Wednesday, September 27, 2006

South Padre Island Film Fest Wrap-Up

Though I didn't get to go, I did hear a report today from the South Padre Island Film Festival. The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah won the BEST FEATURE award!

Now I'm really sorry I couldn't go...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Film & Digital Media!

The Baylor University Comm. Studies "Telecommunication Division" is now:


A much more appropriate name. And way cooler, too.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tricked Out Pixelvision

Well, I found a PXL 2000. Actually, I emailed several people who had stuff about the PXL 2000 cameras on their site, and one of them got back to me. Check out the tricked out camera at

One of the benefits of working for a very cool tech-oriented department: they're buying it. So I can play with it (and so, of course, can our students).

Should produce some cool pixelated images. It records sound AND picture on plain-old audio cassette tapes, really grainy black-and-white at 15 frames-per-second. I'm planning to test the footage to use for some delusion-based scenes in my next film (I'm going to experiment with colorizing/rotoscoping the images).

I love new toys. Can't wait to get this and start playing.

Monday, September 18, 2006


Okay -- lame post-title punnery to explain that The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah is an Official Selection of the Secret City Film Festival, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, October 12th - 15th.

I don't know how exactly this happened, but in that time span, the film will be playing in L.A. (FAIF Int'l Film Festival), Memphis (Indie Memphis), and now Secret City. Even if I was a full-time filmmaker with no family ties (instead of being a full-time professor with three little kids), I still don't think I could make all three!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

PXL-2000 Camera

Back in the late 80's, Fisher Price released a working video camera for kids, called the PXL-2000, which recorded highly pixelated images (Pixelvision) on audio cassette tapes.

I'm trying to find one for potential use on my next project (they're only available used now, as they were discontinued in 1989). If you know anyone who has one and wants to sell it, please contact me via the comments section or here by email.

Finished the trailer, IFC screening scheduled

Well, on Tuesday, we finished editing the new trailer (which, as I may have mentioned, is really the same thing as the old trailer, but with hi-res footage that has been color corrected, with better sound, and with some new graphics elements (like several "festival laurels" that we couldn't use when we made the first version because, well, we hadn't gotten into any festivals then).

Then, I got all the paperwork collected for IFC on Thursday (I had to send them appearance releases for every actor in the trailer, location releases for every location, music releases, prop releases, and a notarized affidavit certifying my eligibility to submit the project to them. It took me a while to get it all together, especially because a couple of location releases were inexplicably missing. The two I needed to get were, naturally, the two hardest to get.

But anyway, it's done now, and IFC sent me the schedule when the trailer will run, supposedly in its entirety, on Media Lab Shorts Updated.

Monday, October 2 @ 8:30 pm
Wednesday, October 4 @ 7:45am
Sunday, October 8 @ 8:05am
Monday, October 9 @ 7:10 am

I watched another episode of the show this week, and it turns out they really don't show THAT many shorts in their entirety. They show clips from a bunch of stuff, and they do a feature or two on filmmakers, and they show probably 4 or 5 shorts. So I feel pretty good about having gotten on there (and I'm still wondering how exactly we were selected, as the video had only been on the website for a little over a week. But I'm not looking the proverbial gift horse in the mouth).

Monday, September 11, 2006


I'mm constantly amazed by how "streaky" this festival process seems. It's random, of course, but it doesn't seem like it is. I get rejected from four festivals in one week, then accepted to three the next week. Then this week, two more rejections. They seem to com ein these weird streaks of two-to-four at a time.

It's strange and really hard on your emotional stability!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Memphis Messiah

The Indie Memphis Film Festival -- the Soul of Southern Film -- will screen The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah. It seems we're on a bit of a roll this week, what with this news, plus IFC screening the trailer, and the Underexposed Film Festival (in Atlanta) inviting us. Why do I feel like the film must be GREAT when people accept it but subpar when fests reject it? I'm so easily swayed by everyone else's responses, LOL.

The IFC thing is stressing me out, of course, because we still have to get the trailer "re-edited" -- because we never did a hi-res version of it. We used the old standard-definition pre-color-correction footage back when we did it. And since so much of the trailer was created by my terrific editor, I have to rely on him to get it done, and he's quite busy, so I'm sweating the deadline a bit here.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Got the nod from IFC Media Lab

The trailer for THE PROPER CARE & FEEDING OF AN AMERICAN MESSIAH was selected off of IFC's Media Lab website for screening on IFC, as part of the Media Lab Uploaded series.

Now all I have to do is actually create the hi-res version! We made a standard def version and did a low-res version for web playback, and now we can't find the project file to import the hi-res clips! Yikes -- got some work to do...

Friday, September 01, 2006

Story Ideas and Storytelling

Okay -- any of you writers out there, I'd love your input. I teach screenwriting here at Baylor, and I like to spend a decent amount of time at the start of the semester working with the students to help them understand the essentials of story, in large part because they haven't had much exposure to analysis of good storytelling.

So -- if you had an hour or so to talk with students or get them to do a writing exercise related to this, what would you do or say? What's the most important or most helpful thing, in your opinion.

And next up in class we're going to be talking about idea generation. I have plenty of notes on tools for brainstorming, but I'd love to hear other writers' ideas on where they look for ideas, how they get ideas, etc. In part, I'm trying to give the students some defined methods to get them thinking, but I'm aware of how ill-defined "idea generation" ultimately is.

Reasons I Love Indie Film

I often struggle with whether I want to write larger-budgeted films (albeit interesting and unusual ones) or if I want to stay rooted in the indie world, with its micro-budgets and creative freedom. I'll probably continue to straddle that fence, working in both areas, if I can (this implies that I've "worked" on larger-budgeted films -- I don't mean to foster a deception... just meaning that I WANT to work in both arenas).

Anyway, aside from the creative freedom, why would anyone want to work in the micro-budget indie world? Well, the answer is in the question (creative freedom). But the personalities are very different as well.

Last night I received a call from an indie short filmmaker who has a connection to financing and wanted several script options to put in front of his money guy. He'd read the logline and synopsis for my script on Inktip, and rather than going through readers and agents and all that crap, he just called. Told me he loved the synopsis and wanted to read the script, and that he'd call me in a day or two. No fuss, no muss. No "please give us 4-6 weeks to respond."

I mean, he may hate the script. And even if he likes it, his money guy might not. But it's nice to cut through the crap and just see if the script connects.