. Frank's trying to find the manager who's supposed to give us money. She's nowhere. I wait at the front door as Frank goes from floor to floor, getting the runaraound.

I shit you not. Fast forward to 2am. I'm STILL waiting at the front door. I'm VERY irritated. Franks FINALLY found the manager lady who has sent him to someone else, and they're counting out the money.

It ends up being like $200. This may sound a bit arrogant, but $200 doesn't do much for me. If you asked me would I show up and show my movie, talk to people, then stand around for over an hour, all for $200--I would be walking the other way before you even finished talking.

When they first floated the idea to me they mentioned half the ticket price, and part of the bar because we were going to be keeping people there drinking(and if Coke's cost $3, what do you think actual drinks cost?

I know--I'm getting verbose. I'll finish it quick.

I make my escape at about 2:30am--Frank and I are quickly hit up by a beggar(who Frank gives his change to. Frank: "Do not ENCOURAGE them!") I get to the parking garage and notice something frightening.

It's closed.

Yeah, it's 2:30am and I'm stuck in Baltimore. I call Frank real fast and beg him to turn around and come get me. Nice guy that he is, he does. He takes me home and crashes on my couch for the night.

I wait until 5:30am and call a cab, take it back to Baltimore, grab my car(though they didn't open at 6am like they said they did) and hightail it back to my house before Frank gets up.

Taxi: $19 Parking Garage: $15

So now my take is even smaller. There you have it. The lowlights of being a low-budget filmmaker. I can personally guarantee that's the last public showing of FOC for a LONG time.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Oh what a night...(Part 1)

Last night there was a showing of FOC at a local cinema-grille thing. The venue was very nice, a huge upscale place. They had asked me whether they could do it, and asked me to attend. Since they didn't ask me to promote it or do anything else, I said sure.

A couple of days beforehand I was hearing that they expected a lot of people. Great. They had mentioned they would give me half of all the ticket sales--even better.

They said it was also kind of a networking thing--people could drop off headshots and talk to other people about the projects they were trying to get off the ground. Less great. I'm not a big schmoozer or networker.

The odd paradox is that I'm really not a people person, though most people who don't know me well will tell you how nice and friendly I am.

So I get there. There's no parking so I park two VERY long blocks away in an all-night parking garage that looks to cost me $20 for the duration. I walk to the restaurant and go inside.

I'm fashionably late, and there really isn't anybody there. I'm already thinking: Waste of time. Frank's there, his usual chipper self. He loves networking.

I meet the people putting on the show. They tell me the screening is going to take place on the second floor, but after the showing we need to take the party to the third floor because some other Johns Hopkins graduation party is coming in. Getting better and better.

Fast forward to we're-about-to-start. They have two okay-sized screens. I could probably get a free Coke, but I figure why bother the manager? What's a dollar? The little cup of Coke was $3. I only pay $3 for a Coke if women are taking off their clothes on stage.

They call me up to say a couple of words. I'm not prepared, so I just stutter a few words and back off. They start the flick. The picture stutters and shuts down after the opening credits. They can't make it work. Their dvd player is a piece of shit.]

Lucky for them I'm prepared. I brought a dvd player just in case. So I walk the LONG two blocks back to the parking garage and get the player from my car. Then the long walk back. The movie is now going to start almost a half hour late.

There's maybe 50 or 60 people, tops. It gets better(and by better, I mean worse) after that. In part 2.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Affirmation

Got a check today from Starlog Group. They're the publishing company that owns Fangoria Magazine. They were paying me for the article I'd written that was published in this month's Fango.

I'd have done the article for free. It's four pages of free advertising for my movie--and full page ads in Fango run at least $1500 apiece. But they paid me anyway.

It's the first time I've ever been paid to be a writer. Might not seem like a big thing to non-writers, but it's like this:

You struggle when you first start writing. You're unsure of yourself. There's lot of rules, but one of the rules is that you can break the rules if you know how to do it right. It's very confusing.

Then you struggle to get published. You send in short stories to magazines, hoping they'll buy your story for a nickel a word plus some comp copies. 'Cause if they do...you're a writer. In your heart you don't believe you're a writer until someone pays you for some of your writing, so the whole time you're slogging away not really believing in yourself.

Until you get some affirmation--in this case, payment and/or published--you don't consider yourself a "real" writer.

With me--I got the affirmation after doing my first flick. I had submitted it to some film festivals and not heard back. I assumed we didn't get in.

One night I was going through the newsgroups and saw an announcement regarding winners of a festival I had entered(but had not heard back from). Then I see that "Best Screenplay" went to...ME. I was shocked. I had won a major writing prize from a festival in Hollywood, CA for my first film.

I was pumped. It was the affirmation every writer hopes for, that recognition of the fact that Yes, you DO know how to write.

So my check stub from Fango is going in the same file with the certificate I won for Best Screenplay, as well as with the rejection letters from Cemetary Dance(circa 1990) and the other magazines whose names I've forgotten(but I could look them up for you if you really care).

I'd end this with something like "Look ma! I'm a writer!" but I'm a much better writer than that.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Fights, Part...what, 3?

Okay, I know what you want. You wanna hear about some fights. You bloodthirsty bastards...

It's the last fight I ever got into. Maybe 8-10 years ago.

Me and a couple of friends were going to the Nine-Thirty Club to see Nitzerebb in concert. Nitzerebb is this hardcore industrial band--they do some great stuff. I used one of their songs in the final project for Film101 in college(I got an A, for those wondering).

So we head out. I get drunk. I smoke some pot. I'm drunk, I'm high, and as usual back then...I am a stick of dynamite waiting to be lit.

Inside I pound some more beers. It's the OLD Nine-Thirty Club, so it was a very small place and it was crowded. I don't even remember the opening band, but then Nitzerebb comes on.

When I say the place is small, I mean--picture a comedy club, but instead of a comedian on stage it's the band, and instead of tables with people, there's a sea of gyrating people. This is not some big concert arena.

And I'm in there, singing along, rocking along(my friends were twenty feet back), and I start to feel crowded in. People are intruding on my personal space. And I'm big on my personal space. So I just started swinging my arms around, clearing a space. Maybe I was growling a little.

Next thing you know I have a LOT of space. Everyone got away from me. My friends are giving me weird looks.

So I go back to rocking to the band. Five minutes later some dick moshes into the back of me, knocking me forward. Understand: this is not a mosh pit. People are not knocking into each other. And remember how I said I was big on personal space?

I must have been feeling generous. I just gave him the look. It said, very easy to interpret: STOP THAT. The guy, about six inches taller than me with spiky blond hair, just looked at me and kept jamming. I thought he got the picture.

He didn't.

It happened again, and I guess I was waiting for it, because I just turned around and punched him in the face without warning. He stumbled back and I just kept moving forward, punching him in the face as he fell backward.

Then...this FORCE picked me up and threw me sideways into the bar. My arm hit so hard that even through the high it was excruciatingly painful. The force then grabbed both my arms and I found myself being dragged backwards toward the door of the bar. I realized the force was actual two giant bouncers.

And here's the great part. They brought both of us to the exit--and I suddenly realized I was going to get thrown out of the show I'd paid $20 to get into. Worse yet, I wasn't going to see the rest of the show.

I focused on the manager and said, "Hey, it was his fault man. He kept jumping into my back." And you want to hear something astounding? The guy I punched, whose face is bleeding, nods and says "Yeah, he's right."

I think it was the last time in history an American actually took responsibility for something he/she did. So the manager threw the guy out and let me stay.

It was a great concert. The next day though, my forearm looked like a black and blue Popeye arm. Good times!

Friday, February 17, 2006

It's funny how some people think...

You know, when I cast FOC it was a funny thing that wanna-be actors and actresses didn't want to come down from New York to audition. For a starring part in a feature film, they didn't want to make a three hour drive.

Now, I understand that at that point all we had under our belt was one feature film that had been distributed in every Blockbuster and Hollywood Video around the country. So maybe they were skeptical.

So I hope that every one of those pinheads, upon seeing the announcement that Lion's Gate had picked up FOC, I hope every one of them smacked themselves in the head.

Flash forward to now. We're doing the sequel to FOC. It's like a 98% chance that LGF will distribute that one too. And still we get some people who make excuses about sending in audition tapes.

And this:

There's this guy who owns a TON of equipment. He's shot a couple of low budget features(none of which got significant distribution or ANY critical response), so you'd figure this guy would want to get associated with a picture that gets out there.

We made him an offer. Come be our head griptrician, bring your two guys with you, and help us shoot the flick. For free? No, we offered them $6000 for 18 shooting days(and the head guy was actually only going to be there for 15 of them) AND I was going to make the guy an Associate Producer, just to get his name in the front-end credits.

And the guy says it's not enough money.

I'm thinking--what? Are you serious? It's $2000 a week plus a front end credit that many people actually PAY for, and you actually get to be associate with a movie that not only gets distributed but I can guarantee is gonna get some positive reactions(call me cocky, but I firmly believe this is gonna be the movie where I finally get to show some of my stuff). And if you want perspective, that $6000 is 1/6 of the total budget of the film.

This guy is just dumb. What could he possibly be thinking? I think that kind of thinking is what determines who gets put in the history books and who doesn't.

I hope he'll be happy; I'm sure shooting wedding videos satisfies that creative urge in every artiste...

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Well, it's getting there...

I had someone working on this for a while. It's getting there, but it ain't done yet. Lemme know if you have any weird problems.

Check it out, it's a work in progress--and note, if you were on the other message board, your account is automatically over on this one also. Nifty!

CLICK HERE

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Color Me Pissed

Well, I can't find a copy of Saw II that DOES have the FOC preview. I bought a Best Buy copy today and it's not on there, so I don't know what the deal is.

I mean, it seems to me that Lionsgate opens itself up to lawsuits from retailers--it has claimed in about 12 ads(plus the screener) that they should put a lot of faith in ordering FOC BECAUSE the trailer to it is on Saw II.

And it doesn't seem to be. False advertising?

So that sucks. But in other news, the Fango article's almost exactly what I turned in, so that's cool. Course, I could have done without MY picture being in there.

And Stewie--if you didn't get one yet, swing by the store on Wednesday--I may be able to hook you up with one.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Tuesday...

Well, couple of interesting tidbits for Tuesday. First, Saw II comes out...

...and I'm hearing that apparently the FOC preview that is supposed to be on the disc...isn't. At least, not on the Wal-mart and Price Club copies. I'm going to wait and see if it's on ANY copies--my producer's rep says it is.

I have no reason to doubt it--LGF claimed that the trailer would be there in all of its ads, and on the preview copies it sent out to reviewers.

But if it ain't on there...that would piss me off.

On a better note, Fangoria #251 comes out tomorrow. It features a buncha stuff, but the most important of all is an article by yours truly! It'll be 3-5 pages long. Personally, I can't wait to see it.

Not only 'cause I love seeing my name in print, but because I'm curious to see if they edited it at all. If they did, I'll put up my original article for comparison.

So go out and get it tomorrow! Take it up to the counter to pay for it, flip to the article and tell the clerk "I know that guy!". They love that sort of thing.

Snow

Got quite a bit of it, and it knocked out my high-speed internet since Saturday night.

Man, it's amazing how much work I get done when I can't mess around on the internet(or Xbox Live either)!

No, no interesting blog stuff. Just an FYI. (we got about 10 inches)

Friday, February 10, 2006

Tests, what fun!

Stewie(link to the right) had this on his site. So I did it. Nothing like a computer telling you about yourself to make your day.

Advanced Global Personality Test Results
Extraversion |||||| 23%
Stability |||||||||||| 46%
Orderliness |||||||||||||| 60%
Accommodation |||||| 23%
Interdependence || 10%
Intellectual |||||||||||| 50%
Mystical |||||| 30%
Artistic |||||||||||||||| 70%
Religious || 10%
Hedonism |||||||||||| 50%
Materialism |||||||||||||||||||| 83%
Narcissism |||||||||||||| 56%
Adventurousness |||||||||||| 50%
Work ethic |||||||||||||||| 63%
Self absorbed |||||||||||| 50%
Conflict seeking |||||||||||||||| 63%
Need to dominate |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Romantic |||||||||||| 50%
Avoidant |||||||||||| 50%
Anti-authority |||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Wealth |||||| 30%
Dependency |||| 16%
Change averse |||||||||||||||||||| 83%
Cautiousness |||||||||||||||| 63%
Individuality |||||||||||||| 56%
Sexuality |||||||||||||||||| 76%
Peter pan complex |||||||||||||||||||| 83%
Physical security |||||||||||||||| 70%
Physical Fitness |||||| 24%
Histrionic |||||||||||| 43%
Paranoia |||||||||||||||||||| 90%
Vanity |||||||||||||| 56%
Hypersensitivity |||||||||| 36%
Female cliche || 10%
Take Free Advanced Global Personality Test
personality tests by similarminds.com

trait snapshot:
clean, secretive, does not make friends easily, observer, hates large parties, risk averse, perfectionist, reclusive, solitude loving, more practical than abstract, does not like to stand out, high self control, intellectual, mind over heart, very cautious, takes precautions, irritable, emotionally sensitive

--
I'd say it's pretty accurate. Crap!

And I'd just like to take this time to remind you...It's not paranoia if they really ARE out to get you.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The funniest HH review ever...

Ocho sent me this review of HH and lemme tell you--all inaccuracies aside--it's the funniest review I've ever read.

(and for those wondering, I really don't put too much stock in a review, good or bad.)

Click here

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Working Hard

Sit tight--I'm gonna ramble. I think it'll all come full circle by the end.

Years back when I was attempting to get my first movie off the ground(HH) I ran into a spot of adversity. I had raised about $11,000--I estimated this was just barely enough to shoot the film. I'd have to raise another ten grand or so to develop and transfer the film to video so we could edit it.

But it was enough to shoot the movie. Then something bad happened: I was kicked out of the place I'd been living for two years. Completely unexpected, so I was unprepared for it.

I had no extra money. I could take some of the money I'd saved and get an apartment(they were going for about $700/month and you'd have to pay 1 month up front plus 1 month security deposit), so there went about $1500 if I did that. More than 10% of the budget I had for the movie.

Which meant, in a nutshell: I couldn't move into an apartment and also shoot the movie.

So I made a choice. I put all my stuff into storage, bought a futon, and moved into my store. That's right--not many people know this--I lived in my store's back room for about 3 months.

Sleeping on a futon sucks. Worse still was going to sleep at 4am and waking up to the sound of your employee opening up the store. Then customers walking around out front and chatting.

I would wake up, wait until they were gone(and that could take an hour--you know how bad you have to pee in the morning?), then grab my bag with some fresh clothes and go take a shower at my parents or my girlfriend's parents house. To me, a shower is the equivelent of coffee(which I don't drink)--I can't start my day without one.

There was no cable at the store, so no TV. I would be online or listening to the radio every night I was there. It was not fun.

But I endured it. I won't say I "suffered for my art" because suffer sounds too grandiose and I've always felt that calling myself an artist sounded way too pretentious.

What makes me think of this is all of the people attempting to either: 1)Make a movie 2)Write a script 3)Act in a movie 4)Do any other job on my next film--I'm getting tons of applications/emails from people who seem to think they can do any of those jobs without having put in any effort whatsoever.

Based on...well, no qualifications that I can see. Just because.

What does this have to do with me enduring a crappy existence for 3 months? Well, that's just one of the many things I've done to ensure I got done what I wanted to get done.

I wanted to be a writer--I have been writing since I was 12 years old(so--to make me feel old, I've been writing for 23 years). I have spent many lonely nights on my typewriter(back in the old days) and then my computer and then my laptop in the quest to be a better writer.

I wanted to then direct the scripts I had written. So I took classes. I bought and read every book out there. I asked questions of people who had been there/done that.

And it gets frustrating now that I run into a lot of people who seem to think they don't have to do any real work to get anywhere. Like they don't need to earn their stripes, so to speak.

So if you want to do something bad enough--don't put in a half-assed effort. Put everything you got into it. (or if you don't, please don't send me your headshot/resume/email)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Name Dropping

I know a guy who has now been nominated for an Oscar. Josh Olson, nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay for "A History of Violence".

It's funny--I've "known" Josh for about 15 years. We met online in the screenwriter's forum of AOL. And we instantly hated each other. Me, because he was such a know-it-all, and him because I was a troublemaker who'd argue anything.

But then he actually ended up getting a comic book published from an indy publisher and I read it, and how weird, it was good. The kind of art that if you looked at it fast you'd think it sucked. But, like Sin City, once you started getting into the story it really fit.

(that artist, coincidentally, is a storyboard artist in Hollywood--who later sent me some of the original storyboard art he did for the film "Phantoms"--yes, I know it was the bomb)

So Josh and I started talking, and I really pushed the heck out of the book to my customers. It turned out to be a very good hit at my store, but the publisher only let it go three issues.

Meanwhile Josh cranked out little scripts for direct-2-dvd stuff. Invariably the movies stunk, but he'd send me the screenplays--they didn't stink. (This is why I like to direct my own stuff.)

I've met him in person twice--he comes by when he's down here near his hometown of Philly, and we go out for lunch. I was going to meet him on his turf this year when I go to San Diego Comic-con, but now that this has happened there's no telling if he'll have any time.

But it sure is crazy. I'm sure in his wildest dreams he never imagined he'd be nominated for an Oscar.

Congrats, Josh!