Archive for December, 2011

And, In the End…

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

…the risks you take, are equal to the film you make. And therein lies the biggest lesson of this entire journey, for me. I’ve learned quite a bit – we all have, I think – but in both creative and practical terms, it bears sharing that the hard way is always the best way. When I think back to why I create, I’m reminded of being a kid and losing myself in the dreamworlds that felt more real than my own. Films, songs, literature; it was always about getting lost in something that held answers in a kaleidoscope of fantasy. And great answers only come from hard questions. Isn’t that why we continue to explore outer space? Aren’t we always in search of a brighter light? Maybe, that’s just me.

Shooting principal photography for HorrorCon was, at times, a painful, grueling slog. It was war, wrought with stress, doubt, panic and pain. On top of all the inherent snafus, I had a pesky, idiot neighbor to deal with, a lawsuit against myself and my business, and the constant threat of disaster caused by delays. I’d been learning about other indie projects that had to put their productions on hold due to season changes, financial woes, and a host of unforeseen calamities (our own Chris Kies was hit by a truck while riding his bike) and the longer these things go, the more fate is tempted. But despite everything, I had the team I needed to get through it, and we have several terabyte drives worth of proof. I have never in my life relied so heavily on the passion and abilities of others, and relinquishing that kind of trust and faith and being rewarded so lavishly is quite a lesson in itself. Sure, it’s a little film by today’s standards, and it will have its blemishes and scars, but it truly lives. It lives because we sacrificed so much, and threw our deepest energies into it at every turn. We gave ourselves no choice, no escape. Every second – every blood cell – counted. No ivory tower sound stage to protect us from the intrusions of the world meant we had to fight for every shot. I may be crazy (by all accounts, I am), but I swear it made all the difference.

And if there was ever an argument for making your own luck, we’ve got several key witnesses to support it.

So where do we go from here? Well, we’ve got it all to do, really. After the holiday break, we’ll be scheduling a looping session to fix up some audio, and there are a couple of small clips to grab at the Yellow Horse studios. It will be wonderful to spend some time with the group again in a more relaxed setting. It’ll probably be very strange to see some of our actors looking very different for the first time in a year, too. In fact, the day we wrapped marked almost one year to the day I first held auditions in Jim Wright’s Brooklyn studio space. Folks, I strongly recommend taking a year out of your life and giving something like this everything you have. Spare nothing and dig deep. You will never, ever regret it.

Once looping is complete, we’ll assemble, have a private screening for our core group, then set up an invite-only screening for some important feedback. The deadline is March 9th. Why, then? Because that’s when the next Monster Mania Horror Convention is being held at our favorite hotel. Won’t it be fun to return to the peeling wallpaper and jaundiced halls that, on occasion, sucked out every ounce of hope we could possibly muster? By then, probably. And to be fair, there’s always a way to get it done. You just write yourself out of a corner and rely on the beautiful, crazy people you hired to make it work.

Speaking of those people, there simply aren’t enough blogs in the world to thank them. I do hope HorrorCon rewards them well into the future, and I plan to do everything in my power to make it a success. There are several options, some of them overlap, and this blog will continue to chart the film’s passage through the tricky waters of post-production and international film distribution. I do see film festivals in our future. That much is certain. And I can imagine offers from distributors, some of which I already have on file. But it really boils down to this: do you sell? If so, how much? Or, do you retain 100% ownership and take it around to the numerous horror conventions on your own, using a multitude of publicity channels to generate a fervor of interest. We’ve got a hell of an independent filmmaking story to tell, and believe me, it will be told and told well.

So, now it’s time to pack away the props, shelve the scripts, and square up any outstanding debts. It might be a good idea to divert interest for awhile, too. Let the New Year ring out, take a deep breath, and go back in with fresh eyes, fresh ears, and a ruthless red pen.

The dream is real, now.

Absolute stars.

In Retrospect…

Monday, December 5th, 2011

…I should probably have kept my mouth shut. We were halfway through “day two” of our weekend shoot, and I felt the need to share how things appeared to be getting easier, making saying goodbye to the hotel, the headaches, and the hurtin’ on my wallet harder to do than I thought. Needless to say, our remaining shots took longer than expected, and there were a few rethinks on set-ups. Worst of all, poor Max had an early call-time the next day and had to grab some Zs while he waited on various costume changes and lighting tests. To his credit, he didn’t snore. To ours, we didn’t stack any random objects on his forehead and take loads of pictures.

All that said, everyone continued their run of outstanding performances, both before and behind the camera. And while finishing in style is our goal, there was something drab about closing room 1243 for the final time. I lost count of the scenes we shot in there – using every angle and piece of furniture to its fullest – and within those peeling, jaundiced walls is really where this film lives. Much like the famed “Room 237” in The Shining, it’s a place of troubling questions and horrifying answers. It’s also a place where Stanley Kubrick’s name was referred to more than once for inspiration; a habit that would spill out into the halls, and all the way down the stairs into the lobby.

A few of us have joked that the Crowne Plaza in Cherry Hill, NJ, has become our home away from home. For me, there’s far more truth than jest in that observation. I’m pretty sure I greet 90% of the staff by their first names these days, and voices raise markedly upon my return. I believe quite a few in our cast and crew enjoy similar relationships with various representatives of the hotel, from housekeeping, to engineering, to the smiling faces at the front desk. Back in March I was sure they would long to see our backs, but now I feel they enjoy our requests for early check-in, extra bell carts, and patience with strange noises and visions. For the most part we leave behind only footprints that are easily vacuumed away. There may have been a couple…scars left behind, as well. At least one we take with us (how’s that hand, Chris?).

Then there were five. Five scenes, two days, one weekend. After, no more “camera up” and “speeding”. Only countless moments of luck, brilliance and bravery forever preserved in a little movie about a little girl who learns that, sometimes, one must spiral downward to be saved.

Date: December 10-11
Place: Crowne Plaza, Cherry Hill, NJ
Call Time:
1 pm
Stills: in the usual place.

Let’s do this.