Archive for January, 2009

First Full Trailer Done

Posted in Post Production, promotion with tags , , , on January 30, 2009 by Richard Diaz

I did the first full trailer for ‘Distortion’. The teaser just had glimpses of a couple of shots but this one consists completely of footage. There will be one more trailer done sometime this summer to coincide with the completion of the film as it’ll be ready to submit to festivals.

I did have a bit of a deadline as I wanted to make sure there was plenty of time to get it to Fangoria so it can premiere at the Weekend Of Horrors convention in March. While not 100% I am pretty sure it will get shown. After the convention the trailer will be online for everyone to see. Because it took me longer to finish cutting the film I had less time to do the trailer so it’s not quite as polished as I would have liked but I do think it’s good. I think people will be amazed by what I was able to shoot for the film. At least, I hope they are.

I’ve also submitted the film to the IMDb. I’m hoping they accept it. I know for low budget films without an established distributor is can be hard to prove your film exists if it hasn’t been shown somewhere like at a festival. I submitted as much information as I could including some of the write ups on it and I even added a lot of stuff to the website. Hopefully it gets added. It will be extrememly helpful. Cross your fingers.

I need to work on a new shooter/editor reel and then it’s back to doing the next cut of the film. After that it’ll be ready to show some friends to get some feedback. Plus it’s time to start working on the music. That should be a lot of fun. Hard but fun.

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First Cut Watched

Posted in Post Production with tags on January 15, 2009 by Richard Diaz

Last night I was able to watch the film. Not wanting to stare at a computer screen for an hour and a half I converted the film so I could burn it to a DVD. I wanted to watch it in my home theatre so it can be like any other film I watch at home. I have a projector (albeit one that is slowly dying and doesn’t exactly spit out blue anymore) so I was able to watch it on my wall. A nice big image. The sound isn’t really mixed so I didn’t watch it in 5.1. Just an overamped stereo.

First thing is it moves. I can’t imagine anyone watching it and thinking it’s slow. If so then I hate to see what they consider fast. The film feels a lot less than the 92 minutes runtime. There lies a problem. If it feels too short then are things not sinking in like they should? Now granted I know the film backwards and forwards so a lot of it is hard for me to look at objectively. I also feel like there is something missing. The film feels like it builds and builds and then it’s at the end. I can’t help but wonder if the big chase scene that I never shot is what’s missing. That was supposed to be a major action scene which would have helped deflate some things so the audience can settle in for the finale. Without it I can’t help but feel like the film is in one way incomplete. Now granted that may be me. I know the script and what was supposed to go where so I may be basing it on that.

I think the parts that have yet to be completed make a difference too. Without having the “visions” in there and a few other things it does feel incomplete. For the second cut I want to have rough versions of the visions in there. And the music jumps a bit but that’s because I’m using temp music. Once the music is actually scored to the film that will help. It may also make me rethink certain scenes on how they play out.

I think this was because of the compression but I noticed the film looked a tad too dark and a little soft. Now granted going from 1080 HD to 480 SD is going to take away the detail of high definition. But I wonder if some of the filler shots (I was using TV snow for filler during the vision scenes) was messing things up. Similar to what was happening when I was compressing the original teaser trailer. It’s compensating for the snow which then makes everything around it softer. Something to think about. And again the darkness issue I need to play with. Right now I have a temp color correction so it’s possible I made everything too dark. I wanted to crush the blacks because it wanted those harsh shadows and it helps bring the noise level down. Some scenes look great. A few even look better than I expected. But some do look way too dark. One of which I’m not sure you can tell what the heck happened.

So much left to do. Feedback will definitely be needed. Once I get through the second cut I will show it to a few close friends to see what they think. First I need to work on the second trailer. I do have a bit of a time restaint on that so that is next. It also gives me some time away. I’ll go back and watch the film in a week or so and see what I think then. Maybe a little distance will help.

First Cut DVD

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on January 14, 2009 by Richard Diaz

The first DVD is done. Well, sort of. Basically it’s just the film on DVD so I can watch it on my home theatre to gage better what works and what doesn’t and to make my notes. I could have watched it on the computer but I think in order to get a better sense of the film it would be beneficial to watch it where I normally watch movies.

The DVD of the first cut.

The DVD of the first cut.

I am sure there will be much to say after I watch it.

First Cut Done

Posted in Post Production with tags on January 13, 2009 by Richard Diaz

20AM.

The timeline at 3:20AM.

The first cut of DISTORTION is done. With a final running time of approximately 91 or 92 minutes (remember my initial fear?). This will change as there are several things I know I want to do for the second cut and the possibility of one scene coming out. My first deleted scene?

It was 3:20AM when I finally gave the ending a once over to see if there was anything major I wanted to change. It’s odd as there are still things I need to shoot so I have a lot of filler shots. One of the main ones is the very last shot. So the ending is a bit odd as it doesn’t have the full impact without it. Unfortunately I can’t shoot it until it gets warmer here which most likely won’t be until April or May. I will be making a DVD of the film so I can watch the film from beginning to end on my normal TV to make my notes and see if it drags anywhere or if it moves too fast. My main concern is that the entire ending is too quick but I’ll see.

It will be strange as there are a lot of missing things and temporary shots. For example, all of the “visions” are not there. Two of them still need to be shot and the other ones need to be created. Since they are visions they are completely effects shots so they will be time consuming. Of course none of the effects shots are done yet. That too will help in some scenes. Plus the audio makes a big difference. I had one scene where someone gets thrown against a wall and it looked kind of silly. But once I added a quick thud sound effect it made a huge difference.

The music will make the biggest difference. So many scenes were a bit bland until I added music. Not bombastic music. Even just something subtle underneath. The problem of course is that right now I am using temp music for pacing and whatnot so it’s from other movies. Movies that had a heck of a lot of money for music and done by some of the greatest film composers around. Mine won’t be anywhere near it so that will be a huge challenge. How can I keep the feeling I have now but with music that will be nowhere near what I am using? Next to editing this first cut I am guessing the music will be the second longest aspect of post production.

Before I can revel in the fact that the first cut is done and I can see the spine of the film before me I do have other things to do. As much as I want to make the DVD to watch the film through I can’t forget I do have a deadline. If I want to get a trailer into the Weekend Of Horrors in March I need to get it to them this month. So I will be starting the new trailer now. It will be my main concentration over the next week or so. That one will be made up of footage. Not just glimpses like in the teaser.

Much left to do but the first major step is done.

Favorite Movies Of 2008

Posted in misc with tags on January 10, 2009 by Richard Diaz

Some people suggested I add this to the blog. I try and keep this blog strictly about the film but I guess it’s ok since it is film related. I should say upfront that I didn’t see a lot of movies last year. I was too busy making one which I figured is a great excuse. There are still many films I want to see so this list can easily change. Out of what I did see here are the ones that stood out for me. Listed in reverse for dramatic effect.

FAVORITE MOVIES OF 2008

9. MY NAME IS BRUCE

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This film is getting kicked around some but if you’re a fan of Bruce Campbell then how can you not like this movie? Granted it plays off the fact that you need to know who he is. If you do then you’re in for a very funny flick. Bruce plays a caricature of himself who is requested by a fan to rid a town of a real monster. Not thinking it’s real he goes along. Nothing groundbreaking here just a good time. I got to see this with an audience of fans so that may have helped.

8. INSIDE

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This French film definitely deserves the terms violent and gory to describe it. I saw this for the first time on the big screen so it only seemed moreso. The story of a pregnant woman being terrorized is not some cheapo flick slapped together. This film is very well made and acted. It’s just extremely violent and gory. Not for the timid at all but well worth checking out if you can take it.

7. DOOMSDAY

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Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers, The Descent) did his own version of Escape from New York. Literally. You have your walled in city. Your anti-hero with one eye. Your time limit on going into the city and coming out. And your corrupt government officials. It even uses the same font for the titles. It’s literally Escape from New York. However, it’s also a heck of a film that works on every level. It takes those things from Escape From New York but uses them in its own fashion. If Hollywood is determined to do more remakes then look at this as an example. Take the basic elements but make it completely your own. This plays like an homage not a rip off while still having its own originality.

6. SPIRAL

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A little film that really worked for me. Kind of a Hitchcock type of story told very simply but very effectively. Directed by Adam Green and Joel David Moore, who also stars, is a great example of letting the characters tell your story. Let the film play out in front of you. Definitely a film worth checking out. And a PG-13 rating that doesn’t feel like a cheat.

5. POULTRYGEIST

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A zombie, comedy, musical, love story, with social commentary. Does that do it? It’s hard to describe Troma’s latest film which is easily one of the best three films Troma has ever made (the other two being The Toxic Avenger and Tromeo and Juliet). Lloyd Kaufman has been tirelessly promoting this film for years as he put a lot into it. And watching the making of only shows how much he also had to deal with. In the end though he has made a film like no other and one that will no doubt bring in new Troma fans.

4. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN

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This might even go up on my list upon repeated viewings having only seen it once but boy, what an experience. This is a slightly different take on vampires but mainly from a child’s perspective. This Swedish film has been creeping up on many top ten lists (the ones that count anyway) and it’s not hard to see why. This is an amazing film. Nothing campy about it but also nothing flashy. It takes its time to tell its story. If this is playing anyway remotely near you go see it. Otherwise be sure to check out the DVD in March. I can’t recommend this film more.

3. RAMBO

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Note to Hollywood – if you want to bring back a character and have a message in your movie look at this as an example. This fourth outing for John Rambo is very tight (especially at a trim 85 or so minute running time) and is not done in a campy way. The violence in the film is handled pretty aggressively as we find Rambo helping out Christian missionaries going into Burma to help the needy. This film is not only entertaining but doesn’t hide what is happening in Burma. It has a message but doesn’t make the message the movie. I know after I saw it I wanted to know more about what is happening there. All this from an action film about a guy who knows how to use a bow and arrow and a big knife. Not to mention a big gun.

2. REPO THE GENETIC OPERA

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This one caught me off guard. I think like some people the first time you see it you’re almost not sure what to make of it. A horror rock opera can go either way. It can be off putting if you’re not used to musicals. Luckily I love musicals so people bursting into song doesn’t bug me. Some people will dismiss it as “I didn’t get it so I guess I didn’t like it”. I didn’t get it but wanted to see it again. And again. And again. And as of this writing I have seen it five times in the theatre. I’m even looking for future showings even after I own the DVD on January 20th. Unfortunately dumped by Lionsgate the director and co-creator took it to the road city by city and helped create a phenomenon. As the poster says this is not a film but an event. It is. And with each showing the audience becomes filled with more and more fans of multiple viewings. In some way this is the new Rocky Horror Picture Show. A film that people go to over and over and sing along to it. Every so often something about a movie will hit me and I become obsessive over it. This is my latest obsession. Every time The Music Box Theatre brings it back for another midnight show I’ll be there. I have the soundtrack and listen to it over and over. An event indeed. Also one of the best films to come out this year.

1. THE DARK KNIGHT

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I loved Batman Begins. So much so I was fearful for this film as I didn’t want to get overly excited for it. I did not want to be let down so I forced myself to not get worked up until after I saw it. The Dark Knight is known because it was Heath Ledger’s last film. But I feel even if he was still alive the success of this film would still be the same. This came out the same weekend that I started making my own film. I had to put off seeing it for a few days because I was making a film which was ironic as I swore I would be there opening day at the first show. I figured it was a good excuse. It filled me with a sense of humbling because when you see a great film it does make you know that as a filmmaker I have much to learn still. But it also filled me with great excitement. It helped rejuvenate me on my own film and kept it going all summer long. Having lost faith in many ways in Hollywood I was getting the feeling they didn’t want me as a customer anymore. The last two years I wasn’t even able to do a top five list of movies because I didn’t see five things I liked. At least out of the studios. Then this comes along and it just blew me away. This is definitely one of the best films I’ve seen in years. I should have let myself get all excited because it wouldn’t have let me down. The amazing thing is no matter how many times I see it I get the same feelings I got when I saw it the first time. Without a doubt it’s my favorite film of the year and one of the best of the decade.

So there you have it. Some of my favorite films of last year. Now back to editing the film.

A New Year But Same Goal

Posted in Post Production, promotion with tags , on January 5, 2009 by Richard Diaz

I hope everyone had a really great Christmas and New Year. 2009 has begun and there is much to be done on the film.

I didn’t reach my goal of having the first cut done by New Year’s but I came pretty close. I am currently editing the finale. Which in essence is the last 10 minutes. I’m at 80 minutes so the final running time should be around 90 minutes. The second cut will be interesting as there are already things I want to change or alter. Plus one scene I may take out completely. So in the end the film will probably be around 85 minutes. Which works for me.

There have been a few instances where I wish I had gotten a shot of this or a close up of that but overall I am amazed by how much coverage I got. I tend to be a coverage fanatic but time is always an issue. Luckily I got as much as I could and I’m still surprised I got as much as I did. It has made a huge difference. I have been able to control the pacing so well. And let me tell you that so far I think it flies. Which is not to say the film doesn’t slow down for things. It does. A lot of the character scenes I did put mainly into the first act to make sure the second half of the film moves well. That will be the big thing I’ll be looking for when I can finally watch the whole thing. How does it move? Working with full 1080 HD footage is taxing my system so I can’t watch the whole thing through on the computer. So when I finish the first cut I will be making a DVD of it and watch it. I’ll have my little note pad and make my little notes and then it’ll be off to the second cut.

Not so fast.

Actually the first thing I need to do is the second trailer. Or what I’m calling the extended teaser. If I want to submit it for approval to premiere at the Fangoria Weekend of Horrors convention in March then I need to get it done in the next few weeks so I can get it to them. Plus I need to update the website because I want to get the film into the IMDb. Since this is a very small film without a distributor it is very hard to get listed unless you can prove the film is at least made. So if I add enough to the website to prove the film is actually shot and just in post then hopefully it’ll get added. That will help once I start talking to people. Plus with part of the cast already in LA it will help them as well.

Speaking of Fangoria, James Zahn wrote a really great piece on the film and added the teaser trailer to the website. It was a really nice surprise when he asked me if they could add the trailer but to write such a nice piece was really the highlight of the weekend.

http://www.fangoria.com/home/news/8-indie/926-teaser-and-update-on-distortion.html

On top of editing there is also the sound effects, music, visual effects, the shooting of additional footage, and more. So much more to do but hopefully my goal of fall of 2009 is still there to have the entire thing done. Although I did miss my first goal. Granted by a week but still.