Tuesday, September 30, 2008


We've been experimenting with Ooze. You can buy ooze and slime in the Interwebs. You can also use KY jelly and mineral oil.

The Internet has everything.

Today is Puppy Day...

... at the Pandora Machine. 

These are from Cukisag (warning, occasional pictures of bugs.)


Monday, September 29, 2008

New Ending

Mitchell was in on Sunday. He came up with a new ending to The Uprising. Right after this, the end title credits will roll.

Rebecca pictures

These pictures are from Rebecca Kush.

Amelia Campbell (not really in character ;-)

Andrew Bellware shooting Yanni Walker.

Gabriella Willenz, our boom operator.

The whole gang.

Amelia Campbell and Ben Sulzbach.

More Pictures

Mitchell Riggs came by on Sunday and took some pictures while we were shooting "The Uprising".

Andrew Bellware "directing".

Henry Steady looks on amusedly while Andrew Bellware is behind the camera.

Rebecca Kush as Lt. Dunn.

Steve Deighan as Brain.

Bit O' the Monster for Ya

Here I go, violating the basic rules of filmmaking. Never show the monster.

So don't... don't look!

This was our first test.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Reel 9

Here's some stills which I pulled from the 8th day of shooting (reel 9) of 0802 The Uprising. We shot a lot on Saturday so there's lots more to put up. 

I'll put up stills from Sunday's footage tomorrow.

Kumiko Konishi and Ben Sulzbach as Corporal Ryan and Private Jacks.

My tableau of Mozz Mendez, Daniel Blatman, Tana Sartinoranont, Tom Rowen, and Jeff Plunkett.

Tom Rowen as Theo.

Maduka Steady as Warchild, with Rebecca Kush as Dunn.

Maduka Steady (Warchild) and Kumiko Konishi (Ryan).

Rebecca Kush as Dunn.

Ivory Aquino as Gomi.

Tana Sartinoranont as Hubert.

Ben Sulzbach (Jacks) and Amelia Campbell (Lee).

Laura Schlachtmeyer dropping the slate at the top of a scene.

Art Day

Whew, huge day. 8.2 million pages of dialog scheduled. And we only lost a couple -- which we'll pick up next week. We wrapped Ivory Aquino and Jeff Plunkett today. 

Sometimes when I'm not playing spaceships, I'm playing Titian or something. Here Mozz Mendez and Daniel Blatman tend to Ivory, while Tana Sartinoranont, Tom Rowen, and Jeff look on.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Kunk Sappage

"Kunk Sappage". Just say it out loud. 

"Kunk Sappage". 

For the next time you stub your toe.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I'm going with the robots

From Medium Large.

It's Easy

Whew, we're halfway through the shoot. Now that I'm doing all this handheld work, which I've never done before to any great extent, shooting is even more grueling per hour than just doing a whole pile of setups a day. (On the next picture we might be onto a much lighter camera, which will make handheld work less physically demanding.)

What makes it easy though is the script. We're really lucky to have a script where we know, that if we get through a scene, the story is rocketing through and taking us on our way. What's great about this Josh James script is that it's a horror/action picture and that -- well do you know that part in the middle of most low-budget pictures which is really boring? That part isn't in this movie. Instead, the characters have excellent conflicts and there's stuff for them to do other than wait for the monster to eat them. And that makes directing the movie easy

So even when disaster strikes and an actor [ahem] forgets to (cough cough) show up, which means we have to [throat clears] kill the character -- we can make the decisions which need to be made on set in order to deal with it.

It's great to have a cast so dedicated to making the movie good. We've always been fortunate in that regard but this particular cast seems so focussed on the whole picture rather than just their individual parts and I can't help but think that again it's because the movie's story is so strong everyone can see the whole thing.

Monday, September 22, 2008

What Everyone Wants

Let's face reality, this is the picture everyone who visits this blog wants to see. I know and understand you, my good audience, so I'll give it to you without fanfare.

Amelia Randolph Campbell as Lee, with Rebecca Kush as Dunn in Pandora Machine Film's 0802 The Uprising.

From reels 7 and 8

Tom Rowen as Theo, monitors the situation.

Ivory Aquino (Gomi) and Tom Rowen(Theo) in the background as Rebecca Kush (Dunn) interrogates Brain.

Tana Sartinoranont (Hubert) restrains Ben Sulzbach (Jacks).

Maduka Steady as Warchild.

Mozz Mendez as Randall Linus.

Pictures in the Prison

Maduka Steady as Warchild. He's looking way too sexydangerous for me. I thought there was something in his contract about how handsome he was allowed to be in this picture. I'll have to double-check...

Maduka Steady with his band of badasses. That's Steve Deighan as Brain there on the far left (as he's wont to be). And you can see Jang Kim as Yayo on the right. I think that's Dan Blatman in the mask...

Medina Senghore as Connor, after the firefight.

Jang Kim as Yayo, with his guts hanging out (which you can't see in this shot.)

Ben Sulzbach as Jacks and Jeff Plunkett at Sherman in the Operations Center.

More cursing for you

For the amusement of people who love to watch their friends curse, I bring you some pieces of dailies from 0802 The Uprising.

We'll start with some unscripted cursing. Tom and Jang go off on one another:

Here's some takes wherein Amelia Campbell (Sgt. Lee) rips Ben Sulzbach (Jacks) a new one. James Becton as Martins and Medina Senghore as Connor appear at the beginning.

More unscripted cursing as Mozz Mendez is about to die:

And lastly, something safe for the kids (I think). Tana Sarntinoranont (Hubert) saves Jacks.

I'm not putting up full dailies just because we're editing picture now and it takes up too much computer time to put up the dailies. But the new 8-core Mac is (knock on wood) doing well so maybe we can do some more dailies this week.

I Am Torpedo Vindicator

My sister turned me onto the Sarah Palin baby name generator. It has provided much amusement.


I've decided that taking stills as a regular part of the shooting process is virtually impossible on the 12-day shoot. 18 or 22 days? Sure, make taking stills a part of every scheduled scene. 12 days? Can't do it.


Another advantage of the 12 - day shoot is that one can get liability insurance for $610 for 12 days from Film Emporium. For $50 a day, a million $ of liability insurance can't be beat.


Why do my 50mm lenses have a different focal point than my other lenses? With my Letus adapter, I have to focus the Panasonic HVX200 camera to "49" or so. With all the other lenses, it's "44". The backfocus on all the lenses would have to be the same, no? I mean, the mount couldn't be one way for a bunch of lenses, and not for two 50mm lenses? Or is it because those 50mm lenses are my fastest lenses? (f1.4) I checked my 35mm and my 85mm and the Panasonic clearly must be at "44" for them. 

I can't figure it out.


We (I) broke our Spiderbrace on Saturday. The long part which sits on the shoulder just broke in half when I hoisted it up on my shoulder. The Spiderbrace really isn't made for an HVX and a lens mount and a lens and a big battery. But it lasted six days. And although the whole rig is weighted badly and the HVX has lousy placement for its eyepiece and I become cranky while hand-holding the thing, the footage looks really good and not "cam-corder-y" when we use it.

On Sunday I strapped a squeegee to the Spiderbrace. That was really freakin' uncomfortable. We ordered another one so we should have it by next weekend. I'll use the squeegee to clean some windows or something.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

1/2 way

Wow. We're just over the half-way mark. 

We have the bestest company on this picture --  it just makes me all gushy. They're all about helping with lights and dragging stuff back and forth and doing whatever it takes to make the movie good. I can't hardly list all the things people have been doing. Without even being asked. Maduka goes from assistant camera to gaffer and then will run to put on his costume and act the role of Warchild. Tom Rowen does the same thing and bounces between playing the monster and the part of Theo. That is, when he's not pulling down his pants and mooning us (the first time he was successful I laughed so hard I almost had to stop driving.)

James Becton misunderstood when I asked him to figure out a "military" way for the Marines to get into a room, so instead of just doing that, he art directed and totally made a beautiful little set out of scaffolding and stuff lying around. Well, actually, he made a big BIG set out of those things and really upped the look of the scene a gazillion percent. Oh and then he worked out the division into Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie teams and helped choreograph their movements.

One of the most visually exciting parts of the movie are the lights on people's helmets and guns, and Ben Sulzbach worked all that out and mounted all of them. A new actor for us, Dan Blatman, painted the prisoner's masks in a brilliantly scary way today. Steve Deighan did the freakin' dishes when we were shooting in Forked River. Gabriella Willenz has been doing a bang-up job on sound, the dailies sound terrific (even though we generally keep the haze machine on all the time.)

Rebecca has been taking stills. And she bought seventy billion calories' worth of Krispy Kremes for everyone this morning. I think Amelia is doing some sort of behind-the-scenes documentary/expose' or something ;-). 

My parents, who are up for sainthood, came and visited the set today. My dad is letting us use his shop to shoot in, and my stepmom Iona actually lets me use her car to transport people. My sister, who's already been inducted into the ranks of angels, has been picking up and dropping off people at the train station and getting dinner. With the dog, who just makes everyone smile.

I'm leaving people out in my list, I know. Those are just the things and the people swimming in my mind right this minute.

Every one is so ready to run in and help and read lines and move stuff around and then clean up that it really touches me. 

Oh, and did I mention they're also terrifically talented on camera? I mean, that's why they're with us in the first place. Everything extra they do just makes my job much easier, and better, and funner.

I'm really exhausted but really exhilarated by the joy everyone has brought to this project. It really makes me feel privileged. 

Now I must sleep for about 14 hours. Afterward -- pictures from this weekend.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Uprising Update

We got our new dual-quad-core Mac. It took 6 hours to load the software onto it. But it seems to work and we've begun editing on it, rather than taking up Blair's computer. 

The aluminum keyboard is nice.

Maduka built this opening in Maya. Using a web tutorial, I made the background.

We shoot a bunch of stuff this weekend. We'll be more than 1/2 way through principal photography by the end of the weekend and we'll certainly be "over the hump" as far as shooting goes. 

We need AAA batteries and coat hangers. It would really float my boat if by the end of next week we had a cut of "Act 1" which would be everything through the Marines leaving the ship. As always, we try to avoid front-title text because we just have to duplicate the picture and put it at the end of the videotape without titles for overseas distribution. White text on black at the end of the movie eliminates that problem ;-).

Friday, September 19, 2008

A shot done?

I think this one's the final for this shot. (We made up this shot on the set. We had no greenscreen however. Knowing what I know now it might have been worthwhile to get a greenscreen, or to put up either white or black solid something-or-other outside the window. This composite was harder to make than I expected.)

Maduka has quite a few minutes of the picture edited. I'd love to have a rough copy of the first act (which I think is right up to where the Marines land on the planet) by the end of next week but I don't know if we'll have all the CG of the "computer" done by then as we have to shoot some of it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sleeping Astronaut

Rebecca Kush as Lt. Dunn with Rove 12 out the window of the Ikarus.

Building Composites

Maduka is working on some flybys which the computer displays and I've been working on these "out of the window" composites (which were much harder to do than I'd expected when shooting them.)

I think these are playing at 30 frames per second when they're supposed to be 24 frames/second. I'll have to check that.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More Behind the Scenes

Ofer Haguri took these pictures of us.

Gabriella Willenz being shot by Andrew Bellware.

Laura Schlachtmeyer doing things with props while Andrew Bellware shoots.

Old roommates Zach Lombardo and Tom Rowen.

James Edward Becton smirking.

Kumiko Konishi relaxing.

Ben Sulzbach with Gabriella Willenz (who has her shirt torn through her body.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Progress Report

I found this resource with free images of "planet maps" to use in 2-D and 3-D programs.

Here are some tutorials for After Effects which are excellent.

I realized the following in regards to 0802 The Uprising: We will start locking reels of the picture by the end of this month and we will have a final picture lock of the whole thing in December. The dialog edit, sound edit, and mix should all be complete before the end of January."

Maduka is working incredibly hard on the edit. We're getting spanked a little because of our slating method which puts just as little information at the head of a take as possible.* But it's not too hard because our shooting ratio is so low.

We seem to have almost 15 minutes of the picture edited but the first four minutes are an incredibly self-indulgent exercise in Kubrick-esque silent images for the purpose of the director's amusement. I'll post it sometime under "Why the Director shouldn't be allowed to edit."

*We just shoot, someone yells out the number of the sound file, we slate, and we go. We're trying to say the number of the scene every once in a while so at least that's on the sound track, but NOTHING is written on the slate. Sue me.

Figure Out a Monster

So, we've been in a major back-and-forth about the danged monster. We thought we had it settled and we were going to buy the Chupacabra mask (below in an earlier post) but the guys who make that mask are impossible to get a hold of (even after calling their cell(!) phones.) So now we're getting this one off of eBay.

This thing won't manipulate at all. You can just tell. Maybe it doesn't need to. But it needs to drip with slime...

Brian suggests KY jelly as "slime". It's gonna be fun going into the store to get as much KY as we need.

I don't know if we should try theatrical contact lenses. I don't know if you'll even see a closeup of the eyes.

This Sunday we have about 20 people on set. It's gonna be a world of wrangling!

Upcoming Titles

Still looking for "tie-in" pictures.

"Pandorum" is a dark and claustrophobic tale about two crewmen who awaken aboard their spacecraft, unaware of their mission or their identities. As they piece things together, the men make a harrowing discovery that threatens the survival of mankind."That sounds like the kind of movie we could make.
And there's always a tie-in to the live-action "Akira" which could be interesting. Who doesn't want to shoot in post-nuclear New Manhattan?

Monday, September 15, 2008


A kinda fabulous thing about The Economist is that they'd actually go and track something as ridiculous as shark attacks all the way back to 1580.

My only concern is: what do they mean by unprovoked shark attacks? Are there many provoked shark attacks? Is someone going around and poking sharks?

Their graphic designer gets a big win too.