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:
Check this out! In his daily DVD segment of G4's hit show "Attack Of The Show", film critic Chris Gore took a second to pimp Postcards From The Future: The Chuck Palahniuk Documentary. The segment is called DVDuesday and after making a few DVD recommendations for movies that have just come out, Chris highlighted his 'quickpick' for the day, which turned out to be none other than our Chuck Palahniuk DVD documentary!
The plug happens in the last 10 seconds of the clip. Big props to our man Joshua Jabcuga for spotting this one. He just made my month!
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!
In our ever expanding attempt to gain distribution for our feature film Absence. every lit bit of exposure we can attain helps. So when reviewers contact us for screener copies of the film, I always jump at the chance to send them a DVD asap. Sometimes that may not pan out too well, as a bad review may hurt our chances of getting the film out to the masses.
So when Joel Harley contacted me, requesting a screener of Absence to review for his awesome movie site Porkehad's Horror Review Hole (how's that for a title?), I knew we may be taking a risk. After all, Absence isn't typically classified as a horror film... but like I said, you go for it in order to try and help your chances to get the film to that crucial next step. Well, I'm glad to say that the risk paid off. Joel gave Absence a 4 out of 5 star rating as well as a great write up. Here's a sample:
A low-budget feature written & directed by Kevin Kölsch & Dennis Widmyer, Absence plays to its strengths. The plot is simplistic but gripping; the violence comes in short, powerful bursts – and the climax is, simply put, excellent, largely avoiding the pitfalls of melodrama. And whilst none of the characters are especially likeable, they’re well-rounded and engaging.
So a big thank you to Joel for these awesome words. And if anyone else reading this maintains a movie review site or a blog, you can contact us for a screener copy.
'Absence' had its screening at the 2009 Action On Film International Film Festival on Tuesday, July 28th. I want to thank everyone who came and got to finally see the movie. I think we had about 25-30 people, and about 90% of them were friends of mine. I'm not trying to be self-deprecating, nor am I necessarily taking a shot at the festival. If there's one thing I've learned from being an independent filmmaker, it's that many of these festivals require you to be your own PR machine. And, being in NY right up until almost the screening date, I just didn't have the time to plaster posters and postcards all around Pasadena, nor do I think I would have. AoF was a fun experience, but I was pretty sure there weren't going to be any industry people there... or anything related towards helping us get distribution for the movie. So it was really just about having close friends of mine get to see and hopefully appreciate the movie. And I think we scored well on that front.  » Read more
Wow, this is a big one. We almost didn't even bother joining this festival because we assumed we wouldn't get in. MovieMaker Magazine has it as one of the top 25 film festivals worth the fee. But Kevin and I have been feeling pretty good lately about this final cut of 'Absence', so we rolled the dice with a number of festivals of this caliber.
Action On Film is noted festival in Los Angeles due to the turn-out it gets. Not to mention, they screen their films in two of the nicest, largest theaters in Pasadena. The festival runs from July 24 - July 31st. They don't have a schedule posted yet, so I don't have a screening date for you. But contact me closer to the festival dates if you're interested in attending.
For now, keep an eye on the website: http://www.aoffest.com/
During the second half of the summer of 2008, I was home visiting family in NY, as I'm accustomed to do. I was there to celebrate birthdays, go on vacations, and just bum around the pool. But I began to realize that there was something else I could and probably should have been doing as well: making a film! Unfortunately this idea only popped into my head with about a week left before my flight back to LA.
Now, I know what you're saying. "Just make a film? Really, Dennis, it's just that easy? Suuuure." Your next thought may be, "And in one week? Now you're just speaking that white man's voodoo." Well, let me clarify a little: It was going to be a short film. Obviously. (don't you feel stupid now?). And yes, you CAN make a film in a week.
See, this first blog of mine is going to be about a lot more then just how we made 'Identical Dead Sisters' in one week. It's going to be about that intangible drive we call ambition and how it can consume you sometimes and blind you to how easy it is to just get - shit- done.
So there we were. Kevin and I, sitting at my laptop. Gestating ideas. Something you learn, being a writer/director, is that you can't always just write anything down on the page. The man dove through the plate glass window, stumbling into a roll.
This might be a fun scene to shoot, but it immediately raises the following concerns:  » Read more
As of this past week, Kevin and I have finished Identical Dead Sisters. This was a short film we co-directed in August 08 that we're both very proud of. Here's the synopsis:
When nefarious pimp and suburban scumbag, Lloyd "Cutty" Crothers poured acid on the face of his best girl, Jenny Penderschmidt, just before cutting her head off, he crossed a line. Hell, he crossed about three of them! Because Jenny had a sister. An identical twin sister named Edith. And Edith is someone you don't want to incur the wrath of. Now, with her mission before her, Edith decides to drop in on Lloyd's pool party, with the intent of avenging Jenny's murder... and maybe earning a little personal absolution while she's at it.
We will be posting the full movie online soon. But that may have to wait if we enter it into any film festivals that require pure premieres. Till then, if you are someone in the industry who is interested in seeing the movie or somebody who would like to possibly review it, please contact us for a screener. Please be ready to provide any credentials as we unfortunately don't have enough copies to just send them out to general, interested parties.