Friday, October 20, 2017

October Flies By Again


As always, this month just flies by. Never enough time to just do the fun things for Halloween. And I still have that one Halloween screenplay I've been working on for like 10 years that I'd love to complete. Just. No. Time.

My brother and I went out last Sunday and shot the pickups and the foley. It was super humid--in October no less. We got what we could. For better or worse, it's all I'm doing for this. I will now work with what I have to make it the least-embarrassing I can make it, but I'm not going back out there for any more Pumpkin Trail hijinks.

Then this week I had an auction to work, and then a video to shoot/edit/upload(which I just finished)

Next week I go away to Arizona on Halloween weekend, which bums me out, but bums my wife out even more. At this point in our life we really only go out drinking and dancing on two occasions a year--Halloween and New Year's, and New Year's is never a lock.

So she's pissed.

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I had an idea that I'm not sure is good or not. See, October has been INCREDIBLY slow for my flicks this month for some reason. I figured October is usually good for horror flicks, and we put the first Ttory up again for free so I expected to see a bump.

Just the opposite. It's weird. (and hey, if you haven't posted a review for Ttory, how about it? It would help me out. One sentence is fine.)

So I was thinking...I need more movies up there. But I haven't made any more movies. Then I thought...wait a minute, most of my Making Ofs for the flicks are like mini-documentaries. The Making of for the original FOC1 is nearly an hour long.

Maybe I put some new footage in(not for length, but rather to interest people who may have already seen it) and upload it in the documentary category? I could do it with most of my Making Ofs. Would only cost me the Closed Captioning cost, and maybe not even that because the Y tube has free closed captioning.

(I say maybe not because I tried it today and it's pretty spotty--I'm gonna have to spend some time fixing it, and the question is--how much time is worth it when I could just pay $60 and get it done right the first time)

Anyway, am actively looking into it now. One more thing to do!

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Trying to get this last Ttory 2 segment shot is a fucking nightmare. I need a desolate county store exterior that's not 3 hours away. It's impossible to find. I drove across the bridge to look at two of them that were suggested to me, but both are on main roads with lots of traffic, and both are open on Sunday.

I need the place to be closed when we shoot so I don't have to constantly stop to wait for customers to leave so we can shoot.

I've found one that's about 90 minutes away that is closed on Sunday. I'm going to call and see if they care if we come out and shoot there. If they don't, we're good there and then we just have:

The NAKED ACTRESS PROBLEM

Why is it so hard to find them nowadays? It used to not be a big deal. And fuck, I'm paying between $250-$400(depending on how perfect for the role they are) for just ONE DAY(and not even that long a day--like 8 hours).

I have filmmaker friends(not around here) that get girls to get naked on scree for NOTHING. Why is this area so much trouble?

It's gotten to the point that if I don't fix both these problems by Sunday, I'm probably just going to call the whole thing off. It'll be a bummer, because it's a good story, but technically Ttory 2 is feature length already(about 83 minutes after credits would be my guess)


Bonus pic, cuz, long post.

My brother seems to have thrown himself into his work to distract himself from the tragedy. He still says he's going to do the work for the flick.

I've been messing with some of the other effects. I've gotten one of them to a point where it's ok, but not as good as I'd like. But I'm not sure how to make it any more realistic.

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Am trying to do the 31 movies of Halloween thing. I'm a couple behind right now, but catching up. I'll post the list the first week of November so you can see what I watched.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Pumpkin Trail Rough Cut Done



Took me some serious time at the edit computer, but the rough cut's done. It's missing a few shots, and some sounds, but it's basically done.

It's got good and bad. I think the atmosphere and build-up to the thing at the end is pretty good for the most part. The "new" actor that I hadn't worked with is kinda iffy on the acting part in a couple of places.

I'm trying to look on the bright side--those people who love my flicks because of the camp factor are gonna REALLY enjoy this one.

The rough cut clocks in at a little over 20 minutes. I'll probably knock it down to around 18, which is what the page count was. I'm also doing a little creative editing in parts on this. Mostly, like on HH way back in the day, because of not having all the shots I wanted.

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So that was what I've been doing most of my days. Editing it, marking down things I need to go out and shoot or record to finish it.

Then doing pre-pro on the final segment of the flick. Finishing the shot list. Trying to break down the schedule so it makes sense. It's a logistical nightmare, and on day one we're going to be shooting at least 13 hours for sure.

I also have to go make the main prop. Go location scouting across the bridge. Find a decent actress who doesn't mind getting nude for one scene.

Also have to go out and shoot these missing pieces of pumpkin before the leaves change. Was gonna try this past weekend, but it rained on the day I wanted. So now I'm eyeing up this coming weekend.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Bad, bad, BAD couple of weeks...

At a certain point, I get that this has gotta be the most negative blog in the history of blogs.

Thing is, just when I think things can't get worse, they DO.

Not gonna go into the pumpkin trail shoot any more than I already am over on the other blog, which is here:
http://indyfilmmakeradvs.blogspot.com/

It was really miserable. And I'm not very confident that what I shot was very good, so there's a chance...and I hesitate to voice these words...that there will be a segment in an anthology that's entirely mine...that will suck.

See, problem is that the pumpkin thing in it really didn't work well. It sure seemed very campy when I shot it, so the whole time I was shooting, I was thinking, "Well, I guess I may take my older brother up on his offer to make it CGI..."

And then we got news that is still hard to process.

His 18 old son--my nephew--died. My brother found him on the sofa unconscious, called 911, and tried to give him CPR, but it didn't help and they couldn't revive him.

My mom called to tell me the news--the second I heard her voice, I could tell she'd been crying so I knew it was serious. I thought maybe her sister, who has cancer, might have died.

The shock of this whole thing is something I wasn't prepared for. We've never really had a serious death in the family other than our grandparents, but I guess we were prepared for that. They were old, so I guess it's always in the back of your mind that you're going to lose them.

I'm not sure how my brother's going to deal with this. I'm literally the worst fucking person in the world at consoling people.

Meanwhile, I got a horror convention coming up over the weekend and I'm not sure whether I'm going or not. If I don't go, I stand to lose around $400 at a time I really can't afford to eat it. Worse yet from an objective standpoint is that I now have to figure how to complete the stuff my brother was working on for Ttory 2, because I don't wanna bother him about it.

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They're not going to have a service until the end of October(my nephew's being cremated), so I end up going to the show.

Last year we did well, and got to pass out a lot of flyers for Ttory. I had hopes that this year would be good too.

DID. NOT. HAPPEN.

It was slow as fuck. First night we did $45. I came home that night to check my online shit and I'd almost done that in Amazon sales that day. (in other news, I sold 21 books in September, which is pretty high. Made like $76, so you can see Amazon takes a fuckton percentage)

Day 2, Saturday, is normally the good  day. It picked up, but not by much. We still hadn't covered the table, much less the hotel room, by the time we bolted out to grab a quick, cheap bite to eat with a buddy writer who came up to hang for the day. He sold a couple books at my table, which was cool.

I do this con for one of two reasons--to either make money or to see friends I only see once a year, and party with them into the night.

Neither one happened.

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Now I'm back, and I've been trying to sync all the audio for day 2 of the trail, because I have to do a quick cut of it to figure out what I missed on the shoot so I can go out and get it before the leaves change any more.

Also have to really put the pedal to the metal on the final segment. It has a naked woman outside, and it's only getting colder.

And after Ttory 2, I pretty much feel like maybe I'm done making films.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Sleep



Oh yeah, the brownie-oxi combo worked some magic. Ten hours of sleep.

Haven been doing some heavy-duty S Jack FX work. Am actually almost done them all, which is a massive accomplishment in itself.

Prepping to shoot a few pickups plus some foley with Joe and Cutting--will have them both back on same day, so makes foley easier, and some pickup shots possible

Also of note, filed under the "my luck" category, it didn't rain at all Friday, and may not rain on Saturday either. Given my track record, it will all fall NEXT weekend.

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Still trying to figure out HOW to do the effect in the Pumpkin trail segment.

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The Halloween book is picking up sales as we get closer to that season.

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Been putting away a LOT of TV as I work on the After Effects stuff. Here's a small sample of what I've watched:

Season 1-5 of West Wing. (I watched the first 4 seasons when it was on and just sorta stopped. I can see, with season 5, why I might have. It's TEDIOUS when it hits 5)

The Strain--first 8 episodes of this season. Pretty good.

Camp - Eps 1-5. This is a show that only aired one 10-episode season that I really liked back in 2012. It's like a modern Meatballs, and as much as I hate the memories of camp that I have, this makes me wanna go.

Big Brother - The wife and I have caught up fully after falling about 10 episodes behind a few weeks back. We've been watching this show since season 1.

Love Island - This is a UK thing that I discovered last year and loved. So addictive to watch, and perfect background. Unfortunately, I invited my wife to try this year when it started, and now SHE'S addicted, so I can't catch up. But we're up to around episode 40(of like 53). It's a reality show, and I'm pretty sure that the most popular phrases used by Brits are 1) Crack On(which means to have a good time)  2) Are you bantering?(banter appears to be frivolous talking, sometimes means flirty talk) 3) Geezers and Birds(geezers are guy, birds are girls) 4) She/he is FIT.(heard this first on the Inbetweerners, which was an amazing show with two good movies to wrap it all up)

Timeless - This is a show that went under my radar. I mean, it's a show created by the creator of The Shield and the creator of Supernatural. First couple of episodes are directed by Neil Marshall. Weird thing is that it's a fairly wholesome show, not overly violent, and actually TEACHES you some history. Even weirder is that it's pretty entertaining. I'm ten episodes in, and hope they get a season two(but I know it was on the bubble)

Live P.D. - I'm going to apologize for calling this second-rate Cops when I first saw it. It's now better than Cops--hours of entertainment, with a lot of stuff you won't see on Cops.

That's not even all of them. You may be saying, how did you have time to watch all that? Well, when I'm editing, the TV is always on in the background. So every hour I've been editing has been another hour of TV. Really blazing through it all.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Postponed It To Next Weekend



Couldn't take the chance, and most of the weather reports were saying rain on Friday(and they're still saying it).

Zig picked up the pumpkins. The "big" pumpkins, of which there were supposed to be two, were not big at all. Sorta under-pumped volleyball size. Not much bigger than the other pumpkins.

I can, for sure, have gotten this exact bunch of pumpkins for less at Walmart. And now I gotta go get some bigger pumpkins anyway.

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I can't stress how much this is stressing me. I haven't slept more than 4 hours on any night in the past seven, and most of them have been 2 hours at a time.

I gotta figure out how I'm going to do this whole main pumpkin effect.

Also have to talk myself out of half-assing the entire thing. Maybe just get lazy and shoot a master and not even do any punch-ins on some of the scenes. Would make shooting FAST...

Dunno. Just ate a big brownie AND took a hydrocodone. I WILL sleep this morning...

Sunday, September 10, 2017

I Know When I've Been Beat


So.

This is a new low.

I thought, once the wrap was done, that the hard part of Ttory 2 was past. I was positive of it.

But the Pumpkin segment has basically beaten me. (with some help, mind you)

I went out with my brother and we machete'd our way through the brush to that spot. Isn't gonna work. It's not level, and frankly not wide enough for what I need.

BUT...I found another location that's pretty sweet. Nearly perfect. It's hard to get to--but we don't need too many FX there, so that's a plus.

What SHOULD have happened this upcoming week is that Zig was gonna get the 30 or so pumpkins we need(the farmer he's getting them from quoted us a higher price than we were expecting, and then got offended when Zig tried to haggle with him...but I mean, fuck dude, we could get them just as cheap from Walmart. I know, support your local farmers and whatnot, but howsabout not gouging us on the price.?)--

--then I would need to drive them around to various people who have graciously offered to help me carve them into jack 'o' lanterns.

Tonight I was to get the "hero" FX pumpkin and its "puppet" counterpart. Mark had asked another FX guy to work on them because this guy had more experience in that sort of thing.

Well...Mark texted me that we had a big problem. The two FX pumpkins were BAD, he said.

He was under-selling it. They look like there were created by a 4th grader. I'm not exaggerating. I'll post a pic soon so you can confirm it.

So now I gotta figure out some way on my own to make this whole segment work when I either have to 1) CGI the main pumpkin or 2) Come up with something else that will work.

Also on the hurdle list--a storm's coming, and appears that it's going to rain for around 2.5 hours on Friday. I can't afford to lose ANY time that day, much less 2.5 hours. And then I don't want to be out there in the mud either; been there, done that.

Since the camera rental package would be shipping tomorrow, I have to cancel today or eat the money if the rain comes, and I can't afford to eat the money.

Now I'm scrambling to see if everybody can shoot the FOLLOWING weekend instead. Mark can't for sure--he'll be out of town. So I have to find an FX guy who can fill in for him.

But at least the delay will let me see if I can figure out a workaround on the main pumpkin issue.

Also on the problems list--money. Am pretty much gonna be out of it when I'm done this segment, and I have to shoot another segment still. That's a problem.

I'm tired, man. I'm demoralized to the max. I'm deeply envious of people like Andrew Bellware, who appear to be surrounded by talented people--actors, production designers, CGI guys--while it's nearly impossible to find talented crew near me, and in many cases, talented cast--especially talented cast who aren't raging assholes.

Is it just this state? This area? There's a ton of wanna-bes around here who don't appear to want to do the work it takes to put the best product out that they can. They just wanna point a camera at something and call themselves a director. They wanna say a few lines on camera, and call themselves an actor. They wanna edit together two clips together without even looking at all the takes, and call themselves an editor.

Frustrated. Tired. Too old and beaten to fight this fight much longer. (which, 10 years ago, is something I would have said is impossible--I don't quit; I'm too stubborn.)




Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Who Doesn't Have Enough To Do?



Okay, first off let's get this out of the way: Who are you?

This is the blog no one sees, man, so how's it getting all these views? Who are you lurkers?

Just people that like looking at funny demotivational posters with boobs on them? If so, I don't blame you, but sorry--not today!

Anyway, am like 9 days out from shooting one of the tougher days on the entire film. Am I ready? Not really. I went out and scouted locations on Sunday(did I mention that?), but still haven't found one place in particular that I need.

I saw SOMEPLACE that might work, but it was pretty deep in the brush. I wasn't wearing my crap shoes, and hadn't put on that much bug spray so I didn't want to try to explore it. Now I gotta go do it, probably Monday. Then peg exactly where each scene will take place.

I have video of a lot of decent looking trails that I think will work. We ended up winging a lot of the wrap, so I don't foresee too many problems other than that the county apparently has put up a LOT of orange tape markers along one great place. Not sure what they're doing, and I'll have to decide whether to cut them all off the trees for the shoot(which is probably illegal, but whatever!) or do a lot of CGI work.

Good odds I'll be cutting them off if they're in the shot.

But today I decided that I really have to have something new at the convention I'm going at the end of the month. Originally it was going to be the same thing as last year--pimp the new movie on Amazn, but obviously the movie's not done.

So instead we'll make the original movie free again for a month or so, and I'll sell DVDs of the first one(which I've never had at any appearance yet). I figure as an extra incentive, I'll put together a short teaser for the film.

Cuz I don't have enough on my plate, right?

Tonight I spent a ton of time fixing shots with S Jack that will end up being in the teaser. It is mind-numbing and tedious as fuck, and there's SO much of it to do. Odds are great that Jack won't return in part 3 if I end up even working on it, or at least, he won't be doing anything other than walking and not tilting his head up or down.

Though when each shot is done and fixed, I play it and it looks pretty cool.

In other news re: Ttory 2...money is getting VERY tight. I do not have the money to do the segment for October, and my freelance gig hasn't been getting me much work. Like, not even enough to pay the bills much less pull an extra grand to shoot the segment.

But hey, sold like 12 books on Amzn last month and made, no shit, like $34. It's insane how much of a cut they take. (like, one of the books was $39.99--my Halloween book--and I earned like $9.80 of that). Doesn't really seem fair, ya know?

Eh, fuck it. I need a brownie.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Not Done With Summer


Man, woke up a couple of days ago and it was fucking COOL out. Like, Fall cool.

It instantly sent me into a funk. I may LOVE Fall, but when summer changes to it, I get S.A.D.

You may think it's bullshit, but it's for real, I can tell you that. Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Really, I wanna move somewhere where it's ALWAYS spring/summer. I'll come back to whereever the cold is for the holiday.

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I honestly can't remember what I've put in the blog. Had to go check.

Guess I didn't mention that I went back to the woods to shoot those last few shots from the wrap story. The shots involve a map that falls from the sky and blows down the trail.

We tied fishing string to a weight, threw it over a high branch, then attached it lightly to the map and hoisted it. When I was rolling, my brother yanked the line out of the map, and it fell from the sky. Actually worked GREAT, other than it would never fall right on the trail, even though one was SO perfect and when it was like 5 feet above the trail it just veered off.

Then we tried to blow the map down the trail. Compressed air didn't blow it very far. My brother waving his reflector worked a little better, but looks like a hurricane is hitting all the plants around it.

Got enough stuff I think I can work it. Won't be great, but whatever.

Then we shot a scene with a hitchhiker. Had the local author who wrote one of the segments do it. Other than the fact that the deserted road suddenly became grand central station the instant I pull the camera out...

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Trying to prep the pumpkin trail. Got the actors. Got the schedule. It's brutal. Almost 11 pages on day 1. Most of it has to be shot in the daylight.

And I'm thinking--I should really try to compromise. I never shoot master--punch in--inserts. I may shoot a master to help blocking, but then I get whatever shots I need, the way I've designed, in the best order to do it.

Problem is, when things start going wrong I start improvising for time.

So I was thinking...maybe I try to compromise a scene or two--go ahead and shoot master--punch in  -- insert, and maybe I'll have enough time to do exactly what I want in the other scenes.

I'm waiting on news of when we can get the pumpkins. We shoot on the morning of the 15th, so if I get them later than  the 11th...it's gonna be dicey to carve them all.

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Been working on the edits and the CGI fx.  Have actually gotten QUITE a bit done. Started the opening credits. May have found the end credit music.

Gotta get the trail done, then the Fountain, and at least then I can stop worrying about production problems. Get strapped to the edit computer so I can get an idea of when I can debut this. I actually think MAYBE I try January 1st? If not, then probably April.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

New Plans


So...I have made a complete list of what I need to pickup looping and foley-wise, and even a couple of shots I could use.

Going to go shoot the last shots of the flick on Sunday, then probably hang out late into the night in the woods to get some cool promo shots I can give the poster guy.

Then next weekend if Joe's available, I'll go out and shoot the foley and video I need from him. At that point, the only thing I'll be missing is Cutting on some lines(and one shot I could use, but it's not 100% necessary)

--Man, it's hard typing this up, cuz that girl and her pumpkins are just staring right at me....

Speaking of Pumpkins, I think I have it fully cast, and two of the actors are returning favorites of mine. Super excited to work with them again. The other actor is from Philly, so that's a pain in the ass for him--he's gotta come down here soon just to get his face cast, then two other nights, probably the 3rd week of September.

I still have to do some of those tests I keep putting off. I've bought many of the props for the segment.

As I get close to shooting that, though, I need to start prepping the Fountain. Double check to make sure I can get those actors, go scout some of these locations, and prep the Fountain, since I am also the set designer on this...

But hey, at least some of the pressure is off. The attempt to get this thing done by October 30th was noble, but stress-inducing.

Off to see Annabelle tomorrow. Why not?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Status: LATE



Okay, I'm gonna have to make the call today. Ttory 2 ain't getting done by October 1st.

As for what my backup releasing plan is, I don't know. I guess I'll wait and see how long it takes me to finish it.

I started to feel like more and more, quality was going to start suffering. The final two segments might be getting half-assed in my rush to production. A lot of things I should fix in the main story might not get fixed, because I gotta tell you...

...there's this new danger in my life I've never had before...

...it's the PEOPLE...their words...

See, I realized that I have definitely let some of them get to me. Not in terms of anger or anything, but there have been some times when I've been THIS close to going..."You know what? All the shit I do to try to make this movie better than the 99% of no-budget movies out there...and the people are gonna bitch anyway..."

"So why bother? Don't get down on the ground to shoot that interesting angle...just shoot it eye-level on the fucking tripod. Those douchebags are gonna hate it anyway, or better yet leave a one-star review with the words, "Gave it two minutes, didn't like it."

And that thought was sort of subliminal for a long time. It is very liminal now.

That's a dangerous place to be, and somewhere I've never been. I've always been the guy who goes the extra fucking distance to make these movies the least-bad they can be. Believe me, I have failed in many ways, but you have no idea just HOW bad those movies were before I got them to the shape they're finally in when you see them.

btw--a bit high right now, so there's that.

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Anyway, been whacking and massaging the main story of T-tory. I took a 2nd look at the Mad Gathering, and it's not QUITE the clusterfuck I thought it was. The opening scene is fucking terrible, but after that it gets better.

So I went back to the main story. Individually going through each scene and working the audio so the cuts aren't audible. Trimming here and there, trying to get some rhythm.

Did the whole thing, so now you can actually play it from front to back, and it's not that shabby on the audio.

Then started through again--picking some FX shots to mess with so at least I can partially watch something. When I'm editing I have the headphones on, so putting something on TV is just worthless.

The scene where Jack first attacks is a fucking NIGHTMARE. Jack's pumpkin head swivels this way and that, spins, leans. In a hundred ways, and I just have all this reference vid where Matt showed me the pumpkin from a bunch of different angles.

Been working on some of it, then got to the bottle break upside Jack's head. That shot is...ridiculous. We had to tape Matt all up on his head and shoulders because, well, we broke an actual bottle against his head.

But I never took a clean plate of him from that angle WITHOUT the tape, so I'm having to make that up. Then on top of that, you can see the plate we taped to the other side of his head for the bottle to break on.

And I've got no clean plate of the background to paint that thing out.

Also, the best take of Jack walking up to the guy beforehand? He's not carrying the hero knife, just the handle-only knife. So I digitally have to add a knife that moves in exactly the same manner as the way he walks with the handle. Gotta make it blur at exactly the same rate as he does when moving.

Lotta work. Lotta null objects getting motion-track data applied to them.

Things I'm most happy about:
The Midnight C exploding effect.
The knife pullout of Will.
That I was able to make most scenes work, even with the incredibly uneven sunlight killing me, plus the long speeches that Cutting couldn't nail his lines right on.
Some of the drone shots are SWEET.
I think I only blow the frame-sides once, and I knew about it on set--I couldn't get the drone on the correct side of the people because of a tree above us, so I just figured it would be okay.

--Pardon me, I'm listening to Motley Crue's Dr. Feelgood for the first time in like 10 years, and it's just as fucking amazing as it used to be. I'm back in college...man...where's my fucking time machine?

Also, I think I curse a lot more in my blog when I'm high.



Saturday, August 19, 2017

Busy Little Blogger


After going on a long blogging break there, I'm back at it apparently.

Spent today working on the last scene I need to edit. Spoiler alert--it involves Jack killing two people, then basically daring someone to enter his "domain" and do something about it.

There's some complicated prosthetic FX along with some CGI(well, compositing basically) for instance where a blade gets pulled out from somebody's body.

I did a rough edit on the whole scene, but in order to see if some shots CAN work I had to go do the compositing work. Then, one of those shots turned out so fucking good that I went ahead and fill in Jack's eyeholes plus the top of his head. Frame by frame for like 6 seconds.

Took a while, but man is the shot sweet. The actual hit with the blade doesn't look great so that may take more work. The final shots with the dummy head and the wig looks like shit--the wig has that netting underneath, and you can pretty clearly see it. Not sure if I can fix it.

I can tell you one thing that's been adding up as I got later into the scenes--missed shots. I RARELY miss shots completely, but I'd say there's at least four pretty important shots I could have used. All but one of them was actually IN the shooting script/shot list.

Anyway, now that I had them all assembly edited, I dragged them together to see how long it is. It's almost exactly 44 minutes--but keep in mind that there's another minute or so of footage tacked on the end that I didn't shoot yet.

That's pretty close to the 45 pages that the script was, so I'm right on track for that.

Gonna make a big decision tomorrow, then get back to the Gathering segment. Also, am having difficulty finding actors for this pumpkin segment.

A Few Things to do:
Make front-end creds, which involves rendering a lot of 3D graphic stuff--lot of time rendering.
Make back-end creds.
Make a trailer.
Start figuring out what I want the poster to look like so I can prep to get it to the artist.


Friday, August 18, 2017

Another Scene Bites The Dust


Synced and edited the finale of the film. It was a little easier sound-wise, because that was the night I forgot my mics and only used the shotgun mic.

The sound's not bad either, other than that fucking barking dog and some weird beeping on occasion, like a truck backing off in the distance. (we heard it quite a bit--dunno who the fuck is backing up at 3am, but fuck them)

The scene was tricky because we shot out of order from my shot list because it was so hot the clown's makeup was running. I re-ordered on the fly to try to shoot all the clown's shots first, but he has two balloons at one point, and then one at another.

Also, I think I figured out I'd fucked something up out there, so we reshot, but the lighting on the reshots is slightly different.

I even spent a little time doing some of the compositing work. It's not finished, but a lot of it is pretty close.

Now...the final scene. (well, it's not the final scene of the movie, but I edited that a long time ago, remember?)

It has three tracks of audio to sync. I did a little bit of that too, but now I"m getting too woozy to mess with it.

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Did I tell you that catastrophic news? (I feel like I have, but I talk to myself a lot so am never sure...)

Coke, in its infinite stupidity, has said it won't make Zero anymore because they've got this new version of it that's so much better and tastes JUST like regular Coke.

I heard this month they were going to stop making Zero, the good version, and was planning on buying a bunch to stock up. Well, tonight my wife came home and said the only Zero they had was the new stuff. Coke Zero Sugar, they call it--and hey, why didn't someone do any research to see that Pepsi has something like 10 years back called Pepsi Zero Sugar, and figure out that copying Pepsi is a stupid thing to do)

I freaked out. I only have like 5 two-liters left. I grabbed some bills and headed out the door. The first two Giants I went to had NONE. Zero of the Zero. I was starting to panic inside, seeing the future like it's fucking Road Warrior, only this time I'm killing people ad chasing them down in cars to get their COKE ZERO.

But I get to Shopper's Warehouse. They have like 15 two liters! I throw them in my cart, and at the front I say to the lady, "You don't have any more of these, do you?" She's like, "Maybe...let me take your cart in the back and I'll see what we have. How many do you want?"

I laugh. "All of them."

This is what she brought me:


That's what 35 two-liters of magic look like. I bought them all.

But I wasn't done.

I went to the other two Shopper's in the area and bought THEM out of theirs. This is what my car looked like. The Trunk:


The back seat:

I got about 70 total. No place to put them in my house, but I'll find room. Operation ration Coke Zero is in effect, and if I see any more two liters I'll be grabbing them.

Also, typed up a letter to Coca Cola to tell them about my super-unhappiness. The last time I wrote an actual physical letter to a company was when they canceled Quantum Leap, and I was pissed.

So that should tell you that I don't send physical letters for just anything...



Wednesday, August 16, 2017

HAF and Wrap Nearly Cut


Have I used that before? I feel like I have, but still--cracks me up.

The 'H' in the title refers to High, and the rest you can probably figure out.

Anyway, have cracked the whip on myself and managed to now assembly edit the entire wrap except for two scenes. Now, these are not small scenes; one features the finale of the film that was shot on the first night, which means it's bound to be a clusterfuck, and the second scene features a Smiling Jack attack, which is mildly complicated.

So it'll probably take me a full three days to edit that. (and my edit days are like 12-14 hours at the keyboard) But on the other hand I gotta pat myself on the back for the massive amount of work I've accomplished. (and I've even done a little bit of the compositing work I needed for some shots)

And one special effect that I lucked into while tinkering on AE. But there's another effect I have no idea how to do, and have wasted about 4 hours messing around with. May have to reach out to knowledgeable friends.

Anyway, once the wrap is fully assemble-edited, my plan will be to go back to the Mad Gathering segment and fix that to the best of my ability, and figure out if I have to go shoot a couple of shots/what foley I need.

Also, still working to shoot the Pump Trail the first weekend of September, which I hear is Labor Day weekend. So gotta find some actors who are cool with it. I found one who's mostly good with it--Phil, who played Giggles in FOC2 and Satan in GOH. He's awesome.

Would like to get another actor I know from Bounty--he played Litwak. Then I have to find a black actor who's over 55 years old.

Am ordering props. Have to go do a final location scout. Am waiting to hear whether we can get the pumpkins for the segment. We need like 30, then I need to get some help carving them all into cool Jack O'Lanterns.

Still have to do tests to see how this puppet thing is going to work. (I'm being vague on purpose)


Sunday, August 13, 2017

Back From Vacay...Again


My parents rented an MTV beach house for a family vacation--it was their 50th wedding anniversary and they wanted all five of us siblings, plus their families to come out.

So they spent an inordinate amount of money to get a house for a week that could fit us all in VA beach. This is what it looked like--I took my little flying toy to get some cool shots like this.

https://youtu.be/ZHQH-UAiLYQ?t=8s


It was a fun week. There was some familial disputes--and my sisters have very young kids that really make a lot of the more fun parts of beach vacation impossible. The house has like 15 TVs, but the best one--with like 10 recliners in front of it--was set right outside the room my sister chose. And she has a newborn, so it went to sleep early.

That meant no late night movies for anybody. And they wonder why I get irked that they keep cranking out kids.

I managed to cut almost all of the audio from Ttory 2. I could really get used to cutting and editing on that porch in front of the beach, listening to the surf with a cool ocean breeze washing over me.

When we first got there I said, "I'm gonna jump off that deck into the pool!" and my mom's like "You will not! It's dangerous." And she's right about the 2nd part. The pool is deepest in the center, and that's five feet deep. The edges are less deep.

But I'm nothing if not an idiot. So the last day I snuck out, set up my camera for slow mo, and did this:
https://youtu.be/ksO8o_s5Yac?t=9s

Once my brothers saw me do it, they both were kinda miffed that I hadn't told them so they could take pictures while I was doing it. So I did it again.

I reframed slightly and shot that in 4K. I haven't uploaded it yet, but I wish I hadn't reframed it. What happened was, my hand was wet when I hit the handrail on the 2nd shot. There's a moment where I grabbed on there to push off, and that hand slipped.

I'd like to have seen my face when that happened, but on my video I'd reframed to get more of the pool in so I don't think you can see it.

Luckily my other hand was still on the rail and I shoved as hard as I could. I did make it into the pool, but a little less graceful I think.

----

Anyway, back now editing. Am about to dive headfirst into the pumpkin segment. Lot of work to do, and I almost definitely have to shoot it the first weekend of September.

I called off the other segment for now. There was simply too much to do, and my naked actress bailed--I didn't want to devote any more time to this segment and have it adversely affect the pumpkin segment.

So what I'm thinking is this: I get the pumpkin one shot, get it all edited and scored, and if I can somehow miraculously make the October 1st date--super.

Then I'll go shoot the missing segment, edit it and put it in the movie, then re-submit it all. Then tell people there's a whole new segment in it, which might get some people to go back in and give it another look.

It's interesting that Amazon's setup will allow this kind of out-of-bounds thinking. It's sort of like releasing 6 copies of Halloween(I'm looking at you Anchor Bay), each one with a little tiny extra in it, so they make you double dip.

In this case, it's not costing anything to anybody who has Prime, other than their time.

Either way, that's my current plan. Still, WAY too much to do.
(because I forgot, I have to also have a trailer for it in order to even submit it to Amazon, so I have to make the movie AND a trailer--oh, and get a poster done too!)



Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Well...assembly edits suck...


I could stare at that picture above for pretty much forever.

Anyway, put in 11 hours yesterday editing, then another 12 today, and I have an assembly edit done of the final segment of Ttory 2, the one we shot first.

Wow, does it suck.

It is pretty clearly one of the toughest scenes I've ever had to edit. We shot it all out of order because of the people who had to leave early, then the special effects that take place that we can't shoot out of order because of how different people's appearances are after the effect takes place.

I got guys who switch frame sides, and multiple people talking to each other, so keeping shit straight on the shoot was tough.

There are many scenes that require compositing--a couple of scenes where the actor's not even there--gotta put them in. (they're 10, and I wasn't dragging them out to the woods til 5am) Another actor whose face SHOULD have been messed up for the shot, but we couldn't mess it up because we had the earlier scenes to shoot. (I had to have this shot now because we'd be losing people early who you could see in the shot)--this actor whose face should be messed up has to GET messed up via compositing.

Now, the reason I'm not TOO down on myself yet is because it's an assembly edit. They all suck. There's zero rhythm to them. The sound's not fixed AT ALL, so every edit jumps out and screams THIS SUCKS DONKEY BALLS AND YOU'RE A SHIT EDITOR.

This was basically just getting the form of the piece. Finding the best takes, and where they will fit.

Next I'll go back and try to massage it all so it's not so ugly. Ten, twelve more passes and I might even find it tolerable.

---

But first--gotta edit the final scene of the film so I can get it to my brother to see if he thinks he can do the effects I need in Cinema 4D. I mean, he can definitely do them--but can he do them well enough they don't scream CGI?

That's the question. The sooner I can get it to him, the sooner I know he can do it, or if not, that I gotta go shoot a lot of green screen shit.

------

Man, time is flying.

And Wednesday night I work. Friday early I have to go see this place I'm supposed to shoot a wedding video at. (Jesus, if I didn't owe my brother big time I'd have told him there was no way I was shooting one of those) Then I'll head to Zig's for Friday fun, which I haven't been to in like 2 months.

Then next week I go to Orlando for work, come back, shoot the wedding two days later, then the very next day I head to Virginia Beach for a week.

See why I'm doubting the whole timeline of October 1st?

Fuck.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Blog Will Suffer


I've been keeping the Ttory blog up to day the last 4 days, chronicling some of the hardest days of work I've ever experienced.

Go check it here:
http://indyfilmmakeradvs.blogspot.com/

That's why I haven't been so busy here.

I'll tell you one thing I haven't told anybody yet: It is looking less and less likely I'll get this done by October 1st. That is literally 9 weeks away.

If all I had to do was edit what I've shot, plus do all the effects, all the CGI, the titles, add the music, master the audio, and all the other small things I need--MAYBE I could do that in 9 weeks. But I still have to shoot two segments, then do all that stuff for THEM?
(and I'll be away for a full week in August)

hahahaha, I don't know what I was thinking. May have to start thinking of what plan B is as far as a release date.

I'm working on the 1st segment we shot now. Finished cutting up the audio. It's got issues--I mean, when we got to what I'm unaffectionately calling Spider Forest, my plan went out the window. I didn't take time to mic Josh up--just sort of stuck the mic in his pocket. It's a terrible idea, so the sound is fucked.

I remember thinking--fuck it, get his breathing, and just foley it in better woods. But now time is bearing down on me.

---
On Thursday I had to shoot a paid video and edit it, get it all uploaded so they can pass them on to their customers. I busted ass and had them done and uploaded by Saturday evening. (45 minutes of edited video)

----

I'll tell you another thing I haven't been spreading yet--the chances of me doing ANYthing for Ttory 3 are pretty much nil at this point. I think they'd like me to do the wrap story, and part of me wants to finish the whole storyline, but after this experience I think I'm calling it quits for the woods.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Updated Ttory blog



Figured why not just keep it in the one place? You can see it here:
http://indyfilmmakeradvs.blogspot.com/

I'm anxiously watching the weather. There are thunderstorm threats nearly every day we're scheduled to shoot. But most claim not a lot of rain.

If it's not raining hard, it's not going to stop me.

I am worried about one scene on Saturday--I've clearly under-estimated the time of 2pm-6pm. It's not quite four pages, but involves two FX kills plus some drone shots, plus maybe a dance sequence. I'm waiting for the song guy to license it to me, but he's acting buggy. It's weird, he certainly seemed like he wanted to put it in the flick.

Just another little straw trying to break the camel's back.

Friday, July 07, 2017

The Shoot Looms


So tomorrow(okay, technically today but I haven't slept yet) is the makeup day for last week that we called off on account of the thunderstorm and me being very old.

Weather's looking better--there may be a shower during the day, but the night temperature's gonna be like 64 degrees which is SWEET. Not only so I won't sweat so much, but because the FX should work better. Keeping prosthetics on the face when your actors are sweating their asses off is tough.

I'm feeling pretty good about the shoot--we've only got about 4.5 pages to shoot. It's a complicated scene with some heavy effects, which is why I scheduled an entire night for it, but I'm pretty confident we can get it done nicely. My only real worry is the fire, and keeping it consistent throughout the shoot.

--------

The big thing is, we start the main shoot on Thursday for the wrap story, and shoot through Tuesday. Roughly 9-10 pages a day. I have a lot of little things I still haven't lined up, not the least is one small role I haven't cast.

Well, I cast it, but the actress just bailed on me. I then had another actress who--and you may not believe this--who told me that she couldn't take the role because she had a couple of auditions scheduled that day.

It's like being offered a job, and not taking it because you have some job interviews lined up.

Wait, it's not LIKE that, it IS that.

Mark's still got some FX to create, so I'm sweating that a little.

Gotta go try to get some sleep. Up early afternoon to load the car and head across the bridge to pickup the audio that was fucked up last week, get some additional foley, then head back across the bridge to the location to start prepping that scene.

Hopefully the bees have moved on or are dead, and the wood isn't too wet to burn.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Mo' Work, Mo' Problems

The above was generated by a sick, sick computer intelligence. We warned you fools not to continue working on A.I.!

Go try it yourself: http://inspirobot.me/

Anyway, cut much of what we shot the other night together into an ugly assembly edit. Definitely got the sound issues with her audio--have sent the actress an email to see if she can meet me earlier at the original location(it's only 15 minutes from where we're shooting that night). I can pick up the audio I need.

The first scene we shot is pretty ugly. Might get better with some work. The other scenes in the house look pretty good, and THEN--

--The footage in the woods. Lit by a flashlight I gave Josh.

I remember thinking, while looking at the monitor at one point, that I saw a weird flickering. But it wasn't always there, and I sort of thought it was either my imagination, or just a kink in the wire or something.

It was not. Turns out all the footage where the flashlight is being shined in front of the camera, there's a hideous black shimmery lines in the footage.

I took out the flashlight and camera and tested it, and if the flashlight is on its lowest setting, everything the camera shoots has this weird frequency vibration. If it was raised, or wasn't the primary light, then there'd be no flicker at all.

I don't panic--do some research. There's a lot of advice on free ways to "minimize" this problem, but they all involve putting copies of your footage on top of itself, shifting the clip by one frame, and overlaying.

Problem is, that doesn't work well with a moving camera. You get big ghosting. Further, it doesn't seem to fix the problem.

Found a $150 program that does though, so will have to get that. I tried the demo and it cleaned it up pretty impressively. Not perfect, but close enough.

---------

Work continues on this idiotic crown. Thought Mark was gonna make it, but his looks pretty weak, so I have created two. One from cardstock. It looks cool, but don't know how it'll read on camera. Also, ain't no way I'm lighting it on fire, cuz it will all go up.

Second crown is a modified one my wife found at Party City. I painted it a burnished bronze so it looks old, added some jewels, and some paper spikes. But wasn't sure how great they looked(and again--no fire), so my brother and dad thought maybe I should replace them with sheet metal spikes.

So I did that. Had to cut a bunch of nearly identical sheet metal spikes, bend them to give them depth, and then gorilla tape them on, then reinforce them with glue.

Just what I wanna be doing when I should be working on other things.

-------------

Watched Adventures in Babysitting, and followed it up with Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter Is Dead. Totally not trying to make it a theme evening or anything, but funny how both movies share an actor(Keith Coogan), and Don't Tell Mom has a bunch of stars I forgot about--Danielle Harris, David Duchovny, Joanna Cassidy, and Josh Charles.

Also forgot how hot Elizabeth Shue was. Like, not even super-sexy, but like--absolutely the girlfriend you wanted to have in the 80's.

-----
July 4th--Back's not feeling well. Not sure at this point if it's going to get better. This is going to be a tough week coming up. Saturday we shoot the pickup, then Thursday night we start shooting the biggest piece of Tttory 2, the main story.

Hoo boy, I hope things start to look up.


Sunday, July 02, 2017

Fuck's Sake



Man, for once I wish this blog wasn't all "How bad does life fucking suck?" but this is not going to be that exception.

Day one on Ttory 2. I loaded the car with the fuckton of shit we needed for the day's shoot. Up bright and early at 9:30am to do it. Headed to my parents' house to unload all that shit into another car that I needed for the actual shoot.

Already pretty goddamn hot.

Picked up my brother and we headed across the bridge. Turns out, not so much traffic yet, so that was good. Went to Chik Fila for lunch, then over to Josh's house. I started unloading equipment and a car pulls up behind mine. It's Alex, the actress in the scene, and she's like 90 minutes early.

I'm like, cool. But maybe a little off my game for a minute. I shoot some drone shots, and my fucking drone all of a sudden says it's only got 25% battery and it's gonna return home. I'm not sure where it thinks home is(normally it's where you launch it)--it heads straight up into a goddamn tree, ignoring me on the joysticks.

Fucked up the blades bad. Awesome.

We go inside and I mic the actors. Here's where I fucked up: I gave the actress detailed instructions on where to place the lav inside her bra, but didn't double check it. See, I listened to make sure it was the right levels, but as I found out today when I listened to the audio, the mic was apparently loose. Whenever she moved, there's terrible rustling of cloth.

To make matters worse, Josh adjusts his tie in the beginning of the scene, so I can't even use his mic's sound for her line, because he's rustling HIS mic.

Fuck's sake. It's totally my fault, but with how short I was on crew(literally me and Mike, that's it), I was doing a lot of shit.

The racking of focus on the steadicam is a pipe dream on anything over 35mm, and even on the 35mm you better have it stopped down past 4(it's a 1.4 lens) to have a shot. The monitor I got is fucking NICE. Especially for how cheap it is. It actually shows you the RGB levels separately if you push a button, and the batteries last a LONG time.

So we got done early on the first scene, which was like 4 pages. I was feeling good and I let Alex go, when I should have done a wild line recording of all her stuff just to be safe.

Josh and his daughter wanted to go to Chick Fil A for dinner, so Mike and I said fuck it--we can eat there again.

This was at 7:45pm. Not even close to dark. I did enjoy the cool lens flare the sun threw in the window, so shot a couple of pics.
-----------

Problems start here. See, I had us shooting evening and night scenes between 7-9, but the goddamn sun wouldn't cooperate. Even at 8pm, it was brightly shining through the windows.

We run behind, and Josh's girlfriend gets home and his other daughter, and all of a sudden we're having to pause while they do something between takes. Shots I planned on doing, I simply can't do given the time.

We rush out of there to go meet Mark and some other actors for a scene in the DEEP woods. Like, Naked and Afraid woods.

We have to hump a lot of equipment into the woods--two big light kits, plus my camera and audio gear, plus Mark's FX stuff, plus all the props. There are spider webs EVERYWHERE. And even more scary, you knock them down to put a light up, then turn around to go back to where the other people are, and the spider has built his web again already, in like 3 minutes.

Ticks are all over us. Josh had three on his shirt just crawling on him like, no big deal. All the deet spray we put on, and they didn't give a shit.

And humid as fuck. I'm sweating, I'm tired. A lot of my shots, since I'm beginning to abandon my shooting script, aren't feeling great.

We move out of the woods to another section on the edge of a clearing. I head into the woods to place a light, and get the shit scared of out me by a giant deer that bounds off--scared by me I guess, but fuck it gave my heart a jolt.

The stuff in this section is supposed to be done by 1am. It's already 1am and we have the actual FX shots to do still. The bugs are getting into EVERYTHING. A wolf spider in my light kit makes me want to just leave all that shit and go.

We do the FX shot, but I gotta tell ya--I've nearly abandoned sound at this point. Josh has his mic, lav and all, in his shirt pocket. I'm guessing it's not gonna be useable but he doesn't have any dialog. Bad news is clearly I'm gonna have to take him out and foley his breathing and his actions.

----

Still got a shot to do with 3 cars on the road. I have it scheduled for 90 minutes, because I have a cool shot I wanna try.

All that goes to the wayside as the road I was going to use doesn't work. We go to another road.in bumfuck nowhere. Corn stalks on one side, woods on the other. I cannot, at this point, tell you how exhausted I am. We're going on hour 14 and we only had that one half hour break.

I've been bending my body, crouching, standing, jogging, doing all handheld most of the day with my camera on the shoulder mount. It's not light, especially since I've gone to the AA batteries to power it.

We got a couple of cool shots. Finally I call it. It's nearly 4am.

I head home--feels like the longest drive I've ever been on. And I still have to dump and backup all the footage, and plug all the batteries in.

I make it to bed by 6am.

I'm actually hoping the thunderstorm moves in, because shooting Saturday night feels like a lot of work.

-------
Then I woke up and realized--I can't physically do it.

I'm not sure I've ever felt THIS sore before. Not just my back, which isn't good. But my arms, my legs. Rolling out of bed was agony.

If I was forced to shoot it, I'd put the fucking camera on a tripod and shoot the entire scene from one spot.

Luckily, the weather report said it wasn't going to rain/thunderstorm long, but it was gonna drop a lot of water. That means mud and wet wood, and that means we can't light a bonfire. I postponed it.

Still, had to unload the car I used, then return it and get mine. My body hurt so bad I just brought shit in one at a time and laid it on my living room floor. It's a mess.

Tonight, checked the scene and discovered the audio debacle.

My plan is now this--do a rough cut of the scene and see if the actress can meet me at Josh's Saturday before the evening shoot. I'll have her do all her lines wild--letting her hear the takes I'll probably be using so she can try to keep the readings the same. I'll have Josh do his too.

Then let them go out to dinner or something while I head over to the woods to prep the big scene.

See if I can save this thing.

Right now, though, feeling pretty low. Tired. Body still hurts. I'm on oxi and a muscle relaxer, and still...

DID see Police Academy was on Netflix and I haven't seen it in 25 years, so watched that. Brings back some good memories.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Woods. Again.


Had to get up early to head over to the woods, as today was the only day my brother's not working before we shoot on Friday.

Looked like a decent day, and the wind was supposed by be pretty calm.

We walk to the place with the "clearing". Supposed to have a bunch of monsters in it. But there's plants and mini-trees growing all over, so we gotta clear that shit out. Also gather a bunch of fire wood for the bonfire.

I set up the drone to try the tests I've been wanting to try for weeks. And even though it's not THAT windy, the drone is warning me about high winds the 2nd it clears the trees. While I'm doing that my brother starts hacking at a big tree that's partially fallen.

All of a sudden he yells and runs past me, slapping at himself. Then yells again, and keeps going. Apparently there were bees in that tree, and they went after him, stung him a couple of times.

They ignored me, and they even ignored the drone when I sent it over to see if they'd attack it. (that thing would chop the living fuck out of all of them)

Anyway, sort of did the test and I think I can make the opening shot work even though it'll be tricky.

We started chopping up wood and clearing the area. Spent about 3 hours doing it. He had to leave, so I went over to the store and got a can of wasp killer. Walked it back to the location and went to town on that log. Hopefully they won't be around on the night of the shoot.

------

SO much to do. SO many people to contact with times and locations. It's pretty nuts. My normal UPM is out of town for not just this segment but all of the pre-stuff for the wraparound. He'll get back like the day before we shoot the wrap.

So fuck you! I know you're reading this. Bastard.

On top of that, my back is starting to hurt again today, and I also have a weird swelling bump on the back of my head. Honestly, couple days ago it felt like a pimple. Did not feel like a tick or anything. Showed my wife, she thought it looked like a bug bite.

Today it's even worse. The area of the "bite" is swelled, sure, but also all around that area in an irregular shape. My wife and my mom both think I should go to the doctor, but who's got time for that this week?

See what happens tomorrow. Am seriously thinking about shaving my head completely for the first time ever. I figure, with the rate I'm losing hair, I'm going to have to do it sooner or later to see what I'm gonna look like.

And if I do it now, no chance of anything hiding on my head when I come out of the woods.

My wife doesn't want me to do it. That's even more incentive TO DO it...

Saturday, June 24, 2017

So here's what happened next


The next day, the day I was going to call the actress to see if she was going to flake, I got a late audition video in. Turned out it was the only audition where the actress got how I wanted the character to be played.

So I said fuck it--I cast HER instead. I emailed the other girl to tell her that we'd made a mistake in casting her, and apologized. She seemed okay with it in her reply to me.

The other girl seems good to go, so now I have the main cast for the segment.

----

Went through the shot list and made it ironclad. With all my little notes to myself to remember the shit that I might forget.

Back out to the woods today for some more location scouting for the OTHER segment that we'll shoot starting July 13th. It was hot as fuck. Found a tick on my sock afterward, so I'm two-for-two on ticks on the visits. Guess they weren't kidding when they said they'd be bad this season.

Only thing I'm sweating right now is how many "creatures" I'll have the night of the shoot. I'm taking some old halloween costumes so we can throw them on background people and keep them out of focus, just to give a little more depth to the gathering, and make it seem like there's more creatures there than we have.

I feel pretty good about the actual shoot for the first segment. Still have a lot of tiny things to get in order, but it's really the main segment that we'll shoot 2 weeks later that's gonna be the biggest issue. Still have to cast a lot of smaller roles, and one big role.

My backup actor who I was going to go with if I had to--not 'cuz he's bad, but because I just don't want to always use the same actors in my flicks--he's busy. The other actor who is friends with a lot of mutual friends hasn't turned in his second audition. He was late sending in his first audition, so I'm getting a bad feeling about him anyway.

---

Did some more research on using a steadicam while manually pulling focus yourself(as the steadicam operator). Everyone says it's impossible, so I guess I'm gonna find out.

I think, rather than the 50mm, I should have gotten the 35mm. After this segment if the 50mm is too hard to use with the steadicam, I'll probably return it and switch it out for the 35mm. Never done that with the rental place, but I think they'll do it.

----

This video is applicable to something I'm going to try on the first segment. Gotta test it to see whether it works though.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Easy. Nothing Is.

Trying to hammer out all the final details on this wrap, while still coordinating everything else so that--two weeks after we're done that--we can start shooting the main part of this movie. The four or five day shoot of a part of this movie that features  a ton of FX, including some CGI as well as prosthetic.

Still had no luck on a main actress for the 1st segment. So today I said fuck it, and sent out a congrats letter to an actress who's decent but not my first choice. She seems excited, but then after I send her the script she says she wants to talk to me on the phone, has some questions.

WTF is that? There's no nudity or sex whatsoever in the script, so...what's the deal?

Why is it so goddamn hard to get decent actors and actresses in this area? So many half-ass, lazy, reluctant mutherfuckers. If I lived in NY I'd already have this whole thing cast, and with way more talent than I'm currently looking at.

Unfortunately, then I'd be living in NY.

I'll call her today, and if I sense she may flake, I'll take the role back and just keep looking. I mean, I have a whole 12 days to find someone else...

------

Got a monitor for the camera. Gotta figure out how to make this whole steadicam work with it. Once I get the camera, I need to mount it all on and then balance it exactly. But if I pivot the monitor to a different angle on the steadicam, I'm guessing it's gonna throw off the weight and I have to re-balance. That'll add time I don't have.

The camera comes in on the 27th, so I'll have 2 days to get its settings right so it matches the mavic as close as possible, and get the steadicam weighted right for the lens I'll use mostly(a 50mm probably).

Gotta cast the other main part to the wrap. Have sent a ton of sides, with notes that say we're casting soon. Does that get actors to send shit in?

Not so much.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Two Weeks Out From Shoot


Still no lead actress.

It really surprises me sometimes how hard it is to get good actresses. So many of them take little shitty roles in shorts or crappy never-to-be-seen low budgets or zero-pay flicks, and here I am making a movie that's gonna be seen by a minimum of 50,000 and while I'm not paying a ton, I AM paying.

And it's only two nights of work, unless something really bad happens.

Had one actress from NY who was decent. A bonus that she had hair like a wig I have, which will help one of our FX shots. (If we cast someone with dark hair, I'll have to buy a wig.)

She sent in an audition. I was waiting on a couple of other auditions, but I got back to her two days later. She claims she already booked something.

Oooookay.

Meanwhile I've gotten some other applications for the younger role of Tabby--she's in the main story that we'll shoot mid-July. Some are decent. But I have a friend(Okay, a FB friend) who has a girlfriend that looks perfect for the role. I'd reached out to him to see what he thought.

He told HER, and she's all excited. Really wants to do it. Even does an audition, and she's not bad at all. So do I take the chance on her? Only downside there is--wait for it--she has dark hair. And it's another person whose head gets fucked up, thereby requiring a wig.

Wanna see our melon tests? (of course you do)



That was the watermelon. 96fps. Didn't really explode much.

Then we tried the cantaloupe. Only watch the first 20 seconds of this, then skip ahead to 5:20 for the 2nd shot, which was from the side instead of below.


I mean, for reference these are pretty cool. Not sure I can actually composite any of that stuff in and make it look right, but perhaps if I take certain chunks, isolate them, then map the pieces of the actor's face to the proper pieces...perhaps I could get something there.

Went over and got my steadicam back. Also went by to see some of the FX. Most of it looks great. He's having a hard time with a piece that goes on what I call "The Dark Lord", but hopefully he can fix it so it's badass.

Honestly, if I could get this actress cast then I'd be feeling pretty good about the first segment...

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Ugh...



Nevermore so than this week have I asked myself "WHY?"

Why do I do this?

Went out Friday to do some testing. Only had about 4 hours, but figured it was enough time. So, so wrong.

Of course it was windy. The drone was all sorts of crazy once I got it above the trees. But still...I think I might be able to make the shot work.

I didn't have time to find all of the locations. We found some, but never even made it over to the section of woods where the clown shit is shot.

Then we rushed to do the melon-shot tests. I bought a watermelon and a cantaloupe. I painted the watermelon tan, because otherwise the green skin is an obvious problem with green-screen. We put that up first on a light stand, and watermelon juice starts gushing out the bottom all over the stand.

I fire at it from underneath, the same direction the gun will be held by the person. The melon doesn't explode. It fractures, and there's more of an explosion of mist than anything.

So I put a hole in the cantaloupe, and dump in fake blood. Then I pop it on the stand, and fake blood starts leaking down the stand. Nothing like sticky sugar water and fruity juices to get the bugs after you.

I shoot THAT. One earplug has come out, but I don't have time to put it back in. I have to turn my head away from the cantaloupe when I fire, in case cantaloupe guts come at my face. (I'm only like 2 feet away from it when I shoot)

And unfortunately, the ear with no plug is the one directly facing the gun. My ear is ringing severely. The cantaloupe doesn't explode either.

The test is more or less a failure, but it's given me an idea.

The bad news is that I have to go BACK to the woods to do more scouting. But hell, we have to go back out there to break up a bunch of wood for the fire anyway. More work, and my back is pretty bad again.

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The casting is rough. Got a lot of applications, but many are out of state. I actually sent an offer to one girl out of NY. She says she works an hour out of Baltimore, so can be considered a local hire.

That was Sunday. She hasn't responded. I need someone cast THIS WEEK in the role so we can get her face cast done before Mark goes out of town for a week. It's looking less and less like that's gonna happen.

Another main role is basically a local guy's to have. I sent him sides months ago, and had to badger him twice to get him to send them to me. He apologized profusely. He didn't nail it, but he's not bad.

So I sent him notes on what to tweak, and to send me another audition. I tell him to nail it, and the role's his.

That was a week ago. No audition yet.

Honestly. What do I have to do? It's not like these are unpaid roles. The pay isn't great, but most of these people work for free in dogshit shorts that go on Youtube, so where's the disconnect here?

I may have said it a lot in the past...but THIS feels more and more like the final KK film.

Did I mention I'm going over budget, and I really can't afford that? I mean, I'm over budget and that's not even counting in the new segment I'll probably try to shoot in August. I didn't write it, but some of you may know the guy who did...

I dunno. Making microbudget films is for the young and energetic, and neither of those apply to me anymore.

Here's one of the more successful video tests. I'll probably start a little higher(as high as I can go and not see civilization), and then want to come down so you can see my main actor walking through the woods. It's obviously completely un color corrected.


Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Pre-Pro Choices. Waffling.


So the thing is, I'm gonna rent a camera for the 3 week period in which we'll shoot 2 segments of Ttory 2. Almost certainly gonna be the Mark 3, which I used(and loved) on the Ttory 1 wrap story.

I've debated about simply trying it with my GH4, but the low light performance just isn't there, even with my fast lenses.

Now the hard part is deciding which lenses to rent with it. Should I get the 100mm 2.8? The 50mm 1.2? The 85mm 1.2 or the 1.8? (the 1.2 is obviously much better in low light, but apparently weighs a lot more and the depth of field will be incredibly hard to work with.)

I have a 24mm 1.4 and a 35mm 1.4, and my brother has some variable L glass, but none of it is lower than a 4.0 fstop.

I know this must be riveting for you people who don't use cameras.

I think I'll probably get the 100mm 2.8 and the 85mm 1.8. That means I have a decent run from 24mm to 100mm. Anything over that will force me to use my brother's lenses, which means I'll have to work harder at the lighting.

On the wrap, I'm thinking about mixing the GH4 and the Mark 3. Their color science is apparently very different, with skin tones showing up strangely. The reason I'm not too worried about this is that I'm not going to mix them within scenes. Basically, shoot all the day scenes with the gh4, and the night scenes with the mark 3.

Would really love to rent a monitor but none of them are super cheap. I don't technically need one for focus, as I'm pretty great with that even on the little LCD screen, but the fact that the mark 3 doesn't have a pop-out lcd screen BLOWS. That's really the main reason the GH4 is my preferred camera. (and that I own one, and it also does 4K, so okay there's a couple of reasons)

Man...

Am having major back issues. Haven't really moved off of my couch in 2 days. It's agony. If this happens during the shoot, will be a problem. I'll have to be so doped up to be able to move that I probably won't know what the fuck I'm doing.

The shoot is barreling toward me. Too fast. Still haven't cast some major roles. Mark's working on the FX and is getting a lot done. Once he's done the FX for the June 30/July 1st shoot, he's gotta get right on the other stuff so it's ready to shoot on July 13th.

I'm going out Friday to location scout and do some other tests in the woods. Gonna be hot.

Stress. Pressure. Work.

I know. Why do I keep doing this to myself?


Friday, June 02, 2017

Pro-Ductive Day


Okay, gonna give it to myself today. Got shit done. Not even counting my wife, which I also did.

Posted some notices about casting yesterday, so fielded a lot of those, replying to most people. Sending sides to some.

Finished the three DVD set in Encore for Jared--it's a business thing so apparently I get paid. He says there'll be more work to come too.

Talked to Mark about FX back and forth. He's getting some work done, which is great. What I've seen looks pretty cool too.

Revamped the schedule, reaching out to key people to find out if they'll be available. They all seem to be able to do it. I'm not a huge fan of it right now, but we do what we gotta do. (we're literally gonna start Thursday, shooting until like 4am. Then we'll take Friday off, and work Saturday-Tuesday to finish the wrap.)

Packed up a fuckload of eBay shit. I will never ever get all this comic shit out of my house. It's never-ending. But the money's nice. Gonna need it with how tight this budget's getting.

Researched a couple of other cameras. Still think I'm going with the Mark 3.

Put a casting call on Back Stage. Says specifically that we're only considering people in the DMV area(Delaware, MD, Va). I immediately, like within 5 minutes of the posting, get two submissions from ladies in California. Way to read the listing.

Talked to Cutting, got him squared away on his character.

Broke down the locations into easy-to-remember one sentence descriptions that I can take when we go to the woods to find the exact places we'll shoot.

Started revamping the shooting script for the segment we shoot first, now that I've seen the actual location we're shooting in. Some shots gotta be completely removed.

Even with all this done, I got SO much more to do. It's overwhelming. If not for the special brownies, I'd get no sleep.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Full Dark No Stars

Did I post that one already? I have no idea. All this cleavage is starting to look alike to me.

Full on pre-pro has begun for Ttory 2, and not a moment too soon. I mean, I just flipped my calendar and I'm literally IN the month I start shooting. And there isn't gonna be much of a break after we shoot this first segment. Maybe 2 weeks, then boom--into the biggest and most complicated part of the movie.

Went location scouting for the 2nd time this week. Found a crazy hillbilly kinda guy who owns 4 acres of woods and weirdness. Walk a ways and there's a school bus covered in trees. Why? Who knows?

Keep walking and there's a pool, now filled with disgusting green algae and a ton of frogs.

I mean, I sorta want to write a segment around that pool, but ain't nobody I know going in THAT.

After that, met up with a local horror author again. For just a quick one hour meeting, that always turns into an all nighter. Met him at 8, didn't leave the bar until 1am. He's got some great stories, and we were hashing out shit. Still working on a story that maybe will be in Ttory 2.

He also told me the entire plot of a new book he's almost finished that's not exactly horror. It's pretty good though. Trippy and complex. I'd like to read it, so I think he'll send it to me before he gets it published.

But TODAY....

Posted the first notices about casting. I've already pre-filled roles with actors I know and like, but now I've got the harder part of filling with people I don't know. Are they reliable? Are they good?

It's rough, seeing people do audition videos but they're not nailing the part. Especially when they LOOK the part. So I'll keep looking at people, and then probably get him to try the video a 2nd time with some notes. See how he takes them. If he doesn't adjust, it's probably not going to work.

But man, I need a peppy, fun young actress and I'm not hanging around with that group anymore. (I'm old now, don't ya know)

If I was in NY or L.A., it would be easy to fill. But we don't exactly have the budget to ship a NY actress down and keep them here for 3 days, or I'd do it in a heartbeat.

Just can't believe there isn't some young actress around here dying to take the part. There isn't any nudity involved...

Did get a VERY attractive woman for the nude part. The model from the first Ttory vouched for me--I didn't know they were friends, but she texted me to tell me the other lady had texted HER to ask about this director who wants to make her a topless monster in the woods.

She's like "DO IT, it's fun!", so she's in. Very cool.

SOOOOOO much work to do.

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Camera wise, still trying to figure out what to shoot on. 4K means literally nothing to me other than giving me some room to re-frame shots, which is why I'm gravitating back to the Canon 5D Mark 3. I can rent one for a month for like $300. The lenses will cost a little more, but I also can then use my brother's nice glass.

I thought about going to the 5D Mark 4, but apparently other than the 4K it doesn't have a lot of improvement. (no pop-out screen, which is INSANE in this day and age). The real kiss of death though is that it records in a highly uncompressed, nearly lossless codec.

Which will burn up TONS of card space, and apparently makes editing tough for even fast computers.

Which takes me back to the Mark 3. I've used it. I like it. My brother has a Mark 2, so there's a lot of interchangeable stuff I can use from his camera.

I have to get my steadicam back from Jared. I haven't used it in 10 years, so I gotta get it, get it weighted right with the camera, then retrain myself to use it.

THEN figure out if there's ANY way I can adjust focus while floating without messing up the steadiness. Because that ain't the way it's done in hollywood...(there's a motorized focus puller mounted on rails on it, and another guy elsewhere pulling focus, so the camera operator only has to make sure his frame is right)

Gonna be a lotta sleepless nights coming up...