Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Commune DVD is here!

My first foray into the indy film market is done!

A labor of love for over 2 years, The Commune is now available for everyone to enjoy. We worked really hard on the DVD to pack it with many extra features including deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes interviews and not one but TWO entire commentary tracks that take you deep inside the making of the movie and the process of developing the story, themes and symbolism hidden within The Commune.

OK, enough hyperbole for now.

Allow me to fill you in on the backstory of The Commune.

Almost three years ago, my good friend and brilliant screenwriter, Elisabeth Fies started working on pre-production on her first feature film, Pistoleras. Now, her screenplay for Pistoleras had already won a couple of awards and everyone who read it instantly recognized not only its smart mashup of Spaghetti western and teen flick genres, but its instant marketability.

While Lis started casting the movie, my other good friend, comic book artist Charles Yoakum begin work in the graphic novel version of the movie.

I concentrated on the production and post-production workflow. At the time, affordable HD camcorders were just hitting the market, and the Panasonic HVX200was getting lots of buzz due to it's ability to shoot 1080p at 24fps - in other words, produce a convincing film-look for under $6000. Add to that, the new 35mm adapters that were coming out like the Brevis and the Red Rock Micro which allow for true 35mm depth of field just like the big boys in Hollywood, and this combo looked to me to be the perfect way to enter the feature film market with a microbudget.

We started to do some screen tests but soon realized that the scope of the project was just too big for the resources that we had available. The script just had too many characters, too many locations, too much action choreography and to be honest, we had too little experience to do the script justice. Although Lis and I both had filmschool backgrounds, and I had over 15 years experience as a professional editor (mostly documentaries and corporate videos), this would be our first feature film. We decided that it would be best of we got our feet wet on a smaller-scale project that had fewer locations and actors, and that we could shoot in a matter of weeks.

Lis happened to have a screenplay that she had been working on that was almost ready to go, so she emailed it to me. I was blown away. Again, this was a genre mashup but this time a classic 70's style thriller mixed with a coming of age drama, all wrapped up inside the creepy Patchouli oil drenched commune. It was a slow-burn kind of story where you get lost in the intrigue and the amazingly honest love story and then BLAMMO you get blindsided at the end and realize that what you thought the story was about was far, far from the awful truth.

This was The Commune.

(To be continued...)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Why Special FX Shouldn't Be the Deciding Factor for Directing a Movie

In my previous post I stated that just because some guy could animate some nice robots, maybe that's not the best reason to give him $30 million to direct a movie.

You see, movies kinda have something to do with story and motivation and human emotions and metaphor and psychology and... oh heck, just watch these brilliant deconstructions of why Star Wars: The Phantom Menace sucked beyond belief and you'll see what I mean.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Turn $300 into $30 Million!

Ok, so I'm sure you've heard about this one:

From Uruguay to Hollywood

Now first off, good for him. Any story of newbie signing a huge deal sets a precedent that can only be good for us other indy filmmakers.

However, three things pop into my mind:

1) I can understand hiring the guy as a special effects supervisor or something, but a director? Puh-leeze. Take the robots away and what do you have? Story? Human interaction?

2) Even if he is a director, does hollywood really need another Roland Emmerich or Michael Bay?

3) I'm sick of these ridiculous budget numbers - $300 - really? Like how about the cost of your computer, or Maya, or After Effects, or Final Cut, or the stolen music? It's still micro-budget, but to make that clip from scratch is at least $10,000.

that's all for now - get back to work...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Blame my mother... really.

I can remember watching all sorts of weird, crazy and utterly horrible movies as a kid. My folks would pack us into our VW squareback and my sister and I would sit in the backseat, cozy in our pajamas, and cram freshly popped popcorn down our throats.

Yes, we were at the drive-in.

We watched all sorts of grade z monster movies like Sssssssand Bugand the occasional Japanese creature feature like War of the Gargantuas.I especially remember watching this one crazy film where people in a hi-rise complex were throwing up all over each other, getting naked and doing strange things...

My mother told us to close our eyes for that one.

I would discover later that that film was David Cronenberg's They Came From Within(also known as Shivers).

When I was twelve, my mother took me and a buddy to see a new sci-fi monster film that everybody was talking about. It was rated R for good reason - gore, horror and the kind of jump-scares that were sending people fleeing from the theaters. Of course, this didn't stop her from taking us right on in.

That movie was Alien, and suddenly I realized that monster movies needn't be grade-z shlock. They could be elegant. Thought-provoking. And still scary as hell.

Thanks Ridley.

And thanks, mom.