Tuesday, December 26, 2006

If you record bad sound....

The picture, effects and sound editing is complete. It’s been a hella’ two weeks, but the film is shaping up.

The next steps: 1) Sound Effects
2) Score
3) Color Correction

Then the movie will be done. ANYBODY and I mean, ANYBODY who plans to shoot an independent film, I will tell you if you have $100,000 to spend on one thing for your production and Tom Cruise will do your movie for that, forget him. Use the money for a PROFESSIONAL SOUND GUY. We had picture issues where people walked through our frame, lights and signs in frame and they took no time to fix. We had to generate gunfire effects from scratch, because I decided last minute not to waste money on another effects program and they took no time to do. But then, came sound.... It has killed me dead. We shot in a cab with a boom mic on each actor with the windows up and it did not stop our audio from having somebody else laughing from a half mile away in it or in another instance, the bar down the way. It was quiet until somebody went in or out of it. We had little bursts of band music in and out of shot after shot, that I could not hear, because I was not sitting behind a soundboard with ambient proof head phones on or a stereo mixer in front of me. This issue has not only caused hours upon hours of audio fixes, but ultimately will also hurt the film all around because it doesn’t matter how well I cover up the blemishes, if somebody plays this movie on DVD with a stereo surround system they will hear the inconsistencies. The only option I may have left is to try and use sound effects in the bad spots and hope it works. My timeline for this movie, (audiowise,) is shot to hell already if you take a look at the screen shot underneath. All this and I still have the mastered sound, surround sound, and dolby digital bullshit to go through.

Somebody told me once, if you shoot bad sound, you get bad sound. I listened and knew that and did everything in my power to keep us from having bad sound, but because of the elements and uncontrolled environment of even something as small as the inside of a cab, I managed to record bad audio. Do not sacrifice this step in anyway. Hire somebody who knows what they are doing and do it right the first time. It will make everybody’s job easier.

I’ll show you an example of this bad sound in my next entry that has to do with all of the film.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Meter Trailer

I had planned on doing the trailer as I waited for Ryan to complete the score, but I actually finalized the special gunfire effects late Friday night and had not scheduled a babysitter to complete the Sound Editing sessions, so I thought I would utilize this time to make a quick teaser. I have an alternate I will throw up here next week, but I tried to tell a little bit of the story without giving away the twists so... I hope it’s a little coherent.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Hitchcock, Where are YOU!!!???

You know whatever happened to creative expression? I finished cutting picture on Meter Friday night and have showed it to a couple of the producers, family and friends and their first remark is, "What's with the out of focus shot?" When I was writing this film, envisioning it, explaining it and storyboarding it, this shot during the finale was to be out of focus and hazy. It always had. I drew this shot out and storyboarded it. I've shown everybody this shot. This is one of the first that stuck out in my mind to make sure it was done properly. OK, sure their points are valid--- NOOOTTT!!! They asked me why I didn't shoot it in focus and blur it in post--- Because that's not an out of focus shot. They asked me why I didn't go out of focus and the rack back in right at the end--- Because that's not an out of focus shot. They asked me why I didn't shoot one in focus to just make sure it works--- Because--- I didn't need to. I wanted my out of focus shot.

Now they've all got me worried that everybody is going to think that. Maybe they are looking to hard, because honestly in the midst of the chaos taking place it works great. I mean surely people watching my film aren't going to walk out saying, "What the hell was the camera man thinking? That second to last shot was out of focus." I mean really? I've ran camera for many years now. If I had not intended that shot to be out of focus I would have turned the ring and you have a twelve minute movie with not one out of focus shot in it. There is not one frame that is not dead on and then in the midst of the chaos I spoke of, we have an out of focus shot-- Wouldn't you think it was intended. Surely, people who know a little about movies would know that we probably shot that take a handful of times and the "camera man" didn't notice all six times that the camera was out of focus?

Please tell me American Cinema hasn't come to this. Hitchcock would never have to explain that shot. Hell, Soderbergh or Mann would not either. They're camera movements and tactics are revolutionary. My one of out of focus shot is a fucking scab!!!

Filmmaking can suck an egg.

*I would tell you why it's out of focus, but it would spoil the ending.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Make Shift CGI

*Taken from my Online Film School Series

This may end up being the best Film School Lesson I’ve given and may help you, may not. There are many ways to cover up screw ups in your film depending on what the screw up is. I got off easy... Kinda’. I had three incidents where I have been required to alter the picture in order to fix my film. I spoke of them in Lesson 1 on the Video Assist. I shot four takes of the Long Shot segment of the finale and in all four shots there were people in the distance walking around that I missed because I didn’t have a second pair of eyes on the frame. I also missed, (and there was really no excuse for this one, but it happened,) a "Filming" sign and an unused Lowell light that was not use in the distance in the back windsheild of the MASTER!!! How Phil and I missed it I don’t know. Maybe, because it was three o clock in the morning and our eye lids were beginning to freeze shut, I don’t know. Nevertheless, I missed them. Thank the Gods that be, that in all the incidents the camera was locked off, making it ALMOST easy to fix with simple photo enhancement software. Sure, I could throw the footage into AE, Shake or Motion and keyframe my CGI through the spots needed and be done with it, but some filmmakers may not have that expensive Special Effects graphic Software, so I used the good ole’ Photoshop platform. Photoshop, still to this day I claim is probably the pound for pound best piece of software ever created. For what it allows you to do with just about anything surpasses anything else in all around uses and whether it is PS 5 or CS, it works wonders for small video or photographic adjustments.

In this case it did the trick as well. So here we go: In the first fix, I exported a UNCOMPRESSED TIFF file of a frame where this woman just stopped on the side of the frame and watched the shooting in progress. As the shot came to a close she continued on her merry way. I eye sighted the distance from the stop to the walk. I exported the TIFF to Photoshop.

From there, I found in another take the same shot where the woman was not there. I exported it the same way. Brought it into Photoshop and with my Marquee Tool selected a chunk of the side of the frame and copied it. When doing this, if you can, you want to copy from a shadow, or dark area to a another dark area. It will assure you don’t carry over any scanlines of any kind. Then you simply place your copied chunk onto your still frame of the actual shot from the clip. Make sure it is aligned perfectly. It should snap right to where it needs to be, but you never know. Once you have it in place, delete your Background Layer so that you just have your Transparent Layer with the small chunk on it.

Now save it as a PSD and import it back into your Vid Project. Grab it and overlay it over your clip and that’s that. It should give you about 100 frames to cover and you can just copy and paste until it covers the whole period of time of the blemish. It also should not have to be resized or changed in anyway or you messed up. Here is another example: Right when Charles blasts his wife. I have a guy strolling into the pool hall almost directly in the middle of the frame in the distance. He probably would have stopped and looked around had he heard a gun go off but he didn’t so I wanted to get rid of his deaf ass as well. So I repeated the process.

Only this time. I took the image and used my Clone Tool combined with my Paint brush and just spotted him out. Then again, I erased my grey background and raw picture leaving just my little speck of light on the screen.

Save and import-- Repeat Process. This next example is a little more sophisticated. In this scene, I dropped the ball and left a filming sign and unused light in the frame. Granted they are hard to make out but I don’t want to take any chances if my movie should be seen on a HD 1900 inch Television. The process is the same as the above examples if you would use Photoshop. I personally am going to use Motion to fix this one, but again if you don’t have the Effects programs here is Cheat Button.

The difference in this one is that Randle and Charles’ heads move over the spot throughout the shot and overlaying the fixed spot is not going to do it all by itself. You will need to overlay it and then your keyframes to crop it left, right, up and down as your subject moves. It’s a pain in the ass, but it is an easy way to fix little problems.

In this Video Example of what we have done, I did not keyframe the fix to show you what I am talking about having shrink it and size it to the motion of the actors. Other than that, good luck and all I can tell you is have a ’Continuity Crew Member’ who’s job is to make sure dumb shit like this does not happen.

See the finished result in Real Time Here.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Story of a Dog

­­When Mandi and I got back together two and a half years ago, Mandi had gotten a wild hair,(and in one of her stages,) and insisted on a pitbull puppy. I was against the idea. I had Vinyard AND Sully, (his runt brother,) already and plans for defecting to Florida were too already in the works. I was also in the class that stereotyped "pit bulls" and I just thought it may be a bad idea. One night Mandi suckered me into going over and seeing them. Her eyes were already set on this brown brindle female. I was still weary about it, but after taking a look at 'mom', I thought if the puppy turns out anywhere close to a beautiful as mom was, we'd be in good shape. I gave Mandi's friend $150.00 and the dog was ours. She was a little runt and her ears were frickin' huge, man. Like, I’m not kidding when I say she looked like a bat, but we were planning on clipping her ears so it didn’t matter for the time being. I didn’t think she was very cute, but Mandi loved her so I did too. As much as she was loved, she didn’t stand a chance for a completely fair life. I was biased. I always was going to favor Vinyard over her. Vinyard was my dog. I had him for a year and we had gone everywhere together. Anywhere I went, (including the bars sometimes, )he went. Vinyard in my book was always going to come first. Mandi on the otherhand, was one of those people who, if she got her mind set on something she wanted, she’d do whatever it took to get it, but then the aura of having it or of it being new died down, it became irrelevant in importance anymore to her, so when that period began, I knew I would have to compensate in love for Deja’ Ray Drum, our female pitbull puppy.

I had always been good with kids and dogs for that matter. I had managed to train Vinyard very early in life. When he was three months old he was going to do and crying when he needed to go out. He also came when I called him. If he was ever venturing off too far from where we were all it took was two claps and he would be back in arm’s length. He could be in the next county and two slaps of my hands would get him home. It was simple. He was a smart dog but not to sound like I’m the Dog Whisperer or anything, but I was a good trainer. The only places Vinyard lacked in training was in begging and chewing. He was a Lab. He chewed everything up until he was a year and a half old. It’s inevitable. There is no fixing it in Labs and his begging, I did. In his early years, I would be working on the computer or watching movies and any dinner I cooked, he got some of.

Deja…. Well, Deja, I’m not sure I know where I went wrong with her. Mandi and I didn’t live together for her first three months of life and she was not given the ‘Door Treatment’ I had always practiced. Deja would piss and shit on the floor, get nailed and somebody would clean it up. She was never really taught that she needed to go outside to do it. When we arrived in Orlando, things would hopefully change. We did not get any house we were looking for for two reasons:

1. Nobody would rent to us with a pitbull
2. Nobody would rent to us, because Vinyard was over a hundred pounds.

We, (I), was not getting rid of my dog for an apartment or house we may not stay in. We ended up in a shitbox apartment off Forest City Road. It was a busy street. There were kids everywhere, so the dogs were required to be on a leash. Three to five times a day, I would walk these guys around the building. Deja would manage, (of the two craps a day,) to do one of them outside and one inside. Never failed. I would scold her every time. And in all her life, I only caught her in the act one time. It was probably the roughest scolding I had ever done to any dog. I felt horrible, but I felt it had to be done to stop this epidemic. After that, it didn’t change with the exception that she never let me catch her. Sometimes she would go so far as to going to the back closet to do it while I was in the kitchen or when I sat down for my afternoon squat, she managed to do hers too.

Besides this issue there was only one other incident where she chewed up eight of my DVD’s, but even then, we were unsure if it wasn’t a tag team effort. I chose to think not, catching her two more times with DVD’s in her mouth and Vinyard being past the chewing stage I seemed to think it was a loner job. She had never been given any other privileges to mess up. She was only let off the leash when we went to the dog park and Mandi would have to chase her all over the place, because Deja would bother other people and dogs. While we were in Orlando, poor Deja spent half her days in the kennel from making the same mistakes: Shitting on the floor and chewing up stuff.

Vinyard hated her at first. She would try to play with the overgrown stoner and Vinyard was sometimes just not into it. She would breeze by him and snap at his saggy skinned trying to provoke him into fighting, but it took nearly twenty minutes of this for Vinyard to give so much as a growl. Occasionally, he would get excited and the fight was on. In the early days, Vinyard would not fare so well because of Deja’s speed and took a beating quite a bit. Most of the time he would wear himself out trying to get a hold of her, but as the months rolled on, Vinyard learned how to use his weight and muscle and changed up his style to compensate for her speed and it then, was only a matter of time before, again, Deja was on the losing end of those scoldings. Deja on the otherhand, loved Vinyard. He had been around her whole life and she worshipped the ground he walked on. If he walked, she walked. If he sniffed a bush, she sniffed a bush. If there were doggy decisions to be made, she waited for his plan. I always used the analogy that she was like that little fish that swam along side the Great White Shark. I had grown to love Deja, even if selfishly, I thought she was just not a dog I wanted to have. We had never clipped her ears and she had just never grown into the ears or grown into a prototype of her beautiful mom, but nevertheless, I felt with Mandi and I both working long odd hours, Deja and Vinyard could keep each other company in those boring hot days of staying in a small apartment in a shitty area of town.

We returned to North Carolina a little over a year later. Mandi and I had become pregnant and her Mom had pulled some strings to have us move into a little basement apartment at her friends house. It was a cute little place. It wasn’t somewhere we would stay long, but it was cheap and would do the trick for a transition. The dogs would not be very happy, nor would we. It was two rooms conjoined together and I’ll be honest, It was the coziest place I had lived in for the last seven years and was the perfect and I mean perfect bachelor pad. But for two big dogs and two people rapidly gaining weight, it was way too small. The house sat on 2 acres. Our apartment opened up to the back of the house where 99% of those acres were. The front of the house sat about ten yards off of one of the busiest highways in the county so even with all that room, I would walk them on a leash.

When I was about ten, a couple of the guys and I in the neighborhood decided to make a couple of bucks selling lemonade up the street. I had the brilliant idea of taking our fairly new Cocker Spaniel with us. The first car that passed, the cocker chased and I watched this dog get mauled by the front right tire. I still remember how it sounded and remember running her back to my yard as she lost control of her insides on the way. It scarred me, so the only fear I have with my dogs is to have them hit by a car and me either seeing it or having to pry them from the road afterwards or the worst of all, living through it only to die an hour later. I was overprotected and scared sick of busy roads and my dogs. Mandi, had become tired and lethargic during her mid months of pregnancy, so she began letting the dogs out without a leash and just watching them and calling them as they would steer astray. It apparently worked OK. I didn’t trust it and Deja was crapping all the time in the house, so I continued to walk them to the edge of the woods. During these months in the “cellar,” against my decision Mandi decided to get Deja impregnated. She was a great bloodline and Mandi looked at it as a way to make some cash for when the baby arrived. I just knew this was going to end up being a problem, but what could I do… Both my bitches were pregnant, so I just waited for the disaster to happen. With the pressures of parenthood closing in and our living situation, I began to become real annoyed with Deja’. She was a dirty dog. She chased squirrels, dug holes, wallowed in shit and crapped and pissed wherever she felt like it. I was cleaning shit at least every other day with Mandi doing the other days’ shifts. I had almost given up on it. I assumed that she was such a stupid dog that she just didn’t get it and she wouldn’t shit outside because she was so used to getting scolded when we spotted her crap in the house that she wouldn’t dream of doing it on a leash in front of us.

Then Deja and I came to our first understanding. This one incident would change my thoughts on her forever. The day we were moving into our new house, Deja began giving birth to her puppies. I thought, “how fitting this all took place at the same time. I will have piss, shit and placentas to clean up now.” But Deja’ impressed me. With every passing day, she protected those puppies, kept them in a consolidated place, and ALWAYS cleaned up after them. I had been a doubter. I thought it would be a huge mess and it never was. She was torn up after we began selling those puppies off and before she knew it, her offspring were gone and she was back with Vinyard doing the things she normally did. I had grown more fond of her and made extra attempts to give her love I had not given her before. That period slowly died as we prepared for the baby to arrive and she continued her onslaught of piss and shit and being conieving enough to find ways into our bedroom to camp out on our bed. The piss and shit situation had really began to wear on me again. I was working in Charlotte at the time and was getting up extremely early in order to cook breakfast, clean myself, and get them… Get Vinyard out to do his thing. Deja didn’t ever need to go, because I could count on her to leave me a nasty load to clean up after eating my eggs. To make matters worse between us, she was doing it underneath my office desk where all my computer chords were. Then I could always count one to clean up upon returning home, if Mandi had been working that night. Things were bad. She was spending more and more time in that kennel again and because she chewed the floor out of it and every blanket I spread out, she got the nice soft steel bars to curl up to. I didn’t give two craps despite her giving them back to me. I bought Vinyard a comfortable bed and would shove her off it every time she tried to hunker down on it. The war was on.

Mandi was to the point of wanting the dogs gone, but I fought for them. I knew by the end of the year we would be in our own house and the dogs could have a yard with an electrical fence, doghouses and everybody would be happy. Payton was born and the dogs went from full attention from me to half and if Mandi had given them any in the past four months, there was none now. She despised them and at any given second, would scold them for stuff she had never scolded them for before. With me being gone nearly twelve hours of the day, I feared they were miserable considering they were getting no attention and Mandi had this grueling vendetta against them. With Payton being a newborn, Mandi didn't have the luxury of spending twenty minutes in the yard with the dogs so began practicing her, "Open Door Policy." It apparently worked again. It worked better when it was just one of them at a time, but what ever it took to give them a little time out of the house. Again, I didn't trust it. With the new house we had upgraded--- Some. Our backyard was probably 60 acres deep. Our front yard ten yards to the third busiest road in the county. After ruining two pairs of shoes guiding the dogs around the yard, I got lazy as well. I had to let them go sooner or later so I began letting Vinyard and Deja out off the leash. I would stay near and call them when I thought they were getting too far away. This worked great. All I had to do for Vinyard is throw him a stick. Deja was a little harder, but would come inside the minute you called her. It seemed as if it were to work out good for everybody. Then something happened. Deja began getting further and further away from the house and apparently with every step began losing her hearing a little more. I couldn't contain her. She would end up down in the neighbors yards, chasing shadows and she would literally act as if she did not hear me screaming her name. I began to get real frustrated because how could we have had it so well and do nothing differently and everything change. Mandi insisted I put her back on a leash. I did not want to do that. I was on the thought that if Vinyard could do what I asked what was that fuckin' dog's problem? I ignored it, giving Deja the benefit of the doubt over and over. The dog had no idea how close she was to dying not but three weeks ago when we were out in the yard and I had called her and she was in route to me when she stopped, saw a dog almost eighty yards down the yard. I called Vinyard. He looked a minute and then came up to my side. I called Deja. She looked a minute. A minute more. The second I said, "Don't you do it, bitch," she was gone. I was late to work that day from trudging down in the cow fields to find her. I carried her halfway home by her neck. After that Deja and I's relationship ended. I arrived home from lunch one day after putting the dogs out in the kennel for the morning only to find Vinyard on the front porch and Deja in the front yard. They had managed to break out. How I have no idea. That little bitch probably squirmed out and opened the door.... Kidding. Vinyard seemed fine with a little added dirt on his nose. Deja on the otherhand, had a chunk of ear missing, teeth puncture wounds and blood everywhere. At night, she would immediately take off and I would just keep going out there from time to time until she would show up with her ears down and hole herself up in the kennel, refusing to come in. I had given up on her, Vinyard and everything. Mandi and I fought three times a day about the dogs and honestly, I was a busy guy. I had devoted my life and most of my spare time to this family, dogs included, and Deja was the only dog that just didn't seem to appreciate any of it.

The night this whole story is getting around to was last Wednesday. I was to actually go record a voice over for a commercial, but could not manage to find a babysitter. I arrived home at 7:00. Six 'o clock and after was always a little touch and go with Payton. Tonight was no exception. Deja had actually gotten much better in the last week. She had stayed pretty close, so when I opened the door and let them out when I got home it was pretty routine. I put up the car seat, the diaper bag, pulled out my skillet and went out and called the dogs back in for their nightly treat. Vinyard came immediately. Deja' did not. This was nothing new anymore. When she did take off it was usually down in the pastures and she would come back reaking of where a skunk sprayed her, but she nevertheless would come back home. Payton needed to be fed and put down and I needed to feed the dogs and myself as well, so 'Deja' Hunting' that night was a nil, nit, goose egg. As I cooked dinner, I would about every ten minutes go out with the flash light, call her name and see if I could get a little idea of which direction she had gone. She had never gotten in the road but once and the only reason she had was that there was fresh roadkill right in front of our house on it. The good thing about the busy street in front of my house was that it was very flat. If the dogs did not dart out in the road, cars would see them and be able to slow down or get out of their way if I weren't around to round them up. She was nowhere. It was dark. She could have been on the side of the house. She wasn't coming to me anyway. How would I know? Then as my hamburgers sizzled from grease in the skillet and Payton practiced her best Axl Rose impression I recall Vinyard looking up dead set on the cooking of burgers. He, out of no where, turned toward the living room which rests on the street side of our house and let out two big barks. I wondered where that had come from, but did not think much of it. I fear now, that was the point Deja' had darted across the road and been struck by a car. Fifteen minutes later I was eating, occassionally walking outside to call her name. I knew something was terribly wrong when I had finished the dishes and she was still not hanging out in the kennel outside with her ears down.
I took the flashlight and this time I walked out in the front yard. I saw nothing. My eyes scanned the straight away of road and then something... My eyes adjusted. It was Deja'. I couldn't see anything but a white lump of her backside and the brown brindle patch resting about a quarter of a mile down the street. She was right on the side of the road and it was too cold and too far to take Payton. I froze. I wasn't even sure if I wanted to go down there and see her dismembered or even worse, still alive and suffering. I called my Sister in Law and her and my Brother in Law showed up to help with all the chaos. Travis walked out to the road first. His reaction was enough for me to know she was in one piece. I walked over to her and she was relaxed. She looked like any other dog laying down after a long day of running. Her eyes didn’t look set. I couldn’t bare to look, but had to get her in the back of his truck to figure out what we were going to do.

I was sure she was dead, but couldn’t tell. Travis agreed she was dead but I kept talking him out of that decision. We found ourselves forty five minutes later driving her to the ER Vet hospital. The Vet on duty didn’t even have to use her stethoscope. She flipped the towel over and said, “yeah, she’s gone. That’s it.”

I was relieved in a sense that she had been dead and hadn’t tried to hang on for the hour it took me to get her to this point. I was a little torn up that night. Mandi even showed a little remorse for her. I had begged that dog to listen to me over and over. I know they are dogs and don’t get it, but I remember telling her once that I was trying to teach her to come for her own good. I said there is a point to all this. "If you don't listen to me you are gonna' end up in that damn street--DEAD!" She must’ve never understood. I began feeling neglectful for not going after her in the yard. I felt neglectful for not hearing her get hit. I felt angry to know that in our small community, a full bred dog with a collar gets nailed in a neighborhood and nobody stops or even helps. I was sad for Vinyard who’s life, beknownst to him was about to get that much more uneventful. I missed her. I still resent myself for being so tough on her. I remember those good days and how excited she would get when I would pet and praise her for listening to me. I remember days before her death, Payton crawling over to her on the floor and putting her arm around her skunk smelling neck and as gentle as she could be, giving her quick kiss to the face as they both looked up at me. She was so good with our little girl and through all the scolding and favoritism she took she stayed positive and loyal. I’ll miss that dog more than I ever thought I would. Bless her heart. She had a rough life and it ended way before it should have.

If you don’t get anything out of this long story, be good to your dogs. Take time with them. Teach them, train them and love them. They are only as safe as you make them.

Deja’ Ray Drum, I will miss you little girl. I’ll miss the extra paper towel and potpourri purchases I would have to make. I’ll miss the floor underneath my desk smelling of ammonia. I’ll miss watching you attack Vinyard’s loose skin under his collar and most of all, of all the annoying things you did, you were still the sweetest dog I have ever had the pleasure to be around. That's what I'll miss most. I love you and I hope you are looking down now, so you know why I stressed so much to you your whole two and half years how important is was to listen to me. I'll see you again when we all come back as skunks.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Behind The Scenes

November 12th, 2006 - A Tribute and Post Production Begins

As I finished up the odds and ends of my other paying gigs, I managed, (thank goodness to Payton's new and improved sleeping habits,) to even push out the little behind the scenes footage we had from Meter. Due to three of our crew men bailing on us, we did not have the luxury of somebody running BTS camera the entire time, so my wonderful better half, in between running cabs, coffee and complaining of the cold managed to capture about twenty minutes, so I condensed it to seven and sure the edit is very loose, but why not. It's just another dumb video that takes up space on a web server in Silicone Valley somewhere. I'm paying for it. Why not use it. Today... Logging clips from the real movie for next weekend's trip to "The Asylum."

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

The Production Hangover

A year after beginning an attempt at shooting Meter, principle photography is complete… Maybe.

The shoot went rather smooth despite all the disasters we had if that makes any sense at all. The day started off with me right on schedule and the last minute resources filling in with every stop I made. I even had time to visit with the folks awhile.

The only worry of mine at the time was the article that was published in the paper earlier that day. The article had come off that we were actually firing off a gun in downtown and that was obviously not the case. The gun fire and blast were to be CGI’d in post, so I was a bit worried that we would garner a medium sized crowd downtown that may interrupt our shooting if they could not be contained.

I pulled up to the square at 3:45pm and immediately began unpacking. Freddy and Mark began rehearsing as I put up lights etc. We were to pick up the Taxi at 5:30pm. With the newspaper ad making it clear that we were using a fake gun we decided last minute to do the "Action" scene first and get it out of the way. This may have been the wrong move because as three of our crew members bailed on the project last minute, we found ourselves short staffed with our primary electrical connection dead, we lost nearly an hour and a half of production time.

Then we ran into trouble with the taxi rental where the cost went up and the cab had to be back by midnight and so we rushed through some setups with the alternate plan to send this cab back and then rent another one at the standard, $20.00 an hour rate, but my wonderful wife smoozed the man and we got away with keeping the cab all night for $100.00, but it did not change the fact that I had rushed through four set ups and we had broken our momentum with driving the cab off the lot and putting it back on again. By the shoots end it was closing 4:00am and I had not gotten all the shots I wanted and I worried that I had missed a couple of key shots for the action scene, due to the extreme pressures of the time loss, but I was confident that I had indeed made a descent film on a shoestring budget and with what I had seen on the video assist, the film looked and felt great through Phil Vaglia’s pristine Cinematography and the performances were tremendous and dead on through Mark Alton Rose and Freddy Robinson’s talents and I could appreciate that no matter how simple and little this film was when I was typing it up three years ago, I had followed through. I had not compromised and had dedicated myself to completing it and succeeded if only to have suffered a few, "rusty spots" in the filmmaking process that now, would carry on to a better production next month.
I was depressed that it was over, but relieved to know I still had what it took.

Saturday, November 4, 2006

Shooting at the OK Corral

A small newspaper article may sink my ship!!!

I had stated in the interview with Josh with the local newspaper that I didn't mind onlookers to come down and check the shoot out considering I had also said this was a very small film and that they wouldn't really see much if they were to make a trip down. Josh and I must have miscommunicated in some way, which I tend to do from time to time, so the paper came off as if we were having an "OK Corral" slash "Hollywood" style shootout which is definitely not the case. With a small crew, I cannot afford to have to utilize them as crowd control instead of what they are meant to be there for. I can only hope that nobody reads the paper or that nobody really gives a shit.

Otherwise, six hours from now, I will begin shooting my first FILM, film in five years. I'm curious to know if I have matured any.

Read the article via the internet- CLICK HERE

Friday, October 13, 2006

Meter Update

October 3rd, 2006 - Budgeting

OK, I don't want to toot my horn or anything, but I have successfully managed to prep my fourth film at an absolute shoestring budget. When I say prep, I mean the production is ready to go and is air tight-- And has cost me anything, (figuratively speaking.)

After fifty phone calls, good manners and meetings I have managed to get every resource needed, (film equipment excluded,) that I needed to make my film. Granted, I have attempted to shoot this film for almost a year now, but what I said about the film when I first thought about doing it, I have managed to stick with: Don't spend any money, just get out there an make it. November 4th, the film begins principle photography at Sundown. This is my budget so far.


Xerox Copies: $20.00

Prop Gun:$30.00


Street and Parking Lot Sealed for Production-$0.00

Electricity or shared power for lighting kit-$0.00

Taxi Cab Rental or Use-$0.00
*Although I will be buying everyone dinner that is working at Yellow Cab that night. ($40.00)

Expendibles: 1.Foam Board-$6.00
2. Party Gels for lights-$30.00
4.DV Tapes-$70.00(Master Quality)
5.Poster Board(Signs)-$2.00
6.Floor and Masking Tape-$10.00
7.(2)Flourescent Lamps $20.00

Dinner for Five/Snacks-$70.00


*Now lets not forget that I own, (from years of working in this business,)the lighting kit, cameras, bounce boards, boom mics, editing bay etc.. So I do not pay for any rentals on actual equipment. That helps a lot.

--Now if I can figure out how to shoot the inside of a car in the middle of the night, I'll be money.


September 29th, 2006 - All Hail Yellow Cab

Like the City of Hickory, Yellow Cab has been generous enough to provide an off duty cab to us for the evening. In fact, Ron, the boss down there told me to remind him a couple of days before the shoot and he'd clean it up nice for us. I mean that is great. The original deal was $200.00 for the cab all night and the cabbie would stay on the set with us the whole time which means I would probably have to be generous and tip him a $100.00 to cover his wasted night. After this letter, we reached a much better deal.  


Yellow Cab

117 1st Ave. SW

Hickory , NC 28601


Garrick Lane

2017 Conover Blvd. East

Conover , NC 28601





My name is Garrick Lane . I had spoken to you guys about four months back about shooting a film in downtown Hickory that involved either recreating or renting a taxi cab. I will be shooting the film on November 4 th, 2006 . I had spoken to Marty who said that I could actually rent him and his cab for $200.00 a night. I am just first inquiring to see if this offer would still be standing to begin with. Secondly, I wanted to run another favor across to you guys to see if we could possibly be able to work something out. I am a small company. I am shooting this film out of my own pocket unfortunately and saving money for my kid's college fund is a beautiful thing. If I rented Marty and his cab all night we would be talking from around 5:00pm to 4:00am . That is many working hours for Marty and your cab in general, and even with a substantial tip for him, it almost seems that he and Yellow Cab would be losing money to offer me this service. Not to mention, poor Marty would have to sit around downtown Hickory on a cold Saturday night twiddling his thumbs while we shoot the film. I felt this to be rather redundant for everybody involved.

I have received approval from the City of Hickory to have the front parking spots in Union Square blocked off for that night and have also acquired the aid of the Hickory Police Department to assist us and 'chaperone' so to speak that evening while we shoot, so take comfort in knowing that the use of your service will be handled in a responsible and professional way. My alternate request with all this said would be to allow Marty and your working vehicle continue to make money for you, (and him,) that Saturday night, make you extra money and maybe save me a little as well. With the City of Hickory and the HPD involved, and being that we would literally be within a bird's eye view of Yellow Cab Headquarters, would it be possible to maybe use a "retired" or "out of service" cab of yours that evening instead of using a "fully functional" one. I know you have a couple of older models in the lot down there and all we would need for our production is basically the interior of the cab itself. We only have one shot where the cab pulls into the parking lot and from there the cab never moves. The only requirements we would need from this cab would be for the meter, interior and exterior lights to work. I would be happy to sign a waiver or contract stating that if any damage would come to this cab in anyway, I would be fully responsible for it. I would not ask this of you if the location were not less than a block from your headquarters and city workers would not be there to assist me in making the production a smooth and efficient one. I just felt you would make more money with a cab and driver out picking up fares, rather than stuck all night with a flat rate fare. I could possibly save a few dollars for hot chocolate that night, and it would spare less pressure on me knowing that Marty wasn't getting antsy to get somewhere or worried he is not getting what he needs or being entertained. (Not that he needs to be.)


Please consider this alternative and know that I will advertise you guys on my websites, cars, everywhere I go if we could meet in the middle on this. Heck, I'll come and clean cars for free for a month if that's what it takes. I will be back in town on Tuesday and would love to meet with you guys further regardless of whichdecision is made. My phone number is: (828)261-5606. Feel free to call me at anytime and I look forward to meeting again with you guys. Thank you for your patience and time on this.




Garrick Lane





September 20th, 2006 - I Love This Town

You know I love Hickory, NC. It's my hometown for one, (obviously,) and yes, I've had my times of doubt and hated it, (and still believe that with the profession I've chosen have no business living here.) But one of the reasons I love Hickory is the people are genuinely nice and good people. In this instance, I submitted a Special Events Application to assure myself the approval of blocking of three parking spots and acquiring necessary electricity to run my lights from their power for my shoot. I was skeptical at first, that the City of Hickory would reject my application being that I needed the resources on a Saturday night. If you've ever been downtown Hickory on Saturday night, there this place called 'Olde Hickory Tap Room' and this is where sixty-five percent of the people go to get salsed after a long week of work. It may very well be THEE most populated bar in Hickory on that particular night. Maybe the City of Hickory thought that my proposal was a positive thing given again, that my production would be blocking four parking spots hence keeping four less cars full of drunks into the heart of our town. Then again maybe they are just that nice, because not three days after my submittal, I was given a green light and carte blanche for my small production. AND—Would not even be charged for power? Hunh? That's it? Really? Just like that?

Yes, just like that. These are the perks of small towns. This why so many people migrate here. The important people of our town are open to any idea and do spend the time to make sure their townsmen are given what they need to succeed. That is a valuable commodity and I will never speak badly about this town again. In fact when it's time for the feature, "Debauchery," to go into production, you can best believe it will shot in and around Hickory and will be promoted there within.

Thank you to Teresa Hamby and the many others that assisted me in this approval. Your kindness will not go unnoticed.

With this goal easily accomplished it is on to the Hickory Police Department's approval on the PROP GUN. This one may not as easy---

Here is the email I received from Teresa not a week after I submitted my application:


Good Afternoon Mr. Lane

Good news! Your Special Event application has been approved by all departments. I will be mailing you a letter from the city manager's office that officially gives your company permission to film in our downtown area. There will not be any charge for power used with your temporary lights. Please call Phillip Rocket or Alex Brittain (who are with our Public Utilities Department) @ 828-323-7500 as soon as possible to arrange a meeting so that they can discuss the area where filming will occur and power connections that you may use. If you have any further questions or problems, do not hesitate to contact me.

Thanks and good luck on your movie!!

Teresa Hamby
City of Hickory
Development Assistance Center


Here is a schmetic of downtown Hickory and a birds eye view of where we'll be that fateful night if you would like to stop by and check out principle photography:


September 12th, 2006 - Storyboards

Like all my films I've done before, I shoot my own camera. I'm a lot of productions, (big or small,) the director focuses on directing the actors and reasoning behind the camera frame, while the Director of Photography focuses on painting the Director's canvas. My theory is yes, "The Michael Mann Theory," which I've come to call it. I am not so much a control freak but more an observer and who knows best of what action is and will be taking place in front of the camera. When I am shooting camera I have my real time playback. It makes it faster and more efficient. But I don't just pick up the camera and wing it. There is a method to my madness and those are my storyboards. I am a visual freak of nature. Everything I do from writing, shooting, editing and well everything is drawn first. I've over the years gotten real good at sketching things out in detail without losing a lot of productivity time so it makes it easy to convey my vision. I've always written better that I speak. Something happened a couple years back and I lost my ability to explain… I don't know exactly what happened, but it got lost and I can't do anything about it. So I have sketched out my scheduled shots on a couple pieces of neon paper for my cast and crew to understand. (The neon paper stands out so that they are easily found during the shoot.) I will probably add shots as I go, but the ones below are my main objective shots for the INTERIOR of the cab. I have yet to storyboard the finale.



Saturday, September 30, 2006

Chapter Fourteen - A Much Less Intense Ride Home

*It has been awhile since I have added a Chapter to the never ending saga of trying to make a movie. I have been rather busy and even experienced a real slump in motivation to write, (which you will hear about in the next chapter.) So if you are at all still interested the story continues now--


My eyes burnt and my head hurt as I left the Crazy Horse Strip Club. The owner agreed for me to do the job, but wanted me to shoot a spec commercial to show him. He didnt know me. He had not seen my work. I thought that to be fair considering he did what nobody else had done and that is sign a contract if my example was up to standards.  At that point I was excited, sure, but I just wanted to get home. Cutter waited at the bar for me. He had managed to drown his hangover out with a half pack of Camels and four Bud Lights. His meeting had not gone as well as mine. In fact, I had found out that morning that Cutter never really had an interview or meeting with the Party Bus guys. He had, on a whim, thought he would come down and talk to the guy because three days prior the guy said, come down here and check out the company. Cutter thought he would surprise him and show up, showing him he meant business. Two days prior, the guy had gone out of town. Cutter hadnt done his homework. I couldnt complain. I had potentially made a shit load of money. The trip back was less nerve racking, in fact almost too slow for my taste.


Cutter pulled into my driveway. His eyes bloodshot and bagged as he pushed out,


If you need a hand shooting that thing, let me know.


What the hell are you talking about, I returned.


He repeated his offer. I returned with, your fuckin wifes best friend is gonna be my model. No negotiations.


He looked at me shocked that I just blasted that out. I gave him no sarcasm back. I was dead serious and he knew it. An eternity passed before:


Ill call you tomorrow.


I exited the car. Mandi met me at the door. She tried to hold the Im pissed off. Dont touch me aura but it didnt matter. I was ready for the front line of a war, just so long as it came tomorrow morning. I grabbed my children, Payton and the Ball-Less Wonder, Vinyard and closed the bedroom door. Mandi would normally not allow me to take a nap anywhere or at anytime, but I think this time would be an exception.


As I lay on the bed, my ears still thumped, eyes still burned, I began wondering if this porn film was even needed anymore. Did it even need to be a part of my two year plan? I had so many other different projects I could invest time and more importantly money into. I would need $5000 to make one of my short films. I would need $10,000 to shoot the other. I would need at least $10,000 to begin shooting key scenes of my feature and those projects are just the beginning. I still have a horror script, drama script and Spielbergs On the Lot short that was due in December.


By that time, my mind was cloudy. Maybe I really had wasted seven months on a pipe dream that wasnt a good one. . A Professionally Made Gonzo Porno in the Heart of the Bible Belt? Was I stoned? Maybe thats why Wade fell off the wagon. Maybe he woke realizing what a sinner he was. 


I will deal with all this tomorrow, I whispered to myself.


Mandi busted in,


Dont you even think about going to sleep!!!!


I fired up nearly tossing my offspring onto the floor.


What the fuck happened in Myrtle Beach!!!???


Her face was as red as my sleep deprived eye lids.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Meter to be Shot!!!

The film is actually rolling this time around. I have kind of slowed down and set up appointments, meetings, and location testing yada, yada, for when I get back from Ryan’s wedding in Las Vegas. But the City of Hickory was more than happy to allow me to shoot downtown if I did not obstruct any roads. A nice cabby at Yellow Cab by the name of Marty has giving me a deal to rent him and his cab for $20 bucks an hour which in all sincerity is not a bad price. Since Yellow Cab is a block away from where we’re shooting I might try and work out a better deal with them. Maybe drive an older not in use cab up to the location and let us use it for cheaper. I am meeting with them after Labor Day to see if that will be possible.
And my arch nemesis from my high school years, Officer Grace, (now Sergeant Grace, of the Hickory Police Department has agreed to meet with me to get an arrangement made and give caution flags to the prop gun that will be used in the public for the final scene. I plan on filming all this. I always purchase the DVD’s that have a lot of "how they did it" featurettes and behind the scenes on it, so I figured I would do what i love and document everything.

I also have the front runners for the lead role submitting sides on video to me in the next week or two and I’ll be posting those talented guys as well. So anyway, as I blabber on, I’m stoked. I’ve waited too long to make the "hardest, small movie to make."

I’ll keep you posted.

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

F#&King Actors

*This is actually a post from my Production Journal and an email to all the -actors- involved.

Although this situation wont postpone production but maybe a week, I have to rant on yet another situation. My theory for North Carolina was this: It was cheaper and easier to produce a film in my hometown because you dont have to get permits and have resources upon resource to make it, BUT finding crew and talented actors is impossible. Making films in LA, your crew and cast is as easy as snapping your fingers but resources and finances are impossible. This was my Catch 22 theory. It has always been proven.

This production fits the criteria. The biggest thorn in my side is finding a lead and a couple of guys who do what I do and love itHell, they dont even have to love it. They can just like it and Id be a happy man. As of today, I have yet to find one crew member.
So I campaigned a different way, at least for the actors. I received twenty -two headshots. Yes, thats right. I received headshots. They were actors from Wilmington, NC(5 Hours away,) and Knoxville, TN(at least four.) There were about seven in an hour away radius, with the exception of one who was two and a half. I narrowed that down to five actors. ONE in Hickory-- Instead of having these guys come in from all over, (with gas prices and busy schedules,) I asked them to shoot themselves with a podunk camera or whatever acting my sides out. In this day and age, everybody and their mother has a video camera of some sorts and I thought I was being considerate by only costing these guys an hour of their time, a DVD, tape or some shit and a 65 cent posting fee, (yes thats right, Ive sent out plenty and thats how much it would cost.) They all praised me for not dragging them to Hickory for a whole afternoon.

Heres the rub--- These starving actors, some with actual agents dont send me an audition. What? And when I resent out the email, thinking maybe they didnt get the first one due to maybe the PDF of my script being too big this is what I got: Three confirmed that they had received the sides. The others never replied. The three that confirmed, again, never sent an audition tape.

So here it is guysThis is from a guy who has been in LA and NYC, who has had to send audition tapes, demos, short films to every contest, festival, agency, and studio you can imagine. And yes, Ive received probably 65% rejection letters, but the other 35% got me work. Ive been in front of the camera, behind the camera, and know the way Hollywood works. Hollywood is a very small place and if you get called in on an audition and miss it, if you are not Brad Pitt, they do what they call a Red Flag. You get too many of those Red Flags you willwell as cliché as it may be, never work in this town again. You dont have to worry about me on this situation obviously but remember that.

Oh wait, thats right. You are AMATEURS. You are actors who try to scoop up these big movies who pass through Charlotte, Wilmington and the other cities of North Carolina. You are looking for that big break-- That one second of being in the frame behind two extras behind a lead. You wait and wait---

Keep waiting. I, (and Im not the best example, but will do,) have put hours and hours, years and years of hard work into my craft. I have lost relationships with loved ones, gashed myself because we were out of fake blood, lived in a Jeep with my hundred pound lab, and studied every book, camera, editing system there is out there for the love of my craft. After almost ten years, I can finally say that all that hard work has paid off. Are you guys ready to do that for what you love? Are you ready to live in your car for a week to be the first in line for an open audition? I honestly dont think you are and if I could be so rude, you should go back to your job at TGI Fridays and start campaigning for the Managerial Job, because you will never make it. Even in North Carolina you dont stand out as a performer. Nobody cares. You should take the time to. Otherwise, you can keep waiting for the chicken suit extra role, so that you can tell your girlfriend or mother that you are a superstar. I personally will never use you for anything else again and actually may return your third rate headshots back to you to show you how little effort it takes to do anything that makes you feel good.

Anyway, since I began writing this rant my luck, (OR HARD WORK,) has paid off; Both roles are cast and weve picked up two crew members. I just need a couple more and its red team go.

Friday, September 1, 2006

Chapter 15 - Off To See The Wizard

1 Month Later

Its the third Saturday since I returned from Myrtle Beach. I stared at the computer screen. Photoshop, Final Cut Pro and Flash were open I wasnt doing anything. Just waiting for something to come along. I had been putting off doing a friend of mines short film. I wanted to have the right mind for it. That was four months ago. I checked my Myspace accountNothing. I didnt really care. I was done with that dumb shit anyway. No phone callsNo leadsNo dice. I wasnt writing. I wasnt shooting. I wasnt even thinking. Payton had a pacifier in her mouth. I had one in my ass. I had for the first time since I bailed from LA, hit the proverbial creative slump. I didnt want to do anything. I had no ideas for the submission for Spielbergs reality show. I had five short stories of my writing partner, Ricks, but just couldnt so much as read them. I couldnt do the little things such as updating my websites and well, taking a shower. Mandi was working a double so Payton, the dogs and I had some quality time.

I had five weeks prior, ordered a how to book on Flash. I had a thought of doing some serious animation for my sites or something cool with Vector Graphics, but I had also stumbled across a Special Edition of Wizard of Oz, that had a pretty good price on it. I had grown up with the movie and I thought, well, maybe I should go ahead and buy it. I could get Payton started early on it. Its only one of the greatest films ever made that didnt have violence, curse words or Harrison Ford in it.

Well, I had not even opened the box yet, due to my schedule, so I thought if I couldnt do anything else, I could sit in front of the boob tube and watch Oz. I hadnt seen it in ages. It was the perfect way to kill two hours of my boring, unproductive day.

As I started watching the film a sense of inspiration began to hit me as Scarecrow danced down the yellow brick road singing, If I Only Had a Heart. As the movie progressed, I found my synapses starting to spark and a wave of creative thinking began to hatch. I dont know what started it, but man, it was something else. Almost like sex with out the mess. By the time, the boys were sneaking into the witchs castle I was banging out To Do Lists, Mission Statements, Production Notes, Drawings and updating websites. When the movie ended, I quickly fed Payton, let the dogs out and transferred the movie to my laptop so that I could view it again in front of the editing bay. As I caught bits of clips and let the movie play out in my mind as I heard the soundtrack, I was cutting the first two scenes of Easy Mark,(my friends film.) After getting to a stopping point I pulled out my script of Meter and began revising a third draft that kicked ass. From there I was reading all of Ricks stories and drawing out sketches of how we could shoot it. I WAS ON FIRE!!!!

When the smoke cleared it was eight o clock. I was hungry so I opted to take a break. I had literally filled two small steno pads full of notes, sketches, and journal entries of my obsessive compulsive mind. After visiting with Mandi upon her return home from work, I went back at it. Mandi is addicted to Bingo and will play at anytime she can find, which sometimes pisses me off, but then other times when the creative juices are flowing, is a Godsend, just due to the fact, that she plays until two in the morning, leaving me extra hours of productivity.

Of course, that night I was cool with it. I went back to work, cutting the film. I had inadvertently planned my next four months and it didnt involve a porno. It was going to do real productions. Films--- This one, then Meter, then a film entitled Two Wrongs, that Rick had written that was excellent and all took place in a hotel room. That was it. Sunday was just as positive as Saturday was. I almost couldnt stand to leave the house. I still hadnt taken a shower, but what the hell. I was back and it didnt matter anyway. Mandi playing bingo until the wee morning hours really dampened any plans of me getting a little shagging time.

Dammit it felt good. I was off to see the fucking wizard, bitches!!!!

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

A Call to the Videography

This is an Editorial I was asked to write for Carolina Wedding Magazine. This is my second unedited draft.

I am a filmmaker who just so happens to make extra grocery money shooting
weddings. Granted, I make a lot of income on corporate, commercial videos and
now, website design, weddings still give me money to take my family to the beach or buy my amazing finance some kind of something. Weddings take me about 20 hours to complete from the time that I put the first DV tape into my deck until I rip the final DVD.
Let's face it-- Weddings, (if you know what you are doing,) are easy. I am a great and efficient editor if I have no other claim to fame, so maybe I dont know. That may make it faster for me, than some other "wedding videographer" hack out there or maybe, I can justify my twenty hours because I put the personal touch on it and take a little extra time to make my newlyweds really enjoy the product they trusted me to give them. One wedding videographer I talked to took a month to finish a wedding he had shot and the finished product was garbage. (He collected a $900 paycheck.)

I am not a blueprint videographer and I do not wear ties nor do I bullshit my clients on the day of their wedding. I live in North Carolina. I have six competitors in the area. Their prices are at the highest $2,400 to their absolute lowest, (one camera, two tape restriction nonsense,) $1,300--- And they are getting it. One of these guys was shooting weddings with two, 1 chip, $400 cameras and editing the video with--- MOVIE MAKER. What the hell is Movie Maker? This blockhead did not know what Final Cut Pro or Avid was. I mean--- What??? OK, there are other video editing software that you can get at novice and intermediate levels, but c'mon--- You should stay up-to-date on your craft. My father is a dentist and is retiring in four years and still reads every tooth periodical that comes into his office. I am on the cusp of upgrading all my equipment from Canon XLs to Sony HD Cameras and my competitors, (who by the way are all doing about 25% more business than me,)are shooting on Hi-8.

So you are asking yourself now, what is the point of this diatribe, (besides me bragging that my equipment is bigger than the other guys.)

OK, so here it is. Wedding Videographers--- Stop robbing people. Weddings are expensive. These kids are getting ready to start their lives and that money they pay you to document their special day would pay three to four of their mortgages otherwise. I know you guys, and the ones sitting there reading this looking over at your limp Canon Elura laughing all the way to the bank, learn some integrity. There is another looking at his Sony VX1000, which although is a better camera was discontinued in 2001, so I can assure you that the record heads on it are worn to nothing. I have thrown down the gauntlet. Spend some time editing, make some quality titles, DVD Menus, good transitions. Invest in some good editing software whether it be Sony Vegas, FCP, Avid, or Premiere. I challenge you to really learn the way of the samurai and earn that outrageous paycheck that you are receiving.
My starting price is $800 dollars and if you get my platinum package it comes in at $1100 and it gives you everything, and I mean everything, and even then I feel like that number may be a little high. I have shot twenty-two weddings and twenty-one of the newlyweds have been blown away by the finished product. One hated it, but with all due respect to her, she was not going to be pleased with anything anybody did. She sued her DJ, Cake Maker and Limo Driver. I was not on the list of the big sue. I gave her her money back and wrote it off being that it was my first wedding. I had originally charged her $150 bucks and shot it with two Canon GL-2s. That gives me the right to brag. That gives me the right to challenge you, untalented conmen to bring your prices down and raise your production.
For prospective newlyweds, I beg you to do your research and find the right videographer for the job. It does not have to be me, but for goodness sakes do not pay $2400 or anything over $1,300. Shooting and cutting weddings are not worth that kind of money even if we make the production look like Bridezilla.

Conmen--- Take a look at my timelines from my last two weddings---- That is what a a$1100 wedding video should look like when you drop it to DVD. Deal with it.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Chapter Thirteen - The Ant in the Sand

We stepped out of the car at The Wayfarer Hotel located on the infamous shit hole strip of Myrtle Beach. Cutter jumps right out, box in hand and a cigarette dangling from his mouth. I was not so fast. I had to spend time prying my hands out of the door handles and seat. As we walked to the office, I could not help but notice that I had been shaking my left hand for about two minutes and it had really become sore from gripping the proverbial oh shit handle for the last three and a half hours. We got a room and actually, managed to score the one we had always gotten on any of our excursions down. From Senior Week to Just for the hell of it, we managed to score Room 201. It was the biggest room and overlooked the road that at night would become a sea of white trash in bathing suits.
The room was just like we left it years before and after I moved the twin bed on the right, I found that our names had been preserved from where we carved them in the wall next to the girls we had mounted in the room from the years earlier. That brought the first smile to my face of the trip. Cutter was already in the bathroom powdering his nose. He came up for air just enough to tell me to fix us a shot of Cuervo. I knew mixing alcohol in Myrtle Beach with Cutter, an automobile and meetings was going to be the worst idea in the history of bad ideas, but after that death defying trip with Satan behind the wheel, I felt it to be the best decision I would make. Cutter exited the bathroom. His nose was already becoming raw with glimpses of redness and irritation around the edges. He was just one of those guys that could not stand anything but fast and furious when it came to his unstable health. He had said he was getting it all out of his system before little Ashton comes. That was a fucking excuse. He had always had a reason. I chose not to be Sister Mary anymore. I agreed and that was that.
Lets go grab a steak, he exclaimed, swigging from the bottle. Apparently, my drink pouring had not been up to his gluttonous standards.

OK, so for anybody familiar with the effects of cocaine, doing six lines, (of what I had counted him doing,) and grabbing a steak fit together like mayonnaise on a biscuit. When you do coke, you would be lucky to manage a whole bottle of water passed your esophagus. And when was the last time, you saw a coke or crack addict that was hefty around the edges sporting a triple chin, talking about being rock bottom? I had not done any coke so a steak was not going to be a problem for me and I will be honest, I Cutters fat ass didnt have a problem with it either.

We were half way through our steaks before I decided to cut the small talk.

Do you have a plan, I asked him.

Plan on what?

I mean, did you bring the pie charts I made you. The spreadsheet, the business proposal, did you bring them?

Nah. This is an informal meeting, he assures me.

I could not believe my ears. You know, dudeI worked my ass off on those and you are talking about an informal meeting? There are no informal meetings when you are talking business. You come with your plan. You sell your plan. You are not Martin Luther King, you dilldo. You cant just walk in and tell them you have a dream.

I was just gonna walk in, meet them, tell them my plan and show them some examples of what I plan on doing, he said so non-shalantly.

Then you were going to give them the proposal after they tell you no, I hit back with sarcasm.

You know me better than that, Garrick. Im a salesman. I know how to work them.

Out of at least seventy business ventures of his, he had not worked one. I chose not to say anything at all. He ordered two more drinks for us. I was reluctant, but went ahead and drank it. I in the years after college, had trained myself to have a little restrain when it came to this. Cutter, well, he had not.

FAST FORWARD to 3:00am.

We had hit three bars. Cutter had passed out the last of his thirty business cards and I find myself on the sand getting really pissed that I am still up. Granted, the tequila shots had gone from three to about nine, but I had stopped around one. They were still taking effect. Cutter had gotten in one of his down on himself moods, probably to the excessive drinking, smoking and snorting he had done through out the night. When he got into these moods, he had always scared me, because instead of shaping up and getting it together, he would continue to binge until he would end up in a diabetic seizure, so I sat with him, biting my tongue. Through out the night, I had kind of juggled the idea of my prospective meeting in a couple of hours. Almost like a break through. In the past seven months of attempting to get this porn made, I had become a father, rekindled my friendship with the guy I had aimed to impress by doing the movie and learned some hard lessons about trust, dollars & sense, (yes, I meant to spell it that way,) and the real bullshit way of reality. I had always put off making a real film, justifying it by not be able to raise money for a market that has become oversaturated with shit movies by the abundance of high end digital cameras.

So many wannabee filmmakers had put stars in old golfing business mens eyes only to end up pissing the money away on yet another Pulp Fiction remake. There are no more suckers out there and if there are, they are investing on the web.

This was my excuse or my cop out if you want to look at it that way, but here I was out talking to suckers trying to raise money to make an adult film. The only difference in the two was that it was easier to guarantee money back on an adult movie. I had hit snag after snag and the only guy that put a check in my hand was more interested in my mainstream movie anyway. Maybe I didnt have to shoot a porn. Maybe I could pull one of my scripts out of mothballs and start dual selling my first idea with my real dream and just see what happens. I would not be back tracking I thought to myself. Suddenly, the idea of shooting a bunch of strippers for a couple thousand didnt sound so good anymore.

.WOW I was real tired. Money was money. This meeting had to happen and looking at my phone which was almost out of battery due to the abuse it had taken when Mandi kept hanging up on me and I kept calling back a couple hours earlier, and it said 4:30am, I knew I had to get salesman on his feet and get a couple hours. I looked over and he was out. Mouth open and snoring. I wanted to drop a jellyfish in it. I knew Cutter. It wasnt just a bucket of water to the face or a honey, its time to get up. It was starting a gasoline bonfire under his ass to get him to open an eye after a night of binging.

I looked around. The beach was empty. There was always a call to the police on semi-powered phone. There was leaving him there, knowing the tide had already gone out. There was pulling, dragging and carrying him-------

Or I could just push him out to sea..

Sunuvabitch, I said to myself, Im gonna need a couple hits of that coke just to get the strength to haul this beached whale back to the aquarium.

I looked in his pocket, opened his vile, only to verify what I already knew. He had already done it all. I guess I was going to find out what its like to be an ant.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Vegas Baby!!!

OK, so for anybody that does read this shit and has wondered if I had lost interest in writing it... Yes I had. Not really though. I have been slammed with work. I am working on a short film, landed two big jobs that pay big money, editing another short that has to be cut by the Sundance deadline and have shot weddings on three back to back Saturdays, so needless to say, I have not even thought about this thing. I used to sit on the toliet with my pen and pad and write my Chapters and Journals of the neverending BS of trying to make my movie. The cool thing is as I type them on this Myspace crap, the stories you read have happened nearly two months prior, so a little break from the story won't let me forget what has happened.


Anyway, as busy as I was, I took three days off and went to the beach with the family. Having to tear my self away from editing bay, servers, internets, cameras, I still found myself working. In between beach visits I began constructing a web page to advertise and hype up the August trip to Vegas where Ryan and Jess are getting married. That's just one of the cool parts, because, the old posse I used to run with in LA for years are all going. I have not seen some of them a long while. I stumbled across some old DV tapes of some of the dumb things we did while we were out and thought it'd be cool to send out various videos to their comment section of their Myspace profiles. The problem was that I had done so many that I couldn't remember who and which I had sent to. So I made a page of them all for anybody to check out. For people outside the crew, you may not find some of the funny, but then again you may. Some are not funny, just nostalgic. Some are funny, or inside jokes. I will continue to post more as I find them in the sea of BS tapes I have accumulated over the years.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Chapter Twelve - The Party Bus

With five grand closer to my goal and no more oil wells to tap on the list, I took a break. I had a short film to edit and some other corporate jobs to finish to keep up my proper reputation as a media company. Wade was lost. He had emailed me one night but the thpe was so unreadable in its word structure that I chose to ignore it. I had planned at that point in time not to say anything else to him or Cutter about the movie. I was just going to wait until after I scored the rest of the money and was a week away from shooting. I wanted them to think I had given up so I could throw it in their face when it actually happens.
Cutter and I still stayed in touch, three or four times a week. We just didnt talk about the business venture anymore. He had moved on to his next project. He had for many years spoken of a concept he wanted to capitalize on, which of course, I blew off every time. He wanted to get a loan and start up a Party Bus business. A Party Bus Business is a simple concept with only a few legal obstacles to go through and a location where it would be needed. He wanted to go to Myrtle Beach with it. These Party Buses would be rented out for Bachelor Parties, Frat Parties, Dances, Bands, etc and in most cases, would be stocked with booze and entertainment. The bus would drive you around to the bars, sites, wherever your group needed to go and the bonus was, you could all party together instead of having to flag a cavalry of cabs. I thought it to be a good idea but never offered my assistance for the simple reason that I didnt have time to go to Myrtle Beach and back, nor did I know where to begin on a venture like this. I told Cutter I would help him in anyway I can, but he would have to know which direction to go.

As he began making calls and connections he met the Owner of the Crazy Horse Strip Club down there. They were chit-chatting back and forth and of course if it meant a strip club owner investor for Cutter, he was dropping our name for the porn. The Owner was not so interested in the Party Bus idea, but as it just so happened, was looking for video work. He was rebuilding his website and wanted to shoot every dancer he had in these little tease set ups where they talked to the camera fully clothed, teasing the horny men of the world, inviting them to come see them on the nights they were set to work.
That was something I had never thought about, but was ecstatic about. This would be some good tape for me to have and if he had ten to twelve dancers, that would be a nice chunk of change. Cutter scheduled a meeting with some prominent investors for his bus endeavor and planned a meeting between the Owner and I. They were all to be conducted on a Saturday, due to the hectic schedule of all of our real jobs. Mandi was not happy, obviously, because she did not trust Cutter to keep a basketball out of a busy road when he was not even dribbling it. She could not go to keep an eye out on me and neither could his wife. They worked in the service industry, so missing a Friday night could be detrimental to ones paycheck. She finally agreed that if we were just going to be one night she would be OK with the road trip. I promised her we would not get in any trouble. She did not believe me. I finally comforted her and the trip was set. We were to leave Friday after work and return Saturday night the following day. I actually began to become excited on Thursday. I had not been anywhere since I ventured to Rhode Island to see Ryan, so an escape to even the next town would have been OK. I had not been to Myrtle Beach since I was twenty-one and that last trip had been a great one. Granted, I was without child, girlfriend or the amount of bills I had garnered today, but nevertheless, I withdrew a hundred and fifty bucks, left my credit cards and packed a bag.
Cutter picked me up from the house at about dusk. I kissed Mandi good-bye and headed to the car. I looked back to reassure her. She had a look on her face like she was never going to see me again.
I hopped in the car and Cutter of course exited in his normal fashion by throwing gravel all over my yard as he peeled through the driveway. The music was loud and Cutter had the biggest shit-eating grin on his face I had ever seen.

What is it?

What, he asked.

Dude, I know you. What are you thinking?

Cutter pulled a box out of the backseat and demanded I look in it. I opened the top and my heart sank Mandi never trusted Cutter and she had always been right. The box contained a half gallon of Jose Cuervo, an ounce of shwag, and a vile, probably a sixteenth of coke.

He looked over at me and I swear I saw, John Candy in the devil suit laughing sadistically, as he did in Planes, Trains and Automobiles.

FUCKIN MYRTLE BEACH, DADDY!!!! He screamed as he dropped his Mercedes into third and peeled down the road.

Oh dear God, was all I had time to say before I lost my breath.


Wednesday, June 14, 2006

My Wrestling Addiction Silenced....

Ive been a wrestling fan as far back as I can remember. I believe my first PPV, I ever paid for was Wrestlemania IV, but had been a fan since Wrestlemania II, but did not have the resources to buy the PPV, (this is I remember correctly.) Of course this wrestling craze would go on and off as life took me in different directions. Upon leaving High School, my wrestling days were over. I had films to make.

Three years later, my good friend from film school, Mike Philly Ward was watching WCW one night while I was drawing storyboards in our living room. It was during the N.W.O and Wolfpack era. Twenty minutes in, I put my sketchbook down and began watching the circus. By the second hour, I was sprung again, but this time is was different. I WAS SPRUNG. Wrestling would change my life this time. I began working out hard as hell. I looked at the Rock and Triple H and wanted to look like that or at least something like that. I got healthy, quit smoking and really ended up letting my new little fad take over my life. Months after the initial infatuation, I began writing my mockumentary about backyard wrestling that would later become a movie that was praised as, ingenius, and hilarious. At the pinnacle of my wrestling era, I had made a great movie, buffed up to 195 lbs of muscle, contributed to writing for some of the smaller wrestling federations in the SoCal area and landed the girl of my dreams.

If you are not familiar with the Jobbers film CLICK HERE

Upon the burn out that ended that era, I vowed never to watch wrestling again and have lived up to that promise. Sure, Ill check the websites to find out whats going on, but I do not watch it, nor do I care to watch it. I met some friends at one of side jobs that wrestle in a small federation in the Charlotte Area. They caught me on a good day and I offered to shoot their show for them. I thought it would be fun, maybe pick up a couple extra bucks, and meet some new friends.

We worked out a deal for me to shoot their supershows which are basically equivalent to pay-per-views. I have shot two so far and being around the wrestling aura again has not changed me. I still dont feel it. In fact, I dont even like cutting the actual wrestling matches. Theyve got some cool talent and of course on the way home from the shows, I write one of theirs in my head. Its fun. Nothing more.

BUT, the openers of these shows are what I have found to be my motivation to continue to do it. Ive become a much better editor since the first cut of Jobbers and being that they actually wrestle in a ring and know moves, makes for great footage to make a kick ass, knock your dick in your watch pocket opener. These little one-minute snippets are the only thing that ties me to my wrestling addiction I was once plagued with. These are the things I couldnt do back in my hay day, so call it, writing the final chapter.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Chapter Eleven - The Film Buff Investor

A friend of a friend set me up with his old boss. I was weary, due to the wash I had been taking with all my other friends connections. I chose to go because I knew of him. He occasionally invited us to his basement where he had built his own private screening room and I mean a swank screening room with digital sound. He had a vault closet full of 35mm and 16mm films from Rambo to Pulp Fiction and he owned every film ever made either on DVD or VHS. We shared some Hollywood stories. I had already heard the one where Tarantino had actually flown into Charlotte, drove to Lenoir and purchased his 35mm print of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and had actually brought a 35mm print of The Wild Bunch, to view in his screening room. This was a proven fact which I thought to be cool considering I was sitting right where Tarantino had roosted when he had been here two years earlier. I had no Hollywood stories, with the exception of arguing with Ed Norton about a Drivers License before settling on a difference of opinion and buying each other a drink, but I told it anyway. When I arrived he had the film schedule for the evening planned out. We were to watch a 16mm print of Cannibal Holocaust and then a 16mm print of Deep Throat. After the movies were over we would talk business. I had seen Cannibal Holocaust a couple of times before and I liked it for its Shock Cinema effect, but just didnt rank it very high on my Top 300 movie list. Deep Throat, I could deal with. I loved the story behind it and had not seen it in many years. Hell, I could have been forced to watch Meet the Deedles and Kazaam and would have been completely content just so long as the meeting about my movie took place.
He had worked at the local United Artist theatre since he was seventeen. He was promoted to Manager at the age of 21 and still now at the ripe age of 45 lived with his parents, so when he was twenty-eight, he acquired a loan and bought the United Artist theatre and became the proprietor of it, thus making him some real money, doing what he loved to do. I had to hand it to him, with the exception of still living with his parents and still not paying a dime for bills. With all the money Ive made in my lifetime, I could have funded the fourth installment of the Indiana Jones franchise, had I never had to pay for rent, bills and groceries. Still, he had a plan and he followed through with it and was sitting pretty. His parents were in the upwards of eighty, so he was the soul heir to their paid house and was more than anxious to turn the whole place into his film shrine.

So I am getting a little uncomfortable half way through Deep Throat, because I cannot help but notice that this guy has been rubbing his unit very discreetly for the past ten minutes. Were in the middle of, one of the smaller scenes and Im thinking, Oh, God, hes a fucking dirty old man and hes gonna ask me to suck him off before hell cut me a check. I knew there was going to be catch.

The movie went off and he brought up the lights. Here it goes.

Step into my office, sir, he commanded in a cool and calm way. His office was just a desk behind the theatre seats. It was riddled with Voorhees, Leatherface, Mike Myers and Pinhead bobble heads. I wish I knew him better. With everything I had seen here, I wanted to be included in his will.

So Sean tells me you are making a movie.

I rattle off a different reply than normal, Thats the plan.

Why a porn? Why not a low budget horror or drama movie? Shoot it on HD?

I had an answer for that.

Well, I have a two year plan. The doors open quicker when you are talking Smut. It is also a lucrative business, so I figure, I shoot a year, year and half at about four to five movies in that frame of time, take the profits of mine, match them with an equally interested investor and shoot my mainstream.

You have a script, he asked.

I was not real sure how to answer that.

Uh, porns, well at least Gonzos dont really need one.

I mean for the mainstream, he clarified.

DuhIm an idiot.

Yeah, I have half of it done. My computer crashed and I managed to save it off my second internal, so Im just waiting for that time to get back into it. First thing is first you know.

He paused. Looked around. He took forever. I was ready for anything.

Im more interested in the mainstream movie. Id like to take a look at what you have.

I assured him, I would have it to him in a week. He paused again.

Alright, I tell you what.

Here it came. The catch. The shut out. The let me think about it.

Sean says youre good for it, so Im willing to give you five. Ill cut you a check, but you cannot touch it until youve raised the rest, he said almost too easily.

I assured him that I never would dream of touching it until I had all twelve.

You make me some money back on this, and well talk about that mainstream film.

I could not believe this. I was still waiting for the catch.

He continued on, You know, Ive written script upon script and just cannot seem to find that thing you need for a good one. Not to mention, I wouldnt have the foggiest idea how to put it together and get it shot. Sean says youve done it all.

I confirmed Seans compliment.

Im a film critic. A film watcher if you will, he explained. I assured him there was nothing wrong with that.

Thats the best thing to be. There are no headaches. Stress or insanityUnless of course you are watching a movie like Alone in the Dark.

He laughed for the first time the whole night.

Come down to the theatre tomorrow after noon. Ill have you a cashiers check. Are you interested in any of the movies at my theatre?

I thought about it and remembered, The Inside ManIm a huge Spike Lee fan, even if he does hate white people.

Its a great film. Come down grab your check, get a popcorn and soda and Ill let you check it out. That matinee starts at four.

I thanked him generously, still waiting on the catch.

If thats it. I gotta go cook my parents some dinner. You like meat loaf? Do you wanna stay for dinner, he asked sincerely.

I lied. The thought of eating with his family felt awkward to me considering I had just forgotten his last name.

Suit yourself. I wouldnt stay either. I cant cook meatloaf to save my life, but my father loves it.

He had seen right through me and didnt care.

I left his house and immediately jumped on the phone and called Sean. I praised and praised him for the hook-up.

GoodNow you can hook me up with a blow job from one of those bitches, he joked.

He was married. For once that request had been funny.

Take me and my wife out to dinner when YOU COME DOWN AND SEE ME, he sarcastically commanded.

I agreed. He lived in Myrtle Beach. I told him I would rearrange my schedule.

The next day, I showed up at his theatre. He was working the box office. I walked up, again ready for the rub.

One? He role-played.

One for the Inside Man, please, I role-played back.

He hit his button, popped out a ticket, slid it through the little hole with an envelope and a coupon for a free popcorn and drink.

I looked at him smiling. He winked at me.

Enjoy the show.

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