What I'm Working On Now

Three short films are in Post-Production, soon to be submitting to film festivals.
Producing/editing a pilot for a new web-series inspired by the Alice in Wonderland tales.
Producing/editing a documentary on Gene Roddenberry and the genesis of Star Trek The Original Series.
There are a number of other projects in development, just waiting their turn to be produced.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

48 HOUR FILM PROJECT

Every year, in Seattle, (and a number of other large metropolitan areas) there's an event called the 48 Hour Film Project. The filmmakers have, you guessed it, 48 hours to write, cast, shoot, edit, and turn in the finished film. In addition to this madness, and to make sure no one gets to work on their film ahead of time, each team randomly selects a genre at the start of the 48 hours and they're also given a name and a line of dialogue and a prop they have to incorporate into their film.

Last year was my first time working on such a film, and had a blast (even though we were late). This year I'm hoping to use my experience to improve our chances of snagging some of the awards.

Monday, June 17, 2013

MERLIN IN LOVE-ONE STEP CLOSER

   Today I'll be sending the audio files off to my audio engineer, and he'll begin making it all sound perfect. Good audio can make or break your film and I'm lucky to have a great audio guy. He helped me on another project last year, and it went from barely watchable to a great piece of film (it's also in Spanish if you're interested).

   I'm hoping to avoid needing to do ADR (Automatic Dialogue Replacement: having the actors come back and rerecord their lines in the studio, generally done when the on location recording isn't usable). For one thing it takes more time, and for another we might not be able to capture the same amazing performances we got on location. Neither are good in my opinion.

   Have you seen a movie where the audio really stood out to you, good or bad?

Friday, June 14, 2013

POETRY: BITS

Birth, play, learn, work, sleep
Life cycle of human kind
Then what dreams may come

*

Bare feet in the snow
Shock and chill are numbed by time
Skin sloughs like a glove

*

A catch in my throat
I cough and hack yet it stays
Reminds that I live

*     *     *

   No rhyme or reason to today's haiku, they don't really go together, but they do seem to fit, if that makes any sense. And as a note of advice, if you're ever going barefoot in the winter, make sure you don't get frostbite.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

WORKING ON ONE PAGE FOR A WEEK

   Yes, over the last week, I've been working on a single page in my (untitled) novel. This has been a good thing, however. The page is a major turning point for my protagonist, filled with betrayal and pain, a battle and a flight, followed by personal growth and some great character development.

   Okay, so not all of that happens on a single page, but the page I've been working on is where it all comes together. It's like the keystone in an archway that holds everything else up and gives shape to everything that came before and that follows after.

   I believe I've finally got it right and so I can move on to the rest of the book. I generally don't like staying in one spot in a book for too long, but this section really needed the extra attention to ensure that the rest of the story would fall into place.

   Have you ever had to sit and fuss with a single page (or similar small section of a story)? Am I just alone in this oddity?

Monday, June 10, 2013

PRACTICAL EFFECTS

   Last week I finished filming my short film, "Scream for the Whisperer". In that film, there is magic and telekinesis, and lots of awesome things that can be really really hard to do on film. What kind of things am I talking about? There's air distortions, objects summoned to people's hands, doors that open and shut on their own, just to name a few. There are a number of ways that these effects can be accomplished, but the methods can be categorized into one of two categories: Practical Effects and Special Effects.

    A Special Effect is any effect added in after the scene has been shot, either through green screen, 3D models, etc. These can be as simple as atmosphere effects life mist or lens flares, or as complicated as marching armies and collapsing buildings.

   A Practical Effect is any effect that is actually done on camera. There's real mist in the scene, a real building is exploded, the crowd scene really has hundreds of extras.

   Quite often there's a mixture of the two. "The Lord of the Rings" movies are excellent example of this, mixing in digital characters in with their real actors to make the locations and battles feel all the more real.

   My films are not on the same scale as "The Lord of the Rings" (yet) but the principles of how to achieve an effect are still applicable. To make an object move across the room in a film is easier said than done. If you want to go the Special Effect route, you have to make, digitally, whatever object you want to move. Then you have to get your actor to perform with an imagined object and hope that their pantomime turns out looking believable. If you go the Practical Effect route, then you have to figure out just how you're going to move the object without your methods being seen. Magnets, thin strings, hidden motors and the like are all common ways that film makers accomplish this.

   For "Scream for the Whisperer", I knew I wanted to use Practical Effects as much as possible. As such, I began playing around with different ways to accomplish the effects I wanted. In the end I decided on using fishing line to make the objects move. A simple trick I learned years ago for making objects fly into an actors hand is to attach some fishing line to the object and then run that line through a ring that the actor is wearing (make sure your actor is wearing a ring), and then have someone off screen pull the fishing line and, voila, the object flies into their hand. This trick, obviously, only works for smaller objects.

   At times I like to watch a movie and think of ways that I could achieve the same effect. What are some of your favorite movie effects and how would you do them?

Friday, June 7, 2013

POETRY: DANCE

Feel the rythum
Tap your toes or nod your head
Let music move you

*

Some will sway in place
While others will leap and bound
Music in their soul

*

I'm the kind of soul
That should only rarely dance
Inhuman spasms

*     *     *

   My wife is quite graceful and an amazing dancer. I can only manage a dance if it's choreographed. If left to my own devices I either devolve into a simple two step or else begin looking like I lake control over my basic motor controls.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

ANOTHER NIGHT OF FILMING AND AN UPDATE ON LIFE

Today's a short post, I'm afraid. Explanations to follow.

  Tonight I will finish filming my short film, "Scream for the Whisperer". You may recall that I shot the first half of it a few weeks back and, due to some unexpected location problems, we had to postpone finishing the film. We'll be trying out some practical FX involving telekinesis so I'm rushing around making sure everything's ready.

 Once the filming's done I've still got the editing to do, along with another, bigger couple of projects starting up later this month.

Finally, on a more personal note, I'm moving! This is bitter sweet for me, as I really love where I'm at, but my family is growing and our current home has refused every overture I've made to get it to spontaneously add another room. I've got less than a month to get ready for this move and my wife is very pregnant right now so it falls mostly on me to make this happen.

I'll try to keep posting as usual, though the length of my posts will probably be shorter than what I've done in the past.

Monday, June 3, 2013

A FEW SECONDS CAN MAKE ALL THE DIFFERENCE

     I've been working on editing my short film "Merlin in Love" for the past couple of weeks and I'm nearing the end of the process. As I've been refining the movie, most of the changes I've been making have been on the order of 1/2 seconds. I take a couple of frames off the end of that shot, take a couple frame from the beginning of this other shot. Sometimes I'll even add a few frames.

     At times, I go back and watch the film without the new changes and then watch it with, just to remind myself of the power of simple changes. A section of dialogue can look and sound flat before the nip and tuck, and afterward it flows beautifully.

     That's the way it is with film, a lot of the time. The big amazing things are nice, but it's the small and simple things you do that really make the difference. A lot of film making is not about getting noticed, but about going unseen. If people are aware of the editing during a film, it's usually because there are problems. If people are aware of the sound mix, it's usually because of inconsistencies. If people are aware of the lighting, it's usually because it was done improperly.

     What's your favorite film? What about it has made it your favorite?