Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hang In There Texas

Ike's currently battering my home state. This thing, they say, is almost the size of Texas.

My brother Allan is currently hunkering down in Houston as we speak. 16 miles west of Houston he says. He's my older brother, he's a former Marine, and as long as I've known him he's always been somewhat crazy, but calling him a Marine and then carzy is just redundant.

I text him to make sure he's ok. I ask him if he's along and if he's safe. His response?

I've got Jose Cuervo and Bacardi Gold to keep me company, and Mr. Glock and Smith and Wesson to keep me safe.

That response sounded just like a Marine and certainly just like my brother. I told my wife what he said, and she says, "What is he going to shoot the hurricane?" I think for about 3 seconds before honestly answering, "Probably."

I hope all of my friends and family in Texas are safe. My peeps in DFW should see some pretty good rain and possibly a crap load of Tornadoes, so pretty much a normal September.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I haven't forgotten. How could anyone?

I don't feel like rehashing everything that happened that day, or even everything that happened to me personally.

All I will say is, God bless us all, and God bless the United States of America.

Hard Habit To Break

A multitasking we will go.

Working on a script. Video editing. Designing a website. All at once.

Ok, not that impressive, since I've seen my mother do much more than that all at once. She rocked. Still does.

I don't know why. but I'm just on this huge Chicago kick. Not the musical, the 80's band. Now of course I've always loved Chicago. Grew up on Chicago so this may partially be nostalgia, but lately, I'm just all about some Chicago. I've got "Hard Habit To Break" stuck in my head.

And Marcellus, you're the bomb for rockin some Real Genius on your Myspace. It's one of my favorite movies ever. What can I say I'm all about the 80's.

I am in the midst of solving a problem. Wouldn't you know it, a huge part of solving this problem is in doing exactly what I want to do. Then why am I so hesitant to do it? I remember hearing someone say once, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure."

Maybe I am afraid I'll get exactly what I want. Even worse, what I need.

Naw, I'm just being a general wuss. It's in my nature to over analyze a thing. Especially when that thing may be the key to your future. But hey, over analyzing is a hard habit to break for me. (OOH! Look at me, I made this blog come full circle. This post is like a Love Boat episode.)

But honestly. It always comes back to the same thing. I'm just wasting time trying to do anything else. The best advice is usually the advice you already know. I already know what I need to do.

So here I go.

On a less cryptic and more lighthearted note:

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


I feel like I've barely got time to breath today. Got some video projects that need to be finished asap. A demo reel for a very good actor as well as much testing for AE and tweaking of scenes for my own work. I've got enough script work to do as well. Gotta revamp a business plan, redo the numbers, prep for fundraising. And there's still alot of prep work that needs to be done before I can get back to shooting Dead By Dawn, and at the same time, I really need to get the majority of it done by the end of next week.

No worries though. I'll get my second wind here in a bit. Right now I'm in a bit of a somber mood. Partly because I feel bad for not posting about two celebrities that passed away. Don Lafontaine and Jerry Reed. If you don't know who either are, google em. They were both very important in there own right, and both people who were a part of my development as a cinephile. Jerry Reed will always be the "Snowman", and Don Lafontaine will always be the "Voice". They will be greatly missed.

The other reason for my mood is I'm a little touched by the response, the feedback, and the general comments I've been getting from the Monster Cops vids I've posted recently. Definitely some great comments from the Project Breakout posting, as well as the number of people who've told me they've been voting for Monster Cops. Reassures me I'm on the right track and that Monster Cops has a potential audience. It's been nice to receive such warmth.

Another reason for my mood is because I miss my family.

I miss my friends. And I miss Texas. I miss Dallas. I miss Fort Worth. I miss Grand Prairie. I miss I-20. I miss The Ball Park in Arlington. I miss Gameworks. I really miss Taco Cabana. I miss Po' Melvins. I can't believe I actually miss 360. Although I'm sure once I return and get caught in rush hour traffic by Six Flags that I will no longer miss it. I miss the West End. I miss the Stockyards. I miss watching the sun go down over Joe Pool. I miss it all so much sometimes it's easier not to talk to anyone from back home. Sometimes it's less painful to respond a little slower to emails from friends and family. I feel horrible for it.

I've been very far away from Texas. Been to Europe, been to Asia, often times for extended periods. I've been far, but this is the longest I've been away.

Throw all that in with everything that's been on my mind, and it's put in me in this mood. This .... place.

I'm just very contemplative right now. Alot to think about, and even so much more action to commit to once the thoughts have settled. I don't want to sleep. I just want to work. I just want to write, plan, shoot, edit, organize, create, prepare, etc.

I'm trying to make this transition from one place in my life to another. There's timing involved, and if I don't time it out right, and I make the jump too soon or too late, then I'll crash and burn. I know, the crash and burn is just an illusion. But you gotta know how to use your illusions to your advantage.

Ok, I'm up entirely too late. I still have alot of work to do in the morning, and in the next few weeks and months. I have some serious planning to do, some changes to make, some videos to finish and even to start. I really should be asleep. But again, I don't want to. Ok, I kinda want to. This blog post has taken me about 3 hours to write, since I am attempting to multi task.

Oh my God, I don't wanna feel like this anymore.

I still haven't found what I'm looking for. I realize that it's not so much what I'm looking for, it's really about what I'm trying to express.

There is this certain sense of gravitas I wish to express. Gravitas, man that's a hell of a word. But it fits. What I'm trying to say, what I'm trying to bring out for all the world to see and feel, it has depth, it has weight, and it's substantial.

What? Gravitas expressed in a cheesy, B-movie, horror, comedy, about Cops that kill Monsters? Impossible you say. No, nothing is impossible. Not anymore. It's amazing where you can find that sort of depth and passion and inspiration. And if you could only find a way to see it not only in the little everyday things, but also in those things that annoy you or upset you, then your just that much closer to mastery.

It's official, I'm delirious. Time for bed, before I have to get up in a few hours and make some phone calls.

But once again, Sports Night is on my mind.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Vampire Brides, Take 1

The Dead By Dawn episode requires three Vampire Brides. 2 of which I had cast for sure. The third, I'm still looking for actually. I wanted to stick with the traditional look of the Vampire Brides (aka Dracula's Brides) each girl very beatiful but with different looks. Normally each girl has different hair color, dark, red, and blonde. I have a few choices right now for a blonde, but I have yet to actually talk to those choices. We'll see how it works out.

Let's focus on the two we've got. Kelsey Granger, our dark haired vamp. And Cat Degroot, our red head. I was going to wait til I had found the blonde and shoot the three altogether, but Kelsey had to head back to school soon, so I decided to go ahead and shoot Kelsey and Cat together. Now I didn't have the location I wanted yet so I had to do something I was trying to avoid. Green screen.

Green screen means shooting your actors in front of a green (sometimes blue) screen, and then do composite work in editing. Meaning I remove the green screen from behind the actors, and then place any background I need behind them. I've seen it done very well, and I've seen it done badly, and I've done it both well and badly. Either way, for a project like monster cops where I'm trying to get the most realistic feel possible, using a green screen wasn't something I wanted to do (you never see any bad cg fx on Cops now do ya?). I was already rolling my eyes at the crappy cg'd gun fire I put in The Midnight Special. This time around, I was determined to keep any cg or compositing to a minimum, and try to do every single effect practical and on set.

But in some cases you are left with no choice but to do the best with what you've got. So some cg and compositing would now be required. The thing about The Midnight Special was, I didn't have the best computer resources in the world. I was using a somewhat satisfactory program for my fx work, and I'm quite surprised I was able to edit a 90 minute movie on that frickin computer (80 gigs/256 ram, I pushed it to it's limits.) Now I'm blessed with a computer that is entirely too powerful to exist, oh, and a little something called Adobe After Effects CS3. So now I'm ok with doing a bit of CG and composting if I can do it well and only where it's needed.

Did you hear that Hollywood? WHERE IT'S NEEDED!!!!

Majority of the FX would be done on set. Any monster fx, most of the blood squibs, any gore, etc. would be done live. CG would be used if absolutely necessary, and only as a tool to help tell the story or achieve the scene if we couldn't achieve it any other way, and not just for the holy hell of it (see Van Helsing 2004).

So a green screening we went. Sadly I had to use the same green material I used back in the days of Living Dead Girls. Does anybody remember my Living Dead Girls series? Either of the 2 of you reading this? No? Me neither. Thankfully the creases in the sheets won't matter much. The solid green background is going to be helpful enough in compositing. Also most of the pitfalls you get when green screening on a low budget can be avoided since many of the Vampire Brides scenes are fairly short, and also take place in deep dark hallways and tunnels. Hopefully you won't even be able to tell the difference when I actually start editing.

Here come the pics. Including a few frames where I decided to play with the compositing software a bit.

Two of the three Vampire Brides in front of our amazing green screen. Cat on the left, Kelsey on the right. Aren't they adorable?

Arlanda doing the make up thang.

Me directing Kelsey

I think I made some kind of joke about Vampires making bunny ears.

Could our green screen have anymore creases?

Not only does Arlanda do make up but she knows how to fix costuming issues as well. She rocks.

Still messing with the costume.

Cat is trying to seduce the camera.

Arlanda applying more make up to Kelsey's arms. Because a Vampire with a sun tan just isn't very realistic.

She had a very even tan.

Cell Phone Camera Pics.
The fangs are great, but ya gotta hold em in place forever.

If you didn't know already, there's always alot of waiting around on set. Brandon and Chris on set as well.

Cat being Cat.

Kelsey minus the green.

Threw in a bit of a glow here.

Cat minus the green. Although I do notice some of it, but that's me being picky.
Horrible edge work here, something you won't see in the final cut.

Did a color correction just to see if I could bring out her hair color. Make it pop.

Just a little test to see what you can do with a green screen. Here are the two girls in front of our crease filled green sheets. Let's take out the green. You can see a bit of an outline of the green, especially around the hair, but it's fine.
Let's throw in a public domain photo of a cemetary.
And let's smooth it all out with a few filters. Black and white, with a blue tint. Went for that old, old, antique film look. Really we could have done much more, but you get the idea behind using a green screen.

A few more shots.

Overall I had a good time shooting that day. Hopefully the girls had fun too. They were wonderful to work with. I'm confident we got some great shots, and the footage should look fine in the final product. Ah the final product, can't wait to see what that looks like.

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