Monday, July 29, 2013

My Notes for Today

Ooh! Check it out! An interview with writer/director Nat Cassidy!
Last time I asked Nat to write a movie for us he told me to talk to his literary agent. To which I say: ha!
I have done an absolutely terrible job of seeing friend's plays lately. I'll admit that I did a terrible job of seeing people's plays when they took place 12 feet above my head in my old theater. I don't feel good about this. You know, now that I think about it there are some people's freaking movies I haven't seen. Oh great.
Ato Essandoh taught me a couple really important acting things. He comes from an unusual background -- chemical engineering. Read up on him here.
One thing that he likes to do (this is my perception from a directing standpoint) is to map out the direction of a scene in his mind. I don't think I've worked with any other actors who work that way. He's like "Okay, so when the scene starts I'm talking to these people over here -- but when she walks in I'm all about her -- and that makes this happen and I realize that this other thing, which leads me to pick up a gun and shoot the alien."
That's not an actual transcription of a conversation I've had with Ato, but it's somewhat in the right idea. And it's a really awesome acting technique for figuring out your own flow of intents and emotions and thoughts. Film is interesting because you can really see people think and decide things. That's exceptionally compelling to watch.
The second big Ato thing which my buddy Mitch pointed out is that Ato is the king of changing his direction in the middle of a shot. What I mean by that is he does these masterful changes in emotion where you can see him thinking or realizing things. There's a great scene in a Law & Order where he was the masterful bad-dude criminal on the witness stand who just knew he had control of the room; he was so charismatic as the baddest of the bad that he just swaggered sitting there on the witness stand.
But Sam Waterson got up, said one thing which tripped up Ato's character's rouse. And the sudden confusion, resistance, anger that swept across Ato's face was beautiful. It's an amazing thing.
I saw a similar thing the other night where Ato's character on Copper had to go into a room full of sociopathic killers and treat a police officer who was being held hostage. And while his friends were telling him this he has this "oh no, no way I'm going in there to get shot" which went to a resolve to do it. To risk his life. Not a joy, a resolve to do. As a doctor, as a human being.
Anyway, the dude is a pretty awesome acting class.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Next Up: Giant Robots

The internecine fighting in the cultural anthropological world would be comical if it weren't so tedious. Apparently Bill Gates tweeted some sort of agreement about Guns, Germs, and Steel suggesting that only the fairly picayune factual elements of the book were only contested by other academics. Here's a fairly incoherent article which in its attempts to disprove Diamond really only end up proving his points. As far as I can tell.
So. I thought I would write a second novel. I would have based it on the story I wrote on my Twitter feed a couple years back. Normally I would have thought that would be right in my skill set. I already wrote the story, right? So just filling it in with some more dialogue and such would make it a novel.
Well then I started reading a whole bunch of Dick Francis. His books, mystery/thrillers told in the first person by someone who either is or was an English jockey, are fantastically well-written. I won't even go into how I suspect that the books in his ouvre were likely written by he and his wife together, but suffice to say that I think most books were written by (at least) two people.
In any case, "my" previous "novel" was a re-write of "No Easy Day". Now, the way that book is written it's essentially event-anecdote-event. There's very little character development actually. And since I already had the structure of the novel pretty well worked out (which could be derived from reading that portion of my twitter feed, er, backwards) I thought I was in good shape.
But no. It's just not going to work that way.  
So I either go back to the very hard work of going through the thousands of hours of writing this novel or... or I quit. It's not like I don't have a lot of other things to do with my time. I vaguely recall a commitment to making 8 feature films a year and an opera. I think I should get back to work on those things. Not really "get back" so much as "not put any brain power into this novel".
So that happened.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Cat In The Machine

Today was cat in the Machine day. We seldom have a set cat. But today kitty came out to make sure we were all on schedule.
Where exactly is craft services on this show?

You know I'm on golden time from the minute you pet me, right?

How do you know when a grip dies? He drops his doughnut. Ha!

I shall lurk like a vulture.

I think you should do more cats-in-prison pictures. There's a huge untapped market for those.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Rubber Shoulder Kilt Scope

Aaron Schillinger grooved me to the movie Rubber, which looks simply off the hook.

Eventually I'm going to need one of these Letus shoulder-mounts in order to be able to go from sticks to shoulder-mount quickly, aren't I? Yes. I'm sure I will.
There are a lot of working kilts out there in the world.
I may need to get a red-dot scope. Eergh. It's just for one dang shot but it has to match the scope which... which we don't know where is.

The Future of the Machine

Over the last 6 years (I actually went back into my Google Documents and checked old spreadsheets) every time I do a calculation of the realistic minimum amount of money a company needs in receivables each year just to stay afloat sustainably the number is... $250,000.
A quarter of a million dollars.

So we have to push way up there. We have to do a better job in the details of our art department (see photo above). More grit, more grime. Oddly we can mass-produce those sorts of details. We will.
And we have to produce much, much more. One day we might be able to see more than that from "catalog" sales but right now we're targeting 8 movies in a year. This year we've been on track to shoot three pictures. That's cool but I bet we could get up to 4. 2014 however, that's gotta be 8.
And sure, there will be some repurposed and re-used sets or set pieces. But we'll go to every effort to make them not obvious.
And that's that.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Falling, Hats, Arrows

Jeremy over at All For Gun discusses the ballistics of different ammunition. Which is a subject on the Interwebs which is typically a shouting match of malarkey. Jeremy is, however, exceptionally clear.
One thing which confuses people is the fact that all bullets "drop" at the same speed. Just because an object is going really fast doesn't mean it does not fall at the same rate as (say) an apple.
The confusion is that bullets are usually shot upwards slightly and so they spend some of their travel going against gravity, until they determine at some time that they will go ahead and start falling down at the prescribed 32 feet/s/s. Unless they're European bullets in which case they fall at 9.75 meters/s/s or thereabouts.*
The hats of Copper. I've been trying to find out what that short top hat was called. Now I know.
Arrowhead: Signal is an Australian short which is begging for funds to be a feature. The production design looks nice.
*UPDATE: my dad would like to point out that the bullet is always falling and that indeed if you drew an imaginary plane along the barrel of the gun you'd see that the bullet is essentially falling from the plane at the prescribed rate (although not quite because it doesn't work out that way trigonometrically.) My dad also pointed out today that the University he went to has changed hands so many times that his graduate degree is now from NYU, but that's an entirely separate subject.