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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Building a Lycan

Thank God for the internet, Thank God for Halloween, and Thank God for INSTRUCTABLES. I'm constantly looking online for someone else out there interested in building a Werewolf costume, just to see if there are any tips and techniques I can pick up for my own Lycanthropic Endeavor (Yeah I said it.)

Not only have I found gryphern's tutorial on YouTube, but thankfully someone on Instructables.com has posted their how to on their Lycan. Thank you so much for this missmonster.

http://www.instructables.com/id/realistic-werewolf-costume/

This is a whole lot closer to the look I'm going for. Love the teeth and the claws for sure. The lessons here have really put me in the right direction. Saves me alot of experimentation (too late.)

Just in time too. I'm going through the budget and I've just hit the cost of Werewolf FX. Looks like I'll be saving some money.

Now if you'll excuse me I now go to look at this tutorial on making an infrared digital camera.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Fundable

First off I wanna say that I'm thinking of you California. My heart goes out to all the families, lost homes, and lost lives, as well as the men and women working to take care of the victims, and all the fire fighters out there.

I don't exactly remember the first time I had heard about fundable.com. But I had quickly learned that it was a great way to raise a small amount of funds, especially if you're attempting a short film. So I always planned on using it at some point. That time has come.

You set up a page, you set what amount you need, what it's for, and then you tell people about it. People can decide if they want to support you, make a pledge ($20 or more) via credit, debit, or paypal. You have up to 26 days to reach your target amount. If the target amount is reached then all pledges will be cashed in and money is collected. If the target amount is not reached, then all pledges disappear, and no one has to pay anything. Sounds like a great idea, and more than one short film has been made utilizing fundable.com.

I can't get this monster cops episode done without a bit of a budget. That was my problem last time. Too many no budget flaws getting in the way, too many compromises to the script. I cannot make that same mistake this time. I really need to display the kind of vision I have for Monster Cops, which means I'm gonna need some money. My target amount is $2,500.00. I've got the very basics to start with, and this money would actually help get the rest of the necessities to make this happen. Computer ram, hard drive space, props, FX, extra camera batteries, power supply, festival fees, and marketing, etc. I'll be utilizing much of my own money as well, as a matter of fact I already have, but this will definitely ensure things get done, and get done right.

I haven't gone live with the page yet. I'm actually quite nervous about getting it going. Once it's active, I have 26 days to raise the money. And I'll be telling everyone everywhere about the page, hoping to get all the pledges. So here's a sneak peek at the page.

Either way, this shoot has to happen, so I do have a contingency plan. And being the pessimistic optimist that I am, I'm hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. I'm preparing to go this alone completely if I have to, completely no-budget. I'll be somewhat alone with the money anyhow, so it's only fitting if this doesn't workout, but hey, I have to try.

Maybe I'll grow some balls next week and go live with it right after Halloween.

Yeah right. Or maybe I'll win the 5 grand from Our Stage this time around. It would be somewhat fitting if we won the finals, seeing as the final round is on Halloween.
Monster Cops: The Midnight Special TRAILER, by onespartan on OurStage

But I seriously doubt it.

I gotta remember first though ... "Creativity First, Money Last." I know, I know, it's my own rule. I should really stick to it. Heck if Fundable doesn't workout, I won't have a choice.

And now for a quote I post about often, and most definitely in my situation (and perhaps someday I'll post what's really going on) this quote certainly applies.

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

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Online No-Budget FX School part 1

Goddamn this has been a bit of a rough week. Tuesday would make it 1 year ago. Quite a weird day. Didn't know what to expect, what would happen, or what I would be doing to make sure Juli was ok. Thankfully we've survived without a scratch, well, no visible ones anyways.

Since all seems well on that front, I can go back to worrying about this current project. Thankfully as I budget this Monster Cops episode, I find a few resources online that help narrow down my budget. In this episode there will be some fx work that I thought I would have to pay an arm and a leg for. Now I've got my own bag of no budget tricks, but it's so nice to see others sharing online. Here are a few vids I find very helpful, and will certainly be taking note of when working on my monster fx.

Indy Mogul's Backyard FX is pioneering some really great no budget techniques. I posted their previous tutorial on builging a BIG FRICKIN GUN. Now here are two vids on some low budget zombie make up tips. These are steps I've actually used in the past. I did monster makeup back in high school and in college utilizing spirit gum and cotton balls with some black make-up and fake blood. Here, Backyard FX takes those techniques even further.


Here's part two of their Zombie FX, this time with guts and an exposed brain.


In the next Monster Cops episode there will be a large Grim Reaper like character. I've decided on this because of my past experience building a Grim Reaper like character for my previous series, The Living Dead Girls. You can somewhat catch a glimpse of it towards the end of this old Living Dead Girls Promo.


I'll be doing a similar version, but I found this video that comes a little closer to what I'd like to do. This is somewhat similar to mine except this ones jaws move. Very impressive. Find out more about this at villagehaunt.com


I'm going to aim to make the eyes move as well. Also I'd like to make the extended hands move using this technique I found on Metacafe. This is something I've fiddled with in the past as well, but this guy really nailed it.

Simple Animatronics - The funniest videos are a click away

Finally I'd been fiddling with Werewolf costuming for a long time. I actually built a Werewolf for The Midnight Special, but most of those scenes just didn't turn out the way I wanted them to, so they were cut. But building from those old concepts and lessons I've learned since then, I'll be attempting werewolf fx again. These videos have taught me alot about which direction I'll be going in for much of the mask and digigrade silts. Thanks gryphern!

Digigrade Stilts


Articulated Mask


These new techniques combined with some old tried and true indie lessons o mine has definitely put me in the right direction, and definitely cuts down on my budget costs. Next up, news on fundraising.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What the ....

Monster Cops: The Midnight Special TRAILER, by onespartan on OurStage

I know the banner changes when our position changes, but from what I read right now, we're in 4th place in the Comedy category. So when I don't try to get people to vote, is when we start winning. So I'm just gonna let this one go and see what happens. Winning another 100 dollar Amex Card and another Our Stage T-shirt is just fine with me. So I won't even tell anyone about this, no Myspace campaign, no Livejournal, nothing. Unless we get to number one on finals day, then I'll tell everyone and their dog.

it's just dust


I'd been watching the show Ghost Hunters on Sci-Fi since it first aired, but it was really in a "I'll watch it when I catch it flipping channels" kind of fashion. It wasn't til the past few months that I really started keeping up with it. Juli's gotten into it as well, and for the past month it's been Ghost Hunter's marathon around the house, what with it being on every so often on Sci-Fi and then us having purchased some of the DVD's.

Of course the fascination with the show is the paranormal investigations, but part of the appeal is that they don't go blindly looking for Ghosts. They go in very skeptical, and trying to debunk the findings. If someone claims they saw a shadow following them in their bedroom, they go into trying to find a real physical explanation for it first before just assuming that it was paranormal activity. It's more logical that a shadowy figure is created by car's headlights coming off the hill and shining in through the window at an odd angle. But if they find no explanation to debunk it, then they can start looking at a paranormal aspect.

The people themselves are very charming. The two lead investigators, Grant and Jason, are fun to watch. The back story of them being plumbers for Roto-Rooter by day and being paranormal investigators at night is interesting, as are the other members of TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society.) And the more you watch these guys in action, the more you realize how funny these guys are. I think that's part of the larger appeal of the show. This is real, these people are real down to earth people, and they're intelligent folks with a real passion for the paranormal and wanting to help people understand what they know about the paranormal.

It's at times scary, but it's also fascinating and even more still when they have a case where they don't find any paranormal activity at all. It's just entertaining and interesting to see how they come to their conclusions regardless of them finding a ghost.

So of course when we learned Jason and Grant would be making an appearance at Greensboro College, we had to go. I didn't know anything about what they would be talking about, I mean of course they would be talking about ghosts and the paranormal, but we didn't know if we'd actually get to meet them, if they'd be able to sign anything, or really what all would be going on. We just wanted to see them.


Box office wouldn't be selling tickets til 7:30. The show didn't start til 9. By the time we got there at 6:00 there was already a crowd. By 7:00 there was a line down the street for about a block. I didn't really realize how popular this show was until this night. We got into the theatre at 8:00 and the house was packed in no time. The auditorium sat about 800 people (so I was told) and there wasn't an empty seat in there by 8:30.

We met some very interesting people. Even a couple who came all the way down from Tenessee and a group of ladies who we were more than happy to help adjust their camera flashes for. I loved hearing the people around us. I get a kick out of how there were people scattered throughout the audience who were all of sudden some sort of expert on the paranormal. People all around us showing eachother pictures saying stuff like "this shadow here behind my head is obviously paranormal because it was bent weird and that edge right there is obviously a ghost's nose and my nose shadow doesn't look anything like that nose shadow."

The guys finally came out. Heard they came straight from the airport directly to the show. The crowd went wild. Seriously. These guys have got some major fans. And they don't disappoint. They came out and they were immediately everything from the show and more. They were smart, charming, and extremely funny. That's Grant, pictured just above.
And here's Jason. They did a powerpoint presentation on exactly what it was they did, and showed us some of the finer points of paranormal investigation, including pics, video, and many very interesting and funny stories about some of the other TAPS members. They really broke down their philosophies, their approach on investigation, and what they believe and do not believe.
I was pleased when they covered the topic of Orbs. I remember when I was much younger being fascinated by photos of orbs, wondering if any of it was paranormal or not. For Jason and Grant they believe that Orbs don't really have a place in paranormal investigation. If you watch the show then you're familiar with how the TAPS members easily dismiss most "Orbs" they may catch on video as "Dust". Because the truth is most orbs photos can be easily explained as something else, a refraction of light, incidental illusions, or ... well .. dust. In an investigation it doesn't hold much weight if there is any doubt in what you are seeing, and most Orbs are doubtful. They did say that they do put faith in the existence of plasma lights, but excuse it as just proof of natural energy.

They also spoke of some their scarier encounters. The video from the St. Augustine Lighthouse Investigation (creepy) as well as other video. And they showed off a few EVP's (even creepier). If you don't know what an EVP is, watch the show, Grant will explain it.

We did get to meet them afterward. They signed our DVD. These guys were really cool. I felt bad for them cuz I could tell they were tired, but I have to say it was really nice to meet them. And for Juli's sake too, I'm glad she got to meet them, I know she really wanted to.

In hearing them talk and really getting a feel for the crowd around me, it became apparent to me that there is somewhat of a paranormal revolution going on. Before it was always just curious fascination or even a novelty when it came to shows like this, or just paranormal shows altogether, but because of these guys, and because of their approach and belief in what they do, I'm beginning to understand that there is an understanding occuring between those who believe and those who want to believe and also between skeptics and unskeptics (YOU pick a better word!).

I know for myself I've never really had a Ghostly encounter, but I've had strange occurences, none I consider scary, but many I've always found inspiring and enilghtening. And for many others out there they are beginning to see the paranormal as something not to fear, but something to accept and behold. It's comforting to hear Jason and Grant talk, and realize what I've believed in for a while about this stuff, is what they believe in, and it's what many other people are starting to belive in as well.

I know none of that made any sense what so ever. Let's just say, I believe there is nothing to fear.

Well, as usual, I've got work to do. I think I've found a web designer I can work with, and someone who can keep up with all of the updating and what not, which takes a huge load off my back. This way I can just concentrate on making these episodes and not have to worry about all the website details.

Also I think I've very well found a camera person, as well as a few potential cast members. So let's pray I find no more flake outs. I don't have time for it.

If you'll excuse me, off I go to fundraise, and make a giant monster.

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