Saturday, May 31, 2008


This is the new logo to go at the top of Pandora Machine films. We shot it today. If Blip is having trouble. You may need to try this link.


Today we shot more stills of Kathleen as Athena in Solar Vengeance.

I Found It!

It's the weirdest site on the Internet. I win!

You gotta love the Raft of the Medusa as portrayed by underwear models.*

*The last time I was in Paris the entire 19th-century French Painting wing of the Louvre was closed. Pthth.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Race: Nailed It

I should have a whole category called "Catie Riggs". Here she made my face hurt from laughing so much.

"Dexter" is Mitchell Riggs, one of my partners in DigitalSource.

The monkey's in...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Almost Caught Up...

... on sleep and material for actor's reels and I'm finally working on the last part of Act III (out of V acts) doing color-correction and dialog cleanup on Solar Vengeance.

Mozz is in MA with his play Incredibly Stupid Things. But he also has the next draft of Dominion. I re-wrote the first 9 pages (well, it's more like I edited the first 9 pages) and he's going to do a clean-up pass of the whole screenplay. Editing is a lot easier than writing.

Apparently Stanley Kubrick directed a movie once. Here's a picture of him doing it.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

France 2008

OK so my parents are moving, from the house I've lived in my whole life, this week. So here's the 2008 Eurovision Song Contest entrant from France.

Yeah, I don't get it either.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


"Ketchup on soda crackers with Kraft singles" -- Ben Sulzbach describing most pizza in New York.

Savage Rose

My cousins Christian and Molly visited this weekend. They got me drunk. I bought cookies. Molly is going to come live with me and my sister for a few months while she does an internship.

I don't have a picture of them to post, so you'll have to look at this puppy instead.


I've been listening to Danish progressive rock from the late sixties. There's some amazing stuff out there. It makes me want to play songs which are 9 minutes long...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Title: Untitled

Today was spent being exhausted and working on music cues for Solar Vengeance.

Maduka made some changes to the robot fight very late last night which makes the robot fight much much better.

Here's a still of Lucy Rayner from The Shriven.

Am rendering out footage as fast as I can for actor's reels before Brian picks up drives.

But now. Must. Sleep.


Well we've known for a while that the Sci-Fi Channel has basically had to abandon Sci-Fi but this New York Times article is the obituary. I really tried to work one more metaphor into the previous sentence, but I failed.

And yes, I deliberately inverted this and another post's titles.

My parents move next week. Which means I'll be living with my sister essentially (and two of her cats and her one dog) until either an apartment lottery comes through or we get a buyer. And I have cousins coming to stay this weekend. Familial busyness.

Wish. I had. Enough sleep.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Killer Robots Have Laser Eyes

I've Been Workin' on the F Train.


I was asked recently what gear we're using to shoot with.

Panasonic HVX200 camera.
Letus 35mm adapter
Canon S.S.C. lens set (28mm, 35mm, 50mm 1.4, 85mm 1.8, 200mm, and a 50mm macro lens) -- all via eBay

Sound Devices 702 recorder
Oktava MK012A microphone with hypercardioid capsule (from the Sound Room not from Guitar Center -- the Sound Room has much better quality control.) I actually have two -- one for indoors and one mounted inside a zeppelin for exteriors
Lectrosonics sm transmitter and a 400 series wireless receiver
PSC Millimic which is not as popular as the Sanken COS 11 or the Countryman mics, but sounds very very dry and works well when editing dialog.
I also have an Ambient Master Radio Slate which is way overkill.

All the sound gear except for the Oktava were got at Professional Sound in New York.

As for lights we basically use whatever. I have some Lowell L-Lights. A couple fluorescents. Sometimes we borrow Mitchell's Kino-Flo.

We have a LeMaitre Neutron XS hazer. We use it a lot but it's pretty loud.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Greenlight 0801

I've been working for the last few weeks getting ready to get another picture in the "5 pictures in 2 years" plan going.

Today we greenlit another picture.

0801 "Dominion", written by Montserrat Mendez, about a combat android who has her memory erased on a military space station, and now that the station is under attack she doesn't know which side she's supposed to fight for.

I'm doing a re-write now, then it'll go back to Mozz, and back to me, and then back to him with final notes.

Tentative start of principal photography: August 1.

These are pictures of Pushkin being very cat - like in front of the refrigerator.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Blogger has an interesting new feature which allows you to post "in the future". In other words, you can write a post like this one and post-date it and it will go up automatically whenever you've set it to.

I'm creating this post for my friend Melissa because she will be amused by jazzy critters.

Does it make me a formalist that I'm choosing a random time for this post to go up?

(Who knows when I really posted this?)

Whew, Big Sucky Day

Well yesterday sure sucked! In short, I've left 0704 The Shriven project because it's a trainwreck-in-progress. I feel guilty because I knew a long time ago that the train was going to run outta track but I just kept thinking "Oh, it'll get better." It didn't. Ick.*

So now that's what? I have to do only 4 movies in the next two years, or do I still have to do 5? Hmm... I dunno, gotta run the numbers.

In the meantime, lotsa post to do and I still have to run off dailies for reels for actors. It takes an overnight render on an Intel quad-core machine to make h264's of an hour of footage. There's gotta be something wrong there.

*As an indicator of the trainwreck it was going to be, I offered that they get another cameraman and finish the show. It's about 1/2 shot and could be finished theoretically. But the other producer rejected that idea. Which is, of course, because getting another cameraman would finish the movie and that just ain't gonna happen.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


I actually have a bit of a late call today on The Shriven. It's very unusual for the director to get a call later than any other part of the cast/crew but today is a big makeup day and Brian estimates it'll take 5 hours for them.

So I'm in my studio doing some rendering of both audio and video for Solar Vengeance before making my way to set.

Here's a composite still from Solar Vengeance. I actually like this particular image better like this, in 16x9, rather than the 2.35:1 it'll be in the final. But for most everything else I prefer 2.35:1.


So G. W. Bush says:

“Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along,” Mr. Bush said. “We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: “Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.” We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history.”

OK, let's get this straight.

1. There were those in the US government who wanted to talk to Hitler before the invasion of Poland.

2. But because of our isolationist policies, they weren't allowed to.

3. And therefore Hitler invaded Poland.

And the lesson we learned is that we shouldn't negotiate with hostile powers? Because what? The Nazi invasion would have otherwise been worse somehow?

Um. I actually passed my logic course in the 9th grade...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

New Solar Vengeance Trailer

So I've been holding off about blogging about this. My sales rep didn't want it "public" until the Cannes Film Market started. And now the Cannes Film Market has started.

The new trailer to Solar Vengeance has been cut. It was put together by Halcyon, our sales rep. I'm really happy with it, it's the best trailer to any of our movies yet. I think, honestly, it's the best movie we've made yet.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Yes, Exactly

From The Shriven, here is a classic "Maiden and the Beast" - type image. Steve Nauss is doing the menacing.

This still is, I believe, un-color-corrected.

Looks like a DVD box cover to me...

A closeup. Here we're doing virtually everything wrong from a classic lighting perspective (no kick in her eyes, all side-lit). But I love the chiaroscuro (doesn't that mean "barbecue" in Portuguese?) and the "painterly" quality of the image.

The medium shot of her is color corrected. I think we'll want a bit more background visible in the final version. Those "cat eyes" are a pair of streetlights outside. They amuse me.

The last image has heavy color-correction. I think the blacks are too crushed and we need to get some more detail back but there are some things really lovely about the skin tone and texture which I'd like to keep. We may end up with a power mask on her which has a different "look" than the rest of the room. Luckily the camera doesn't move in this shot!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Noir Light

Nadia Dassouki in The Shriven. We shot two days this weekend in an apartment in Bushwick. Fire department came. Maduka talked them down. Now we keep the door closed when the hazer is on.

Maduka also acted as acting coach and did the back-lighting for both these setups. (Note that the second picture has Brian's character, Ben, sleeping in the background.)

These shots are not color-corrected. They're just clipped off the P2 card reader on my laptop.

Seokjun Lee and Tony Kenner were our boom ops this weekend. More stills to come...


Via the Queen of Mars, from today's Theatresource Writer's Forum:

What's the difference between drama and melodrama?

If you're talking about what's actually happening, then virtually nothing you say will be "over the top". But if you're talking about something which isn't an action, you can veer off into Telenovela land.

This seems very insightful yet I'm not sure I completely understand it. Yet.


My new fake band, Pleasure for the Empire, was named by a random band-name-generator. So I figure that the music we play should all be written by random generators. Or at least the lyrics should.

Here's a virtual "Yes" lyric generator. It created this (after I gave it words like "glass paper weight" and "Boerum Hill"):

Softly lying mind
Under graceful glass paper weight
Glass paper weight ascending meeting
To enjoy close to Boerum Hill
Joyfully around Boerum Hill
Me should not be arriving brightly
Clear certain glass paper weight
Open certain stage
For Boerum Hill under wonderous glass paper weight
All of us
Moon hearing ascending
Angel never shall be happy
Up heaven while warm glass paper weight
Lovingly making sky
Slow happy glass paper weight

Yeah, that sounds like half an album's worth. Now what about the other half?

Oh look, another lyric generator (you have to register).

Sat alone bleeding into the sun

Verse One:
The blue daytime of the cloud occluded air
Do you dream I would be there
Golden witch whose kisses turn to ashes in my mouth
That's not how things were supposed to be

Sat alone bleeding into the sun
You were always the perfect one
Her hair blotting out the daytime light
So I took what's mine by eternal right.

Verse Two:
Eyes like knives, skin like armor
And that's what you've done too
A hollow shell of a man, shall never love again
I told you, I loved you, now thats all down the drain

Chorus Two:
Sat alone bleeding into the sun
I wish you would've grabbed the gun
Her hair blotting out the daytime light
I know that we could make it right

Chorus to Fade

And musically where do we model ourselves? I've always found that I use too many influences so I'm trying to simplify. I've been thinking for the coming Pleasures for the Empire is that we be a art-rock outfit from, say, 1968. Now I'm thinking we should think in terms of pop music like Santana's Evil Ways. Not Latin percussion, more like Cream's rhythm section perhaps, but with plenty of Hammond organ. At least that's what I'm thinking right now...

Friday, May 09, 2008

And this is my life?

Cukisag is like the Hungarian Cute Overload. They are vastly weirder than Cute Overload. Sometimes they have things like this creature. Sometimes they have a picture of a bug (!), sometimes it's just somebody's cat. You can never tell.

What is up with the toes on this creature? Is this from Earth? Or is it the ambassador from Alderan 5?

Yesterday I read a script where the lead character is an android who is naked for something on the order of about 40 pages.

Can you tell people are writing screenplays tailored for me?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

We Have A Timing

For Solar Vengeance (yes, it's taken 'till now to find out what our running time is).

An hour 41:21:03 (24fps).

One hundred one minutes, twenty-one seconds, three frames.


That could change by a few frames or even some seconds in the next couple weeks.

I need to go through and do a music and dialog cleanup-pass.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Pushkin Pictures

I do have a bunch of cameras available to me, but I typically use my iPhone the most.

Here he is being a library lion. That's my dad in the background.

Independent Filmmaking

Eric Bailey put this picture up on Facebook, I figured I'd steal it. Here's a classic view of independent filmmaking -- shooting with a boom in one hand. If I'm lucky, Brian is slating but I don't see the slate so it's probably sitting by the recorder just off camera to the left.

Andrew Bellware, Brian Schiavo, and Cheutine Fong shooting The Shriven.

Delivery One

Thanks to Ed McNamee, here's the First Lady of France.

Yesterday we got a screener copy of Solar Vengeance out to our sales rep. And then I just crashed. I've been asleep or looking at LOL cats since then...

The screener is the whole movie without the end credit roll. We're missing a line or two of ADR. There are some changes being made in color-correction. And actually, I delivered it as a mono mix. But it's basically the whole movie.

I figure I'm gonna be actually finished in about 3 weeks. That is, the drives will be at the lab and I'm really done. We'll see!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Apartment applied for

So this is the apartment building I applied for. It's a lottery. They have a hundred studio units. At least I think this is the building. It sure doesn't look ready to be occupied by June 1. I mean, I'm not in construction but I've been around construction my whole life and I just don't think they're gonna have their C of O by then...

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Anatomy of a Guitar Rebuild

As soon as I got to Ethan's we had the chocolate croissants I brought from Sweet Melissa. It's always a good idea to start with chocolate croissants.

Then Ethan took the neck off my guitar and started fitting the new neck.

But uh... something was wrong...

Ethan looks at the pre-drilled holes in the Warmoth neck.

The first thing that happened was we discovered that the body of the guitar, and the old neck, has holes drilled in non-standard places. Oops. That meant we (when I say "we" I mean "Ethan") had to fill the old holes on the neck and drill new holes.

Whew, that was better!

Now it was time for the real work to begin.

Ethan then glued up the piece of cow-bone to the neck and we let that set for a half hour and went into his living room and played some of his gazillions* of guitars.

Upon returning he carefully wrapped the guitar to protect it and then began the long and tedious job of filing and sanding and perfecting the nut. This took many hours and a trip to the local Thai restaurant. Much seltzer was consumed.

But the work is simply excellent. Getting all the grooves for the strings to be just right is part magic and part science and when done right (the old guitar neck's nut wasn't) makes all the difference in the world. And the work on this instrument is totally pro. It's beautiful. Wow.

Can you tell I'm impressed?

It took a long time of stringing the guitar, checking the action, unstringing, gently filing, rinse, wash, repeat. For each of the six strings.

Then, many hours later, Ethan started the setup of the instrument.

The first thing Ethan did with the guitar was to lower the pickups. That was totally counterintuitive to me. But it turned out to be an excellent idea and the guitar sounds much better for it. The strings interact with the pickups and the pickups can actually dampen the strings. But now I have sustain which lasts for days. Months maybe. I don't know, I haven't had the guitar for that long to test it.

Also, lucky for us, the guitar was shockingly close to being in intonation and setup when it was first strung. I said I'd played guitars in guitar shops that were "setup" as well. Ethan said he had too, just never bought any.

In any case, the setup was pretty painless and the intonation of the thing is fabulous. I played a really good '57 reissue at Matt Umanov's which felt very much what my new (and much better - looking) guitar feels like.

The sound of the guitar was instantly recognizable as being acoustically louder. Not only does it feel good, but it sounds fantastic. I can get a wider range of sound with it now, even without changing the pickups. When I switch different pickups on and off I can actually travel through time. . .

Now my guitar just needs a name.

*number is approximate but in the right ballpark

My Guitar is Cooler Than Yours

Today I went to visit a very old friend, Ethan Rosenblatt. I haven't actually seen Ethan for a long time, but we've known each other for about 25 years now so not seeing each other for 7 years is like about 10 minutes to most people.

Ethan and I had been corresponding about my guitar (the one on the right) a whole bunch lately. I was specifically not happy with the headstock. I just didn't like the way it looked. It has a Fender-ish headstock and I much prefer the look of the 3x3 "paddle" headstocks (like the nice Hagstrom one on the left). He offered to set it up if I bought a new neck for it. I took him up on the offer.

Wow. That was a good decision on my part.

Today he put the new neck on. He cut a bone nut for it and set up the guitar, adjusting the pickups and the intonation and the action.

And now? And now my guitar sounds freakin' amazing. I kind of have to re-learn to play it because its tonal palette is so wide now. I mean, it can sound like a Telecaster, or a Strat, or a Les Paul. Once it even sounded to Ethan like an archtop.

But more importantly it looks cool.

Just look at that fancy headstock. The groovy big art deco tuners. Oh yeah.



The scale on the conversion neck is like a Les Paul's, that is it's a bit shorter than a Fender-type guitar. But the body is like a Tele. Sort of. But with a humbucker in the bridge position. And with a creamy sweet setup and beautiful intonation.

And it looks.


In fact, it's a totally unique guitar which is vastly cooler than your guitar.

That's just an objective fact, no disrespect intended. And now that you've seen pictures of it, you no doubt agree.

Here's a picture of Ethan setting up the guitar.

And another picture of him playing it (his lovely wife Liz is in the background, paying no attention to the boys in the living room rocking out.)

Did I mention how cool my guitar is? I'll put up more pictures of it tomorrow.

My guitar. It is cool.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Words and Music

Today I got a first draft of a new screenplay from Montserrat Mendez but he doesn't want me to actually read the thing 'till he does another pass at it. I may just have to read it. He owes me the next draft on Wednesday! ;-)

You can listen to some music by Jonathan Newman to his blog where he has a link to stream audio from his Climbing Parnassus.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Gig Bag

Maduka was on All My Children today. He plays an African thug. He'll also be on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday (I think) of next week.

I finally got myself a gig bag.

Welcome to the '90's.

It's made in China. It has the words "New York Pro" on it, which makes me feel like a hardened hooker.

Happy May Day

I spend all my time working on the punchlist for Solar Vengeance. I have to have screener copies FedEx'ed to our sales rep by Tuesday because he's leaving for France and the Marche du Cannes on Friday. So I'm doing a lot of rendering, mixing, and re-coloring.

We've had very little ADR to do on this picture. There's one scene where we had some mysterious microphone problem, and then there was one line of dialog from Maduka we had to re-do. Other than that, just a smattering of lines which we recorded wild in the field (because we knew at the time we had to) which needed to be synced up and I think we're in fairly decent shape.

Billy Piper never looked this good as the Doctor's companion. I think that the sexiest companion the Doctor has ever had is Freema Agyeman. At least, of all the companions I can think of. I bet there's a world of Internet noise on that subject.

OMG there is. Don't even Google "Doctor Who sexiest companion". You'll regret it.

Oddly, for someone as photogenic as she is on the show, finding a decent still of Freema online is fairly difficult. I think that as a rule they tend to make the companion a bit frumpy, or at least not sexy. I realize that's subjective and arguable, and I'm certainly not as familiar as some with the Dr. Who ouvre but it does seem that they don't want them completely independent and powerful.

The Doctor would never have Mrs. Peel as a companion.