Archive for February, 2010

Binary Sunset

Posted in Distribution, Post Production on February 24, 2010 by Richard Diaz

It took a lot longer than I expected but the day has come. The DVD of ‘Distortion’ has been mailed out to the Cannes Film Festival and to the LA Film Festival. Not really sure of my chances but it marks the end of one thing and the start of another. Unlike the Sundance submission the film is basically done. A few things I still need to tweak but the film these festivals are receiving is the film I made. The version I sent to Sundance was still rough and had some missing things. This version is what it is. While I am still working on a few audio issues and reworking a few effects shots the film is completed and will now be judged on its own merits.

I hadn’t eaten in over 24 hours. I barely slept. I made a DVD yesterday and watched the film last night but there were some things that stuck out too much. So I went back in and fixed them and had to export the entire film and then recompress it for DVD. All total it’s around 7 hours or so just for that. I slept for just a little bit and then got up and checked it out. Burned another disc and went through it. There is one audio issue but I can live with one. For now. I got all of my information together and finally headed out to Fed Ex. Shipping was super expensive. Overnight shipping with one item going to the UK? Ouch!

As I was getting ready I reached for a shirt and next to the one I was reaching for I saw my Star Wars shirt. I put down the shirt I grabbed and put that one on. I wasn’t trying to be my geek self today. This was something personal. A circle has closed. When I was 4 years old I saw Star Wars in the theatre. It changed my life forever. The images were so powerful that I was forever in love with the movies. If that one moment where a young boy’s eyes were mesmerized and imagination soared had not happened then there is no telling who I would be today. Ever since I was a kid I have dreamed of making movies. Even before I knew what a director was I would imagine my own films. The day finally came where the little kid grew up and made his first film. I don’t know what my future holds. All I know is that in many ways I am still that young boy filled with dreams and wonder.

If I ever had to pick one moment in any film that expresses who I am it is from Star Wars when Luke looks out onto the horizon at the two setting suns. He looks out and dreams of things far away but feels like he can’t reach them but hopes that one day he can. Nothing has ever been more true for me. I still look out onto the horizon. Hoping. Dreaming. Maybe one day I will reach them too.


That’s A Wrap

Posted in Filmmaking, Post Production, Production with tags , , , , on February 22, 2010 by Richard Diaz

I realize this may seem strange but it is true. Tonight I shot the very last shot that will ever be done for ‘Distortion’. Ironic in some ways. I kept forgetting to shoot one very simple insert shot. Yet in the film it is one of great importance and meaning. It was one of the first images I had of the film when I imagined it in my head way back when. A simple shot but a poignant one.

I knew I could shoot it quickly. I got two lights and set up the camera. Then the battery died. I ran and got another one and as I walked back to the camera and saw it sitting on the tripod with the two lights set up and the picture on the table I all of a sudden got very emotional. A few things still need to be done on the film. Mainly some music which I need to finish tonight and then a few tweaks in the next few weeks before I announce it done. But in essence the film is over. What started back in 2003 has now come to a close. It’s funny how I was just thinking of the technical side of it with the lights and the battery but when the realization hit me I was suddenly saddened. I used to joke that the last shot of the film would be some basic shot and I would be standing there by myself. Well, that is exactly what happened. And as I hit the button on the camera to finish the last take I said softly with tears in my eyes, “That’s a wrap.” The shooting of my first feature film is over. Kind of sad to have the moment be by myself but it’s how this whole journey has basically been. Only fitting that it ends on a whisper.

Horror Society Write Up

Posted in Filmmaking on February 18, 2010 by Richard Diaz

I wanted to pass this along. There was a write up on me over at the Horror Society website. I will also be doing an interview with them soon which I am really looking forward to. I will post the link when it comes up.

Be sure to check out their website as well as their new radio show and their events which you will always find me at as they are great.

Big thanks to Mitchell Wells at the Horror Society!

The Home Stretch

Posted in Post Production with tags , , , , , on February 17, 2010 by Richard Diaz

Filmmaking is exciting stuff.

I can’t tell what is working and what isn’t at this point. I am desperately trying to get every last thingĀ  done to send out the film to festivals. The music seems to be working so far. I think two spots need to be either tweaked or redone but I’ll do that last. It’s not enough to hurt the film and I don’t want to spend time on it right now. I need to concentrate on the remaining visual effects. Mainly one big one which will be very complicated. I did a rough version of it for the earlier cut and that was hard enough. Can’t imagine what the final version will entail as far as complexity and even render time. The rough version took like 10 hours to render.

I know the film won’t be 100% done by the time I mail it out but I need it to be like 95% done. I know I will tweak the music and a few visual effects but overall it’ll be done. Enough so I feel good mailing it out as is. Luckily I am just sending out submission copies not screening copies so I do have a little time to work on a few things. However, I also can’t obsess over every little thing. At some point I need to walk away and just call it done. Otherwise I will work on it forever.

My main problem is I am pretty fried so it’s hard to determine what works and what doesn’t unless it sticks out a lot. My original goal was Friday to mail the film out but I do think I will take the weekend and mail it out on Monday (at a great expense especially sending it out to the Cannes Film Festival submission). I think the extra two days will help. Plus I can make my own DVD to test to see if there are any last minute things.

It’s been two and a half years since I started, in essence, PreProduction. I’m almost at the point where this will be out of my hands. The film will be out there and it won’t be mine anymore. It’ll be in the hands of the audience. No matter how much I tweak only they will decide whether it works or not. And whether my long journey to make this film will pay off.

Who Ordered The Ham

Posted in Post Production, Production with tags , , , on February 15, 2010 by Richard Diaz

It’s hard to believe I am days away from having to mail out the film and I’m still shooting stuff for it. While working on the music I got to one scene where a character reacts to a newscast on the TV. It’s basically seen briefly but mainly just heard. Unfortunately right now he reacts to a blank TV with the title card “INSERT NEWSCAST”. I even gave myself the note but it didn’t click no matter how many times I watched it. When you’re concentrating on so much it is easy to let certain things slip by. Plus I had seen it so many times I think I got used to just seeing the title.

Originally I was going to have an actor play an anchor. That was all fine and dandy like a year ago. Right now it wasn’t an option. Instead I figured I would do it myself. Slap the green screen up so I can insert the background and graphics and just do it. Since I was doing it I debated whether to make it just a bland reading of a news piece or to ham it up a little and instead be a commentator. If you know me then you know I opted for the ham (which is ironic because I actually don’t like to eat ham). So I got gussied up and rewrote the lines for it and set it up. A little hard to light yourself but I think it worked out ok. It’ll look better once all of the graphics are put in.

So I managed to get in my cameo. I wanted to do one but with everything else going on it wasn’t possible. Now I got myself in there. My Hitchcock type of cameo is complete.

Your humble director hamming it up in the newscast.

A New Direction

Posted in Post Production with tags , , , , , on February 3, 2010 by Richard Diaz

A close up of my mighty keyboard.

Some of you may remember a previous post (located here) where I talked about the music for the film. I decided at the time to go with a more synthesizer based score. I love synth scores and I have many in my soundtrack collection from all kinds of very talented musicians (some of them I listed in that previous post). Slight problem. The movie did not sync too well to the synth.

Some of the suspenseful scenes worked well. Afterall, sometimes all you need is a simple bass like sound to get the creeps going. Unfortunately it ended there. It wasn’t working and I knew it. I just couldn’t go back to the more orchestral score using samples. It was very taxing on my system (leading to several program crashes) and if it sounds bad it sounds really bad. But when it sounds good it sounds really good. Also means the score was going to be harder as I could not take short cuts with an orchestral sounding score. The film though called for it. I did some tests a long time ago but this time I went back and did another test. It worked. It worked too well. One thing I am doing is forcing myself to keep it simple. Not just for the sake of my computer crashing but also because music not being my main talent I know the simpler I keep it the more likely I will remain within my range. One scene specifically I wrote to be slightly tragic. The synth score made it scary but I lost a little of the tragic. The strings I added made the scene tragic for me again and I was sold. The fact that my original emotional intent was there means while it may be a harder route to go (much like the road less traveled I mentioned in the last post) it is the one that my film requires. I have not come this far to let a key part of the film be inferior and therefore make the film as a whole suffer. Now granted as of this writing some of the harder music scenes I haven’t gotten to yet. I may write another post lamenting the fact that I made this decision. But I doubt it. If anything I love a good challenge. Especially a creative one.

The next round of festival deadlines is quickly approaching so I have no time to debate things. This is how I am going and it may kill me but it is worth it. Not to say I won’t use a little synth here and there. Afterall, I can’t deny using the waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.