Monday, June 29, 2009

Post Mortem Alien Uprising

OK, here are my general notes on AU & what did and didn't work.

What made the experience the most pleasurable of making that movie was having Maduka be in it and edit it. The Josh James script was good and emotionally clear in its direction in each scene.

The center of the picture has a B story (love story) and there is a scene which I'm actually a bit proud of where Maduka's and Kumiko's characters first start talking to one another which could have been static and boring but which actually works. The trick, as it turns out, is having enough time on stage to work out the business and the beats to make the scene move. Ahh... time.

At one point Steve said something about how shooting would be easier if we had rehearsal time before we shot. Ha! I thought. We would have had the same dang scheduling problems! Two ensemble pictures in a row, Solar Vengeance and Alien Uprising, with unpaid actors, made scheduling hands-down the most difficult and logistically challenging part. It is kind of neat to get big scenes with a whole bunch of people in them to work. But getting everyone to the location, in costume, that can be a bitch.

The closeups of the alien look good, but the wides aren't up to snuff. I don't think I did a good job with the death of the alien. That was a bit static and looks a bit clumsy. I wish we'd worked more on how the thing moved. Probably most of these things could have been solved by a more grandiose idea of what the alien could have looked like. I probably should have brought Brian in on designing and building something. Of course that would have meant more money spent.

I do wish there were a shot of the dang alien just before Jeff dies. I look at the movie now and that shot seems so obvious -- we certainly had the footage. But we didn't put it in there.

I wish we had a composer on the picture. Not that I don't like what I did on the movie, it was OK, but an outside ear would have been helpful and would have reduced my workload.

A couple composites should have been color-shifted to look like they were photographed by the same camera. The particle effects are primarily monochrome but without the right tint.

I tried two jump scares. They don't work though. In the future, our jump scares will work. Both of them in Alien Uprising interfere with the pacing.

It was nice to have Lanie cast the movie. We met a lot of people we wouldn't have otherwise and worked with some fine people who were new to us. That's always good. I really like our cast.

I wish we'd solved the issue that we didn't have a way for people to get from the ship to the facility and back. We just didn't have a set. So in the movie just go from being inside the ship to suddenly being inside the facility. This was something we were concerned with before shooting, we just didn't have a budget-conscious way to work it out. Maduka came up with a solve which was organic to the movie, the computer point-of-view, which turned out to be neccesary for a bunch of transitions, but that one more set section would have been nice.

More lights on helmets and guns would have helped with exposure and not cost us too much.

All the trouble we went to in order to make each of the characters physically stand out from one another seems to work. I don't think many people confuse the marines with one another. They're each pretty distinct.

I think I actually prefer the muzzle flashes in the trailer -- even though those are generic (and free) muzzle flashes (and don't always go in the right direction exactly).

We didn't color correct that movie any more than raising the exposure in some exposure-challenged scenes. Very amber lookin' movie. The producer would have preferred that the blacks sunk to a green color. But they didn't. So there. The 3D visual effects (spaceship mostly) is a bit more on the anime side of CGI than I'd prefer.

I wish I'd thought to make the two big decisions -- for the Marines to work with the prisoners and for Dunn to go back to get Lee -- bigger and more specific. Those are the two big turns the picture makes and it would have been better if we made a bigger deal out of them. I know I was rushed on both those days but I should have at least thought of it.

What else? This picture sold faster than any other picture we've sold (it has a ways to go before it sells the most though, that's been Millennium Crisis). It's less rough around the edges than Solar Vengeance. The trailer is good, but of course we have no say on the trailer (except that I wrote the music for it -- which is unusual -- but they'd cut it using needle-drop music which they didn't have the rights to so I created a score which sorta matched the needle-drop.) Distributors seem to be focussing on it as an Aliens style mockbuster.

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