Monday, January 21, 2013

Take A Chance

Friday morning I immediately got a call from my brother telling me that our Dad had a stroke. My Mom and Dad are in the Philippines and sometimes it's tough to get even a phone call through to me. I got a couple of texts and then a phone call from my brother in Texas.

Dad had a stroke, was rushed to the ER, and that's all anybody knew.

I was already under pressure as I was banging my head against the wall trying to figure this script out. I needed to write and shoot a script for this Poptent Ad that needed to be shot on Saturday and then edited and uploaded before midnight Sunday.

Going through the creative process of writing a script can be creatively painful. Because you want to create something truly great and you constantly compare what you've written with what you know you can create. So you beat yourself up alot. I spend alot of time pacing, talking to myself, doing push ups, and pounding my head on the desk as if the really great ideas might shake loose from the back of my head and tumble out of my ear onto the page.

Never happens.

Trying to do this on a deadline is worse. Now time is against you. So I bang my head on my desk even harder and swifter.

Trying to do this when you're worried about your Dad, that's a whole other ball game.

That entire day I did nothing. My intention was to get alot of work done. Re-write the Ad before it needed to be shot the next day, work on VFX and editing for REDD. But I was too distracted. I literally just sat at my desk for hours. I was paralyzed until I could hear any news from my Mother.

Eventually I had to force myself to work. I had to realize that no matter what happens with my Dad, I still need to get things done. Still need to make money. Otherwise I'd end up broke AND worried, so I had to find a way to put all my worrying energy into creative energy.  Wanna know how I did it?

I have no idea how I did it.

I had to slap myself around a few times. And when I finally tried to do work, I was really just going through the motions. But it's something. And I needed to do something. This Ad needs to be done. These re-writes need to be finished, and I needed to prep for the next days shoot. And although I was worried about my Dad, I had to realize that doing nothing wasn't good for anyone.

Thankfully I was able to squeeze out an "OK" re-write to the script I had written that week. This was a 90 second Ad that needed to be treated more like a short film, and I really wanted to nail this.

Thankfully my Mom called me later that evening. Told me Dad was fine. He was probably going to be discharged the next day depending on the results of the MRI which would tell what kind of nerve damage there is if any. I was relieved but still worried about that MRI. When you're waiting to hear about a bad situation you expect the worst, but I think the worst part is not hearing anything at all and not knowing what's going on. I would have been relieved just to hear anything. Thankfully the news was not as bad, but I kept thinking about that MRI

Brandon White
The next day we got on set and I knocked out the first few shots. But I now that I had a (somewhat) clearer head I wanted to really think through what we were doing.

We spend a good hour re-working dialogue.

I always talk about how movies aren't written, they're re-written. And the truth is that those re-writes happen well beyond the computer screen.

I write the script. I re-write the script. We run through the script on set, maybe even shoot some pages, and then I figure out what's working, what's not working. I know there are certain phrases that work in my head, but may not work with the actors. We do some cutting, re-phrasing.

I plan out my shots before hand, but I also have to consider what the set looks like when we get there. You may see something that you didn't know you could do when you were planning. I also consider what shots I need that are on the page and even not on the page. Need to make sure I have everything. We're on a tight deadline, no time for re-shoots.

Amanda Elizabeth
We do close ups, medium shots, wide shots, establishing shots. We do interiors and exteriors. Need to make sure there is sound. I check each shot to make sure the RODE Mic is picking everything up.

Really good performances from Brandon White and Amanda Elizabeth. Thankfully Brandon is a writer and producer and I can bounce ideas off of him as far as these on set re-writes go.

We knocked out all of the footage and then some, but the entire time I was dissatisfied with this particular story. It didn't have the right bookends, and I felt like the wrap up of the story was weak. I was hoping sometime during the shoot I'd come up with something brilliant to shoot. Instead I came up with a few decent ideas to plus this Ad. Nothing that was a home run.

I'll just have to try to reach that epiphany during editing.

Talked to my Mom again that night. She says Dad is doing better. He'll need physical therapy, but otherwise he should be fine. But I'm still worried. Worried about my Dad. Worried this may not be the last time this happens. Worried about my Mom and all she has to deal with through all this.

Then I pile that all on top of my worries about this Ad.

Can I make the deadline? Is this going to be the best that I can do? Will I find an epiphany that will plus this Ad to make it something special?

Then I pile even more on.

Will REDD turn out the way I see it and feel it? Holy crap! I need to double check the list of backers and make sure we've ordered all the shirts and merchandise. Can we produce the right quality DVD with the amount of content I want to put on it? Oh look I have to correct the IMDB page for the billionth time. Will people like this movie? Will they get it? Will they want to tell people about it?

Next thing I know I'm sitting at my desk, staring into space, head filled to the brim with worry.

So I have to remember this quote:

And it's true. Worrying happens. We all do it. But it really doesn't do any good.  You have to fight it. Ignore it. But I think we all tend to invite it because on some level we think that it's wrong to not worry. Like if I didn't worry about my Dad then that would make me a bad person. But I realize I have to separate WORRY from CONCERN. Worry paralyzes me, stops my day, distracts me. Concern means you acknowledge your worries, your fears, you care about something, but you're still able to move on. At least that's how I'm interpreting it.

So I climb out from under the pile of worry and head into editing.

I load all the footage in. Start sorting through the best shots. Laying everything out on the timeline I start to piece together how this is all supposed to go. I go along with the script sure, but I start to see a pattern that I didn't see and couldn't possibly see until I have it all in editing.

Editing is where the third re-write happens. The manipulation of those images helps you mold that story into a full fledged movie.

But as finally get all the pieces in place, that epiphany never came.  The video itself was just ok to me.

The epiphany would only come with the music.

The score is the 4th re-write. For me it seals it all down and really brings it together. The music tells it's own story and at the same time enhances the story at hand. Or at least I hope it does. You tell me.


So my Dad seems fine now. Finally got the Ad done and uploaded.  Now I'm back to work on REDD. And I do want to thank everyone who has messaged me and commented about my Dad. I appreciate all the love and support. I truly do. It means alot.

And speaking of REDD we're kicking off our third round of fundraising. 

We had our first successful run with Kickstarter last year. This last time with IndieGoGo we raise over $1,500. And now we try to collect what we can to help us increase our marketing budget. We're gonna need as it's always tough to get people to know about a movie, especially a no-budget indie like REDD.

Also, many folks messaged us saying they were sad they missed the last few and many of them really wanted an Associate Producer Credit, so no here's another shot at it.

I knew doing a feature like REDD was going to be a huge undertaking. But I was expecting so much of life to knock us down. Missing my brother when he passed away. Worrying about my father. The loss of April's Mom, Dian. On top of the countless obstacles that get in your way when you're trying to accomplish anything. It has been a rough ride getting this movie done.

But we're so close. And I can see that our efforts are going to be worth it. Will this turn out as good as I hope it will be. Are people going to love REDD?

I'm not worried.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Scripts are never written. They're Re-written.

"Mostly when I think of pacing, I go back to Elmore Leonard, who explained it so perfectly by saying he just left out the boring parts. This suggests cutting to speed the pace, and that's what most of us end up having to do (kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler's heart, kill your darlings) ... I got a scribbled comment that changed the way I rewrote my fiction once and forever. Jotted below the machine-generated signature of the editor was this mot: 'Not bad, but PUFFY. You need to revise for length. Formula: 2nd Draft = 1st Draft - 10%. Good luck.' Stephen KingOn Writing, 2000

That's from this really great article from The Atlantic. Read it here:

I'm glad I came across this article as I'm currently working on this script for an Ad I need to shoot this weekend. Trying to sum up a plot with a beginning, middle, and end inside of 90 seconds is always a challenge. The rule of "leaving out all the boring parts" is liberally applied when working on short Ads. And I've gotten use to it having made so many, but the frustration and creative challenge never lessens each time.

I made a blog post a while back on my other blog titled "Learn To Kill Your Baby." In that post I talk about how many first time filmmakers are afraid to kill their "babies". They birth this story and are afraid to touch one thing about to change it for fear that it will kill it. But the truth is that your story needs to grow up, evolve, and become a fully formed movie. You're new born story needs to grow up. So don't be afraid to kill off those things that keep your story from evolving.

If it doesn't serve the interest of moving the story forward, then you don't need it. Kill it off.

"Leave out all the boring parts".

One example I LOVE to bring up is TITANIC. Say what you want about the movie, but I think the story itself is a pretty great one. Although I do love to watch the some of the awful and rushed FX work. The ship sinking and all the big FX shots are great, but the smaller scenes where we see the wide shot of the ship and all the obvious computer generated people are robot walking along the deck crack me up every time.

But I do love the movie itself. I'll forgive all the rushed parts because I like the plot and love the end. Especially that perfect ending.  I think,"Wow, Cameron really got that right." But then I saw the original ending.


This was the ending Cameron originally wrote and shot and almost got out in theaters. THANK GOD they Joey Gladstoned this piece of crap. (Cut-It-Out. Joey Gladstone? Get it?)

The entire movie was epic and beautiful and adventurous and then all of a sudden it ends like a Scooby-Doo episode. I'm fairly certain had they left this ending in, Titanic would have been deemed one of the worst movies of the year or certainly not as great as most perceive it to be now.

Thank God for revisions.

So writers, filmmakers, please be honest. Go over your movie, story. Is every scene serving the movie as a whole? Is every scene functioning to it's fullest to not only move your story forward but to plus it?

If not kill it.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Kaleb Lechowski is heading for Hollywood

Just read this article on

22-Year-Old's Sci-Fi Digital Short Gets Hollywood's Attention

22 year old Kaleb Lechowski's impressive CG animated short film is so impressive that it has attracted a Hollywood agency.

Congrats to him. The short looks amazing. And he definitely put alot of work into it. Great creativity, amazing detail, and wonderful imagination.

My question to you dear filmmakers. Can you do something just as impressive? Do you have it in you to create something with such great detail and effort that it could grab Hollywood's attention? I know when I watch the short I see scenes that are similar to shots I have in my feature REDD. I immediately realize I need to step my game up. I also see alot of things that make me go "Hey I can do that!" Then I immediately think "Well then, why don't I."

Check it out for yourself. Let it inspire and motivate you.

A very similar plot to Battlestar Galactica, but still very imaginative. I really enjoyed this. If you want you can follow Kaleb on Tumblr

This short is another example of what lone indies can create on their own effort and creativity and on a limited budget. If you're not impressed by Kaleb's work then here are a few other videos created by some other impressive indies that make me want to step my own game up.

Corridor Digital has grown to become very popular on YouTube by creating several amazing shorts, many of them based on popular video games. This one is by far my favorite.

I really enjoyed this action short by Pwnisher using props and weapons made from cardboard.

An impressive Sci-Fi short film by filmmaker Ricardo de Montreuil made for a budget of $5000.

Azureus Rising is a Proof of Concept short by filmmaker David Weinstein. Impressive animation.

Here is Ben Craig's Sci-Fi master piece. Very impressive visuals. Shot over a weekend.

There are several more movie makers out there making amazing things for no money and running on their own creativity and effort. As I always say, there is absolutely no excuses when it comes to Independent Movie Making. If these people can create something mind blowing, why can't you or I? So get to it.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Monday, January 14, 2013

Tom Savini's FX - Two Evil Eyes

I always love hearing Tom Savini talk about his FX work. He really likes to break it down and emphasize that this is all basically creative problem solving. He really gets into how this is all about figuring out what images the mind needs to see in order for it to perceive that a specific effect is occurring  I mean it really is all a bit of an obvious concept, but hearing him talk about it, hearing him spell it out helps you really remember what should be obvious, but can often get convoluted when you're in the moment trying to make things happen. Sometimes the best solution is the simplest one.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

REDD Update 1/12/13

Concept art for REDD by Kelley Kombrinck

Composite Shot. The bad guys from our feature film REDD.
Richard Gaither is CHAPEL with the eye patch.
Alethea Delmage plays SNOW. Behind them are Grimm Soldiers

First off, YES, this is a new blog. This will be the hub for updates on WTW Productions and how we do what we do. This will also be a place where I post alot about moviemaking, special fx, behind the scenes on all movies, and anything and everything that may help in inspiring myself and others in their travels to make movies.

Second off (no one says that ever) if you're not aware of REDD, feel free to find out more about it HERE. To sum up it is our no-budget / micro budget Sci-Fi Adventure Feature Film that has a bit of spin on the Red Riding Hood tale, but not really.

We've been shooting this movie since March of 2011. We had a successful Kickstarter Campaign Summer of 2012. We just wrapped up a successful IndieGoGo Campaign. And now we go into the final months (we hope) heading towards wrapping up REDD.

Richard Gaither in his living room.

Our No-Budget efforts continue. Knocking out green screen shots left and right. I swear we've set this thing  up everywhere. In the early days it was just me slapping the green cloth up on a wall and sticking duct tape up all around it. We did this for the first time over a year ago in Richard Gaither's living room.

Me enjoying the hell out of this studio.

Then in early 2012 I was able to rent out some warehouse space and create small studio space. I bought extra cloth and set up a large green screen where we got to knock out ALOT of footage.

Jennifer Russoli as CARTER

Now in these last few months I've taken that cloth and put together a portable mini green screen. And that's what we've been shooting with as of late. It's come in very handy. With the large studio we were able to knock out the bigger action pieces that required alot of movement as well as scenes that had more than 2  people in the shot. Now we're getting into inserts and pick up shots that only require one person, and this tiny green screen has been great.

Shaun Holcomb in the mask as
his son holds the green screen.

We've been setting it up in living rooms when the weather has been nasty. But if the weather is good enough I love setting it up outside in the shade. Give is nice even lighting. Today there was an overcast making the lighting nice and even.

I put together a basic PVC frame from pipe I had used from a DIY light stand. Wrapped it with the green cloth. It's sturdy and light enough to carry around anywhere.

Here are some pics from today's shoot. Thanks to Kelly Emerson and her family for letting us shoot at her ranch.

Alethea Delmage is SNOW

Prop table

Tom Gore carrying Amanda Elizabeth

Alethea and Tom

The cheesy 80's buddy cop pose

Amanda doubling for April Crum as REDD. Tom Gore plays a Grimm Cyborg.

Alethea at the IHOP after shooting. Hair down make up still on.

Ok, I've got to get to work on this Ad that needs to be edited. More on REDD later.

How The Stunt Was Done

I've seen less complicated ways of doing this. I've also seen more complicated ways of doing this. This is a great example of how far we can go to get those precious few moments of footage for what might amount to a few seconds of screen time. By any means necessary.

Hulk's Smashing Special Effects: The Avengers

Behind the Magic: The Visual Effects of The Avengers

I love the stop motion Avengers bits.

Friday, January 11, 2013

MGM Lion

Love this shot of them filming the MGM Lion roar.

The Walking Dead - VFX Breakdown

Final Destination 5 - Bridge VFX

How a shipping company earned 650,000 Facebook fans in a year

In my quest to further understand social marketing and learn how best to improve our skills in marketing my movies, I found this article to be very interesting.

How a shipping company earned 650,000 Facebook fans in a year

This article suggests a more organic approach. Being more personable and honest. A strategy that's also best in life actually. Just be you, just be honest, just be a human being.

Here's a list of tips from the article:

1. Improvise. Wichmann hasn't planned a single post in the year Maersk has been on social media. "You just sit down at the keyboard or use your mobile phone when there is something to say, and then you do it as well as you can," he says. "Conversely, if you plan to send out a certain story next Wednesday at 12:00, it then turns into a marketing exercise. Then you lose the moment. And then you (or the agency) also spend too much time on it."

2. It has to be simple. "Don't convince yourself that everything you have to say-or your company has to say-is exciting," he says. "The users decide whether to spend time reading your post, or not, in a split second, based on a combination of what is said in the first few words and whether they usually find the company's information relevant."

3. Tell stories and more stories. Corporate, or brand journalism, is on the rise for a reason. "It's about ditching the marketing plans and taking on people who can unearth and tell stories in a lively and credible way. And this includes both good and bad news," Wichmann says. Tell the stories that reflect your company's reality. "It is therefore also imperative that the company really is 'good' and has nothing to hide. Otherwise this wouldn't be the smartest approach," he adds.