Saturday, December 23, 2006

Video Round Up

Here are a few vids I find very creative and, dare I say, brilliant. Some really creative stuff here. The last one I can't seem to get out of my head.

Animator Vs. Animation

Animator Vs. Animation Part 2

HellHoles Episode 1

Batman: Dead End

Before Batman Begins, this was the most impressive rendition of Batman since the original Burton 1 and 2. Great idea and excellent execution.


405 was the first composite fx short to really get some attention. It was a wake up call to most indies that it was possible to achieve big budget fx on the independent level.

The last few vids are from SNL. But I have to point out that they were made possible by Andy Samberg and the original crew he rolled with called The Lonely Island. In my opinion The Lonely Island is one of the best things to ever happen to SNL. They've been responsible for much of the Video Recuts and Digital Shorts. They were always good at making great comedy/parody music videos, but now on SNL they can use big celebs in them. Genius. I never thought I'd ever see Tom Hanks or Natalie Portman like this. Some great beats too.

Natalie Portman and Andy Samberg "Gangsta Rap"

Tom Hanks and Andy Samberg "Please Don't Cut My Testicles"

Tom Hanks - My Testicles - video powered by Metacafe

Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg "Dick In A Box"

Be sure to check out Jorma, Akiva, and Andy aka THE LONELY ISLAND. Watch their rejected Pilot for their Fox Comedy Show "Awesome Town" and check out "The Bu".

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Midnight Special Update 12/06

For those that have been asking, The Midnight Special isn't available on DVD yet. We're working out details for distribution right now. We may still pop up with a few more fests and screenings, but all that will be posted about in January.

We'll be working on the short series of The Midnight Special entitled Monster Cops. more details about that in January, but expect to see a webisode or two around that time as well. Sorry no hints right now as to who may be picking up the series or the movie. In due time.

I'll be posting about all the details of all of our upcoming productions and distribution news in the near future on both the WTW blog and in more detail on my blog, One Spartan.

Happy Holidays folks.

- Patrick A. Prejusa

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Make The Best With Less

It's something I find myself talking to more and more filmmakers about. Less is more. Also something that was hammered into my head back in my early days of Theatre. It's a concept that seems to be ignored by too many indies. Too many people focusing on what they can't get instead of (here comes that phrase Patrick likes so damn much) "doing the best with what they have."

I went on about it a few posts back, and for many of you who have kept up with my previous blogs and journals, you know I say this quite a bit. Now more than ever you can afford the very basic things you need to make a movie. Cameras are more affordable, computers, yadda, yadda, yadda. But still too many people focus on, "Geez, if we only had a better camera!" or "Just another grand to match the grand we already have to make this movie..."

If you have access to a camera, shut up and shoot something. If you have a grand set aside to make a movie and you're still hesitating, I'm comin over right now to slap you in the frickin face. Do you know what I could do with a grand? How about this? What if Steven Spielberg had no money, no studio backing, no connections? What if all he had was his talent? What do you think he could do with a grand? I mean lets say all he could get with that grand was a camera, a computer, some tape stock, some cheap lights, and maybe a few more odds and ends that he could only get with one grand. What kind of movie do you think he would come up with?

This particular subject has been conceptualized and documented in a kick ass site called, you guessed it, $1000 Spielberg. Check out the site. These guys have got it down. Much of the rules and concepts I've set for myself, these guys have got listed on their site. They talk about it too. The idea of using what you've got, as well as knowing how to use what you've got. If you have a lower end MiniDV camera that has decent resolution but isn't quite up to par with HD or 35mm, then why are you going to set out to make a 35mm film? I'm going to shoot this 357 using paintballs.

I've known too many of these guys. I've seen their shorts. Too many people trying to imitate the latest Hollywood trends. Hey, practice is great. Go out and practice some of your Matrix style moves and fx, lord knows we have, but as far as conceptualizing a feature film, too many people wanna go out and make a million dollar movie with only a grand in their pocket. Sometimes less. Hey I get it, we think big, we want to make big impressive movies. But I repeat what Clive and James over at $1000 Spielberg have said. "Make your format your advantage."

If you're going to make your guerilla movie, than adhere to some of the rules of guerilla tactics. One of those rules is this: Make your weaknesses your strengths. If you can only afford a low end MiniDV camera, start thinking about what you can make in that format. What is something that would look feasible in this particular format? Obviously you can't shoot widescreen panavision style epics. You could try, and many have, but it doesn't seem to work well. So how do you make it work? How could lower resolution video look "good"?

For me, doing The Midnight Special was an easy concept. It just clicked with me one day. It has to be reality TV. A huge inspiration was Cops. When Cops first came on the air (seems like ages ago) I was a little angry I didn't do it first. I thought, well here's a genuis idea. Low production costs, hight end concept. One camera, video tape Cops at work. Cut it together, get some minor graphics, got enough money left over to get a theme song, get it on the air, and boom. Instant TV show. No actors, no fx. Cops became a staple along with many other shows on TV we all now know as "reality TV". Along comes The Real World and America's Funniest Home Videos and the increase in the voyeuristic, cinema verite, type programming, and now everyone's use to seeing this look. This rough, spy cam, realistic, home movieish look. So why not come up with a storyline around that particular kind of look, heck we've got the cameras for it. That's what they did with Blair Witch and The Last Broadcast.

So that was our niche. A reality TV look into the "training video" of a Secret Government Agency that fights monsters. Basically it's Reno 911 except with monsters. Of course there's more to it than that, a little bit of added pathos and drama along with the comedy. But that was the basic idea. A training video. Would definitely fit the format. Features interviews, camera tag alongs on cases, monster sighting type footage, etc. No need to spend money making it look real, because most of it was real, well, except for the monsters, but we'll cover that later.

So instead of looking at what you can't make with what you don't have, start looking at what you can make with what you do have. Blair Witch is an example, except I would advise you actually write a script. The Last Broadcast is a really great example, and it's well written. And there it is, it's in the writing. A great story can be told with a movie, and you should be creative enough to come up with something amazing with what you've already got. Make the best with less.

And speaking of that, here's a movie that won the Fangoria Chainsaw Award for the BEST WITH LESS Category. It's a movie called Zombie Honeymoon. Written and Directed by David Gebroe. I haven't seen it yet, but the trailer looks great. Good job David! I am really impressed.

Zombie Honeymoon Trailer

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Check out the official site for Zombie Honeymoon.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Monster Cops

Been doing alot of prepping for the upcoming productions. Here's a little taste of one of them. I apologize for the low quality, I haven't had a chance to upload to our Brightcove player yet.

Get video codes at Bolt.

What started with The Midnight Special, is now evolving into it's intended form. A series.

That's a very rough cut of the opening intro to each episode. I'm going to get to work on 3 episodes the first of this year. 2 for online debut and 1 for ... well ... we'll talk about that later. Let's just say things are looking up.

That is the theme song. Busted my ass recording that this past week and a half, but I finally nailed the sound I was looking for. I needed something dark but with a bluesy feel. I don't know if that's what you guys can hear out of that, but that there is the sound I've been aiming for. Synthesized pads over a beat designed with Fruity Loops, threw in some very light orchestration in the background, and topped it off with my harmonica, key of C to be exact. Ran the final mix through Acid and it was good to go.

However I would like to make the orchestration a bit heavier and a little more echo to the harmonica. I'll tweak it later. Also need more shots of The Dallas Fort Worth Metroplex as well as more Monster Sighting Photos and art. Gonna have to make a few calls.

Ok, off to go see how much full S.W.A.T. gear costs and then it's bedtime.

- P

Harrison Leonardo

Just saw this on Rex Navarette's website, thought I'd help spread the word about this little boy here.

There's this two year old little boy named Harrison Leonardo, who has been fighting Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML). He's been in remission since last August, but the condition returned just right before Thanksgiving. I know that he's a tough little guy, having gotten that strength from his daddy OJ...who I've been friends with for almost twenty years. Harrison's daddy, mommy and little brother Lucas are spending all the time they can right now with Harrison so he can recover. If you have the time to read these online links about Harrison and his need for a bone marrow donor, you'd at least be fullfilling the spirit of the season.

Please check out the following websites: and

Finding a matching marrow donor for Filipinos and Asians has been a challenge for years. All the info for donor drives and how you might help are on these sites. Maybe one of you lucky souls out there might be able to give Harrison a little help and support. So visit the sites and say hello to the family and keep Harrison in your thoughts and prayers.

God Bless,
Tito Rex

More on The Wilhelm Scream

Thanks to Sound Editor and Historian Steve Lee of Hollywood Lost and Found, here is another video on The Wilhelm Scream, featuring Mr. Steve Lee.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Wilhelm Scream

For those of us hardcore movie nerds we know about a little thing called The Wilhelm Scream. If you watch movies in general, then you've heard it and never even knew. Someone uploaded a nice little video compilation on youtube. This is awesome, and I'm fairly upset that I didn't do it first.

Find out what The Wilhelm Scream is here.

Now watch the video.

I had to start laughing the other day because I watched 3 trailers in a row and they all had The Wilhelm Scream in it.

God bless you Ben Burtt for bringing it back through the Star Wars movies.

Creativity First, Money Last

Okay, look, here's the deal. Man, you were gonna drive me around tonight, never be the wiser, but El Gordo got in front of a window, did his high dive, we're into Plan B. Still breathing? Now we gotta make the best of it, improvise, adapt to the environment, Darwin, shit happens, I Ching, whatever man, we gotta roll with it.

- Tom Cruise as Vincent in COLLATERAL

Not that I'm a huge authority on the matter, but I do get the occasional request on what tips I can offer those starting out in low low budget production. I always end up telling them the same thing.

1. Remember, you control the camera.
2. Creativity First, Money Last.

You Control The Camera.

The one mistake I do see often with ultra low budget and amateur videos is the lack of camera control. Somehow people just lose control of the camera. The shots are too shakey or just not steady enough, and not on purpose either. With my movie, The Midnight Special, it's shakey on purpose, because we were going for that reality TV type, COPS feel. All the shakes were intentional, in fact looking back at it now, I think we had too many steady shots.

It's always the signal of a first time camera guy when the camera shakes. And there are different kinds too. One of my favorites is one I like to call the, "We Didn't Buy A Tripod Shake". They hold the camera handheld and try there best to hold it steady. This hardly ever works. Unless you're intention is to get that handheld NYPD Blue, Paul Greengrass, effect. But most times you can tell they were trying to keep it steady, battling the fact that human's can't help but twitch every so often. Even worse when it's a small light weight camera. Even even worse when the shot is zoomed all the way in on something, in which case every centimeter you shift looks like a bad swish pan from one mile to the next.

The solution of course is to buy a tripod. Which brings us to the, "I Have A Tripod But I Keep Touching The Camera Shakes." This may be even worse than the first. Because on a tripod the shot is static. But then all of a sudden the shot twitches because you got all itchy about the shot and felt the need to mess with it. Solution, set your shot on the tripod, and then leave it alone. There is no need for you to have your hands on the camera and tripod at all times, espescially when it's not a particularily heavy camera. If it's windy, or the shot is supposed to pan or tilt, fine grab hold, but if you're trying to get a steady shot, DON'T TOUCH THE CAMERA.

The point is you have to realize you control the camera. If the shot shakes it has to be because you wanted it to and you felt it would be good for telling the story at hand. If the shot needs to be steady, then keep the camera steady, either on a tripod or not. Which brings me to the next piece of advice.

Creativity First, Money Last.

You've gotta learn that creativity will solve a problem much faster than money. What if you can't afford a tripod? Then get a stool and some duct tape. What if I can't afford duct tape? Then set your camera on a table, a nearby chair, how about the ground. I don't know how many great shots I got just by setting the damn camera on the ground, and then propping the lens up with my wallet. Hey look at that, a nice steady shot with no money.

Now I'm not saying you don't ever need money. Eventually the bigger movies you make you're going to need some funding. Movies do indeed cost money. Cameras and computers to edit on cost money, of course. But nowadays those things are much easier to come by if you're working that day job, which you should be. After that, if you can shoot it, and cut it, then you've got all the power in the world. No need for you to spend thousands on a fancy crane, special fx, or expensive locations. Use what you've got. Shoot in your apartment, use your car, a park, a parking lot. I mean, come on. It's a lesson taught over and over again, haven't we heard about this a billion times. Clerks, Evil Dead, Night Of The Living Dead, the frickin Blair Witch. And get on youtube and triggerstreet, you'll see some real gems for no money.

No money is the motto of the world and the backbone of civilization. Some truely creative and powerful things have arisen from the poor, the penniless, and the desperate. It's the very roots of rock, country, blues, and hip hop. It's learning to make music with a washboard and a jug. It's figuring out how to make big sounds with two turntables and some old records. It's the days of the early street performers all the way to Vaudeville, when the most creative acts came from the slums, the ghettos, and the poor houses. It's the very soul of Martial Arts. Using your limbs as weapons, or making weapons out of those thing around you, all in the name of defending yourself because you had to. You needed to.

True talent has always come out of desperation. True creativity has always risen out of the very rock bottom of down and out. If they can figure out how to build pyramids without machines, if they can make music with nothing but their hands and mouths, if they can make hit performances out of sticks and brooms, then you should be able to come up with a creative masterpiece with out fancy FX or an expensive tripod. You've got the camera, you've got the editing software, shut up and make a movie.

It's the very essence of the true guerilla filmmaker. Do the very best with what you've got. Adapt, improvise. If you really look at it you have the opportunity to create something the big Hollywood machine cannot. A movie from your specific point of view. Think about it, they would have to spend 3 hundred grand if they needed to put together an authentic set that looked like someone's apartment or house. And you don't have to. Use your supposed weaknesses as your strengths. Do the very best with what you've got, and often you'll find it's exactly what you needed in the first place. I believe there's a life lesson in there somewhere.

Here's an example. Out of the millions of dollars some people spend on putting together music videos, the fancy filters, the hot dancers, the expensive sets, cars, etc. Here's one of the coolest, most popular, most creative music videos EVER!

The band is OK GO. And if you haven't seen the awesomeness of their videos, check em out now, and tell me if you couldn't have come up with that yourself for no money.

You know in guerilla warfare, you try to use your weaknesses as strengths. If they're big and you're small, you're mobile and they're slow. You're hidden and they're exposed. Only fight battles you know you can win. You capture their weapons and you use them against them the next time. That way they're supplying you. You grow stronger as they grow weaker.

- Gene Hackman as Brill in ENEMY OF THE STATE

Napoleon's Battle Plan

This was originally posted on Live Journal on June 19th, 2005. I'm posting it here now, because I wanted to include it in this blog and because it's still relevant for me today. Enjoy.

Sometimes you don't have to do anything.

Sometimes you just have to let it go. Let it do it's thing. Let the flow, flow. Let the groove, groove. Let the bears bare and the bees be.

I wrote a script for the movie we are doing now. But the problem with making movies in general is that most times things may go wrong. Things may not turn out the way they are supposed to in accordance with the script. Lord knows that this is oh so true for low budget films, and more specifically and most definitely for NO budget films. After tonights shoot, I thought of the scene in State And Main where Walt the director(William H. Macy) and Joe the writer (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) are sorting out how to shoot a movie called The Old Mill after learning that the old mill has burned down.

Walt: Don't run off. We need you. You know why? You're why we are here. You're script is why we are here. Big deal, we fight a little bit. Show me a family that doesn't. But we got something good here. You know what it is? We're here to make a movie. We can't use the old mill. That happens. What you gotta do, you've got to figure out the essence. What is it that brought us all here? It wasn't a building, Joe. It was an idea. What is the essence of your story Joe?

Joe: It's about a man who gets a second chance.

Walt: Then you write that. And then this is our second chance. That's why we're all here.

Joe: I want to make a good film.

Walt: I know you do.

Joe: Maybe it will be a better film without the old mill.

Walt: Hey, it's with the gods. We don't have the money. We got to write it out, the best or not. And that's a lesson.

RIGHT THERE. "We don't have the money. We got to write it out, the best or not." And that is most certainly is a lesson. This is a realization that I learned over the 7 years it took to make my first movie. And a lesson I knew all about going into this movie. We don't have the money. So, you do what you can with what you have and try to tell the essence of the story. Too many people bail out when there is no money. When everything that the script calls for isn't there or isn't available at all. And I can bitch all the live long day about not having enough money to finish the movie. But all of that is window dressing compared to the real deal.

What is the essence of this story? When I came up with the idea for The Midnight Special I knew what the gimmick was. I knew it was going to have some solid scares in it to be a watchable horror flick. I knew it was going to have laughs for it to be an entertaining comedy. I knew that I was going to have to go for the "Cops" look in order to properly use the medium that was available to us. I knew what I could do and what I couldn't do. I knew what was possible and what was even more possible even if everyone said it wasn't possible. I knew what I wanted. I knew what we could get. I knew what we couldn't get but I wanted anyways.

But I also knew about the essence. I knew that I had to hold on to the true essence of this movie in order to be able to truely finish it. I knew that anything and everything can and will go wrong and that when it did I had to be prepared. And I must say some moments were real whoppers. Some things occured that I expected, but it still threw me back. And there were a few moments here and there where I wanted to throw in the towel and head on back to the world of the 9 to 5 working class dreamer. But I held on to the essence of the script. I had to pay attention to the fact that although we couldn't get the costumes we wanted, or always get the location that was called for in the script, or always get that specific shot, or always get every bit of the cast to be together all in one place and on time. Although things did go wrong, and sometimes horribly, as long as I held on to the essence of the story, then anything was possible.

I knew that everytime I had to shoot to keep in mind of what part of the story needed to be told and what the audience needed to feel. Not necessarily see, but what did I want them to feel. You try to shoot the script, but if it doesn't workout, do you give up? Pack it up and go home? No. You figure out exactly what is it that needs to be conveyed here and you try your best to convey that. You try your best to tell the essence of your story. So you soldier on using whatever you can. Maybe it wasn't the original prop, shot, set, you wanted, but are you still able to convey the same message that is in the story of this particular screen?

So now when we go to shoot some scenes. I aim for what I want and how I want to tell it. But if I can't do it my way then you have to do it the story's way. You have to figure out how to do it creatively without that particular thing you thought you needed. And most often then not you may come up with something better than what was originally written. This has happened many times within this movie, and each time it turned out better than what was written, but still in accordance to the essence of the story. And this is the lesson.

Bruce Lee said, "The great mistake is to anticipate the outcome of the engagement; you ought not to be thinking of whether it ends in victory or defeat. Let nature take it's course, and your tools will strike at the right moment."

As a story teller sometimes you can't tell it the way you want to. As long as you tell the story. When things got rough I tried to apply this philosophy to the obstacle, and many times that obstacle turned into a productive tool. Now don't get me wrong. I'm not saying you should always abandon form and not aim for a specific goal. Just realize that sometimes formlessness can be your form and within the realm of no buget filmmaking, you should let your story be your goal.

Tonight specifically was one of those nights. I knew what I wanted, but I knew that maybe we couldn't pull off what I wanted. But instead I just let it flow. I let nature take it's course. After awhile it all came to me. We let the tape roll and we just did the scene. No form. No rules. And it all fell into place. We got some great shots. We shot a very necessary scene for the movie. We kept the idea of the movie and the story in mind and we went for it. Low and behold all of our tools struck at the right moment. And looking over the footage just now I realize we got the scene I wanted to get. The scene I needed to get tonight. We achieved the goal of the story. And we are that much closer to getting it all done.

Hopefully soon you'll be able to see what it is we've all been working so hard for. Hopefully soon everyone will be able to finally see and hear and feel the essence of this story. Hopefully soon you'll be able to be witness to our goal. Our story that is.

Yeah I wrote a script. But going in I had to realize that the script isn't always the story. The story is something truer than that. And as long as I can tell that truth, then I'll reach my goal. We will have made a good movie. The script is just a script. For most people they turn it into something more. Like a code or a set of rules that MUST be followed.

I say hang the code and hang the rules.

They're more like guidelines anyway.

"The first lesson in my film school was that it's not your wallet that makes the movie. Any monkey can tap himself out financially. The idea is to tap yourself out creatively first."
- Robert Rodriguez

Casey: Technically, I have a plan.
Dan: What's the plan?
Casey: It's Napoleon's plan.
Dan: Who's Napoleon?
Casey: A 19th century French emperor.
Dan: You're cracking wise with me now?
Casey: Yes.
Dan: Thanks.
Casey: He had a two-part plan.
Dan: What was it?
Casey: First we show up, then we see what happens.
Dan: That was his plan?
Casey: Yeah.
Dan: Against the Russian army?
Casey: Yeah.
Dan: First we show up, then we see what happens.
Casey: Yeah.
Dan: Almost hard to believe he lost.
Casey: Yeah.

- Sports Night, Episode 22, "Napoleon's Battle Plan"