Monday, February 28, 2005

Thousands of Things

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

The All-Nighter

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

Midnight Cowboy

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

Red, The Sound of Angry Men

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, 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

Rough Cut Screening

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

I Feel Like A High School Girl

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.

What movie?
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.