Monday, May 28, 2007

Trip Blog

I'm visiting my brother and his family in Illinois (he and his wife teach at the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign), where I'm taping interviews and footage for my documentary, Clean Freak. This is the first time I've visited them, and I'm looking forward to seeing where they work and getting a feel for their home in Champaign (and playing with my niece is a nice bonus, too!).

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

MockFest and Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund

I'm about to go on a brief vacation, so blogging will be sporadic (well, even MORE sporadic than normal). But before I go, I wanted to announce another L.A. screening of the film.

We are an official selection of the MockFest. The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah will screen Sunday, June 3rd, at 1pm at the Vine Theater in Hollywood.

Also, we managed to finish editing and animating the test scene we shot from ENDINGS (thanks, Josh!). The scene looked pretty good. There is a lot more I'd like to do with it, given more time, but I feel like it's a good representation of what we can do with the animated sequences, and having a complete test scene done this early in pre-production means I can really start tweaking the look and feel of the animation, in addition to refining the process of shooting it.

The rush to finish the editing on the sequence had to do with including it in our grant application to the Texas Filmmakers' Production Fund. We're applying for a fairly sizable grant to pay for a chunk of the film's budget, and I really wanted to include a scene showing what exactly we intended.

The application was mailed out well in advance of the postmark deadline, so I'm feeling pretty good about it (not that mailing it out on timee means squat in terms of the quality of the application; I think I'm just awash in the afterglow of finishing on time and leaving town with something completed).

Anyway,, say a prayer and wish us luck for some grant funding.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Happy Anniversary... us. Fourteen years today.

Incidentally, Happy Anniversary also to my brother and his wife -- nine years today, I believe.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Rolling Camera

Even though principal photography of ENDINGS is over a year away, we needed to run some animation tests and also wanted a sample scene for a grant application.

So we officially rolled camera on the first tentative shots last week, and today I looked at a rough cut of the scene. Josh, the editor and animator, had composited our animated shots. They're still pre-animation at this point. We shot studio footage of the actor in the scene (uh, that would be me, since it was a test) in front of blue screen, and Josh composited me onto the background. Now he'll animate both me and the background plate separately (for distinct animation effects), and hopefully we'll have something that actually works!

There's a lot of work to be done in order to get ready to shoot, but it sure felt good to see a scene already cut together. I was underwhelmed by own direction of the scene when we shot it. We rushed because it was a test, it was really hot, etc. But it came together pretty decently through the magic of editing.

Now we just have to do that 80+ more times (i.e., for every scene, but from now own with an actual crew and all that nonsense).

Screening in Austin

Just wanted to make friends and fans aware of the latest planned screening for The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah. It will screen on June 20th at 7:30pm in Austin, TX at Salvage Vanguard Theatre in an event hosted by Screen Door Films.

If you’re in the area, I hope you can make it. I’d love to see some of you there! Read more and buy tickets here.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Silver Lake Awards

The film screened last week at the 2007 Silver Lake Film Festival, and I just found out that Joe Frost (who plays Aaron) and Dustin Olson (who plays Brian) were both given "Best Performance in a Feature" awards!

The festival awarded five performances, and Joe and Dustin were the only two from the same film. So congrats to two great actors who were a big part of why the film has been the success that it has.

Full Awards List here

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Thank God for Imitrex

Cluster headaches really stink. I'm in the midst of a new cycle, one that I thought ended with only mild headaches for a change. But the cycle seemed to start up again after giving me a few days off...

Imitrex is the only medication that even touches these monster headaches. I recently started using the injections, which work amazingly fast compared to the other versions (inhaler, which is reasonably fast, and pill, which is agonizingly slow).

The only problem: I have to inject myself.

I'm a bit needle-phobic, probably not too much more than the average person. When I have to get a shot, it's usually not that big of a deal, because most doctors know how to do it in a relatively pain-free manner.

I, however, do not. And really, the Imitrex injections aren't designed to be done the way a doctor would do it. It's actually a spring-loaded mechanism. You POP the needle in, and hold it in place for about five seconds. And man -- does it sting!

Even so, it's not THAT bad. It's just that, when you're doing this to yourself, and you know the pain is about to hit, it can cause a kind of weird paralysis, an inaction that arises from the conflict of two different kinds of pain (searing migraine vs. spring-loaded needle). Really, it's no competition at all. Searing migraine is going to be the winner every time (assuming that the winner is the one that is MUCH, much worse). But when I have one of these migraines, I can't seem to think straight, and giving myself this injection doesn't sound like such a great idea right then.

Thank goodness I'm not diabetic. I can't imagine having to give myself injections all the time.

A Year on the Circuit

The Proper Care & Feeding of an American Messiah recently turned one. By that I mean that it has been on the film festival circuit for a little over a year now. Its festival premiere was in April 2006 at the COSMOS International Film & Video Game Festival. Humble beginnings, to be certain, and I was fearful for a while that the film would never catch on.

But it certainly seems like it has. We've screened in more than 15 film festivals and a few screening series as well, including Silver Lake, AFI Dallas, and Virginia. Those may not be Sundance and Cannes, but they're prettu good fests, and I feel really proud to have screened there.

So, happy birthday to us -- one year old and still going, with another Silver Lake screening this Thursday, a screening in Austin, TX on June 20th, and more festivals to come.

Now if we can just get theatrical distribution...

Friday, May 04, 2007

What Happened?

The end of the semester, that's what happened. That's why I haven't posted anything new in over a week. Classes ended, major projects from my students were due, and I'm in the midst of grading a bunch of research papers and short film projects.

So -- I'm sure I'll think of something to say, but for right now, I'm busy grading...

Vague Screenwriting Update: People of influence have been reading ENDINGS. They seem to like it. Now people of greater influence will likely read it. I can't say any more than this right now, but if I can talk about it more in the future, I will...