Sunday, February 27, 2011

Color Correction and Needs

I've mentioned this blog before, it's from the Art Director on Moon. He goes into detail about the production and post-production of that picture. This post is on color-correction. Right now I'm in the midst of color-correction quandaries with Earthkiller. I don't know which way to go with the picture. When I'm color-correcting I usually feel that I've gone too far. My producer frequently complains about the amber-and-bronze tones. And I find that I start to get lost by looking at frames and trying to figure out where the skin tone should be.
But the fact is that big-budget Hollywood pictures are frequently colored very radically.
So we're going for more severe CC in Earthkiller. I don't think, however, it's going to be consistent. I think that certain rooms will look a certain way and other rooms are going to look their own way.
Other members of the production team have a different opinion. Whoever it is who actually does the color-correction work will probably be the winner in the color-correction battles that take place deep inside the Pandora Machine.
I need a mech and I need the side panel and door to the lander.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Day 2 Screening

It's happening.
Sunday March 20th at 2pm
The Gibson in Brooklyn

108 Bedford Avenue.
Corner of N. 11th Street.
(between 11th St & 12th St)
BrooklynNY 11211

You and your friends brutally murdered on the mean streets of Gowanus.

Running time is about 90 minutes. Bring guests. 

Thursday, February 24, 2011


It's funny, there are a lot of things I don't like doing. Writing is one of them. Scheduling is another. But I've finally boarded Robot War, or whatever we're calling 1101. And I can't complain because it's better than having a real job. But it sure would be nice to have an AD sitting around who could do this instead.
And if miniature baby elephants had wings then... er... well I guess miniature baby elephants do have wings. So... this is one of those "I can't complain but sometimes I still do" things. So I can't complain.
We're still bouncing ideas back-and-forth on this picture. But we're nigh on ready to shoot it. And you know, I was reading through it today (and deleting accidental bits of dialog where someone who'd been killed two scenes previous had a line or two) and it's a good movie.
It would be awesome if we could do 4 3-day weeks on it. We'll see what we can get. My intent is to have this picture shot and have some decent CGI finished by Cannes in May.
Source Code is made by the same guy who made Moon. It's funny because I've been watching the last bit of Caprica's first season which is also about a terror bombing about a train. When I say "funny" I don't mean funny funny... I mean... nevermind.


The musical version of Predator is really pretty cool.
If it bleeds we can kill it:

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I kind of have this rule that interns aren't worth what you don't pay them. Of course, that's ironic coming from a producer who doesn't pay anyone anything. But we tend to get professionals who just like us. Or who like the free flow of hookers and cocaine from our office.
Wait. I'm getting a message from my co-producer. Uh. Uh-huh.
OK, unfortunately the hookers and blow have been all used up. Apparently the writers were here earlier today. Sorry about that, folks. You don't mind lighting this scene, do you? It'll look good on your reel...
Here's a funny fact. Interns are basically illegal.

I haven't finished the rewrites on Robot War. I must finish them this weekend so we can schedule the shoot. UPDATE: I finished my rewrites and David Frey made (again) smart suggestions which will change our heroine's motivation and also the action scene at the very end.

I've just learned that we need to deliver Earthkiller two weeks earlier than I'd expected. So I'm going to get on top of that.

The HD Hero camera is kind of cool. You can shoot underwater with it. My buddy Blair just got his. They're cheap too -- $269 or so. Sure, they only shoot 30 and 60p. And they only have one focal length and fstop. But they're also kind of awesome.

Here is an FAQ about Samplitude. You'll notice that like all us Samplitude users, the FAQ casually mentions that Samplitude is the best audio editing program. Like there's no argument about that. Because there isn't.

From, via Chance.

In Between Movies

I've had some conversations this week about the movie business. Usually they're depressed and unhappy conversations fueled by alcohol and a clear disregard for reality and getting enough sleep.
Here's the reality as far as we know it:

  • Distributors are still looking for "creature features". Big monsters like "The Host" are a winner. If you can make a "The Host" - type movie you're in for the win. I mean, if you can make it cheaply.
  • Distributors are looking for disaster movies. They loves 'em. Big outdoor destruction. That's what they want.
  • There's still the possibility of television. Personally I don't know how to market to television. The Texas lawman and the vampire series still sounds like a great idea to me. We'll have to figure out how to make that.

Furthermore, our pals at the Asylum tell us how to pitch movies to them. Note that is just a good rule for pitches (but you should also think about creature features and disaster movies):
So, how can you write for The Asylum? Well, if you’ve got an interesting take on a mockbuster for a studio movie that is coming out in six to twelve months, that isn’t a remake, sequel, or based on an old television series (good luck); we might read that. Or if you happen to know the buyers at Netflix or Redbox or Comcast and can ask them what types of movies they need, we’ll listen to that pitch.

Notes from the planet Xeglog 3

Foxwell has to have taken Rathbone's robot actuator (done).
Foxwell has to have taken the EMP from Bellware (done).
A standard business card is 3.5" by 2" or 7 square inches. At 1.35 per square inch that's $9.45 a piece for an amp plate. Plus setup and shipping.
I can't believe there's no nudity in this picture. What's happening to me?

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Today I Skyped in on a special commentary track for Chance Shirley's brilliant Interplanetary. I know, what am I doing on the commentary track of Chance's movie? Basically I'm interviewing him, tricking him into telling me his secrets.
This also means that I own a complete copy of Interplanetary. Yes, it doesn't even come out for a month! Do I feel insufferably cool because of that fact?
Yes, yes I do.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Today's Doings

  • Managing a flurry of creative emails about the storyline of the third act of Robot War.
  • Sent a copy of Day 2 via FedEx to a distributor who might look at it and try to get it to Blockbuster. I'm afeared that we were too late about getting a screener to people to think of it as a mockbuster of Battle: Los Angeles.

  • Working on the edit to the first act of Earthkiller. Added a minute. 
  • Created the "credit block" which goes to our distributor for the DVD covers, etc.
All in all, better than real life.

    Notes of Clarification

    The politics need to be simple. Humans battling A.I.'s is simple. We just have to figure out how they get into this Facility -- why isn't it better guarded by robots? 
    This might be easy. Maybe the A.I. in Yonkers (Alice) made a deal with the humans in the Free Union to build robots for them. So they Union sent scientists to Alice in order to build an army of the Yurra-type robots. But Alice was secretly trying to build a Foxwell-type robot in order to place her mind so that she could escape the Facility.
    When she couldn't make a Foxwell variant, she killed the humans in order to get Foxwell to come to her

    Sadie Eden is hot.
    I'm thinking that the android variants are like the way chips work now. You keep making chips and some of them are naturally faster at lower voltages than others. With the androids they just keep coming out different rather than faster or slower. 

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    David Frey, Hero of the People

    Dollygrippery talks about dollies and sound. Personally, I think that the grip department should carry its own little rugs and such to set the dolly on.
    The issue he talks about never hearing what the set actually sounds like 'till the first take is one that comes up all the dang time. Sets are noisy 'till you call "roll sound".

    The Rostronics 6-banger florescent light bank looks very cool. If it were up to me, all light on a movie would come from either sunlight or lights built into the set. But sometimes you just need a big ol' pile of light. This is a link which originally came from Chance but I've just been looking at it, keeping that tab open on my computer. For months.

    Our man on 8th Street, David Frey, broke the third act of "1101". Ironically, in the email he sent which broke it, he said it would work the way I'd originally ended it at page 60. But he suggested we "Predator" the movie a bit more. So we're moving the Big Bad to the very end to get killed.

    Frederick Leighton.

    Saturday, February 12, 2011

    The Shriven

    Brian Schiavo's The Shriven is available for preorder at Amazon.

    The movie is also available in Japan.

    Any Japanese speakers out there wanna tell me what the cover art says?

    Again, the Japanese doing great cover art.

    According to Google Translate, which I trust about as far as I can throw it, the Japanese title is "Whisper of the Parasite Species XXXX" or some such. Which isn't a bad title, honestly.

     The distributor is apparently

    Friday, February 11, 2011

    To Waste Much of Your Time

    If you're like me, and if you're reading this blog you're probably enough like me for the analogy to hold, then you're going to spend the next 140 minutes of your life watching this documentary on Star Wars.
    You get to see deleted scenes. Hear David Prowse perform the dialog of Darth Vader.
    Koo Stark was considered for Princess Leia.

    The Third Solution

    So we have this screenplay for Robot War. And I went in with what Nat Cassidy thinks of as a class of 2nd graders to do a rewrite on the screenplay he and David Ian Lee wrote. And I very damaged the original B story in the screenplay.
    Steampunk Pictures, Images and Photos
    But we have a very tight first and second acts. What we're not happy with is the 3rd act. Now the fact is that a 3rd act problem is usually a 1st act problem. So we're going to fix that. By the end of the weekend. And then we can break down the script and start scheduling the darn thing.
    Now we have the original solution to the movie which David and Nat wrote. We have the 2nd ("bad") solution which I wrote. And we're waiting for the 3rd solution which fixes everything and suddenly everything makes sense. Again.

    Thursday, February 10, 2011

    Your Three Things from the Pandora Machine Today

    Betty Ouyang, whose career has really taken off since she got the hell away from us moved to LA, is in another feature. This one is in Chinese language and is called A Girl Named Magic. She says this is her first Chinese language film but if you'll recall the minutia of detail in the movie Pandora Machine she did curse in Chinese just before being brutally murdered by an Austrian robot. Or wait, now I don't even know the plot of my own movie. Who killed her? That was Sikorski, right?

    Gorgeous Machines is a retro groovy act. Good as film music too! Just go and groove out. Or, contact them about using the music in your film.

    If I haven't been posting the beat sheet calculator enough, here it is again. I wish they'd just integrate the thing into Celtx. I bet there's a way to do that.

    Wednesday, February 9, 2011

    Eleven Oh One

    David Ian Lee & Nat Cassidy have written the screenplay for the next Pandora Machine film. The present title is "Robot War" and the job number is "1101".

    The project has a green light. We are a "go" on it.

    I want to start by the Ides of March.

    In a future where the Earth is run by warring Artificial Intelligence computers, Foxwell is an expert robot hunter. Sent on a mission to rescue an android, she and her team of mercenaries find themselves up against a bigger threat and have to trust the dangerous android to help them fight an evil A.I. and her robot army.

    We keep the most current screenplay here.

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    Shooting Ratios

    I'm shooting more than an hour a day on a feature. That's the equivalent of 7-10 rolls of film. That's what I figure. I dunno.
    The new thing over the next several years is going to be the average levels of (especially) TV shows. Nobody seems to know what the average level of a program really means but Dolby has an expensive box to measure it.
    My whole thing is that I don't know how long we're talking about when we say "average". How long should we be measuring RMS to determine the average level? Peak levels I got. Never go above 0dBfs. Or in the world of broadcast then maybe -12dBfs or whatever.
    Joe Chapman is responsible for sending me this image.
    Movies you may have missed is a very amusing blog/review/'cast thing.

    The Second Day

    Hopefully our distributor won't be yelling at us. We told him we'd get Day 2 out to him last week and we found some devastating errors in both picture and audio which we had to fix before sending to the lab (at least we didn't find them after sending the picture to the lab.)
    Now we can look back on the movie and see it with a bit of disinterest and distance.
    And by that I mean we're not terrified that we'll see traffic in the background of shots which supposedly take place in the apocalyptic future. Nor will there be random audio dropouts.
    To be kind, the movie starts somewhat old-fashioned in that it takes a couple reels to build up. And I went to a lot of trouble to try to make the opening "bang" just right. So maybe it's a tad slow to start. You know, just like the 1970's.

    Monday, February 7, 2011

    Some notes before I am done

    Foxwell makes everyone dump their mods before they go in. That way nobody will be affected if the EMP failsafe goes off.
    They should have more like 12 hours rather than 22.

    They need to go back in order to kill the alien queen A.I. that built the nastybots. Foxwell ends up in a room full of dormant nastybots. The nastybots then become un-dormant.

    I Swear I'm Going to Finish This Rewrite Today

    So far my favorite line from this alien robot holocaust picture is:

    "FOXWELL, looking like four newly discovered varieties of shit, crawls out from under some rubble." 

    Repo Men

    So I'm a very very bad science fiction movie director. You'd think I'd watch every sci-fi movie as soon as it comes out. But I don't. In fact, I hadn't seen Repo Men 'till today. I'll tell you one thing. Repo Man was much better. A repo man spends his life getting into tense situations. This wasn't the best sequel.
    Actually, Repo Men had a lot of potential. The theatrical version clocks in at 1:53 or some ridiculous time like that. You're asking yourself "did the movie have to be that long?" And no, the movie could have been 45 minutes shorter.
    There were two "B" stories. You really gotta pick one and go with it. Me? I would have axed the wife and child subplot. They actually have zero impact on the story. Yes, I watched the movie 'till the very end. There was no need for them.
    OK. So you got a guy who repossesses human organs for a living. So he's a "repo man" for hearts, lungs, what-have-you. What should be happening on page 20? We all know what happens on page 20. He becomes a runner. Oops. Sorry, I thought we were in Logan's Run for a moment there. What I meant was he gets an artificial heart which he can't make the payments on.
    OK -- but we're like 40 minutes into the damn movie by the time that happens. And I'm not even listing that plot point as a "spoiler" because honestly, if you can't figure out that's what was going to happen in the movie you have to go back to movie watching school. Plus, it's on the DVD box.
    But the plot went off in a lot of different, and unresolved, directions. There was even a moment where the big, bad, evil, boss suggested that the two main Repo Men go... freelance? Or something. So that they're hunting down the underground of people who have "past due" organs in their bodies and are trying to escape to somewhere their organs can't be repossessed. No no no no no. Do not have spurious dialog in your movie. Just don't. And keep the movie on track. That concept went nowhere. Maybe it was from an earlier draft of the screenplay. But the shooting screenplay needed about 50 pages ripped out of it.
    Somebody needs Blake Snyder's Beat Sheet calculator. And I'd say the writers, the director, the editor, and most of all the damn producers of this movie are the ones who need it.
    Don't get me started on the music choices.
    Furthermore, why does he get into a knife fight with a dozen dudes when he has two perfectly serviceable sidearms sitting on the floor that he has to step over to get into the knife fight?

    Friday, February 4, 2011


    My question is whether Nat and Dave are going to put a hit out on me for what I've done to their script, or whether they're going to want the satisfaction of doing the work themselves.

    Mitch Gross on shooting in Log format. He says that the Arri Alexa can handle 14 stops at 800 ISO. Holy cats. Really? I thought the best negative color film could handle was only 12 stops or thereabouts.

    Who is left alive in this robot war script?
    Tango (killed on page 25)
    Ponce (killed on page 32 which is, right now, the center point of the movie).

    Normally Tango has the scanner. Hammermill doesn't pick it up until after Tango is killed by the blue-class marauder robot.


    The Asylum on how to pitch movies to them:

    So, how can you write for The Asylum? Well, if you’ve got an interesting take on a mockbuster for a studio movie that is coming out in six to twelve months, that isn’t a remake, sequel, or based on an old television series (good luck); we might read that. Or if you happen to know the buyers at Netflix or Redbox or Comcast and can ask them what types of movies they need, we’ll listen to that pitch.

    Honestly I can't figure how Netflix buyers can justify a production to the Asylum, but if it can then more power to the Asylum.

    I'm just going to keep linking to *600V's awesome art.

    Script Notes Which Make No Sense to You

    I think Tango should have the scanner. Hammermill seems more like a heavy-weapons kind of guy. Of course, the fact that I killed off Mooney in the first scene doesn't help matters.
    What I do know is that there will be vestiges of an early screenplay in the shooting screenplay and we'll end up working those out on set.
    I've got some scenes here where the characters are all together in a corridor and then suddenly they're separated and fighting different monsters. That, uh, needs to be cleared up.
    This dude makes some beautiful images.

    Thursday, February 3, 2011

    Today in the Machine

    So I'm busy destroying David and Nat's screenplay. So that we can shoot it. Very soon.

    And because I'm a horrible person.

    Here's who's alive on page 21:


    We have to make sure we're making a bigger deal about going into AI territory on the mission.

    I may have inadvertently cut the explanation about the workers losing contact with the military. Or maybe I was asleep when I was editing it.

    Go to the Film School Thesis Generator. Then type in "Clonehunter". C'mon. You know you want to do it.

    I was a big fan of Pride and Prejudice. And you know I'm a big fan of assassin androids. Or cyborgs. Or whatever. <a href=";from=sp&amp;vid=0b59f191-5161-4abe-852a-ff0c7f4f3503&amp;from=es-xl&amp;fg=dest" target="_new" title="Hanna">Video: Hanna</a>

    How to be Passive Aggressive on Your Blog

    And make your friends hate you.

    Cage is now a woman.
    Mooney got killed in the first scene.

    Mooney's description now is more like Cage's used to be.

    CAGE, weapons and ordinance specialist - a frightening tank of a man, a 240 pound killer - flexes his muscles; his left arm is a tangle of wires and hydraulics.
    MOONEY - soulful - checks his weapon. MOONEY and CAGE exchange a grin, and MOONEY slugs CAGE's arm with all his might. Adding to the punch: MOONEY has two BIONIC HANDS. 

    Tango is the radio guy. Doc Ponce is still the medic.

    Although actually I'm not being passive aggressive on my blog, I use my blog to take notes. So there. 


    The new Blake Snyder Beat Sheet Calculator.

    Because I keep forgetting where it is on the Internet.

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Why On Earth?

    Does the banner on top of this site keep changing color? I swear I'm not doing anything.


    So I watched an episode of Face Off tonight. That's the SyFy "reality" show about makeup artists. I know one of the contestants, Anthony Pepe. We actually hired him to make exposed guts for our movie Pandora Machine.
    In fact, we've used those guts on almost every movie we've made since then. Hmm... really he should have an IMDB credit on all those pictures, shouldn't he?
    I worked with Anthony again when I was a sound mixer on The Attic. I recall him having a hard time on that picture -- as far as I could tell it was mostly because the director didn't really know what he did. In any case, I think I'm on the record for not thinking the director on that picture having any idea what anyone does. But that's another story.
    Uh. We never sold Pandora Machine to any Russian-speaking territories. And I found this image on a Spanish-language site.
    So uh, wait, you can actually buy a version of Pandora Machine in Russian? Is it being pirated in Kazakhstan as машина пандор?

    Tuesday, February 1, 2011

    Der Krieg Gottes

    I just finished Kameron Hurley's "God's War". I could talk about the fascinating world. Or how she convincingly creates a matriarchy (which is very difficult to do -- essentially all the men are sent to war so there simply aren't any 18-to-45-year-old men around). But I won't. Instead I'm a-gonna talk about the art on the cover.
    The art on the cover is great.
    OK. Now that I'm done with that...
    I got Day 2 out to the lab today. Hopefully that will all go without a hitch. One day, in the distant future, buyers will accept hard drives instead of (egads!) DigiBeta tapes.