Monday, December 31, 2007

The Barber of Pandora

OK, so in my version of events leading up to "0701 Angry Planet" (a/k/a Solar Vengeance) goes like this:

Laura said she wanted to make a Sci-Fi movie based on Sweeny Todd.

I said I wanted to make a movie based on a Muse video.

Maduka said that Sweeney Todd was basically The Count of Monte Christo story-structure-wise.

So Laura wrote a story, incorporating her idea of the pharma-patch into a two-page treatment. I wrote "scene one" and all that got handed off to Mac Rogers who wrote the script. He handed it back to me (without my scene one which I then immediately inserted back into the script) and I made the ending more evil (and gave the Marshals names... ahem) and it went back to Mac and back to me and then back to Mac after Laura gave her notes.

Now... I hadn't actually seen Sweeney Todd until last night (and it was the movie version). We put a straight razor in Angry Planet. I just hadn't thought about that. I think that Mac put the straight razor in... Mac -- were you thinking Sweeney when you wrote "0701"?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Aesthetic ideas

Here is an aesthetic notion for a color scheme for Brian Schiavo. He still doesn't have a website but since he's busy working on a model and a screenplay I won't bug him about it.

In any case, I like these colors. I think we should make a movie that looks like that.

And this is a bronze techno-woman. I don't know what that's for. Other than perhaps to show what a bronze woman looks like.

Our First (Good) Review(s)

From Video Business:

"Cobbling together plot elements from Blade Runner, The Fifth Element and Underworld, this low-budget sci-fi/action picture concerns a woman with chameleonic powers who is recruited by aliens to become a secret weapon in their war against another race. The plot isn’t exactly lucid, but Millennium succeeds on the strength of its flashy, stylish imagery and intriguing characterizations. Director/co-scripter Andrew Bellware keeps the proceedings moving along at a steady pace, so viewers won’t dote on the story line and instead enjoy the flow of action—and the female cast members’ form-fitting outfits.
Shelf Talk: Though Xena’s Ted Raimi is the only “name” here, the film should attract sci-fi fans and gamers looking for something outside of the Hollywood mainstream. It also deserves a push to aficionados of babe-centric fantasy series (Underworld, Resident Evil)."

And from BumsCorner:

"The best part of the movie for me is the Lucretia character. Olja Hrustic is a looker who plays the ages-old android with a cool, cynical detachment and air of mystery and superiority over everyone else. Lucretia's most startling feature is a long, metallic tentacle that springs from I-don't-know-where and can either mess you up, suck your life force, or just screw around with you. That, in addition to a cool chain-mail headdress and tight green bodysuit, helps to make Lucretia one of the most enjoyable visual aspects of the film."

I also thought it was interesting that the reviewer saw the Alice in Wonderland-ness of the movie (which is what I kept saying about Clare's part when we were shooting it.)

I'm impressed with POP Cinema and their PR. We could actually put together a press kit out of this. Hmm...

Just as a reminder:

And our first (we think) Japanese Review:


Saturday, December 29, 2007

Robots Getting Better

You might need to click on the big "Q" once or twice and then the play arrow to see the video. Basically you're looking at the first few seconds and the last few seconds -- ignore the middle part. And yes, as Blair starts running toward camera we're not using 'till the robot almost fills the frame. What we're thinking now is that the robot at the top of this should be slowed down somewhat. I suspect that means we have to re-animate in 3D, but once we do that and re-render the composite should work just the same.
We'll see.

Dangerous Days

I'm still ploughing through the 5 DVD set.

Friday, December 28, 2007

French Sci Fi

Here's my general guideline for a screenplay. Obviously it's simplistic, but it's meant for humorous effect. That being said, the script better follow all this:

97 pages. Tension in every scene. The theme is present in every scene. Who people are is what they do. 12 jump scares. 6 or 7 action scenes.


Aesthetically the French are kicking our asses at Science Fiction right now. Story-wise we can still generally hold our own.

Here are a bunch of stills from Enki Bilal's "Immortel Ad Vitam". Oh, and a bunny.


This blog has neither enough elephants or naked women. For that, I apologize. I will try to rectify.


So I'm coming up with some numbers. First of all -- how much do I really need to live? We'll start with some assumptions. Let's pretend that I can get an apartment for $900/month. That means a studio in Bay Ridge or a share in a closer part of Brooklyn or Jersey City. It might break down like this:

Fixed costs (per month)
$900 rent
$200 electric/cable/web/gas
$100 cell phone
$120 MTA card, trains & cab
$175 rent for edit suite/office
$30 Samplitude (I actually rent the software)
$120 Pharmacy expendibles (medicines and toothpaste and such)
= $1645/month

Obviously that doesn't include optional items like food and clothing and medical care and insurance of any kind.

Now to use the old formula that rent should be 1/4 of one's pre-tax income, and if I'm paying $10,400 (per year) in rent then the income minimum pre-tax should be $43,200 a year. That's a bit high actually, that old formula was from the days when rents were low and food was expensive.
I suspect one is doing quite well to do 1/3 of one's pre-tax income. Not "well" as in sippin' champagne and eating caviar, but... anyway... That would mean a pre-tax income of $32,400 as "survival" level income for living in New York with a movie production startup company.


Looking at the other side of the equation: where does this money come from? We will assume a $100,000 grossing picture. We're making this assumption as an educated guess even though we've only made a $56K picture up until now. But that's what we've been "hearing" is the going rate out there (not, incidentally, from our own reps.)

Out of that 100K comes a 35% commission to the sales reps (well, not really because they won't necessarily get a piece of the North American sale, but let's stay conservative and maybe this will end up including the cost of the creation of "deliverables").

On this imaginary picture, let's say that all "after rep" income is divided equally three ways: 1/3 to the investor(s), 1/3 to a separate production entity (which will likely include Pandora Machine but for the sake of these calculations we won't include Pandora Machine's portion of this separate entity), and 1/3 to me (Pandora Machine):

$100K gross
- $35K sales reps
= $65K which is divided up three ways:

$21,666 to investor(s)
$21,666 to separate entity
$21,666 to Pandora Machine

If we make two of these pictures a year then we're shockingly close to $43,200 a year. That's actually just a coincidence. And what's not figured is the tax situation as it gets a little odd and wonky (and expensive) if one is self-employed. And there are a lot of overhead expenses in having a company too, of course.


The last issue is all about the upside. We could, for instance, end up making a $2M art-house picture and take a large(r) salary from such a venture. One of the genre pictures could break out and get theatrical or some sort of lovely TV deal. That way everyone will make money.

The downside is if we have a couple losing pictures in a row. Then we go cash broke and starving. I don't wanna think about that. So I won't. I'll focus on the middle-ground.

Inciting Subversion of State Authority

C'mon, it's the future already. Why doesn't everyone dress like this?

My brother-in-law sent me home with 10 pounds (estimated) of leftovers.

From Mystery Man, here's a list of non-WGA production companies. We aren't on it. But if you're a writer you might be interested.

My favorite cousin Floyd Potter -- these are pictures from his wedding. Pay no attention to my haircut.
Floyd Potter wedding March 11 1994

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

This is just a test. So much so that I'm not even tagging this post with a label. And this bit of video could disappear at any time. It's a test of the second half of 0701 Solar Vengeance - a garbage mix (just heavy compression on dialog) and the first round of color correction (which might be too dark on computer monitors).

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Morning Among Cats

Merry Christmas.

Here I am in my new Christmas shirt and my new Christmas hat with Jackie the kitty.

My hat has turkeys on it.

Dave Lewis and Jean Lewis on Christmas morning.

More kitty (bowbacked very lazy kitty! ;-).

Sleeping with the Cats

At my sister's for Christmas.

Amused by LOL cats.

What if your wassail is three sheets to the wind?


That's me (Andrew Bellware) and my brother-in-law Dave Lewis.

Then me, my occluded sister (she's always been a bit occluded) and Dave.


Three very bouncy cats to go to sleep to.

Very late on Christmas Eve.


Update: did I say three cats? I think the decimal point was in the wrong place. Boy do they love the air mattress...

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Bowler Hats and Pussycats

Bowler hats are hot.

Also, this isn't my cat, although it looks rather like Pushkin. I can tell it's not Pushkin 'cause Pushkin is on my lap right now. And besides, Pushkin has white back feet!

Been having a devil of a time with Adobe Premiere. It crashes all the time. It won't output an OMF file so I can edit the audio properly. It's a pain in the butt. You can copy and paste directly into After Effects though. That's huge. Everything else? Drives me nuts.

Magic Bullet Looks and Colorista are rockin'. The power masks make it look like we really lit this picture! ;-) And I can apply effects in Premiere and copy the timeline and the same effects come up in After Effects. That's almost worth what a pain in the booty it is otherwise.

Our editor Emi is being very kind to not complain about my decision to use Premiere over Final Cut Pro. But next time we'll use FCP and something like Automatic Duck to get into After Effects (unless we're really 32-bit in FCP, in which case we'll just do complex renders in After Effects and do all our color-correction and Magic Bullet Looks in FCP.)

This still from September 30 amuses me. That's Daryl Boling in the background. James Becton shouting out the slate. Occluded by James is Sarah Doudna. And Don Arrup is foisted by Ben Sulzbach.

Nina Axelrod

Did you know that Nina Axelrod was considered for the part of Rachel in Blade Runner? Here's a still from her screen test. Her father wrote the screenplay for The Manchurian Candidate.

ou learn these things from the 5-DVD "Ultimate" collection of Blade Runner.

You also learn you're a total dork who actually watches all 5 DVD's in the "ultimate" Blade Runner collection. Well, maybe "you" don't learn that. But I learned that... about... um... me.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Alien Ship

Getting closer to having an alien ship, Brian Schiavo is starting to detail the model.

Wondering if we should just shoot it outside with a bluescreen or greenscreen backdrop. I wish I had some bluescreen material, I only have greenscreen...

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Third Act

The whole problem with I Am Legend (and yes, there are spoilers here) is the third act. It actually kinda went to hell.
I have a fix, in case they want to re - shoot it to make it better. Interestingly, this fix may have already happened in the development process because hints of it are in the movie.

OK, so... we have to get Neville's "sacrifice" to make sense.

We don't really get a sense of how obsessive he is about saving the city in the first act. I know we have him talking about that in flashback, but we don't get the sense that's what's driving him today while he's out hunting deer. Actually, that solve is difficult. I'm going to ignore it for now.

Here's a thing. Did you know that the night-seeker on the table had a character name? "Alpha Female". And do you know what the name of the main night-seeker dude who is Neville's nemesis is? "Alpha Male". I think that at some point it really had to be more clear that the reason Alpha Male was going after Neville was because Neville has Alpha Female hostage (even though Neville, of course, doesn't see it that way.)

Also, very briefly, you see just how many people Neville has killed in his quest for the cure. There are pictures of them on his wall. This is a big Moral indicator (and indicator that he must eventually die in order to pay for his sin.)

It would be nice if he learned Alpha Male could actually talk. That's always a cool and super-creepy moment in any film. Anyway:

So at the end -- what if when the three of them made their way down to the lab they found Alpha Female was really cured? As in, she's just like them now? And scared? Well, now you don't have the problem of "Why doesn't Neville just go into the chimney with them, tossing the grenade just before slamming it shut?" problem. And what if it was his blood that cured the night-seekers? And that by letting them attack him they would get the cure which would virally spread through the hive?

I know, it would require a few more lines of dialog and an extra scene or two to re-jigger the plot to go that way, and I certainly don't think that's the only solve. It's just a solve. Neville allows the night-seekers to kill him and in doing so cures them and saves the world. He would then be Legend indeed.


Sometimes I'm stunned by my complete ignorance of things so basic to Western culture as to be part of our visual canon. Lotte Reiniger's Prince Achmed is achingly beautiful. It's a shadow-puppet feature from 1926.

Arguably the first feature - length animated picture, with a distinct art deco style, it is beautiful, erotic, exciting, wonderful -- everything you could ever want in a movie. The figures have expressions... I'm not even too sure how they do it. Your mind. Will be blown. And hey, kids! It's cheaper and safer than taking drugs!

My sister is going to love the creatures in this movie.


Also: I just got the Ultimate Super - Duper Edition* of Blade Runner. I'm going to watch all five versions! Good thing I'm rendering mostly!

*not the official title

Cheapjack Mess!

"Millennium Crisis segued from stymied curiosity to doldrums to grudging small-scale fascination."
Look! It's a cheapjack-CGI-riddled mess of a sci-fi film! My favorite out-of-context pull-quote: "Is art supposed to exist in a vacuum?"
I'm thinking "In space, no one can hear you clean your room."


But wait, seriously, "liberal borrowing" from... Aeon Flux? I can't imagine what he's thinking of. We directly quote Star Wars and Blade Runner -- but Aeon Flux? Really? Really? Didn't Aeon Flux come out after we shot Millennium Crisis? And didn't it suck?*


But then "
It's not a bad movie. Just much in need of improvement." for our movie Pandora Machine from the same site. I don't recall having seen that review before.

*Update: I looked it up actually, Aeon Flux came out a few weeks before we started shooting. And indeed, I saw it. But I can't think of a single thing we would have quoted from it visually or otherwise. Was he just thinking about the tight black uniforms the androids wear? I have no idea...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Henry Steady Review

Henry "Maduka" Steady got a review of his short Ace of Hearts. They actually play a substantial bit of the picture in the review.
Not a great review, but they certainly spend a lot of time with it!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Fortunate Life

First of all, I get a great comment on my Ash/Bishop post (see below) from the writer of "Spoiler Alert". (Man, I feel so dorky. Of course, I did skip school in the 10th grade so I could walk to the movie theater in Menlo Park and see the first showing of Alien. I've never been the same since...)

Then I saw Greg Oliver Bodine in his one-man Christmas Carol. I was positively weepy throughout -- it's such a beautiful and moving Christmas play. (And what an amazing piece of writing. Dickens is clearly furious with anger at the wealthy who blame the poor for their troubles, but he knows better than to make a simple propaganda piece and makes such a beautiful story about people rather than about the general injustice of the Malthusians who scorn the impovershed.)

Plus, my lastest movie keeps getting reviewed. Not always the best reviews, but they spell our names right!

Monday, December 17, 2007

O So Wrong

Retire Trajan is an amusing blog, dedicated to what they believe is the over-use of a particular font. Gosh -- I just love specialists! They're so adorable in how they think things should be done in order to amuse them.
And also, completely wrong. Remember, as Claire Sommer says, "There's no reason to reinvent good design."

Update: now that I've seen this font I know why it's used so much. I'm totally using it for the Pandora Machine logo!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

A Meeting With Chance

It sounds like I should either get $50 or go to jail, but today I had a meeting with Chance. Chance Shirley is making a super tres double-plus cool movie called Interplanetary which I can't wait to see.

I also saw Montserrat Mendez' reading of his screenplay about the Rosenberg trial. It's called "Trial." And it's pretty brilliant. He was looking for notes. I told him what to do. Some simple cuts and a little focus is all that's needed. We could make that picture for $2million with some big name talent in the lead roles (really terrific roles).

Brian Schiavo is making our spaceship! Here is a WIP picture (and a picture of one of his three cats, this one is, appropriately, name "Pandora.")

Saturday, December 15, 2007

To get that music out of your head

Here's a little sumpthin' sumthin' to get all that awful Christmas music they play in all the stores out of your head for a while. The name of the piece is Shchedrik and it's a Ukranian folk song, but you'll recognize the melody as "Carol of the Bells". You'll find this to be the finest version you've ever heard -- it's arranged by the brilliant Nikolai Kachanov and performed by the Russian Chamber Chorus of New York. I recorded them Wednesday night at St. Joseph's on 6th Avenue.

Amusingly, my brother David described my "band" Prague Spring thusly:

"Flock of Seagulls meets New Riders of the Purple Sage
meets10CC meets Enya in Gotham at the end of a poignant episode of Law
and Order."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Upper Montclair

It's been a long day -- and it started yesterday. Recording a concert and suddenly in prep for a fill-in on a feature. Maybe I should start at the beginning:


So my dufus friend Eve who has a masochistic desire to make everything harder than it outta be tricked me into saying "yes" when she asked if I could sub in for another sound mixer for a day on a movie she was producing -- calling me at 3:30pm for a 5am call the next morning.

This is how the day went:

"Answer these questions in your head 1. if I had been an hour later for call, would the van have left without me; 2. have we got our first shot off yet?"

"No. And... no."

"I wrote a text to my producer: 'Have you noticed that on our sets we never have closed rehearsals or anything like that? I guess that's why we get done on time.'"

"Exterior shots. Feels like the temperature is going down even though it's later in the day. Interesting."

"Hail. Huge monster hail. Well, we shot the wide, the reversal wide, and one person's closeup. We ain't getting the other actor's closeup."

"Am warm and cozy inside now. Production, of course, is panicked."

"We're actually doing nothing. Crew is playing on trampoline in back yard. We're lit. Camera's up. Talent is wired for sound. I have a weird profile picture of me. I'm mixing from the stairs in the kitchen. Somehow I intuited that the camera wouldn't be facing in this direction."

"Snow is coming down mightily now outside. We won't be able to go back outside to finish that scene. If only we hadn't waited. We had a full crew at location at 6:30am. A friend of mine said 'So they brought a crew out to location in case they got any shooting done.' And somehow I'm the one with the rep for being sarcastic."

"Done with lunch."

"Yes! There's a shot with no dialog (but where they want wild sound) in the (now) rain! Here's the excellent boom operator Seok Jun Lee and I huddling under our only umbrella. I have to get Seok to work on my next movie before he figures out he could be making money doing this. Wow, even camera doesn't look happy with their Arri 535 out in the rain."


It still takes almost 2 hours to get home 'cause of the sleet and yukkitude.

Anyway, tomorrow I'm back at Solar Vengeance. I gotta look at Act III 'cause I haven't told Emi what a superstar she is for at least two days!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Tonight I recorded the Russian Chamber Chorus of New York at St. Joseph's on 6th Avenue. Catastrophic failure of Metacorder lost all the music 'till intermission.
But at least we got a good version of their "Carol of the Bells".

More Golden Compass

In this post Laini Taylor says that she hates the screenplay of The Golden Compass.

"And, everything felt so rushed and smashed together. There was no space around the important moments. Just this barreling forward, trying to get it done."

I agree completely with that statement.
I think she's right about what's wrong, but wrong about why it's wrong. To me, all those issues are an editing issue (and I seriously doubt the writer/director or the editor had any meaningful say in them whatsoever). For some reason it seems it was decided that a big-budget fantasy epic needed to fall under a particular running time. Dunno why.

In any case it seems that a re-edit would solve the "gobbler" problem she mentions (which is a big plot-driving problem). A re-edit should also make a bigger deal out of the Golden Compass itself (which is interesting because apparently the aleothomiter -- however it's spelled -- was not the "golden compass" until after the book was published) and make Lyra's reading of it a more important plot point. I ain't seen the shooting script, but I understand Weiss' script was better than Stoppard's, so I dunno how much footage is actually out there (technically you'd want to see the script super's notes to see what was shot.) And I have to stop using parentheticals for the rest of the week ('cause I just used up my quota.)

Oh, I see why she's wrong. It turns out Laini Taylor has a horrible, twisted, sick, prejudice against robots. That explains everything right there. Some of the best writers were robots. My robot friends tell me that Hemingway was an early M-Class robot. I believe whatever the robot overlords tell me.
Did I say "overlords"? I meant "protectors."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Jen Thomas Emailed Me

This summary is not available. Please click here to view the post.

New Zoo Review

Anthony found this review of Millennium Crisis. Wow, our distributor is really on it. We're still over a month away from our street date.

"DIrector Andrew Bellware gets points for having the guts to try a sprawling science fiction epic on an obviously impoverished budget, and its a shame Millennium Crisis doesn't work better than it does."

And the review even comes with a pull-quote!
"I didn't feel compelled to hurl a brick at the television." [Emphasis added.]

From now on just call me Andrew "Points for Guts" Bellware.

1.4 million

There are 1.4 million band profiles on

And I ever wondered why I couldn't get a record contract?

Montseratt Mendez is working on a screenplay for us. I told him and Mac Rogers that Pandora Machine will be shooting a movie in March and it's all a matter of who gets me a screenplay first. And I told them they weren't the only ones writing screenplays...

Hopefully that'll work.

I'm also using a program called Logmein to control my computers. It seems to work pretty well and it's free (for up to 5 computers).

Are you very bored? Do you like waaaaaaay too much information? I mean detailed data about the filmmaking business (with footnotes) and long essays on Wittgenstein? Do you? Well this is just a bit you'd get from reading the fascinating and sometimes complicatedly maddening Mr. Kronmeyer's blog:

"[Film studios tend to] adopt a small stable of transacting partners, perceived to be successful, or at least consistent. “Film distributors exhibit a strong tendency to contract repeatedly with the same sets of principals. They also allocate more resources to the films produced by those with whom they have had prior interactions – approving larger production budgets, marketing these films more heavily and scheduling them on more attractive release dates.”

One might think such a course or pattern of dealings only could be based on shared economic success. The fact of the matter, though, is “these films actually perform worse at the box office. Distributors therefore would almost certainly benefit form allocating their resources more evenly across exchange partners,” Sorenson, O. & Waguespack, D., Social Structure and Exchange: Self-Confirming Dynamics in Hollywood 2 (Sep’t 7, 2005)."

That's a big argument for diversity, ain't it? I think Mitchell calls that "F your friends."

There's a whole label category called "Pictures of Drew" on this blog (this "marvelous blog" remember). Now I'm feeling I have to fulfill the label by having more pictures of the least-photogenic person I photograph.
The color of the fluorescent lights on the subway is pretty spectacular. Camera phones struggle and put all the weight of decades of chip design into balancing skin tones, but the green still smashes through. Yes!

I think I should make a feature with this color scheme (perhaps with more ruby-red added.)

Monday, December 10, 2007

Start Date

We're going to shoot another picture starting on March 1, 2008.

More information forthcoming.

No CG part One!

As I've mentioned earlier, the purpose of making movies is to impress my friends. To impress Chance Shirley we're going to try to do some old-school visual effects work. For a series of shots in Solar Vengeance we're attempting to use actual real models that Brian Schiavo is making.
I grew up fantasizing about having spaceship models -- I was never that good at building them. But now I have Brian so I get all the cool "look at this model" experience without having glue everywhere and parts of the models stuck in my hair (again.)
Here is the basic shape of the alien cargo ship model. It's a little more than a meter long.
And here is the fuselage (unfinished and undetailed, of course).
We're going to have to shoot with a very deep focus, and overcranked. So that means a lot of light. Now all those complaints I remember reading in Starlog and Cinefex by effects artists about the heat from the lighting melting the models is making sense...

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Michael Kessell

Art Director Michael Kessel has a new website. I thought I'd link to this because it amuses me.

Running the Blade

I've noticed a distinct lack of ninja Yakuza in today's cinematic offerings. Hopefully this movie, Machine Girl, will help rectify that situation.

Bill Martell blogs about logical problems with Blade Runner (long post, keep going down). I don't agree with most of them but it's amusing nonetheless.

What's new with the extended special final Blade Runner? This article goes over things and touches on the weirdness of how nobody recognizes the replicants even though the cops have pictures of the replicants.

Today am rendering robot shot 8 of 30.

Ash Not Bishop



So I saw the wonderful show Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind by the New York Neo-Futurists. They were doing their "best of 2007" show -- 30 plays in 60 minutes. Of of the plays was called Spoiler Alert which gave the spoilers to a bunch of movies and books with the refrain "and Rosebud was his sled."
The part which has driven audiences almost into open revolt is when the singer gives away the end of the last Harry Potter novel.
My problem was that amongst lines about how Bruce Willis' character was dead in The Sixth Sense and the surprise in The Crying Game, was the line "Bishop was an android".
Yes, Bishop was an android but he was the android in Aliens, not Alien. The android in Alien was Ash. The fact that Ash was an android and was helping the alien all along is a big 3rd act surprise in Alien (and if you I just ruined the movie for you and you're reading this blog there is nothing we can do to help you). The fact that Bishop was an android in the sequel Aliens is an early 2nd act reveal and a red herring - it's not a spoiler and you learn he's an android almost as soon as you meet him.
This is, of course, the sort of thing which drives me nuts. It activates some Asperger's part of my brain and sends it into high gear. It's like saying "There's a special providence in the fall of a sparrow" is from Macbeth.
I tried to use proper channels to see to it that the line was changed. Apparently, I'm the only one who cares.