Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The Cusp of Halloween

Made it through the horrible procedure. Fuck doing that again. They're like "See ya in 5 years."

Yeah right.

Trying to play catch up on Halloween. Went on a pumpkin-trail walk with Zig, my brother and Anne. It was better this year than last year--more pumpkins, shorter trail. We also got there early enough that it wasn't pitch black so we could get some pics without long exposures.

Went back and watched Something Wicked This Way Comes. Dated, but better than I remember back in the day.

Got home and watched Tales of Halloween, a new anthology featuring some decent names in horror. It's hit or miss, as all anthology features are. On the whole I wouldn't say any of them were bad though. It was mediocre to decent.

I think I like Bousman's best, which is weird because it features goofy sound effects, but I thought it worked on two levels which was rare.

Then hitting some TV shows--the hard part of saving shows up is that I gotta find out if any of them have Halloween episodes, because if they do then I have to watch those.

Only one I found this year is Brooklyn 9-9, which has had one every year. Every year it's great too. Honestly, the show's fucking great. Cracks me up every episode.

Also watched Extraterrestrial, the Vicious Brothers flick. It's okay. Doesn't bring anything new to the table, but considering that it almost lost me from the get-go...

See, college kids off to a cabin in the woods. On the way, one of them pulls out a gun and starts shooting in the air outside his car as they drive. A cop immediately pulls them over, says "That's the stupidest thing I've ever seen someone do."

He asks a couple of questions, then LETS THEM OFF WITH A WARNING. Without even checking to see if the gun is registered or if the guy firing it is a fucking wanted felon.


On the T-tory front, got the teaser done. I think it's pretty good. Certainly for a week's work, not bad.

Now I'm syncing more of the footage, and editing bits and pieces. I'm at the hacking stage--finding best takes, chopping them, putting them where I want. No finesse, just finding the shape of it.

Am planning on shooting the pickups on Nov. 13th. Should give Mark enough time to make the FX good, and hopefully I'll have a rough cut of this so I'll know if there's anything else I should pickup while I'm over there.


Don't know what it is about the final week leading to Halloween, but I get sort of sad because it's like Halloween is already over. It's weird.

Thursday, October 22, 2015


Working like a dog on the teaser. Have a rough rough of it. There's definitely some cool parts, but the jury-rigged build up is a little wonky. Probably nobody but me notices it, but I'm gonna tweak it some more, maybe even change it up.

It's actually like a minute forty, because of the lead-in where I let the wrap-around characters talk a bit to set up the whole thing. I've tightened it quite a bit, cutting stuff out but it still runs a good 40 seconds before I get into the quick-cuts and the other footage.

I also found a cool little piece of music I might try to license from one of those stock audio/video places that plays a little better than mine(with some tweaking to my vids).

And hey, remember when I patted myself on the back for how amazing I was? Well I am starting to notice a little bit of the noise in some shots downstairs. I'm betting it's when I went from 2000iso to 4000 iso. It's still not too bad. Probably won't even de-noise it. Gotta see what it looks like after it gets rendered.

But either way, not quite as spotless as I first thought.

Still a little sick, but I guess I'm going ahead with the fucking c-ostomy. So the worst 48 hours of my life begin at 11am today. Starvation followed by horrible drink followed by runs to the bathroom, then more horrible drink, then probably next to no sleep and the VIOLATION.

I did not watch BTTF today, much as I wanted to. Doesn't feel right given how much Halloween movie-watching I'm missing. I watched The Stranger--it was okay, but didn't make much sense. (They supposed to be vampires? Then why does the "bad" vampire burn in sunlight even though he has a hoodie and a ton of clothes on, but the "good" vampire doesn't burn cuz he's wearing a fireman's outfit, complete with a see-through face-plate?)

Stacked weekend--wife's pumpkin party Friday night(how am I gonna feel at this after the procedure at 11am?), then Saturday I'm gonna try to hit Zig's for the pumpkin trail and maybe some Halloween movies afterward.

The Halloween book--did you think I was kidding about the big royalty numbers? Here's a screencap to illustrate the point. Yes, it would be nice if people used C-space to get the book, but nobody's gonna.

Who wants to sign up for a whole new account, enter all that info and whatnot, when they can just do it at A-zon?
See why I'm not selling it in Europe? The price I'd have to charge to make like five bucks is ridiculous...

Wish I had more time to send some .pdf review copies(with watermark) to some web sites, but I've got my hands full right now. Also, haven't heard from that asshat with the bookstore--talked to two people who have met him and they both say he's a dick.

I don't understand how business people can turn down free advertising--and even better--I'd be BRINGING CUSTOMERS TO THEIR STORE. Paying customers who don't know you exist...and you're not interested? I give the guy a year in business.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Got back from Phoenix. Wasn't fun. Didn't eat well, didn't sleep well. We were on a resort, so the only food to eat was THERE, and it was fucking expensive. Like, my per diem doesn't cover shit that expensive. Also, it wasn't very good so even though I could have afforded it, didn't want to.

So Sunday I ate this: 2 packs of peanut butter crackers. 1 pack of Doritos. A Snickers bar. Handful of iced animal crackers. That's it.

I slept a couple of hours Saturday night, getting up on Sunday at 7:30am. The next time I went to sleep was for three hours on Monday at 4pm. Taking time-zone change into it, I went almost 30 hours without any sleep. It was brutal, but not much choice with us going to the airport at 4:30am Monday morning.

I'm sick too, so I postponed the c-oscopy to Friday. Hopefully I'm better by then.

Got back to looking at the T-tory footage because my buddy wants a teaser to play in front of his movie premiere. Exported some clips to use from Jack and Siren and the other dude's short, then dragged in everything from my wrap-around.

FINALLY got to look at some of the other footage. Let me just say that I am mutherfucking impressive.

Maybe you don't know shit about DSLR's. But if you do, take this shit into account:
I was on my little shoulder-mounted rig for 99% of the shoot.
Every lens used was a rental so I was not used to them.
The lenses were 1.2, 1.4 and 2.0(this was 100mm)
I didn't use the monitor for most of the shoot, just the tiny LCD screen on the camera. The camera I'd never touched until the day before the shoot.

And after all that, my focus is fucking gorgeous for most of this thing. I mean, the actress crosses the room and I keep her solid the whole way. I have no idea how I did it, to be honest. I was shooting wide open because all the lights were off.

And I was worried the picture would be muddy and ugly on account of us lighting the room with 1) A candle 2) 2 glowsticks and 3&4) My 2 little LED lights I put on the camera typically.

But the picture is sweet. For most of the shots it's not only pretty consistent but it's buyable as night with no power. It's slightly grainy, like I said, but not in a bad way.

I looked at most of the footage and as is I only see 2 shots I really wanna do again. One has mismatched eyelines because I had an actor cross the axis and didn't compensate, so he's looking frame left when he should be looking frame right. Good news is, he's local so it's no problem.

Another problem has a slightly soft-focus shot of the stick in the door. Not sure why I blew that, cuz neither me nor the stick are moving.

There's another shot where I technically jump the line but because both actors are in the shot it's not that big a deal. I know why I did it--it's a shot where the guy's outside the sliding glass door, and the girl's inside. I couldn't get to where I wanted without seeing my reflection in the glass(which was a big problem all night for every shot from outside)--I don't think the audience will get confused.

(as an aside, the audience may get awful pissed at me because the lead actress doesn't get naked; she wears this super tight low-cut shirt that shows how STACKED she is, so they're going to be pretty frustrated...)

All this isn't to say the edit won't be challenging. There's some actor inconsistency in a few actions but I think I shot enough coverage to make it work.

My #1 thing right now is to figure out the angle I'm going to take with the teaser. Only want it to be like 40 seconds long or so. Don't want to give away anything. Just tease 'em.

Going through my sound library to get some ideas, laying down some beds and testing.

Oh, and also completely missing mutherfucking Halloween. Is there any way we can just start celebrating it in September? I NEED MORE TIME.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Finally...the wrap...

Well, the Star Wars Battlefront beta is over. Fun game. Really brings back the SW geek in me that died a long time ago, 'round the same time Lucas changed the original movies and then put out those steaming piles of shit that were the prequels.

Spent all day cutting more audio into individual clips. Lot of work, that. Then dragged in the rest of day 1's video. Takes place at night, so I was worried. All in all it looks pretty fucking good. I applied a quick color grade just to see how close to what I want I can get, and right away it's looking believable before I even tweak it.

You can get a quick glimpse here during an out-take.

I'll probably come down on some of that super blue moon outside, and whatever the fuck that reflection is in the background will have to be removed.

One shot toward the end of the night though has a fucking tripod in it. Yes, it was that dark that you couldn't see it. And I'm moving in--handheld, so that's gonna be a bitch to remove.

But all in all I'm fucking impressing the hell out of myself with this footage. I don't think anybody but a DP is going to understand how hard it was to achieve with f-stops at 1.2 and 1.4 and NO focus puller.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Productive Couple of Days

Yeah, some of these demotivational people are getting pretty lazy. Like, they're not even trying. Funny? We don't need funny, cuz we got bewbs...

Anyway, done all I'm gonna do on the zombie movie. The swat scene is done, clocking in at over 150 layers in After Effects. I'm not sure how they ever thought they were gonna make it work without someone with some serious AE talent.

Went on to MY stuff finally. I cut the audio for the first thing we shot, which was the last scene of the movie, so all I had to do was finish syncing it to the video and then edit it.

Did that. I'm having to edit in very weird ways on the last couple of movies, having 3 separate audio tracks recorded. (His lapel, Her lapel, and the boom mic)

So when I'm putting them on the tracks I end up having 6 tracks of audio as I edit along, and sine you can only sync 1 audio clip to 1 video clip, I have to select all 3 audio tracks plus the video track to move a clip. (You can technically group them as one, but then cutting them gets wonky)

For all that, did the final scene. Looks good, and I'm happy to say the fucking focus is RIGHT THE FUCK ON. And not once was I on a tripod in the kitchen scene, and the actors were moving also. (granted, a couple of the shots go soft but I simply edited around them, which is why it boggles my goddamn mind when I see out of focus shots in movies that cost $40 million and more)

Looking forward to moving on to the rest. Really curious to see how the night scenes are--what they look like and if my focus is as good there. I suspect not, but who knows?

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sucked Into The Vortex of Another Man's Movie

That's an actual vintage ad. Not a joke.

Anyway, I went out and shot the credits sequence for a buddy's movie that's premiering October 29th. I even cut them, masked out what needed to be masked out(which involved creating clean plates by cloning out what shouldn't be there), and gave them to him.

Problem is, he showed me the other clips that were playing between these credit shots and some of them are ROUGH. Like, one shot is a wide of a plane flying in and hitting a building in the inner harbor as shit is on fire and all. Beginning of the zombie apocalypse.

I ask him what's up with the shot--is it rough? He says he had a guy working on it, but the guy just did that much and hasn't responded in like a month. I tell him I'll take a pass at trying to fix it.

I spend a couple of days making it better. Can't do all that I want because I'm working from a flat movie, not the After Effects file. The plane is embedded, and as it flies in the whole screen shakes and blurs. Trying to track things as it crosses and everything goes blurry/shaky--way beyond the pay-grade and time-crunch I'm on here.

So I make the plane hit look better. As is, the plane just hit and there was an explosion. That's it. And unfortunately the dude used 100% opacity on all the explosions in the scene so they don't look too realistic.

I added a ton of particles raining down from the explosion--like 9 layers of them at different speeds and sizes. I find a hi-res shot of a plane and take off pieces, animate them as if some bigger parts survived the explosion.

There was a boat on fire in the scene. Dude made the flames too big--they don't look great. Also only did one layer. I added some more layers of smaller flames, and also a reflection in the water.

Did a bunch of other shit to the shot. It's definitely better now. Not amazing, but better.

Then there's a shot of a zombie with regular eyes. I fix that. At least that's easy.

There's a shot of some swat guys in an alley who appear to be pretending to shoot guns but they're not. So I guess I'm gonna work on that next.

Then fuck it, I'm back to my wrap. I don't have this kind of time to devote to other people's projects, even good friends.


Hey, did ya see my book is out? Do me a HUGE favor and go leave like a 3 sentence review. Pretend you read the book and liked it. Don't say you know me.

Seriously, reviews are important. If you have something on Amazon, I'll gladly return the favor. You can do it here by clicking on the Amazon logo:

Am gonna try to do a signing at a local bookstore.

Getting ready to go out of town next week for work for a few days, then back for some medical bullshit I don't wanna do.

I was supposed to have seen this movie already. Won't go into it. Cool that Drew Struzan still does stuff when he's interested.

Watched Wyrmwood Road of the Dead--pretty entertaining movie, I must say. Them Aussies are crazy...(and Brett was asking about where my crew was at Monstermania, you fucking losers who didn't go)

Watched Tremors 5. Not terrible. And surprisingly I thought the CGI was pretty well done for most of the movie. But still, absolutely nothing new is brought to the table.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Weekend at Monstermania

This is me with my buddy Dom who reps a bunch of actors. Here's one, it's Bernie from Weekend At Bernie's. (Terry Kiser)

Went up Saturday, and was met right away by friends who were WASTED. It was like 1pm.

Wandered around, wished I'd had some of my books because I could have sold 50 of them, and chatted with a bunch of people I hadn't seen in a while.

It was a fairly crowded show for a MD one. Matthew Lillard had a huge line, biggest of the con. Dom and his people were so busy I didn't even get in to say hi until they closed the celebrity room.

Grabbed a bite to eat with a buddy Perkins, then came back and had a special brownie. Went downstairs and saw a little of Alan Howarth's live concert(he's another of Dom's clients). Dude was impressive--I just figured he'd play keyboards along with his music, but he started with keyboard then went in to guitar on some songs--he was jamming like a 21 year old in a band.

Seemed to have a lot of fun, and it was a packed house.

Everybody crashed early--it was me, Dom and Brett as the last ones to go to bed in a con. I think I have to start going on Friday, because everybody seems partied out by Saturday.

On Sunday I went down and chatted with Dom and his crew a bit. He's really got the coolest clients--don't think I've met any of them who are assholes. Alan was very talkative, answering all my questions about Carpenter. Told some interesting stories too involving helicopters and Carpenter.

Came home to work on that credit sequence for my buddy's movie(did I mention that?) I can't remember shit anymore.

Right after my nightmare 3 day shoot I had told a buddy I'd come over and shoot his credit sequence for him. So I did, even though I felt terrible.

We melted a zombie. It was a cool gelatin with bones inside zombie, and he had a heat gun. I thought it would take like 3 hours. It took like 8.

Then I get home and he's hoping maybe I can CUT the credit sequence. No way. No time. I tell him I'll do some of the heavy lifting(speeding up all the sequences by like 95% and removing my friends hand/heat gun from the videos by making clean plates from frames where it's not in the shot).

Gotta try to finish it this week, so I can get to the wrap. I'm going out of town to Phoenix next week, then back for something terrible. Maybe I'll talk about it, but who knows?

But hey, the book's out and they shipped me my copies like 10 days early.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Stuff. In General.

Finished the shoot. Almost killed me. Toughest 3 days I may have ever had, may have even topped that last auction I did that I said was the most miserable ever.

More on all that some other time.

The Halloween book is done, and out. This should get you there if you wanna see the options.

The print book isn't on Amazon yet(even though it was last night) because Amazon's combining the Kindle with the print in one listing.

They kept turning my book down and then I called them at like 2am--they have 24 hour assistance, can ya believe that?--and I sort of went ballistic. Every time the lady said something it was one of their out-of-the-manual responses, and I'd had enough of those. I shot them down and re-iterated what I said last time I talked to a rep, which is: "You sent me the fucking proof of the book. It looks great. Nothing goes off the page. Why do you keep failing it now when all I did was lighten a couple of images?"

She finally said she'd have the techs get back to me with the exact page numbers that were failing. Guess what? They didn't come back with any pages that failed, they just passed it. No shit, Sherlock, because it's all okay.

Now if only I had some money to order some copies to sell to my friends for cheap. But I am stone cold broke after the T-tory weekend.

Speaking of broke, I make my once-a-year pilgrimage to that horror con and I gotta figure out how to pay for my hotel room and entry in. Yeah, I'm that strapped right now.

Also, sounds like we're gonna get super-fucked with a hurricane on Sunday. Good times.


Anyone watching Project Greenlight? I've watched it every year since it started way back when. How is it that they keep getting such incompetent douchebags as directors?

I mean, what's more important--the show or the movie they're making? Because if it's the show, then I get it. It adds a lot of drama to put an idiot in. But I would think it's the movie, because they don't air any past seasons of Greenlight, or put them on dvd so where's the revenue?

And this guy they got now--not only has he not impressed me as a writer or director(but they all fawn over him as super-talented), but he seems completely unwilling to compromise on anything.

Making a movie is all about compromise. He seems incapable of it, and for that I hope he fails miserably.

Call me petty. If I was on that show it would be the most boring show of all time. Because I'd try for things, but I understand the fundamentals.

Like, first he really wants to shoot on film. Everybody tells him it's going to be impossible because of their budget, but he just keeps on pushing.

Then they're location scouting and he's presented with a bunch of giant mansions he can shoot in, but none of them are perfect. The producer finally says "Gun to your head, which one would you pick?" and he says "None of them."

What a fucking ass. You're being given 3 million dollars and the opportunity of a lifetime. MAKE IT WORK.

Christ man. It's demoralizing seeing assholes like this being given chances they don't deserve. It would be one thing if his footage blew you away, but it's pretty average. He's not the second coming of Fincher or anything.