Yes, it does exist. A couple of young guys who came to the Blasto premiere have been putting together a Blasto fan club site for a school project. Check it out at:
Friday, December 30, 2005
Yes, it does exist. A couple of young guys who came to the Blasto premiere have been putting together a Blasto fan club site for a school project. Check it out at:
Thursday, December 29, 2005
Is the final goal of a film to simply entertain you or to change you in some manner? Sure, some movies are for pure entertainment and don't hide it. Dumb and dumber isn't going to change you're outlook on the world. But with all the money, time, and effort that goes into making a feature film, don't filmmakers want to accomplish just a little more than entertain someone for an hour or so?
Look at King Kong. That film cost some 200 million, hundreds of people, and 3 years out of their lives to make. THREE YEARS!?! Is the end result just so you can say, "That was cool when Kong punched that dinosaur." If entertainment is the end result, don't waste the time. Sure the studio isn't in it for entertainment, they're in it for the billions they make in return. The key grip is in it for the pay check, he's just trying to make a living. But the director, he should have a higher goal.
The other night Kleiber said he likes to just be entertained by movies before he gets critical with them, and that's fine. But I asked him, with all the work and time he's had with Blasto, would he be happy if all it did was entertain everyone for those two hours? Would he be happy if they just walked away saying, "That was fun. Wanna go to Dave and Busters?" I know I wouldn't.
What's the alternative? Life change? Sure that'd be great, but I don't think a film is THAT powerful. To me a film accomplishes it's goal when it both entertains AND presents an emotional and unique perspective on life. A good film makes people laugh and engage the characters in some way. A great film causes a person to try and connect the pieces of the film with their own life. What if this happened in my life? Am I like that? Is my life like that? Think of your all time favorite movie. Does it in some small way connect to something deeper in you? Something you want? Something you feel?
Rocky I is a great film. It forces people to confront the concept of feeling unworthy, unloved, and unwanted. Rocky IV is entertainment. Neat characters, some okay action. But what are you confronted with? Well besides Rocky bringing an end to the cold war that is.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
I may be the only human being to say this but: I was dissappointed with Peter Jackson's King Kong. Right now Kleiber is reading this somewhere going, "He is way too picky." Here's my explanations and if you haven't seen the movie, don't read this.
1) Expectations were built up.
It's Peter Jackson. He's delivered three PHENOMENAL movies. He's got millions of dollars and a collection of the most talented people in the world at his fingertips. To him that is given much, much will be expected.
On top of that several of my friends, Kleiber included, have seen it and remarked that it was incredible. That puts me in a different frame of mind going into the film. I didn't walk in going, can't wait to see a good movie. I walked in saying, what makes this movie so incredibly good that people are going bonkers over it? That's a more critical approach.
2) Characters did not change.
C'mon Pete that's Screenwriting 101. If a character is the same in the beginning of a film as they are at the end, what's the point of the story? Sure they suffered through a lot, but it didn't truly effect them. Anne and Kong are the exception to this and are BRILLIANT. But two characters out of the 15 or so is a pretty low ratio. Denham starts out as a backstabbing director willing to do anything or use anyone to get his film made. That's exactly who he remains when the credits roll. Driscoll starts out as a noble writer and ends up a noble writer (with a girl). I love that he is a mirror of Kong to Anne in the fact that no matter how awful it gets he is always chasing her, trying to protect her even if he can't or may die in the process. But that part was an undercurrent never really brought to the forefront.
If a situation doesn't have the power to change the people involved, the situation wasn't worthy enough to tell, or in this case, the characters haven't been developed enough. The biggest crime of these was Denham. He's used every single person he knows and they've been placed in great jeopardy as a result. He is neither ruined by this, nor does he learn from it.
And then there's Baxter, the hero of the film within the film. He's a great contrast to Driscoll initially. He looks heroic, plays the hero, but he's actually a coward. And Driscoll, who looks anything but heroic, turns out to be just that. But then Jackson does an odd thing. Just when you think Baxter is gone for good, he returns...as a hero? What's that we see....could it be change? But then he goes and ruins it by returning Baxter to a lying coward once again. It would have been much more powerful to fool the audience in the beginning into thinking that Baxter actually is courageous and heroic only to have him turn out to be a coward. That's great conflict bringing about change or revealing a character for who they truly are.
3) Less is more.
In the original film, Kong fights one T-Rex. It's a GREAT battle. A 15 minute wrestling match as the two wear each other down, ending in a gut wrenching shot of Kong slowly ripping the T-Rex's jaw apart. What does the the new film give us? Kung-fu Kong taking on 3 T-Rexes simulteaneously. That is not better or more powerful. It's a video game. After seeing Kong take on the 3 T-Rexes, why would we have any fear when it finally comes down to him vs. one. He just handled three, surely he can handle one.
4) One full hour too long.
I'm a big fan of LONG movies. Love to hear a movie is gonna hit the three hour mark. BUT, usually when a movie is going to attempt the epic time it typically holds my attention the entire time. Not so with Kong. It wasn't a few minutes too long. I don't suggest cutting out a half an hour or so. It was ONE FULL HOUR TOO LONG. There were roughly 3-4 too many scenes of Kong and Anne just staring lovingly at each other. Too much time spent in New York in the beginning. That is a ameteur screenwriting mistake. No need to fill up the first part of the movie with buckets and buckets of exposition. Give us enough that we know the character and then get us to that inciting incident. Get us on that boat and to Skull Island.
What did I like?
Kong's FX were pretty amazing. He looked like a real giant gorilla. That's quite an achievement. Naomi Watts did an incredible job as Ann. New York looked amazing. The dance the "natives" do at Kong's feet is a great tribute to the original '33 Kong.
Make sure you Netflix the original Kong. That there is cinema history.
Friday, November 11, 2005
We've gone and entered every single film festival in the freakin' world EXCEPT Pittsburgh!!! I've had a good number of people ask me if we entered into the Three Rivers Film Festival. No we did not. Why? Stupidity.
When Blasto was finished I looked up info for the festival and they were not accepting entries yet. I figured I'd look it back up a little bit later. Between the premiere, the LA premiere, getting married, and having a full time job, I completely overlooked it.
On the good side of it, another SV alum, Joey Varhola (I think he was in my art class), has his film Dogplayers screening at the Melwood tonight (Nov. 11) at 9:00 pm. If you happen to read this entry today (which is highly unlikely) go check it out.
And hopefully we'll remember to enter next year.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Another month, another wave of film fest submissions. We've been getting a lot of e-mails from fests saying either they've recieved Blasto and we're "in consideration," or that they're awaiting to recieve Blasto and are looking forward to it.
I've been getting a lot of "what do you want to see happen" questions. It's usually, "If all goes how you want it to, what will happen with this?" Other than George Lucas seeing it and saying, "That's the man I want to make Star Wars episodes 7, 8 , and 9 with the original cast."
I would love to remake Blasto with a "real" budget. Not tens of millions of dollars, but a couple hundred thousand, possibly even a couple million. My hope is that somebody will see the potential of Blasto to be something better than it currently is. Funnier, more dramatic, a tighter script, a real crew. And to shoot it on HD rather than MiniDV so it'll actually look like a film.
With that goal in mind I've begun to rewrite Blasto. Right now I'm in the research stage, which is learning as much as possible about the characters and their environment. This is the part where you literally figure out each characters history; who are their parents, what was their childhood like, what did they want to be, who are they married to, what is their job, etc. You figure out their lives in such incredible detail that you have very good idea what decisions they will make and why they make them when you put them into the story. Ninety-nine percent of what you create of their history will never make it into the script, but it make the one percent of them that you do see that much more full. This is how characters in films seem flat or cliche, because the writer only went as far as a few sentences into who this character is. I feel this about some of the crew members, Tom, Sam, Eddie. You never really get into them. The trick is trying to get a good deal of the persons history prior to the film story, into the screenplay without them talking about it. I hate when characters just sit down and talk about their past so openly with people they just met (This happens several times in Blasto of course.) These things have to be delivered more naturally.
The reasearch stage will last several months. Have to REALLY know the characters and make sure each of them is so interesting that you could have made a film about any of them as the main character. From the research stage we'll go into the plot/structure stage. That's where others like Kleiber, Ben, etc. get involved. Start discussions about things that could have been better, things we would have liked to have seen, how things can be cleaned up, made more dramatic, funnier, etc.
Maybe I'll post some of the character backstories here next time.
Monday, October 17, 2005
...a bunch of filmmakers that didn't even attend the festival.
Back from L.A. after an incredibly LONG and TURBULENT red eye flight. (Not to mention a woman passed out in the middle of the aisle and a bunch of doctors had to help her. Zero sleep was had by all.)
Mann's theaters are absolutely beautiful. The lobby is great. The auditoriums look like they just jumped out of the 30's with this great fabric curtain that rises up just before the movie plays. We'll be posting some more pictures on the site as soon as Alan and Kleiber forward them to me.
The Festival Volunteers
Great people. They knew spotted Kleiber and I and instantly knew who we were. Asked for autographs, gave great feedback, and were incredibly nice and supportive.
The screening went well despite incredibly low attendance. There was roughly 35-40 people in a 170 seat auditorium. Disappointing? Yes and no. This was the festivals first year so it was fairly unorganized despite a great staff. There was little to no advertising around the area for the festival, BUT individual films were not permitted to hang any advertising for their screenings. So little to no advertising means little to no attendance. On top of that the price of admission was incredibly steep. $250 for a full festival pass and $12.50 for a single screening pass. Would you pay $12.50 to see a movie you've never heard about AND there's no posters anywhere for it? I have a tough time paying that for movies I'm pretty sure are gonna be good, let alone risking it on some independant stuff. So the 35-40 crowd was the average for EVERY film there. The audience was usually made up of filmmakers from the other films in the festival. After the screening there was a Q&A session that was fun. I love talking about the movie. Most questions revolved around the graphics, comic panels, and music.
The Other Films
Unfortunately, I didn't get in until the last day of the festival so I only caught one film. It was a horror/thriller/comedy called Shadows. Made by a middle aged guy for $15,000 who was upset by the lack of creativity/talent on Cinemax late night movies, so he decided to make his own. Lots of those moments that are built up to be scary but end up being just the character's buddy tapping them on the shoulder. Enjoyed watching it and I'm always proud to see someone just get in there and make a movie, but this story wasn't my cup o' tea. And as a side note, there was one particular female character that took off her clothes in roughly 90% of the scenes she was in. It got to the point where Kleiber and I were just laughing out loud.
And thus comes the lowest point of the festival. First they present Christopher Reeve with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Sounds great, but...they person presenting the award has never met Christopher Reeve and the person accepting it has never met Christopher Reeve, so it felt incredibly pointless. As for the awards themselves, they were just plain silly. The festival had a bunch of actors from one of the entry films as the presenters, but they were presenting the awards to, yep you guessed it, their own films. That would be like Jack Nicholson presenting the actor for Best Actor to...Jack Nichsolson. Kinda shady. On top of that they presented the Best Film of the Festival as the very FIRST award. Kinda takes the wind outta the sails when you know what the best picture is already, so who really cares about the other awards? Some awards only had ONE nominee, so why even announce it?
On top of the goofy presentations, 90% of the award winners WEREN'T EVEN THERE. So we basically sat for a few hours and watched people present awards to nobody.
There were two types of awards, Judges (decided by the festival staff) and Jury (decided by festival attendees.) But when we talked to some of the festival staff they said that the Jury records were all messed up and most of the films directors were taking a bunch of the feedback scores, giving themselves perfects, and stuffing the ballot boxes. We weren't about to stoop as low.
Lastly, a final critique. If you have filmmakers paying $300 for a plane ticket, hundreds on hotels, & hundreds more on advertising, and you have festival goers paying $250 for a ticket, then you do NOT have a CASH BAR at the awards gala. That is a big old festival no no. Needless to say that most people were out of that gala by 9:00 when it was scheduled to go until 1:00 am.
Great weekend, had a blast even if we didn't bring home any awards. Curt (the actor who plays Fandango) and his girlfriend Kelly were great hosts, even if they do have all three volumes of Married with Children on DVD. Keep ya updated on festival submissions. Right now we're in the running for a festival to take place early in 2006 in Anchorage, Alaska.
Monday, September 26, 2005
We've officially been accepted into our very first film festival!
It's the FAIF Film Festival in Hollywood, CA at Mann's Chinese Theater (the theater with all the celebrity handprints.) It's kinda crazy that the very first festival we get into is at the most famous theater in the freakin' country. Blasto will be screening on Thursday, October 13th at 1:00 pm. There will be an awards ceremony the following night. I would love to see someone come back with SOME kind of award. What would be hilarious would be if some random Blasto actor wins an award. Hopefully Kleiber will win something and he can stop complaining about how bad his acting is.
It's interesting to read the titles of the other movies playing the fest:
the Gnat and the Lion
bubbles & pick
anna and the soldierduck duck goose
to be an israeli woman
and then of course there's Captain Blasto. I don't know about you, but I'm downright captivated by Bubbles & Pick and To Be An Israeli Woman. Bubbles & Pick sounds like some sort of PBS kids shoe about a Sea Lion and Penguin (or maybe a Seahorse and Swordfish) and their wacky underwater adventures. US Air Marshalls makes me imagine Tommy Lee Jones chasing Wesley Snipes with a rocket pack. Gotta wonder what all the other directors think of a title like Captain Blasto.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Is anyone still here?
Well if you are, here's the update.
1) I just got married. It's amazing.
2) Due to the wedding, Blasto was kind of a "background project" for a month or so. Didn't have the time or energy to really focus on it. Now that the honeymoon has come and gone, it's time to get back in gear. So what's going on with Blasto now?
Submit, submit, submit. So far we've submitted it to thirteen film festivals and recieved three rejection letters (Telluride, Toronto, Fort Lauderdale.) The only rejection letter that suprised me was Fort Lauderdale. They don't strike me as the type of city to have some vibrant film community that we couldn't quite live up to. Just to give you an idea how much the submit fees can cost; tonight I submitted to 9 festivals and the total cost was $740. That's a pretty big chunk of change to give to people that may or may not accept you.
Beyond the festivals I'm also starting to seek out submitting the film to different agencies. This is something I want to approach with a bit of caution. Need to talk to people and find out what is the "right" way (if there one) to submit material to agencies. I don't wanna just ship in a DVD and hope for the best. It seems to me the best way is to have that DVD given by someone that knows someone if that makes any sense.
In the meantime my head is already consumed with the next screenplay which is a bit more "complicated" than Blasto and requires a lot more thought. Blasto felt natural because it was a simple story borrowing elements from my own life. This next story is not nearly as simple and it's completely seperate from my own life.
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Had a few emails askin' me what happened to the Blasto Blog on the website. Here's the deal: we are currently in the process of submitting to the top ten film festivals in the world. Part of their rules/regulations is that the movie MUST NOT have been screened to a public audience prior to the festival. That means it cannot be in any other festivals or have a showing at a theater. The Blasto "premiere" wasn't an actual public screening, it was more of a private showing for friends/families with some extra tickets sold to the general public to fill the empty seats, wink wink, nudge nudge. Since the Blasto Blog is just chock full of comments about the premiere I had to remove it in case any of the festival judges happen to go to the Blasto site for more information. It would be awful for us to have worked so hard on the movie to be disqualified for a small showing in Homestead, PA.
You will also notice that DVD sales are no longer on the site for the very same reason. If you would still like to purchase a Blasto DVD, here's the secret link: http://www.captainblasto.com/dvd.htm.
As for the festivals, we are currently entered into Toronto (the 2nd largest festival in the world), Telluride (in Colorado), and Chicago. All three are international festivals and are among the top ten of the world. We will know come August if we've been accepted into any of them. They all take place in September/October. I'll post on here should I hear anything. Wish us luck and pray that Blasto makes it into the hands of the right people.
Monday, May 30, 2005
The night that I have been imagining and we've been working towards for the past few years has come and gone. It feels like an end when we're actually still somewhere in the middle. The premiere was never the final goal. It's more like a celebration, a blessing from friends and family members acknowledging that what we've created is worth continuing on with. It's a pat on the back saying good job and keep going. Kleiber said when he woke up the morning of the premiere he felt kind of like he did the morning of his wedding, which I agree with although I'm not married so I can't say for sure. The analogy is pretty close though. It's that anticipation, the nervousness, the excitement, and then it arrives in an explosion. Suddenly there's hundreds of people and then it's over in a few short hours. Too fast. The wedding isn't the end of the relationship, it's an end to a PART of the relationship and the beginning of the next. There's still a lot of work ahead after the wedding. And right now I'm looking at a list of a couple hundred film festivals and realizing just how much is left.
So the question I've been asked most is: What now? Now comes the festivals. Over the next few weeks we'll be submitting Blasto to 5 of the 10 biggest festivals in North America. Sundance, Telluride, Toronto, etc. And in a few short months we'll either be recieving our first acceptance letters or our first rejection letters. First on the list is the Toronto Film Festival with a deadline of June 10th. Other promotion will be getting Blasto DVD's into the hands of everyone and anyone in the industry. At the same time I begin working on the next script later this week. Not a sequel to Blasto like many have requested, or Ransom and Decoy like many might expect, but a whole new story I've been kicking around for a year or two.
Thursday, May 26, 2005
No I'm not pregnant, but I just may puke.
It's the morning before the premiere. I'm excited and nervous as balls. No idea why I'm nervous. We did the preview screening with 250 people and I wasn't really nervous at all. What difference is this besides another 300 more people added? It's going to be fun. To be honest I'm probably more excited that my entire family (minus grandma) are coming up from Florida today and that tonight for the first time ever I will have my ENTIRE family (minus Florida grandma and cousin Rebecca) in one room. That's a rarer sight than Haley's Comet.
The local reviews of Blasto came out today. You can check them out on our website. It was nearly all positive except for a few complaints about "immature acting" and overuse of the comic panels. (Most of my friends that saw the rough cut commented that I should have used MORE comic panels.) They also called me the "son of a Munhall bartender" which did NOT make my mother happy. (She's no longer a bartender.) All in all it was neat to hear what people outside of the project had to say about the film and I've got to get used to people giving criticism because NO movie in the history of cinema has been loved by EVERYONE. And at the same time I can't help but feel a little twinge of hurt to see anyone say anything negative, no matter how small, about something we've worked on for so long. It'd be like the nurse commenting on how beautiful your newborn child is except for that lopsided nostril. True, he may have a lopsided nostril, he actually might be an ugly little baby that looks more like Warwick Davis covered in jelly, but to the mother that baby is the most beautiful thing she's ever seen. Especially now that the things finally out. Not sure how this post became so entwined with childbirth analogies.
Remember, the best seats are in the C-section and we'll see you at the afterbirth......I mean after-party.
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Had a few interviews with press today. Brian Krasman of the Daily News and John Hayes of the Post-Gazette. It's kinda weird. I don't mind talking about the movie at all, but in the back of my head I'm thinking "do I sound like a complete idiot?" The Post-Gazette writer was shocked we made the movie for $7,000 and was almost certain I was the son of rich parents who are simply supporting their sons ambitions. True my family is supporting my ambitions, but by NO MEANS are they rich. Those of you that know my family will understand the humor in this. Not that we're some bums on the street, but I don't think the words rich and Munhall are permitted in the same sentence. That's like putting a Banana Republic on Longfellow Drive. (Only my fellow Munhallians will get that. And yes I just made up a new word: Munhallian.)
The oddest part of these interviews is the balance between sounding passionate about your work and trying to convince people it's worth watching while at the same time not coming across as some egotistical or cocky jerko who thinks they're movie is about alter the universe.
All in all the press has been incredibly supportive of the project and their interest appears to be genuine. I'm really looking forward to what they've got to say about the film now that they've seen it. Make sure you pick up the Daily News on Wednesday, and the Post-Gazette and Tribune-Review on Thursday to see the results.
Monday, May 23, 2005
If you're reading this then I'll reward you with a little inside info on this Thursday's upcoming screening. Now I'm not knocking Loews or anything, but with digitally projecting a DVD you get a better picture the further back you sit. VIP seating is reserved, but there are regular seats up there as well, so if you can grab one of those, you'll get the best view.
Friday, May 20, 2005
I can say with great pride that the new Star Wars, Revenge of the Sith is amazing. After two HORRIBLE HORRIBLE prequels, we FINALLY have a Star Wars movie worth bragging about. Not only is it as good as I imagined, but terribly dark and depressing. As the credits roll all I could think about was how bad I needed to watch A New Hope so I could see Luke, Leia, and Han return some good to the overwhelming evil that oozes from Sith.
This movie will be seen many, many times over the next few weeks.
Sunday, May 15, 2005
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Here's some random ramblings to read if you're bored.
I went to the Star Wars Celebration III a few weeks ago. For those of you normal humans that don't know what it is, it's four day Star Wars fan convention with approximately 50,000 in attendance. Now I am not denying that I am a fan of Star Wars, but the reason I was at this convention was to film a mockumentary with a buddy of mine (Ben Shull, the other story contributor on Blasto) for his Aegis Films production company (www.aegisfilms.org). Otherwise I never would have paid money to go to something like this. One of the most surreal experiences of my life. There was some amazing things such as 10-20 R2D2 droids randomnly rolling along throughout the convention center, 200+ Stormtroopers marching down the main strip of Indianapolis led by Darth Vader and the Royal Guard, prop replica lightsabre's complete with sound and light fx, that hot chick dressed as Slave Leia, and nearly stepping on Warwick Davis (Willow). Some of the terrible things included: the other 100 not so hot girls dressed as Slave Leia, the lines to get in, the better chance of seeing the new Pope than George Lucas, and the outrageous cost of EVERYTHING. Now I really like Star Wars and I'm all about fans supporting a movie/story that they love. But something just wasn't right, something deep down in my gut that just felt amazing and at the same time wrong. The entire Star Wars saga is about a small band of rebels fighting some power hungry, all consuming Empire. And what has happened is the Star Wars brand name has become some giant money hungry, all consuming corporate empire. All from a MOVIE. Now I know that Star Wars fans are usually compared to Trekkies and just passed off as harmless dorks dressing up in costume, but to actually be there feels a lot different. These people wait in line for 5+ hours just to get in the door. Once inside they will wait in another line for 8+ hours to buy a Darth Vader action figure, and ONLY because it says the words LIMITED EDITION on it. I honestly could sell a moldy cheeseburger to a Star Wars fan just by saying it's LIMITED EDITION. Is that not some form of idolatry? I have nothing against Star Wars fans. They honestly are some of the nicest, most creative and talented people you can meet. The rest of the world has them pegged as awkward, pimple faced geeks who use Star Wars to escape reality, and for some of them that is an accurate assesment. But for every one of those there are mothers, fathers, jocks, lawyers, teachers, filmmakers, costumers, etc. Why do they dress up in costume? Not because they actually believe they are that characters, it's because they LIKE making costumes. The happiest I would see these costumed fans was when some little kid would walk up to them thinking that was the actual character. To see a child back away from a Darth Maul, to run up and hug a Princess Leia, to yell at a Darth Vader is pretty neat. It's like this big old mix of people with one common interest, the story of Star Wars. That in itself, and the idea of all these people gathering because of it is a great idea.
I was watching a gathering of the 501st (www.501st.com), which is a group of fans from around the WORLD who dress up as stormtroopers for different events. They were the guides and security for the weekend. They would show you around, help you out, etc. The head of the 501st gave a speech asking them all to be as helpful and accomodating as possible. He told them that by them helping someone out in this very chaotic environment you could literally change a person's weekend and make it an incredible experience for them. Does that not sound like the advice we give to church leaders and greeters?
So there's good to this convention, but who's to blame for the bad? The blame lies on Lucasfilm. The very name of the event is CELEBRATION. That brings to mind the idea of a party, a reception. But instead of a thank you to fans for their support, the entire thing is a bottomless void, devouring your money and time. It's not about how they can give back, it's about how they can take more. It's about exploiting the love and support of fans under the illusion of a thank you.
If you actually read throug this whole post, thanks for hangin' in there.
Friday, May 06, 2005
Sorry I haven't updated the blog in a while, but I wanted to leave the instructions for buying tickets up so people could come to the premiere. We had our preview screening tonight and I feel compelled to write about it.
Tonight was the preview screening of Blasto for high school students around the area along with press. Honestly was expecting a little over a hundred people or so. Ended up 250 people and we sold out of all our DVD's. I wish I had something creative and insightful to say about it all, or some tidy little quote but I got nothing. All I can say is that it's overwhelming. Not only are you watching three years of your life go by in 2 hours on screen, but then you have all these people reacting to it, excited, not knowing what's coming next even though I know every detail down to the pixel. There is no single emotion, only a big old mix of excitement, nervousness, fear, panic, joy, and some that don't even have a name. You want to smile, you want to puke. And this was only the preview screening. I can't imagine the premiere.
All in all, a simple thank you to every one of you that came out tonight. I greatly appreciate it.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
So a lot of people have been asking me, "How do I get tickets?" Fairly simple.
Tickets are $10 a piece. Simply write out a personal check or money order for the number of tickets you would like made payable to Chris Preksta. Put it an envelope along with the address where you would like to recieve your tickets. You can also request us to hold them at the door for you the night of the premiere. Mail the check/money order to:
2703 Tilbury Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
And we'll mail you out your tickets, or have them waiting for you at the premiere. Whichever you prefer. Tickets will also be available to purchase at the door, but as I've said many times, it is guaranteed to sell out. There's 571 seats and we sold 100 of those the very first day, so get those checks in the mail. All the proceeds from this premiere go to covering the cost of renting the theater and the future costs of film festival submit fee's and travel expenses. DVD's will also be available for purchase at the premeire for $10 each.
If you've got any questions/concerns call 412-377-6140 and Ashley the ticket lady will help ya out.
Looking forward to seeing all of you there.
Friday, April 08, 2005
It is finished.
Well, sort of. The movie is done. But now it's a whole new ballgame. The premiere. If you've been to the website you'll notice that the premiere is set for:
May 26th, 7:00 PM
Loews Theater, Waterfront
Ticket's will be $10 at the door and we will be selling presale tickets because it WILL SELL OUT, I guarantee you. We will also be selling DVD's there for $10. All proceeds will go to paying for submit fees and travel to film festivals around the country.
So now it's into the publicity and advertising. The DVD artwork is in it's final days and should be getting printed early next week. I'll be making up flyers, press packets, posters, and all that. For those of you that would like to pre-order tickets I'll give you information soon. Just check the website.
Man this is crazy.
Friday, April 01, 2005
DVD is working now. It was all in the transcoding, which means nothing to 90% of you reading this, which equals roughly eleven people. It's really neat to see the menus and music and all that. No matter how the movie does its nice to know I could always get a job doing credits or promotional design.
Now that we're in the final day of the DVD I'm having to watch the movie OVER and OVER again. I watch for any errors etc. and then fix them and then watch it again and then fix them and then watch it again. It's starting to mess with my head. When we had the first screening with a small crew of us, I enjoyed it tremendously. I thought, story's good, it's got a neat visual look, the characters are easy to connect with, sure there are things I'd like to fix, but overall I'm happy with it. Now that I've watched it 20 more times and had to pick apart all the little problems, I hate it. Now I find myself thinking more along the lines of the story's weak, it looks like a home video, the characters are two dimensional, sure there are a few things I like, but overall I want to light myself on fire. It's so odd to have worked on something that can be measured in YEARS and then sit here with this DVD that can now be measured in MINUTES. This feeling has been the major documentation of this blog. These head games. One minute you love it, the next you hate it. Had a conversation with Eric (the guy that did the Blasto theme song, who you can check out at www.ericjames.com), about this phenomenon of being an artist. It's like at first you come up with an idea for something that your convinced is amazing. You work and toil to make it into something real with that same vision in your head, all the while loving it, hating it, loving it, hating it. Finally you've got a product, like some wrinkly little newborn baby that's all purple and gooey, and you show it off looking for some sort of validation. "Like me and what I'm doing, please." And it's like having a kid because those closest to you are going to say it's beautiful no matter what. Who goes up to a new mother and says her baby looks like Don Rickles has been taking a bath in grape Kool-Aid? There are bad movies and there are ugly babies. But, no matter how good or bad the product ends up being, the whole experience is just weird. And unforunately right now I'm in the middle of the "hate it" phase, where you question even ever having the vision in the first place. It's all head games. Too much time of lookin' and analyzing the same stuff. Just today my mom's boyfriend Tom said he saw the trailer and he's really excited to see it. Melanie Reevers' IM'ed me out of the blue and said the same thing. And there's about 20 - 30 other people who have said similar things. If all these people have seen footage from the movie and are excited to see it, then there's gotta be something there.
So what am I doing now besides complaining? Currently rendering what I believe to be the very last of the changes. From there I'm going to compress the movie down into one big old video file and make a few little changes to the DVD menus. From there I'm going to start this bad boy burning tonight and will have myself a finished Captain Blasto DVD. While all this rendering and burning is taking place, I will be working on the packaging artwork so that this all can be ready to send to be duplicated early next week.
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Currently making the DVD. Got these nifty menus. Figured out the buttons, chapter points, commentaries, and all that crazy DVD stuff. Go to burn the DVD. Doesn't work. Just some error. No explanation. But EVERY time I try to burn it, doesn't work.
Why would making the DVD be any different from anything else I've tried to do? It just never works out. The first time anyways.
I've set a deadline of this Friday to have the completed film and DVD 100% completed. I really hope something this stupid doesn't stop me from accomplishing that.
Friday, March 25, 2005
The few times that I've been able to screen the movie it has been a direct video link from the computer to the television. But there will be slight differences once it's burned to DVD. Music levels and so on may differ slightly. Therefore I cannot officially call the movie done until I've watched a DVD copy. As I type this, the movie is in hour 14 of the burning process. My best guess is that it has about 8 - 10 more hours. Just to record one disc. Crazy. What sucks, is that it's tying up the computer so I can't do any work until it's done. To be honest I'm not really sure whether the computer froze or not because the progress bar has been at the same spot for hours.
In the meantime I've been working on creating the menus, buttons, etc. for the DVD's we'll be selling. It's a lot harder than it may seem. I'm using legit DVD production software, none of this Create Your Own DVD stuff they sell at Best Buy so that families can make a collection of home movies and old photos to give to grandpa on Christmas. It's kind of frustrating to sit here with this movie and be pretty much done and then have to turn around and learn how to make a DVD and all. It's such a slow finish to the project.
Had a good conversation with Scott about all this. There's lots of guys out there that can direct a good movie, and there's lots of guys out there that can edit, and there's lots of other guys out there that can make neat credits, or storyboards, or posters, or act, or write, etc. But what's been a blast with this project is that I didn't just get to try my hand at one or two of them. I did all of them. That's got to stand for something when we try to sell this badboy. This isn't me saying, look what I did, I'm great. Because there was a LOT of incredible help. It's that I got to learn and take a stab at each of those areas. So even if the film goes no where, the primary goals has been fulfilled: the story and the training.
The progress bar just moved. Computers not frozen.
Saturday, March 19, 2005
The new trailer is complete and on the website. Unfortunately the only format I could upload is Windows Media which isn't that great looking. Hopefully I'll figure out how to do Quicktime soon.
For those of you who have seen the original trailer you'll notice it's similar with a different look and feel. It's got a very 60's Pink Panther/Rat Pack film feel to it which is neat. It's also modeled after the opening credits to Blasto.
Had another screening of Blasto Thursday night and only had a few minor changes. Changes that can be made in a few hours. So it'll be Monday that I make the changes and watch another screening. And that should be that.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
So what's the hold up on this movie? I mean I've been saying it's almost done for something like two weeks now. Well, I'll tell you what the hold up is:
Saturday I spend the ENTIRE day rendering each chapter (Rendering is compressing all the layers of video, audio, effects, etc. into one single video file.) We're talking a 10 - 12 hour day here. Every single chapter, opening credits, end credits, all rendered and ready to be transfered to DVD. Wednesday night I go to load all the chapters in and something miraculous has happened. The video is fine, but the audio for every file is sped up to the point where everyone sounds like Alvin and the Chipmunks. An entire day of work, wasted. So, I decided to render audio and video seperate. I stay up until 3:00 am Wednesday night (after a 12 hour day at my actual job) and render ALL the audio. It all sounds great. Only thing left is to render the video the next day. Wake up Thursday, start the rendering. It starts at about 10:00 am and finishes around 3:00 pm. All that's left is to load the audio and video in and BOOM, something miraculous has happened. The computer deleted ALL the audio files I stayed up until 3:00 rendering. Didn't know the editing computer was capable of so many amazing miracles. Heck it's giving Jesus a run for his money. So not only was my first day of work wasted, but the second day of work to FIX the first one is wasted. So now I've got to re-render ALL the audio and keep it in a seperate folder so it doesn't get deleted again. Do I know if it will work? Nope. Will something else happen to stop this movie from completion? Probably. Am I frustrated that it's taken my three days to accomplish one day of work? You betcha.
It's the very essence of the film. Trying to find the balance between some big adventurous dream and renewing your registration. It's so tough to have all these big questions going on in your head, all these big plans, or artistic expressions, and then you have to call the bank to find out what that $31.00 miscelleaneous withdraw was. I don't presume to think I'm the only one going through this because I've got the movie. I'm sure all of you have something that really gets you fired up that you have to set aside because a bill needs paid, a car needs washed, a shelf needs put up. And that's what Blasto is all about, the lifelessness of life. Ooooooo...deep.
So what's going on? Well, I've been recutting the trailer because the first one was just practice at getting acquainted with editing the footage. The new one is ALMOST where it needs to be. A few more hours on it and it'll be top notch.
Tomorrow night (Thursday) I'll be watching what could possibly be the final cut of Blasto. I fixed all the problems with the rough cut. If I watch this and don't find any more that'll be that. Although those of you who know me also know I'll probably find at least one.
And for those of you who just happened to type in captainblasto.com into Internet Explorer might just happen to find our brand spankin' new website, still in it's beginning stages of course. The trailer is not up yet, and the cast/crew list isn't completed, but to hold you over there's some nifty wallpaper to adorn all those delightful desktops. I figure all of you that are actually taking the time to read this should see the process of creating the site as well. I'll let you all know when the site is updated and completed. (Note: those of you who are using FireFox as your browser, it'd be best if you viewed this using Internet Explorer. FireFox doesn't display the page quite right.) Next week I'll be adding the trailer along with some cuts from the soundtrack. Exciting times eh?
Friday, March 11, 2005
I think it's safe to assume that most people share a common perception of the film industry and Hollywood. It feels like some kind of fantasy land. It's harder to get into than freakin' Narnia. And just by some lucky break or freak chance you may stumble into it, much like Sandra Bullock or Tara Reid. Having boobs usually helps. But honestly it all feels so unreal to the point where Steven Spielberg feels like a fictional character. He's like Superman or Luke Skywalker, not that he's some great hero, but that he's somebody you've read stories about and seen on television since you were a kid. All of 'em, the actors, directors, it all just doesn't feel real. The fact that George Lucas' job is to sit and think up a Star Wars movie to make (and subsequently ruin, but that's a whole nother blog) seems absolutely ridiculous. Steven Spielberg could literally make ANY MOVIE he dreams up. Anything. That just doesn't feel real. It's like being a kid and having an action figure factory at your disposal. Any figure, character, that you can think up, they will make an entire toy line from, including vehicles and playsets. I didn't even choose that analogy because any movie they make a toy line actually does get made from it, even though that just adds to the ridiculousness of it all.
At the same time the industry all feels like some elite group that you can never be part of. Like the popular kids in school. Even though Hollywood makes 90% crap all year, if you were to bring them something better than all of that, they'd still kick you to the curb just to keep you out. "I mean really, what were you thinking bringing something like that out here to us?"
But the other night I started to re-read Robert Rodriguez's book "Rebel Without A Crew." I read this back in high school. It's the director of Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Spy Kids, and the upcoming Sin City. The book is his journal as he wrote, directed, and ultimately sold his first movie that he made for $7,000. He filmed some half decent little Mexican action movie with blah actors and so-so action scenes, all subtitled. It's not terrible, but it's not amazing. He took the trailer to this thing out to Hollywood and showed some execs and within a month he had been hired for Columbia Pictures to develop scripts and to direct a picture for them and was being payed something like $800,000. And THEN they bought his movie when he was finished for another $125,000. Just like that, boom, you're in. The wardrobe opens and there's Mr. Tumnus with some turkish delight. Studios FOUGHT over him (Rodriguez, not Mr. Tumnus.) Columbia, Tri-Star (now part of Columbia), Miramax, Disney, Universal. All them chomping at the bit for this guy who just rolled into town without a dime, but a good trailer to a decent movie. And suddenly all my perceptions of Hollywood are instantly shattered.
Do I think that I could just take the Blasto trailer into Hollywood and sign the check? No. But it gives me a lot more hope that something big could honestly happen. Those studios fighting over this guy, why? Well one, he's kinda lucky. Luck, God's blessing, whatever you wanna call it, it plays a bit into it. Right place, right time, right person, whatever. There's gotta be SOME connection. Two, hard work, which can usually negate luck. He worked his tail off to make that movie and then worked it off again trying to get the movie out there. And finally three, talent. They all wanted him because he was talented. Why do they want talent? Not because they really wanna make great art that will last for generations. They want to make money. And talented people can help make them LOTS of money. So Rodriguez gets to make the stories he wants and the studios get to make money off of those stories. Seems like a fair trade, right? So right now Rodriguez has his own production studio based out of his own home, complete with sound stages, editing studios, special effects, the whole works. All because he did exactly what we're doing. Are we following the same path. I don't think so. But I also can't help but think that the Hollywood safe just got a little easier to crack.
Monday, March 07, 2005
"A truly good movie is interesting and easy to understand."
Right now, as the editing process comes to an end, there's a couple things that scare me. 1) That the movie isn't good. This scares me even though I don't really believe it (which I've discussed in previous posts.) I heard the above quote by Kurasowa today while watching his film Stray Dog (the first Japanese police drama ever made) and it made me feel a bit better about my own movie. Because I think it is interesting and it's easy as balls to understand. 2) Sin City scares me. All the concepts for Blasto were conceived years before Sin City will premiere. Blasto was filmed and began editing before Sin City ever saw their first day of filming. But since Blasto took SO FREAKIN' long to complete, Sin City will hit theater screens first. Why does that scare me? Well it's a comic book movie that has been advertised as a "true adaptation, capturing the very comic book panel image on screen." If that includes the comic panels and dialogue boxes like Blasto, than no matter what we say, it's going to look like we copied, even though the stories could not be further from each other. Not to mention they've got millions of dollars and hundreds of crew and Tarentino guest directing. They'll be seen as a revolutionary new style and we'll be seen as someone copying that style like every movie that used the Matrix effect (even though the Matrix wasn't the first movie to use the "bullet time" effect. It was Lost in Space.) I was worried when the Hulk came out because they attempted the comic book panel thing. But it sucked and so not that many people saw it or cared. But Sin City looks good, and it's getting all the hype it needs. At least those of you reading this know the truth. On the other hand, Sin City really looks good so I am looking forward to seeing it.
I'm currently doing some final reviews as I compress each chapter. That means that I will watch the chapter, make any little changes, and then compress it into a single video file. Once I've done that to each chapter, I will have the full final rough cut. I will watch that cut for one last look for any small problems or changes, if there are any. Once that's done the film is officially finished. That's scary.
From there it's on to DVD production, as in menus, graphics, package artwork, along with other promotional items that need made, website, etc.
Saturday, March 05, 2005
Finished with all the little touch-ups from the Rough Cut Screening, so now it's on to end credits. The credits are kinda tricky. For one thing there's not really that many people that worked on it to fill a whole end song. And when the majority of the work was done by one or two people, you don't want to just keep seeing their name repeating. Credit does need to be given, but at the same time it looks egotistical. So there's the trick, how do you give yourself credit for a lot of things without making yourself look like an egomaniac?
I've come up with a neat design for the cast credits. The shot will look like a comic panel (much like many of the scenes do) and in one panel will be their name and character title, in another panel will be an outtake or behind-the-scenes footage of them and in the remaining panel will be a storyboard drawing of the person. What's funny is there's some people that have more screen time for their credit than they do for their actual scene.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
Here's an incredibly low-res shot of the Blasto poster without any text. It's probably going to change a bit before it's done for a few reaons. 1) because there's no pictures of any actual people on it, which may lead people to believe this is a cartoon. 2) even though it was created a month or two before the Incredibles came out, it looks like a few of their promotional artwork.
Monday, February 28, 2005
It's late, the Oscars were just on, and I'm in a filmmaking sorta mood. But before we begin with the Blasto update, I've gotta give my take on the Oscars.
It's a crime that The Incredibles wasn't nominated for much more than it was. Ray was nominated for much more than it deserved. Jamie Foxx deservedly won and gave the best acceptance speech I've ever heard. Chris Rock is funny, but he's no Oscar host. The accepting an Oscar at your seat is uncomfortable. And Penelope Cruz is so beautiful she makes angels, babies, and sunsets look ugly. Heck, she even made Selma Hayek look average. Now onto Blasto.
Good news: We're only days away from a finished film. Does that mean the film will be finished in the next few days? No, it just means I only need a few more days of full film work to complete it. Tomorrow will be one of those days.
Bad news: These last days are really tough.
It really boils down to the shear amount of time I've been working on this. And since I've been working on it for so long I've noticed a few things:
Film freezes moments in time. Acting, directing, lighting, dialogue, all of it is just there forever. You can make alterations here and there, but you can't really change it. The film is the same as the one I wrote, shot, and have been editing. I on the other hand am not. I write better, act better, direct better, light better than I did on this project and the thing's not even done. Which on one hand is great because that's why I did it, to learn and get better. But on the other hand it sucks because I want it to be better.
Keep working even if you think it sucks. I go through days and nights when I think the movie is gonna blow people away, just by the product we were able to create from the resources we had. There are other nights when I'm ashamed to even be associated with the thing. So the movie probably isn't as good as I sometimes feel it is, but I know it's not as bad as I sometimes feel it is.
I don't know what I'm looking at sometimes. The best analogy I have for how I feel about this whole thing is a magic eye. It's like your looking at this piece of crap in a frame and suddenly there's a T-Rex jumping out at you. Or maybe a sailboat. (I've never once been able to actually see a magic eye by the way. I just cross my eyes and lie and say "Oh yeah, hey there's Bugs Bunny.") And it takes some time and concentration to see the hidden image, so they tell me. Some people have this uncanny gift and they just happen to be walking past one in the mall and BAM, there's a 3D palm tree. Directing is being able to look at all this stuff and see the great story hidden in there. But if you look too long or too hard suddenly it's gone and all you can see is the all that spiral crap. That's where I'm at with the film. I feel like I've been looking at the same stuff so hard for so long and I'm having a tough time making sense of it all. This past week and the next few days are hard work because I'm looking at scenes that I have to make a little better, and I'm getting so distracted, and end up doing nothing, not out of laziness, but quite frankly, I'm just not sure how.
Mama Lamb gave me this postcard with a quote from a famous producer that nails it all. "Thousands and thousands of details go into the making of a film. It is the sum total of all these things that either makes a great picture or destroys it." And sometimes you get so overwhelmed by the thousands of details that you can't even focus on just one. This entire project has been taking thousands of details and making them as good as you possibly can with what you have and who you are right then and there. And tomorrow I'll try it with a few more.
Monday, February 14, 2005
So we're flying this actor in from LA to reshoot a scene from 2:00 am Saturday Night until 6:00 am Sunday Morning. (Technically they're both Sunday morning I suppose.) The actor, Curt, is supposed to get into Pittsburgh Friday night, which gives us all day Saturday to rehearse. I get a call Friday afternoon. He missed his connection flight. He'll be spending the night in Phoenix and he won't get into Pittsburgh until 10:00 pm on Saturday night. Okay, that makes things a little tense. Doesn't give you much rehearsal time, but we'll deal. So Saturday rolls around and I get a second call. Flight is delayed an hour. So he finally makes it to my apartment around midnight, giving us about an hour of rehearsal before we head over to the bar to shoot. But really, has something ever really worked out how we planned it throughout this entire movie? No, but it always works.
When the crew (me, ashley, kleiber, alan, and curt) finally get to the bar it's karaoke night so we sit and watch a few tipsy middle aged women singing "She Think's My Tractor's Sexy." After they've all been kicked out around 2:30, we get to setup. It's been almost two years since we filmed anything of this size so we're all a little rusty. Trying to figure out the setup as we go, a far cry from the slightly well oiled machine we were two summers before.
Over all it went really well. Doug Melder has officially made it into the cast as "Bar Guy," and George, the bar's owner, fell asleep sitting on a stool in the middle of the room which looks both impossible and uncomfortable. The lighting is better, the script is better, the acting is better, the sound is INFINETELY better, and the camera work is better. So the new scene is going to be a HUGE improvement over the old one.
Leave for Florida today. Be there for most of the week. So we'll probably be looking at a close to final cut of Blasto later the following week.
Friday, February 11, 2005
The title of this post is relevant on so many levels. 1) The actor's dad looks like Jon Voight (the actor in Midnight Cowboy). 2) The Blasto Tribune-Review article was featured with Jon Schlesinger's (director of Midnight Cowboy) death. 3) We're pulling an all-nighter.
Friday Curt Wooton (playing Evan Archer) (whose dad looks like if Jon Voight and Brian Dennehey had a baby) flies in from L.A. getting in around midnight. The following day is spent prepping for an all-night shoot at the Pleasant Bar from midnight until 7:00 am. The shoot consists of 3 actors, 2 extras, 2 cameras running simultaneously, 1 shotgun mic/mixer/minidisc recorder sound setup, all run by myself and Ashley. Hopefully Alan and Kleiber will be joining us. The next day I have work until about 9:00 pm, so I'll be playing games with Middle Schoolers after having been up for some 36 hours.
This scene is going to be a HUGE improvement to the movie. It's just gonna be kinda weird to be getting back with the old equipment, trying to re-learn it all, stepping back into a role you haven't acted in over a year with an actor you haven't seen in almost a year. Should be fun.
Monday, February 07, 2005
Never thought the color red could be so much trouble.
Way back when I created the costume for Blasto in 1998, I chose the colors red, black, and white. So while designing the opening credits I made all the graphics...red, black, and white. Unfortunately TV doesn't like the color red. It's too powerful. Yet another reason why film is better. So all graphics that have red against black come out really pixelated and blurry. So I've got to go through and change all those graphics. The problem is that's a decent amount of work AND the graphics are SO FREAKIN' COOL. Needless to say, this sucks.
Sunday, February 06, 2005
Had a small crew to watch the latest rough cut last night. Got a lot of good feedback and was able to pick-up on about 3 - 4 pages worth of details to work out. All and all the movie is at the point where we could show it and people would like it and think it was finished, but it's the details that really make something shine. Especially those opening credits, which get me so excited to premiere this freakin' thing.
It's amazing that you'll watch something a hundred times and it seems fine and then you watch it one more time and eight thousand things jump out at you. So I'll take all these notes and make all the fixes and watch it again, and another eight thousand little things will show up. I guess you could keep doing this forever because the film will never be perfect, but you have to get it to a point where you're happy with it, because once it's done, it's done and you're going to be watching it for the rest of your life, so you darn better be happy with it.
Most of the stuff people were pointing out was edits that might have seemed a little abrupt or cuts that could have gone longer. There was also alot to do with dialogue, music, sound effects that should be louder, quieter, or taken out altogether. So now it's going through and making all the little changes.
We're getting close...
Friday, February 04, 2005
No offense to high school girls, but having an online journal is usually something they do. I promise I won't write any song lyrics or poems about being beautiful on the inside
Why a "blog?"
I started this because a lot of people always ask me about the movie and this seemed a pretty easy way to tell everyone how it's going and where it's at. Actually should have thought of this a lot sooner.
If your honestly asking this, what were you doing looking at my profile?
So what is up with the movie?
Amazingly we are within 2 - 3 weeks of completion which is CRAZY being that I've been working on this nearly every day for three years. Music is finished. Sound effects are finished. All that remains is a reshoot of two small scenes which requires an actor to fly to Pittsburgh from LA on my buck. This Saturday I'm holding a small preview screening of the latest cut to get some new eyes on the film that may point out some stuff I missed, messed up, etc. From there I'll do a lot of little tweaking to make this sucker smooth. Currently the movie is running at a whopping 117 minutes, which for you math wizards out there is 3 minutes shy of two hours. Being that its running about 10 - 15 minutes longer than expected I've made the decision to cut the short cartoon I was planning on putting in the beginning. But pieces of that cartoon will still remain scattered throughout the film because they were pretty integral to the dialogue of a major scene.
That's all for now. I'll have more following this weekends screening.