yard sale – short film, one shot

I was directed to this film by somebody on IndieClub. I believe it’s the result of one of those 24 or 48 hour film challenges.

Now it’s not long on story (it’s essentially dependent on a twisty), but it is long on good performance, production value and creativity. NOTE that the whole film is one continuous shot. Given how shitty so most indie films are, how shitty most shorts are, and how shitty most “film challenge” films are, I thought this was well worth sharing.

Color me impressed.

Here’s a better rez version on 48.tv.

robo geisha

Just thought this was awesome(ly hilarious).

Tarantino, eat yer heart out. This is what you wanted Kill Bill to be!

  • Not quite certain why the buildings bleed.
  • Does the machine girl have a dildo on her nose?
  • Interesting to see that the word “transform” hasn’t been trademarked by Michael Bay.
  • Also interesting that boob guns haven’t been trademarked by Mike Myers.
  • Chainsaw face and machine girl reveal by the folks who brought you Total Recall.

Oh! And here’s the website! Not much there though…

Faeries: prodco request

faeries-posterA minor new development in the ongoing story of our feature horror script “Faeries“.

Thanks to a lead from InkTip, the logline and synopsis were submitted to a Canadian production company with some solid success in the creature feature genre. They’ve asked to read the script, which in our book is a success. Obviously no decision has been made (we’ll post when we have a reply) but here’s why it’s already a success:

Previously on InkTip, we had posted our other feature script “Grampa Was A Superhero“. The script has been available through the site for nearly a year, and the logline has been reviewed over a hundred times. More than 10 percent of those viewers have clicked on through to the synopsis (a conversion rate we sense is good, but plan on talking with InkTip to learn more). Of those, one prodco (Ice Cube’s “Cube Vision Productions” of Are We There Yet fame) has viewed the entire script but apparently chosen to pass. So it’s still available, if you’re looking for a fun family comedy road movie (Home Alone meets Wild Hogs).

Similarly, Rocket Summer has had some success, being optioned for a total of two years (it’s now available again if anybody needs a great coming-of-age story in the vein of Stand By Me, October Sky and Breaking Away). But its conversion rate on InkTip was poor.

We see the request for Faeries as a success not because we expect a sale or option to come out of it (that would be great though – written in 125 hours, optioned within a month of completion… great ROI) but because it shows that this logline and synopsis are working for us better than those for the other scripts. Sure, it could mean a lot of other things too, like Faeries is simply a more commercial, genre specific project (true) with a simpler hook and more straightforward storyline (also true). But we’re definitely motivated to refine the synopses and loglines for the other scripts in short order, as we’re learning more and more every day.

john august on 'making of'

John August was interviewed on Making Of, where he talks about adaptations and choosing projects.

“My favorite genre of movies are movies that get made.”

Something you and I have in common, JA. 🙂

Full interview here.

"Away We Go" gains instant indie cred via hand drawn title font

Away We Go is just the latest in a long line of “indie” films to leverage the oh-so-cool “hand drawn title” font, lending it serious street cred and instant indie validation before anyone even sees the film.

juno

Recently popularized by 2007’s JUNO, the quirky hand-made title font brought visions of diary entries and emo-teen angst-filled journal poems, setting appropriate audience expectations by screaming “We’re an honest unassuming micro-brew movie!”

nickandnorah

Leveraged again in 2008’s Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, the wacky font inferred the hand written liner notes of a home-made mix tape. Plus, it promises that the movie is probably intimate, personal and low-fidelity-artsy, reminding us of the days of cassette mix tapes and Bic-penned song lists rather than CD’s and laser printered liners.

awaywegoSo then does 2009’s Away We Go not only give us a title font designed in the margins of a high-school English quiz, but an entire poster cartooned/rotoscoped like a modern-day Yellow Submarine (1968) or 1971’s The Point… or more contemporarily, hearkening right back to 2007 and JUNO’s opening title sequence — or the JUNO Soundtrack cover (See below). How quirkily indie-filmishly self-referential and hip. (Do the kids say “hip” any more? Or am I just fixated on “hip” because mine hurts?)

juno2

Yes, the same design firm (Shadowplay Studio) did the titles for both JUNO and Nick and Norah (not sure yet about Away We Go, but I’m guessin’). Anyway, sure they do fine work and all. But how long will it be before looking just like JUNO has people saying “What, again?” instead of “Ooh! Again!”.

Got more examples? Please share.

NOTE: In all fairness and in the interest of full-disclosure, I really enjoyed JUNO, plan to see Nick and Norah (love me some Michael Cera – Superbad rocks) and think Away We Go has two of my favorite funny people in it. But come on. This Title design trend is going to become as stereotypically “indie” as the wacky Grampa character addicted to porn.

New horror project: more feedback

Well, it’s been a while since this series has been updated. We’ve had a series of illnesses, a wake to attend, a short road trip (to attend said wake and then to forget about said wake), some storyboards for a music video to get done, and on and on.

But now we’re back at it.

We did hear from the InkTip lead that was looking for just this kind of script: It was a no-go. I suspect that it was largely a budgetary concern… they wanted to make a movie for under a million dollars but our script has heavy CGI, a house that burns down, another building that blows up, and lots of gunfire. Chances are the synopsis alone told them they couldn’t afford it. Just as well… I think the script deserves more lovin’ than that.

We did get feedback from two more readers (here’s the first set of feedback). Reader C called for a little more back story and a little more humor, but overall:

Great job … I think it is ready to rock.

Reader D was very positive:

GOOD FUN! I would really like to see the movie. Excellent gore levels. I particularly enjoyed the character depth and the complex relationships… Thank you for having strong female characters that are actually friends and not having it become a big jealous catfight over a guy. That is so tired. Overall, it was awesome and fun. I’m impressed.

So the feedback overall is solid. Both readers suggested a small amount of additional back story to help explain the Crazy Old Lady’s history with her missing father, as well as some small clarification on the two female leads relationship… this is similar to what we heard before.

We’re folding in many of the minor suggestions people have given us, and expect to have it ready for primetime within a week.

Thanks for following along!

The logline affect… er, effect

Just got this lowdown in my email on a film from the upcoming New York International Independent Film & Video Festival.

It’s About Time
When the Earth’s Atomic Clock is altered by one second, three friends must deal with the unexpected affect it has on their lives.
Directed by Kevin Shinick (Writer/Director/Actor, Without A Trace, Robot Chicken).
Starring: Seana Kofoed (Actor, Men in Trees), Matthew Edwards (Renaissance Man), Jennifer Carta (Actor, 24, The Game), Jim O’Connor (Undercover Brother), Paul Bartholomew (Actor, Medium, ER) and Tony Randall (The Odd Couple). 90 min. Romantic Comedy.

So instead of saying “Wow, cool idea, great pedigree” I found myself saying “Affect? Affect? That should be “effect”. Why does the logline* of a legitimate movie have incorrect English**? How hard is that? Doesn’t anybody care any more?”

Does that make me small?

*This is the same logline that appears on the IMDB record for the film.
**Usage note:
Affect and effect, each both noun and verb, share the sense of “influence,” and because of their similarity in pronunciation are sometimes confused in writing. As a verb affect means “to act on” or “to move” (His words affected the crowd so deeply that many wept). The verb effect means “to bring about, accomplish”: Her administration effected radical changes. The noun effect means “result, consequence”: the serious effects of the oil spill [this is the usage indicated in the above logline].

DF Indie Studios – dedicated to production & distribution of indie films

dfilogoGood news in tough economic times… an exciting new studio is launching in NY, with a stack o’ cash and a distribution network in place. Is this the best time to launch? Or the worst?

And what does it mean for screenwriters who aren’t attached to a production company? A quick look at the “Greenlight Process” page seems to indicate that they’ll accept scripts, but only filtered through agents, talent, producers, etc… so your script will still need to be vetted and championed by someone with more juice than the average indie spec writer might have. That’s the part of the Hollywood model that will hopefully serve them well… a focus on projects for which they can commit the resources to complete, and for which they can identify a market. That’s just good business.

Of course, this kind of thing looks familiar for those who remember Larry Meistrich’s The Shooting Gallery (TSG).Through the ’90’s, Manhattan based TSG had big plans to build sound stages to support their slate of projects, but ended up with more misses than hits (Laws of Gravity and Sling Blade remain perhaps the two most recognizable successes) . Ultimately their demise in 2001 may be attributed to their lack of focus on proven Hollywood business practices, choosing instead to fancy themselves a dot-com technology start up with an eye on becoming a new-media powerhouse.

Will dedication to core industry business competencies (managing resources, backing projects with proven audiences, proactively managing distribution pipelines, staying in the movie business) keep DFIS from becoming a repeat of TSG? Will it have longer legs, and stay focused on the nuts and bolts of film rather than thinking it needs to be a new-technology company? Or does the new universe of online social media, marketing and distribution (that didn’t meaningfully exist during TSG’s lifetime) demand just such a bifurcated focus? Was TSG just too early, that landscape just too new and volatile?

Maybe DFIS will need to strike a balance between the two to find success. With the hard lessons of the dot-com bust firmly in our rear view mirror, we can only hope that DFIS remembers that the threat of mishandling that balance still looms larger than it may appear.

REUTERS: “Mary Dickinson and Charlene Fisher unveiled DF Indie Studios late Friday to eventually produce 10-12 films annually with a production cost of $10 million or less. They plan to guarantee distribution in the U.S. and Canada, backed by what they say is $150 million in equity financing.

DF Indie Studios (DFIS) has the support of big-name movie makers such as brothers Tony and Ridley Scott (“Gladiator”) and independent film veterans Ted Hope and Anne Carey. (“Adventureland” and “In the Bedroom“).

“We’ve been amazed to see the competitors in our budget range have pretty much disappeared,” Dickinson told Reuters.

“That’s why we’re excited about this time period,” added Fisher. “We see it working in our favor.” [See the full article HERE.]

See the DFIS website HERE.

New horror project: feedback

Well, we’ve gotten feedback from two of our first-draft readers so far.

It was great!! Wow. You guys really put some work into this piece and it shows. Excellent job on many levels … I was intrigued, involved and enjoyed the ride. Felt like a mash-up between Gremlins and The Descent. I don’t think you’ll have any problems getting the right people behind this script!

Of course I lead with the most positive points, and leave out the dumb things he said like “make it better” and whatnot. 🙂 Seriously, he gave us some great feedback, pointed out the weak spots, gave us direction for the second draft but overall, the review was pretty positive.

Then came:

I think it’s a great first draft. No real notes on structure, some scenes need to be a little more kinetic though.

Somewhat more reserved, as you can see. This reader is an asshole, obviously, and doesn’t realize just how groundbreaking this script is. Continue reading New horror project: feedback

New horror project: day twenty-one writing

And… scene!

Spent a few hours today tightening up some loose ends on the first draft.

Gave the dog some more face time.

Figured out how we could keep the spray can of bear piss, have it still be relevant, then when to get rid of it.

Wrote a new stanza for the Victorian poetry book that explains some of the creature’s mythos.

Toughest thing was that early scene that we’d skipped… a flashback/fantasy sequence that demonstrates the old lady is living in the past, fixated on her father. We’d finished the beginning and end of the scene but were unsure just what events/dialogue needed to be in there to communicate the two points we thought the scene needed to communicate. It was a deliciously creepy scene that we loved, but couldn’t put a bow on.

The longer we struggled with it, we decided that if it was that hard to decide how the scene should say what it needed to say, maybe it didn’t need to say it. So as hard as it was, we CUT the scene.

45 minutes later, an epiphany, and we realized how we could simply and elegantly, with 3 simple passages of dialogue, do everything we needed to do, PLUS foreshadow some later existing points. Luckily, I’d copied it off to WORD and stored it so we pulled it up, made a few changes, and put it back. SO happy. It’s still creepy, still a favorite, and now is perfect in content as well. The whole thing only added a third of a page.

TOTAL PAGE COUNT: 93.5 — or 97.5 — or 99.8 — depending. (Good ol’ Zhura)

So here we are, with a (pleasantly readable) finished first draft in just:

95.33 hours.

Sean’s got about 88 hours.

96% percent of those hours we worked side by side, so that’s man hours, not clock hours. Clock hours we’re at about 95.33.

Full time 8 hour days would put us at about 12 days to complete this first draft from story outline through last word.

Of course, we worked an average of probably 3.5 hours a day, and not every day. So we’ve used about 6.5 actual weeks to get here.

Copies are now out to our favorite readers for some honest feedback. We hope to live with it for a week, read our hardcopies, get notes from others, and jump on the next rev in about a week.

Till then — WOO HOO!