Saturday, November 29, 2008

Warning. Danger.

"Warning. Danger. Prisoner escape."

A Canadian relative sent me this link to a multi-lingual text-to speech site. I inferred that another relative was involved in the development of the text-to-speech tool. They certainly have the largest number of languages I've seen online.

I then used this very heavy pop-up-ish site to translate from English. And then I checked the translation with Babelfish. I figure that some of the translation funkiness might very well be appropriate.




Friday, November 28, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

And the Winner Is

Color. I was hoping for Black and White goodness but the masses have spoken. And the masses are probably right. We do as they command from their screaming hordes below my balcony. My centurions will throw to them stale bread to eat and they shall be served a cheap fermented libation to keep them sedated and quiet. This is how I rule my contented kingdom.*

I guess that the logo will end up being slightly different on each picture. Sometimes the whole thing needs to be shorter, sometimes we don't need the closeup, sometimes we need a closeup of someone else (but only when the next shot would be the same actress in character.) So for Solar Vengeance we used the whole colorized logo but for Alien Uprising we've made it shorter.

In any case, that's for your help! Now the poll may leave the sidebar.

*What am I saying? Only 10 people voted. Including me. This is hardly a statistically valid sample. Yet still. I listen. And obey. 

You're not the CEO of me

YouTube has changed their aspect ratio. You haven't been listening to enough Savage Rose.* 
Oh look though. It doesn't seem to have to have the extra wide aspect ratio when embedded. 
I should probably take a year and learn some Jimmy Page riffs on the guitar. You know, Black Dog, Moby Dick, that sort of thing. 

*Those are two separate thoughts, should be on separate paragraphs.

Monday, November 24, 2008

S.A.G. doesn't S.U.K.

... well, at least SAG doesn't suck as much as they used to. When I was teaching I would always tell the students to never sign a SAG contract if they wanted any chance of seeing their money back from a feature they produce. But now it's different. The Screen Actors Guild has changed their contracts to reflect this little thing which we all like to call "reality".

In the olden days (a few years ago) SAG was under the impression that it was reasonable to expect that if a producer could not get a theatrical deal, and instead made a picture which went straight to video, that the contract should automatically "bump up" to become a full-level contract with requisite increases in pay for the performers.

So in other words, if you make a movie but all you could get was a deal at Blockbuster, SAG was going to insist you pay all your "professional" actors six hundred and some odd dollars for each day they worked. This would, of course, skunk the only distribution deal you could get. So everybody loses. Producer can't make any money back. Actors don't even get to be in a picture which premiered at Hollywood Video.

But now they've taken those onerous "step up fee" clause out of their Low-Budget Agreements. I can't help but think I had a hand to play in that as I have a buddy who is/was on the SAG board in New York and I used to complain to him endlessly about this. I mean really, I used to harangue him. And as big as a Union man he was, he had to agree that yeah, those were stupid rules.*

So nowadays if you have a picture budgeted under $200K and you want to shoot SAG (with 8-hour days at $100/day), it's perfectly OK. Go ahead. It'll be a lot of paperwork, and you'll have to pay an extra $14/day or so in benefits, but it won't kill you come time to distribute the picture.

What will kill you is that you still can't afford to pay your actors a total $35,000 over the course of a feature and expect to make money in the DVD market. But that's not SAG's fault.** Indeed, the $100/day movie is certainly a "labor of love" for the actor and making a feature at that level is a labor of love for the producer. Either one of them can certainly make a lot more money waiting tables.

*The one thing I, as an old union organizer, really don't like about their contracts is that they still explicitly cut out protections for non "professional" (read "non-SAG") performers. I find that really insulting to the other actors that SAG won't even try to protect their working conditions if they aren't members of the Guild. Other unions do that, but not SAG.

**The $35K number is my off-the-cuff guess at your costs -- including taxes and SSI and such, the "pay" to the actors would be about $25,000 if everyone were working for minimums calculating the approximate number of "actor days" (which is the number of total days worked by all the actors) at 250. This number seems about right for a 20-day shoot. Your performance may vary.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Maduka Steady Quote

"They used to make me watch movies in 9th grade health class that had characters like Drew in them."

Cats versus pole dance

It's a scantily - clad and athletic woman pole dancing. And she's not what you'll be paying attention to when watching this video.


OMGtheinternetisthemostperfectthingintheworld. Just give it six minutes of your life. You won't regret the remaining four.

Bring a flare gun and a rebreather. Never travel alone, when outdoors always travel in groups.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I bet that one day we'll want to get a desktop super computer. I know that we'll figure out how to bring it to its knees within a week, but before that week we'll have lots of fun with it.

Right now our dual quad-core Mac is holding up nicely (knock on wood). It takes a while to render out the smooth-cam in Final Cut Pro, but it handles 720p HD footage fairly well and will even apply an effect or two before it needs to pre-render for playback.

I still have to use Samplitude version 8 rather than the latest version (10) to edit dialog and effects. Bleh.

I am sometimes accused of not having enough nudity on this blog. I am never accused of not having enough bunnies.

Upcoming sci-fi films list:

The Book of Eli with Denzel Washington (2010) Post-apocalyptic Western. Dude must rescue a book or some such thing.
Battle: Los Angeles (2010) Marine commander vs. aliens
The Days Before "aliens invading Earth by traveling backwards through time and wiping out humanity - yesterday by yesterday - while one man stays a yesterday ahead of them, trying to convince the world that the end is coming again."

Forever War

Bioshock. Directed by Gore Verbinski. More gore, less verbinski.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Various and Sundry

We're trying to figure out which way Mozz' new script is going to go. Does she wake up on the floor of the laboratory naked, with no memory of who she is? Or is she found in the post-apocalyptic desert by a couple scavengers whom she promptly dispatches?

You tell me.

Make your own MTA T-shirt.


A kitten bothers a bunny:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Some News

The thing Frank Sinatra and I have in common is that we both loved Ava Gardner more than she loved us.
Now for some good news:

We got some sales for Alien Uprising at the American Film Market! We got about half the sales we wanted. But at least we got sales. And we got these sales before we're out of post-production. We have sales to Japan, Russia, and Thailand. Hopefully we'll announce more sales soon.

So that's cool.

I have a feeling that puts us ahead of a lot of more-expensively produced pictures.

Actually, I know this puts us ahead of a lot of more expensively produced pictures. A lot.

But who thought that starting a new company in the worst recession since the Great Depression was a good idea? Who was that moron? Oh. It was me. Oops. We're going to have to simultaneously reduce our budgets and make our pictures better. Again.

In any case, having some cash coming in will make me feel vastly better. Actually, I feel myself breathing again. That's when you bring air in and out of your lungs, right? I haven't done that for so long I think I forgot.


Chance's groovy Norway trip and last night's conversation with Jim Mickle have me converted to submitting to European fantastic film festivals. I'm getting on that right away.


Filed under "she actually looks better as she gets older". Pictures of a model "aged" from 10 to 60.


I've been doing a bit of research in a local Blockbuster. Basically, my interest is in finding independent distributors which get their non-theatrically-released DVD's into Blockbuster.

Obviously Lion's Gate gets their titles in. But they are (I believe) the largest "indy" distributor in the world (maybe that's only North America, who knows? India might have a larger distributor.)

The Asylum regularly gets their "mockbusters" into Blockbuster. The Asylum released our movie Pandora Machine. I think we sold almost 8000 DVD's to Blockbuster and whatever other retailers there were before they all went bankrupt. Ahh... the good old days.

Terra Entertainment had at least one title in Blockbuster...

Now there are some distributors which I don't quite understand. Obviously Weinstein Entertainment has a special deal with Blockbuster. But Summit Entertainment handles some pretty big pictures -- with theatrical distribution. They seem to go through Universal or Weinstein in the US. Also, Peace Arch Entertainment is a pretty big film/tv producer and distributor. And there's MTI Video (which has the Fangoria label). There certainly are a lot fewer names out there than the last time I checked at Blockbuster a number of years ago.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

GTA IV vs Paulson

So, Grand Theft Auto IV did not come out yesterday on the PC. I was told at Best Buy that it would be available on the 3rd of December. I guess that means I'll get more work done between now and the 3rd of December than I would have otherwise.

I guess that's the good news.

I need not only a new President but more urgently I need a new Treasury Secretary. This credit crisis is making me go broke.

It turns out that I'm being directly affected by the stupid economic climate. One of our buyers has signed contracts worth $16,000 for a couple of our movies, but isn't paying to have them delivered because of (apparently) the credit crisis making things so hard on them. Now it's true that I'm inferring what their problem(s) is/are but that seems to be the issue. We don't have another buyer in that particular market who's chomping at the bit to give us money so we're kinda stuck just waiting (it's not like they really "owe" us this money because they haven't taken delivery). And of course we don't actually get all the $16K ourselves, we only get about $10K and it gets divided up between a number of parties but.... I could really use the money right now. Who couldn't?

From the Queen of Mars: We can do whatever we want, the question is: when do we stop?"

Because you want to know the provenance of Doctor Who.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Inadvertent Album

So, it turns out I inadvertently created a new Prague Spring album.

The album is called Come What May. I know, I know, the music is all from Hamlet and Macbeth but the artwork is from The Tempest. Bite me.

Enjoy it while stoned or about to go to sleep.


I've been jonesing to record an album of extended late-'60s Danish psychedelic-influenced tracks, performing as the art-rock ensemble, Pleasure for the Empire*. And I figured that would be the next album I'd make. But no, there was another album sitting on my hard drive in the meantime...

What happened was I've found myself responsible for the sound on the new version of Mac Rogers' Universal Robots. Because I don't want to compose an entire score while I'm also working on a couple movies, I figured I'd reuse some of this stuff.

So I dug up the music I did for my movie Hamlet and for the play version of Macbeth I scored (I also scored a comedic movie version of Macbeth, but this isn't that.) So I have an entire album's worth of material, and I figured I may as well put it together as one. The thing is, the music is by and large unlistenable. It's music designed to be talked over, because it's all (or mostly) underscore. The music misses the middle, or melody. There are a couple exceptions, the Coronation for instance. But the point of the music is to affect the emotion of the audience, not really to be listened to on its own.

The entire album is up as mp3's. I'll probably submit it to Pump Audio. In the meantime, it can be perused by directors or whomever for shows and movies. If I could make money with it by someone using it in a score or a commercial, that would of course be awesome.

I found a nice free font source at Abstract Fonts. I know, I know, I should have used Trajan throughout.

*Yes, the last Prague Spring album was named "Pleasure for the Empire". I was thinking about naming the first Pleasure for the Empire album "Prague Spring". What I really want to do is name an album "Disambiguation" so that one day Wikipedia will have a "Disambiguation disambiguation" page.


All my websites are down. My service provider emailed me at 6am that the yearly attempt to charge my credit card failed. By 10pm they suspended my account.

Now firstly, I'd appreciate it if they'd told me (say) a week ago that my yearly bill was due. And secondly, I'd appreciate it if they'd give me like a week to deal with it. Of course the credit card they had on file didn't work -- it had been stolen so I just got it replaced. But besides that, a yearly recurring bill? That's the sort of thing that'll surprise most anyone.

So gee whiz, guys. Give a fellow more than 16 hours (on a weekend yet!) to deal with his billing. And put my freakin' sites back up!


Other than that, $100 a year for 10GB, unlimited domains, and 100GB of transfer is not too bad.

Saturday, November 15, 2008


I've completed a pass on the dialog and sound effects edit of the first reel of Alien Uprising. We're waiting for a couple pieces to arrive -- a bit of dialog, a hand clap, and... oh... all the music... and we're ready to go. (I believe we're even set for all the visual effects in reel 1.)

At one time Mobieus had worked out storyboards for a movie version of Dune.

This art is by a fellow named Adam Tredowski.

Mozz says he's going to give me a complete script tomorrow. He's a writer. So he's lying. But it's nice to know that one day I'll maybe have a first draft of something. Being a producer is hard. Being a producer when you don't pay anyone is harder. We have to make movies which gross at least $120K worldwide (and on a regular basis) for us to actually pay anyone upfront. That's what I figure at least.

Trajan Trajan Trajan

This post is strictly a set of meandering notes I've written over the last couple weeks. It makes little sense to me. It makes no sense to you.

But at least you have this hover penguin.


Magnolia is releasing six genre pictures as part of the Six Shooter Film Series. They're actually calling it a "labor of love". Does that mean they don't expect to make any money with it? Or does a theatrical release assure a Blockbuster placement and they figure they should break even on the series with the possibility of one of the pictures being a hit?


Via John Rogers, my old Wooster Group pal Clay Shirky on The Coasean Floor.


Begin incoherent ramblings...

Bill Cunningham is writing The Pulp Filmmaking Manual.

I've been thinking about what that would be like.

And I'm thinking that perhaps "The Pulp Filmmaking Manual" could be alternatively titled "Making Movies That Don't Suck" because I think that by and large the rules are the same whether it's pulp or a costume drama.

Things like "knowing what the movie is about" is what everyone should be doing. The better art house pictures do that.*


In other words, I'm not entirely sure that the word "pulp" (as used by Bill) is substantially different from the word "good" when describing movies, or theater, or novels, or what-have-you. By and large one has the same issues when making art house pictures as when making genre pictures. I mean, except for the fact that you have a prayer of making your money back when making a genre picture.**

Maybe I'm wrong.

Certainly in the production post/production stage you're performing the same activities. Creating the DM&E tracks are the same pain-in-the-butt activity whether you've made a horror film or a domestic comedy.***


If I were really pretentious I might compare Macbeth to A Swell-Looking Babe, and The Odyssey to Star Wars. Wait, I am pretentious. So I shall. Well, at least I'll talk about the classic stuff as though it were genre entertainment. Let's look at these three Shakespeare's from a genre producer's perspective:

The top of Hamlet is front-loaded as a ghost story. Act I scene i -- a couple guards on a battlement are scared out of their wits, almost kill one another, and then meet up with the dude who's point of view the show is of (Horatio). Then a ghost shows up and creeps everybody out the wazoo. This is a classic front-loaded opening of a story. A nice big bang to get you started. I like it, kid. Now tell me there will be a good fight scene at the end...

Macbeth? First up is the end of a battle (because doing the actual battle would be too expensive), and then? Witches! Make it short, Sweetheart, and gimme a beheading at the end and we gotta deal...

And Titus Andronicus is basically the Japanese torture porn of Elizabethan England. It's some sick stuff... I can't even go into it. But let's just say that when Corman said he didn't want any ideas rejected because they were in bad taste, he wasn't talking about Titus...


I've also been thinking a lot about using books and screenwriting guides and applying them to movies and I thought of paraphrasing, inverting, and pummeling Chekhov Turgenev Tolstoy:

"Good movies are good in different ways, bad movies are always bad the same ways."

And we tend to look for the patterns which indicate "bad movie" when we're developing pictures. That's why we make all kinds of rules about what to do when perhaps what we actually need is to simply do our pattern-matching with what not to do.


Uh, where was I going here? Something about a font I like...

*The better arthouse pictures are pulp. See Brick.
**OK, so there are more alien androids in pulp, but only barely.
***Except that you probably won't have to make DM&E's for your domestic comedy because you'll never get overseas sales. OK. Snark = off.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thursday Shoot

Maduka directed a short we shot on Thursday.

Tom Rowen and Diana Ferrante. Just the four of us for a few hours. We shot in Fiona's amazing and beautiful apartment in Washington Heights.

Primarily we used one 500W open face light (with barn doors). But we used a 100W halogen L-light (which is causing the flare in the 3rd picture)* and possibly a small florescent for a bit of kick in Diana's eyes. Yes, it would have been nice to have a kino for some of the closeups, but we don't have one (although Mitchell does.)

*We liked the flare so we let it blow out the shot.

Not an Option

We're waiting on news from the American Film Market, which ended on Wednesday. We're always waiting on news from the AFM or the Cannes Film Market.


Bill, over at Pulp 2.0 rants about producers at the AFM. Deodorant is not an option.


Our producer once went to the AFM, but as a rule we stay away from it. The whole purpose of the AFM for us is to sell movies overseas. Buyers aren't really interested in talking to producers (see rant above). In fact, we really don't have much to talk about other than "themes" and "visual tropes".

So honestly we should stay away from the market as much as possible.


We make girls-with-guns pictures. We're getting better and better at it with each movie. Everybody loves girls-with-guns flicks. I mean everybody. Lots of people will pooh-pooh them and claim to not like them but the fact is they all do.

You do.

Back Up says they will backup any amount of data to their servers (from one computer) for $4.95/month. I have a lot of data which could use some off-site storage. For $60/year (which is a lot less than the amount I spend in hard drives per year) I can have infinite data backup? I told 'em I had terrabytes of data to back up and they said that was fine. So we'll try it.

They have Mac as well as PC backup. I told them I have one computer which dual-boots. Unfortunately, I'd need one license for the PC and one for the Mac. Fortunately, as long as the OS can read from the drive, Mozy will back it up. So I bought the license for the Mac knowing that it can read NTFS, HFS, and FAT-32.

Of course, using the Internet, the backup is slow as molasses. So it'll take a couple (few? several?) weeks to run my first backup job. But the backup can run in the background.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Embargo Over

I completely forgot that the embargo is over on displaying this art.

This is Halcyon's art for the "one-sheet" of Alien Uprising.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

To Fest To Film

Early deadline for both Tribeca and SXSW is the 14th of November. We're thinking about submitting Solar Vengeance to both of them. On the outside chance that we could get into one or the other of those festivals it might help us with North American distribution, which we do not yet have for that picture. 

In the meantime, we're up to page 56 in the script of the Alien Uprising edit. 

I'm happy with the edit. We've come to that scene in the movie where the action slows down and we have a bit of a love story interaction between two characters. This scene is in the middle of most movies. From experience I know that scene could go very badly. But Josh James wrote it so well that the actors had a great time with it and I even feel like I was able to do a workman like job on it camera-wise and blocking-wise. 

And Tom Rowen is working on an android-bounty-hunter has to rescue a Yakuza Boss' daughter from space pirates script.
If the cuddly cats aren't doing it for you here's a girl with a gun.

Monday, November 10, 2008

How to Know

Chance won the audience award at the WT* Film Festival in Os Norway.

Here is the festival's blog post about it (I think).

It looks like it might indeed be the coolest film festival in the world.

*Weird Tales (?)


Sunday, November 09, 2008

Thai Millennium Crisis

The Thai version of Millennium Crisis has been out for a while. Be sure to order your copy or pick one up the next time you're in Thailand.

I ordered from They sell via mail order to the US.

I love their cover art. The colors punch in a way which I like.

One thing which is interesting to me is that they sell the movie as a two-CD set of VCD's. All the nudity is blurred out.

I have here two very brief clips to give you a feel for the Thai language. Here's the "2nd scene":

And here is the scene on the space station:

Yes, your sports metaphor...

... was just what we needed to solve this business problem.

I woke up from a dream with that sentence in my head. Have no idea why.

There's an article in today's New York Times about why Chicago has better theater than New York. Basically it's because you have a lot of talent there, and real estate is vastly less expensive.

I think that I've been remiss in making this blog "not safe for work". Unless pictures of bunnies are not safe for work (and if that's so, where on earth do you work?).

My latest movie has relatively little nudity in it. I blame that as the problem.

We're up to page 50 in the edit. That means we have picture edit for more than half the movie Alien Uprising. Hopefully sales are happening right now at the American Film Market.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Zombie vs Shark

You haven't seen a zombie versus shark movie almost all day. I'm here to help you.

Via SF Signal, Filmdrunk sez: "The clip comes from Lucio Fulci’s Zombi 2, released in 1979."

If that doesn't work for you, here's a bunny.

Time Zero

This image is from a post about time zero film from Polaroid. The author writes more about the film stock.

I've made a number of amber/gold movies. I'd like to make an azure/blue movie one day.

I wonder if there's a Magic Bullet plugin which is like time zero. I wonder how far I can take my camera to push the blue in that manner? We might want the blacks to sink a bit deeper. I dunno.

Sometimes, slightly out of focus just looks great.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Fear the Future

The Alien Uprising teaser.

Two Reasons to Hate Obama

1. He's very thin.

2. He actually looks good in a cowboy hat. Almost nobody looks good in a cowboy hat. Maybe Clint Eastwood, but that's it.

Have you noticed that the campaigns of anyone who runs against Obama just self destructs?

Just don't run against him and you'll be fine.

Sarah Palin didn't know that Africa was a continent, not a country.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


There's been a bit of new pop music I've been liking lately. There were a few years there where pop was really boring me.

Coldplay's Viva la Vida got a huge push from their record company.

Airborn Toxic Event might be a more "alternative" act which got its start on MySpace, of all things. It's like they took U2 circa 1988 and added a sort of Joy Division descending triads vocal - melody type thing. Well, one could imagine the Psychedelic Furs doing this with a more keyboardy arrangement.

There's something which just irks me about Death Cab for Cutie. Perhaps I'm rubbed the wrong way because they just seem like their songs should suck a lot more than they do. If you have 8 minutes you could listen to this whole thing. If you want to skip the intro then just go in about 4 minutes.

President Barack Hussein Obama

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Maybe in Ohio...

... but not in America.

Pear Schnapps will get me through tonight.

Bad Voter

I'm a bad voter.

My cousin Kelly sent this to me. I suppose it's because she's Canadian and she figures that just because they messed up their election so badly, that's no reason we should mess up ours.

Either that, or as a Quebecer, she heard Sarah Palin punked on the radio. 


So I voted. But I was a very very bad citizen. First of all, with all the hoopla I had no idea there was a House and a Senate race. New Jersey is such a blue state it almost doesn't matter, I'm sure those races aren't close. But I had no idea.

And there were TWO "Public Questions". Aargh. I had no idea how to answer them. So I didn't vote on the public questions. Sorry!

Also, our town and county are so blue that no Republican is ever elected. So my dad convinces me every year to vote Republican in local races in the hopes that the county Freeholders (whatever those are) and the Borough Council will have some Republicans on them. The joke: you're supposed to vote for two Members of the Borough Council and the Republicans only had one guy on the ballot. Feh.

My only other issue is that I'm not sure I spelled "Huckabee" right in the write-in portion of the ballot... ;-)

Saturday, November 01, 2008

McCain for Obama

Few people are aware that I am John McCain's ad director. It's true. Although I'm an ardent Obama supporter, the McCain campaign has hired me to do their national television spots.*

The job is pretty easy. I tell the boys in the back room all kinds of things they want to hear and then I go and make an ad which makes my man Barack Obama look pretty good. They get an ad they like, Obama gets an ad which works for him, and I get a big fat paycheck paid by money from Republican donors**. Everybody wins.

Here's my latest "anti-Obama" ad. Hey, what can I say? The guys who picked Sarah Palin approved it before it went to air. It shows Obama's greatest weakness: his ability to work with other people. Or wait, what? You guys are kidding, right? I put that ad together down at the DNC's studios with Joe Biden. They were going to air it. I only showed it to the McCain Campaign by accident.

Oh? Your guys want to air it? Um. OK. You sure you have enough money to pay for it? Where's my check?   

You know, it's true. Barack Obama is the perfect Republican candidate. Not for the crazies, of course, but for the old-school Republicans who can't stand the Republican party anymore.

*You might not have heard, but their vetting process is not very good.
**Man, I so WISH that were true.