My talk at Gasparilla 2011

Now that the press conference is over and Gasparilla is getting the word out, I can flap my gums about being a speaker at the festival, where I’ll be discussing the making of my first feature film, The Bunker. This had been in the works for quite a while, but now it’s official. The talk is scheduled for Sunday, March 27th, 2-4 p.m., event hall to be announced.

When my distributor first brought up the possibility of me speaking at the festival, I thought it would be on an independent filmmaker’s panel, something like that. I figured it’d be me and a couple of other indie guys, taking questions, talking about what it took to make our movies, etc. In fact, I was going along under that assumption until Russell told me, “No, we’re not talking other filmmakers. Just you. The whole event is going to be focused on you.”

Well, that was a surprise. But a cool one. True, the film is a first. But making it an advertised feature event at Gasparilla? Being invited to come do it?

So, for the past couple of weeks, I’ve been waiting to blog about it, to start spreading the word via my social networking sites, all that jazz. If you’re coming to the fest, I hope you’ll drop in. I’ve been spending what little free time I’ve had the past week or so working on the presentation, choosing which scenes from the film I’m going to use, which trailer, and which clips from the Making of… documentary I’m going to bring.

I’m used to panels, been doing them at comic cons forever, going back to 1989 when I first dipped my toes into the comic book waters. They’re fun, comfortable affairs. This is slightly different. It’s a presentation, to be followed by a Q&A session. The difference? Unlike most speakers, I can’t rely on notes to help me keep everything straight. Well, let me clarify–it’s not like somebody’s preventing me from having index cards/notes, but being blind…? They aren’t going to do me any good up there at the podium.

But I’m not sweating it. I’m good on my feet and good in front of a crowd. I got a standing O in Mexico City during one of my speaking engagements at the festival of Fantasy and Terror. I got swamped after a lecture at the college in Tlascala by people who had questions we couldn’t get to in our allotted time, about how I was laying out my own comic book stories with stick figures, the way I’d done when I had sight. I’m comfortable talking to people about what I do. And The Bunker? Heck, I’ve been living with this film longer than I should’ve had to. Knowing it inside and out is why I chose to direct it in the first place, and why I refused to let anyone along the way try to take control over any aspect of it. We’re all going to have a good time on the 27th, that much I can promise you.

They better assign somebody to pick on people for the Q&A, though. It isn’t going to help for me to point out into the audience and go, “Hey, you, the one who looks like your mom dressed you. What’s your question?” :)

Hope to hear you at the talk. Check back here often for more details.

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Currently listening to: Green Grass & High Tides by The Outlaws

Just shoot me

Okay, no, the photo shoot wasn’t that bad. In fact, largely thanks to knowing what to expect, it wasn’t bad at all. Good tuneage on the sound system at CSE, an expert photog on the lens, and fast recycling equipment enabled us to knock out everything we needed in less than four hours.

While we (of course) didn’t need the extra shirts we bought or all the stuff we lugged up to Tampa, we still got a helluva lot accomplished without me walking face first into a hot umbrella, so that was a good thing. We got all the shots we wanted for the media kits and film festival packages, which was the goal, and I did a little biz with Russ after the shoot over dinner, before we headed back home.

Now, the ball’s in Tracie’s court (our publicist). The folders should be back from the printer this week, several festival packages will be going out, and an announcement is forthcoming about a fest I’ll be attending. Things’re movin’ right along, which is what I’ve been hoping for ever since scheduling the final reshoot necessary to wrap The Bunker. Thursday, I have a call set up with Metropolis Records, about another one of their bands whose music I’d like to use in the film. When Eric returns from Cinequest (an Oscar-qualifying fest where his latest film, The Dive, has two screenings), we’ll have the final sound mix in place and then the whole shebang goes over to Adam for the credits and film look. My distrib’s very happy about how fast progress has gone. While we haven’t set a drop date for The Bunker, by the end of March we’ll be able to jump on any opportunity that presents itself. I’d love a Fall release, you know, right around Halloween? but we’ll see what offers us the best options.

And now? What else. Back to work, of course.
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Currently listening to: Halo by Depeche Mode

Home stretch

First off, thanks to all who hit me up via FB or MySpace or e-mail w/birthday wishes. Much as I hate to mark another trip around the sun, it’s still better than the alternative.

On to what’s happening around here. Eric is working on The Bunker final sound mix, and an alternate version which removes a bit of female naughty bits from the edit. This coming Saturday, Pam and I are driving up to Tampa for a photo shoot for the media & festival press kits. Yes, a photo shoot. Why anybody wants a pic of me I don’t know, but hey, I’ve done my own PR for years. Now, I have a pro working with me and the distributor, so as far as I’m concerned? Whatever she says, goes.

Last night, Pam began uploading a couple hundred megs of files for the kit, including revised DVD box cover art, the poster graphics, information about the bands we’ve locked up for the film, production notes, high-res pics from the shoot, stuff like that. Today, the distribution company’s designer is getting it all together and putting the finishing touches on, then dropping it off at the printer. Once the photo shoot is in the can, the kits will be assembled, and away we go.

Been a long road leading here, but the finish line’s just ahead. Next week, we’ll probably be announcing my first festival appearance, the official Bunker web site will be launched, and we’ll be selecting other festivals to approach with the completed film. The distributor and publicist are targeting some pretty big ones, so hopefully we’ll be able to hit a few.

And now, it’s back to the grind. Got a new freelance gig to bang out, still got work to do on my story for the fantasy anthology I’ve been asked to contribute to, and I have another writing project I’ve been itching to get on for quite a while. On both the fiction and film front, there are a whole lot of irons in the fire. For a workaholic like me? that’s Nothing new, but I’m digging it anyway.

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Currently listening to: Hey Boy, Hey Girl by The Chemical Brothers

LOCKED

I’m going on 22 and a half hours straight, but hadda sit down before shutting off the computer to put out a quick update. Eric and I worked our asses off today, and locked the edit on The Bunker, my first feature film, about ten minutes ago. L-o-o-o-n-g day, but unbelievably productive.

Working with stage actor Robert Feigenblatt on his voiceover role for The Bunker.

Robert came over around 5, knocked out his voiceover in three takes. Thing fit into the final scene in the film seamlessly. We even got to work in a product placement, which was way cool. Eric was a cuttin’ fiend, doing both sound and picture, and the footage we shot two weeks ago in Los Angeles required some careful editing, but save for some color correction that’ll be handled by Skrubahl, Inc. when Adam puts on the film look, the new shots work perfectly with the existing footage. Shout outs to R-Dogg and Jim Powers for helping make that a reality.

And, the track I just secured from an Atlanta-based punk band (with a well-known lead singer, announcement coming soon about that signing), dropped into the opening scene like it was written specifically for the movie. It blows away the Tattooed Millionaires song we ditched way-back-when, and both lyrically and musically, it fit like a glove. I am so glad I stumbled across these guys, and was able to get in touch with them about their music. Definitely, an upgrade.

We’re still gonna tweak the credits roll, and then Eric’s doing the final sound mix, but locking the edit is like throwing a 400 lb gorilla off my back. My distributor’s gonna be thrilled when I give him the good news tomorrow—that he can begin banging out the media kit and more film festival packages. He and Tracie, our publicist, have targeted some high-profile fests. Not sure if we’ll get into any, but the push is on in a big way. Will post about possible festival screenings when the info becomes available.

All right, that’s it for me. Still gotta get up early and hit it hard, see if we can’t get Eric on the road by the afternoon for a shoot he’s been hired for for Monday. When you work with top-notch people, they’re always in demand.

Keep checkin’ in for news about what’s happening, and thanks again to shoppers who’ve been buying from our online store and those who supported us via Kickstarter. You guys put us over the hump, and I appreciate it greatly.

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Currently listening to: Keelhauled by Alestorm

It’s all about the weekend…

When, if all goes well, we should pretty much wrap up The Bunker festival cut. Sure, the film look is yet to come and Eric will be taking back a drive with him to polish the final sound mix, but those things are entirely out of my hands. I’m also still waiting on word from Metropolis Records about song licensing for a track by one of their bands, but even if I can’t get the song I want, I have several others to choose from, and will have more next week through one of my distributor’s contacts.

Meeting with Tuna and Knuckles, dogs not-quite-ready for still photography.

So, this weekend is pretty simple stuff. Eric’s going to be editing in the footage we shot two weeks back in Los Angeles at Jim Powers’ place, which will transform the original wraparound sequence—which was something totally unrelated—into part of the main story. The whole sequence has been transformed with the new material, all the plot devices have been altered to fit in with the original Bunker screenplay (which didn’t have a wraparound when I first began working on the film), and I’ve replaced the music. The new story now wraps up the feature with a nice, neat bow.

I was happy to get the chance to work with Adam and Charles and Ms. Veronique again, those guys are true pros. And, getting to meet up with Jim (whose work I knew from my previous gig), R Dog and Molly was a blast. Sure, we shot for a couple hours longer than we’d planned, got a bit of a late start, but…it’s moviemaking. When does *anything* ever go off on time? Thanks to those guys for stepping up and really making the reshoot as painless as possible. Believe me, I’d been toying with options that ran the gamut from writing an entirely new framing sequence, to inserting additional scenes with other actors, to simply dumping the wraparound and adding a short and selling the pair together on a self-distributed disc.

But The Bunker had too much going for it. Once we got rid of the crap sound design and film look, I still had a film with a lot of potential, which had gotten exceptional reviews. I had solid performances. I simply needed to figure out a way to make what I had work. That still required shooting additional material, but it was a lot less daunting than the alternatives I’d considered.

This weekend? I’m hoping that as the last few pieces fall into place, I can finally breathe a sigh of relief, hand it off to Eric and Adam and Charles for sound and film look, and move on to what’s next.

What’s next for The Bunker is film festival screenings and distribution, both foreign and domestic. What’s next for me as a director? Well, you’ll have to keep checkin’ back for updates on that.

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Currently listening to: What Do I Get? by The Buzzcocks

Latest Bunker update & announcements

Hey gang—the new Sight Unseen INSIDER is up (yeah, yeah, I know, about time). In it, I cover the recent trip to Los Angeles to get the necessary footage reshot to complete The Bunker, my casting choices, the elimination of a wraparound sequence in favor of one (reasonably) linear storyline, and who’s now handling the film look and various post-production details. I’ve got an award-winning filmmaker handling the final sound mix and engineering, a post house that’s also taken home some hardware at award ceremonies for their creative work, my composer is putting the finishing touches on the last ninety seconds of score to round out the flick, and then it’s into the hands of my distributor and off to several festivals—both foreign and domestic.

Thanks to all the folks who pledged and helped out via Kickstarter, or who’ve been buying our merch from the online store. This, folks, is what your money’s been going to, and trust me, every penny’s being well-spent. Check out the latest Sight Unseen INSIDER here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YId5oM632ZE

More announcements comin’!

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Currently listening to: Hang Him Higher by WUMPSCUT

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A brief scare

And luckily, not much of one. Still, gave us a moment or two of concern this morning.

Had to go over to my parents’ today, celebrate my sister’s 40th birthday. It’d been put off from last week ‘cause her kids were sick, and since I was out of town for most of the week, it came down to today to get us all together.

So, this morning, I’m trying to wrap up some final stuff from the reshoot. Organizing some paperwork, shelving the props, unpacking the final few items from my laptop and camera case, etc. After removing all my tape stock, my various chargers and flotsam, I discover that the actual mini DV tape isn’t where I expected it to be. I’m talking *the* key tape from the reshoot. The main footage.

The good thing, I reminded myself as I scoured my laptop bag, (in case it’d gotten stuck in there instead)—was that after we shot the footage on Tuesday, I had the good sense to have the tape captured, so that Eric and I weren’t transporting the only copy with us. In the event anything went wrong, baggage got lost or destroyed, whatever, it made sense for us to dump the tape to a drive before headin’ home.

Things turned out fine, however. Stuffed between foam layers in the camera case—literally the last possible option for it to have been—was the tape. Well-protected, in fine shape. Eric and I had a good chuckle over that, having spoken earlier in the day about when he’d be coming out to do the editing necessary to insert the footage into the final cut.

So, all ended well. But it did remind me that sometimes (more often than not I’d say), it pays to be a bit of a megalomaniac. I pay attention to detail to the point of being anal about it. But it’s served me well. And I think that’ll be evident when you guys get to see the final product. We’ve done a lot with a little, and the closer we get to release, the happier I am that I always gave myself room to work out of a bind if necessary. Trust me…the wiggle-room? I used every millimeter of it!

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Currently listening to: Crazy Bitch by Buck Cherry

Kickstarter Update: Bunker reshoot

In two words: it’s done. Yep, after multiple reschedulings, the difficulties inherent in getting cast members and necessary crew together at the same time, travel planning nightmares, etc., things worked out as I’d hoped and all hurdles were overcome. I bolted out of town this past Monday to wrap things up, and the trip couldn’t have gone much better.

Despite a not-altogether thrilling travel experience (boy have plane aisles gotten narrower!), and hubbing thru frigid Detroit (which is everything the Kentucky Fried Movie makes it out to be), we got in, got things done, and got ‘em done right. I returned home yesterday morning around 5 a.m., the final footage in hand.

A big chunk o’ the Kickstarter change went toward this key element of production, so everyone who threw a buck or two our way, rest assured, every penny’s being well-spent. I’m targeting mid-February to have the last scenes and pickup shots cut in and lock the edit. After that, we’ll lay in score and Eric’ll knock out the final sound mix. (Him hauling that huge mic and boom pole onto the plane sure was a conversation starter.)

I plan to make some announcements this coming week. About how post-production is going, about some new folks we brought into the fold for the reshoot, about where we stand with our music licensing company, etc. But for right now, I’ve been playing catch-up all day, and just wanted to bang this out so folks would know the reason for the virtual silence the past five days. As soon as the new Sight Unseen INSIDER’s cut, you’ll be privy to the first of the upcoming announcements. ‘Til then…
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Currently listening to: Destroyer by Static-X

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unit ‘Short’ notice

The printer’s spooling pages of the new script, and the smell of hot toner is in the air. Ahhh…

I’ve had this script for a short sitting in a drawer forever, and now that The Bunker should be wrapped up by the middle of February, I e-pulled it out and virtually dusted it off, bringing it up to date and polishing it. Needed to make some changes, but it’s still the same story, mostly the same dialogue and I even found a way to squeeze in another effects shot or two (which oughta make the Fango and Rue Morgue readers happy).

I’ve already confirmed an award-winning F/X artist for the project, and plan to talk to two actors who expressed interest in it when I first brought up the possibility of doing a short last summer. Going to try and hand-deliver one script tomorrow if a friend is around, and the other’s going in the mail. Fortunately, that actress is in-state, so she should have it by Monday and be able to give it a look-see during the week.

And that’s what’s happenin’ on this end. Got another freelance in the pipeline, and been putting in 10+ hours at the keyboard per day for the past five or six days now, so eager to get back to the creative stuff. Probably do some more bloggin’ over the next couple of days, as it looks like The Bunker reshoot is coming together, and I should be able to lock down dates and travel plans soon. More on that when it’s firmed up.

Enjoy your weekends!

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Currently listening to: At The End by 16Volt

Where’d everything go?

Not to worry, whatever you’ve noticed that isn’t present at the moment will be restored shortly. We’re doing some back-end site clean-up, revamping the blog archives, and getting things ready for soon-to-come announcements and upgrades.

What announcements and upgrades? you ask. Well, one of them will be the announcement concerning the distribution deal for The Bunker. I did an interview on Friday with a film magazine reporter, and since one of the topics we tackled in the piece was the deal, upcoming festival appearances, and our plans for my next feature, well, they’ll appear in the article first, then there’ll be a follow-up press release. But of course, we’ll be announcing it here, as well, so we’re prepping for that, getting graphics ready, proofing the PR, readying the media kit, etc.

We’re also installing a video player that will allow you to view our videos–including Sight Unseen INSIDER, The Bunker movie trailer (featuring music by The Cruxshadows), and my various wacky vids, such as the one in which I sword fight, or bull ride—right here on the site, through our own servers.

What else? Since I know you were about to ask, we’ll also be putting up updates once we get the Bunker reshoot scheduled; posting new clips from the completed film (featuring Robert Feigenblatt’s kick-ass new score), and more.

But…all that stuff requires testing, server space, new software, you know the drill. So, be patient. Blog archives will be back up shortly, new pics, new videos, and much more as we begin filling in the gaps.

Finally, my distributor and publicist are working on a site devoted entirely to The Bunker. I’ll be pointing you over there as soon as the site goes live, so check back regularly.
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Currently listening to: Dollhouse (Razed In Black mix) by Switchblade Symphony