independent movie

More Mustache!

CasonVO* Cason Murphy did a great job on his voice over work.

Andrew and I spent most of last week at Matt’s as Dead Votes actors congo-lined through the studio to record their ADR and voice over bits. Judy Stahl had the toughest job – lots of ADR for her – which she handled with patience and persistence. I was also thrilled that we got exactly zero flack for asking folks to give up a few hours (or more, for Judy) during the hectic pre-holiday dash to come and talk, growl, and cheer into the mic. We are so lucky to have such great folks to work with!

But the coolest and most bizarre thing was watching the hubster direct. Who would have thought phrases like “More mustache!” and “Try hipster HAL (from 2001 Space Odyssey)” would be so damn effective? I wouldn’t have, but I guess that’s why Andrew is the director and I’m the producer. Kevin Goss (Blaine Walpole) changed the way he held his mouth after the “more mustache” direction and gave us exactly what we were looking for. Cason Murphy also managed to pull off not only a “Hipster HAL,” but also a “carefree Hipster HAL” voice.

As expected, there was a lot of laughter in the studio. I have no idea how other folks work on movies since this is our first, but I don’t think I’d like working on a movie where there wasn’t lots of laughter and silliness. I mean, I understand that there are serious movies that require a bit more gravity. Really, I get it. But I have to say that if I’m going to commit all the time and effort it takes to see a project through, it had damn well better be fun. So I will ALWAYS say yes to laughter on set and in studio. Always, always, always.

Until next time…viva los zombies!

Turn the Amp to 11

We’re still running flat out to get a final edit ready to hand off to Matt Jackson next week so he can get started on the sound track for Dead Votes Society. After looking at all the footage, we pretty much decided we needed to ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) the Press Conference scene we shot at the Courthouse Square. Nick Stecki is super talented, but there are so many external noises (damn you, motorcycles! and dogs! and car alarms! and wandering saxophone players! and yes, even a horse!) that it will sound best to ADR all of Serena’s (Judy Stahl) and Blaine’s (Kevin Goss) lines.

It’s a whole new layer of post-production that the average movie goer doesn’t even think about, but we’re actually kind of excited to learn how to do it. Besides, without ADR the entire movie would be less awesome. And we’re committed to making Dead Votes as awesome as possible!

For those who wanna see how ADR is done, here is a short “Behind the Scenes” video of the folks behind ‘The Navigator” doing some ADR for their movie. 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EBlrMa6k9E]

Enter Soundman

FSMScore1

Sunday night, Angie (Madame Producer) and I (Herr Director) met with our good friend Matt Jackson (musician/composer/sound engineer) and went over the rough cut of “Dead Votes Society.”

This was the first time Angie had seen my rough cut of the short. As you may remember, she’s doing her own cut, so we can compare and come up with a version that uses the best from both of our approaches. And doesn’t lead to fist fights in the editing bay.

It was also the first time Matt had seen the rough cut. In fact, its the first time the three of us have worked together since the days of Coyote Radio Theater on KJZA. We’d had a great time doing that, we respect the man and knew he worked in a simular comedic vein to Christian, Angie and I.

Earlier in the process, Matt and I had talked about how we’d like to approach the project. We decided he would write and create the music, and oversee the post-production sound at his studio. Premiere Pro 6 and Pro Tools 9 HD would be the software of choice. 

First, we watched the 10:40 rough cut just for fun and to see when the laughs were coming in at this point. Thankfully, there were some. (Hey, after all this editing, its difficult sometimes to remember where it is funny.) 

Then, we watched it a second time and took notes. We agreed its easier to adjust the length of the music, so Matt is going to rough out the music cues while we still are futzing around with the editing. We came up with some musical ideas for Matt to explore.

We talked about how to solve the unwanted background sounds on the Square (more on that later). 

I love working with talented people. More importantly, people who I enjoy hanging with, just as much as I respect their work. Feeling a great 2nd wind coming on!

MONEY TALKS

Every Friday, this blog will re-post a letter to the editor of the “Crest Top Chronicle” newspaper, to provide a platform for voices from the community concerning some of the real issues raised by the short film “Dead Votes Society.” This week: late night DJ Johnny Knight.

Am I the only one who’s noticed that the secret messages contained in dollar bills have been getting really strange recently? The holographic runes and magnetic strip back-masking used to be just routine coded communications between the Secret World Government and their sponsors on Planet 19. You know, the normal things you’d expect to find on the currency.

Then, just last week, I intercepted a $5 bill when I got my change back down at the Coffee Hoss. Viewing the bill under the ultraviolet microscope I bought on E-Bay, the Lincoln Monument statue on the back had been quite clearly replaced by one of Bob Denver from TV’s “Gilligan’s Island.” (I was going to bring the bill on my radio program to show the world, but I was informed that most people can’t see radio. Which is weird. I can see radio. It’s pretty.) The meaning of this is clear to anyone who has the understanding. We’re still on the island. The three hour tour is still happening.

No phones. No lights. No motorcars. Not a single luxury. Like Robinson Crusoe. As primitive as can be.

Is your spine tingling? I know mine is.

Like any good journalist, I sought confirmation. The latest batch of knock-knock jokes on Bazooka gum wrappers tell much the same story . . . when you look at them in a mirror. Knock Knock. Who’s there? Nobody. No, there’s somebody there, I heard you knock.  Nope, nobody here . . . except maybe the Thurston Howell Commission.

            Of course, there are dangers to this type of work. The magnetic strip contained within the bills has a tamper detection system that alerts the government’s new invisible helicopters. It’s true. They follow you wherever you go now. But I know the secret. If you line your pockets with aluminum foil, it throws off their tracing devices. Ha ha, You’re not getting my money, Mr. Obama Bobama Banana-fana-fobama. Especially not my prized $0 bill. (It has MY picture on it!)

            Despite the risk, you can see how I prefer to get my information this way rather than relying on the lamebrain media. Just yesterday I read something in the newspaper about how zombies are walking in the streets demanding the right to vote.

            That’s just crazy.

JOHNNY KNIGHT was one of the top-ranked professional bowlers of the 1990’s, until being struck by lightning six times set him on his current career path as “the truthiest truth-teller on the airwaves.”  The views expressed here are his alone and do not reflect those of the administrators of this blog or in fact of anyone, anywhere, ever.

Back And To The Left . . . Back And To The Left . . . Back And To The Left

Perhaps you are beginning to tire of our endless posts about editing in Premiere Pro (CS6)? Don’t blame ya. Felt that way Day Three myself.

And yet . . . as Benny Hill would say, “Learning . . . Always Learning.” Today, I have rough-cut footage for the whole piece running at 8 minutes. Slowly, I nip and tuck at the transitions, a frame away here, a frame away there. I see friends and feel like we spent the whole night together but it was just their image scampering around the editing screen, “Back and To The Left . . . Back and To The Left!” I re-did the last 5 seconds tonight, totally changing the rhythm. Fascinating.

I find myself getting giddy when I learn a new shortcut – currently Grave Key is my favorite. What’s yours?

I start to look at the material, the look and feel of the piece differently. My god, there’s so many ways to approach the flow with these. And that’s before we smooth out the audio and make soundtrack music. Its overwhelming, in a good way.

And, may I say, God bless the Cut-Away Shot! Young film makers, you cannot have too many of them. Seriously, they are miracles of coverage and will save your butt. ‘Course, as the older, wiser Spielberg would even admit, you don’t HAVE to use them all in the final picture. But, they are golden for getting you out of situations like a nightmarish repeated jump cut dead end. 

So, the battle rages on. We are winning. Matt Jackson will start writing the soundtrack around December 4th and this is all very exciting. Viva los Zombies!

A VAMPIRE PERSPECTIVE

Every Friday, this blog will re-post a letter to the editor of the “Crest Top Chronicle” newspaper, to provide a platform for voices from the community concerning some of the real issues raised by the short film “Dead Votes Society.” This week: vampire activist Isabella Barlow.

            OK, so this is like what I don’t get. All these zombies- and all the breathers out there advocating for zombies- are moaning and groaning (literally) about how zombies don’t have the right to vote. Boo-freakin’-hoo. I mean, hello, we vampires can’t vote either, and you don’t hear us complaining about it. I myself have resided in America since the end of the Civil War, but just because I didn’t have the good fortune to have died here, I am not considered a citizen. There are literally dozens of others like me out there, our plight all but ignored while the stupid zombies get all the attention. Nobody’s asking to see their death certificates. And nobody’s spraying holy water in their faces when they gather to protest, either. But again, you don’t hear us complaining.

            And it’s not like there’s any shortage of issues that are important to us. Like take just for example the blood that’s running through your veins. It’s not like you earned that. You were born with it. Vampires should be entitled to a fair redistribution of inherited sanguinary wealth. But we’re not likely to receive our fair share of this nation’s hemo-resources if we’re not allowed a voice in government.

            Vampires are for a strict separation of church and state – let’s keep crucifixes out of all buildings, thank you. We’re for comprehensive food labeling laws- we have a right to know if our food was processed in a plant where it might have come into contact with garlic. We’re for marriage equality (most vampires are bisexual at the very least,) we’re for environmental concerns (global warming means a lot more sunlight) and we’re for strict dress codes at the nation’s nightclubs. And what’s stopping us from achieving these goals? That’s right. Corporate America, man. F****n’ corporate America and the brainless consumer support system they’d receive if zombies are given the vote and we’re not.

            But you don’t hear us complaining about it.

ISABELLA BARLOW was born in a small village in the Carpathian Mountains sometime in the late 18th Century. She spent most of the 20th Century attending high school and has thus far devoted the 21st to protesting outside of various blood banks.  The views expressed here are hers alone and do not reflect those of the administrators of this blog or in fact of anyone, anywhere, ever.

LIBERALS CAN VOTE, SO WHY NOT ZOMBIES?

Every Friday, this blog will re-post a letter to the editor of the “Crest Top Chronicle” newspaper, to provide a platform for voices from the community concerning some of the real issues raised by the short film “Dead Votes Society.” This week: conservative radio host Roger Schlaumberger.

I would like to relate to you an experience I had this weekend, which I think says quite a lot about the current state of our country. I was attending a party at the house of a friend of a friend. A bare acquaintance, really. I was there for only a few minutes when I realized something very disturbing about the people around me. The suspiciously high number of Priuses parked out front should have been an early warning, and I did notice a conspicuous lack of American flag lapel pins, (heck, these people didn’t even have lapels!) But it wasn’t until I saw the autographed picture of Michael Moore hanging proudly above the recycle bin (!) in the kitchen that I realized the horrible truth.

            Yes, dear readers . . . I was among liberals.

            At first I tried to view this as a rare sociological opportunity to observe these creatures in their natural habitat. I retreated to a corner of the room and inconspicuously listened to their asinine discussions of how global whatever-they’re-calling-it-now caused Hurricane Sandy. I tried to laugh at their naïveté, but was soon overwhelmed by the heady scent of intermingling body oils and the high, sweet smell of drugs, drugs! being smoked in one of the bedrooms. 

            So I’m ashamed to say that instead of enlightening these mental midgets on the real causes of the storm, (God’s punishment for gay marriage, obviously) I just kept my mouth shut and belted back the vodka.  Say what you will about these lefties, sometimes they have pretty decent hooch.

            But then the conversation moved on to a subject about which I simply could not hold my silence. Zombie voting. The latest liberal bug-a-boo. “OMG,” these nitwits exclaimed, “I just can’t believe those mean old conservatives would dare to stand up for the rights of Americans, LOL.” (This is how they actually talk.) That really gets my goat, folks. It underscores the essential hypocrisy of modern liberals. After listening to them whine for years about “voter suppression,” now they want to deny the rights of American’s fastest-growing demographic group. And why? Because zombies have the good sense to mindlessly adhere to a rigid ideology. There’s nothing wrong with a herd mentality when the herd is for lower taxes and less government spending.

            So, liberals, I’ll let you keep your illegal alien vote. I’ll spot you ex-convicts and every false name ACORN can scrounge up. Heck, I’ll even let you keep the “too stoned to find my photo ID” vote. But hands off the zombies. If you can’t handle the collective will of seven million undead Americans, then maybe democracy is not for you. Move to some bleak socialist hellscape like Canada or Sweden.

            I stood up to tell the roomful of pinkos exactly that, but unfortunately the booze and the nauseating presence of practicing feminists had grown too much for me. I opened my mouth to declaim, but ended up vomiting all over my neighbor’s Birkinstocks.

            Come to think of it, though, that was a more eloquent expression of my true feelings than mere words could have ever articulated.

ROGER SCHLAUMBERGER, along with his wife Loni, hosts the popular radio program “I Told You So.” The Schlaumbergers have also authored several books together, including “Righty Tighty, Lefty Loosy,” “Jesus was an American,” and “The War on Error: Fighting for Truth in the Obama-Nation.” The views expressed here are his alone and do not reflect those of the administrators of this blog or in fact of anyone, anywhere, ever.

Hurry Up and Wait…

“So when can I see your movie?”

That has to be the question we are asked most. Even on the set of the last day of shooting folks wanted to know when the movie will be done and ready to watch. While most people are familiar with “hurry up and wait” when talking about working on set, it’s also a very accurate description of the post-production process. 

Unless you’re doing a quickie, completely amateur movie for YouTube, the truth is that post-production takes a fair chunk o’ time to complete. Right now we’re in the process of cataloging the shots, audio files and scriptie notes. That has to be completed before we can even start editing the video.

Once the editing is done, the movie heads off to our AfterEffects guy. We really wanted to try out as many aspects of movie-making as we could, while keeping the process fairly simple. So yeah, we’ve got some green screen work and digital effects (no CGI, ’cause we’re not completely crazy), plus the end credits, etc. that need doin’.

Once we’ve got an edit with the AfterEffects that we feel good about, then the whole shebang goes off to the sound team of Matt Jackson and Nick Stecki. These guys will work their magic on the sound mastering, Matt will create some original music for the flick, and we’ll deal with any ADR (automated dialogue replacement, or additional dialogue recording) that needs to be done. Considering the vast number of motorcycles, dogs howling and children screaming on the last shoot, we will probably be stuck dealing with some ADR. Not my first choice, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do, right?

After all of that, we’ll have a finished short movie and the work of submitting to various film festivals, including Prescott’s own film festival begins. So, yeah, “Hurry up and wait.”

But fear not! We will keep y’all up to date on the process and there will be a big ol’ announcement when we have our premier here in this lil’ mountain town. 

Viva los zombies!!!

And . . . its a Wrap!

*AZ legislature candidate Blaine Walpole, portrayed by the hilarious Kevin Goss. Photo by Denise Elfenbein.

Principal Photography for “Dead Votes Society” wrapped yesterday afternoon as DP Forrest Sandefer raced against the dying sunlight to catch the last shot of the day.

It has been a hell of a project so far and it was a hell of a day to get it all done. 18 set ups in 7 hours.

There are waaaay too many people who gave so much of their time, effort and amazing abilities to give them all the credit they are due this hot minute. Over 60 people crowded the north steps of Prescott’s historic Courthouse, where politicians from Goldwater thru McCain have played out their political drama. On Sunday, October 28, 2012,  we played out our satire of the same high drama

I will say that the cast, Judy Stahl, Dino Palazzi, Kevin Goss, Jody Drake and our herds of extras went above and beyond with their focus, their flexibility and comic characterizations while working in such a public place.

The crew was astounding – from Max Kornhauser’s creative and tireless fight choreography to Forrest‘s on the fly lighting and re-lighting of the shots to pull them off, Chad Castigliano and Matt Montgomery and Deb Gallegos racing from one side of the set to the other getting scrims and lights swung ’round, Cindy Nichols running up and down ladders and keeping the clapboard clacking on time, Penelope Davis – ladies and gentlemen, the amazing Penelope Davis and her crew (Chelsea Stone, Sylvia Boyer, Jasmine Castigliano, Dori Mion, Ginney Bilbray, Andrew Pigeon, Susan Crutcher and Debra Klein Duncan) who turned out such amazing make up designs for our zombies and “normies” with such incredible speed,  Phil Hammon and his crew – Nick Stecki and Jerod MacDonald-Evoy – dealing with an ENDLESS stream of motorcycle choppers, dogs and yes, at one point a freaking wandering saxophone player, Cynthia Kitts Sobo keeping the shoot flowing with her assistants Terri New and Kay Pifer, all three of our extra Wranglers – Dan Seaman, Coralie Cole and Cole Lahti for organizing and leading their herds of people through shot after shot, and finally our stalwart, Sean Souva who not only detailed the script continuity with a meticulous eye but came early, stayed late and worked his ass off.

Truly, without our hardworking cast and crew, Angie and I would still be sitting around the breakfast table going, “You know what would be cool?” “What?” “We could make a movie!” “That would be cool!””Yeah.” “What’s on television?”

Thank you all and it’s off to post-production. Viva los Zombies!

What’s It Like on the Set of “Dead Votes Society?” – Take 3

Two weeks ago, Carie Hughes (lying down in the picture to the left) portrayed the hapless Poll Worker charged with teaching zombies how to use a voting booth modified for their special needs. Needless to say, it didn’t end well. But, in terms of our shoot, it went awesome, with Carie turning in a great comic turn. Here’s her take on what it was like on the set:

“WOW!  What an Amazing day, at the day of the shoot as the poll worker. This was my first time acting in a movie and I wasn’t sure what to expect or how it all worked, but once I arrived and got to make-up then costume I was ready for more. I so enjoyed watching the crew prepare and set up for each shoot. I was so impressed how well they worked as a TEAM.

When it was time for the Director to direct us to his visual of the scene I was so Excited I could hardly contain myself. I loved hearing “Rolling!” then “ACTION!” Each take I got more into it and wanted to give my very best. Working with the 2 Zombies was so cool make-up can make them be so Real.

My final scene was a great test for me on my patience.  Laying on the concrete floor for a period of time with blood, guts and other special props was so Intense! The time and preparation for this one shoot was long but fun. I have to admit I loved having all the attention on me, I truly felt like a star:) For the last take it got really messy, but I mentally prepared myself to keep on acting even though I knew what was coming. Once the blood started to shoot everywhere I tried to stay in character.  I was thrilled to hear Andrew yell Cut! I couldn’t see a thing but from all the laughter I knew it must have been a keeper:)

I had so much fun and laughed so much- I look forward to the next…
I totally have a new outlook and appreciation for the filming Directors and Actors.”

— Carie Hughes