Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Organic Armor

Organic Armor makes some cool and elegant and, well, organic -- armor pieces.
They make pretty inspiring stuff.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Post-Christmas

I wanna go scuba diving in Iceland. I just do. I do.

Dune Mountain Dew Parody Commercial from Byron Merritt on Vimeo.
Don't Shoot the Costumer on what to pack in a truck.
So. Translights. We really should use such things on our movies. 
Check it out: Ryan's Reviews -- dude reviews no/low-budget movies.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Brother Dune

My eldest brother's website.

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Jeff Somers depressed me with his end-of-year review. I've read everything of his except for Lifers and Chum. He's pretty brilliant. We even named a character after him in Day II.

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On the eye effect in Dune (2000).

Speaking of Dune. Does anybody else notice the allegory of Dune to Vietnam? The way the Harkonen deliberately wait out the war in such a way that they figure the Empire will have to escalate it? I mean, for a book that came out in 1965 that is alarmingly prophetic because essentially the US military waited out the war expecting that they'd be able to get full political and public support for a massive invasion. That, of course, never happened.
Ho Chi Mihn isn't the Kwisatz Haderach but I think you see where I'm going with this.


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Nowlike

Looking back o'er this year of our Lord 2013 I've done the following. I wrote a book. I released two albums.

 And that's about it. Well, when I say the word "done" I mean "finished".
I "wrote" a book in that I liberally parodied another book.

I finished two albums which were primarily recorded in previous year(s). One by Tyrannosaurus Mouse. The other by Diatomaceous Earth.
I have two movies sitting on drives whilst we are finishing another movie. The releases of these movies next year will make next year seem very productive movie-wise even though most of the work is/has been done nowlike. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

It's my Internet and I can rant incoherently if I want to

There are some things I'm good at as a director. There are things I feel "need improvement". I'm good at finishing movies, obviously. I'm good at shooting wide painterly vistas.
I'm less good at building tension and suspense.
I know people who are good at that. Like Jim and Chance.
Sometimes I feel like this will be the best movie we've made. Sometimes I feel like I'm way over my head on this movie. I wish I made Westerns. I can do Westerns.
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There's quite a bit of action in this picture.
I do wish I were better at directing thriller scenes. There's a lot of what I think of as details which need to be shot in order to build a scare or make a tense scene. Or an action scene. I suppose if we really had a solid idea of what our sets were like before we shot in them we could storyboard the whole movie to give a notion of how the movie would get edited and then we just shoot the storyboards. That sounds perfectly luxurious to me.
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This thing here is called a "section sign". § I like it. I want more of them. I want a sideways one.
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I've worked on a lot of indy pictures. I mean I worked on a lot of them before I just gave up and started making my own movies.
The funny thing is that so many of these indy pictures shot in New York are identical. They have identical and interchangeable scripts and they're shot the same way, making the same mistakes, every time. They're long and talky scripts about someone from a particular ethnic group who wants to be more mainstream but then learns something about their own culture and embraces their culture instead of trying to find "success" the way they've defined it up until page 60 or so. C'mon, seriously. It's every single freakin' movie.
Also, they're all shot the same way.
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  • The standard shoot on these low-budget operations is 18 days. That's three 6-day weeks. 
  • Why work 6-day weeks? Apparently the reasoning is that your rental items are weekly, and you think you (as a producer) save money that way. Turns out you don't. Why? Because production doesn't get enough sleep and starts making some stupid decision or some non-decisions.
    On a typical picture where you're bouncing around from location to location each day you're going to lose at least two locations. But now the director and producer(s) don't have time to look for new locations because they're working 14 or more hours a day for 6 days. So by the end of the shoot the whole crew ends up being parked somewhere just waiting for someone to make a decision.
    No sleep, bad decisions also means:

    • The movie instantly goes into massive overtime.
    The director has no idea what's actually important and what isn't important in editing. They insist that entire takes be good rather than  making sure that they have something that's editable. I suppose this is a "first-time director" problem but I'm shocked at how much I see it happen.
    The DP is shooting their reel rather than shooting the movie. Setups which should take 15 minutes take an hour-and-a-half. Why? Because the narrative of the picture doesn't matter to the DP. Getting their next job and using all their toys matters. This is, not surprisingly, not good for the movie at hand.
    §
    Presumably this is a list of the movies Stephen Spielberg expects you to watch "before you work with him." What's missing? Well in my little world it would be the following probably. How about:

    • Alien
    • Aliens
    • Blade Runner
    • Forbidden Planet
    • Logan's Run
    • Planet of the Apes
    • The Road Warrior
    • Serenity
    • Silent Running

    TV Series:

    • Star Trek
    • (New) Battlestar Galactica
    • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • Firefly

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    See? I just like that thing.

    Saturday, December 14, 2013

    Cancelling Christmas

    That's it. Forget it. I'm cancelling Christmas.
    Remember when I was all excited because the TSA would allow pocketknives on airplanes? Well thanks to a bunch of whining by know-nothings, it's not going to happen.
    My already anti-Christmas family had this whole idea that they were going to give money to charity. I mean for Christmas. Like to the Philippines and such. When I had the brilliant idea that I'd give everyone knives. You know, thinking that the TSA wouldn't take them away anymore.
    Well now my brilliant idea has gone to pot and now there's only charity. Well "tphthth" to that.
    I'm cancelling Christmas.
    There. It's done.

    Wednesday, December 11, 2013

    All You Need Is Better Dialog

    We're working on a mockbuster of the Tom Cruise sci-fi movie Edge of Tomorrow. So I figured I'd read the book it's based on.
    I'll go ahead and call it.
    All You Need Is Kill is a touchstone of military sci-fi.
    Does that mean it's well - written? No. Not at all. I suppose it could just be the translation, but all the dialog (even the title), the metaphors, etc., is/are just... terrible. I mean embarrassingly bad.  On-the-nose bad.
    And seriously, the red woman? She only needs one nickname. And "Full Metal Bitch" isn't it. The "Red Valkyrie" would have been more than fine. "Full Metal Bitch" is just... stupid. The title of the book is just... stupid.
    But the story is pretty cool.

    I like to believe it's the translation. But it could be that's where Japanese novels are at.
    Fun fact with our mockbuster -- we already blew our wad with a Groundhog Day story with our Prometheus Trap. So this time we're going in a very different direction. We're pulling out the time travel elements altogether. Wish me luck on that one.

    Tuesday, December 10, 2013

    Joshua James Project

    Josh James, who wrote Alien Uprising, has published a book of his plays. Check it out.


     A thing that's cool about this collection of plays is that they're royalty-free. So if you've an educational or independent theater and you're lookin' for plays to do, look here.

    Monday, December 09, 2013

    Somebody's Three Things For Today

    Naked Holidays. Probably the only Christmas show you want to see. Amiright? You know I'm right. You totally want to see it. I'm going.
    Via.

    Zip and Li'l Bit. I've been really enjoying these web comics.

    Android Insurrection has a German Wikipedia page.

    Friday, December 06, 2013

    All the Young Girls Love Alice

    The BBC series Luther is shot strangely. I mean singles on the wrong side of the frame, eyes-in-the-middle-of-the-frame strangely. Either the first season was much more like that, or I got used to it in subsequent seasons, but it's rather weird.
    This isn't even a terribly egregious frame as it goes. But it shows the "wrong side" well.
    The show is rather well-written but it squanders female characters like crazy. And I do mean "squander" -- not "makes uninteresting". Lady Jessica is a fantastic "police captain". Is it a spoiler to say...? Why yes. It's a minor spoiler to point out that between the first and second seasons...
    Weird "eyes-in-the-middle" thing.
     ... she disappears. Never to be seen again. Not a plot thing. Maybe the actor just took off? Who knows? But she was a good and interesting police captain who was a woman and really one could go on and on about how she was a female character but in command but without that "never let them see you cry" ethos. I mean, it's a gazillion interesting.
    But now I'm done watching Luther and I can get back to work.

    Wednesday, December 04, 2013

    Headphones and Philip K Dick

    If you've got nigh on $1500 to lay out for a pair of headphones, the Sennheiser HD800's are apparently the ones to go for.
    If you only have $350 we may have a new winner in the dynamic headphone contest and those are the Focal Spirit Professionals.

    Tara Platt is in a movie that was shot in that cool standing spaceship set in Laurel Canyon. The Crystal Crypt... well now I don't know if it was shot in that set in Laurel Canyon or if they built the sets themselves. They're pretty awesome sets.




    Sunday, December 01, 2013

    Wi-Fi Hi-Fi

    Very obnoxiously the router at our office keeps knocking everyone off. Now you'd think that not having Internet access in our studio would vastly increase overall productivity. And. Well, okay. Yes it does that. But we also sometimes need to actually be able to upload and download stuff. Sometimes a lot of stuff.
    There's wifi access devices we could get while the Internet is being wonky. Karma makes a device which supposedly works here.
    Edouard BOUBAT

    Even Virgin Mobile has a pay-as-you-go Internet plan.
    One problem is that we can eat data for breakfast. Between uploading movies for us to look at and making backups, we can sink our way through 6GB a month with no problem. This makes anything short of "unlimited" data extraordinarily expensive for us. To which I say "bleh".
    So uh. FiOs is not available at our office (in fact, I've never been anywhere where it is available. Does it really exist? I mean my office and my apartment are both across the street from telephone company Switches. You'd think... Nah. Why bother.)
    We could have a separate DSL line dropped. That will end up costing another what, sixty bucks a month? Or we could do something else. I'm thinking about getting a repeater and using it to repeat the wi-fi signal from the business we're connected to. Their Internet works great.