every. drop. counts.

spam_can_openThere comes a time in every creative person’s life when they must put their work out there for everyone to see, and possibly kick around like an old can of Spam™. The often maligned spiced ham product is actually a decent metaphor for the work in question as it is certainly an improbable cocktail of disparate elements mashed together with a healthy dash of heat. And while the resulting taste may be an acquired one, once it’s “in the can”, all that’s left to do is find a way to get it on as many tables as possible.

Let’s get it out of the way: HorrorCon failed to land a spot in any of the twenty-plus festivals to which it was submitted. It did receive one piece of feedback from the New York City Horror Festival folks who said the director was “one to watch”, and there were some other consolatory words offered hither and thither, but the festival stage of the process was, in no uncertain terms, an absolute wash.

Now, before this post starts to sound like I’ve gathered you all here for a pity party, I want everyone to know about a few other truths that I believe are equally absolute:

HorrorCon was designed to challenge audiences.
Failure is necessary for success.
Oswald acted alone.
Wine before beer; never fear.
It will rain inky bird poop on the day I finally wash my car.

As well, there were other factors at work that, while not listed as excuses, most certainly played a role in the film’s flaccid festival return:

HorrorCon utilized the “late deadline” in almost 75% of its submissions.
Not a single consulted horoscope predicted success.
My mother neglected to join any of the submission panels.
I am not often enough “too sexy for my shirt”.
Fortune cookies are best ignored as they are full of despicable lies.

Honorable mentions include budget size, poor festival selection, no boobies on the poster, and, of course, delivering the exact opposite of that which is strongly implied by your film’s title. Which brings me to the title of this post, rather colorfully presented in the image below:


Prominently including the term “horror” in the title of a film that is essentially a psychological thriller/mystery/character-driven drama may not be the best idea if you’re trying to slot into a horror film festival at the 11th hour. It’s also probably not a solid go-to plan if your goal is to sneak into a festival that eschews horror entirely. At worst, it’s stupid. At best, bravely unwise. This is why HorrorCon now goes by the far more artfully intriguing title, Every Drop Counts. If the name and logo suggest a dark and cautiously exsanguinating experience, that’s the idea. If it doesn’t suggest HOTEL BOOBIE SLASHER, that’s the idea, too. Not that there would be anything wrong with one of those, but that’s not what we made. Not even close.

However, there is plenty of cleavage. Who am I, the Pope?

There is one other aspect of the film that begs addressing, and it refers to the original conceptualizing of the story that began as a literary work. HorrorCon the novella was a 140 page psychological exploration of a girl who wanted to die and an older man who saw the opportunity to save her as an opportunity to save himself. The book spends much of the time in our characters heads, and it could be safely described as “dialogue rich”. While imagining it for the screen, it was actually the little screen that seemed the better fit, as in, a TV series. Subsequently, the screenplay takes its time with setting and attempts to allow the horror convention experience to seep into an audience’s skull and under their skin. In the end, I wanted an audience empathy meter that’s needle pinned so hard it broke through the glass and tacked their hats to the wall.

So, I did what anyone with those highly specific goals would do: I made an overlong movie! If you’re getting the faint impression that I don’t always listen to myself, you’re probably right. But I assure you, there were a lot of conversations with the mirror and others about how to go about this project, and let’s face it, there are very few, if any, “series pilot” festivals to be found. A movie seemed the best step forward in terms of furthering my career, even if it was broken into three “chapters” much better suited to episodic television. I suppose I was inspired by series that I had been watching on HBO at the time, such as “Six Feet Under”, “The Sopranos” and “Deadwood”. Of course, as of this posting, we now have “The Walking Dead”, “American Horror Story”, “Bates Motel”, dark drama “Breaking Bad” – the list grows longer every week. Perhaps due to this new proliferation of genre TV series we’ll see something akin to a “series” festival in the future, but of late I haven’t found shit, yo.

So, what does all this mean? Well, I’ll tell you. While I’ve been laying low with the project and planning the next move, I’ve also been maintaining my social media outlets and collecting a fan base, so to speak. The film has 745 lovely Likers on its Facebook Page and 2,645 fantastic followers on Twitter. The plan is that when that number hits 3,000, we’ll roll out EDC as a three night mini-series over the course of a weekend, starting on Friday at 6 pm, then Saturday at 6pm, and finally Sunday at 6pm. See what I did there? Yep, besides being devilishly clever, I’m courting horror fans again. Foolishly, perhaps, but the bet is that the new format will re-calibrate their expectations to a setting that is more favorable to the offered fare. For example, you don’t go through a drive-thru to order the Filet McMignon in your happy meal, do you? No, that would be silly. The average brain is incapable of processing a juicy filet dribbling down one’s shirt and into that crevice in your crotch where all bits of dribbly food vanish forever. Conversely, you don’t go to a fine restaurant and pay $30 for some chicken nuggets in a folded paper container with a lid that won’t stay open unless you weigh it down with something which will eventually lead to whatever’s left in the food side of the container flying across the table because the weight is now unevenly distributed. Anyway, you get the idea, and once the entire series is up, it’ll stay up for an undetermined amount of time before vanishing back into the hybrid ether from whence it came as we gather up the feedback.

But wait, there’s more! In the weeks leading up to the roll-out we’ll be releasing various tidbits related to the series including full color stills, harrowing making-of info, and maybe even a few choice clips. There will also be input from the cast and crew, and if we’re lucky, some of it will involve boobies! There will also be another surprise involving a related musical project of mine, but I’ll save those details for later.

So stay tuned, and feel free to share this post. Why? Because I still believe in this story. I still think it can touch audiences in its exploration of loneliness, loss, and the conflicting ways fan culture cashes in on the victimization of women. And just maybe it offers something so unique and special that not a single film festival knew what to do with it.

Or perhaps, at last, it’s just a helluva first effort. For sure, there are some outstanding performances, both in front and behind the camera, so I’m willing to bet it’s a bit more than a good old college try.

That brings us to your Cracker Jack™ prize video below featuring an animated depiction of yours truly seeing EDC actress Michal Sinnott for the first time on television.* The rest, as they almost never say, is the future. Let’s see if we can change that.

Until next time. And whatever you do, make it count.


*Michall Sinnott is actually the voice and image of GTA V character Tracey De Santa.







Posted in career news, HorrorCon, HorrorCon: The Web Series | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

crunching the numbers

horrorconThe basic premise of HorrorCon – a young female vendor rapidly losing the will to live learns to survive from a blood-sucking author in a similar state – bakes in an indelible setting. You either shoot this thing at a make-believe horror convention or you shoot it at the real thing. That I chose the latter was an idea born of both budget and marketing concerns. To cover the scope of my original story (poster, left) I needed a lot of people, merchandise and space; things I wasn’t in any position to pay for. But the conceit was always thus: if I pull it off and it doesn’t look “forced”, I’ve got a very marketable behind-the-scenes story to tell on the back of an epic, character-driven thriller that unfolds right in front of your lying eyes.

And you know what? I did. I pulled it off. We pulled it off. We stole this motherfucker right out from under their noses and I’d say for the most part you don’t feel the trick. I know I’m not the only micro-budget filmmaker in the world who’s tried something like this but I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who’s done it this way, this immersively, all within the restrictions of one entity that is structured to make what I’ve done strictly impossible. Or at the very least, ill-advised. For that I feel a little like Orville or Wilbur Wright – take your pick – who put something in the air against a set of laws at once established, material, and punitive. And they did so on a wing and no prayer, because prayers take precious seconds and in general are thieves of effective action. Indeed, we flew with a drag so absolute on our tails that only borrowing against it would keep us aloft. But how can you borrow against gravity without eventually falling flat? Read on.

If my comparing the Screen Actors Guild to the earth’s gravitational pull seems a bit over-the-top it’s because few really understand the Screen Actors Guild, or SAG-AFTRA as they are now known. Without digging too deeply into their history, suffice it to say that at one time, actors were a pretty disorganized bunch. The profession of acting itself dates back to the ancient Greeks and probably even earlier if we’re to believe that prostitution is the world’s oldest profession – plenty of performances there. But it’s been a profession that is both revered and mistrusted. It’s among the most unpopular professions among parental recommendations for their children, and actors have even been murdered for coming too close to a devout society’s concept of demonic possession. Resisting the actor stereotype would mean avoiding terms like “neurotic”, “vain” and “flaky” to describe them so I won’t fall into that trap (oops). Still, one of the world’s most mysterious and ethereal professions has come a long, long way. Which is to say, there’s a more predictive and gainful living to be made with the craft, and likewise, in the employment of actors. Which is really to say, there are a lot of people getting very wealthy from acting who are not actors.

If one were to conduct even the most casual of private surveys, one would likely come to the conclusion that there are far more hours of entertainment to watch these days than there are hours to watch it, which could give the illusion that there is more than enough work to be had for the working actor. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s take, for example, the pool of professional actors now plying their trade in Los Angeles. According to the “anthropological” entertainment industry website Hollywood Sapien, if you take into account last years SAG membership figures (122,000), added them to AFTRA’s figures minus non-actors and guild overlaps (13,000) there are approximately 135,000 vested actors duking it out for part-time and steady jobs. If you factor in the rough estimate that 80% of all acting jobs are to be found in Los Angeles, you arrive at a curvy 108,640 monologues taken, hopefully at regular intervals, from Glengarry Glen Ross. If you now consider that roughly 80% of those actors are out of work at any given time, our number is now a more angular and photogenic 21,728. That’s a working 17%. Add tens of thousands of non-union talent country-wide to the equation and congratulations acting profession, you’re now the entertainment industry’s equivalent of the Republic of Nauru (90% unemployment), which is also called Pleasant Island, so at least you’ve got that going for you.

And here’s what should be obvious: unions require dues. In return, members get healthcare and retirement benefits, but to do that, they need to work. In order to work, they need to find employers who are willing to pay them union salaries, or at least match one of SAG’s various low-budget employment contracts which include minimal working conditions (okay, you can have a granola bar every eight hours and we won’t use a real tiger), paying into the union’s pension and health plan, and my personal favorite, paying half of what their members will receive in wages for the entire project up front. Since productions like mine (I have to assume) often involve a rolling number of days depending on what can be accomplished and afforded, I had no way of determining the exact number of days any one of our union actors would be needed. No problem, right? Surely SAG-AFTRA, in their efforts to alleviate the infrequent employment of their “lesser earners”, would recognize our project as one that could help and work with us on their deposit demands. No chance. SAG-AFTRA sticks to the script, and operates entirely within the suitably dramatic auspices of what they call Global Rule One.

What is Global Rule One? Global Rule One states that “no member shall work as a performer or make an agreement to work as a performer for any producer who has not executed a basic minimum agreement with the Guild which is in full force and effect.” Meaning, in essence, that once you’re a member, you can only work with those productions contributing to the union till. You can’t waive your rights for a little pet project, nor can you go to another country and act your hump off in the shadow of Notre Dame. Since their humble beginnings back in 1933, SAG-AFTRA have grown very powerful and have been kicking the asses and taking the names of those members weak enough to work with the far more ubiquitous members of the low-budget filmmaking community in order to put food on their table, or at the very least, add something to their reel besides being the first person to die in an episode of “Law & Order”. Luckily for SAG-AFTRA, the great majority of its members aren’t weak in that way. Most of them fold so completely under union pressure that they’ll cut you off with the curtest of emails the instant you mention you’re not an affiliated production. In fact, it happened more than once to me before I accepted my signatory fate. One minute you’re indulging in the kinds of exciting conversations that made you want to make a film in the first place, the next you’re a member of the Communist Party back in Old Hollywood who’s just devoured an adorable puppy and is crapping it all over the inside of your pants.



Now, before you think I’m about to go into a union-busting rant, I recognize that most of them exist for good reason. And back in 1997, having apparently acknowledged that a larger pool of working members was good for both the union and not that intimidating to the cash-cow big studios who, ever since the increased democratization of film production technology have had to compete with “little movies that could”, SAG-AFTRA actually climbed into bed with flea-bitten, low-budgie folk like myself and birthed an underweight whelp known as SAGIndie. Thanks to this little runt, cash-strapped signatories are able to hire vested actors at the low, low price of $100 a day. Sounds terrific, doesn’t it? I certainly thought so. Hell, who cares about the “half up front” deposit? Just lie, man. Make up an amount of affordable days and send them their damn deposit. As long as your actors are okay with it and the union doesn’t find out and threaten to, or actually manage to, shut down your production and forever blacklist your name, what’s the worse that can happen? Well, taking a page from the script of actors everywhere and not wanting to make waves that might destroy my career, I decided to tell them the truth – or, let’s say, as much of the truth as I knew.

It went like this: I would need my union talent for at least the four days surrounding the first convention, a filming date I couldn’t miss or postpone. Was it possible to shoot all of their scenes in that single weekend? About as possible as it is to lick your elbow, but hey, this was my first rodeo and the bulls wanted answers. So I filled out my final cast list to include only those four days, tallied up the salaries, and sent it off. A few days later, I got an email with the deposit amount that I owed them. An amount, I might add, I could just about afford. I hadn’t lied or cheated, I simply put into effect my Global Rule: get it done. Several months of updated time sheets that reflected their actual salaries later, production on HorrorCon was complete. I turned in every piece of financial information I had, paid them the 15.something percent for P&H that they asked for, and set about post-production. Soon, I thought, I’d be told the film’s account was closed and be given that nerve settling pat on the head I thought I thoroughly deserved.

Flash forward to today and my head is still waiting. The unions accountants, come to find, only look at the final cast list, not the umpteen time sheets (26, to be exact) that reflect their members’ actual salaries, so I was told I owed them a few hundred bucks. Whatever. Fair is fair. I signed my agreements, paid what I was told, and now I was being told to pay more. Hey, I’d already dropped a few Bennies on things like hair extensions, roller derby equipment, dead-eye contacts, and devil horns for a priest. What was another few hundred for a little healthcare? Of course, at the time I was at the height of frustration. I’d spent more than two cash-hemorrhaging years making this film and it just wouldn’t end. The stress raced back into my nervous system every time I saw another email from them, joining a waiting trove of stress built from dealing with subhuman condo associations, trying to sell my home, trying to buy a new one, navigating a business through a rocky economy as well as 40 minutes of traffic to and from it for my trouble. But to hell with all that, one more check and I’d finally be rid of my union obligations. How much more grief could they give me?

About another half-dozen emails worth, as it turns out. Among which, they wanted the exact dates one of my actors was paid. The range of dates on the time sheets that I supplied them in a timely fashion apparently wasn’t enough.

Fine. Here.

Then they wanted the amounts broken down to correspond with those exact dates.

Okay, okay. HERE.

They’re still waiting on those amounts.


Thanks, they say. Oh, and I owe them $61.20 for late payment.

Whuh? Let me get this straight: I sent them everything I could at every stage of the production, everything their ultra low-budget agreement asked for, they lose some of that information – some of which they never bother to look over – and then I’m required to resend it. Then, after all that, they charge me for the honor?

Fun fact: as per SAGIndie’s ultra low-budget agreement, unless a production company renegotiates to pay their actors more money, it cannot charge anyone to view their film outside of an officially sanctioned AMC movie theater.

What are the odds, do you think, of HorrorCon getting an AMC theatrical release? To be fair, I can’t say. Just like I can’t say what the odds are of me finding a winning lottery ticket on the bottom of my shoe. I mean, It could happen.

No business like show business, eh?

I realize everything I’ve written heretofore could easily sound like a lot of bitching over nothing. After all, the film got made, people got paid, and I am in many ways living the dream. But there’s more to the point here, and I want to be clear. I learned a lot in the process of making HorrorCon and one of the things I’ll take with me is that I love the actor-writer relationship. Directing them was a joy as well, but most of what they used from me was already on the page. When I was crouching in the corner trying to reduce our visibility in an attempt to avoid any possibly disruptive attention, my eyes were glued to Jimbo’s monitor marveling at the miracle of my words and characters coming to life. And nothing in this world sounds more attractive than working with the same brilliantly talented and brave people on my next project.

What worries me, however, is that more of them will think they need to join SAG-AFTRA in order to ascend to some golden industry standard where they will finally be able to tell their parents and friends that they’re officially an actor just because they’re paying a new set of dues. Of the dozen or more speaking roles in HorrorCon, only three were vested, yet I treated and paid all of them exactly the same. Had all of them been union members, I may have had to eliminate a few from my casting list due to the additional deposit/P&H expense. And I challenge anyone who sees this film to pick out the card-carriers. You won’t get it right, I assure you. All of them are magnificent, and cards or not, I’d hire all of them again in a second. But what of other jobs they’ll never be able to take? What if that breakout role doesn’t come with my film and they miss the next juicy chance at another? It’s heartbreaking to think about, it really is. Actors hang their asses out there to be kicked on a regular basis, and they deserve better from those who supposedly exist to protect them.

Numbers. There are plenty of them on my mind. There’s one that represents the cost of entering eighteen film festivals. There’s another that marks how many ants have crawled across my computer since beginning this entry. And there are still more counting up the days until I learn if and when my film will be seen by a festival crowd and judged, not by the numbers that went into making it, but by the number of minutes (133) it removes from their lives. Maybe it’ll be seen as just another film out there, “making up the numbers” as the saying goes. Maybe it’ll count for a little bit more.

This number I do know: $61.20. That’s all it cost to get this big bird off the ground.

Finally, for those who haven’t yet heard my interview with Jay K on the Horror Happens Radio Show, you can check it out below.

Posted in career news, Cinema, HorrorCon | Leave a comment

baby, you won’t believe what I found–

DiamondsIt’s a little hard to believe that this weekend will mark almost two years to the day that HorrorCon began principal photography at Monster Mania 17. The Crown Plaza in Cherry Hill, NJ, will be at it again Friday night hosting their 24th convention, and most attendees will be oblivious to the fact that a film crew once showed up and started shooting in the middle of all the noise and chaos. We’ll never forget, of course. I imagine the vendors who let us set up in front of their booths for far too long won’t be forgetting it soon, either.

I find it amusingly poignant that we’re closing in on our self-imposed March 25th deadline by, among other things, digitally removing a visible hotel logo from one of the parking lot signs. It’s as if we’re truly moving on from what was a long, arduous adventure. One that, despite mounting stresses and continuing financial burdens, was deeply rewarding in all the best senses. I’m sure every film production creates a special bond between its cast and crew – it’s like a war in that way – but ours will be especially unique. Giving birth to a film in public is like street performing, flash mobbing, and robbing a bank all at once. All that’s left to do is divvy the loot, and the first part of that process begins the second we add the last name to the credit roll.

I’ve compiled a list of festivals that we’ll be considering in the next couple of weeks. So far we’re up to twenty-four, comprising of events held in the United States, Europe, Canada, and South America. We’re as close as Philadelphia and New York, and as far away as Reykjavik, Iceland, Porto Alegre, Brazil, and Locarno, Sweden.  Although there’s no way we can afford to hit them all, we felt it important to identify those most suitable for the film and go from there. Of course, the more of them you try, the better your chances of being accepted. And being accepted means publicity, something all films desperately need. We have quite the story to tell both on and off the screen, and it’s our goal that we tell it to as many people as we can.

As we whittle down our festival list, we’ll begin to build one for conventions. Touring the film through genre events around the country has always been our number one dream. Sharing it with “the choir” feels right to us, and means we can build a loyal, grass roots following on as many lawns as possible. Of course, we hold out hope that some kind of film/music event can be held at Monster Mania 25 in Cherry Hill. We think it’d be great publicity for everyone involved to screen at “home”, for and amongst the very people who helped make our little movie look bigger than it had a right to be. However, due to Screen Actors Guild contractual obligations, we’re not permitted to charge anyone to see it outside of an AMC theater. This leaves us with only a few options to make back our investment: charge for merchandise and a follow-up Q&A, and/or ask for donations upon leaving the screening. Everyone who manages to secure a ticket will have the option to watch the film and leave without paying, and that’s fine with us. What’s important is that people see it, connect with it, and hopefully spread the word. If only that happens, the film will have a future, and that counts far more than a quick theatrical release without the promotional resources that might generate less-than embarrassing box office numbers.

I’ve written before about various distribution models that are available to low-budget indie films, and we’re looking at them all. As previously mentioned, giving it away and adding a donation method of “repayment” is an option. Renegotiating our contract with SAG to allow us to sell the film on DVD is another. I’m not yet sure what the SAG stipulations are in terms of Video-On-Demand (VOD) and Internet streaming, but it’s perhaps something a distributor can explain to us. We think it’s important to take HorrorCon through as many integral steps and processes as possible so that we do the right thing for this one, and learn for the next one. If we’re lucky and have done our work well, our screening activities will open those doors. At the very least, they might point us in the right direction.

Time to return to our post-production crew of two (next time you watch a film, sit through the entire list of post-production credits; you’ll likely check your phone more than once such is the time it takes to list them) and continue our march towards the 25th. The score, done entirely on a single keyboard and the ThumbJam iPhone app, is just about complete. But there are still a few more logos to remove and a certain Cinematographer’s eye-glasses that were alternately left on and off while acting in one of the scenes. I’m not naming any names, but his initials are Jim Wright.


The title of the post refers to the very first line of dialog in the film. We might say the same.

See you in a couple of weeks.


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leaves are falling all around…

…time, I was on my way. Well, not just yet. The closer I get to finishing the film, the more it struggles to stay on limb, like the last few leaves of a tree in fall. I’ve gone on and on about what it’s like to mix audio on a 2-hour plus indie film shot in public settings, so I’ll spare you a redux. Instead, I’m going to write about things burgeoning in the bubble, namely HorrorCon‘s score, a rewrite of my mini-series “B.L.O.O.M“, and the progress of a new “film” project I’m calling Close.

In the office next to the one I use most often, I have set up my old Kurzweil K1000. It needed some replacement parts and luckily, a few weeks ago, I was able to find another K1000 online. A couple hundred bucks later it was on its way from Alabama and now I’ve got a completely operational scoring machine. I began playing with every one of the 224 programmed instruments and sound effects keeping in mind the indie-ness of the film. Too spooky and it comes off cheesy, and well, off. There’s also the danger of going too syrupy with string patches, or overly retro with soaring synths. So I found a piano program that sounded sweet but wounded (Stereo Tremelo Piano) and began plinking out simple melodies. Less definitely proved to be more. The right note with a lingering, uncertain waver felt lonely and confused, just like my two main characters. So I built slowly from there and piece by piece I matched my performance with the main compositions. I’ve since added reverse cymbals, deep echoing toms, a few atonal wails and some interesting guitar sounds of Hungarian origin found in an app on my editor’s iPad. I’ll be experimenting some more today with various scenes in mind, doling out only that which feels summoned by the circumstances, performances and action. Cool stuff.

B.L.O.O.M is an interesting animal. Something compelled me about six years ago to write a five-night mini-series for the Syfy Channel (then known as the “Sci-Fi” Channel). As usual, I aimed too high, too different, too cerebral. There I was, toiling over a story that involved a dying earth and humans being scanned into android containers to keep humankind alive in space and Sci-Fi was paying people to write things like Mansquito and Dinocroc vs. Supergator. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got plenty of time for the occasional C-movie shlockbuster, but until “Battlestar Galactica”, I thought the network was really selling itself short. That said, I think I always knew I was creating a portfolio piece, but as is my wont, if I’ve got a story burning inside, I’ll take the time to write it regardless of how it might help my fledgling career. Six years later, I’m still working on it, but this go-round I’m bringing a lot more writing and production experience to it. I still love and believe in the story, so I hope I get the chance to pitch it, or produce it, someday. If not, I may just hand it out on the street in L.A.

Several writing projects later brings me to Close. This idea is heavily informed by two things: the concept of loving and sticking by someone despite their going through some horribly heavy stuff, and phone/tablet apps. I got the idea of a love triangle between two characters back when I was sweating it out on the HorrorCon set. And yes, your math is correct; you cannot get three from two, unless one of the two is actually two. You follow? Close is a demonic possession movie, but strives to step well outside of prevailing cinematic boundaries. It tries to answer questions about trust and appropriation in an age where people create personas for themselves that may not jibe with who they really are, and where things that can easily be taken – or stolen – justify the act of doing so. By setting the story in a squatting residence I hope to create an untethered existence for my characters where they’re rooted to nothing but a fabricated idea of who they are, leaving them wide open to be appropriated by something very old and clever. So far I’ve got lots of detailed notes and what I think is a cool logo:

The idea of the app came to me after I learned about a company called MoPix who offer an alternative film distribution method where you download a film complete with all the features of a DVD right onto your digital device. A related idea that you might update a title over time appealed to the creative producer me. What about an episodic film downloaded in installments? One example would be six 12-minute “episodes” that could be cheaply produced as you go. If the app sold for, say, 9.99 for an HD version, you could conceivably fund your film as you produced it. Other price points could be 6.99 for a normal resolution version, or rentals at 3.99 and 1.99. The rentals would mean that subsequent episodes replaced old episodes rather than added to them. That could be a big seller that pulls funding from a wide number of resources similar to what Kickstarter attempts to do. Also, having a film that periodically “possesses” one’s mobile or tablet device just dovetailed too nicely in a thematic sense for me to resist.

That about sums things up. I’d give my left pinky finger to have the film done before Halloween, and if it is, I’ll be sure to let you know where you can catch it – the film, not my finger. I’m thinking screeners by invitation, possibly a festival or two. Or an online horror TV station like Black Flag TV. Who knows, maybe you’ll even be able to download it on your phone. Wouldn’t that be a trick…and a treat.

Posted in B.L.O.O.M., career news, HorrorCon, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Screenwriting, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

man kills family, goes to heaven.

Remember the literary legend about the six-word short story contest that boasted this Ernest Hemingway entry…

For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.

The title of this post would have made a decent run at the money, don’t you think? Imagine the outrage and confusion from every corner of the spiritual groupthink had it been published. The more conventionally religious would be shattered with conflict; wanting to celebrate the existence of an afterlife only to discover that it’s just another loathsome, all-powerful institution laden with hypocrisy. It also begs explanation in a way that Hemingway’s entry does not. The baby has been lost – precisely how, is of little consequence. In the case of my story, how a person so clearly misguided can be rewarded with eternal happiness burns us to our very core. There would be demands for the author’s head, or at the very least, a sequel to put things right. Because putting things right is what audience’s want, and regardless of our religious, social or political subscriptions, when it comes to movies, we all tend to agree on how that sort of thing should go. Interesting, don’t you think?

Well, I did. Which is why I wrote Welcome to Cydonia. It shares a lot in common with my six word short story, but it should really be nine words…

Man kills family, goes to heaven, finds justice waiting.

Something of an afterlife revenge story, isn’t it? The biggest twist is in the premise, and there are quite a few others woven into the guts of the narrative. It’s rich in paranoia, long on fantastical elements, and chock full of entertaining dread. What I like the most about it, though, is its tone. It’s full of sophisticated black humor. Think Rosemary’s Baby meets It’s a Wonderful Life. I produced a pitch video for it for a contest (another one that I didn’t win), and you can check it out here if you like.

So why am I writing about it now? Great question. One answer is that I recently did a polish on it and punched it up a bit. It’s tighter, funnier, more suspenseful, and the action, I believe, is more intensely felt thanks in part to a terser, more immediate descriptive style. Another reason is that it’s really good. I don’t often say that, as normally such a subjective  statement should be rightfully ignored. But fuck all that, I’m saying it. It’s just about the best screenplay I’ve ever read, let alone written. The characters are large yet unique, the plot drives like a Bimmer at Nürburgring, and it would rather self-destruct in your hand than resort to cliche. It’s a fun, fresh thriller with horror elements that, if made well, could easily distinguish itself among critics and audiences alike. At least one Hollywood agent thought the same. The memories of those three or four phone conversations still swim around in my head like Sea Monkeys in a mason jar (had Sea Monkeys lived up to the promise of their package illustrations and not turned out to be the kind of shrimp you can’t even dunk into a dollop of cocktail sauce).

So why was my awesome script never dipped? I may never know. Which is positively haunting in the worst way because it’s the kind of haunting that can slowly transform a fledgling writer into a bitter old bore holding court at his local pub and tearing apart other people’s successes over his third glass of gin. Is Hollywood a risk averse cauldron of middling talent boiling over a festering pit of caustic nepotism? Of course it is, with bad plastic surgery to boot. But you have to find something they want now before you can give them something to try later. The thing is, I can’t. Every time I try and write something marketable and commercial, this is what comes out:

Title: I.C.U.
Genre: dark comedy, fantasy
Logline:  A bitterly dysfunctional family suffers a car accident during their annual search for a Christmas tree. While in comas, they magically unite to decorate it, resolving their issues with darkly funny tales that reveal lots of misunderstood love.

Believe it or not, I envision this as funny and quirky, with a lingering human touch. Very European. Not as depressing as it might sound if written for Disney or the Lifetime Channel, which is probably how many agents/studios in this country would see it, but still a holiday story that surprisingly hits the heart. I like surprising audiences. I like making them feel ways about things they wouldn’t in a million years expect to feel.

But perhaps it’s too left-of-center for an unknown writer. Let’s go popular genre:

Title: Square One
Genre: science fiction
Logline: Set in the ultra-future, a society of proud cybernetic beings discover a capsule containing “human DNA” with instructions to reboot the “human race”. When the cyborgs learn they were designed by these doomed creatures several millennia prior solely for the purpose of their resurrection, an existential upheaval ensues that pits creator against creator.

Okay, maybe that’s a little deep. And maybe it raises a few questions about how they would be “pitted” against one another, while failing to define a clear main character. But I think the strength is in the larger idea and theme. Apparently, I’m alone.

Fair enough. How about, hilariously, this:

Title: Dicky Mouse
Genre: comedy
Logline:  When a misdemeanoring man-child carelessly crosses a crossing guard, he’s sentenced to community service at an experimental theme park designed to reform some of the country’s most incorrigible children.

Think gritty, subversive Jack Black vehicle that isn’t afraid to break a few taboos. The parents are just as horrible as the kids, and the kids deserve drowning.  To top it off, we only like our main character because he’s a lesser evil and isn’t afraid to “go there”. You know, just like your best drinking buddy. Okay, I hear what you’re saying: “Dude, you’re gonna get sued. Bring it back, tone it down, think what’s out there, deliver…”

Title: The Cheap Seats
Genre: Dramedy
Logline:  When an out-of-favor Hollywood diva desperate to reignite her career is pressured into making a promise to a sick young girl on TMZ, she finds herself starring in the girl’s neighborhood play.

No one knows me from their last brunch waiter and I’m trying to sell a dramedy? What the hell is my problem? The slightly-less-than-despicable-but-funny main character is back, only this time he’s a she. The little girl is probably a slave-driving, close-talking brat who we can’t force ourselves to feel sorry for, too. But there’s thematic potential in a good-underneath-the-rot-when-you-let-yourself-show-it kind of way like the previous idea, isn’t there? Isn’t that enough to request a simple one-page treatment?


Okay, fine:

Title: Gangster Lean
Genre: Action
Logline:  Gangsters old and new clash for love and power against the glamorous world of fashion when the son of a New Jersey don falls in love with a model mixed up in New York City thug-life. When a war begins over a powerful new opiate that eliminates the emotion of fear, love is a drug cut with danger.

Come on, right? You can even put in a couple knuckleheads from the Jersey Shore to be shot in the face, if you want. It’s got classic suited heavies versus the latest do-rag variety where honor is everything for one and a description of where someone is laying their bodies for the other. Do I have to spell out the Shakespearean themes beneath the center-of-the-catwalk pop culture exterior? It’s practically vomiting zeitgeist!

Sigh…the crazy part is, these are just a couple of the ideas sitting in my locker. But don’t worry, they’re all the same kind of thing. They all want to push and pull audiences at the same time, tickling that one bone in your body that craves discord. The ones that don’t want to do that want to dig deeper and thrill with big ideas. None want you to shut off your brain and watch things explode, unfortunately. I wish I could write those – I really do – but I can’t. They’re not the ideas that I would pay money to see because I don’t like superhero movies and I’m not big on broad comedy. Or movies about kids and pets. Or serial killers. Or dinosaurs. Or transforming robots. Or robots transforming into dinosaurs.

Or becoming a working writer, I guess.

HorrorCon resumes audio mixing this week and I’m skedding sessions for looping and shooting a few missing clips. Hollywood better hope this film is good enough to make an audible splash. Because if it doesn’t, boy are they getting a lot of drunken voice mails.

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the stubborn limbo of dramatic contrarianism

So…so, so, so…it’s been approximately six-months since I wrapped principal for HorrorCon and since then it’s been a long, arduous slog through audio mixing and researching distribution methods. I still have a few clips to shoot, and I haven’t even started on the score which really needs to have a completed mix to begin. I’ve got ideas, but I’m never short of those. Here are a few of them:

Pick up minimalist themes from the main five songs spread throughout the narrative and record them using whatever instruments I have lying around. Those would include a Kurzweil K1000 composing keyboard with two broken keys, an iPad with a few interesting apps, some guitars, my voice, and a host of audio manipulation software. I want mood and a few stabs here and there to heighten the psychological suspense. No one is waiting around a dark corner to kill anyone in this film, but the enemy of one’s tormented soul plays an important role in the dark corners of my characters’ psyches. It’s a film about the unraveling spirit of the disenfranchised and at least one way to survive the ensuing downward spiral – if “survival” is indeed the correct term. I’m looking for disquiet mixed with sparkling despair. I think I can layer something that achieves that. Practical realities are also forcing my hand at scoring this film myself (with a little help from my friends). I just can’t afford a professional with the kind of experience that matches my sensibilities if in fact they can be found at all. No more cooks. This film is all done being passed around.

As I wait for a mix that will hopefully arrive by the end of next month, I’ve taken to dusting off a few scripts and finding homes for them. I do not speak of permanent homes where their acceptance will immediately usher me onto a new career plateau, but one where they might be nurtured into gainful employment – limbos of a sort where they might lie comfortably in wait with a fresh new coat of paint in hopes that someone, the right someone, will drive past and spot their unique and irresistibly engaging sheen. The first script I’ve chosen is Outside Men, and so far, I’ve found one intriguing accommodation: Amazon Studios.

Amazon has decided to slip a newly sprouted tentacle into the film industry pool by soliciting original works to be considered in private or in public, the latter state encouraging participation and feedback from other writers. There’s a not insignificant monetary compensation for those whose works they choose to option (they claim a first look deal with Universal) and a fairly significant one for those that are bought for development. Yet another tidy sum is on offer if the film makes over $60 million at the box office. It’s fairly standard script buying stuff for the most part, and it costs nothing to put up your shingle and upload a project. Having learned about the initiative from a tweet regarding one of their projects called Zombies vs. Gladiators being rewritten by none other than horror royalty Clive Barker, I am both cautious and encouraged. It’s a state I’m quite familiar with, of course. We writers consider optimism as much of an element of our stock in trade as imagination – in fact, it could be said that the two are mutualistically (or is that parasitically?) intertwined – but we’re also no strangers to rejection and heartache. Not whining, just saying, and time will tell if Amazon are any less risk averse than the normal avenues available to screenwriters. Remember, I made HorrorCon because I’d come to the conclusion that spec script sales were a dying breed, and those that got through were far more broad and mainstream than anything I would ever pay to see, let alone write. Time will tell, and it’s sparked some rewrite sessions that have been enlightening in terms of where I am with my craft.

Speaking of spec script sales, I’ve also entered five “commercial” loglines I had lying around into a contest where four winners would have their work deconstructed and reconstructed by a working screenwriter and screenwriting guru over the course of a few months. At the end of the “course”, the projects would be put to market, with said guru acting as agent. I tweaked the ideas a bit to keep them brief yet enticing, and sent them away. There were over 3,500 entrants, and from them twenty-one were selected. Future cuts would reduce that number to four. Thus far, I’ve been passed over, but it’s hardly surprising. My concepts are high enough, I think, but they go against-the-grain and tend to fall in between broad established genres. Think “dark dramedy” as opposed to “comedy” or “drama” or even “horror”. Clever hybrids and those that dig into them to break fresher ground are the kinds of films and writers that excite me – I’m kind of the male version of Diablo Cody with perhaps a little more interest in plot twists – and the contest outwardly favors high concepts with broad commercial appeal. Fair enough, I say, and at least there’s still an outside chance that said guru will indulge a wild hair and offer me some minimal stewardship.

Perhaps there’s another perspective to all of this, one not so flattering to my instincts. Fellow Syracuse University alum Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The Social Network, “The West Wing”, “Newsroom”) has made an illustrious career writing projects with their own sense of what I’ll call dramatic contrarianism. His ideas for character and premise often zag when audiences presume a zig: the military lawyer using the concept of honor for personal gain before truly embodying it; the outcast nerd who becomes the social king; a White House dedicated to selfless civil service; the cable news program seeking truth over ratings. These ideas scream opposition to expectation albeit in the name of conventional integrity and idealism. The audience is lured in and then carefully and masterfully seduced to Sorkin’s well-argued point of view. Clearly, Aaron enjoyed himself at Syracuse a lot more than I did.

My contrarian instincts feel far more subversive, and often seek opposition to, or at the very least, a challenging opinion on my characters and premises. To what end, you ask? To stir up your comfort zone, probably. To promote new ideas by banging your discord like an elbow on the ivories of a piano. To let you know you’ve had it too easy in your impenetrable bubble of formulaic security, so much so that you don’t even realize you’re no longer being entertained, or at the very least, thrilled. Maybe that sounds too anarchic for an industry who would rather pass on risk, but if you ask me, the auteur era of the 70s – a time when risk drew both audiences and investors alike – is continually mined by popular culture today. Sorkin feels a little more late 60s, with subversion doled out in sugary teaspoons of dysfunctional idealism. Norton knows there’s a few grains of sand in that teaspoon, but he’s not telling.

What does it all mean, then? I guess it means I need to find a more commercially palatable way to respond to my anarchic instincts. Even punk rock gave way to capitalist interests. It’s just…it’s so hard not to write those “fuck yous”, you know? I abhor formulas save the most basic: a three act structure with a beginning, middle and end. But I’m not going to get a return email unless I’m playing the good host. Wouldn’t hurt to include the kids, either. Kids like it black and white with neat stuff flying around, and who should blame them? I loved Star Wars, too.

Completely ignoring my own advice, next on my agenda is a polish of Welcome to Cydonia, a story about a man who kills his family and ends up in “heaven”. If I’m feeling ambitious, I may also rewrite my five-might miniseries, “B.L.O.O.M“, about scanning people into cybernetic containers so that mankind can survive the end of the damn world. How’s that for a cozy night on the couch, huh? There may be no more chance of either of them getting made than there is of HorrorCon giving my career a boost but commercial or not, my little yet overly long film is where I’m putting all of my eggs. At least as of six months ago, I’ve got some eggs. Prior to that I only had an empty basket and the world’s most doggedly determined chicken.

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the horizon report

Post-production on the film creeps along. We’re in an audio mix-down phase and the seeds of our brilliant but challenging live settings are being sown. Goodness, there’s a lot going on in there. It’s paying off, though. Listen-backs rekindle the love affair between filmmaker and film. Hearing every little sound put just where it belongs enriches each scene like I never expected. So real.

Ideas for distribution continue to fester…or is that simmer? A few months ago I was contemplating a 100% withholding of the rights and taking our little show from convention to convention, charging only for merchandise and a Q&A that would follow the screening. Another idea followed a more conventional path: submit to festivals, soak up the experience, and then cut a deal for VOD and limited theatrical release if the opportunity presented itself. I’m still not sure if SAG considers a deal with Netflix, for example, a proper theatrical release as per their low-budget agreement contracts, so I’d still need to make a few phone calls. What I don’t want is for the film to drop into the scene with a soft plip and then sink to the bottom like a micro-budget pebble. Every filmmaker wants as many people to see his film as possible, so what do we do?

I’d heard that Kevin Smith was taking his film Red State around for screenings and Q&A’s instead of handing it over to a distributor. Visual technology is making filmmakers think about all the ways their films can make money, and quite a few are kicking themselves for taking a payday and watching new revenue streams pop up all over the Internet and beyond. Ti West recently said in an interview that every penny made from The House of the Devil got swallowed up by one distribution oversight or another. You can practically hear the regretful lilt in his voice in print, giving off all the enthusiasm one reserves for a throat swab when discussing the financial prospects of future projects.

Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t just about money. I’m not even sure HorrorCon is worth the budget it required to get made. For me it’s value has no price-tag, but there’s a direct correlation between playing your distribution cards correctly and the shelf life of a film – not the least of which is if it makes good coin, more people will want to see it. I read somewhere that filmgoers are becoming more interested in the business of a film than in the film itself. Trailers give almost everything away these days because people don’t want to waste their time risking a dud by avoiding spoilers, and it’s all about how “good” it is anyway. Today’s audience’s follow the “celebrity of a film” just as if it were a person. The more a film can suck in its cheeks and take a photo of itself with a smart phone to then be posted for all of its fabulous friends to see, the better off it is.

So where are we now with all of this? Good question (if I do say so, myself). Some evidence to suggest that going it alone may be a good idea presented itself in colorful fashion this past Friday night. I found myself at the 10pm showing of The Devil’s Carnival in Philadelphia at a place called The Painted Bride, a theater-equipped performance space just north of the Ben Franklin Bridge. Carnival is a traveling sideshow “film experience” in the vein of Repo! The Genetic Opera – itself this generation’s answer to The Rocky Horrow Picture Show – where attendees dress up like the various bawdy characters in the film and react with heightened enthusiasm to the events that unfold both before the film begins (in this case a Wednesday Adams inspired burlesque routine) as well as those within the film. The director, Darren Lynn Bousman (of Repo!, Saw II, III, and IV fame) introduces the film, and then asks his leading man (the captivatingly-voiced Terrance Zdunich) to lead the audience in a standing pledge that they will not record any portion of the program lest it circulate inhospitably around the Internet, thereby sacking the film of some of its sideshowesque cachet. Of course, all comply. If we’re there, we’re happily in on the joke. After a hearty “Hail Satan”, the “short” film (rt: 1hr) kicks into technicolor gear.

In brief, Carnival is a thinly-plotted pastiche of vaudevillian musical numbers and flash-edited carny madness where three lost souls enter a carnival after-world and are each faced with the sins they committed in life. The projection was somewhat on the dark side, and characters are quickly introduced and come and go without much narrative warning. In fact, the entire structure seemed engineered to zig when a zag was expected, in true Satanic sleight-of-hand. And to be honest, we don’t really have a lot invested in our three central stories that are sent to “hell” to pay the “Devil his due”, and questions as to their stories’ origins remained long after the film ended.

But a traditional night at the pictures was not the point, as I saw it. Bousman personally financed this touring experiment outside the system ($500k) and sought to create an experience that would mirror in some ways his Rocky Horror-like Repo! success (a film he no longer owns, and therefore, can’t sequel). He explained that he wanted to create a world that he, and others like him, wanted to live in. We’re meant to revel in the dreamlike atmosphere, and in this, he succeeds in abundance. The tunes move playfully through shifting key signatures, and the vocal performances – many from actors-first performers – predictably vacillate with accomplishment. Yet, a consistency in both character and theme prevailed and they helped propel the visuals, and the audience, into a pleasurably chaotic state. Having purchased the soundtrack from iTunes the following day, I’m finding that the songs are growing on me. The adage that compositions requiring time to digest reward the listener best seems to be holding up.

The show ended with a costume contest in which a four year-old girl easily stole the show as well as the heart of the director, who tweeted two photos of her (‏@devilscarnival) on the spot. Then a Q&A followed that I personally found very inspirational, and proved our kind host and leading man affable, intelligent and genuinely grateful. It left me rooting for the project, and for the idea that artists can successfully sell their work on their own terms. The 32-date tour is packed tightly inside a 37-day run (4/5 – 5/12), and for the Philly date there were two showings. Madness. But Bousman appeared wholly satisfied and full of energy. From everything I witnessed, it would appear that “hell to pay” may be a great way to get paid, indeed.

That’s where we are. Mostly. As HorrorCon passes slowly through puberty, I’m working on my next few projects that will span across mediums, which is why Yellow Horse Productions and Publishing is now being described as a transmedia storytelling company. One project is the animated short feature from the Teapott Fables collection entitled The Ballade of Haunted Hill that I’m putting together with my extremely talented partner Teodora “Teddy” Jones. Another, is a web series that will be accompanied by an e-novella and musical ep entitled ThundrClap. It’s a found footage thing with a fresh twist, and I’m excited about where the story is going. Hipsters, beware. We’re coming for your beards.

Hope you like the new look of the site. My new beard, as well. Update on its progress in the next entry.


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The Horror…the horror…

I didn’t do well with sleeping, last night. I woke up an hour after drifting off, switched on the TV, switched it off, switched it on again, switched it back off, and finally turned the fan up so high that I could hear the wind rushing past my ears. I often need cold temperatures to sleep, as if going into hibernation. Maybe my brain atrophies just enough to allow my inner worlds to recede into the ether. Maybe, I just need a good snuggle. Dunno.

I also had quite a bit on my mind with the holidays returning and the completion of principal photography for HorrorCon. Have I forgotten to get someone a gift? Have I forgotten to shoot something? There’s that gift card I wanted for a couple peripheral members of the family. There’s that stock photography I need to stand in place of something beyond the scope of my budget and time constraints. Will both or either suffice?

What the hell am I doing with Yellow Horse? Can it ever be more than a shingle? Its conceit is that a collection of quality products can shine light on one another as they become known, growing the brand, and filling the gaps caused by having not spent years of networking in the publishing and entertainment industries, industries that keep changing. What does it mean to place a book or market a film, anymore? What if a better than average film draws attention to a brilliant book, which in turn draws attention to an eerily adorable animated series. Can YHP&P be a golden pot of projects from which larger, more connected entertainment entities can mine?

Should I sell my condo at the shore? I love the inside, but I’m no longer wired for associations and their by-laws upon by-laws that seek to prevent all conflict with adults who cannot act responsibly with an intact intellect? How much longer can I allow a few dozen people to legislate my peace of mind? Mandatory annual inspections? Too many damn noses for too little whiffs of common sense, if you ask me.

Christ, I’ve got lots of driving to do in the next few weeks.

Then there are a few new projects I want to start. I think. I want to draft a sequel to HorrorCon that begins right where the original ends. I’ve got three book ideas, one a non-fictional account of the ten months it required to shoot the film. I think I want to call it My First Rodeo: A Year-Long Account of Indie Filmmaking. I also like Herding Cats: The Unlikely Capturing of HorrorCon the Film. Had thirty, terrifying days in the span of three months shooting a film in several busy, public spaces cooked my brain too much to focus on what would come after? Possibly. It could be that being “in over my head” had become what life feels like, which would explain my suicidal compulsion to complete two novels of fiction, with at least one in mind as a screen adaptation, all in the span of a year. The Thunders tells the story of a lonely, phobic writer who, while researching a little-known tribe of demon-battling Native Americans who used evil spirits to fend off imperialist settlers, follows too closely in their tracks. In doing so, he winds up caring for a desperate crush who he’s inadvertently helped fall into demonic possession. Another, The Unveiling, takes us back to the turn-of-the-20th Century when the Impressionists were making their mark on the art world and introduces us to a mysterious Picasso that may hold some important clues to a series of horrendous murders happening around Paris and New York.

And what about sWitch? Shouldn’t I adapt that one, too?

And I still haven’t experienced my “ahhh” moment, or that moment of blessed relief after a film’s final scene is wrapped. We shot it, I remember that. I remember a congratulatory hug from my leading man, and holding my leading lady while she expressed how things would be so “weird” from here on out. There would be no shoots to look forward to – or to fret over – in the foreseeable future. Then I remember packing up and the smack of bitterly cold air as I left the hotel. But I don’t remember feeling much of it. We wrapped very late after a very long day, so maybe that’s why I only rolled into a strange exhaustion and am now sitting here trying to piece it together a full ten days later.

There’s also still so much to do. I now have to prove that I knew what I was doing when I was forever pointing and instructing. Of course, I’m not sure I really did know. I went wholly on instinct, an instinct that I’d honed from nearly forty years of movie watching. At one point I was digesting three a day. It helped to lose weight when I was a wrestler. Instead of dreaming about food – any kind of food – I would enter the dreams of films. I did have my experience as an industrial video producer to help support some of my assumptions. Having been through some grueling shoots covering tens of thousands of square feet in a single day did teach me to move fast, yet carefully. How careful was I? I guess I’ll find out soon enough. One thing I’ve learned from my research is that, regardless of the name making the film, few have professed to know what they were doing when they were making it. That helps a little.

So, I find myself in a languorous sort of limbo. I’m tired, but my brain is busy. That seems to best describe my life up to this point. Oh…almost forgot the ticking bomb in the closet. That’s what I call the force that pushes me to finish these projects before some form of disease catches up with me. If one doesn’t in premature time, I’m thinking car crash. I’ve had my share, and a frayed nerve somewhere in my medulla feels I’m due. It’s troubling to drive, to be honest. I tap my finger whenever a car passes too close to the median stripe, or if a car rolls up too quickly at a cross road. There have been no fewer than three occasions in the last month where I’ve either had to lock up my brakes or swerve thanks to the thoughtless driving of others, and I sense the sickening moment is getting closer. Or is that just my mind, drafting another tale? How I loathe being between projects/tasks/opinions…holidays.

Have I mentioned all the driving I’ve got to do in the next few weeks?

And yet, I am happy. My kind of happy.

Now, off to locate two, 2-terabyte drives. I woke in a panic this morning realizing that a few of my shoots hadn’t been backed-up in triplicate.

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Conventional Wisdom

There was a moment during the Monster Mania 17 shoot where I felt the sharp, sharp slap of folly. My stomach knotted and dropped to the floor, and I nearly cracked into the kind of hysterics brought on by the sudden realization that I had miscalculated my risk by too great a distance. The exact moment of which I write is captured forever in the picture you see above. In a way, it was freeing. The jig was up. My tip-toe dance on and around eggshells would finally devolve into a madcap snow angel on the hilariously hideous carpeting.

To be fair, I wouldn’t have been completely surprised. What I was trying to do looked clinically insane to those who hadn’t spent months and months carefully planning it, and I was told as much by one of my very own actors. It actually reaffirmed my faith in her good sense. Going into a live convention unannounced to the public and attempting to shoot a feature film with everyone and everything as my multi-million dollar backdrop is the kind of idea that usually withers into dust whilst nursing the hangover caused by the bender that brought it on. But like so many projects I’ve undertaken, it made perfect sense to me. All I had to do was execute the plan to perfection, which meant directing a crew of almost 40 people for three days to never put a foot wrong lest we be escorted out by the authorities. Easy.

Anyway, the moment in question involves a scene where my main character throws her car keys to a friend on the other side of her vendor table. This friend is in the process of shooting her for his documentary, which meant he had to read his lines from behind the person running the camera. The first take went fine. Said keys hit him square in the chest and he fumbled them to security. The second take, however, saw the keys go over his head and onto the vendor table behind him; a table run by some very nice people who had already spoken with me about blocking their traffic with my sound cart. We’d been there for too long a time, and their angelic patience was quickly running out. When I heard the keys hit, well…I did that.

The folks at Fortress Press, Inc. had woken up very early in the morning and loaded their car full of two $300 tables worth of merchandise and driven to Cherry Hill, NJ from Lemoyne, PA with the only expectation being a possibly challenging task of making back their money in three days of noisy convention atmosphere. Now, they had a friggin’ movie being shot in front of them. We all know how most people react to seeing a camera: they run. One serious complaint to the hotel staff and we were history. So what did they do? They let us do another take, with the assurance it was the last. It was, and we got what we needed.

I’ve written a film about a young woman suffering the awful repercussions of the black underbelly of human nature, and I’d been rewarded by human nature of a very different kind. Sure, I promised Fortress Press, Inc. a mention on the film’s website and in the final credits, but they didn’t have any more assurance that would be good for business than the sudden arrival of some half-decent, weekend weather. I was humbled, and continue to be as I work my way through this somewhat daunting process. The question remains, however, if being rescued by the good graces of others (who, frankly, must have also been intimidated by the notion of shutting us down) will bring us the kind of luck we’ll need to carry us through the production, or help create a monster that will put me in deep emotional and financial debt for the rest of my life.

You can’t turn back after one head slap, can you? We look to shoot again in mid April. And if you would, please check out our blog, Facebook, and Kickstarter page. We could use a little more good nature, and again we promise to give back in kind.

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What do…

…Edward Furlong, Erin Grey, Crypie Clown, wolves eating humans, and “black man naked” have in common? Well, apparently they’ve all been keeping you busy while I was gone. See, those are the top searches that have kept my blog active while it was…inactive. At least they’ve stopped searching for “naked freckles”, although maybe I should speak for myself. There could be loads of naked freckly people out there quite happy to be sought after.

So, very quickly: been busy with the film, which is coming along. Principal photography begins March 11th at the Monster Mania convention, and while it’s going to be very tricky, I think I have all eventualities covered. It’s been a constant quest for permissions, really, and I’m nearly there with them all. I play over the shoot in my mind continuously, visualizing maneuvers in response to every obstacle. In all cases, there’s a deal being made: promises of rewards, credits, screen time, and, of course, straight-up cash; which I should have just enough of since the line of credit against my house went through. All I need is my pledge drive to be successful. Speaking of…

…on March 18th I will be asking the public at large to help me fund my film via Kickstarter.com. There are rewards in store for those who give, not to mention the warm feeling in your scary bone that you’ve helped make a very unique, indie-horror film happen. Love in advance to all of those who reach out, and I’ll be posting the direct link very soon.

In other news, sWitch continues to enthrall. Be sure to check out the blog for reviews and mostly daily updates of its progress and peeks into the darker windows of this beautiful planet. We have fun over there. Won’t you join us? The Amazon page has even more reviews, so do have a look.

I leave you with one of my favorite songs of all time. See you…

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