Archive for the Filmmaking Category

SlashFilm Reviews The Distortion Trailer

Posted in Filmmaking, Production with tags , , , , , , , on May 23, 2010 by Richard Diaz

To say I am a pig in slop is an understatement. And for those of you that may not know that is a very good thing as pigs love their slop. Not only was the trailer showed recently on the big screen at the Horror Society event Woman Of Horror II and I got to introduce it but now the trailer is reviewed by Christopher Stipp who reviews trailers at Like me he loves movie trailers and I just love his pieces on them. So to have him review mine is such a huge thrill. It’s an honest review and he rightly points out a few flaws but has some of the nicest things to say about me which as a struggling filmmaker is like drinking from the Holy Grail and feeling young again.

A truly heartfelt thank you to Christopher and SlashFilm for this. Enough of my babbling. Go check it out!!


The Big Screen

Posted in Filmmaking, promotion with tags , , , , , , , on April 12, 2010 by Richard Diaz

The Distortion trailer plays on the big screen at The Music Box theatre.

For years I have been going to The Music Box theatre. They show many foreign and independent films. What I tend to love watching are the midnight shows. They show all kinds of films at midnight on Friday and Saturdays. Whether it’s cult hits like ‘The Room’ or even childhood favorites like ‘The Dark Crystal’ and ‘The Muppet Movie’. They also help put on these events put on by Movieside Film Festival which includes a 24 hour marathon of horror films done every October called the Music Box Massacre. In the spring time they do the Sci-Fi Spectacular which is a mix of science fiction and horror science fiction films which they just had this past weekend. This year’s line up included such classics as ‘Them!’ and even more recent cult favorites like John Carpenter’s ‘They Live’.

One big addition was the showing of ‘Q The Winged Serpent’ with writer, producer, director Larry Cohen in person. I have wanted to meet him for years because his way of making movies was a huge inspiration on me. He would write the script the way he wanted and then just go out and make the picture. Sometimes literally just showing up somewhere and start shooting without a permit or anything. That gung ho attitude was something I tried to emulate while making ‘Distortion’.In fact, it was a big reason why I think the film got made because I knew I needed to just plunge ahead and make it. As an added bonus a great store called Horrorbles had a discussion group the next day with Larry Cohen. It was a small affair of only about 20 people so I was excited to be among them. To hear him talk about his writing process and different anecdotes was just so great. I tried hard when I talked to him to not be overly fan boyish but how could I not be? The guy inspired me in so many ways.

Getting back to the Sci-Fi Spectacular – one last bit happened. The week before I was at a special screening at The Music Box of ‘North By Northwest’ which was part of the Turner Classic Movies film festival featuring Robert Osbourne and Eva Marie Saint in person(!). Such a great night. Afterwards as I was coming out I ran into the guy that puts on the Sci-Fi Spectacular as well as the Music Box Massacre. He asked me if I wanted the new ‘Distortion’ trailer shown. I was about to jump out of my socks I was so excited. The theatre that I go to all the time to watch all kinds of movies new and old was going to have the trailer for my film showing on that same screen. So after I meet Larry Cohen after the ‘Q The Winged Serpent’ screening they played my trailer (a double whammy if there ever was one) in front of what had to be at least 400 people.

The picture above is a bad one because it doesn’t show how big that screen really is. Nor does it show how big the theatre is. Nor how big the audience was. Trust me, the answer to all is big. I was both nervous and excited. Luckily I had a few friends there cheering it on. It didn’t exactly get an introduction so it played like any other trailer would have. While I couldn’t garner the reaction since I was in a surreal state at that moment I did notice one girl screamed out at the very last shot of the trailer when William’s face changes as he roars. The title pops on and there was applause. Some of it may have been just people being polite since I’m not sure they knew what to think. But for me it was a big moment. So many times have I sat there wondering what one of my films would look like playing on that very screen. Kind of funny how two of the big influences on me and the film were part of that evening. John Carpenter was a big influence on me and to see ‘They Live’ two hours later in the exact same spot my trailer showed was amazing. And to meet the man himself Larry Cohen right beforehand and the next day was just incredible.

As I said the whole thing was surreal but then again so is making a movie. In one day I shared the screen with two filmmakers I greatly admire at my favorite theatre. I’d say this is one of those moments when that little kid who dreamed of making movies one day would be proud.

Larry Cohen and I after the discussion at Horribles.

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!

It’s A Long Road

Posted in Filmmaking with tags , on January 9, 2010 by Richard Diaz

Me with gear in hand.

I know I’ve probably talked about this before but it’s been awhile and I’ve been in a reflective state lately so bare with me here.

My “journey” in life to make movies started when I was about 4 years old. Granted not literally. The seed was planted when I was 4 when my parents, probably to keep my sister and I distracted for 2 hours, decided to take us to a little summer movie called ‘Star Wars’. The powerful images and iconic characters were quite impactful. The strengths of the moving image were implanted that day. From that moment on I was completely fascinated by the moving image. I started to play with toys differently. My eye would become the camera and I would always go in for a close up or move away for a long shot. I didn’t know what any of it meant. I just wanted my playtime to look and feel like the movies I watched. Naturally as I got older and started to comprehend how movies were made I knew that director was what I was in essence being. Or should I say longing to be The key figure in the realm of  visual storytelling. In essence, the storyteller. I wanted to be the storyteller. Now comes the hard part. Anyone can dream about something but to make it happen is the part that few seem to reach. I can see why.

Without writing a book on my life I’ll skip ahead a bit. My desire to be a filmmaker grew the older I got. It got to the point where it became an obsession and finally to the point where it’s the only thing for me. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I will succeed or die trying. I have been told by people my whole life to give it up. It won’t happen. Go pursue other things. Family members, teachers, friends. One teacher told me in front of the entire class that I should go into something else. I remember running into a friend from high school a while back and he asked me what I was doing. I told him and he bluntly said,”You won’t make it..” I was almost stunned by how blunt he was. I was also wondering if maybe I offered no recourse for it. If he asked me what I was doing and my response was not a few short films and corporate videos then maybe his response would have been different. Or maybe he was just a jerk. That probably being more the case. However, it was things like that which made me realize I am alone in this pursuit.

Back in late 2002 or early 2003 is when I decided that, after years of trying different routes, I am in fact alone on this journey. If I want the seed that was planted back when I was 4 years old to grow then I can’t wait for other people to water it. I need to somehow find a way to feed this seed myself. The roots will only be as strong as I make them to be. Self determination is just as powerful as it is destructive though. To have the power to push yourself, sometimes far beyond where you should be, to go after the thing you want, especially something that is very hard to become, is quite something. It’s what keeps you going when it’s 2am and you’re still editing away on your film while the world sleeps. It’s when you feel you’ve accomplished something after hours, days, weeks, or even years of working on it but then it’s met with utter apathy by other people. At times it can be the only thing you have is your self determination which does mean sacrifices in life are made. I don’t have a normal life even though at times I do desire it. However, I remind myself that my path in life is different than others. I may die a lonely old man and may never reach my dream but I’ll die knowing I tried with every ounce of my being. Especially since at this point it is all I have. Something I sometimes lament but it is the choice I have made.

So back in 2002 or  2003 (I think it was early 2003) a branch started to finally poke it’s way out of the ground from the seed no one thought would grow. Some I’m sure thought it had died. I needed to somehow go out and make a feature film. I just needed to start that ball rolling. If you can make one you can make two. If you can make two you can make three. One of the reasons why it took so long was the fact that I made it alone. It took years to write the script. It went through very different versions. I think one of the things too was I wanted to just blow the roof off with ‘Distortion’. I wanted it to be the film that I made that if someone watched it they could see that I knew what I was doing. I was ready to explode with the build up of a lifetime behind me. It may hurt the film on some level as perhaps I tried to do too much. Hard to say. I’ll leave that up to the audience. I hope not.

Shooting 'Distortion' (and almost 35 pounds heavier).

I made ‘Distortion’ much the same way I made the journey, alone. I don’t say that from an egotistical standpoint. It was just out of necessity. Although it is quite fitting. Is this the start of a new chapter in my life? We’ll see. That little tree is growing. Every so often someone comes along and breaks a branch off and it’s hard to grow a new one but I still try. Hopefully one day it’ll be big enough where it won’t be so easy for people to break. It’s a long road I’ve traveled and one I am still on. I don’t see the end in site at this point. Just the road ahead. It’s a long empty road which is filled with much loneliness, sadness, and despair. It’s, as the saying goes, the road less traveled. But if you can reach the end then it’s filled with joy and happiness. At least it better be or I’m jumping on that other road with the sunshine, flowers, and talking squirrels.

This blog is a testament to this part of that journey. It is with this that I offer any of you that have any interest in the projects, past, present, or future, or even in me, my sincere heartfelt gratitude.

*When I thought of the title of this post I realized it’s the same name as an amazing piece of music done by Jerry Goldsmith, one of film’s most incredible composers, for the film ‘First Blood’. So I guess as a sort of soundtrack to the post here is that track.

Day Six and a Half

Posted in Filmmaking, Production with tags , , , on August 25, 2008 by Richard Diaz

As much as I hate receiving my credit bills every month and seeing how far in debt I’ve come there are times when I have some bit of hope that maybe I sort of did the right thing. I am paying for the film out of pocket. I’ve gone down the investor route on other projects and had zero success. So I figured the best thing was to just make the film myself with the means that I have.

A lot of my money over the years has gone into buying equipment. Everything from computers, editing and post production programs, cameras, lights, etc. Needless to say none of this is cheap. And with the amount of debt I am in … well, it’s a lot. I’ll leave it at that. I can only hope in some way this film helps start my film career even on a small level. Only time will tell if this sacrifice will pay off both literally and figuratively.

One of the advantages of owning your equipment is that you can do things at the drop of a hat. Tonight I was walking past the window and saw some great light coming in from the setting sun. I grabbed the camera and shot a few shots which are very moody. Perfect to help set up certain scenes in the film. A great moment when you just feel happy that you can jump on something so quickly. At least until the next round of bills comes in.

First up …

Posted in Filmmaking, Uncategorized with tags on July 10, 2008 by Richard Diaz

This is the blog for the production of the low budget independent feature film ‘Distortion’. A horror thriller being made in Chicago with very limited means. However, my goal, as director, producer, writer, editor, cinematographer, key grip, etc., is to not make this look like a low budget film. It may have restrictions but I’m using them to my advantage. I can only hope it works.

How this all got started will be explained shortly. I mainly wanted to just get this thing rolling. It’s been a long process so far and I haven’t even started shooting yet. Luckily I found a great cast that are eager to get started.

This blog will either be a diary of one of the best things I’ve done in my life or one of the worst. I remain optimistic but we shall see.

Richard Diaz

– Director of ‘Distortion’.