Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Curve Ball and How to Deal

We should be shooting today. We all worked very hard to be shooting this weekend. We pulled off some deals that were astonishing to give us some incredible production values. All of that hinged on us shooting this weekend. However, some of the cast had obligations that could not be changed. Thus, we are not shooting this weekend. In fact, to put together what we had put together for today will take weeks if not months. We will also be re-casting some of the roles. That will take time as well. Fret not, those who invested in the project through Indiegogo. The actor you want most to see is still attached to the project.

To say that we are disappointed is a gross understatement. We were initially so crestfallen that we considered forgetting the entire project and moving on to something else. However, one of our lead did not think this was a good idea either. He maintained that it gave us a chance to make the webseries even stronger than it was. Like Joe McKay finding a new life after Delphi, we could make something new out of what remained. This view prevailed.

We're going to re-group after the New Year and figure out what we want to do about the vacated roles. We are not going with the suggestion of one of our cast that he can play all the parts, including the female characters. Most likely, we'll run another Breakdown. We'll also have to replace the assets we've lost in not shooting today. To that end, I'm working on a lot of other people's shoots to curry favors that I will use later. The upshot is that we have not given up. Nor will we!

As always, we really appreciate your patience and well wishes. I do pass them on to the cast and crew. Look for our holiday wishes on this page in a couple of weeks!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Creative Coundowns

It wasn't until we got to T-Minus three weeks that I realized I may have been foolish to schedule the shoot for the week immediately following Bent-con.  My reasoning was sound. We get it out of the way before our crew had their finals (they are in film school) and before anyone had any Thanksgiving plans. We were fairly sure we could keep the dates open at the studio for that weekend. All that was in doubt was how well I would be for the proceedings. I wasn't worried about that. If I was in a bad way, we would have almost a full crew that could wear most of my hats. I could be curled up in a ball under the first floor stairs and that wouldn't impact the shoot. It would be a drag though. But the show must go on.

Moderately Laid Plans

We met our crew while working for our Director of Photographer, Israel Lliteras, while they worked on his
Jon (fight), Israel (center) scoping out a set.
thesis film. It was an ambitious shoot. That had been a concern for me and Jon. However, it was apparent from the beginning that they had a reasonable plan. Despite the pages and FX and an actress not showing up and the replacement being late, it was a relaxed set. I was impressed with everyone from the top of the crew down to the P.As. There was no slacking off. Everyone was laid back and relaxed for the most part. It was impressive how much and how well they got through all of those difficult shots. This certainly bodes well for our shoot.

In the weeks after the shoot, I realized that our shoot date may have also been unrealistic because most of the crew being in school. Almost everyone on the shoot was shooting thesis films of their own or working for students who were doing films. I wasn't too worried, because I knew that we had to get the shoot in the can before the middle of December when they would be students no more. As long as we could squeeze in our dates before then, we were cool. Thus, I was not surprised when we decided to set up the application for our film permit that the crew was largely unavailable for the November 16-17 dates. Since this was not a surprise, I had a fall back date. We are getting a permit for the weekend of December 7-8. It works for the crew and it's well in advance of any of them or the cast doing any holiday travel.

Spinning Always Spinning

And there is a benefit in delaying. We were so focused on the convention that we had done very little in the way of prep for the shoot. We would have gotten something shot, but it wouldn't have been the best that it could be. I don't think that the cast or the crew would have felt great about just shooting something. I'm hoping that we can even get a rehearsal in at some point after we finish casting (which I've set up). I'll be talking to my keys probably every day until the shoot to make sure everything is running as smoothly as it can.

I've put some photos at the end of the blog. More photos of the various locations will go up in the next few days. And we'll have photos and maybe footage of the casting with permission as we're planning on having some of the leads read off the actors auditioning.

Apartment bedroom for Demonspawn during another shoot.

Apartment living room for Demonspawn during another shoot.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Video Interlude

This little video was shot in July when we were working on a film in the Hollywood Hills. We plan on using that location and the grounds around the nearby LA Reservoir, so I thought it would be fun to see the crazy road that must be used to reach this beautiful place. I tried to upload it, but Blogger wouldn't let me, so you'll have to follow the link:

More news coming soon! Meanwhile, enjoy!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Latest Script Details and Shoot Date

Okay, we are about to give details about the new script. This will be a SPOILER filled extravaganza. We are keeping the themes of Simon's past relationships and the nuisance for him when vampires become popular in pop culture but with a far more terrifying backdrop than originally planned. Since we will have far fewer episodes in this arc, we thought it best to amp up the jeopardy and the action as quickly as possible. Alas, I have no pretty photos for this post. For those of you who will stop reading here, the shoot begins 11/15/2013.

The focal point of the jeopardy and terror is Special Agent Darabont. He is sent by Delphi's leadership that has been increasingly frustrated with Agent Saybrook's strategy regarding Joe and Simon. He is from the often rumored FBI special forces and quite a scary specimen even to a seasoned agent like Saybrook. However, After speaking to the man, Saybrook determines that his focus is on obtaining or neutralizing Simon and not on obtaining Joe. This suits Saybrook just fine. He has every confidence that if all hell broke lose and Simon was in trouble, Joe would slip away in the mayhem and disappear. He makes one more assumption that proves to be more problematic. Saybrook believes that Darabont has been fully briefed about what Simon Molinar is and is capable of doing.

Meanwhile, Joe and Simon have recently settled into a new town not far from where Saybrook and Darabont were meeting. There is tension between them about Simon's feeding. Joe wants to know when he is and Simon is convinced that is a bad idea. The fight ends in a stoney silence. At some point, Simon tries to break the tension by making dry quips about Twilight and its fans. Joe finally asks about eras in which vampire fever raged. Simon admits that this time reminded him strongly of when Dracula was a play and there was a woman that figured out that he was never seen in daylight. She wanted him to feed on her and make her his bride. Simon wouldn't, because he didn't believe that would work. Ultimately, the girl killed herself. He felt bad that he couldn't solve her problems with a thorough rogering. He goes on to say that he is glad that they are on their current quest, because the Twilight fans are very imaginative and have the internet to fuel speculation. Joe finds that somewhat mausing. The tension was eased for the moment.

The next day, Joe sets off to get a job at the next university. Simon is busily setting up their home only to be interrupted by Darabont. A Bourne Identity  type fight happens throughout the apartment. In the end, Simon's rising blood lust fuels enough strength to feed on the man until he is lifeless. Just then, Joe enters the apartment. He takes in the carnage and destruction and blood and decides that Simon is being a psychotic wise-ass that never wants to lose an argument. Simon blinks at him before asking for help getting rid of the body.

End Episode One

Monday, August 26, 2013

On Being Crafty and the List of Impossibles

It gets real for me when I start buying things like clothes hangers. That means that a shoot is nigh more than anything else. Of course, there is a script and a vague kind of schedule, but beyond that, there is an agreement between all of the disparate parties we've assembled that this will happen relatively soon. When I know this is a certainty, my mind jumps to things that have been a source of problems during past shoots.

I can't say it often enough. If a film has a tiny budget, it behooves producers to make sure that there are some amenities that make the actor feel like they are appreciated. We don't have a wardrobe person, but we should still have their costumes set up in their changing space in the best way possible so that they can be easily seen and used in proper order. That means clothes on hangers in the order worn. There should absolutely be dressing rooms available. Barring that, there should be a comfy room to hang out and run lines.

And then, there is the crafty and food issues which brings me to toasters. On both The Privateers and DemonUnder Glass, we didn't have the right or enough appliances. We had great coffee makers, but no electric kettle for hot water. We had a microwave but no toaster oven. You really need something to toast bagels or properly reheat a slice of pizza. These items seem unimportant compared to the script – and in some ways, they are not as important. Yet, I was still running around like crazy in drug stores in the middle of the night to make sure we had them on the craft service table the next day. Thus, I am picking up hangers and pricing small appliances for pick up very soon. It's great that it is back to school time. The sales are fantastic. What happens to the appliances after the shoot? We used to give them away to a member of the cast or crew or to a thrift shop and write it off. But now that we have a home for the production company, we'll just store it in our trash barrels (one for glass, one for paper and one for plastic and one for garbage) until the next shoot. I also must address the List of the Impossible ®.

The List of the Impossible is my own name to the elastic, seemingly trivial yet vitally important list of items that an actor, a director or various crew people may need. No one has this disparate grouping of items normally. No one. But film is a strange environment and sometimes requires a sack of goodies that would rival any in a video game. It can be a highlighter (you must have a variety of colors because the actor may hate yellow). I've been asked for cough drops (also keep a variety from the candy type to the all natural), band aids, antacids, herb tea, tooth brushes or dental floss, safety pins, mints, gum (mint and cinnamon for both of those and the dental floss). I had a lot of those items during the last shoot I worked on though it was not my job to be the List Keeper. I don't mind wearing this hat. I am a maniacal list keeper anyway, so this is easy. It's just weird when the bags of strange stuff start piling up around the apartment. There is only one item that I refuse to stock from the List and deliberately make difficult for actors to get – cigarettes. I feel almost as strongly about energy drinks, but I won't not carry them – yet. If they continue to make the crew cranky and a little crazy, I may ban them from my sets.

I assemble these things well in advance, because once the train gets going, there is very little time to think about anything more than the stuff that is on camera. Please note, that this is true only when it is a tiny budget. In big budgets, there are people assigned to fill these lists and get these appliances for Craft Services. The list for Craft Services itself is a whole other matter. I deal with that as a function of feeding the cast and crew. Since I am now a pro-am chef (I am being paid to cook on a limited and exclusive basis), I will be feeding them as well as running sound and other production tasks.

Next Time – What is in the new script?!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Updates from a Hollywood Mansion!

I don't like to be too personal when I write on this blog, but the personal has intruded in the progress of the web series in the last few weeks, so I thought I share some of the mayhem that's been going on. We've had some set backs with the production that coincided with some personal issues that caused us to seriously think about pulling the plug on the productions. But our leads told us to wait, take a breath and look at the problem on another day. We did and some amazing things began to happen those amazing things lead to some other amazing things. Within a few weeks, we were back on track. I also got to meet some Trek stars. Usually, that would be for my personal blog. But this may be relevant to Demonspawn as well. That part of the story is still unfolding..

I look back on the last two weeks with excitement and exhaustion. I've had trouble doing a blog about it, because I still don't know how I feel about it. Let's start with the good stuff. I survived almost a week on shoot that was 12 hours overnight (6pm to 6am) in a 4 story location where use of the steep staircase was mandatory. The whole prospect was frightening. I can have so many issues that can keep me from really getting out of bed on any given day. I still never know when that day will be. But there were many reasons that I very much wanted to work this shoot. The most important reason was to prove to myself that I can do the work in some fashion. I knew that I couldn't run around as I once did, but I could do some things. I was very grateful to the producers to be given the opportunity.

No Place Like This Home

Some of the crew remarked that it would be cool to live in that mansion way up in the Hollywood Hills. I was not among them. It wasn't a house that was built to live in, actually. It made absolutely no sense as a house that one lives in. I later found out that it was built as a location. I mean, even the most vain individual would not have a four station professional make-up room with a pro wardrobe room attached. There were even two private toilets off the make-up room. It was set up for actors. But that's good, because there was a lot for the director to work with. The setting even made me want think about how we could do bits of Demonspawn there. Most of the rooms that faced the east had these gigantic electronic black out shades. I could see Simon Molinar totally renting a place with that many large windows as a lark and because no one would think of him renting such a place. I actually had a chat with the very nice young men who were running the location about a short shoot there. That kind of location can really sell the notion of a hero with deep pockets. One scene goes a very long way. Here is the house in all of its glory though there are many rooms not shown. Where the sister property is the one I think would be more to Simon's tastes because it has more woods and darker colors. I just see Simon as liking that more.

Our Director of Photography was also working the shoot. He agreed that those houses had possibilities. He also told me about a location just up the block from the houses that could solve our long standing problems
with where to do certain scenes that required a more isolated location. The Los Angeles Reservoir was just up the hill from where we were shooting. It is an astonishingly beautiful vista in such an urban location. And there were little hiking paths that were ideal for part of the script. We could use one of the houses as a home base for that part of the shoot. That would save us from renting trailers. We'll have to see though which is cheaper.The house has the advantage of kitchen space and many, many bathrooms. I'm a girl. I can't help thinking about these essentials.

The big development is that we have a stable location for casting, rehearsals and for some parts of the shoot that are well within our budget! It can double for any number of places we need, and we have a professional space to work out of for the duration. Of course, we still have scheduling issues. Our leads are busy in one direction. Our crew is busy in another. The next few days will be spent coordinating schedules that bring us all together. Doing that though will be far easier with these new assets and this bitchin' new script.

We hope to introduce you to new actors filling the open roles very soon.  Meanwhile, Check out these photos from the house!

My 'office' for the shoot.

The kitchen is bigger than our apartment!

The view from my 'desk' in my 'office' at the shoot.

The Living Room!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Biding Time and Plotting Mayhem

There is a common image on any film shoot that is also a metaphor for how film works. I've seen it on our first shoot on the Privateers and I've seen it on Demon Under Glass and I've seen it on the last feature that I worked on last month. This is also true no matter the size of the production. The image is of a punch of people sitting around waiting for something to happen. To outsiders, it looks like there is a lot of time being wasted on any given set. While that can be true on occasion, there are reasons for the gaps in action for the most part. Even long gaps in action seldom happen without good reason. There can be technical difficulties with lighting or a piece of equipment. There could be a delay in getting a prop of a piece of equipment. There could be any number of weather problems that grind things to a halt. The most maddening are paperwork delays like the permit or the unions. We had all of those happen at some point during Demon Under Glass. Everyone involved in the shoot understood these delays as part of the business. Still it is tough on anyone who works on a film to sit
Matty waiting for his cue during our tiniest shoot to date.
around and wait. It is especially frustrating when the problems are beyond our control.

An opportunity presented itself a few months back that looked great for Demonspawn as a project and for us personally and professionally. A film came along that offered some work around the time we were thinking of shooting. It was fabulous timing. The money would be of great use for the shortfall in fundraising. We would get some long needed practice working a rigid shooting schedule, and I was able to fill in the missing crew people from the roster of that film. I knew many of them, but didn't know they'd be interested in working a web series. Fortunately, they all were. Also, working for that show had me on a lot of scouting missions during which I found locations that were lifesavers for our limited resources. Admittedly, there would be challenges in shooting around another shoot, but it was something we were looking forward to tackling. Things couldn't be better...until they weren't anymore.

The production we were planning to work is going though just about everything I mentioned above and a few things I hadn't. That is a drag. We need to wait to figure out if our production will be stepping on theirs. We have a lot of personnel in common now from our DP to our Production Assistants and our Art Department. We have to find out what days of the week they're shooting to make sure our crew isn't seven days a week for the entire time our shoot is going. We also need to be certain that we won't have a whole lot scheduled only to find that shoot is on and we're committed to work (it is really, really bad form to go back on a commitment no matter what. Word gets around if you pull that kind of thing). And then, there is still the monetary shortfall if we begin before this other shoot and how to overcome that. None of this is new, but it can be a bit disheartening. There were things we could do. We have to cast three parts. We need to table read and even rehearse. There is a lot to do before we walk onto a location.

So I talk to my cast and they agreed that they would prefer to start when we could work straight through. The reasoning made sense. They get a lot of scripts for auditions or for parts. Even if things are slow that could mean three or four parts while they wait. They would forget and get out of the character's head if there is too long a gap between a rehearsal or table read. It didn't make sense to cast the available parts for much the same reason. Most actors expect that they will be working soon after they are cast. Otherwise, it's a waste of their time. That's another thing that a production company does not want to be known for – a time waster. My lead was really clear that the cast can pull it together on a dime. It would be best to get everything together first and then plow ahead. The caveat to that is that a location may come up out of sequence that we should grab when it is available. He though that was doable as well.

So we're waiting. I was unsure of what to say in the blog, because it could all change the day after it was posted. Finally, I decided to just detail everything and hope it made sense. We think the show will commence sometime in the next week or so with casting and the actual shoot would be a couple of weeks after that. Everything will be documented for readers here to follow. Everyone involved knows that this process will be heavily documented. Spoilers will be clearly marked.

We have no idea what will be happening in the next few weeks. The only thing certain is that it won't be dull. Thank you again for you patience. I'd also like to thank my amazing cast and crew. They're ready to follow us anywhere. That could be interesting.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Casting About for New Cast

It's time to talk about casting! No matter how many actors we get to know, I never have enough of the right ones available when we want to shoot something. That means that we have to do a casting call or Breakdown. Our feelings are decidedly mixed about these. On the one hand, a casting session is the first indication that a project is real. There is also nothing like hearing the dialog spoken by actors for the first time. That can also be the first time you realize that the dialog needed to be polished something fierce. But there is another side to casting that makes us cringe.

Before I get to that, let me show you an article that gives a clear and concise description of how a casting session should be.

Jon and I can add some numbers to that list that makes us dread going into a casting session.

Number 21 – Please, keep your clothes on unless we ask you to remove them (and we won't).

This has happened during the auditions for Demon Under Glass. The part was for a man who is mistaken for Molinar in the hooker sting. More than one actor thought, well if I'm about to get in bed with a hooker, I need to get naked. We are not talking about lifeguard physiques here. I thought the casting director was going to dive under his desk.

Number 22 – Please, make sure that your headshot is within ten years of your actual age.

We have had some actors come in that were decades older than their headshots. In one case, many decades older. Time makes many changes in one decade. Come one people, 70 is NOT the new 30!!!

Number 23 - Please, make sure that the height listed on your headshot is within six inches of your actual height in either direction.

We've expected a 5'8 inch female and gotten 6'2 inches. And we've expected a 5'8 inch man and gotten 5'2 inches. With an ensemble cast, we cast relative to the height of the leads. These numbers are important.

Number 24 – If you insist on using a prop, please make sure that prop makes sense.

We were auditioning for a tough guy space pirate, as you do, was using a waiter's cork screw as a substitute for a switch blade. It took us forever to figure that out, and then we were fixated on what happened during this man's day that he thought switch blade and came up with corkscrew. We didn't hear a word he was saying.

Number 25 – If you come up with your own stage direction, please try to remember it.

An actor during a call back decided to do a long monologue while pretending to be tied to a chair. Ballsy, we thought. But then, he kept getting out of the chair to dramatically stalk about the stage. Even after Jon reminded him twice that he was supposed to be tied up by his own choice, he kept getting up. Even when Jon made it an official adjustment to the performance, he didn't remember. Next.

Number 26 – If you don't know how to pronounce a word or what it means, PLEASE ask!

That's self explanatory and should be common sense. It really isn't. And while the guesses at words and how they are meant in sentences can be highly entertaining, it really isn't good for anyone. Casting is difficult when it's running smoothly, because you are rejecting people who are putting themselves out for your judgment. It's worse when things are unnecessarily difficult.

With all of this weighing on our minds, we have put out a casting call. You can read the character There are very mild spoilers in the descriptions. We've had literally hundreds of submissions for each part. We also have suggestions from the cast and crew. It's a lot to go through. It's quite daunting. However, we'll be having the finalists do scenes with our leads. This is great, because we can really get a feel for the actors that have the best chemistry with the cast. If all involved agree, we will record these sessions as a perk for the donors and for the DVD release!
breakdowns here:

Next up, more on the final script!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Pre-Production Looms

We've been super busy these past weeks, but it is paying off in a most satisfying way! We had a great meeting with Garett Maggart recently and went over the script treatment. Since he's lived with Joe McKay for quite some time, so we wanted to make sure that there was nothing in our plans that didn't ring true. We also wanted to make double super sure that what we have plan will be fun for him actor-wise. Fun doesn't always mean comedy for actors. It means that it's something fun for them to do. Fun varies with the actor, their personalities and experiences. He liked what we came up with for the script and its underpinnings.

That means that we can really start pre-production asap. I'm assembling the crew. I've been very lucky to find crew from the original Demon Under Glass. Aside from them knowing the material, there is a comfort level of working with people you've known for a decade. I trust that they can pull off miracles because I've seen them do it before. Additionally, they've honed their skills either through school or through job experience. And then, there are some new people that I've met doing my experiments with cooking and little comedy videos. Among them is a really adorable actor that I hired to be adorable. I discovered recently that he has this fight background and really wants to choreograph some vampire fights. I also think he'll made adorable vampire chow!

We have all of our equipment squared away with frugal use of the Indiegogo funds and the lovely Frugal Filmmaker Youtube page. We even found a solution to the fangs that is comfortable but not insanely expensive. And that came from the Goth crown that follows the film. It's absolutely amazing and it won't take very long to order. That was a relief as we really needed to have more than one set of fangs in case of an accident or a hard piece of sourdough bread.

The answer to the big question is mid-June. I'm working a production now (that's the interesting photo we
have here) but we're still setting up for this one. It's sort of like when you've worked for 8 hours, you don't mind working ten. What's an extra day to my week. Eek! I'll be posting the script and the casting breakdown on a link to a pdf next week for those who don't mind spoilers.

Thank you for your patience!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Scouting Party

I went location scouting last week. I both love and hate location scouting. Why they used to be called scouting parties is beyond comprehension. There was no cake at all! But it is an essential chore. On the one hand, I have to see with my own eyes how close the locations are to what has been written in the script. This is especially true when Jon is directing. After working with him for many years, I know exactly how much leeway I have with his needs to get the scene just right. I also know how many angles Jon needs in photographs for each location. I usually have a lot of questions to ask like how much can we alter the location (move things around or re-dress the location as something else). I love location scouting, because it makes me excited about what is going to happen next with the film. It's second to casting in making the project more real. Finally, as a woman, I have to make sure there are decent bathrooms nearby and that there is a place to eat and rest for the cast and crew. The hate of location scouting comes from the walking. When I set up a scout, I pick a very narrow area in which there is a hub where I can rest and get my bearings. When others set up scouts, there usually isn't a hub. There is a lot of walking hither and yon. I put in six miles in one day. And it was not a good day for that. We were having a spate of really cool days and one that was blistering hot. Guess which one was the one we scouted? Blistering! The upside is that I know where to find the cooler spots for that location. And then there are the stairs. I always manage to avoid locations with stairs. Even one flight can seem like Everest after ten hours. After 12 hours, it might as well be Mt. Doom. Yes, including the fire. Elevators help, but crew always find themselves taking stairs because they are always faster. They are exhausting when everyone is healthy. I really try to avoid them now. But the area is perfect in so many ways. I can forgive one set of stairs. It could be worse. We've always
wanted to film on Vasquez Rocks. That involves a cliff!

With that little scouting trip, we believe we now have all the locations we need that do not have permit or insurance issues. They will not be secured until the script is locked down. That should happen very soon as well. The location will actually help in finishing the script, because we had an issue with night shoots. One of our actors has a play this summer, so we wouldn't be able to do the number of night shoots that we would need to to for these scenes. This issue was becoming a real source of tension as we tried to finalize the script. This location always looks like night even in broad daylight. For the first time since the end of the fundraising campaign, I am actually visualizing scenes in my head. This has not been an easy process – re-tooling the script in light of the much smaller budget. I know what fans have been clamoring to see regarding Joe and Simon over the years (Is Joe a frightened prisoner or a willing accomplice? Do they fight over Simon's feeding? Have their been others who knew what Simon was?) We also wanted to explore the theme of vampire fans throughout the ages. I felt that the script we had really explored all of those in a fun way. But I am also reminded of a saying in screenwriting. A writer must be willing to 'murder your darlings.' That means, so save a script, a writer must be willing to 'kill' scenes that they love because they aren't feasible for some reason. That's never easy even though the scenes or plots or whatever gets killed can come back in another script. It sure shan't been here. I'm really liking the results here.

Note: Donors who do not fear major spoilers will be given a link to the new synopsis and episode outline in the next blog.

Our next big challenge is casting the two new characters that are in this script. I plan to put the actors among others on the case.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Yin and Yang of Delays

If you read any of my other blogs, you will note that this one is stripped of everything personal. It's been all about the web series or indie filmmaking. I figure that our donors and future viewers aren't really interested in our personal problems. Everyone has many of their own to worry about. And I agree with that. However, sometimes the health of someone on a project's cast or key crew becomes an issue in whether or not that project can continue. For example, the cancer that impacted the leads for Dexter and Spartacus. Health issues are amplified as problems when the cast and crew are so very small.

I am a survivor of a rare cancer of the appendix. Current stats contend that a diagnosis like mine is one in a million in cancer patients. The upside of such a rare cancer is that it is of great interest to a teaching hospital. Thus, I got and continue to get excellent care. The downside is that I'm studied like a lab rat. Every six months, I undergo a battery of tests to make sure I'm cancer free. This go around, some 'oddities' were found in my CT scan of the abdomen and in my mammogram (they make sure to test for everything). The results of those oddities has been more tests, including needle biopsies on both breasts. Each one left me almost incapacitated for a week. And every extra test left me a nervous wreck. Meanwhile, Jon is rushed to the ER twice in six weeks with excruciating pain in his side. Turns out, he has kidney stones. Though not life threatening, the attacks left Jon exhausted physically and mentally. This was especially true of the second as it really aggravated his his kidney. For at least two weekends in the last six, we've been forced to just stay still and completely rest. Since weekends are when we work on Demonspawn, that means we've fallen behind our current schedule.

What could possibly be the upside of that sort of delay, you ask? Well, one of the really important scenes we were writing that fit our budget yet was still exciting takes place in a location that no one we knew had access to. We didn't even know anyone that had access to a location that we could make look like the location we really wanted. The delay has resulted in someone very close to us having access to the perfect location when we shoot. It was almost kismet!

Speaking of Delays

Meanwhile, a year ago, our producing partner approached me about helping him schedule and budget an indie film for a writer he'd met on a shoot. Scheduling is a skill set that I learned after someone tried to charge me 10,000 to do one. As I recall, I laughed derisively, hung up the phone on him and fired up Google. I had an advantage of having done a feature schedule the old fashioned way – cardboard strips with each scene written on it along with codes for the rest of the elements in the scene (and then manually arranged them). It was easy to learn how to make the scheduling software work after going through something like that. Since that summer, I've scheduled dozens of films. I can now tell by just reading a script what the minimum number of shoot days would be. Anyway, we helped work on the development of the film a while ago and even agreed to work on it. At the time, we didn't think the shoots would interfere with each other in any way. Many delays later, the shoot is nigh and they still want me to continue to work on it. And not just me, half our cast may be working on it as well at some point. Our current plan is to try to shoot it during this film's pre-production in May or directly after that one wraps. What is the upside of twice the work? First, this film is a big lot of fun. Second, it's be great just to be in the habit of running a shoot. We'd have something like a running start. And third, I think we can lure some of the film's cast and/or acquire some of its assets. This would be most exciting to any fan of genre Sci-fi. And that's all I can really give away.

The upshot to all of this is that we are all much better physically, and we will have a script ready for a table read in another week or two. By then, I will also be able to reveal what this mystery film is as well. We really appreciate your patience and understanding and so does the cast and crew.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Updates on a Delicate Question

Joe McKay (Garett Maggart) wakes from a Nightmare
The last blog raised an interesting question about whether there will be nudity in the Demonspawn web series. I can't say (spoiler) for certain. There are many opportunities and we do have a very cute cast. I can tell you that there will be none seen on Youtube. If there is any, it will only be seen by the donors on the exclusive DVD for a while. We are in talks to get it distributed on some webtv channels where a bit skin and gore isn't an issue. Not that we have a lot of either (keeping it tasteful), but there is blood(vampires). After the initial run on Youtube is over, the full cut version of the webseries will be available to everyone.

Oh, and many thanks who have written me about my cancer tests. I am feeling fine and fully expect that all of the tests will reflect that. However, no matter what happens, we'll be shooting the webseries. The cast has been remarkably supportive of me during this. I could probably do without the serenading, but I do appreciate it. I and I really admire their commitment to this project. We've become a film family of sorts over the years. that's why we try to share how much fun this process is, so you can enjoy it as well. The whole family thing goes a long way on those 17 hour shoots. But that is for another day.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Wacky Questions with Wackier Responses

It takes a lot for a film related question to make me blink. Last week, I was asked if I knew anyone that could give them a price on a cow milking machine rental. I barely raised an eyebrow. All I wanted to know was whether there were insurance issues (that would be who and/or what they planned on hooking to the machine). I never got any specifics on that question. Someone else found the answer. When these Q&A exchanges occur ringside on social media, I can almost feel the questions coming from family and friends back east. There is much in the way of incredulity and confusion. It's not the questions in and of themselves that cause those states. The lack of reaction confused them.

Filmmaking is full of questions. Three quarters of them are mundane – maybe even 80 percent. But much of filmmaking is telling stories of the out of the ordinary. That sort of task is bound to produce some really strange questions.

“Do current model cars have releases inside the trunk?” Jon asked me over dinner a couple of weeks ago. My life has been really dull of late. My kidnappings had dwindled down to nothing, so I had no idea. I was also puzzled about why Simon would need an escape latch to get out of the trunk. If Joe couldn't open it for him, something had gone terribly awry that would course Simon to burst from the trunk, sending it high in the air. He had something else in mind, it turned out. I asked one of our more mechanically inclined friends and occasional set elf, Randy. I was informed that recent makes of cars do have a release latch built inside the trunk. That caused me to wonder just how many kidnappings and/or really goofy accidents had been happening worldwide to cause such feature to be built into autos.

While Jon adjusted the script for the physically realities of current car trunks, I had questions I need to ask our insurance company and members of the cast. No matter how safe the car companies believe the release mechanisms are, insurance companies may still not like the idea of closing an actor in side a real trunk without a big premium to cover any problems. There weren't any. Next, I had to ask the actors if they minded us locking them in a car trunk. I ask actors lots of questions in the run up to a shoot. Those questions generally focus on the logistics of traveling to the location or whether or not they have food allergies or strongly held food preferences. There is nothing that will ruin morale on the set than getting the food wrong! Strangely, the question of whether an actor will go for nudity is decided long before any of these kinds of questions. I nudity is a problem that is not something a production needs to learn once pre-production or production has begun. Have we asked the nudity question in regard to Demonspawn? That would be a big spoiler, wouldn't it?

At any rate, I realized that I needed to ask that question of our current actors and for any ones we cast in major speaking roles. It was one fun email to write as I had to include assurances that none of this was for our own personal entertainment. It has been implied that some directors and producers enjoy doing things like hanging actors upside down and putting their heads in casts just because they can. We never do anything that isn't for the film. Fun is purely a coincidence.

The next set of questions I had to research was could we build a camera rigging that could move it through the car past the back seat back into the trunk. The rigging would have to be sturdy enough to keep the camera safe, have smooth movement and still be cheap. A few questions on the frugal filmmakers network of websites and youtube channels soon gave me a few PVC pipe related options. Those guys are awesome. Naturally, we will document the rig as we build it.

If you have any questions that you want to ask us, let us know!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Recreating the Past and Casting Update

Read Carefully!
First, this is something one of our fans sent to me. A little vampire joke, if you will. This was because of one of the funnier images from the original film – Simon getting an eye exam. Jon and I always liked the dentist scene more. This was partly because we adored the actor playing the dentist (David Wiesenberg) and partly because he acted like a dentist It brings up one of the questions we've had a lot of recently. I wrote earlier about the possibility of flashbacks of scenes from the original film to establish Owen Szabo as Simon Molinar. There were plans to reconstruct the 'demon box' and other plans that meant reconstructing the isolation tank in CG. We still want to do that, but it will have to wait until the next season of the web series. Meanwhile, we will do images from the montage of medical tests. The eye chart will be one of the images. We'll also do the dentist and maybe the burn tests to balance out the humor. We don't want to try to recreate the entire film. We were happy with the final result and see no need for improvement. However, we do have firmly establish Owen as Simon in fans' minds. The best way would be some duplication mixed with some scenes we would have liked to have had in the original film. This way, we don't have to worry about finding a large number of the original actors. We can pretend that those characters were on break during these scenes. We'll also plan to do some casual shots of Simon and Joe of their time on the run together. There will be natural places in the narrative that call for flashbacks. I want to have all of the cast have their own flashbacks over time. It's something actors like doing – their character but from a different time in that character's life.


We've had some solid suggestions from our cast about who to cast for the open parts. I am told that there will be more once they've read the character breakdown and the script. This is good news. We hate doing casting sessions. Also, our cast is talented. They would not pick people to work with who weren't as talented. That makes for a very, very long day. Our cast is also really mellow. They are most likely to suggest actors who are of similar temperament. That suits us just fine as well. This will not be an easy shoot. We would rather have laid back and funny actors during those long hours. We're hoping to set a date for table reads of the script in a couple of weeks. We really appreciate the continuing interest and patience everyone has been showing.

To see some of the scenes that we plan on recreating, just click on this link:

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Hairy Terrors and Location Updates

There is a fear that producers have once a role has been cast. It's a worry that during the weeks of pre-production something will happen to prevent the actor from working on the project or that they won't be the same as when you cast them. For example, the rail thin starlet you've cast as a femme fatale turns up for rehearsals visibly pregnant. Or your pretty boy lead gets his face shredded in a motorcycle accident. It's terrifying. Even with insurance covering the loss and the cost of re-casting, it's a nightmare. When it's a low budget production, producers have no say over what an actor does to his person or what they may be doing in their personal life that could impact a shoot. Heck, the big budget shoots have problems dealing with that. Of course, we always ask if an actor is planning on remaining in the state we found him for the duration of the time we're filming. And we ask that they give a really good effort at trying to remain the same as when we cast them. Our experiences have been good as far as that is concerned. However, there are times when things happen. Jon was filming his thesis film over two weekends. The first weekend, the lead was clean shaven. The second weekend, he showed up with a fabulous moustache he needed to have for a play. Jon had to wait 8 weeks to finish his shoot so that the shots would match.

This brings me to the scare with our vampire. He has lovely, shoulder length hair that makes him look like a romantic figure in caught in the wrong time. The hair certainly work for the flashback scenes to other time. Imagine my surprise when I looked on Facebook and found a lovely photo of our Simon with very short hair. I swallowed hard, thinking about when I would begin a search for a wig that might work while I complimented the photo. I wasn't fibbing. He looked good in the haircut. I thought for a moment that an acting job had come up that required him to cut his hair. After putting on a brave face, I was about to ask if a cool part had come up. Then, I got word on my Facebook page that the photo was a prank on his friends! My heart stopped racing frantically and I got on with my day. We would have been fine as your vampire would be adorable with a green mohawk. I'm just glad that he doesn't have one.

However, we have had to make some adjustments to accommodate our casts. It is pilot season, and to give our guys the best chance at landing one, we're going to hold off on everything until about mid-March. One actor is already in a different part of the country perusing a gig. The others are going out and having call backs. This new start date makes allowances for any pilot shoot that may occur. We figure that it just makes our cast more famous when we get to the web series.

Location Updates
Jon and I have been doing experiments with green screens and footage of street scenes. They worked very well. No one could tell that we weren't live. This will solve a huge location issue and save us hundreds of dollars! We will not reveal those tests right now. If no one knows what scenes are a special effect, no one may even notice. And I have negotiated the use of two excellent locations for the price of some appetizers and baked goods. I feel like a dragon hoarding the gold that is our budget. I will not let a coin go unless I absolutely must!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dance Moves, Vampire Noir and Updates

Yes, that was our very own Jack Donner aka Dr. Richard Bassett in that hilarious Taco Bell ad during the Super Bowl. He's been holding out on us, it seems. We did not know he had any dance moves! We're now trying to figure out how to incorporate this knowledge into something fun for the web series. For those of you who missed it, here it is:

Naturally, we got very little done because it was Super Bowl weekend. That is, we didn't get together with the actors. Jon and I were working even during that Sunday. We're at the stage in the re-write where we talk through dialog to each other. The new treatment is done. Next we go episode by episode and scene by scene constructing the dialog between the characters. We're having a bit of a squabble over a new character and how far to take him during the story arc. Jon has a tendency to go over the top where I tend to like my drama to be more subtle. In this case, it's a dispute over whether a new character should be as powerful as the Terminator in Terminator 2 or he should be more like Jason Bourne – dangerous but killable. I'm getting ahead of myself though. I have to set up a little background for the new script. Don't worry. There are no spoilers. Those were just metaphorical examples.

Some of the great things that have happened as a result of the fund raiser is that we had to come up with script solutions for the budget that resulted in a longer web series by a few episodes. We also created a new character that has long been desired by those who followed Demon Under Glass. The drama had to be more character driven than action driven. We needed to cut down on the number of smaller parts. This solution is really logical and it is a great source of humor and terror. I love writing parallel characters to show how one decision can dramatically alter the course of a life. We have two sets of parallel lives in this web series. I really loved what we had originally planned for a young woman we called 'the Twilight girl.' We are keeping some of those scenes, but I'm really enjoying what we've come up with in its stead. It is very easy to mock the romance in the Twilight Series. We still plan to do that. This girl's timing is almost tragically comedic at times. However, rather than just going for the laugh, we want to hold a mirror up to this poor girl and how terribly sad and dangerous her life choices have become. The Company Man and the Twilight Girl are completely new characters to the Demon Under Glass universe. Casting them will be an interesting process. We do plan to publish a character breakdown on this blog. Please, feel free to make suggestions.

Practical Updates
Since we have a new treatment and a firm idea of our locations, I'm going to make appointments to discuss the permit and insurance costs and application process with the proper authorities. Our budget is so low, that there aren't actual cost categories that cover our web series. It looks like everything will have to be a custom deal.

Donor Bonus
If any donor wishes, we are willing to share the scripts once they are written. We will require that a the signing of a non-dislcosure agreement before sending it.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Questions Answered and Updates

I promise that this will not have spoilers. I will mention a number of things that we have in mind, but there is no way that anyone could see into the twisted minds of the writers and actors and figure out exactly where this story will go. So, read on with confidence and enjoy the ride.

Q & A

First, let me get to the questions from fans.
Yes, you can still donate to the production. It can be done one of two ways. You can donate directly to the production company or to one of the vendors supplying goods and services for the web series. For instance, you could help pay for extra prosthetic make-up directly with the vendor. That could free up our committed resources for something else that would be nice to have. You could help pay for a location or for catering. The level of contribution will be awarded the same kind of perks we did on the Indiegogo campaign. Just email me privately, and I can set it up anyway you like. My email address is We are keeping copious records of everything and are willing to open the books to any contributor at the end of the production.

No, thankfully, the lower budget will not mean that the series will lose its sense of humor. I believe that the series has gotten even funnier in a macabre kind of way or in the 'that's so wrong' kind of humor that came from our actors. But there won't be silliness. The characters take what's happening in their lives very seriously. It's just that some of the things happening are seriously screwed up. It's like if Buffy the Vampire Slayer met film noir. As I've said, I don't there is a way to stop Garett Maggart from being funny. We've just found some really different ways for that humor to show itself while keeping the tension and sometimes the horror.

Yes, this script does have elements from the second half of the novel, Demon Under Glass. But it also has themes from stories that appeared in the Demonspawn: On the Run anthologies. Once the script has been finalized, we'll notify the authors whose works are represented. I'm sure they'll be jazzed about getting credits on Half of the script, however, is completely original. The discussions we had during the Nosferatu TVpodcast really did open our minds to some possibilities we had not considered. We've spent the last couple of weeks fleshing out the arc with what we have for resources. We'll have a draft to put in front of the actors by next weekend. I hope to finalize the remaining cast shortly after that. I will be sharing the character breakdowns on the blog. We're always looking for casting ideas.

Frugal Film Making

I posted this link on the Demonspawn Facebook Page. I found this Youtube Channel, the Frugal Filmmaker  and blog while looking for options to solve audio recording issues we were having with the teaser, my documentary other shoots we were doing out of pocket. I realized that it was the same site we used to find plans and instructions to make a stabilizing rig for the camera with PVC pipe. You can kind of see it in this photo. This fabulous man puts up a video almost every week that has something useful for a filmmaker with no money. In fact, his motto is basically that poverty is no excuse to not make a film. We did find a few options to solve our sound problems. I even tried them when I recorded a cooking video this week. Jon also decided to wear a wire for most of a day. They are very clear mics with their own digital recorders that are also thumb drives. We have enough for our leads and some spares while spending far less than we would to rent the same equipment. We really don't want to rent any equipment. It was inexpensive enough for us to invest in the equipment on our own like the stabilizing rig. Well, he has dozens of ideas for Demonspawn's equipment needs. He even does a video on craft services that was quite helpful. Most important of all is that he will answer questions on matters not covered in the videos in a very timely manner. That is very refreshing in a city where everyone has a hand out for any little bit of information.

That's it for now. I'll have more next week. Keep the questions coming. And we really appreciate the words of support.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Campaign and Beyond - Away We Go!

The Indiegogo fundraiser for Demonspawn fell well short of our most best case scenario for filming. However, we did do well enough to shoot what we planned to shoot and do it well. How can this be? Bowfinger. That film was a watershed for us as filmmakers. After arriving in Los Angeles, we had been in an endless litany of meetings and negotiations for various projects that got us no where. For four years, Jon and I and later joined by Ralph and Marguerite Lliteras had gone into a meeting with high hopes and big promises only to be ground down with endless new demands and delays. We've had more than one company raise money for their own projects based on the strength of our pitches. We were beyond frustrated. Then, Jon and I saw Bowfinger. We had Ralph and Marguerite see it. At that same time, we saw an ultra low budget short Joss Whedon shot for Buffy, The VampireSlayer series . That gave us the crazy notion to shoot our own proof of concept. They are now called 'sizzle reels.' The Bowfinger philosophy was that all movies only really cost $2,184 dollars. Fortunately, we raised more than that. When we decided to make The Privateers, Jon and I had absolutely no money beyond our paychecks. It got done. With actual bucks in hand, watch out.

There is a lot of elements on our side. Equipment is much cheaper and actually better. We own a lot of our own rig. We have resources from the city, county and state that are fee-free and we have some really cool and varied locations that are willing to give us a day here or there. The only thing that the money changes is shooting in one straight shot (5 to 7 days). We'll have to do this over a couple of months now. And I will most certainly be doing all the craft services, but the cast actually wants that (especially the baked goods). And then, we have a committed and enthusiastic cast. The work we did in the run up to the teaser shoot and the discussion we had during the podcast shoot produced some amazing insights from our leads. These insights prompted us to re-write the script that emphasizes the interplay between Simon and Joe and Ethan in the present and Bassett in the flashbacks over a lot of action. We've been challenged to find our inner Ron Moore and Jane Espenson and use our FX sparingly. That is a big groovy exercise for a writer and an actor.

So, Jon and I are re-working the treatment. We'll be meeting with the cast and key crew between now and next week to coordinate resources and schedules. I have to find out what we need for permits, insurance and SAG clearance. Then, we will set a shooting schedule. It's going to be a buttload of work. Could it have been easier? Hells yes! We would have loved to have all the bells and whistles and luxuries. I don't think it will be as rough as our first shoot purely because it isn't our first shoot. We know how to do a lot now, including foresee difficulties and fix them on the fly.

Look for a progress report next week. Thanks very much for all of your support. Me, Jon, Garett, Owen, Donal and Jack and our crew really appreciate it! We hope you enjoy the ride.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Winding Down the Campaign

We'll be waiting until we know what's happening with the campaign before posting a new blog. There are still plans to shoot the web series and no real plans to scale it back, but the shoot days would be expanded over far more time. Everyone involved remains committed which has been really amazing. It's like the whole process ignited something incredible. But what we will be doing will depend on what the final tally is, so we think it would be silly to do a blog when we don't really know anything.

So, after the campaign ends and we have a meeting with our cast, we'll resume the blogs. It'll be worth the wait as there are some amazing things coming.

Meanwhile, there is still time to contribute:

And don't forget to share!