Archive for January, 2009


Old School

January 30, 2009

You might notice a new page on the right, “Past Projects.”  It has links to all of the projects I’ve put online over the years.

Some are good, others are quite embarrassing, but in the interest of full disclosure. I’ve put them all up for the world to see.

There’s also a poll, where you can let me know which movie you like best.  🙂


Recent History

January 30, 2009

Last year, I made a series of spec commercials.  They are finally done, finished, and complete.  I’m excited.  I hope you are, too.

Anyway, the editor finally had a chance to put them on YouTube for all the world to see.  Enjoy!


Color or Black & White?

January 29, 2009

Humphrey Bogart, in the iMaltese Falcon/i

Humphrey Bogart, in the Maltese Falcon

When I describe this short to people, the first thing they ask is, “Are you going to shoot it in black and white?”

Short answer: No.

Long answer: Is your perception of an entire genre of film narrowed down to the film stock they used?

First of all, I’m shooting this on HD, which is cheaper than film (though still not cheap). I won’t have to actually make this decision until post production.  I grant you, this is not necessarily the most responsible view to take.  Certain colors and designs look better (or worse) depending on whether they’re filmed in black and white or color.

Another factor is the simple fact that I’m colorblind.

Yup, that looks like a 21 to me.

Yup, that looks like a "21" to me.

Surprisingly, I have been complimented on the color schemes of my films on more than one occasion.  I suspect this is due to my trying to mimic reality, and failing in interesting ways.  (I drew so many brown trees when I was a kid, my teachers thought I was depressed.)

Lastly, and most importantly, noir was always a present-tense genre.  The thrillers of the 30s and 40s were set in the 30s and 40s.  The black-and-white photography was due to the technical and budgetary limitations of the time.  (Most of these movies were cheap programmers.)  The starkness of the film came from the characters and the story, not from the lack of color.

My goal is not to create a pastiche of movies I like, but rather to emulate their attitude and process in the present style.

In 2009, that means shooting in color, on HD, and distributing it on the internet.


“Cheap” Is Relative

January 28, 2009

My old college roommate, Marcus Phillips, is a musician.  He’s written, I’d guess, over a hundred songs in the time that I’ve known him.  He’s produced at least three complete CDs.  All this took was time, energy, talent, and practice.  He’s spent maybe a couple hundred dollars on guitars over the years.

I, on the other hand, have made less than a dozen short films in the same period of time, and spent thousands of dollars over the years.

I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about the democratizing effects of inexpensive video production.  Don’t believe it for a second.

A good HD camera costs thousands of dollars; renting one can run hundreds per day.  Same for a decent grip and lighting package.  Art direction, costumes, make-up are variable, but consistently expensive.  And don’t forget sound and editing!

Then there’s all the people.  Even if you don’t pay them, you at least have to feed them.  You might resort to the indie film mainstays of pizza and sub sandwiches, but buying lunch for ten to twenty people still ain’t cheap.

Movies are not and never will be inexpensive, at least for an individual.  I’m confronting this fact as I go through my script to determine what I have, what I can borrow, and what I can afford to buy.

There is, of course, a fourth option: what I can afford to rewrite.  But let’s try to avoid that, shall we?


Learning From Others

January 27, 2009

Last weekend, I helped a friend on a shoot.  It’s a bigger production than this noir short, and far more likely to make its money back, in the end.

On Sunday, we shot at the Westmoreland Lofts. The location was versatile, with varied looks inside, outside, and, yes, even on the roof.

Totally noir, right?

Totally noir, right?

I fell in love with it, so I asked my buddy how much it cost him to film there.

I probably shouldn’t say the amount, but it was pants-shittingly expensive.  They had the gall to charge half a month’s rent to film for one day.  Why didn’t he just rent it for a month?  Because they won’t accept leases for less than a year!

Basically, this confirms my thinking that I’ll have to rewrite the script.


(PS: Sorry about the bad link for the picture in yesterday’s post.  It’s fixed, now.)



January 26, 2009

When you write an independent movie, you have to consider practicalities: limited locations, limited cast, limited action. Basically, you want to write two people talking in a room.

Ethan Hawke can't believe Uma Thurman agreed to be in a movie with him.

Ethan Hawke can't believe Uma Thurman agreed to be in a movie with him.

I didn’t follow the rules strictly, but still, a good quarter of the movie is Shooter moping around in his apartment. I thought I’d be okay.

After last week’s disastrous location scout, I’ve come to realize I wasn’t quite as practical as I thought. To avoid paying for locations, I’m going to have to rewrite the opening scenes to take place where can actually film them.

At first, I thought this isn’t a big deal. The locations weren’t particularly important to the story or the theme. They just seemed like cool places to shoot.

I realize now that I’m faced with a crisitunity. Since I’m going to rewrite the scenes to fit the new locations, I can come up with meaningful ones.

Now I just have to figure out what that meaning is.


What is

January 23, 2009

And why did my reader count just shoot up?

WordPress tells me that refered people here, but I have no idea why.