Sunday, March 30, 2008

Shooting a Ship

So a dream of mine since I was 8 years old came true today. I shot a miniature model of a spaceship.

It is simply impossible to show, in a still, what the model will look like when moving. Here we're getting a plate of the model.

I think once we composite in the planet, the starfield, and a couple suns, we should be in good shape.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

I Can Has Spaceship?

Brian finished up the spaceship for Solar Vengeance. It's hard to see from this picture. It looks fantastic though. Having a model like this has been my dream since I was like... 8 years old.

My feeling right now is that I'm going to wear all black and manipulate the thing past the camera by hand and then rotoscope myself out of the picture and luma-key some stars and planet in. We'll see.

Also today: Brian and I went to visit the 1896 today. We met Mike, a really nice guy who showed us all around. It's a fantastic location. We, of course, can only afford about 1/10th their normal rate but we hope to talk them down a decimal point by telling them that
  • 1. we're really nice
  • 2. we don't use very much electricity (we can't pull more than 12 amps -- with all laptops, lights, and rechargers on) and
  • 3. we'll be very flexible with our schedule -- if they need to throw us out at the last minute so a commercial client can come in, we'll happily reschedule.
Wish us luck.

Friday, March 28, 2008

MacDougal Street Flood

So during the show at Manhattan Theatre Source, some water pipe broke and the stage was flooded. How fun was that?

It was raining in the dressing room. The dressing room is below the stage which was covered in water. You can't really tell from this picture because it's hard to photograph rain and because the water had been cut off for about 15 minutes when this picture was taken but it was like a tropical rainstorm inside the dressing room.

The audience was asked to go down to the lobby. They were served wine while things got cleaned up. And then they actually re-started the show.

I did what I could: I bought cookies. Then I took the backup drive of Solar Vengeance and went home.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Lacquer? I LOVE her!

I asked Ethan about lacquering the headstock of the Warmoth neck I'm getting. Specifically, I was concerned about the lacquer getting all over the rest of the neck. Here's what he said:

"I use artist tape (fancy masking tape) around the edges of the headstock and on the end of the fingerboard, then I wrap the rest of the neck in a big rag. When spraying, the stuff gets everywhere so it even pays to mask off the back of the neck and headstock.

Try three thin coats of black, about twenty or thirty minutes apart, then a whole lot of coats of clear. I wouldn't do more than three or four coats per day. Too much build-up all at once will cause the finish to "orange peel" (get all bumpy). When you get past five clear coats or so, you can start waiting a day between single coats and VERY lightly steel-wooling the coats with 0000 steel wool.

After a few more coats, a professional shop would wait a week or so and then buff it out on a buffing wheel. Since I'm not a pro, and don't have a buffing wheel, I wait a week and then smooth the finish out with abrasive cloth called 'Micro-Mesh', which is made for polishing. If you're really a masochist, you could use fingernail buffers - the kind they have at nail salons. They're cheap, and they'll work, but it would be a lot of surface area to cover with such a small polishing stick. Sounds like fun, huh?"
Boy does it ever!

But wait, there's more:

Lacquer dries very fast. It cures slowly, like any other paint, but it dries extremely fast. Some of the paint particles dry in the air and those build up as little "pimples" or spatter in the finish. The wool smooths those out in preparation for final polishing. The idea is to steel-wool it lightly enough to smooth those spots into the surrounding finish, but not actually go through to the previous coat.

I turned steel-wool into a verb. Cool.
Ethan thinks the old Zenith label would make a great decal on a guitar headstock. I'm thinking I'm going to have a "Bear" guitar with a "Rosenblatt" version of a Warmoth neck. Apparently one of his instruments is called a "Blattocaster" but mine will be a... Pandora Machine?

Snaffle Bit

My sister, Jean Lewis, is helping my parents move. So she's had an opportunity to rifle through my mail. She sent me this email:

"Trivia question:

In what type of catalogue, addressed to Andrew Bellware, would one find a:

  • JP Korsteel Full Cheek Eggbutt Snaffle Bit
  • and a Tom Thumb Jointed Rubber Pelham
  • and a Corkscrew Hunter Dee
  • and a Uxeter Kimberwicke

All on the same page?"
As it turns out, I get an equestrian catalog because we bought some riding boots for our lead android in a movie once. Those are apparently all names for bits.

But I'm shouting the words "Full Cheek Eggbutt Snaffle Bit" the next time I get mad at my computer, that's for sure.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Bun Day

Saw John Cheary of John Marshall Sound today -- just saw him at the West 4th Street subway station. He and I used to work at a place that made commercials for supermarkets. That was a goofy job. He mixed my first feature. Now he makes a lot of money producing books on tape... er... CD... er... download...

You know what doesn't exist? Dark, New York alleys that come to another alley... and then come to an end. We. Don't. Have. Any.

And yet we keep writing scripts as though they exist.

Aha! But Rik! Yea, for Rik descended from the Heavens and bore Great News:

It's called The 1896.

I need to shoot in this location.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

German Review

Our first look at the Thai version of Millennium Crisis. I would have expected to see more on what I believe to be the distributor's site, but I can't find anything.

We got a review in German. It's not such a bad review, actually. They try to be kind at least!

The movie hasn't come out in Germany yet. It's supposed to... sometime. In any case, this seems to be a review of the American version.

It's interesting when we see blurbs about the movie on sites. This site has this little thing:

Eons after a violent race of aliens known as the Kluduthu caused an intergalactic war, they begin seeking out the descendant of a chameleonic humanoid to help them destroy the universe. But when a young woman realizes that the extraterrestrial warlords are looking for her, she must prevent them from using her in their diabolical plans. Clare Stevenson, Olja Hrustic, Ted Raimi star. 86 min. Soundtrack: English.

I know we didn't write that! Believe you me -- I would have wanted to write "chameleonic" but if I had I'd have been suppressed (that is, stuffed in a sack and sat upon).

Did I post this review from Bum's Corner? "The sets are minimal--some are even, well, subliminal--"

I'm still laughing at that...

Deadpit Horror Reviews
has a little review. Oddly, they criticize the plot by saying it isn't complicated. Which pretty well is the opposite of what all the other reviews say.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Dog and Taxes

Even CuteOverload has a whole subcategory of "Cat's n' Racks".

This image, however, is not from cute overload. But I don't remember where it's from. The cat is awfully cute.


My sister offered a rebuttal on my post about her dog:

Her full name is "Chien d'or" for golden dog. She is golden retriever and standard poodle and her hair (poodles have hair, not fur) looks like spun white gold in certain light.

Chien was adopted as an unsocialized adult dog from a rescue group. She is likely the result of some backyard breeder who neglected her and then abandoned her when she did not get adopted as a puppy. She did not respond as one expects normal dogs to react to ovetures of happy, loving human contact. She was fearful and depressed. Over the first several weeks in our home, we tried a number of different names on her but she did not respond to anything until I tried "Chien".

The first time I said "Chien", she looked up at me in a very positive way as if she recognized and liked the sound. It was the FIRST positive response I has from her after several weeks.

THAT'S why her name is Chien.

The dog was pretty nuts when Jean first got her. But the dog is vastly less nuts now and even my cat will tolerate being in the same room as the dog.

Chien came from Carolina Poodle Rescue.


Oh look -- I just found out that I have to have all my tax information ready for my accountant by tomorrow morning. And it's 10:30 at night. Yay!

Name, address, ID# of the LLC
Name, address, SSN for all partners
and each partner's percentages
description of what the LLC does (what business it's in)
all expenses for 2007
how the money was contributed to the LLC (loans, gifts)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Great British

So, you want to have a good time with a British person? Try asking them what the name is of the country that they're from.

First they'll be very sure and tell you something like "England" or "The U.K." But they they'll start to waffle and say "Great Britain" and try to explain that, well, "Great Britain" really only refers to the one island. If you question them further they'll get belligerent and tell you they don't need to have a simple little name for their country because they've been around for more than 250 years (to which you say "Yeah? Like Spain? Or France?")

Then they'll start screaming and throwing things and shouting about the Scottish Parliament, North Sea oil, and the Magna Carta.

It's about at this point you realize that they just aren't going to answer the question.

I actually had a British ex-pat try to explain that England was a sovereign state because England can compete in the World Cup (I replied "So, if me and some of my blokes were to play a game of footie with Manchester United, we'd be a country too?")


And you can't say "What country are you a citizen of?" because as an Irish fellow once pointed out: "Well, they aren't citizens, they're subjects."

Just imagine his thick Irish brogue and single raised eyebrow peering over a pint of beer in a dim bar on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, and you'll get the gist of centuries of pent-up irony lobbed at his neighbors across the Irish sea...


In any case, the question can be put more precisely: "What is the name of the sovereign state you are a citizen of?" And yes, you can use citizen to mean "subject". (Actually you can be a subject of this country without being a citizen but I don't wanna go into that because it just gets too wacky.)

Anyway, I finally found the name of their weird country:

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

That's right. "United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland." Apparently they don't teach that in their schools. Or perhaps it's too ridiculous of a name for them to say out loud.


Yes, we're quite aware the license plates are from the Netherlands.

Easter 2008

Happy Easter.

The iPhone camera is nice but almost impossible to operate.

And when are they getting copy and paste to work on it?

And when will I be able to attach files from its hard drive into emails?

All these questions...

Shoot Too

Stu has a great post over at Pro Lost which I'm going to link here because I'm going to read his post a number of times. It's all about retaining skin tones when doing heavy color correction. For doing high-quality post production it's a must read. Actually, virtually all picture editors should know this stuff too. Me? I can't figure out how to use the "range" control in "hue and saturation" but I best learn...

Last night we shot more. It was a bit cold on the mean, drug-dealing, streets of Brooklyn. Our wonderful makeup artist Cristina Atkin shemped for the "mysterious figure". Here's a very low resolution screen grab of one of our shots. Soon I'll put up much higher res stuff.

Nina Laurie and Ben Sulzbach look behind them at a mysterious figure in The Shriven.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


My sister's dog, Chien (which is French for "dog" I suppose, which means that she named her dog "dog"), is very camera shy. As in, you take out a camera and she runs away. Nobody knows why. Luckily, she doesn't really recognize that a iPhone is a camera.

I thought I'd already posted something about the dog and her camera shyness. But I can't find anything like that.

Another Day Another...

One advantage of Blogger over Wordpress is that Blogger is pretty good at filtering out spam in comments. So that's one reason to stay with Blogger.


Today was a very cold day out on the roof again for Maduka's feature... er, rather I mean short film.

Rik, Zainab, and Maduka. Yep, that's the Empire State Building in the background.

Zainab and Maduka.

It was quite blustery today. I think I got all my vitamin D for the year. Also, Rik made fun Bacardi and blueberry rum-drinks. So I was feelin' pretty warm despite the wind which almost knocked Zainab over.

Zainab was born in London. I tried to get her into that "what country are you from" question which nobody from whatever country that is can answer.

Maduka laughed at me when I told him that I'd gotten sunburned our first day on Rik's roof.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Solar Publicity (redux)

Here are scans from the March 13 Lacey Beacon.

We're not really "Metuchen-Based" so much as I'm from Metuchen.

Thanks to Julia and Jason!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


I was going to put together information for a friend of mine regarding the different low-budget SAG contracts for feature films.

Basically I was going to do it to encourage her not to shoot SAG. I've been railing about the ridiculous other-worldly contract provisions which SAG saddled innocent low-budget producers with, essentially destroying the picture's ability to get a release. But it turns out that SAG has made a major change to one of their contracts.

Ultra-Low Budget Agreement:
  • Total budget of less than $200,000
  • Day rate of $100
  • No step-up fees
  • No consecutive employment (except on overnight location)
  • No premiums
  • Allows the use of both professional and non-professional performers
  • Background performers not covered
Now it used to be that they would insist with this contract that you get a Theatrical deal first, which is of course patently absurd. But now the contract says specifically otherwise:

Producer shall have the right to exhibit the Picture theatrically. Should the initial release not be in the theatrical market, the picture shall remain a “theatrical motion picture” for all purposes of the Basic Agreement, as modified herein, and shall not be reclassified as a “Made for Pay” or “Free Television” motion picture. If the picture is distributed outside of the theatrical market, residuals will be payable in accordance with General Provisions, Section 5.2 of the Basic Agreement.
Emphasis mine.

As far as I know this is the opposite of what this contract used to say. It used to be that if you got a non-theatrical deal first, the contract stepped up to a full "made for TV" contract and you had to pay your actors as though you had signed the full-budget contract. That would, of course, obliterate the average DVD deal financially and actually make it so that a producer wouldn't/couldn't even bother to get any distribution at all.

Of course, they don't seem to have their Basic Agreement online (the link is broken). But their residuals are vastly less than what we contract for in our normal Pandora Machine agreement.

This sounds like a major change on SAG's part. I have a buddy who is on the SAG board here in New York (and who will remain nameless) who's been railing 'gainst the general SAG stupidity in this regard. Perhaps he has prevailed?

So this is good news. Not that we're going to be going SAG on our $12.5K movies any time soon, but if we have an actual budget sometime we have the option.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Best Quote on Any Blog Today

The Black Snob has the best quote on any blog about Obama's speech:

Hence the hypocritical shock, shock I say, that some having regarding the truth that America still has race issues after, goodness gracious, only 40 paltry years out of Jim Crow. You're a fool if you think 300 years was going to made up in 40.

That must've been one hell of a diversity training seminar.

Modern Guitar

This guitar is a bit better than the Sears guitar. And I'm about 25 years older.

It's not the same couch, but it's in the same place (the same couch is actually where the camera is now).

Jean took these pictures today.

This is the new Oxblood Les Paul Custom Shop Custom. Short neck=weird. Sustain=good. Haven't even played it through an amp yet. Need a strap with straplocks...

Pavlov Across America

Pavlov and the Drooling Dogs (a wholly inappropriate name for the kind of quasi - progressive act we were) playing in Metuchen New Jersey at Hands Across America (May 25, 1986).


Andrew Bellware in 1980...

Or perhaps as late as '83. I don't remember this guitar except to think that maybe it was a Sears guitar. I'm guessing 1980 because by '81 I would have had my Hagstrom. But I don't remember. If we had some super imaging technology we could read the date on the newspaper.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

New Movie

Tonight we started shooting The Shriven. We got off a few shots with the help of Maduka. Here's Ben Sulzbach and Nina Lourie in the bowels of Gowanus. We'll shoot more of this sequence next week.

Yeah, there are some artifacts -- we're shooting in very low light. I played with this in 8-bit but we'll see what happens in 32-bit.

Afterward we went to the Zombie Hut. One zombie is enough...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

More Computer Fun!

So, the computers are being in nightmare mode lately. Premiere is simply terrible. And now my audio program (which is usually very stable) is crashing. In any case, we're going back to Final Cut Pro. Here's a thingy on how to output "super-whites" as stills in FCP.

Up Your Nose!

Today was the last day of shooting any live action pickups for Solar Vengeance. We shot reaction shots of Laura, Vinnie Marano (who has a show "Notes to Self", which closes tonight at Theatresource), and me.

It's good that it's the last day of shooting live action on Solar Vengeance (even though we still have a model to shoot) because tonight we start shooting The Shriven.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Solar Publicity

We got an article published today in the Lacey Beacon, a publication of the Asbury Park Press (who may also publish the article.) It's all about our shoot last week.

The online version doesn't have the picture they published, but we should get a copy of that soon.

"LACEY — Move over Hollywood, Forked River is becoming a hotspot for filming independent film and TV projects.

A new independent film utilized sets built in the garage of a Forked River home on the morning of March 7.

"This project is 100 percent independent," said Laura Schlachtmeyer, a producer with Pandora Machine LLC. "Our production company is based in Metuchen. Our director, Andrew Bellware, is a lifelong Metuchen resident and was active at Rutgers as well as in Manhattan theater productions. Our post-production facilities are part of Manhattan Theatre Source, a volunteer-run theater in Greenwich Village."

The cast of the film, "Solar Vengeance," is made up of New York theatrical actors. The shoot March 7 featured Kathleen Kwan, who plays Athena, an alien combat android.

"I'm not an evil android," the petite actress said. "But I'm pretty tough. I've enjoyed acting since I was a kid," Kwan added.

Kwan has been involved in theatrical roles as well as TV and independent film work.

"I'm a Jersey girl but I live in Manhattan now," Kwan said, dressed in a futuristic black costume and dyed red hair as she sat in the interior of the "space pod" set. That set was among two that are located inside the Baldwin Avenue home owned by the family of Jason Birdsall. Birdsall is the producer of a science fiction TV and Internet project called "Venus Rises."

Kwan said she is pleased to be the lead in the science fiction feature. She was also cast in a theater production of "The Joy Luck Club."

"I'm looking for acting work," she said. "The basics of acting in a film as opposed to theater are the same but the differences are that in film you are often shooting out of order. In the theater you can do your performance slightly different each night and try new things. Today I'm filming scenes where another character in the film isn't even here."

To supplement her acting work she helps out at her father's restaurant in Scotch Plains. She's also done voiceover work and commercials.

Schlachtmeyer said "Solar Vengeance" will be distributed on DVD in domestic and international markets. "We had the same distribution for our previous two sci-fi features."

"The principal photography was done in September," Bellware said. "The film should be done and edited by May in time for it to be entered in some film festivals."

The plot of the film concerns the distant world of Necrosis 6, which serves as the galaxy's prison. A space pod containing Athena lands unannounced. Kwan's Athena serves as guard over the transfer of Elias West, a prisoner with a life sentence. The plot also concerns mind control and a mission of revenge on the part of West toward several of his fellow inmates.

Birdsall and production manager Julie Howe were present for Friday's filming. They said that work is continuing on their own sci-fi saga, which may soon be available for viewing on Direct-TV later in the year."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

More Information

This is really just so I remember about the history of this guitar:

"2006 Gibson Les Paul Custom (Custom shop). Very rare Oxblood you may know this is not a standard color....Gibson only made a handful of these(very limited). Comes with custom shop case and candy. I bought this guitar Sept. 06 from the Platinum room at the Guitar Center in Hollywood. It has been sitting in the case most of the time since I bought it (too many guitars)...I'm more into the stratocaster thing anyway. I would say it's still in new condition...but when I bought the guitar it had 2 small tiny little marks where you arm can't harldly see it (some people wouldn't have mentioned it). And there were 3 little tiny dingy marks near the tone controls...once can't hardly see them. I tried to photograph them the best that I could (see photos). No belt buckle rash at all. Like I said, it was hardly ever played and lived in the case most of the time. The action is very low and it plays and sounds amazing. No returns...there are no issues. See my feedback for your confidence.

Any marks other then mentioned in the description are finger print smudges, reflections etc. Guitar is looks new."


The Deed is Done.

2450 including shipping.


2006 Custom Shop Custom.




Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bunny Wants a Hug

So, I'm in the dentist chair, having a hole drilled in my jaw, and I'm trying to think of things to take my mind off the jolts of trauma my body is going through. So I think: I'm just going to go ahead and get one of those Les Paul Studio guitars. You know, the one's you can get for under a thousand dollars used.

By the time the sutures came, and although I was still numb I was still shuddering when the dentist pulled the string through my innocent flesh, I thought: "Forget it, I'm getting a Les Paul Custom Shop guitar."

But that doesn't mean I'm not upgrading my custom (small "c") guitar with a Warmoth neck. I believe the neck will arrive next month. Also, Gold Grover Super Rotomatic tuners (delivered): $62.25.

Anyway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Now I have to write some Progressive Rock songs like it was somewhere between 1968 and 1971. Gonna be listening to some early Genesis and Gentle Giant...

Visiting the Devil

So I went to Guitar Center to play some Gibson guitars. I'm thinking now that I want a Gibson Custom Shop Custom Les Paul. What I was hoping was that at the 14th Street Guitar Center they'd have, like, a half dozen (or more) Gibson Custom Shop Custom Les Pauls. But they only had two. Um, if I'm going to pay the going price for a new guitar, I'm gonna want to play more than one of them -- and if I have to order the guitar anyway then... well then...


I did confirm that the Custom Shop guitars are vastly better than the production models. They feel better, they sound better, they're about 5 pounds heavier. I want a wine red model. They're $3400. That part is less than good. But truthfully, you're not paying that much extra for the Gibson name. And the Custom Shop Customs seem to have the neck just right. The 50's neck is a bit too big, the 60's neck is a bit too small (for me).

But I did go and order a new (50's) neck for my "Bear" guitar anyway. So I'll have 2 guitars with the same scale (24 3/4") necks. With the tuners I blew about $500. Do I actually have the money to be doing any of this?

Of course not.

Monday, March 10, 2008

These Things Write Themselves

I'm sure there's a million Spitzer jokes out there right now. "Spitzer? You spitzer, you brought her!" But right now there's this awesome quote in the New York Times regarding his having prosecuted other prostitution rings:

"In one such case in 2004, Mr. Spitzer spoke with revulsion and anger after announcing the arrest of 16 people for operating a high-end prostitution ring out of Staten Island."

Now that's two things you never expected to see together in a sentence: "high-end prostitution ring" and "Staten Island".

Inverted Kitty

I've been trying to get a picture of Pushkin that shows him as a cute little fuzzy butt. Normally he's just a sexy sexy dangerous kitty, sort of the Barry White of cats. But here I got a couple pictures of him in inverted fuzzy alien snuggly mode. With the iPhone of course.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Day at the Sculptor's

Nadia El Dassouki was covered with ikky yukky stuff for The Shriven today. I wasn't there -- today was my day off! Luckily Brian was there and he sent me these pictures.
That's what it's like to have a co-director.

Our makeup/prosthetics guy Anthony Jones slabbers oog on Nadia. Nadia with her own head. Nadia's head looking very Egyptian, no?

Inside the Spaceship

We just had a wonderful experience shooting with Julia and Jason of Venus Rises. They have standing spaceship sets in New Jersey which are really great to shoot in -- all kind of working parts and lights make shooting fast and enjoyable. I want to shoot a couple features on their sets!

Here is the beautiful and talented Kathleen as Athena from Solar Vengeance in both the cockpit and the "deep freeze" bay.

We have a color-corrected cut of the entire film (as of 2:30 in the morning) and we are missing only a handful of small and simple shots which we can maybe unload entirely this week. Then, we're off to mixing!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

JB Becton in April

It turns out we had last month's copy of Playgirl. That was only a preview of the real spread. Here are pages 62 through 71 of the April 2008 Playgirl.

I never knew James rode a bicycle.