Friday, September 25, 2015
Today, first day of filming. It's currently 4am and I'm triple-backing up footage so I'll give you the run down on the nightmare that was the first day.
Zig went and got Laura. I went over to the first house to set up and get prepared. Boring shit. Laura showed up, so we started shooting. Picture looks gorgeous, and she's very cool and very natural.
We get the first location's stuff done and we're on time. We hit Chik Fil A.
It all went bad here.
Zig has gotten calls from different members of his family. He goes to take a call, and next thing I know I've lost the right-hand man for the entire shoot. Death in the family.
So I'm even more short-handed than before.
At the 2nd location it's trickier because we're shooting a night and the power is supposed to be off in the house. I put a 1K DP out back to wash the trees outside the windows. I put a 500W light coming in the deck door like a giant fucking moon. Fuck it, if you want motivated, realistic lighting then maybe you picked the wrong movie.
We shoot for about an hour and then I make a big-time rookie fuck up. I can barely see the DP light outside on a wide shot, so I go out to move it. I only have to move it like one foot, so like a dumbass I pick it up gently and move it.
A POP, and then the side of it catches fire. Yes, fire. I gotta blow it out. The light doesn't work now. I assume it's the bulb, so I replace it. The DP still doesn't power up. The fire WAS on the side near where the wires go in, so we're out the 1K.
I don't have a ton of other lights. Now I have to move the 500W to where the 1K was, then pull out a 250 that's more of a spotlight. Now my moon is super obnoxious.
We keep shooting. Stewie leaves around 11-ish(I think). Even more short-handed. At least the footage isn't terrible, but it's definitely got some noise. Luckily it looks more like grain than that colored noise that's terrible. The Mark 3 is nice. (and the lenses too)
We fall a bit behind but not much. Only, this is the easiest day so the fact that we fell behind is a bad sign, on top of bad signs.
We finish about 12:45am, and I tell my brother Mike(who is the only one still there other than Laura) to take her home--she's tired, and so is he(he worked at like 7 in the morning). But that means I have to pack and load everything myself.
So I do.
I get home about 1:30am and start dumping stuff, backing it up. Also have to do a final fix on the H book to submit to Amazon since I have no time to spare there.
Then I read FB and find out that the replacement for my FX guy(who can't do it Saturday), has to leave by 11pm or 11:30pm. Shit man, we can't fucking shoot til 8pm and I can't go out of order with this or it'll be a disaster(plus I don't have the extra shirts to replace if we go backward after the people have been fucked up).
Like, WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK?
Man if I even have a thought about doing another no-budget movie, you just point me back to this fucking entry so I can come to my senses.
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Seriously. Years ago I almost moved to California(before I was married). I can confidently tell you today that if I had no family here, I would move to Texas in a heartbeat so my winter would last maybe three weeks and it would be a pretty mild winter.
It's crunch time on the wrap-around. Much of the things I have worried about completing are done. I'm once again pretty prepared with the shooting script, having gone over it quite a few times to keep it fresh in my mind.
Most of the props and equipment I needed to get I have gotten. I have done tests. I really just have to load the car and then GET. IT. DONE.
I really really feel like this is it for me. The final film by the KK, and I'm not doing the whole thing so it's not really even MY film. I'll be at about 60% of the film if we only get one more short--the flick should be about 80 minutes--9 minutes on Prowler(not mine), 13 minutes on Jack(mine), 11 minutes on Siren(mine), 12-15 minutes on the other short that's not mine, and about 24 minutes on the wrap(mine).
That means 10 minutes of credits, 5 in front and 5 in back. Yeah, padding. (but hey, I'm creating and rendering them so that's me too right?) :)
But I'm pretty exhausted of the whole thing. It's not writing or directing that's tiresome--it's the doing pretty much EVERYTHING ELSE because there's no money to pay people, and I'm not longer hanging out with a bunch of college-age kids who just think making movies is fun. People in my circle think that making movies that really don't turn much of a profit is a silly thing to do, and I'm starting to agree with them.
Got the book proof back. It has a few things I wanna tweak, but it looks good. I'm pleased with it.
On schedule for the October 1st release, and thinking about trying to get some book signings together with the local bookstores. Will think more on it when I have more time.
What have I been neglecting?
Finish color correcting HH and get it on Amazon.
Get Bounty up there post-haste, and finish those goddamn SRT files so I can try to get it to the aggregator.
Those are the big ones. Honestly I should just send Bounty right away to Amazon, since they'll get it up pretty fast the way FOC2 is. I wanted it to sort of all happen at the same time, but a couple people have asked about where they can see Bounty so I should really push the button on it.
Monday, September 21, 2015
Found some of the equipment I was looking for(of course, in the BOTTOM crate), but still have a few other things to locate.
The plan is this:
Tuesday - Have an early doctor appointment(yeah, you know it's serious when I go to the doctor) so I'm just going to make this a long day. Go get snacks/drinks and other props like beers, popcorn, rolling paper for the fake joints(I guess I'll just use oregano or basil or something).
Wednesday - The camera/lenses arrive, so I'll be testing it all day and into the night. Try to get used to it, and also set it up for the look I want.
Thursday - Someone needs to pick up the actress in Baltimore at 1:40pm. Take her to location 1. No real setup there. We'll shoot before it gets dark, then move to the 2nd location. Shoot that, probably get finished by midnight or so.
Friday - sleep during the day, get to location by 6 or so to setup, start shooting by around 7:30. I have a place I'd like to get to in the script, and I have us finishing up around 3am but you know how that goes...hopefully by 4am. I'm prepared to start half-assing if we fall behind. (meaning, instead of doing all the shots I want, we'll start shooting some scenes as only masters with maybe one or two quick inserts)
Saturday - same as Friday, but we finish up. Most of the FX are this night.
Mark texted me tonight, said he had a mold lock. Was afraid his mold was going to be broken and near unuseable. He finally got it open but I'm not sure of the status. It looked very cool in the picture, so I hope he can make it work, and work good.
I've been going back to Siren and Smiling Jack and polishing them so they're as close as they can be to done, so once I have the wrap edited I can start inserting them to get a good idea of just how short the film's gonna come in. Then maybe I can give input to Perkins on how long his short needs to be to get us to the feature length.
It occurs to me that I haven't put the actual cover to the book. Erik did two different versions and it turns out everybody, including me, liked this one better.
There's a channel called Decades that I just discovered today, and they were playing a Lost In Space marathon. I haven't seen them in like 25 years. My brother and I used to watch this show ALL the time.
I went ahead and recorded like 15 of them to the DVR and am watching them now. Man, why didn't they just eject Dr. Smith out the fucking ship at the first chance? Every big problem they run into is directly caused by him.
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
This is Michael Keaton and Batman creator Bob Kane
WARNING: This post is long and detailed and involves publishing a book. You may be bored.
First off, realize that I understand that it's my fault. I get that. But here's what happened.
I started my book oh so long ago, researching and gathering stuff, still not sure exactly what the book would contain. Then I started it in InDesign CS5.
When I started I thought the book would be 6X9. I figured that if I had to resize later it would be a piece of cake, the way it is if you'd like to resize an image in photoshop it simply resamples it to the size you want.
In this case it would have to resample a bunch of pages. If I had to adjust the position of some individual items on pages, no problem.
THIS IS INCORRECT and has cost me weeks of work.
See, later I decided to go 8.5X11 so I adjusted the page size of the document in the document settings. And yeah, had to go through and move items because it leaves the items exactly where they are in that original 6X9 space.
I go through all the rigamarole of that, tweaking the book, adding, subtracting. Couple of pics I couldn't get clearance on I took out and replaced with others that I'd licensed.
I submitted to Amazon. Failure after failure on their reports, even though they all looked good in their Interior Viewer. They said that--and here's what's confusing--many of the images went too far outside of the margin AND my images didn't bleed far enough off the page.
Say what? How can my images simultaneously be too far off the margin but NOT far enough off the page?
Back and forth with Amazon's reps. One guy finally said what I wish the first 10 people had--he said basically "Hey, your book is 8.5X11 but it should actually measure 8.625X11.25."
All right. I went back to InDesign and made another mistake--I simply resized the book to those specs. Another failure. A helpful dude on the Adobe forum said don't do it that way--ad the extra measurement in the bleed and slug area.
So I did. Exported a pdf and got ready to breathe a sigh of relief. Failure. I'm like--WTF?
I take a good look at the pdf in Photoshop and discover CRAZINESS. Pages are RANDOM SIZE. One page was correct, but then the next page was like 7.63X10.55 and the next page was a different size. No rhyme or reason.
This is why Amazon's having fits. I hit the Adobe forum and post my problem and that's when I discover that you shouldn't fuck with your document's size after you set it. What kind of shitty program is that? Make your choice, cuz you're stuck with it.
You might think you could start a new document and then just copy the elements on the page to each new page. A lot of work, but better than starting over. But THIS DOESN'T WORK EITHER. Somehow the page size is inside those elements--I repeat, I didn't copy the page, just clicked on the text and/or pics inside the page, copy and paste.
I'm fucking incensed. The Adobe forum guys try to help but no suggestions work. I finally figure out my own work-around(I'm REALLY good at jury-rigging shit)--it's clunky and takes some time but I get it done, submit it to Amazon and IT'S TOO FUCKING LARGE A FILE.
Back to the drawing board. I figure a way to optimize it without losing resolution(Acrobat has an Optimize feature but it cuts the resolution in half automatically, and I can't have that for a print book).
Lo and behold I get a finished product that passes the muster. I pay the $15 to get a proof shipped to me. It's on its way.
Stewie mentioned some place called Lulu so I looked into that. My shit passes their screening right away. Their fucking web site is a little retarded(literally--clicking on pages takes like 30-180 seconds to load the next one), but I submit and order a proof. Then I notice they've fucked my cover up a bit. So I fix that and resubmit, but I think I'm getting a proof that'll have a fucked up cover.
But man do they blow Amazon out of the water on pricing. It's a shame that Amazon makes me price match other web sites cuz I could sell at the price point I wanted on Lulu.
Amazon's making me sell it for $27.95 and I get like $3.50 per book sold that way. I get around $6 if I sell it through my "e-store", but I don't even know where the fuck that is or how to create it(another thing to do).
Lulu gives me like $13 every book I sell. THAT'S an okay margin.
Bonus pic for sticking with me!
So I move to concentrate on the electronic version of the book and man, holy shit I thought the print was hard?
First, e-book readers really weren't built for books that contain a lot of pictures. They pretty much take your well-designed, laid-out and page and just say FUCK YOU, we're putting shit whereever we want. That caption under that picture? Not even on the same page as the picture any more.
You want your text centered? FUCK YOU, centering doesn't exist in our world. And .png's? You know, the best over-all format for pictures because they're lossless and hold transparency? FUCK YOUR PNG's--they take away the transparency and substitute NOISE in the background of the image.
It takes me a night of searching to figure out my best choice is to use the Amazon Kids' Book Creator since it's made for books with images. I use that and another program called Calibre to make the right kind of files.
I go to upload them to some various sites(Smashwords and Amazon, among others)--only, the epub file is like 180megs and you know the file size limits? Amazon's is like 80megs and Smashwords is--wait for it--20 megs. That's the equivalent of 4-5 decent images.
Say what? It's crazy. I think another site(Kobo) said 40megs. Soooooo generous.
Clearly the e-market is mostly for text shit. So I actually used another program to make a mobi that was like 47 megs so I can get it to Amazon.
Long story long, I am now waiting for the proofs from Lulu and Amazon. I'm aiming at October 1st--I even put it up on Amazon for pre-order so it should be up there soon. But jeez I hope the Lulu works cuz that's the link I'll be encouraging people to use.
And oh yeah, getting ready to shoot the big wrap-around for T-tory. We start one week from today(Thursday). I have a shit-ton to get ready.
Talked to the actress, she seems cool. I was actually high on Hydrocodone when I talked to her so I probably came off as a loon.
You see I also have some big health issues right now that are culminating in sciatica like you wouldn't believe. I could barely move yesterday. It was the most pain I've ever felt in my life and I've felt some pain.
It started on Saturday right at my tailbone and was agonizing but it was gone on Sunday completely. Then it moved to my left buttock on Monday--moving my left leg at all was like an electric current being shot into my spine. I actually cried out a couple of times, had to grit my teeth to keep from screaming.
Tuesday was rough, today it's all but gone again. I am hoping it will not suddenly return. I have a lot to do(also have to renew my license cuz my bday is this week and it expires) and don't have time to be incapacitated.
I'm the DP on this wrap but if this happens next week I'm not sure what I'll do.
Hey thanks for sticking with the long rant if you're still here. Here's a bonus pic--apropos because apparently this Caroline Munro top is going up for auction soon. If you really loved me you'd buy it for me.
Monday, September 07, 2015
Not really. It always becomes this combo vacation/work weekend. I get a little intoxicated, watch some movies, and work like a mutherfucking madman.
Almost done the book. Like, completely. I can't tell you how much work has gone into the book and I'm sure--just like my movies--that you'll never realize by looking at the final product just HOW much has gone in.
But I'm pretty happy with it which is more than you can say for many of my movies so that's a plus. Here's a look at an early concept cover from Erik. I dig it. My biggest issue is that people might assume the cover is actually made of leather.
Next on the work front I went back to Siren. I had been thinking(ever since before we shot it) of adding a light effect to the Siren, like a beam of sunlight that shines down on her from the sky to attract men.
Wouldn't be too complicated. I figured I'd use a Levels or Curve adjustment, draw it where I wanted and feather it out pretty big. Only time consuming problem is that motion tracking of every shot she's in to make sure it stays on her.
I thought about making the beam of light go away after our hero finds her(because she wouldn't really need it anymore now that she "caught" him, right?) but didn't really like that. Then when I was done I realized it actually helps sell the later shots where the sun actually DID hit her. The shots match more now.
I actually used the new Exposure setting instead of Levels or Curves though.
Did all but the last couple of shots because those shots require me to fix some of the FX that didn't quite work because how hot it was(the actor was sweating so it was hard to make the fake skin stick).
Wasn't all work though. Watched a bunch of movies. Braveheart was first. Man, still a great movie.
Then had a VWZ to do--that's that commentary that Zig, Luke and I do for movies that maybe we'll eventually put up online. We usually do 3 movies in one night but we did 4 this time...
We started with Midnight Madness. It was okay. I'd never seen it. Sort of wanders. I can see liking it if I'd seen it when it came out.
Then my pick of Golden Child. I remember liking it a lot. As much of those things go, it's not so great now. Not terrible, but nothing special especially if you look at the talent involved. Fun thing is Zig's recorder apparently ran out of battery 5 minutes into the movie.
But he was so...intoxicated, let's say, that he wasn't talking much anyway...
Then finally Zig's pick of Commando. Still a fun movie. Arnold's the fucking man.
And we decided just for fun to watch another, since those were all short flicks. We watched Chopping Mall. And again, a fun movie.
Now tonight I'll bookend the weekend with another Gibson flick, The Patriot. Haven't seen it in a while.
Tomorrow my mom's having a cookout, so I'm going to go over there and do some camera/lighting tests with my brother. Try to get an idea of what this is going to look like.
Wednesday, September 02, 2015
It's really insane and makes me panic when I look at it. I mean, the sheer mass of shit I have to get done to be able to shoot in 3 weeks...
My shooting script is done. Double checked it. Now I'm turning it into a shot list. I have to figure the logistics of picking up the actress from the bus station in Baltimore because I probably won't have time to do it.
Day 1 is easy shoot day. Then we move to Matt's and it gets complicated. Things that are worrying me:
--Lighting. I don't have a ton of it--well, I don't have a ton of it that I wouldn't have to dig out of some deep places. Good news, I have replacement bulbs for my 1K Lowel so I don't have to try to find money for those.
The thing is, I have to pump these lights pretty hard outside the windows to simulate moonlight because during the entire piece the power is out. No lights. So it's all "moonlight" from outside plus candles that the actors light plus glowsticks.
I'll be doing a lighting test this weekend to see just how hard this is going to be. Gonna be smoking it up with the fogger to help add a little substance to the blackness also. It almost makes sense because candles WILL be lit,so the smoke's coming from there. Get it?
--Transportation logistics. All the stuff won't fit in my car. It might fit in my wife's truck, but she can't drive my stickshift. I could swipe my parents minivan or my brother's truck, but I still sorta need someone to be able to pick up this actress and get her to set. She's not going to fit in with all my equipment anyway.
--FX. Will it be done it time? Will it be excellent?
--Location. I'm just worried because we're shooting at Matt's, and his parents are going to be home. Upstairs asleep. We shouldn't be TOO noisy, but if you've ever been on a movie set you know how loud crew can get. Also, the actress will be screaming on occasion.
I just hope his parents are prepared. Good news is that the screaming takes place on night 3(the last night), so once we're done, we're done.
Man, didn't think I'd miss shooting in the woods...