Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Angry, Sans Drive


Saw a blog post today titled, "Is anger stifling your creativity?"

After contemplating that for all of about ten seconds, I am prepared to answer "Very Possibly."

Lately I don't feel very creative. I've got about 7 screenplays that have 30+ pages each, but I get to a certain point and just feel like I've got nothing new to add. Every idea seems to be an idea I've seen somewhere else, and I don't like ripping stuff off.

Is it my anger clouding my mind? And if it is, what am I so angry about?

Well, for starters, I'm very angry at the internet. (he said non-ironically as he posted on his blog)

See, it's ruining everything. There was a time when my movies got picked up for upfront money. My first two films, in fact, made more money than they cost me and that was in upfront money alone. Who else has done that?

Everybody else was complaining they couldn't get a deal but I didn't seem to have that problem. Then the internet comes along and people are pirating movies, and studios now don't pick up anything for upfront money. I couldn't even get a decent deal for the sequel to a movie that made Lionsgate big money for a no-budget flick.

I'm also angry at the people on the internet, and not just for pirating movies. It would be one thing if they would be ashamed to pirate movies, but no, they feel like they're entitled to do it. I'm not sure why really...

But many of them also have horrible taste in movies. They see an incredibly well-made low budget movie with recognizable stars called "Insidious", and a TON of them are shitting on it. I think they want more Saw movies or Hostel 10, or some other "torture porn" movie that they call horror.

I feel like they're trying to redefine my genre, and I don't like it.

The internet is putting brick-and-mortar stores out of business, and that makes me angry also. I'm not really a pro-more-taxation guy, but when you can buy shit tax-free from Amazon and get it shipped to your door, well, it's hard to compete with that. One way or the other, they are going to have to level the tax playing field, and you know that doesn't mean getting rid of sales tax for storefronts, right?

I'm also a little worried about what exactly is happening to society. Everybody's got a smart phone, an ipad, a laptop, and no matter where you go they are buried in it. Nobody's paying attention to anybody else.

I know one guy who went out on dates with his girl and she'd bury herself in her phone all dinner. We are turning into one big anti-social society.

You may say, "Wait a minute pal, aren't you the poster-boy for anti-social?", to which I would reply, "Yes." I'm also a huge contrarian, meaning that I will typically do the opposite of the majority.

See my problem? You're all going anti-social, so you're going to force me to be more social just so I'm not like you. This makes me angry.

I know it's great we have all this technology, and we have a million games at the touch of our fingertips so we never have to be trapped with our, you know, thoughts...

But every time I look at what we as a race have accomplished with all this technology, I keep seeing in my mind's eye Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park:

"Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think if they should."

Do you think our society is getting better by people thinking less? (no one will be asking this question because the only real question they're asking is, "How much money will we make on this app?")

I don't know how to stop being angry...

Monday, August 29, 2011

So...hurricane...


Got the awesome news that the bitch Irene was headed our way. The news was making it out to be Armageddon, which I was pretty sure was just over-hype, like everything else they do.

And yeah, I was right. Storm came. Lot of rain. Lot of wind. Stuff blew around.

Everything was okay until Sunday morning about 1am when my power went out. I was mid edit, but saving frequently, so no big deal. It flickered back on, then off again.

And didn't come back on. Sunday into Monday, I played Angry Birds on my iphone. I played Scrabble. I checked my Facebook, Twitter. Was pretty boring.

Got a quick video of a downed power line across the street sparking violently. Inspired, stuck my microphone outside and got some nice audio of the hurricane winds, like 10 minutes of assorted low-to-high wind. Wished the fucking cricket in the bushes would have shut up though. Fuckin' thing is noisy.

Went to bed at 6am, early for me. Opened the window so there was a bitching wind blowing in, and pretended I was at the beach and that was the surf I was hearing.

Woke up Sunday at like 2pm. No power. Sunny outside. Went to a buddy's house to see if his house is okay, since he's in France for a month. His house is fine, and he has power, so I charge my laptop, my iphone, watch some preseason football.

Debate about going to see a flick by myself, but I'm hopeful my power will be back on by the time I get home.

It is not. Sunday night I am getting desperate. I plug my power inverter into the car and leave my car running all night. It powers my modem, my router, and my laptop. I watch some netflix on my laptop until a car fuse blows.

I go to the all-night Walmart at 2am and get two boxes of fuses. Blow all you want; I've got more.

Spend the rest of the night watching Netflix--I should be writing, but am feeling very uninspired.

Lunestra at 7am. I wake up at 2pm, but the power isn't on yet. My wife comes into the bedroom, and I tell her I'm not getting up until the power's back on. Back to sleep until 4pm, when I glance over and see the clock now shows a blinking time.

That means we have power again...about 37 hours of no power. Ever see Trigger Effect? Pretty under-rated movie, but I believe it's completely accurate as to how people would react if the power grid goes down for any length of time.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Earthquake 2011


Yeah, so there was an earthquake in Maryland today. Here's what happened from my perspective.

I went to sleep about 9:30am. I slept soundly.

A rumbling awoke me. My first thought was that a plane was taking off and really pushing that throttle, rumbling the house. That happens on occasion since we're close to the airport.

But then the house REALLY started shaking. I sleep in a waterbed, so it was like being in the ocean for a second.

Looking up, my ceiling fan is on and spinnning and I think: This is gonna Final Destination and drop down out of the ceiling and kill me.

I hopped up as the rumbling stopped and went to the front door--I could hear my dog barking outside.

That was it. I came downstairs and the only thing that had fallen was the Planet of the Apes poster that's on my wall. (the original, natch) None of my other posters fell.

Facebook went nutty, and the news broke in with some really terrible coverage. Caught with their pants down...

I dunno. Not impressed. It takes a lot to impress me, and I guess nothing short of an 8.0 is gonna do it.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Crom...sigh...


I love the original Conan movies. I love the original books by Robert E. Howard. I love the Conan comics, including Savage Sword of Conan which I used to buy with Fangoria at the News Centers near me when I was like 13.

I do not love the new "Conan" movie.

Where to start? My expectations were pretty freakin' low going in, so I thought hey...maybe there will be something cool.

And then we hear Morgan Freeman's voice starting the familiar "Know, O Prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis"...and immediately I'm thinking, "Not good."

Morgan's no Mako, and while he may be your traditional-sounding narrator, he doesn't fit in a barbarian movie. THEN--I kid you not--there's like 3 minutes of further narration attempting to setup the whole movie.

Hey filmmakers, free advice: If you need more than 30 seconds of narration to set up your movie, your script sucks. Heck, odds are good that your script sucks if you need narration at all before the movie starts, but there are exceptions. (LOTR, Star Wars trilogy)

This was not an exception.

We cut to a battle and see Ron Perelman fighting the mobs of barbarians while his woman is stabbed. She's pregnant. She wants to see the baby before she dies, and again--not kidding--he cuts her with a knife and pulls out the baby, shows it to her, and she names it Conan.

So...apparently this barbarian is a freakin' surgeon. He cut through exactly what he needed to without hitting the baby, and just popped it out. I mean, I saw my wife cut open for her C-section, and it just seemed a tad more complicated than that...

"Maybe I'm nitpicking," I think to myself as Ron holds the baby to the sky and YELLS in one of those high shots. It struck me as corny.

Then we get some Conan-is-now-a-kid sequences, and I think one of them is probably the sole good part of the movie. (Not that I'm encouraging it--frankly, I don't think we need any time with Conan as a kid)

Anyway, shit happens, Conan's father is killed in a ridiculous moment and Conan vows vengeance. Fade to black. Then Morgan Freeman starts narrating again. I think I actually laughed out loud.

He says stupid shit that you KNOW is unnecessary. "Conan searched for his father's killer but couldn't find him", "Conan became a pirate", blah blah. Then the very next scene Conan is on a boat with a bunch of pirates talking about how he can't find the man who killed his father.

Uh...hey, screenwriting 101 calling. Why the fuck would you waste my time in your 2 hour 9 minute movie with POINTLESS narration? Did you pay a lot for Morgan Freeman and needed to get your money's worth?

Man...

A lot of shit doesn't make sense in this movie and I'm not gonna break it all down. Little nitpicky things that bothered me:

Conan JAMS his sword halfway into the ground at least 3 times in the movie. It's like, if he wants to check out a footprint or something he'll SLAM that thing into the ground, check it out, then pulls his sword back out.

I can tell you that these guys would spend a lot of time keeping their blades sharp, so why would they continually dull their blades shoving them into the ground? (and yeah, he has a scabbard on him...didn't anyone tell him that's what they're for?)

People made of sand form and attack Conan, leaping in the air and landing in the sand, disappearing like it's water to them, then coming back out. Neat visual. So why the fuck would a sword passing through one of them kill them? They're SAND that can reform its shape.

Did you ever see Brotherhood of the Wolf? Love that movie, but there's a weapon in the end that pulled me out of the movie--this weird bone sword that would break down and magically reform. There is a similar sword in this movie that CLEARLY wouldn't work if it were powered by anything other than CGI.

Too many henchman for the bad guy. And they are all big, strong guys. So why the fuck doesn't Conan ever have a badass man-to-man brawl off with any of them? Remember the big guy with the hammer in the original? You KNEW Conan and him were destined to fight, and they did, and it was great and satisfying. Don't expect that in this, 'cause you are not getting it.

There are a ton of other problems. It's too long. Too little nudity. Action scenes are not good for the most part.

I'll give Momoa a little props. He was better than I expected, but some of his lines sounded like he was trying to sound growly. He still didn't really have that presence that Conan should have.

Fuckin' knew I should have gone to see Planet of the Apes.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Little FOC2 Treat


Seen my movie FOC2? If not, wtf are you waiting for?

Anyway, there's a scene where Old Man Horner's perving it up on his laptop, checking out a web site with boobies. I had to create that site myself so I didn't risk a lawsuit by surfing a copyrighted site.

And I just found that whole site on one of my thumb drives, and I uploaded it. It's small, one page that you can scroll down, but it's worth a look.

FOC2 Fake Porn Site

Thursday, August 11, 2011

So You Wanna Make No Budget Movies?


I am currently on about the 6th cut of GOH, my new flick. It's getting down to where I'm trying to fix EVERYTHING short of sound now, and that means I'm doing composite work.

TECHNICAL DISCUSSION TO FOLLOW, so here's your boring warning.

What's that? That is where you basically are taking things out of your movie that you don't want in, or putting things in that weren't there when you shot it. (in a nutshell)

For instance, we attempted to do something in the new movie that we simply didn't have the time/budget for. We have a man in the movie who basically has an entire face on the BACK of his head.

I know, wtf? Our FX people fucked us at the last instant so that, if you remember, we had someone else come in and have to rush a face casting. This was gonna be the face that we attached to the back of the actor for longer shots. Then for closeups I planned on compositing the actual actor's face on the back of the head.

So, what this means in a perfect world is that for the shots from behind that are reasonably close, I attach tracking dots to the back of the actor's head. We shoot the shot. Then we put the actor's face in that same lighting situation so it can be composited in where those tracking dots are.

What actually happened was that most of the time we did not have time to attach tracking dots to the actor's head, and we DEFINITELY did not have time to shoot composite footage of his face in every lighting situation.

In the editing room I attempted to make it work, but it simply doesn't look realistic. And the fake face isn't believable either. I don't blame the FX guys--they nailed the other stuff, but it was short notice and we're dealing with the Red camera, which is SUPER detailed...

What's this mean?

It means I now have to REMOVE the fake face from any shot of the back of the actor. Sounds fun, huh?

It's incredibly time-consuming. After Effects has a phenomenal magic-based tool(It MUST be magic) called Rotobrush that helps quite a bit, but even on my fast computer takes a lot of time. How much time? It takes about 10 minutes of render time for a 4 second clip.

That's where I'm at.

Monday, August 08, 2011

The Happenings



So I guest-directed the opening scene to a buddy's comedy flick. It opens with a cheesy horror movie, and who gets that call? Yep, me. But I knew it would be fun, and it involved a big-breasted hottie.

Went out, helped them out a little while they were shooting some other scenes, then waited for night to fall for my scene. Biggest problem was that we were shooting at an old house(it's actually the house John Wilkes Booth lived in for a while), and our power was VERY limited.

We ran a 2K, a 1K, a 650K, and a china ball. And this is an exterior woods scene...the wides were very challenging. Crystal is the hottie, and she was a champ. And in case you were wondering, Off bug spray makes a great cleavage shiner.

We got about 4 pages done in like 6 hours. Had a little excitement when some drunken students came walking down the road around 1am. Jared went over to see what was up, since Jared's technically in charge of the house while we're shooting there. Jason, our FX guy who was also playing the Leatherface rip-off, went over with him. In full makeup, carrying a chainsaw.

The drunken kids had an airsoft pistol for some reason. No idea why. Jared made them put it down, and Jason kicked it away. The kids left and came back belligerent later, but nothing happened.

After the shoot the guys wanted to see some GOH footage, since many of them had worked on the flick. They were tired and had to get up early in the morning, but they still wanted to see it.
So I played some. Then some more. Kept waiting for them to say We've Seen Enough, but they were pretty excited. I heard "Wow, it looks like a real movie" and "Man, who would've thought it would turn out good?", etc.

Yeah, on the one hand it's a backward compliment, but on the other hand I think they're reacting to how much of the shoot seemed to be a crazy clusterfuck of things going wrong. Just further reinforces how important a shooting script is. If you have a plan to follow, you can never get too lost.

And they really like the scene that I just decided to cut out of the movie. It has cool stuff to it, no doubt, but it's gotta go. It'll be on the internet before the movie ever sees the light of day, so it's not like I'm burying it.

Anyway, went to the beach. Saw Crazy Stupid Love. It's okay. Not as funny as I thought it would be, but it has some laughs.

Later, watching bullshit on TV, nothing on at like 3:30am and I turn to MTV. Has some show called Disaster Date, and who's on an episode? One of my actresses from GOH who recently moved to L.A....crazy.

Monday, August 01, 2011

The End of an Empire(Y)


So, Saturday was the last open day of the store. I was there while we were open from about 1:30pm to close at 9 pm. Then I stuck around 'til about 12:30am packing up, taking things apart, and trying to organize.

Brought home a bunch of stuff, then sat around before going to bed.

Then Sunday, back up to the store at1pm. Luke showed up and helped me take apart some stuff and load some stuff into the car.

Later Luke left and Brad came over to help. Load, drive, unload. Hours of it. Take stuff apart. Hours of it. We make some headway. Sell a lot of boxes CHEAP when a dealer comes by, but fuck it, how much stuff can I take?

You literally can't walk in my living room now...there's the tiniest aisle through it. If my wife was home she'd flip, but luckily she's at the beach for a couple of days. I have a couple of days to try to sort.

Dropped Brad off at his house about 1:30am I think. Went and finished vacuuming, grabbed the last couple of items, and closed the door of my comic store for the last time ever. This coming Wednesday will be the first new-comic day in 16 years where I haven't owned a comic book store.

Weird.

Kinda thought I'd come home and get drunk, but shit it's 4am now...maybe tomorrow night.