Thursday, August 30, 2007

Athena Costume

From kathleen as a...

Kathleen tried on her Athena pieces today. They need a bit of fitting yet -- she's going to play with them at home. My stress level has plummeted. It's much easier to be me.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pod Under Construction

I have no idea how we're going to actually transport this thing of course! This is the basic look of the downed pod...

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Insurance and Contracts

Today's big missions are to get insurance and contracts. And perhaps unitards too. I gotta see.

Here's an interesting article about the return of mom-and-pop video stores "Blockbuster and Movie Gallery (which now owns Hollywood Video) together have closed nearly 800 stores out of 10,000 over the last year and a half."
That does not necessarily help us though. Blockbuster bought our first title Pandora Machine -- about 4800 units at $7 a piece. And although that wasn't a giant sale even then, it was nice to have them pick us up. The mom-and-pop stores don't tend to buy our kinds of movies.
But we'll see.

We are entirely cast on Angry Planet. At least, we're cast for the first weekend of shooting! Greg Bodine will play "Cub".

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Migs Goggles

Here's the rebreather and goggles for Migs.

At the bottom is the mini-pods which deliver the alien "devices" to the planet.

Happy shark!

I think we need a bigger boat.

Speak To Me/Breathe

I'm seriously considering doing all our editing and "final-ing" on PC's. The main factor is that we can move quickly between Adobe Premiere and Adobe After Effects simply by copying and pasting.

We've figured that we pretty much have to final in After Effects because of our new bible. We seem to be mostly using Blender 3d (as our 3d application) on PC's.

So, to avoid using (and buying) Automatic Duck, we'll just use Premiere on a PC for basic editing.

The other issue I have with Final Cut is that to edit .mxf files we have to use a fairly advanced version -- 5.5.1 or higher (I think). And not just any Mac can run that -- certainly not my Mac Mini or the old Mac laptop we seem to now have in our edit suite (it's a long story, it involves light sabers and babies and voiceover demos). With Premiere we can edit (albeit with possible slow results) on virtually any reasonably modern machine.

Also, you realize that it's nigh on impossible for us to originally import the P2 cards onto a Mac. Well, we can do it (using that old laptop we now seem to have) but we can't view it on that laptop at all (and Panasonic, in their infinite wisdom, has made it so the software for viewing P2 files is free on a PC.)

So unless we have an editor who's going to work from home and only has a Mac, I figure why not just go PC? I've certainly edited an entire feature on Premiere before -- and that was LONG before the process was stabilized.

Is there a catch? Yes -- we need a program called Raylight in order to create .avi files from the original .mxf files. The most recent versions of Final Cut can import .mxf files all by itself -- but we won't be able to export them to After Effects, so we'd have to get Raylight for the Mac and make .mov files to use in FCP and AE anyway (if we were insisting on editing on Macs). Feh. I wish all this stuff would just freakin' work.
Does anyone have any opinion on this? Or have I found myself in the lonely position of the cutting edge on this technology?

Brian, who needs a web page so his name will appear in blue on my blog, has made us rebreathers and another gun with a sighting device. We're gonna shoot a buncha people getting dead this weekend. I'm really happy with these props, they're going to look so nice on camera.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Somebody is very sleepy

Kathleen Kwan Keine Kino

Here is a well - lit Kathleen in an orange and very android-esque wig. And boots. Don't forget the boots!

Creating the World

We have 7 days until the beginning of principal photography on Angry Planet.

If you want to know who are the people these malware and spyware companies victimize by confusing people and having them click on the wrong things, it's my parents. For someone who was familiar with (if not brought up with) computers like me, it seems kind of appalling that they would be fooled by mis-typing the URL and getting "" instead of "" and thinking that mapquest changed its interface. But then again, convincing people that the address bar is not the search bar can be a herculean task unto itself.

Yesterday Maduka and I worked out the basics of the first "meeting" between Athena and the Marshals (which is not the name of a mid-80's cover band.)

We're still missing a Cub, a Stone, and a Migs. We're waiting on people (ahem) to make decisions. Or even, in some cases, to call me back.

We shoot in 7 days. Did I mention that?

And now I'm seriously considering editing entirely on PC's. We need to final in AfterEffects 7 Pro (or higher) and it's easier to get from Premiere to AE than to get from Final Cut to AE.

Oh look! Now we are down one more actor. Feh. OK, we'll get someone much better!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Still Life Lightsabers with Boots and Wig

Maduka is back from visiting his sister in Geneva. He brought me these chocolates!

Super Yum!

And here's some stuff for Kathleen to try on. Boots, wig, lightsabers, and belt.

We're losing actors left and right, just trying to stave off the bleeding!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


A. Today I learned that burning costumes:
1. stinks
2. leaves nice scorch marks.

B. We also got our thigh holsters. It looks like they'll work.

C. We also might lose two more actors.

D. I got my renewed passport today. Took about two months to get it. Now if I have to leave the country I can. I wish I had one of those diplomatic passports that George Bush has.

E. From "Directing Actors" by Judith Weston: "More effective than asking actors to "underplay" would be to suggest "going against the lines," i.e., an opposite. If you wnt the performance "heightened," try using language that suggests digging deeper rather than pushing harder. Instead of asking for "more tension" or "more build," ask for a stronger choice and more listening. Instead of "bigger" you probably mean "more free." Instead of "take it down" you probably mean "Stay honest. Keep it simple."

Metering my lightsaber

At 10 feet I'm only getting a 2.0 on the spot meter at 100 ISO/24fps. Obviously we're going to have to party down with some post visual effects to add to the light saber.

Note that this actual picture was taken with more like 400 or 800 ISO.

Also note that... oh dang. I forgot...

Monday, August 20, 2007

I am Surrounded By Genius

Like one of God's ministering angels, Sharon Fogarty descends upon the earth to deliver the Word. I've seen almost every play she's put on since about 2000.

"Portrait of the Artist as a Dumb Blonde" playing now at Theatresource not only has the best title of any show I've ever seen, it's also beautiful and transcendent. I'm a little embarrassed that she would write and perform a show about all the secret things that I, and only I, have ever felt and never told anyone about. Or wait, no, the entire audience feels she's made a play just for them. Individually.
I love Sharon. It's OK. I admit it. I want to have her baby.
And she looks good blonde.
Hope Garland was in the show and she sang. I thought "I didn't know Hope could sing." She sang like musical theater was her day job. She can dance, she can act, she can sing. And she's a hysterical therapist.
From Hope

She also has the most wonderful haunting eyes. If you want to see more Hope go back and watch my cinematography reel. She's all over it.

Diana and Skeletal Ships

From Diana Ferrent...

Diana came in today (pronounced "dee-ahn-ah") to show her fabulous blue wig and some clothes. The blue of that dress is much like the Pre-Raphaelite stuff we're looking at. I think we may just go with some pieces of cloth wrapped like a sarong and a "wrap" (like the paintings)and her regular hair for Maleyna. But as Charlotte she would go with the blue wig. As Athena playing Charlotte we might go with the white dress or perhaps something more flow-ey and diaphanous.

She has kinda sheepy-shoes. I don't think we'll use them, but they certainly are mighty amusing. Oddly enough, she's on her way to Burning Man this week, so she had these clothes all ready! ;-)

The beautiful and amazing Mike Kessell is working on the crashed pod. Here it is (in skeletal form). This is going to look tres fabulous when it's done.
It would be cool if we could get some rocket engines (or just one rocket engine maybe) on the back of it... all burned out and such from the entry into the atmosphere.

Athena pops out from behind the thing, so we only need to "skin" one side of it.

I just hope it doesn't rain that day! Michael has a fantasy that we'll waterproof the skin with latex paint. Right now we're thinking "cardboard" as the skin. I know.

Did I mention we're hoping it doesn't rain?
We also got our first lightsaber today. First we borrowed one from Carrie and Peter (who are so pregnant that they're a day late. But then I got my first one in the mail. They're bigger and heavier than I thought. I mean, they're big for my hands, and we need to have Kathleen swing 'em around! She ain't all that big! ;-) But it'll all work out.
More casting tomorrow...

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Mission: Space

I barely even started the storyboards. Every time I've tried to learn to draw by reading a book on the subject, the book says to try drawing "from life". Well if I'm actually going to put subjects in a pose in real life, then I may as well just make a movie, no?

Another thing I'm trying to do it to find the nearest hospitals to our locations. Hospitals with emergency rooms. You'd think that if you typed "Nearest hospital emergency room to Augusta, NJ" into Google you'd get some very clear information. Google does map out some hospitals for you, or at least businesses which have the word "hospital" in them. But most of them are veterinary hospitals, and in no case is it really clear if there's an emergency room. So I'm going to make some (egads!) phone calls tomorrow.

Brian made this rockin' new rifle for us. I'm pleasantly disturbed by the bits of red -- is that rust, or blood? And he made other modifications and enhancements to the gun's detail. The camera, of course, will never see them. But we'll feel them, and that's more important. We realized that we have to be able to add straps to the weapons -- so Brian's putting attachments on the guns (which you can see in this picture) and we're going to make some bandoleers.

At the end of our last shoot we managed to lose the only piece of audio gear I've ever lost on any shoot. We were shooting at my dad's house so I'm certain that it's somewhere in the house, but it is the transmitter to a block 23 Lectro 411 system. I'm thinking about spending the $1200 and finally replacing it with a Lectro SM transmitter, which is cool and small and runs on a rechargeable AA.

We've re-cast the part of Stahl, but we did it with the actor who was playing Cub. So now we're re-casting Cub. And we managed to get the location we wanted, although for many fewer days than we wanted and for many more dollars than we wanted (although still 1/10 of their "book" rate.)

It's raining today. I really don't want it to rain when we're shooting our exteriors. Oof!

OK, so it's back to drawing stick figure pictures of people. . .

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Aesthetics Day

I keep thinking of this image for Maleyna in Angry Planet. Actually, we have these square lights which are much like the light behind this figure in Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Proserpine.

The physical performance of Sigourney Weaver in Alien Resurrection has some merit as far as our portrayal of androids. I wish I could find the clip where Call first meets Ripley when she breaks into Ripley's cell.

Tomorrow I have to storyboard the robot fight. It would help if I could actually draw. I just finished re-scheduling the entire shoot -- making up for some locations difficulties and some casting difficulties. I got no producer around here and the writer is doing the "Fringe" festival or some such thing -- apparently it involves something called a "play".
Why would you possibly want to be in a play when you could be in a film?
But do note that Mac seems to only be writing horror and robot plays lately.
Now that I'm thinking of it, maybe I just dig chicks in blue dresses. Pre-Raphaelite chicks.*

*Wouldn't you think the name of a school with as clunky a name as "Pre-Raphaelite" just wouldn't work?

Pride and Prejudice

I've seen this picture three times: (on HBO, of course) and it has an excellent screenplay and is really well directed.
Now that I look it up it seems to have won a bunch of awards for screenplay adaptation. Without doubt the story itself is pretty strong to start with, but I feel they did a really good job with it. Deborah Muggach (obviously her real name) wrote the screenplay but IMDB credits Emma Thomson with "additional dialog uncredited". Perhaps I just somehow remained oblivious to this movie when it was in theaters.
It's directed by someone named Joe Wright who's done a lot of (presumably British) TV stuff. There are these nice Altman-style pushes (zooms really) which I've only just noticed this (3rd) time seeing it. They might have mostly been added in post. And the cast is terrific too. I prefer the right side of Keira Knightly's face. In much of the movie however they seemed to prefer a dead-on profile of her left side.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Think BEFORE You Post

Man, I just love this kind of propaganda! It's better than "Your Brain on Drugs".

I wrote a testimonial for my lens adapter:

The Letus35 Flip is an elegant adapter for using 35mm lenses on a video-format camera. The picture has more to it than just the decreased depth-of-field of shooting a larger format than a video chip. There is a particular "look" which it achieves lending the image a kind of silky beauty. My favorite lenses with it so far have been the Canon S.S.C. lenses (especially the 50mm f1.4, and the 85mm 1.8) because of the ease of adjusting the f-stops completely manually but also because of the beautiful image they create with the Letus35.

This is actually called Hip-Hopopotamus vs. The Rhymenocerous

A big mess

Today's a hard day. The producer is going on vacation for 10 days, we begin principal photography in two weeks, the National Park Service wants $250/day, plus $50/hour, plus a $100 application fee, our light sabers aren't coming for another week, and we just "lost" a location. Feh.
Update! We just lost a lead actor. Wa-hoo! Who doesn't love film-making?
More nuts please!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Costuming up

Lindsay Roberts. We need to put a thigh holster on her. The picture below is actually a link to her entire costume set.
0701 Lindsay costume notions

Brian (who, if he ever gets a website, will have his name hypertexted) originally thought of the idea of just cutting apart this thigh holster. Lindsay suggested the same thing today. It turns out to be easier than we thought -- we don't have to add another piece to it to make it work. Yay!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Meet Your Marker

We need markers -- mostly for the purpose of camera tracking but also so that we have a little indicator of where force fields go. I thought there would just be some markers out there in the wilderness of Necrosis 6. Brian has drawn this. I think a pair of them would make excellent markers. (Imagine it about 3 feet tall.)

Mac keeps acting surprised that we're shooting in two weeks. He keeps saying "but do you have any money?" I keep telling him that we're making the movie for $1.98 and half a bag of potato chips. Somehow he doesn't believe me. Perhaps that's because in his contract there are provisions for him getting paid if we should get outside financing and he dreams of quitting his day job. Poor fellow, he was hoping to ride our coattails on the way to fortune? He's just going to follow us down the rabbit hole only to find a bottle labeled "Drink Me".
Which is better than getting cut on the mirror on the way through.

More "Do Not Want"

So more "Things I Don't Agree With What Are Writ In Books". Although this is technically from a forum, it's also in a book.

From Stu Maschwitz' forum:

"Shooting a normal exposure and blowing out in post is advantageous in a number of ways.

It gives you the option to change your mind later.

It will let you tint the footage without revealing that you're missing detail in the highs.

It lets you control the nature of the roll-off into blowing-out, i.e. design your own "shoulder" with Curves.

It will facilitate transfer to film, where having extra highlight detail means mapping that detail up into the natural shoulder of the print stock."

Now it's not that I don't agree with Stu about this. There's a lot of merit in it. But the problem we have with that advice is that we tend to put the backlight source in the frame. The source is going to wipe out to 110%. So we're going to have levels which go all the way to the top and we won't be able to play with the shoulder of the light source. This is an issue -- but it would be an issue with film too.

I dunno. What. To. Do?

Monday, August 13, 2007

Zombie Hag

Mac wrote in a zombie hag for Angry Planet so here's Brian Schiavo's production sketch of one.
We're still looking for an RV or a trailer or something which has a bathroom and in which people can rest when we're shooting in our rock quarry.
I would love some very long rails for our cheap little dolly. I wonder what Chance is using? PVC pipe?
Speaking of Chance, I am one of the privileged few who's seen dailies from Interplanetary. And it really looks amazing.

You know what I need? A
camera kit consisting of a can of compressed air, one of those little hand-blowing air thingies (for using directly on the lens), a screwdriver, q-tips, and a micro-fibre cloth. I should also get a couple UV filters to protect lenses and maybe an ND filter.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Augusta NJ

Went to Augusta NJ today to see our location for the bulk of Necrosis 6.

That's before. Now this is after:

Here's the whole bunch of pictures:
Location Scout Augusta NJ

Saturday, August 11, 2007

What is Blake All About?

Blake is the Angry Planet "razorgirl". She's Terran, heavily modified, though. Major portions of her skeleton have been replaced with carbon fiber endoskeleton sections. Her eyes have been replaced with very expensive biomech sensors, allowing her to see far beyond the normal human spectrum of light into ultraviolet and infrared. The procedures to turn her into this high-tech marvel were extraordinarily painful.

In order to pay for these procedures she had signed up for Terran Special Forces back before the war when they were still taking "biologics" in. TSF did the mods on her over a period of two years. Now Blake is faster than any non-modded human, she is stronger than all but the strongest humans, she can survive for upwards of 10 minutes in the vacuum of space.
In the TSF Blake was part of a ship-to-ship assault unit. This was very exotic and specialized stuff. They would target Xik cruisers and board them, killing all the Xik before they had a chance to scuttle. This is the highest end combat work in all of Terran Forces.
The assault of Hellcat Prime however -- that was a problem. The mission was a suicide mission which the morons at Terran High Command had "planned". Normally her unit wouldn't go on an air-drop down to a dirt planet but that's what they were told to do and they did it. The 9 member team was almost immediately wiped out by the massive Xik army on the surface. Blake stole aboard a landing boat which had just dumped its cargo of infantry and was returning to it's mothership in orbit.
Just as the landing boat arrived at its troop carrier mothership and opened it's doors in order for another group of soldiers to board, a Xik surface-to-space missile penetrated the hull of the mothership, blowing he air seals. Everyone aboard died almost instantaneously.
Blake sealed the landing boat and launched. She piloted away from Hellcat Prime and was picked up while floating though the outer reaches of the Hellcat system about two weeks later by a Terran Special Forces unit which had survived the Hellcat Prime assault. They were all "artificials" -- androids. (As it turned out, only androids survived the Hellcat Prime operation.)
Blake was immediately court martialed and sentenced to life imprisonment on Necrosis 6.
She's not at all like the low-level mud drek soldiers she's stuck with here. She's far more sophisticated. They're barely combat capable. She can do things these morons couldn't even dream of.
It's not that she doesn't respect Stahl. He's a good officer. And although she's not sure, she suspects that the reason he's here is that he refused to send his company down to Hellcat Prime. But he's clearly partly insane -- it could be the device, or he could have started that way. Her device doesn't affect her too much. It's probably all the mods she'd had -- the device just doesn't know what to do. But she doesn't let anyone know.
Terran Special Forces is all androids now. They don't even use razorgirls like Blake anymore. . .

Thursday, August 09, 2007

A German Sale...

... just not ours. This is Jim Mickle's Mulberry Street. Coming out in Germany in September.

Jim didn't say whether I could blog about this or not so... I will.

My big question is how do I get Jim to work on my next movie?

"The neighborhood
is changing"

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Scanner

Maduka will be playing Driggs in Angry Planet. And Brian Schiavo made this scanner for him.
This is very much not the direction I originally had in my head for how the scanner should be. But I think this is a much better idea than mine and keeps much more with the idea of this being a low-tech destroyed world where the inhabitants get by with what they can do. Tres fantastique!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Houston, We Have a Location

We have to shoot a whole bunch of days here. This is Lightbox New York.

Here's some detail outside the windows. It's just industrial and more windows.

The space can do a bunch of different things. This is outside the "main" door.

There's a production office. It might end up being our "saloon". Either way, it's a good place to keep the computer(s) and have lunch.

We can even shoot on the roof.

I'm thinking this could work for Hellcat Prime. We'll shoot that with the principals at lunch or something. Oh, why would we do that? Everybody's gotta have lunch! (Including me!)

The space has a few different "looks" which we could use as a variety of inside sections of the fallout shelter and "Main Street".

We got a really good feeling from Ray, who manages the place and showed us around.