Thursday, December 29, 2005

Both feet on the floor, two hands on the wheel...

...Let the wind take your troubles away". Thanks, Jay Farrar.

Last night's screening of Drawing Blood went really well. There was a sell-out crowd, so we are now officially set up to do more great things with the Alamo - the first of which will be the Witchcraft 13 premiere in February. Working on an exact date for that right now. I may also have more exciting news along those lines, but I want to wait for it to fully coalesce before I say anything.

The coming year is chock full of planned appearances at horror conventions, comic conventions, and film festivals, so the OnePass account will definitely be in good shape.

Got my next two (possibly three) projects lining up, so it looks like I'll be having a busy (and horror-filled) 2006. Maybe I'll actually be where I planned/wanted to be when I hit 30. That's fairly satisfying.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Giving Birth To A Stone

How fitting that I should complete the first version final draft (oxymoron?) of WC13 on my 29th birthday (which was yesterday). Side note: I share the birthday with John Amos, and Gaspar Noe, which is cool. Anyway, I got the movie in viewable form, and FedExed it out to the producers this morning to get final approval. Meanwhile a few of the cast and crew got together last night to view the movie for the first time together. It went well enough, and I noticed some things that still need tweaking (sound FX and color timing, mainly), so I'll be doing that during this next week to try and get the movie in releaseable form (or at least, a releaseable form that I'm happy with).

Tonight is the screening of Drawing Blood at the Alamo Drafthouse in Houston - hopefully things will also go smoothly with that as well. We are showing a Necrophobia trailer beforehand, and possibly even a Witchcraft 13 teaser trailer. Looking forward to it.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Perfect Pitch Black

Whirlwind last few days - saw King Kong on Tuesday night (it rocked), saw Cave In on Friday (they rocked), and then from Wednesday through Friday I also completed the rough assembly edit of Witchcraft 13. Final running time: 1hr, 33 minutes without end credits. This rough cut is mainly for the purpose of scoring and audio post, which we began work on this past weekend. To do this, Mike (sound engineer) and I traveled to his uncle's house in San Antonio. Mike's uncle is Robert Ybarra (scroll down, he's the guy playing the Parker Fly guitar), who happens to be a pretty renowned musician. This guy had gold records on his wall, for Christ's sake. I knew that he'd be able to do the movie justice.

Not only did Robert do the movie justice, he took it to a whole other level. Things that I didn't think played that well, or performances that I was unhappy with - gone. Now they come across fine on times, even epic. I'm sitting there watching the scene with the music, and I'm hooked, wondering what's going to happen next....and I edited the damn thing together! And all because of killer music. Never underestimate the effect of a good score. I'm really excited to start laying in the music and audio effect pads (which I will be doing the bulk of over the holiday weekend). Russel also has to get me the final draft effects sequences and then this time next week I should have a finished cut to show the producers and writers. Needless to say, I'm excited...especially with the new dimension that the composer has added.

Small aside - San Antonio has the best Chinese buffets on the planet. I don't know why this is true, it just is.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Kong At The Gates

As I have stated repeatedly, my days are now long spent in front of my desktop editing suite. I would guess that we are about 70% done with the offline assembly edit of WC13, and then I just have to drop in and sweeten the sound effects, and add some of the digital stuff. This weekend we are scoring the movie, and then it's just little tweaks on the top here and there and some color correction/filtering just for my own Fincher-ian vanity. This is definitely an arduous process, but it does bring a sense of satisfaction when the movie fires on all cylinders.

I just recieved confirmation that we are going to have a table at the Chicago Fangoria Weekend Of Horrors in the spring, so we'll be pimping Drawing Blood and Witchcraft 13 whilst mingling with the stars (and rocking out to "First Jason", apparently). I can also bug Mick Garris about letting me direct one of the second season Masters Of Horror episodes.

Speaking of which, I just watched 'Homecoming' (the one directed by Joe Dante). Granted, the ending was pretty weak, but the other 95% of the program was killer. I've already read about people disliking the pointed and political subject matter (some even going so far as to say that this negates the "horror" label), but I thought that the conceit and excecution were fucking fabulous. Horror has been and should always be a place where you can air out humanity's dirty laundry - Romero's Dead series, Godzilla, Body Snatchers...hell, even The People Under the Stairs. If you get a chance to check out any of the Masters entries, I highly recommend this one, along with 'Incident On and Off A Mountain Road' (which prominently features a song by a friend of mine), and 'Chocolate'.

Tonight I get to get re-inspired once again by one of my main influences, Peter "Kiwi Bad Ass" Jackson. Can't wait to watch him create another watershed cinema moment with Kong.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Humble Pie

I just got checked in the worst way tonight. Will and I went over to my friend Stacy Davidson's house - Stacy is the director/editor/writer of this low-budget lensed in Houston horror movie called Necrophobia - and he's been kind enough to let me borrow some software tools for my post on Witchcraft 13.

Of course when Will and I get there, we want to see clips from Necro, so Stacy starts showing us some footage.

Which proceeds to blow us the fuck out of the water.

I'm not kidding, this guy's movie looks phenomenal, and trust me, I'm not just saying that because he's a friend. With our same camera and the Robert Rodriguez ethic (he's pretty much doing it all himself) Stacy is totally killing it with Necrophobia. It's a nicely shot, fast paced, brutal horror throwback. The movie is going to be huge when it comes out, and I recommend it to anyone just off seeing the rough edit (with some of the CG even unfinished, no less).

So yeah, it was a humbling experience of sorts. Granted, there are a lot of mitigating factors between Necro and WC13 that make them virtually uncomparable...but what Mr. Davidson has done is very impressive and gives me some great ideas for my next project...and makes me wish I had more time for THIS one, of course. But like I said, Stacy gave me some neat plug-ins that are going to definitely enhance the look of WC13. I was up until 3 AM last night playing with them and I didn't really want to stop.

So, in closing, check out the Necrophobia site if you have the time - the trailer is also going to play before the screening of Drawing Blood on the 28th of December.

Now, back to the editing suite, of course.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Lost In the Air

I'm deep in the edit of the movie right now, which explains my absence from here. I'm in front of the computer most of the time these days, but I basically edit, edit, and edit some more until my eyes cross and my fingers begin to become atrophied in the "mouse clicking" position. I've finished most of the harder scenes - which is basically anything involving sex, witchcraft fights, or both - and have passed them on to Russel, our digital FX specialist. Mike is working on sound fx/sweetening as well, and I've also been farming out some footage to Will to edit so that we make our deadline.

The official website has been updated again with a fresh new look, and the "offical" series logo...check it out if you get the time. There's also some video up there if you haven't seen it yet.

The Houston Chronicle did a piece on Lynn Michaels (Officer Gentry in WC13), and there are some quotes from me and a mention of the movie. Check it out in the archives here.

In other news - Drawing Blood is having its regional premiere at the Alamo Drafthouse in West Oaks Mall on December 28th. The screening is free, so come and check it out if you can. Go to the "calendar" section on the website for more details.

I'm getting close to making an announcement on what my next directorial project might be...I'm pretty excited about the possibilites and opportunites that have sprung up recently. Keep checking here for updates in the next week or so on that deal. All I can say now is: will be a horror movie. What else did you expect?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Week of The Dead

Principal photography is finally complete - more or less. I still have a few shots to get with Tim Wrobel (Will Spanner) and Melanie Donihoo-House (my wife, standing in for Jennifer LaFleur) just to tighten things up a bit and to do some crazy shots for the final scene. We're also adding more blood, of course.

So how did the final weekend of shooting go, you ask? fluctuated between mildly crazy and complete and utter clusterf#%k the whole time. Which, truth be told, is par for the course in independent filmmaking.

Here's the Readers' Digest version:

We (meaning Tim, Oliver, Eddie, and myself) got to the cave about 4 PM on Friday and loaded our stuff downstairs to prepare for the next day. No big deal. After that, we check in the hotel and Domingo, Oliver and I proceed to eat at the Chinese Buffet Of The Gods (China Sea off of I-10 and Wurzbach Rd. in San Antonio, if you want to hit it up yourself). We kill time and talk about what's to come. Meanwhile, back at the hotel, the rest of the skeleton cast and crew are trickling in.

By the time we get back to the hotel, all sorts of personal drama is going on between a lot of the cast and some of the crew. Things are a little...charged, and I begin to worry about the smoothness of the next day's shoot. Plus, I made the mistake of going back on my convictions and showing some rough-cut dailies to a few people - big mistake. I will never, ever do that again - and if you are a burgeoning filmmaker, I urge you to take that advice to heart. I could tell the roughness of the scenes (mostly due to the fact that we were missing half of the shots...which we were specifically at the cave to shoot this time around) began to screw with everyone's heads. I got the feeling that some people started to think that I have no clue how to do this.

F%#k you, because I do.

Anyhow, as per usual, everyone except for me gets wasted. I set up and do my shotlist. I should have remembered to lube up my rear end as well. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Saturday we get the clearance to start shooting in the cave at about 1 PM. Since most of the stuff is down there already, we get started relatively quickly and are actually moving at a decent clip. Of course, we pretty much lose all the ground that we've gained so far when it's time to set up the pentagram on the cave floor. This takes forever, and I'm getting bled like a teenager at Leatherface's house. This is when I start to really lose it a little bit, because it seems that my continual battle on this movie set is that no one wants to move with a purpose and get things done as fast as possible. Well, that...and dealing with people constantly complaining, or the myriad of derailing, irrelavant questions at inopportune times that I've already thought and rethought over and over....but I digress. The point is, people moving slow + Mel paying by the hour = one uptight negro director. Plus we were having difficulties with the actors in one scene that we have to shoot...soon it won't be a camera that I'm shooting with, if you know what I mean.

Somehow, amidst all the slow moving, bitching, and moaning we get thorugh the shotlist. The highlight definitely had to be us squibbing up Anjanette for the gunshots and having the blood fly out of her in great gouts. Looked fantastically gory, in a Dead/Alive sort of way. We did split up into seperate units a few times to get through the shots even faster, and that worked rather well.

So, about 9 PM we call a wrap and start packing up...then Melanie runs up to me and says "Anjanette's upstairs, she took the contacts out, and she can't see anything". Slight explanation here: our main group of witches are using cosmetic contact lenses for certain FX shots (rather than us add "glowing eyes" in post - which historically looks like crap). These are the contacts that Anjanette had just removed. Anyway, she was in serious pain. By the time I got up the stairs, chaos reigned supreme. People were freaking out and exacerbating the situation. An ambulance was on the way. The cops showed up. We ended up having to drive Anjanette to the hospital anyway, because the situation was deemed "not an emergency" (this after the paramedic made sure to tell her that other people have been permanently blinded by these lenses). So we head back to San Antonio, and to the emergency room. Melanie and I ended up staying with Anjanette the whole time (which only amounted to about 2 hours - quite expedient for an E.R., and I know from experience), and the final verdict was that even though the pain was intense, Anjanette's eyes were just temporarily traumatized due to lack of oxygen (the contacts are non-permeable). However, she had to wear eyepatches for a few days, which meant that for all intents and purposes, she's still blind for a bit.

Because of Anjanette's temporary blindness, on Sunday Melanie and I ended up driving her and her car back to Dallas (5 hours) and then we headed home to Houston (4 hours). When we dropped Anj off, she had a friend come over to help her out, so she was going to be okay with a little rest and a lot of pain pills. The drive actually wasn't that bad for me (I drive a lot for work), but we were pretty tired after all was said and done. We got home and unpacked, then I went out to meet sound guy Mike and Domingo at Chacho's. Chacho's is my comfort zone.

Mike brought along a hard drive with all the scoring work they did on Sunday at his uncle's studio. The plan was originally for me to sit in while his uncle scored the first scene, but due to the eye-mergency, Will and Mike filled in for me. And I have to say, even though it's preliminary, the score sounds pretty awesome and lends a lot to the movie. It's got a very Nightmare on Elm Street vibe, so of course I dig it a lot.

The footage we got over this past weekend looks really good as well, so I'm excited to start cutting it in the coming days. Big thanks to Mike Burrell and company at the Cave With No Name in Boerne, Texas.

Now that I've pretty much gone through this trial by fire, I have a few tips for anyone aspiring to be part of an independent film, be it cast or crew.

1. Shut the hell up. No one cares if your hair is frizzy, your feet hurt, or you think the shot is taking too long to set up. If you think the director "has no concept of time" when they're paying for the cave by the hour, then you're a f%$king idiot. Make sure you do time on other movie sets, so you have an idea of when things are running smoothly, and when they aren't.

(For the record, we did 29 setups in 8 hours on Saturday.)

2. Yeah, I know you're hungry. When do you think the director ate last? Probably way before you did, if at all.

3. Don't drag ass when you have 29 setups to do in 8 hours.

4. Don't continually ask the director stupid questions. Yes, there are such things are stupid questions.

5. Don't get pissy when the crew is trying to adjust your light. We're trying to make you look good, moron.

6. If you don't have problem solving skills, stay away from the problems to be solved.

The rest will be included in my forthcoming book: Mulatto Without A Gun: How An Independent Filmmaker Managed To Go Completely Insane While Making The Most Recent Entry In A Direct To Video Franchise.

But make no mistake - for all the drama and craziness, we have one hell of a movie on our hands. I can't wait to spring it on the unsuspecting public. This holiday season should be an exciting one.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Back in the saddle again

So the wedding is over, I am now an honest man, and the movie madness can continue in earnest. I have to admit...the break that I was forced into taking because of the nuptials and subsequent honeymoon has refreshed me. I dove into editing the movie on Sunday night, and I've already got the first assembly cut of the inital scene done. It's looking quite good, I think. Next (probably beginning this afternoon) I'll start putting the cave sequences together so that I'll know what coverage we need to shoot next weekend when we return to The Cave Without a Name to get the final shots and wrap the production.

There's a bit of excitement in the air as lots of opportunities seem to be making themselves available to myself and the extended film family - I'm positive that Witchcraft is the Keymaster to the Gatekeeper of opportunity.

The IMDb page is on its way to being complete and accurate, and the official website is pretty much on the same track. Once I get some more space on the web host, I'm going to start throwing some video on the site.

Off to the womblike darkness of the edit bay....

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

How the Gods Whine

Just got back from seeing Danzig - quite possibly the weakest show that I've ever been to, all told. That guy is the biggest freaking baby, I swear. Glenn cut the show short because he was all in a tizzy about some hecklers in the audience. We got to see about 20 minutes of Danzig material, and then about 20 minutes of the Misfits material set with Doyle. Thank God for that (the only reason I went, really). People were super pissed. Glad I didn't have to pay the 30+ bucks for a ticket.

Sorry, had to vent on that. No wonder Vivian Campbell and that fat guy from North Side Kings knocked Glenn the fuck out. The man is a dick. A diminutive, quasi-evil dick. More to come in my Space City Rock review of the show when it goes up. stuff....we shot the "bloody lesbian" scene, and also the "zombie Ben" scene this past weekend. That stuff looks great. I may be totally uprooting some of the movie after we get back and recasting and reshooting some scenes. I'm going to think about that over the honeymoon. I'm willing to do whatever it takes to make the movie as good as it can be, and if that means scrapping some mediocre/potentially problematic stuff and going back to the drawing board, then so be it.

I suffered through The Roost last's just another overhyped second-coming of horror movie. Looks like a blind guy shot it, and the "pacing" was nonexistent. Inspired me even more for WC13. If this hack can get a deal off of a piece of crud like that, then I should be winning a freaking Oscar for WC13. Or at least a Chainsaw Award.

In closing, Danzig and The Roost can both suck it.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

No news is good news

Since we are somewhat floating around in the movie production ether right now (at least until after my wedding and honeymoon), I figured that for the sake of writing something here, I'll let everyone know what's happening.

I'll be updating the website very soon - right now I'm about to upgrade the storage and traffic allowance so that I can put some of our "making of" videos up on the site. I've got the first day already (great job Russel)'s alternately funny and hellishly infuriating to notice who has sold us out since the beginning.

Look for that to be up hopefully by this time next week.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Even got me a little life...

Not really, but who's counting?

We had to reschedule yesterday's reshoots because of issues with the location. So this Saturday the 22nd we are shooting the intro insert shots, plus the scare scene with Peyton/BEN.

Then the Saturday after that, I get hitched. Spending a lot of time lately on the whole wedding thing, of course. The Witchcraft master tapes are languishing on my desk...staring at me...daring me to try and cut a scene while I organize the music selection for the ceremony...

I might be putting a little something together before the wedding, but most of the editing and post will take place after I get back from Disney World/The Bahamas.

I also have to upgrade the traffic allowance on the WC13 site. It's getting a lot of hits, which is cool.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Rode hard & put away wet...

Not really much to report currently - after the hellish last few days of shooting, I had to immediately start busting heads at Screamworld, so my mind and body have yet to fully recover.

Next on the shooting front - we have inserts scheduled for this weekend (which might get rescheduled), and then sometime in November we are traveling back to the cave. When exactly we do that is up in the air right now...schedule conflicts are running rampant.

I'm starting to piece together the offline edit over the next few days - once I can actually focus my vision for an extended period of time.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Creative Eclipses

It's a Cave-In album title. Get it? Oh well, you will in a few paragraphs. Anyway, it's been a while, and with good reason. The past few days have been chock-full of movie craziness. As predicted, this last weekend was the roughest, and we did not make my shooting goal for setups. We got 90% done, though, so if we add one more shooting day then we're good. Unfortunately that means we have to go to the cave again, but that's the way it is. Let's begin the recap, shall we?

Monday the 26th/Tuesday the 27th - I had to recast the BEN role and in a whirlwhind feat of e-mailing/taping/mailing craziness (further complicated by the virtual shutdown of all services due to (non) Hurricane Rita), Peyton Wetzel got his reel in to me and I was able to fill the part. Peyton was cast on Tuesday, with a scene to be shot on Thursday.

Wednesday the 28th - I picked up our third and final witch (Zoe Hunter) from the airport and checked her in to the hotel. No shooting on this evening, but we discussed the goings-on for the next few days. She was even cooler than I expected her to be. For a Yankee, that is.

Thursday the 29th - We all congregate at the Top Hat Bar to shoot our bar scene. The proprietor wanted no money from us for the location...he only requested a donut as payment. Red flag. We met at the location at 9 AM - by 11 AM the guy still hadn't opened the place up for us. Truly a sucky situation, especially since the main actors in the scene are from New York and Dallas (so a reschedule wasn't an option). Fortunately, our location manager (Richard Boatto, aka "Cluj Hajeman") came through in the clinch and secured a locale for us to shoot at later that afternoon. Mad props to Griff's Sports Bar for letting us shoot there on two hours notice. If I drank, I'd drink at that place exclusively from now on. Ultra cool for them to do that for us - they even let us turn off everything and keep it quiet while shooting. The scene went well - Zoe, Peyton, and Tim did a great job and the scene came off very natural.

After the Griff's shoot, we convened later at the Houston Metro Fight Club to shoot Ben's kill scene. It took us a while to get started, but once the ball got rolling, we got through it relatively quickly. Hardest of all to capture was a crane move for the final shot that I really, really wanted, and I think we got it. Big thanks goes out to my boys (and sometime instructors in the fine art of pain infliction) Saul Soliz and Robert Barillas for letting us shoot at the fight club.

Friday the 30th - The cave. We all left over the course of the day to head out to San Antonio/Boerne and the Cave Without A Name - my group which consisted of Zoe, Russel, Domingo, Oliver, and myself booked it at about 11:30 AM, arriving at the hotel about 3:30 PM. After checking in, we head to the cave and start lugging stuff 85 feet closer to the bowels of hell. Due to the screwy arrival schedules and people getting lost, we didn't really get shooting until about 7 pm, so not much was accomplished on that first night. We shot a few insert scenes here and there, but with half of the essential cast not getting in until late, the coverage options were not very massive. Thankfully, the owners of the cave let us leave our stuff down there for the next day's shoot. I thought I could breeze thorugh the pickups and get my entire shot list done on Saturday. I fucking stupid, or what?

Saturday the 1st - Cave II or "The Darkest Day of Production". The crew got there earlier to get a head start on the massive amount of shooting to be done. We had to shoot both of the COVEN'S LAIR scenes - which translates to about 13 pages of script, most of which is action-oriented. Fortunately, we could run a second unit, so we had double the shooting ability. This led me to believe we could power through the whole shot list. Yeah, right. Things began to go long really quickly, and before I knew it, it was 11 PM and we weren't even halfway done. Lights started blowing out, cast and crew disappeared for inordinate amounts of time, the guns jammed in the cop scene, attitudes started developing...all adding up to a near meltdown on my part. I would have killed for an experienced Assistant Director at that point. Unfortunately I did not have that luxury, so I had to make do. We shot all we could (the remainder of the first COVEN'S LAIR scene, 75% of the final battle, the cops entering the lair), and then I had to cut my losses. I asked all cast that would be needed to return if they were willing to do so, and they all agreed, so that settled it. I got my last shot about 11:30 or so and then it took us a good hour and a half to get all that equipment back up to the surface. On the way up I almost had an asthma attack and heart attack at the same time. I'm sure it didn't help that my blood pressure was about 265/197. Then went to Denny's (which I kind of hate) to eat afterwards. Of course, my bowels decided to turn on me about 6:30 AM, and I was up for the rest of the night/morning. Awesome. In a couple weeks, we go back to finish the coverage for the final battle, and then maybe shoot some ancillary stuff just to really jazz up the ending.

Disasterous though it seemed at the time, we actually got a lot done on Saturday night, and after wiewing the footage, it all looks pretty damned good. Anjanette especially stepped up by first of all eating fire in a vinyl t-back bikini, and then letting us rig up a jerk-rope to pull her backwards for the fireball impacts in the magic battle. I think she really wants to get hurt or something. When we return to the cave, I will definitely be exploiting her disregard for personal safety.

Sunday the 2nd - we get up to check out and caravan back to New Ulm for a variety of shots in the forest primeval. We actually used the 2 unit approach to our full advantage this time - I was shooting with one camera, and Robert and Will were off shooting with the other. I got the Lonely Man death scene knocked out first (Zoe is great in this one, along with our TV Party Tonight! cohort Thomas Kurzy as the titular man of lonely) - some lady actually stopped on the side of the road to see if we needed help. Thomas was face down covered in blood with a hole in his back, and Zoe was holding one of the fake hearts out over him...needless to say, the good samaritan looked like she was about to have a heartattack. Wish I had taped that. Next, I taped another kill scene in the trailer, and then after that we did some pickups from the cave fight with Melanie body-doubling for Jennifer.

While all this was going on, Will, Robert, Kenny, and Lynn Michaels (one of the cops in the movie) were running second unit on some car chase footage. These guys went totally Dukes of Hazzard, apparently. They nearly flipped my Explorer and put some rough miles on Roxy's Mustang...but, boy does that footage look sweet. It's like Bullitt with witches. It'll definitely add a lot to the finished product.

We wrapped about 8:30 PM and drove the rest of the way into H-town. Monday, I got up and took Zoe back to the airport, and then met Tim, Anjanette, and Roxy for some quick pickup shots to start off the chase sequence. And here we are now. On the 15th, we are doing a pickup shot back at the office location with Peyton and Tim, and then sometime after that it's back to the cave to finish what we started.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Floating in a most peculiar way...

Don't ask me what my fixation is with "Space Oddity" lyrics for the blog titles - I guess it's because I've been listening to and relearning a bunch of Bowie songs. Why? Don't know, actually - but for whatever reason glam-era Thin White Duke has been striking a chord in me lately. But I digress...

The storm passed up with little fanfare or effect (save for the fact that we waited in line at Chacho's for an hour to order because it was one of the only plaes with the balls and foresight to open), so we are ready to go for this final weekend of shooting. Thursday we shoot the first bar scene (where the character of BEN dies - oops...SPOILER), and then Friday through Sunday we are on the road. Friday and Saturday we are at the cave, and Sunday we are in New Ulm to do all of the forest stuff.

Over the weekend (while I was bored because everyone high-tailed it out of town) I finished up the official movie site. I'm still updating regularly, so it will probably be in flux until I get the first trailer cut. We also got some press on, as well as on Horror Movies and Madness. Nice. I talked with Shaun/Mike/Jeff a few times over the weekend (they called and emailed to make sure I was okay - well, to make sure the master tapes were okay, actually - but you get the idea), and I found out that Drawing Blood has secured North American distribution. Which means you'll hopefully be able to see the move we shot in Chicago last year in your local video store. We're also talking about getting a website going for that movie, as well as a site for the entire Tripod Films back catalog: The After School Special, My Brother's Light, and The Dirty Immigrants: All For One.

It's an exciting time, to say the least.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Riders on the Storm

So I'm weathering the hurricane at the homestead. The house is boarded up, I've got firepower to protect me from looters/zombies, and I'm about to duct tape the Witchcraft 13 tapes to my chest.

Hopefully this meteorological cluster-fuck won't totally screw up next week's shoot at the cave. I guess we'll see what happens.

In better news, I've been plugging away at the website: The lack of anything to do or anywhere to go is giving me a lot of time to program the site, so maybe I'll get it done before the electricity and internet go and I'm plunged back into the Cretaceous.

Monday, September 19, 2005

I think my spaceship knows which way to go...

It's been a few days, I know. This past week we did some extra makeups for victims in the movie that I'll cut away to for shock value. Those shots will probably be up on the WC13 site when it goes live. Friday night we shot the opening of the movie with Cesar and Anjanette:

The first kill should be a stylish and entertaining one. The edible hearts translated pretty well on screen. Yet another killer job by Ashley Frazier - Makeup Artist Extraordinaire.

Saturday we shot a short scene at my place (the "Ordinary House" location), and then went and killed the frat boys at Matt/Woody/Domingo's apartment complex. Notice the plastic that we had to put up to contain the arterial spray. Nice.

Sunday we returned to the office to shoot the scenes with the cops - those pics should be up soon. We actually got done early last night, and Melanie and I were able to catch dinner with Cesar befor he headed back to the Left Coast.

I'm alternately cripplingly tired and exhilarated these days in regards to the film. Due to disloyalty, ennui, lack of focus or lack of drive, I'm once again forced into wearing the hats of director, producer, assistant director, gaffer, production manager (and occasionally director of photography and sound recordist) all at once. This week I think I might add makeup artist to that for a gag I'm setting up, but that's my own damn fault. At any rate, it's a lot to deal with - then of course you have people get too sensitive and bristle when you get serious and critical with them, which of course makes me seem like a cock. I have to admit that I get into that to a certain degree because due to my nature, it's a lot easier for me to be an asshole than to be nice. I guess I can't worry about hurt feelings at this point - we need to get this movie done. I'm slowly learning a valuable lesson though - next time I'll probably hire professionals and put myself in the hole a little more just to forgo all the bullshit that goes along with working with your buddies/friends/girlfriends. I've already started taking people off of the IMDb page that haven't been fulfilling their duties, and you can rest assured that the movie credits will reflect that as well. I guess I should have learned the "don't work with your buddies" lesson on 'Fade To Black', but I attributed those experiences to the relative green-ness of everyone on the cast and crew, myself included. It's a different story now - I've done this a few times, and I'm getting pretty tired of having to put everyone else on the learning curve.

I'm sure there are people on the crew that want to punch me in the face at times - and I bet those same people think they could make a better movie under the same constraints.

Either one of those would be a neat trick.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Working for the Weekend (sort of)

This past weekend we didn't do any shooting for Witchcraft 13, but we ("we" being myself and Domingo) did travel to New Ulm, Texas to help Richard (WC13 location manager) finish shooting his short horror movie entitled O.M.R. We arrived on Friday afternoon and began setting up. Of course, I started to come down with a pretty wicked cold on Thursday, and by Friday it was in full effect. We began shooting once everyone got there (about 8 PM or so), and went through a few shots, some of which were kill scenes. Blood-filled condoms are always a sure-fire recipe for fun. Sick though I was, we got through it, and got done about 4 AM.

Unfortunately, I had to drive back in for a meeting Saturday morning, and then drive back out to New Ulm on Saturday afternoon, so I got home about 5:15 AM. Woke up about 2 hours later and handled my business, then headed out to New Ulm again to shoot some more. In my absence, Domingo was the fill-in director, and he seemed to have done a good job. Once I arrived we shot a jump scare and an assault/lynching scene that was pretty choice. I was still feeling crummy, but the entire O.M.R. gang was so gracious to us throughout the shoot that it made things a lot easier to get through. People were constantly thanking us for coming out and shooting on our weekend off from WC13. Gratitude is not something I'm used to (only blame - especially if it's something having to do to with an access television show), so it was nice to have people simply say "thank you" for once.

After the shenanigans we ate ribs, I regaled the crowd with some Embarassing Mel Stories (TM), we talked about a lot of eighties television, and then watched the Dukes of Hazzard pilot. I fell asleep in my sleeping bag about 2 am, woke up about 7:30, packed up the equipment, helped clean up, ate breakfast, came home and slept for a while longer. Then of course, I got up and started working on this coming weeks shoot schedule and shot list for WC13. It should be a good bloody week - we're doing some insert deaths on Wednesday night (mainly for some insert shots), and then the big intro kill scene on Friday night.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Day 7 Pictures

Whew - it's patently obvious that I need a haircut.

Also, the site has posted some pictures from the set:

This week is laid back, as we are sort of taking the week off of shooting WC13 to help Richard Boatto finish shooting his movie 'O.M.R'. We start WC13 again next weekend.

Monday, September 05, 2005

What's Tha Deal ?!?

Whew. Four days of some type of shooting or another in a row. Let's recap:

Friday night was our first shoot at the office location (Spanner's Office). We shot the scene where we are introduced to Will Spanner in this entry (and subsequently set up Laura's [Falin Profitt] character goals), plus two more scenes involving Will and Laura - one of which is somewhat of a "love scene". More of a dream sequence, really. Everything turned out well, and we were done by midnight-ish. Here are the photos, courtesy of Kenneth Haner:

Saturday we met up for a quick shot of Spanner entering Eldridge's house. For the exterior of this shot, we used Director of Photography Will Molina's apartment building. The' Witchcraft 13 Curse' was in full effect - as we pulled up to the house, some guy fell off of the roof. Why was there a guy on the roof, you ask? Because the crackheads that live in the apartment next to Will had set their apartment on fire the previous evening, and while Will was sleeping soundly at his girlfriend's house, back at home his door was being kicked in by the fire department. Nothing was missing or damaged, except for the door frame (and the smell of smoke that permeates the place). After investigating the damage, we got the shot.

Since shooting began, this brings our current 'WC13 Curse' count to:

1. Me being broke (near-destitute)
2. Domingo's car breaks down
3. Joel gets shingles
4. Will's apartment nearly burns down
5. My truck gets sideswiped by some rich girl in daddy's BMW
6. Will's tire explodes
7. Two separations and one pregnancy among the cast and crew

And who said doing the 13th entry in a mildly Satanic series revolving around witchcraft was unlucky?

Later that evening, Domingo had a small get together at his apartment poolside. A few of us showed up and we didn't manage to break anything or get sunburned over the course of the party. Nice to be able to unwind a little.

Sunday's short shoot just might make the movie. We just shot a short insert scene of Keeley (Roxy Vandiver) being revealed in the bedroom window as Will and Dolores are having the sexual relations. It's set up as a bit of a shock, and it came off quite well, especially considering we had to deal with actor nudity, blood, fake rain, and simulated lightning. What happened was this: last week, it actually started raining for real while we were shooting at the 'Dolores' House' location - and you can hear it and see it on the footage. So...I had to think of a way to maybe tie the rain in somehow, and visually reference it later in the movie - this led to me thinking "what if someone were in the rain outside?", and then "what if someone were in the rain outside covered in blood?" and so on and so forth. Roxy was very cool with all the weird shit I wanted her to do - like be naked and covered in blood - and it turned out phenomenal. She's definitely a huge asset to this movie, that's for sure. We'll have to find a way to involve her in the next one. Here are pictures of the scene - there's nakedness and gore in most of them, so be warned:

Today, we shot the remainder of the office footage (with the exception of the shots involving the cops - that's later). Everything went smoothly with that - we began at 12 noon and ended about 3 PM. Now we're getting on the Mel House Shooting Schedule (TM). This coming weekend, we help Richard shoot O.M.R. in New Ulm, and then next weekend it's back to WC13. When next we shoot (September 16), it will be a few gory death setpieces. I can't wait.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


We may be doing reshoots this weekend along with all of the office stuff. Deceptively easy stuff.

I found out that I'm not getting the money I'm owed on this paycheck either - which should make for an interesting weekend of shooting.

Also found out that our lodging for the cave weekend was booked out from under us, so now we have to find an alternate (read: more expensive) housing option for that weekend. Barrels of fun.

And in other news, I will probably be busting heads at Screamworld once again this year. I think our esteemed Director of Photography, Will Molina, will be joining us. I'll need the extra scratch to dig myself out of this hole that I'm in.

But I'm still having fun, of course.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Quickening

I think I finally may have recovered from this weekend - the physical part of it at least. Mentally, I can still feel the scars of remaining fatigue. The first three days of shooting were rough - no doubt about it, with all the stuff that went down: the family showing up, the flash storm, the Mutiny On The Bounty shit...but I took it all on the chin and kept plugging through it with the help of the crew. Special thanks go to Domingo, Oliver, and Kenny - they actually are transcending the petty title of "grip"...maybe I'll invent something new for them once the info starts going up on the IMDb.

I've looked at all the footage we shot over the weekend, and for the most part I'm pretty happy with it. Still on the fence about a few shots and performances, so reshoots/pickups are a possibility - unfortunately the whole "delegation" thing hasn't really panned out yet, so I still have to wear all of the hats at one time or another, and I can't always concentrate on the real "director-y" things as much as I'd like. I think some of the scenes suffered as a result. Thing is, if I wasn't the one-man band at times, then there's no way that we would have gotten finished with everything. Hopefully things will straighten out over this weekend - we defnitely cannot waste time at the bars and the cave (which I found out a few days ago that we have to pay an hourly fee for - not a whole lot, mind you, but I'm not exactly rolling in dough right now). I think it's hard for some of the crew to understand the restraints/requirements of indie filmmaking - a lot of the urgency is lost on them. I guess that's something you learn working on independent films (like I have - many times), but I really would rather not be someone else's learning experience - not with my ass on the line as much as it is on this picture. Jonah says: "I'll get through it/I'll get through it/...Better than this."

This weekend - we shoot all of the Spanner office scenes, and maybe (big maybe) some of the aforementioned reshoots. The office stuff should be a breeze. Should be. I guess we'll see about that, won't we?

I know I sound bitter and tempermental - I am under a great deal of stress (some that I feel is unnecessary) - but there's nothing in the world that I'd rather be doing. Well, maybe directing A Nightmare On Elm Street 9, but you know what I mean.

Here are some pictures from the first few days. Big ups to Kenny Haner for taking them and posting them on his site.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Monday, August 29, 2005

Four To Go

The whirlwind first weekend at Debbie and Raoul's house is now behind us, and with some distance I feel pretty good about it - especially the stuff from last night. Maybe the whole sex stuff just psyched me out subconsciously, because once we started doing straight dialogue and attacks and gore, I had hit my rhythm. Let me try to recap:


We started Saturday night at about 6 PM. Scenes to be shot were all the scenes at Dolores' House, including the dinner/sex scene. We shot the lead-up, and a later scene (the "your brother's dead" scene - oops, SPOILER), and then moved to the back-and-forth with the two cops GENTRY and WHITE. The transition shot to that scene was pretty grueling and time consuming to set up - a dolly/crane shot on a canted Heights street from the location to a parked car further down the side of the street. It took a few tries, but it's a shot I really wanted, and I think we got it. The camera/grip crew and the gaffer team (they overlap a lot - heh heh) did an excellent job on finally nailing down that shot. So we got the cop stuff, and then moved inside for the unskinny bop.

Once inside, we shot the sex scene for Dolores and Will. It turned out pretty well, and was hot without being pornographic. At the end of that, we then shot the remainder of shots that we did not get on Friday night (mainly the magic battle between Will and Keely. Final wrap time: 6 AM. Ugh. But we got it all done, and we got to throw Tim against a wall, and see Roxy teleport and throw lightning. Big shout out to the cast and crew for sticking with me until the end there.


Sunday was supposed to be pretty easy...and it was, considering how Saturday went. We had a simple dialogue scene with Eldridge and Will, and then the Eldridge's death scene. The first monkey wrench is that an evacuating family from New Orleans (with a dog, and a baby, and a small child) had to come crash at the house we were shooting at (they're relatives of the owners). The dialogue scene took way longer than it should have because of some tension on the set, and the recurring noise from above family. I had to pull rank and step in as DP and gaffer for the one scene just to get it done, but we did get it done, in the traditional Mel House run-and-gun shooting style (thank you again, Rebel Without A Crew). By the end of that shoot we had all the shots I'll need, and we were back on schedule. After I talked to some of the crew a bit, the tensions were eased (at least for the rest of Sunday). I think the Hickory Hollow barbecue that our Location Manager Richard got helped morale a bit, too. Thanks a bunch, Rich. While the got the food, we started to shoot the scene where Leandra (Anjanette Clewis) attacks Eldridge. We choreographed it a few times and then knocked it out so that Anjanette could get back to Dallas for work on Monday. It came out well, I think.

We took a break to eat, then Steven Scott (Eldridge) got his gore on for the death scene. Our makeup artist, Ashley Frazier, did a killer job on that stuff. It looked nasty as hell. Exactly what I wanted. We shot Eldridge's dead body, and Spanner's discovery of said corpse, and then we were done. It took about an hour and a half to pack up and get out (Raoul was coming home later that night, plus they had two more evacuating families on the way). We got out by about 11:30, and I crashed by 12:30. Not too bad, considering. Most importantly, the footage looks good.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Day After

Still unsure about how the first day of shooting went. We only got about halfway done with what I intended with my shotlist. I think the problem is that the crew is running inefficiently. There was way too much downtime and screwing around for my tastes. Maybe it will just take a while to get into the groove.

I can already catch whiffs of "too many cooks" syndrome as well. I need to talk to everyone about the fact that this is really not a democracy (although I thought that was patently clear) from the get-go. I don't want your input unless I ask for it. Everyone's got their ideas, and it's cool once in a while, but it starts to happen too much and BAM you only get half of your shotlist done because you're wasting time. I know it sounds dickish, but I've already seen it happen on many other movie sets - and it happened a lot last night.

With all that said, the stuff we did get in the can looked pretty damn good. Lots of cool lighting schema, and the performances were great. Will (Tim) and Keely (Roxy) kick ass.

This afternoon we shoot the Dolores scenes and some of the cops dialogue.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Christmas At Ground Zero

Tonight's the night. We start shooting around 6:30-7 PM. Last night's blocking went really well - the sex will be hot, the magic will be ...magical (?)

I also got a final call from the Chicago producer/writer team just to go over some last minute things. They seem pretty stoked about what they've seen so far (all merely tests), so that makes me feel pretty confident. Although...seeing Witchcraft X made me feel pretty confident, too. We also went over the final contracts and they sent me everything via email at the end of the night. Contracts = Legitimacy.

Next week's shoot is coming together as well as the two bar scenes. Slowly but surely the schedule is becoming a lock.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Tomorrow is the big inagural first day of shooting. Tonight, WILL and KEELY are coming over to block out their big sexual encounter/magic battle. We're also doing some preliminary shot blocking and audio tests. Now i'm just ready to get started.

Mike Wolinski told me that two horror news sites should be contacting us for interviews - one of which will be a set visit. Nice. Now if we can just secure a panel at a Fangoria Weekend Of Horrors, then I can die a happy man.

Just read that 'Superman Returns' is about to take a five-week hiatus. I'm completely shooting a movie in the time it takes them to "recharge their batteries" or chase wallabies, or whatever it is they're doing over there. Crazy.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Soothing The Savage Beast

Thank God for the new Coheed and Cambria and Cave-In records. They dampen my ever-increasing urge to kill.

Rehearsal with Will and Laura tonight, then immediately afterwards with Officers Gentry and White.

I also finished doing my shot breakdown of the script - exactly 666 shots.

Okay, not really, but wouldn't that be synchronicity? There are actually 450 shots all told. Now the storyboarding.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Down In A Hole

Last night we tested out the "Ollie Dolly". Works like a champ. Que chevre, Oliver. We will definitely overuse that piece of equipment. Actually, I don't think there was a single moving camera shot in any of the other 'Witchcraft' films. Here's to making our mark on the series through stylistic indulgence.

Afterwards, I met up with Richard to scout out our potential bar scene location. Nice place, with lots of ambiance. Hopefully things will work out with the negotiations (looking good, for once).

Today I went to Texcam to get some gaffers tape and party gels - as usual, they were pretty standoffish, and acted like I was putting them out with my business. Viva La Houston Indie Spirit. And people wonder about "production flight" when just about every person you have to deal with in a industry-related business is as self-important as the pricks at Texcam. Too bad they're the only game in town when it comes to production expendables. Next time, I'm hitting the internet.

After that, I hit the Salvation Army for some wardrobe. The thrift store finery did not disappoint, and I've successfully clothed most of the scenes for this weekend. Cheap though it may have been, I'm still spending money that I shouldn't be, especially in light of the fact that I'm probably never going to see the money that my employer owes me. This movie is going to drive me into destitution for sure.

I just watched Bryan Singer's Comicon footage for 'Superman Returns' for some moral support/inspiration. I'm not crazy about Brandon Routh, but the scene with the "Superman Fanfare" theme underscoring it gave me the nerd-vapors. Having something like that as a light at the end of the tunnel definitely helps me get through this minefield.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Final Countdown

Unless someone else sells me out, here's how we're officially rolling this week:


Will Spanner - Tim Wrobel
Dolores Stevens - Jennifer LeFleur
Laura - Falin Profitt
Eldridge - Steven Scott
Officer Gentry - Lynn Michaels
Officer White - Richard Flood
Ben - Josh Sykora
Skylar - Zoe Hunter
Leandra - Denise Clewis
Keeley - Roxy Vandiver
Clive - Cesar Castillo
Lonely Man - Thomas Kurzy


Director/Editor/Producer - Mel House
Director Of Photography - Will Molina
Key Grip - Domingo Baragan
Best Boy - Oliver Nieto
Location Sound - Mike Canales
Location Manager - Richard Boatto
Makeup - Sarah Ali
Special Makeup Effects - Ashley Frazier
Digital Special Effects - Russell Baldonado

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Saturdays of Thunder

Woke up pretty early yesterday and met up with Oliver so that we could gt some materials for the "Ollie Dolly". I also picked up a few things for the "Vomit Cam" setup, and I hunted down a few of the groundless-to-grounded AC adapters later in the day. We need those for the cave shoot, as the only AC plugs they have are groundless. Hello subterranean fire that kills 20.

After that, Domingo and I went on a quest for the necklaces/insignias that feature prominently into the plot. After receiving a tip from Roxy (one of the witches-to-be), we headed out to Spencer's Gifts in the mall. Lo and behold, they had quasi-wiccan jewelry on the cheap. So now, that plot point is taken care of.

Also got final confirmation from the witch-to-be that lives in New York. She's booked her flight to come down. So all the cast is set - hopefully.

I'm getting used to daily betrayal and the undermining of my confidence in people. I'm starting to believe that it's just an occupational hazard that I have to deal with. At least now it's coming from unexpected places - that spices things up a bit.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Breaking The Broken

Domingo just called me a little while ago and told me he bought some of the effect contact lenses that I could not afford to get for next week's shoot. Him doing that probably will result in a few unpaid bills on his part. Of course, the gesture is much appreciated. It's not that Domingo had to do that, rather, it's the fact that he took a hit because he knew it would improve the quality of the movie. Awesome. Good to know some people are still selfless when it comes down to it.

MINOR DIGRESSION - In case you're wondering why I'm trying to make a movie with a negative bank account balance (I've alluded to this but never explained)...long story short: In April I recieved a title change at work, which was more or less a promotion. With said promotion/title change came much more travel (in addition to the 60 mile roundtrip I already make 5 days a week). I was also supposed to start recieving commission, because my new job title also includes sales aspects along with the production duties (basically this was going to be my raise). I still have not recieved one nickel of the commission that I was supposed to have begun receiving in May. Which puts me at about a $2300 loss at last count. Now combine that with this movie (which is forced to start earlier than expected, before financing is fully in place), and the wedding stuff that I have to pay for, and you get one big financial shit sandwich. So that's where all the "I'm so broke" stuff comes from.

"So why are you doing a movie if you're broke?"

Are you fucking kidding me? I'd rather go broke doing this and hope for the eventual payoff, then live a comfortable, monotony-driven existence hoping for the (unlikely) eventual break to come along.

So the moral of the story? Will - you need to pay my car note for me. Come on man, I know you read this. Take one for the team.

Afro-Latino Engineering

Now we get into the really indie filmmaking stuff. With shooting starting next week, and my job screwing me out of a lot of money, we are starting to construct some things ourselves. Oliver, Domingo, and I are going to build a skateboard dolly (the kind that runs on PVC pipe) this weekend, as well as finish my design for a "vomit cam" (basically a camera that spins on a tight axis on the horizontal plane - to be used for the magic battles). We may even attempt a home-made handheld camera stabilizer (Steadicam) if we have it in us. Hopefully everything will work out, and I won't lose any fingers in the process. At the very least it will make some interesting DVD commentary, and at best we'll join the likes of Raimi, Jackson, and Rodriguez in the halls of the Home Made Camera Support Pantheon. Big thanks to for all the ideas and diagrams.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


And the hits just keep on coming.

Over the last few days I've had to recast a couple of the roles for the movie. One was due to an understandable (and unavoidable) scheduling conflict - I kind of saw it coming, so I had my contingency plan ready to rock. The second one, however, blindsided me and pretty royally pissed me off for a number of reasons (all petty, illogical, and avoidable).

Someone that I really wanted for a lead role basically had a freakout and decided against taking the part. Unfortunately it was one of my three or four pre-audition cast certainties, which kind of jacks with my head in a way. I guess it's nothing new to me - it happened three times on Fade To Black, and the movie only really suffered from one of the roles being recast. Still, it's a major pain in the ass to get the new person up to speed, and get them to read with Will Spanner (the lead character), and hopefully develop some of the chemistry that was there before. Who knows, maybe it will work out for the better. The new people seem pretty excited about the whole deal (as they should be - a lot of people are selling this project short because of it's somewhat questionable lineage - but you'll be in Blockbuster Video, for Christ sakes). I think my dumb luck is running out though - it just so happened that my two replacements were available for the shoot days I had already scheduled. I hope no one sells me out a week prior to their call time. I'd hate to have to end up making out with Will Spanner myself.

Reconfirmed with The Cave With No Name - they're excited to have us, which is cool. The only locations that we're having problems with are the two bar scenes. We were referred to an "indie-friendly" bar in Houston, and when we asked about shooting, they quoted a location fee of up to $2000(!). Real "indie-friendly", that.

Next weekend is our first shoot weekend, so we're preparing for that. We're shooting about half of the sex scenes and one kill scene. Blood and breasts...should be a gas.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Pre-pre-pre production

The first shoot weekend is set (August 26-28). There's only one cast member that's not a lock at this point, and I have his backup (and a backup backup) ready to go if I don't hear from him. Cesar is making it down for one weekend in Spetember to essay the "Casey Becker" role (not his character's name...but I'll leave that reference up to you to figure out). Good to have at least one holdover from Fade To Black...I like continuity like that. I guess maybe Jonah's rubbing off on me. We're still waiting on location locks for the two bar scenes, but I expect those are coming soon. Richard, Domingo, and I have been scouring the flea markets, hippie wicca stores, and internet for props and costuming ideas. Talked to Wes about doing the website. Things are slowly starting to come together - let's just hope they don't blow up in my face.

Friday, August 12, 2005

How Will I Laugh Tomorrow...

We had our first crew meeting last night. It went well, I guess, although the last week leading up to the meeting has been punctuated with instances of me having to tell people that they're not getting paid for working on Witchcraft 13. Then, all of a sudden their attitude changes from being totally dedicated to "eh...maybe I'll make it...if I feel like it". Eat a dick, fair-weather filmmakers. I'm fucking losing money on this deal, and I've got a wedding to pay for in two months, so forgive me if I don't get all misty-eyed because I can't allocate some of the non-existant budget to line your pockets. Trust me, we can and will do it without you. Make sure you don't come around sniffing my ass when this leads to a gig where we actually will make a little dough (which it will).

Thankfully, most everyone else is into the deal for the long haul, it seems, and are willing to work for the credit and prestige of having an actual feature with distribution under their belt. Eighty percent of the crew seems pretty excited and are chomping at the bit to start shooting. One guy even offered to take a $500 dollar personal hit for a specific aspect of the production - which of course paints the dissidents an even darker shade of dick. I've heard back from most of the cast as far as locking down their dates, most of the locations are good to go, the effects (both digital and practical) are coming along nicely. I get to test out the edible hearts this weekend, I think. Yummy. Also meeting with a potential web designer to get that particular cog greased.

Our shoot dates have done the slip and slide a bit, due to Murphy's Law being in full effect. Just like with the crew situation, people that I thought would help me out on the location front are becoming difficult all of a sudden. If you ever want to know where people really stand with you, make a low budget feature. That seems to be a pretty good method of separating the wheat from the chaff. Anyway, now we're starting a week earlier and ending a week later.

I'm going to kick this movie's ass - even if I have to do it all by myself.


Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Back and Hating Life Once Again

The Chicago trip was a success. I met with the Brothers Wolinski (Mike and Jeff) all day Saturday on matters regarding Witchcraft 13. They pretty much agreed on all my casting choices, and they also liked the cave location, the guy I've chosen to score the movie, and the effects tests. I could tell that Mike and Jeff were getting excited about everything, and it made me feel pretty good. Now they have tangible proof that their faith in me is not a misguided one.

We also discussed their next project (to be lensed later this year, we hope), and I'm excited about that as well.

Saturday night and Sunday we just basically hung out and had fun - Saturday we went bar-hopping (which was actually fun for my teetotaling ass for once), and Sunday we went to Six Flags Great America, which has to be second only to Magic Mountain as far as pure Six Flags coaster madness goes. Needless to say I had a blast, and I'm very excited about WC13. We have our first crew meeting this Thursday, and I'm in the process of making the official offers to the talent.

Also...this weekend has made me really reconsider the whole "move to Chicago" idea. Aside from the fact that my day to day life down here in H-town gets more wrist-slittingly depressing by the hour, the industry up there is starting to boom (Batman last year, Amityville remake, The Break-Up, Die Hard 4 next year), so that aspect of it is promising, plus I really like the friends that I've made up there, both on a professional and personal level. Maybe I need a change of scenery, or a complete reboot - like the Batman franchise. I guess we'll see what happens after Witchcraft 13.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Back In Black

Speaking of getting back into my routine - I'm getting together with John (drummer) for our first band jam in a while. We're trying out another bassist. Hopefully this one will work out...we need to start cracking on the songs for the movie soon (and I wouldn't mind playing out live again).

Last night I had to have one last actress model for me - since we're doing nude scenes, I have to make sure everything's "okay", if you know what I mean. Don't want any surprises when the camera rolls. It sounds scummy, but it's actually very professional...almost clinical in a sense. Fortunately, everything is in order, and all of the actresses that I've chosen so far will work for the roles, and probably turn a few guys on in the process.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Cave - In

We went and visited the cave yesterday. It's the Cave Without A Name in Boerne, Texas. The owner was really cool and accomodating, and he seemed willing to work with us and excited about the project. I'm sure he was relieved when we didn't end up being snotty college kids with no respect for property or the nuances of the subterranian biosphere. I'm excited - the place is beautiful, and constantly 65 degrees year round. The only caveat is the roughly 8 and a half stories worth of steps that we have to traverse to get in and out. Going down wasn't that bad, but going back up nearly made me have a heart attack. It's a good thing I plan on resuming my MMA training next week to get into shape for the shoot. Now that I'm de-stressing a little about the movie, I can free my mind (and my time) up just enough to get back into my old routine a bit. The people on my crew are helping me to do that - they probably don't realize it, but they are becoming a well-honed machine of moviemaking efficiency, which takes a hell of a lot of weight off of my shoulders.

This week I'm finalizing the schedule, editing the test footage together, and getting ready for my meeting with the producers in Chicago. Oddly enough, my next project (not counting the Untitled Wolinski Horror Project) seems to be in the gestative stages - again it's not something that I expected, but it IS a horror movie, so that's good enough for me. It will be nice to have the next project in pre-production while I'm doing Witchcraft 13.

Saturday, July 30, 2005


Holy hell. We did our auditions today from 2 pm until 7 pm, and pretty much ran people through that whole time. I'm pretty wiped out, both mentally and physically. I was actually surprised at the overall quality and talent level today. 95% of the people were good (about 75% were great), and I wish I had enough roles to cast everyone. But, that's not the case, so I pretty much have my picks for the cast after today. My crew was rockin' like Dokken as well - I probably would have committed mass murder/suicide if it wasn't for them. Learning to delegate more. Slowly but surely. Next weekend I head up to the Windy City to run the clips by the other producers. After that we should start locking in the cast and drawing up all the proposals, contracts, riders, etc.

Russell did some rough preliminary "witchcraft" effect test footage. It looks pretty impressive, even at the draft stage. I think it will look pretty cool when all is said and done.

Next, I have to get up at 4 AM tomorrow morning and drive to Boerne to check out the cave location. I'm dedicated to my art, I guess. Either that or I'm totally insane. I'm pining for insanity. At least then I can get a check from the government.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

And the winner is...Witchcraft 13

I've been given the go ahead to make the official announcement of what my next project actually is. Now I can tell everyone that I'm directing the 13th entry in the popular direct-to-video 'Witchcraft' series. I've only told a few people outside of my crew so far, and the question that I get the most is:

"Is that that movie with Fairuza Balk/Neve Cambpell/The Girl With The Big Forehead?"

No. No, it's not.

Anyway, we shot some test footage last night, along with effects plates for tests of all the digital "witchcraftiness" that's going to take place. Beams of light, balls of energy, lightning, etc.

The test scenes were pure dramatic talking head stuff, but they got me pretty pumped about the movie. I actually have a talented pool of individuals to use, and it's a luxury that I'm not used to. It's nice to let go and delegate - be it with camera placement, script assistance, or slate-clacking. I can concentrate on the performances, finally. I hope the other producers agree with my choices for Will, Laura, and Dolores.

My comic book guys returned their screener copy of 'Drawing Blood' to me this weekend. They kind of bagged on it without coming right out and saying so. Didn't bother me too much on a conscious level...but subconsciously, in that really dark recess of my mind, right next to where I store all the Nightmare On Elm Street movie release dates, I felt a bit indignant. I guess it's the same attitude that I have with movie reviewers - let's see you do better, asshole. The naysaying is nothing new to me though - the first time I showed Drawing Blood to one of my best friends, all they did was complain the whole time about how "stupid" or "gay" the movie was, and that "it wasn't really horror".

I guess it's a good thing that stupid, gay, non-horror movie got me a stupid, gay, non-horror movie deal, huh?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Hell is a 72-Hour Turnkey Project

This past weekend, I helped my future DP create a movie in 72 hours for the Filmerica challenge. It was pretty rough at times, culminating in my being so tired after the first two days that I took a bath in my hallway NOT REALIZING THAT I WASNT IN THE BATHROOM. Weird. Things did turn out okay, though, and the resultant movie isn't half bad. Along with all the behind the scenes stuff that I did that actually transcends my 'Director of Photography' credit, I also played the role of the bad guy in the cloak. Hopefully Robert Englund won't try to sue me - it's hard to do a movie like that and not channel The Springwood Slasher in some form or another. Consider it an homage, Mr. Englund. Either that, or a bid to direct the next Nightmare movie. Anyway, I look forward to seeing what happens with the movie in the competition. We have already begun talking about fleshing out the concept to feature length. Perhaps this will be my post-TRISKADEKAPHOBIA (not the real title) project. Which means that I'm going to have to push back 'Walking Distance' yet again. It will eventually get made though.

In other news, the IMDb has finally added Electric Purgatory to the database, which is cool. Unfortunately, I'm the only name linked so far. Hopefully they'll take care of that - there are lots of people involved with EP that deserve the recognition, especially the bands.

Triskadeka-Update: Still looking forward to auditions. Still getting submissions. Still having to tell everybody that there's nudity. I've had a couple of aspiring scream queens send me headshots, so that's good. They have no problems with the 'requirements' of the movie. I also think I found someone for a major role this weekend as a result of the 72 hour film shoot. As they say, things happen for a reason. I finally read the two leads last night, and they seem to have a pretty solid chemistry going, so that will make things easier for sure. We're also scouting locations now - I've brought on a Location Manager (who just happens to be a guy that I've known for 23 years), and I think I found a Production Manager this evening. It will be nice not having to wear all these hats this time around. Now I just have to learn to let go and delegate, despite my total lack of faith in humanity. Labor Day Weekend looks to be our go date, and we'll probably start off with the raunchy stuff first. Ahh...indie filmmaking.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


In the last few days, I've met up with several potential crew members for the movie. Talking to a couple SFX artists - both good, with nice portfolios. Now it's a bidding war, which is nice. I didn't think I'd have that luxury. I also think I have my DP and sound staff set. I'm finished watching the "resource material" as well. Talked to a few more actors/actresses. The official audition/readings are going down on Saturday, July 30 from 2 to 6 pm at The Houston School Of Film And Theatre (5250 Gulfton Dr., Suite 4A, 77081). Just in case there are any actors in the area that stumble upon this, feel free to email me to RSVP for a spot...remember that the ladies need to be willing to show some skin.

Friday, July 01, 2005

The Fate of The Black Filmmaker

Last night's screening of Electric Purgatory was a pretty smashing success. The movie played to a plus-capacity crowd, and got a great response. Doug Pinnick from King's X (one of the most underrated bands on the planet) showed up to lend some support. It was great to see people wig out witnessing the power and prowess of Fishbone (THE most underrated band on the planet) for the first time. And no one bitched about my camerawork. It was funny noticing my cinematographic growth over the course of the movie (we worked on it for 3+ years). Hopefully things will start happening with the documentary - there are screenings being set up in NY and LA right now. Big ups to my nigga Raymond for seeing this through to the end - as a black rocker, it's especially salient to me.

So what else is happening? I've been getting in submissions for the "secret project" aka TRISKADEKAPHOBIA by the truckload. Lots of actor/actress interest, and a surprising number of competent crew in the area. I've been doing pre-interviews with everyone, and will probably start the casting in earnest in a couple of weeks. Meeting with one special effects person tonight - her credits include Aliens VS. Predator and Scary Movie 3, so hopefully she can bring the gore old-school style. This month and next are all about the pre-production.

There's a new battle going on involving public access here in Houston (again). This happens every 2 or 3 years. They're trying to rally the troops to support them, but I'm indifferent right now. My grudges invariably trump my ideals. Petty? Probably. But I could give a fuck what you think.