Archive for the Production 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!!


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.

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.

No More Exterior?

Posted in Production with tags , , , , , , , on October 21, 2009 by Richard Diaz

A lot of work going on. I keep getting asked about the Sundance submission. I won’t know for another month. I believe the latest they let you know is the beginning of December. For those of you crossing your fingers I really do appreciate it. I can use all the luck I can get.

Still working on getting the film 100% completed. Working on the music especially. I think some of it will work really well. Other parts are proving to be a little more difficult. I welcome the challenge though. If I can I will post samples in the coming weeks.

Buckingham Fountain.

Still shooting parts of the film. Hard to believe I know. Mainly insert shots, establishing shots, and background plates (for some of the visual effects). There is one mini montage that I shot some extra shots for as well. I tried to take advantage of this time of year with the leaves changing. Although it’s not as colorful as it was last year.

The Lincoln statue at Grant Park.

I hope I shot everything I needed for the ending. It was hard to tell since the extra shots aren’t really specific and there is no way to plan. I can’t shut down Michigan Ave. (aka The Magnificent Mile) so I just have to shoot it as is and then add my magical touch. That’s code word for post production meddling and CGI. I really hope it works. I think it will add something extra to the ending that will really make it more exciting.

The Magnificent Mile ... before I add a little something to it.

Assuming I don’t need to shoot anything extra for the ending I believe this may mark the end to the exterior shots. I have a few insert shots and a newscast to shoot (both of which I can shoot indoors in my apartment) but that should be a rap on all exterior shots for the film. So hooray for that!

Establishing shot during the day.

Same shot at night.

Same shot at night.

On a side note, depending on what happens with Sundance and a few other things (ie, some upcoming work for income) I may actually make another film this summer. If this happens it will be made the same way. No crew and very low budget. I am debating between two script ideas. The main difference though is I will be planning on finishing this one very quickly. I’ll decide in January which script idea I want to invest my time in and which speaks to me the most at that moment and then plunge ahead. I will be using actors I know so casting will be minimal. I also want to shoot it in a very short time period and have it done, hopefully, in time to submit it to next year’s Sundance in September. Again, this is tentative and many factors will come into play. More news on that in the coming months.

Anyway, enough about the next film. I still need to finish this one. Back to work.

The original Water Tower.

A Lovely Melody

Posted in Production with tags , , , on August 19, 2009 by Richard Diaz

A post long overdo. It’s been a busy couple of weeks but things are getting done. In fact, after this week I will be putting all of my time towards getting ‘Distortion’ done. At the very least get it ready for the Sundance Festival deadline. There is a lot to get done with every aspect. There is more editing to do and even more shooting. A few more b-roll shots still need to be done. Weather has been iffy with a lot of rain lately but I think this weekend might work. Plus the visual effects need to be finalized and of course sound effects and music.

Deneen taking the shortcut.

Deneen taking the shortcut.

The last full scene I needed to shoot was done a few weeks ago with actress Deneen Melody. We were fighting the rain and light, although I needed it to be dark, but she was a real trooper. I only wish I had more for her to do to show off how talented she is. While it was strange shooting a scene almost a year later it was great to do it with someone who loves to act. It made it a great experience.

So much left to do and time is slipping away. I will try and post everything I can as I go along even if it’s quick to document the process.

That Is One Damn Fine Coat You’re Wearing

Posted in Post Production, Production with tags , , , , , , on April 23, 2009 by Richard Diaz

A little update. I know I haven’t posted anything in awhile. As we get closer to May I will be planning the additional stuff to be shot for ‘Distortion’. One thing will be some extra things I am adding to the ending. As I said before, since I wasn’t able to shoot the infamous chase scene the ending felt very anti-climactic. I tried to think of something I could do. Since most of my lead actors no longer live in Chicago shooting extra bits with them is not an option. But instead I came up with something I can add to the ending that will happen during the ending. It will be a bit CGI heavy which worries me a little as bad CGI can take you out of a film so I need to be careful. However, if it works then I think it’ll really be very cool and make it feel slightly more epic too.

On a side note, as is evident in the behind the scenes pictures (luckily I’m not in too many of them)  I am much heavier than I was when I started this whole thing. I did put on a lot of weight over the last year and a half. I had reached my breaking point not only with how I felt about myself but also from medical issues that were arising so I went on a long overdo diet. After one week I am two and a half pounds lighter. I’m hoping by Memorial Day I’ll be around 10 pounds lighter. So by the time the film is done in the fall maybe I’ll be at my ideal weight.

And if anyone is wondering what the title of the post means it’s a line from Sin City. I got the Blu-ray of it yesterday and watched it last night. The transfer is amazing. I hadn’t seen the film in over a year and had forgotten how great it is. Highly recommended.

Day Twenty

Posted in Production with tags , , , , on November 9, 2008 by Richard Diaz

Basically the last day where I shot a full scene is over. I have little insert shots to do and some minor things, like a newscast, and whatnot. As far as a full scene this was the last one.

What a view. Had to take advantage for some b-roll.

What a view. Had to take advantage for some b-roll.

The scene also marked the last scene with Shon. It was sad as he was always a real trooper. He didn’t have to show up. He was in the process of moving to LA and he still showed up to shoot one final scene. I could have shot around him but he didn’t want to. He wanted to make sure the film was done.

Mike’s friend Laurel stood in as the victim which is always hard to find. Luckily she was game for it. Most people don’t want to just be in a film to die. So it helped that she was ok with it.

Is someone there?

Is someone there?

Now I’m busy into editing. Still trying to get over my cold. I also am figuring out what to do as far as a teaser trailer goes. I am debating how much I want to show now. Until I have a rough cut of the entire film I won’t know exactly what I have as a whole. I want to wait to do the full trailer until after I have the rough cut. But for a teaser I can be pretty open. Although I want to do one that is more flash images. Literally a teaser trailer. One trailer I keep thinking about is the one for ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’, the Francis Ford Coppola film. You saw running blood and then flash images from the film. I don’t want to do that exactly but the idea of it as a teaser is what I would like to do. My plan is to have it done by Thanksgiving.

Chicago winters are rough and this one is hitting early. I am keeping an eye out for even a decent day to go shoot the last remaining exterior shots. I need some at dusk so I need to time it out right when I do decide. Also while I do the rough cut I can see if there is anything missing. An establishing shot of a location or something. Hopefully nothing with the actors as half the cast has already, or is in the process of, moving away.

So I can honestly say principal photography has rapped. While there are more things to shoot the main stuff is done. As I’ve said before I think the final shot on ‘Distortion’ will be me shooting a building or something. When I’m done I’ll say,”that’s a rap,” and I’ll clap to myself. It’s ok. The project started with me by myself and it’ll end that way. It’ll come full circle.