21 July 2009

preview of coming attractions?

I've started working on something new. I've got some random ideas floating around my head, and it's anyone's guess right now if it'll work.

But if you're curious...it's sorta kinda about this (bonus points if you know where it's from without cheating):

19 July 2009

Out of Sync


It's no secret that I've long been a fan of Peet Gelderblom (even if I can never remember how to spell his name) and his comic strip Directorama, which you can now purchase for your favorite cinephile.

Well, he's got a short film coming out later this year, Out of Sync, shot on the RED for something of a pittance. You can read all about it here, and below is a teaser he's put together on iMovie. (Side note: maybe it's time to take another look at what iMovie can do?)



Also, get yourself over to Facebook and become a fan of the film. That's where all the latest news is hitting first.

18 July 2009

Hitchcock's Bomb

The AFI has just launched a video section, where they're running all sorts of archival material. There's a lot of nice stuff there, but the first thing that drew my attention was this clip by the master of suspense, explaining film tension. Enjoy

16 July 2009

words. words. words.

This is a few days old, but here's an interview with me about my #2wkfilm, Blanc de Blanc. Enjoy.

Original Link

Why did you decide to do #2wkfilm?

I remember when you first suggested it to Amir, thinking it was the craziest fucking thing I'd ever heard of. But then, after I thought about it for a little while, it began to make sense in a strange way. Eventually I realized I had nothing to lose. Worst case scenario I make a terrible film under impossible circumstances and I shake it off as a learning experience. But, if the film is actually any good. Well, then that's all upside.

What are the things you learned by doing #2wkfilm?

I learned that after a point, maybe on hour 30 in two days, your brain sort of shuts off, and if you don't have storyboards, you're in trouble.

Seriously, though, I think I learned how to trust actors. There's a big difference between letting actors do their thing and knowing when to let them do their thing and when to rein them in. Part of my approach here was to give the actors a great deal of free reign in building their characters and performance (80% of the dialogue was improvised, after all). Considering the time constraints, it felt like the only way to get solid performances was to bring the actors into the process from the very beginning and let them help come up with the story, to effectively help write it. Most of the time that worked, but there are scenes where I had to take that control back, and scenes where I should have done it more. It's a tricky thing to figure out when you're moving that fast, but I think I'm better at it than I was when we started.

Of course, the actors may not agree with that...

What would you do differently?

I'd be better organized. Specifically, I'd have gotten someone to start editing as we were shooting. Editing in the evenings after work made it hard to get into a groove. Having someone to get everything sorted out in the early days would have been a great deal of help. Also, I probably would have taken a couple weeks off work.

What would you expand on?

The two weeks?

I would have pushed to get more connective tissue. I think the biggest problem with the film is that it lacks the footage to connect the scenes, and that can tend to give it a kind of choppy feel. I'm not entirely sure where we would have found the time to do that, but I wish we had.

Also, I would have added a couple of weeks of pre-production. That would have been vital.

What are you going to do about the release and distribution of the film?

I'm not sure. I'm famously skeptical of a method that jumps right into streaming the film for free online. I just don't think it's as effective as we all hope it could be, at least not yet. So, I'll send it to some critics and at very least the festivals that screened gravida (to try and capitalize on any existing audience I have there). After that, I'm leaning toward setting up screenings in non-traditional places to see if we can't make some of the budget back and get the cast and crew some money in their pockets, even if it's not a lot.

Would you do #2wkfilm again?

I'm not sure. I'm not a fan of making films just for the sake of making films, as I think if you're going to spend that much time and energy on a film, it should be in pursuit of a story you really want to tell. Otherwise, what's the point?

So, if I did #2wkfilm again, it'd be because I found a story that'd benefit from the treatment, which is certainly possible.

Has #2wkfilm changed the way you approach filmmaking?

Yeah, I think it's shown me that you don't have to always have all your pieces in place to make a film, that you can wing it a little and it won't all go horribly wrong. Plus, it was pretty liberating to tell a potential actor that we can't reschedule for the next weekend because they had to do a play, that we were going to make the film on these dates, whether they could help or not.

Did the cast and crew like the #2wkfilm process?

Probably everything but the last 3 hours of the day. For the most part they found it exciting to be flying blind, but man were they exhausted by the end.

Would the cast and crew do another #2wkfilm?

They very well might, but I don't think they'd do more than one a year. We kind of swung for the fences where maybe we should have just tried to hit a double.

What has been the response to your film so far?

So far I've been keeping it under wraps until I can figure out what to do with it, but the couple of people who've seen it seem to like it a fair amount. As for everyone else, well, we shall see.

What else would you like to say about film and filmmaking?

I think the real value of something like this is that it allows you to shake off the cobwebs, to get out of the eternal cycle of trying to get a project off the ground. It's a fantastic change of pace. And while I don't know if the approach would be ideal for every filmmaker, but I think every filmmaker should do something like this at least once.

If nothing else, it's gotten me moving a little faster than before and introduced me to other filmmakers around the world, and for that it's been so very valuable.

09 July 2009

the fan box

As you've no doubt noticed (unless you're using an RSS feed), there's a Facebook box in the right-hand column of this here blog for the express purpose of promoting my new film. Normally, I wouldn't mention such a thing, but I think it's an example of where indie film distribution is heading.

There's an article in Wired about how Facebook is trying to operate in direct competition to Google in fundamental areas such as search. Essentially, whereas Google uses really complicated formulas and whatnot to tell you where to go on the internet, Facebook relies on the recommendations of people you know (or sort of know or think you maybe went to school with). The theory being that people trust people they know. It's all very interesting stuff, but what does it mean for us?

In the article, Facebook claims to be "an advanced communications network enabling myriad communication forms", so let's assume for a minute that it is. Let's assume that all that random information about your friends and co-workers actually means something, let's assume that when my status update reads (as it does now) "Lucas McNelly is supposed to be getting things done, but is instead spacing out and listening to the new Bill Callahan album" that Facebook can take that start to build an idea of who I am. What does that mean? Well, for one, when my friends start searching for something new to listen to, Facebook can tell them that I listen to Bill Callahan, which if used correctly could prove more valuable than a search for new albums on Google. A friend of mind can add that to what they already know about my musical tastes and purchase their music accordingly.

If you're thinking this sounds kind of creepy and Big Brother-ish, stop. This sort of thing could save our asses.

Lately, Facebook seems pretty committed to utilizing this sort of thing as they strive to find a way to actually make money on their social network (much like Twitter will be in a little bit), and so they've rolled out the fan box you see on the right to try and spread their reach a little bit further into your web experience.

I'll repeat: this is a good thing.

So now, not only can you get people to be fans of your film (which, let's face it, almost no one is utilizing effectively) who are already your friends, but people who are friends of friends, or stumble across your blog. And then, you have access to information about them--demographics, tastes, etc.--information you can use to promote your film.

There's so many ways to make this work. Your Facebook fan box should absolutely be integrated into every other web page you use, it should be your point of contact to the world. You should be giving away content to people who are fans that other people don't see. Hell, it could even be your film's Official Web Page. There's no reason not to be using it, none at all.

But you need to be doing more with it than just setting up a page and hoping people become your fans. A lot more.

You can start by being a fan of Blanc de Blanc (hint, hint).

08 July 2009

9 minutes

For your viewing pleasure, David Lowery has posted the first 9 minutes of St. Nick. Enjoy.

07 July 2009

oh bloody hell

A couple of weeks ago, my beloved, 6 year-old G5 ran into a bit of trouble and had to take a trip to the Apple Store. It was a minor issue, but I had to back up everything important while they formatted my hard drive or whatever it is they do. I was pretty sure I did that properly, but I'm not the most tech savvy person in the world, so mistakes will be made.

Can you see where this is going?

So last night I finally go to boot up my screenwriting software, and after I track down the serial number, I realize that all the scripts are gone.

Seems I didn't back up everything.

I've managed today to track down a pretty recent pdf copy of a feature script I was thinking of doing next, but I don't believe that'll easily convert back to Movie Magic Screenwriter, so it looks like I'm going to have to re-type it by hand. The rest of the stuff is totally gone. Ugh.

But, you know, other than the time issue, maybe it won't be such a bad thing. It might actually be a not-terrible method of seeing what works in a way I might have missed otherwise. At least, that's the hope.

Wish me luck.
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