While I've been traipsing around LA shooting bumpers and whatnot, Kevin has kept busy in Long Island. Recently, he partnered up with some old friends-- a group of talented muscians who comprise The Goodbye Radio to write, direct and edit the latest single from their upcoming album. The song is called "Boiling River" and, as Kevin was given free reign with the storyline, he conceived of a video involving the most important issue of our time: zombie love!
As you know, Kevin and I like to attend a badass genre festival in Austin, TX every year called Fantastic Fest. And one of our favorite elements of this fest is their bumper competition, Filmmaking Frenzy. A 'bumper' is a 15-45 second commercial that plays before each film. And every year, Fantastic Fest issues a new set of rules for said bumpers, and the best one wins an award.
This year's main rule: the bumper has to involve time travel.
With little promotion, the bumper is already getting a lot of Facebook Likes. The bumper with the most likes in the end, will qualify to the finals where it will thereby be voted on by a jury at the awards ceremony of the festival.
I want to thank my lovely cast: Nik Shriner, Michaela Myers and Daniel Gregory. And also give a big shout-out to the Peña sibling. Marco Peña shot this thing and made it look nice and sleazy, and Luisa Peña ˜was our wonderful Production Assistant (and provided her vocal skills for the Willie Talk puppet!) Also big thanks to Stephanie Daniels, our production designer, who dressed the room, giving it a realistic 'whorish' setting.
It wasn't enough for Kevin and I to have Cutain playing Fantastic Fest this year. Noooo. Kev just had to get more involved. (And God love him for it!) A few weeks ago he pitched me his idea for a bumper. The theme this year is 'Altered States' which means... well, I'm not really sure what it means. But I think I do. Anyway, the pitch came with only a few days left before the deadline. But it was so bizarre, that I just had to see it, so I pushed him to round up the boys and go shoot the damn thing. And Kev didn't disappoint. He directed the whole thing in an afternoon and then uploaded me all the footage via FTP that night. Then all day Sunday I edited it together and we finished it in time for the Monday deadline.
The bumper stars Jamey Lord and Joshua Chaplinsky. Hope you enjoy it. Just stay away from any sort of egg products after, for I fear we may have ruined that food for you henceforth.
On October 1st I am launching a new website venture called LitReactor.com. The site will feature a writers workshop, monthly classes taught by published authors and industry professionals and a bustling online magazine. To help promote the launch of the site, I had the idea of shooting a sort of promotional commercial. With Kevin in town that week for the Script Pipeline awards ceremony (our script Shed was a finalist) we got together with our buddy Brian James Fitzpatrick and cranked this whole thing out in 8 hours straight.
This is the first promo in a series we have planned to cover the different obstacles writers face when committing to their craft. In it, a man deals with the writer's most teasing seductress... procrastination.
For more, as well as a free PDF containing 8 pages of writing advice from authors like Chuck Palahniuk, Neil Gaiman, Bret Easton Ellis, Jack Ketchum, Amy Hempel and more... head on over to LitReactor.com!
About a month ago, my lovely girlfriend asked me a simple question: "Why don't you own a video camera?" This is a question I've asked myself many times over the years. Being a filmmaker, I've always thought this was an essential items I should have in my arsenal. But I've always just worked exclusively with cinematographers who have had their own kits, or rented equipment out. As a result, I had handi-capped myself as a director, by ignoring a large part of what helps filmmakers improve and evolve. Things like F-stop, ISO and Lenses were items I only had an elementary understanding of. I could get by well enough, but I wasn't a dedicated student of learning more about this side of the trade.
Well, that was all going to change. In researching cameras, the Canon 7D quickly rose to the top of a very short list. It was a dSLR, meaning, it has the body and look of a normal digital point-and-shoot camera. Only, it shoots HD video as well. These things are really taking off because they're semi-professional, yet very affordable. They also shoot insane picture quality. I already had experience with the Panasonic GH1, having worked with our friend Mike Halper on our two Fantastic Fest bumpers, and I couldn't have been more pleased with the end results of those two projects. So the Canon 7D it was!
Within a few weeks of having this thing, my girlfriend and I quickly discovered our love for photography. Every weekend we visited some new location to try and test the limits of the camera and capture shots that would normally, be way out of our realm of expertise.
Well, up until recently, the video was untested with it. Sure, I went out the day I bought it and shot some outdoor stuff, but my hand was shaking so much, and it was such a grey day, that I was dismayed by what I got. I knew I had my work cut out for me if I was going to produce something nicer. Well, as it turns out, I didn't have that much work in store for me. Shooting nice HD video was something that was about to prove much easier than I thought.
Fast forward to Christmas in NY and I spend about 3 hours at a friend's house, shooting some test footage in his creepy basement (the same basement we used in our feature film Absence). The set-up was this: Kevin and I came up with a concept that we could direct fast and furious. Kevin had some left-over latex lying around, and a bottle of fake blood he was itching to use to try and improve his special effects make-up skills with. So I called up my roommate and fellow director friend, Brian James, Fitzpatrick, who also happened to be in NY working on a film and staying with his folks. We then enlisted the help of James Lord, a brilliant photographer to be our DP for the afternoon. And his awesome wife Ann, would be our damsel in distress. Distress from what, you might ask? Well, that was the role that Brian would be filling.
So without further ado, I give you, "Laundry Day", the first bit of test footage we shot with the Canon 7D. We did this in about two hours. Equipment was one zoom lens, a $100 tripod, and one light. Fast, fun, and instructional, was the theme for the day. Enjoy:
Fantastic Fest is the largest genre film festival in the U.S, and one of the coolest aspects of it is something called Filmmaking Frenzy. This is a contest whereby they select the Top 10 films to screen at their festival as commercials, or 'bumpers' at the start of each presentation. The rules of the contest state that each film has to be 30-45 secs long, star a kid, star a monster, and end off with the word 'Fantastic'.
Below are the two bumpers that we directed for the festival. The first one, 'ICE CREAM!' was the runner-up film this year and has already become the most viewed film on the Filmmaking Frenzy website. It will be screening randomly before films during the 8 day festival. But if you'd like to see it now, check it out below along with 'Demon Cat', the other bumped we made. We don't know yet what the 10 other selected films to screen for the fest will be, but we're hoping 'Demon Cat' makes it in too. Wish us luck!