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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.


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.

November Update

Posted in Post Production, promotion with tags , , , , , , on November 28, 2009 by Richard Diaz

I know I haven’t written anything in about a month. Many things have been going on. First off, I hope everyone had a really happy Thanksgiving. I know I have much to be thankful for.

On the downside post production has been a little scattered but it’s ok as it helped lead to not only some good ideas for music but also the initial planning stages for a big announcement. Before I get to that …

The short film I co-directed and produced, ‘The Interrogation’, is completed which is where some of the time has gone. I wanted to make sure it was done before I moved on from it. Pretty soon we’ll be submitting it to festivals. More information on that coming soon.

Shot from 'The Interrogation'.

Post production is almost done on ‘Distortion’. A few visual effects left to finalize and the music is being completed. Then it will actually be done. Or at least festival ready. I’m sure there will be things I’ll want to tweak but overall it will be done. Hopefully the next post will be the official announcement that it is 100% completed.

Speaking of announcements. I did decide on the next film. Granted many things may happen which could come into play which would delay this but barring that I will make another film summer of 2010 called ‘Killer Talk‘. Unlike ‘Distortion’ which was a very complicated film on several levels this one will be done very quickly and easily. Although I say that loosely since making a film is never easy. However, the new film doesn’t have any visual effects or overly complicated sequences. It’s more of a character based thriller. So it’s mainly finding the right actors. I plan on writing the script very quickly and then start shooting. My goal is to have it done to submit to Sundance next fall. I won’t be stopping for anything. I’ll just go off of instinct and my gut. That’s why I won’t spend two years writing the script or a year in post production. So quickly that I have to go with my first thought and not spend forever debating over every little thing. Should be interesting on every level. If it works I think it will be the best thing I’ve done. If it fails then I know I shouldn’t go off my gut feelings. heh

Here is a quick teaser poster I put together.

Killer Talk Teaser Poster

No more long breaks between posts. I will be updating regularly. And at some point this will become the blog of ‘Killer Talk‘.


Posted in Post Production with tags , , , on September 3, 2009 by Richard Diaz

First off …

I thought that was funny. Also true. Sometimes hindsight is 20/20 but nothing you can do about it.

Right now I am trying to do too much. Tightening up the editing of the film. Working on the sound effects. Doing the visual effects. Trying to do the music. Originally I was going to do a more traditional orchestral score using samples. I had even invested in some very amazing sample sets. The problem is the computer I have isn’t strong enough. Doesn’t take too much before the program crashes. After much lost pieces and frustated moments I decided that I needed to go back to my original option: do a synthesizer based score. I wanted to avoid it as I was afraid it would make the film sound cheesy. However, some of my favorite film scores are synthesizer scores. Some of my favorite movies have synthesizer scores. Granted it’s all in the eyes of the beholder. I remember once watching George Romero’s ‘Day of the Dead’ and one guy mentioned the one thing he didn’t like about the film was the synthesizer score. I love the John Harrison music in the film. I guess because I grew up on films that mainly had them that they don’t bother me.

Without the option of running out and buying a new computer I let fate step in and make the decision for me regarding the music. What to do? Mope around over what could have been or dive in and make the best synthesizer score my feeble mind can muster? I dished out all of my favorite synthesizer scores (meaning I zipped through the iPod) and started looking for inspiration. So much to choose from. I started feeling better when I realized some of my favorite composers have all done them. A few names are:

Tyler Bates
Jay Chattaway
Harold Faltermeyer
Brad Fiedel
Jerry Goldsmith
John Harrison
Alan Howarth
Steve Jablonsky
Ennio Morricone
Fred Myrow
Robert Rodriguez
Arthur Rubenstein
Howard Shore
Tangerine Dream

Definitely a warming feeling. Of course one of my all time favorite film composers has done all of his scores on a synthesizer. I’m referring to none other than John Carpenter.

Director and Composer John Carpenter.

Director and Composer John Carpenter.

I’m not saying my score will be anywhere near what they can compose. In fact, I can honestly say it won’t be. It’s nice to know that there is a lot of inspiration to draw from. Now which one does that one sound? You know the – wwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Don’t Break The Plate

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

A small update today.

Last week I shot some background plates for some visual effects shots that will be added to the film. I keep forgetting that some of the things I do may not make sense to other people without explanations. I was asked what I was doing and my response was,”I’m shooting some plates.” Well, needless to say the reaction is one of confusion.

There is much to be shot this summer for the film. Most of it is very simple establishing shots and POV shots like from a car. But there are a few effects sequences that need to be shot plus two “visions” which will involve actors. Plus some reaction shots of people in the street. I’m hoping to get a lot of friends in there for cameos for those shots. A lot of post production will be done as well going from visual effects to additional editing to music and sound effects. The music I already have sort of figured out. That will take a lot of time because music can make or break a movie. The visual effects will take time but are sort of on hold for a bit. One key element I need for some of the effects is a powerful particle generator. One great one for After Effects is called Particular from Trapcode. The second version of it is do out this summer. Not sure on everything that will be updated but it’s worth waiting for.

One thing I also need to shoot is of a newscast. The more I thought about it I think it may be where my little cameo comes in. I have a few ideas how to make it a little fun. Details for that though will have to wait.

Still much to do but it should be a fun time. And once it’s done expect a new trailer to really show off the final film.

Check The Clock

Posted in Post Production with tags , , , , , on December 12, 2008 by Richard Diaz

Editing has been going a little slower than expected. Mainly because it has been a long time since I edited a narrative. I have gotten so used to editing videos for work – training, promotional, etc., that I have forgotten how time consuming editing for dramatic purposes is. Such a different mentality. You look for different things. I’m loving every minute of it. My concern though is that I do want the first cut done by the end of the year. Or should I say, by the end of the month. I am also concerned about the running time.

I know I don’t have someone looking over my shoulder cracking a whip saying I need to get the edit done. Technically I could take five years to edit the film. But I really want to have a deadline. Otherwise it’s easy to let this go on and on. I also need to be disciplined. At some point I need to say the film is done. I can’t spend month after month tweaking this or that. It’s good to set deadlines. So I am still trying to get the first cut completed because the next stage is important. Once it’s done then I can see what is working and what isn’t. I can try and figure out what I need to change or do differently. I can also specifically determine what else I need to shoot.

The running time worries me. My original goal was 90 minutes. However, I am worried it’ll be less than that. 80 minutes is still ok but anything less than that is not good. At the same time I also don’t want it to be boring. I am cutting the film, even on this first cut, very tightly. Granted I won’t know the running time until I’m done but right now it does concern me. Unfortunately I can’t shoot additional scenes so I’ll cross that bridge if I need to.

I’m probably worrying too much right now considering I’m still editing but it’s my nature.

One other thing is the trailer for the Fangoria Weekend Of Horrors in March. I need to get it to them next month. If I don’t finish the first cut by the end of the month then I will have to start working on that trailer. I wanted to use that cut as a reference for the trailer so hopefully it all comes together.

Right now I am about a third of the way through. Although there are certain scenes that I had already edited so I just need to add them to the cut when I get there. Technically about half the film is edited but right now I am at a third of the way as far as going in order. I am noticing certain things. Mainly what I did wrong. It’s funny. Whenever I listen to a commentary track or an interview with a director and they talk about how all they can see are the mistakes it’s true. I see where my lighting was off or in the case of one shot I accidentally caught part of a light in the shot while moving the camera. It goes by quick so I don’t know how noticeable it is but I see it. Because we were running out of time I had to combine scenes in order to make sure I got all of the main stuff shot. In doing so I did make one story error. One I am trying to see if I can fix in editing. Since half my main cast has moved away I can’t reshoot anything or I will have to get a little creative. All part of the learning process?

There is so much more to go. A friend of mine asked me, after seeing the teaser trailer, “So, what now?” I almost exploded with everything left I have to do – editing, sound effects, music, visual effects, titles, posters, trailers, the website – and on and on. But they don’t know. I must admit I forget that a lot of people don’t know the process. It is a very long one. I’m still guessing that I will have a cut ready for people to see next fall. There will be things I will have to shoot which I can’t do until the spring at the earliest. The music alone will take a very long time to do along with the sound effects. The visual effects will also take a long time. I am sure the film will go through another two or three cuts. I’m guessing after the second cut it’ll be ready for friends to see it for feedback. That’ll be both odd and interesting. That’s why I am guessing it’ll be ready for festivals by next fall.

Hopefully the next post will be the one where I say the first cut is done. At least that’ll be one step further to being completed. That’s something to wish for this Christmas.

This And That

Posted in Post Production with tags , , , , , , on November 22, 2008 by Richard Diaz

I think I’m trying to do too much at once. I’ve been editing the teaser trailer but also editing the film. On top of that looking for work. Somehow though I was able to finish the teaser trailer. A few tweaks and it should be done and ready to put on the web. Luckily I already had the idea for it so that was fairly easy. The graphic I originally had for the first half of it though was so busy it messed up the compression. So I was getting these huge files but a very pixilated picture. I made the graphic simpler and now it seems good.

Since the teaser trailer is meant for the web I needed to compromise. What good is having the thing if I can’t post it online? My goal was to have it ready to go by Thanksgiving and it looks like that will be the case. Like I said a few tweaks and it should be ready to go.

I sent it to some friends for feedback. Just in case there is something I’m not seeing.

The rough cut of the film is coming together. Once it is done I will be able to specifically see what it is I need to shoot. I am thinking the main thing are establishing shots but I do still have a newscast to create. The weather here has gotten really cold. Too cold to shoot. Some stuff may have to wait for the spring. I know that sounds bad in some ways but not really. I’ll be editing the film for the next few months anyway. Plus doing the sound work, music, visual effects, etc. The film won’t be ready for a while yet. So if I were to shoot some minor stuff in April even if I am far along in post production it doesn’t affect anything. I just need to drop it in. Luckily I have that flexibility. The newscast is another thing. I will need to have an actor for that and have a quiet location where I can set up the green screen. I’ll worry about that later. Right now I am finishing the teaser trailer and continue working on the rough cut.

And looking for work.

My post production facility. For the two seconds it was clean.

My post production facility. For the two seconds it was clean.