Monday, April 27, 2009

The Aviator Editing Sin

When you've watched a film as many times as I have watched 'The Aviator',(or any other film,) sooner or later you are going to catch the Editing, and Continuity problems of any of them. The Aviator was snubbed for best picture of the year losing to Million Dollar Baby which was a great film to lose to BUT Thelma Schoonmaker who edits all of Scorcese's films won for Best Editing. She's a fantastic editor and hell won an oscar for her editing BUT I found a mess up and as small as it may seem to many people, to an editor it is one of the carnal sins that Thelma and her team or the Weinsteins or even Scorcese should have caught. I double checked my itunes mp4 to my DVD version and the mess up is in both which leads me to believe-- It's in all the Masters down to the 35mm print. At 1:30:08 into the film, Howard, (Leonardo DiCaprio,) is trying to pay a reporter, (cameo by Wilem Dafoe,) to bury some pictures of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn together trying to prevent them from going to press. On the third still of the montage of paparazzi pictures right when Leonardo says, "All the negatives," there is one stray frame from a scene fifteen minutes earlier. The still is of a close up of Howard's girlfriend. This frame wasn't intentional. This is a stray frame that wondered down the timeline and somehow never got seen or removed. Below is the frame before the stray frame and the frame after the stray frame.

This mess up gives me hope. If a Master Editor and Directors like Scorcese and Producers like the Weinsteins and Michael Mann can miss this "amateur hour mistake." I've got nothing to worry about when they turn my rock over.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

My Theory on Filmmaking

My Theory on Filmmaking--

There's three ways to make a film. So many filmmakers or should I say non-filmmakers want their films done--


That request is impossible so I always tell anybody that approaches me about Producing any project I tell them this:

Pick two because:

You want it Cheap and Good-- Aint gonna' be fast
You want it Good and Fast-- Ain't gonna' be cheap
You want it Cheap and Fast-- Ain't gonna' be good.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Epic - A Hero's Journey

Epic was a fantasy story I had been compiling over the years. I had originally planned on doing this “world” I created as a children’s book, but one day sitting in the Century City Shopping Center patio area, I began writing my story in scenes as if in screenplay form. It just started flowing. Before I knew it I had written about forty notebook pages worth. It was wonderful. I escaped into this surreal island and sea world. I was sketching as I wrote. I had missed the movie I had been there to see twice and was still sitting there when they were turning the lights off.

The Langston Dominion was fresh and vivid in my imagination and yes it resembles Star Wars, The Goonies etc… You’ve got a group of kids that fight the most evil army in the sea on their quest to find a mythical magical relic that will free their people of their home land’s dictatorship. It is your ‘Hero’s Journey’ story, Joseph Campbell wrote about for years and years. This theory is also used in half the novels, movies and even video games that are out there now. It is basic mythology and Mr. Campbell’s philosophy of how the hero in a man or woman is found through conflict and what they call thresholds.

My story is just completely different in its setting, time and location. My world is a jungle infested Greece BC with a slight turn on Never Never Land.

The boats do not have motors, yet they have discovered a propeller style mechanism that four men put their backs into a gear system to get it moving. They have cannons yet utilize the catapult systems quite often. They call days, “moons”; seconds and minutes, “ticks and shades”; coins, “stones”; boats, “floats,” and that is just to name a few.

They have creatures, humans and creature humans on these island countries. There what they call “Fathers” who are in a sense the leaders or mayors of the particular villages. They have a high class as well as a middle and low class of people. Biased politics run the islands that tend to cause trouble for the lower class as it does in America today. The island where the group we are following live in sort of, capitalistic society to an extent.

Now that I’ve given a little description of some idiosyncracies of my world and we’ve stopped on politics, it’s time to get into the heart of the story and how it’s become to be Epic.

If you know me, you know the story of my father and I leaving the local cineplex years back. The story where we had just seen ‘Raiders’ for the first time and I looked at him as he unlocked the car doors, and said, that’s what I want to do when I get older. Dad thought I meant, be an archieologist. I meant filmmaker. And since those old days of watching Star Wars, The Goonies, Batman and Indy on the celluloid I had dreamt of writing a fantasy/adventure script. Movies of this genre have always fascinated me. They’ve touched the imagination inside of me, spawning many days in the woods with my childhood friends, re-enacting these movies and even adding our own little sequels and stories to them. These movies also spawned my drawing ability. Instead of playing Nintendo like my friends at a little older age, I chose to draw my own adventures with my hero character I called, Elan. He was the heir of the Village Leader in this Jungle/Fantasy world. There were all sorts of evils, goods and monsters in this world and paper just wasn’t enough to tell my story. I had been animating on my Apple IIc since I was light so I sat down in front of it and started animating a kind of “which way book.” If you don’t know what that was, back in the day they had these books you would read where you would have to turn to page 13 or turn to page 69 depending on which action you chose to do and you either died, went on a different adventure or conquered that particular book. Well I did this in a computer program. Back then, (God I hate saying that,) computers still had green monitors and came equipped with just 2x2 block pixels. I would pixel by pixel create these monsters, bad guys and good guys that Elan, my hero, would meet on the way and would have to make decisions in your adventure just like a role playing game, where you would either prevail or parrish. It was quite tedious, but my friends and family would fancy me by sitting down and doing it forcing themselves to play the Atari-Esque game.

Flash Forward, nearly 16 years later, to my sophomore year in college where I wrote the screenplay, Epic. The first draft of it was 370 pages long and it was the well polished real vision of my jungle/fantasy world come to life. I cut the script down to a lean 134 pages and started shopping it. The story engulfed my life. I drew storyboards, cartoon characters, location sketches, I mean this was all I did for a year.

Nothing came of that script. This was before the Lord of the Rings and after the 13th Warrior bombed, so studios were not looking for this kind of script. The only thing I had going for me was it was right after the Titanic Craze where studios were indeed scooping up spec scripts involving young love stories set on a large scale adventure canvas. After accepting that I would probably have to be in the “Hollywood Circle” first to shop this script I put it away, but only after writing two sequels to it, (treatments only.) I guess what I’m getting at with this is that movies like this are the movies that now are coming back into popularity.

These are the movies that stimulate your imagination and skew your vision on everything. You see so many irrational “blow ‘em up movies” that don’t hold their weight in water. On the other end you have the movies such as Wizard of OZ, The The Goonies, LOR Trilogy, and heck, Indiana Jones for that matter are movies that are YEAH completely farfetched but work. These are the movies that Hollywood should be making. They say the reason they don’t do these movies more than they do are because the American people have gotten “dumb” over the years and don’t want to think or use their imagination anymore.

Contrary to what “money men” say, I believe the American People have become smarter, but have gotten brainwashed and dulled through “reality shows” and their attention spans have been shortened due to the computer and internet age we have found ourselves in. With that said and the marketing value of films like Indy Jones IV, Transformers and even Pixar Studios Midas Touch imaginative risks are being takened again. My agent spoke of this and had read my treatment for Epic and another Post Apocalyptical slash Western and DEMANDED me to break out the blue pencils and get them short and tight so instead of pursuing my original schedule of doing some productions, I’m cutting back the actual camera time for some more typewriter time while I wait the fate of Jeopardy’s acceptance to film festivals. “You gotta’ make it in the door fast at this point, son. If you shoot more films, you’re spending another couple of years developing, shooting and editing and by that time Jeopardy will be obsolete. You can’t bring two kids to New York or Los Angeles at this point to spend three years shooting music videos and other small time productions so I will employ you to take your best and biggest ideas you have and get them to me ASAP. You get in on a Spec Script, doors will open in many different avenues,” my rep told me being honest about my idea to continue working on “independent films.” I have no ego. If a guy who’s been around this business a lot longer than I have is telling me to do it his way, by God, that’s what I will do.

Here are some of the old sketches and things I did while writing Epic years ago.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Face to Face with ONE EXAMPLE OF GREED

This is a conversation almost word for word I had with a couple of guys who recruited me off craigslist for a Contract Final Cut Pro Editor job. I thought it fitting to what is going on in America right now and the premise is one of a million incidents of greed that has put us all in troubled times. I put it in script form.



Garrick waits outside clutching his laptop. Mildly relaxed, which is never the M.O for this kind of meeting. Maybe he knows something WE don’t.

Man #1 opens the door. Mildly dressed. Not professional. Shocker.

MAN #1: You Garrick?

GARRICK: (confident) Unless you’re a lawyer...

Man #1 doesn’t get the joke. Maybe he was not listening. Maybe the joke was no good.

MAN #1: This way.

Garrick sits facing Man #1 and Man #2, his partner, identically dressed down to the sideways hat and two hundred dollar Air Jordans.

The Men watch Garrick’s Demo on a laptop computer. Both seem entertained.

Garrick picks at his fingernails. He has seen it a couple of times.

Man #1 cuts the demo off.

MAN #2: (pause) Damn!

MAN #1: That’s a great demo. You may be one of the best we’ve seen so far.

Garrick rolls his eyes.

GARRICK: Thank you.

MAN #2: Alright, so here’s what we are willing to offer you. We do about thirty five percent of the Triad’s television spots. We’re looking for an editor to come in one to two days a week and cut the spots we shoot. We pay $300 a spot..... Sound like something you’d be interested in?

Garrick thinks about it knowing he can cut thirty second spots in five hours or less. Easy money even though his normal going rate is around seventy an hour.

GARRICK: Yeah sure. I would love to do it.

Man #1 smiles. Figures this much.

MAN #1: Well what we’re going to have you do... Cut maybe three or four spots depending... If we think you prove yourself on those spots we’ll start paying you.


GARRICK: (long pause; almost a smirk knowing this conversation was going to end this way) Nope.

Man #1 stops for a beat.

GARRICK: Prove myself? I’m a certified FCP editor. I don’t have to “prove” myself to anybody, especially you guys.

MAN #2: Na see what [name excluded] means is we wants to see if your style coexists with ours.

GARRICK: (pause) Again... I’m a Doctor of the Chop. You give me fabric, I make the dress...

There’s another long pause.

GARRICK: Or should I just blow your cover now. I saw this all the time in LA. You tell me-- work hard, do a couple of jobs for you to “prove” myself or to see if I’m a fit in your “company.” Meanwhile, you’re lining up the next editor to come in when my three job gig is up noting that “our styles didn’t coexist,” relieving you of having to pay me like the many guys before and sure to be after me. And meanwhile to that meanwhile you’re pocketing at least a thousand dollars you’ve allotted in your client’s budget for editing and not paying anybody but yourselves anything. You doing your camera men the same way?.... Don’t answer that, I know already.

The room silences.

GARRICK: Guys like you two make it hard for the hard working skilled guys like me to make a living doing this. Guys like you are the reason our economy is in the proverbial crapper so to speak.

Garrick begins packing his computer. Nothing is said.

GARRICK: Good luck with your exploitations.

MAN #1: Hate you feel that way, bro. You’re missing out on a great opportunity.

Garrick turns back to them.

GARRICK: No, “bro.” You’re missing out the opportunity... And ruining others.

Garrick reaches the door and turns to them one last time.

GARRICK: And you guys don’t plan on paying anybody.... At least don’t insult us and raise the flat rate a little. What’s it matter right? Nobody but you gonna’ get a dime of it.

Garrick exits.


Greed. These guys right here are probably quoting around $3500 a spot to these companies and “interning/cheating” their labor out of everything and pocketing ALL $3500 of it leaving the hired principles out to dry thinking they did something wrong after “being let go.” The most horrible part of this is-- I don’t think it’s illegal.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

More Production Storyboards

Some more storyboard art for my latest picture. Done in Ink and gray paint.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Gem of a Seedy Hotel

With times changing and people wanting to pay more money for more security, the "enter from the outside" style motel room is all but dead in even some of the most obscure cities in the country. You still see them sure-- Most of them still pumped in security features such as card entry, surveillance cameras and even upon entering the stinch of Ikea style build up furniture and colorful tacky decor is evident giving it the feel of "new" or "newly remodeled." For Two Wrongs, it needed to be seedy. I mean the seedy I spent my high school years partying in because one, it was cheap and two, the owners would rent to seventeen year olds because they didn't worry about the place being more damaged than it already was.

In Hickory, fifteen years ago, finding a hotel room with the old "stench" with old rundown couches and scuffed furniture would be no problem whatsoever. These days-- It may actually be a little harder. The two places I had in mind were no longer an option as one did the standard "upgrade" on their rooms and the other, the opposite getting condemned for lack of care.

One of my silent partners, (in the next sentence, not so silent,) Manish Patel got me the proverbial "hook up" in the Icard Inn in Icard, North Carolina. From the old school "key entry from the outside" to "old blanket coverings for the furniture," this place was it. I actually in all my years of doing this had never really been 100% on the locations my small budgets have forced my productions to call home. This one was a first. It is perfect.

Now, as far as the rumors that this production may get put on the back burner-- Well the rumor may be true. There is a lot going on with my company right now and I'm finding less time and less focus on another film right now. I'll get in to more detail as soon as I make a decision. As for now, we're still shooting in May. Here is the actual room, the film will be taking place in.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Two Wrongs Production Design Process

One of my favorite elements of my films are the customization of the little things. Production Design is very important to any film and it helps take care of the little details. I believe in imagination and I also believe in using the P.D as sort of an inside joke. In Jeopardy, (although many magazines never actually appeared in the movie,) the Magazines and Newspapers were riddled in inside jokes, rips on my friends and even tributes. It's always been this way for every film with the exception of 'Meter' and even then, one line Charles delivered early on in his rage was taken completely from a friend of mine's bag o' insults, "Slut Bag." With that said even as small a film and scale as my next film, "Two Wrongs" is, it doesn't exclude it from the "G" touch. There are with the exception of 4 prop guns and 2 throwaway cell phones, 3 key props. A hard pack of cigarettes, a bag of tortilla chips and a jar of salsa. That opens up possibilities for our own custom brand names.

Obviously, the cigarette brand will be carried over from 'Jeopardy's' newsstand favorites, "Squares." of course this time around Derrick, our main character will smoke the "Berry Blend."

Then the jar of salsa will be a shout out to my good friend, Doug Wall, using his moniker, P. Wall as the inventor of the Pickled Picante.

Then the actual bag of chips, was still working on a name until Adam Parlier, who is my second in command on this picture with the abscence of Ryan, said, "I was thinking something like Parlito's." Obviously taken from his last name. I thought why not. In Jeopardy, the fake Mayor's name was "Mayor Weitz" named directly after Ryan Weitz, the Executive Producer, Producer and DP on the project. Why not do it again for this one. So Parlito's it will be.

This is the fun stuff, I love to see materialize.

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