Saturday, May 25, 2013

Wherein I finally weigh in on the Zack Braff thingy

I thought the most interesting thing Zack Braff said about wanting to do a Kickstarter campaign for his new movie was that it would enable him to have more artistic freedom than if he'd just gotten regular financiers to back the picture. I have to admit, that's a pretty compelling reason to go with Kickstarter. 
It's no secret that the filmmaking business is a difficult one. I mean, shooting a movie is physically and mentally taxing. But getting the money to make one + getting it distributed is an exercise in Promethean frustration.
The fact is the numbers don't work out. Right now in the "indy" film world the movies which are made for between $2 million and $12 million are getting $100,000 domestic distribution deals. And I'm actually being charitable, those are the best deals those guys are getting. Those are straight-to-DVD with maybe some cable VOD and Redbox.
So between 2 million dollars and 12 million dollars you're getting maybe a quarter-million dollars in return. Every few years one of those pictures gets a theatrical deal (and I'm not counting a deal with IFC because those deals are in the order of about two thousand dollars thank-but-no-thanks). But those theatrical deals are super unlikely to pay the producers any real money.
The thing with a Kickstarter campaign is that they're expensive. Because you have to offer something in exchange for someone putting money into the campaign you're looking at T-shirts and jackets and promotional DVD's and such. And suddenly with a successful Kickstarter campaign you're not in the movie business, you're in the T-shirt distribution business. Did you want to make T-shirts for a living? Because now you are.
Still, even with the relative "expensiveness" of the money from Kickstarter it is money with no additional strings attached. And if you're making a movie for several million dollars and are aware that at best you're only going to make a couple million dollars from it through distribution, it makes economic sense for the producer to go that way.
Because otherwise you have just a couple options. One option is to go after unsophisticated investors who want to be in the movie business and who have too much money on their hands from whatever legitimate or illegitimate businesses they may be in. They won't know that their two million dollars has about an equal chance of getting paid back as hitting the Powerball this weekend. And, they may not care.
The other way is that you go with a sophisticated investor. Those people will be a problem for you. They're going to look at a picture like Garden State and say "Look. This picture grossed $35 million. In some wild fantasy world it means the producers saw maybe $20 million with cable and DVD. Probably more like $10 or $12M. And it probably took upwards of 5 or 6 years to see that money. So lessee, getting out my financial calculator and running the numbers against my money-market account: you better make a straight-up romantic comedy. I wanna see some people falling down."
So yeah. The movie business. Right on.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Living in the Palace

Our own Rebecca Kush is in the feature Palace Living which is premiering at the 2013 Manhattan Film Festival, with a screening at Quad Cinemas (34 W. 13th St.) at 3:15 PM on Sunday, June 23.
PALACE LIVING trailer from Zack Ordynans on Vimeo.
Also, it's playing as part of the 13th VISIONFEST on Friday June 28th, at 7pm. Tickets will be available soon through their site

Click through on the above video to embiggen. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

It'll eventually have to happen

Right now we edit on Final Cut Pro 7.
But soon. We will have to hop off the FCP train.
Where does that leave us? I think not Avid. The only other option is Adobe Premiere.
One new advantage that Adobe has is this Adobe Anywhere thingy. My nominal complaint about these kinds of technologies is that they're tested under very weak conditions; commercials, music videos, and other short projects. A feature film is another ball of rabbits -- even at the low shooting ratios we tend to use. But being able to have multiple editors working on stuff simultaneously is rather intriguing. That is, if I could get multiple editors to work at the same time! ;-)
So. Yeah. I dunno. I suspect we're going to finish off this movie in Final Cut Pro.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Your three things for today

One can only hope that the general criticism of Prometheus will lead to a better sequel. Ironic, no?
Our own Eric Ian Steele's take on Prometheus.

So. Cannes is going on. Keep your fingers crossed.
The European standard for an automobile's first aid kit is DIN 13164. It's not an impressive first aid kit.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Palace Living

A movie our Rebecca Kush is in, Palace Living, has a new poster.


Here's a video review of Android Insurrection in German.

The review is that the movie is both good and bad in that it's a good idea but cheaply made.That's fair.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

GH2 or GH3

So I borrowed Libby's GH2 camera to shoot over the weekend. I thought that perhaps the video noise would be better on the GH2 over my GH1. I do think and sometimes believe that this is true. We've been careful about avoiding low-contrast low-light situations in the GH1 but I really never saw the horizontal banding on the GH2 that we'd see with the GH1.
So having done further research on the GH2 vs the GH3 it seems there's a bit of a notion that the GH2, yes the 2, is the better camera in many respects. Not exclusively though.
Which is interesting. It seems to me that the low-light performance of the GH3 is better than the GH2 (and therefore the GH1).
The only thing I really wished were different about the GH2 is that with the GH1 I can flip between manual and auto-focus with a fairly easy flip of a switch during a shot. This is not really the case with the GH2 as the switch is harder to flip whilst shooting.
Both the GH2 and the GH3 shoot natively in 24p. This means I'm not fighting with the deinterlacing/reverse-telecine issues I have with the GH1. That's super pleasant actually.
It's a tad annoying that Panasonic keeps changing the battery size with each camera. Here's a good comparison review.
I feel like we're going to need to get a Black Magic 4K camera just because we need something with a global shutter. That's $4000.
The GH3 is only $1200.

The killer app on it may in fact be that you can use the Wi-Fi feature to get a tablet to see through the lens. We haven't had video tap in ages. Everyone on set just trusts that I've somehow shot something worthwhile. And, you know, mostly they do trust. It's just nice to be able to see through the lens.
Maybe I'll have more thoughts on cameras. Maybe I won't.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Day 3 1301

You know, I totally put both days 2 and 3 onto one "reel". So when I look back at the footage we'll have one fewer days than there are call sheets.
Close focus test on the 25mm.
 I've not only been using Libby's GH2 camera, but also the very nice 25mm lens she has for it. It's a Leica-branded lens but I'm not entirely sure it's not just made by Panasonic in Japan. It's a very sweet lens. It opens up to a full f1.4 and even has autofocus. You can get pretty darn tight with the lens too.
The Queen of Mars sets up the brain-scanning device for Kate Britton.
Joe Chapman built our sets with Kevin Kirner and Libby Csulik. They have soft floors. Which my knees are forever thankful for.
Kate Britton and Brianna June Trillo as Barbara and Victoria Slade.
 Also on this picture we've given up on trying to boom things. There are a number of advantages to putting wireless mics on everyone and sending them to split tracks. One advantage is that on a set which is lit and set for 360-degrees means that only the cameraman (me) has to be on set with the actors. Plus I can walk around in and amongst the talent during the scenes which (I hope) will add some intimacy to things.
Our gaffer is tired of you. But she looks great everywhere she goes in this room, so that's all that matters.

Kate Britton and Jared Van Heel. This love scene is so incredibly gratuitous. And what are we shooting through? Why the virtual-cast device itself! How can that be??!!

Kate before all the lights in her apartment turn on automatically (and annoyingly).

You have to explain to me how this is not my next album cover. Or at least a Facebook cover photo.

Do you remember this band? They were like a pop/hard-core band out of Vancouver in the late 90's. She was the drummer and he played industrial sounds with truck wheels and things. They couldn't land a major label deal but all their videos were banned from MTV.

Day 2 1301

Checking the door. Kate Britton reflected as she looks at Brianna June Trillo.
I was too tired last night to post much.
A peita of Brianna.

Brianna June Trillo c'est morte.

I used Libby's GH2 today believing that the camera has less noise. We shot everything on a 25mm lens which would open up to something crazy like f1.4.
Steven J. Niles, Mark Marcarian, and Kate Britton.

Steve Niles interrogates Kate Britton.

Jared Van Heel and Kate Britton.

Mark Marcarian and Julia Rae Maldonado.

One thing I did NOT do correctly is that I ended up shooting stills in only RAW format. So to upload these pictures I had to use Silkypix to batch process them.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


Brian Schiavo shows you his tentacles.
David Gerrold has a Kickstarter for his Star Wolf TV-series.
I mean, yeah. A pilot episode for $650K? That's really not that much money. Kind of shows you how difficult off-world sci-fi is to get on TV.
Label-mate Neil Johnson has a kickstarter for a series called Nobility.

Driving Around Day

The day before shooting is always "drive around and pick stuff up" day. Today I got some costumes from Caitlin Cisek.
Barbara Slade street look.
Extremely happy with Caitlin don't you know. Her costumes have really built the world we're living in.
Karen "interrogation" look.
Here are some of Caitlin's notes:
-didn't know if you wanted her in the wig, but it's there -there are two shirt options if there opinions -and there is a tube bra included
The thing about Karen being outside the door of the interrogation room is that Steve Niles wrote the scene such that she's always "OS". I'm a tad paranoid the audience might be confused about who is speaking exactly. So, we'll have the option of seeing the Juliet-17 in her nice fascist uniform.
Viki look.
So yeah, this is all tres groovy. Plus we also have uniforms for the thugs. Much fun.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Things You Need To Know

Econo-Car in Jersey City. Well, perhaps this is the sort of thing which I need to know. Or at least remember.
We have all but the last act of Dragon Reign cut picture-wise. The bottleneck right now is that I apparently have to actually mix the whole thing.
Wayne and Rob Hurry are composing the music. Nathan Vegdahl is animating the dragons. And our own Jeremy Crowson is handling both the sound effects and the dialog edit which... oh man, that makes my life easier that's for sure.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sets Masquerade

Joe Chapman building the apartment set for Android Masquerade.
This is the basic design.
Parts of the set are already built.
Unfinished end-wall with Kevin Kirner.