Archive for the ‘production updates’ Category

Ghosts From Our Past…

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

…haunt us for a reason; they remind us that things need fixing. They protect us from ourselves, from others, and sometimes, others from us. Guilt, shame, remorse, Gypsy – whatever the name, our ghosts lash themselves to our rudders and steer us. If we deal with them properly, we might avoid the rocks for the safety of the shore. One thing is certain: they won’t leave until we do.

Similarly, the ghosts of our set have taught us many things. We’re a small crew of varied experience adapting to a business that ain’t no business at all, and we often run into problems. Some of them are avoidable, others are not. All can be learned from, and as we head into the final third of our journey it feels at once like we’re getting close, and that the end is barely in sight. We’re tired, but willing. The stuff is very good – some of it miraculous given our limited budget and resources – and it’s helping to ease the pain on some very sore backs.

Next up is our second Monster Mania convention. We’ve got a few important scenes to shoot among the throngs, and a few added scenes that continue to haunt us from shoots past. The weekend also marks the return of our West Coast contingent, and we’re very excited to see them again. When and where, is as follows:

Thursday, August 18th (10 am) – Sunday, August 21st (late evening), Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, NJ.

And as always, the HorrorCon Facebook Page has a few killer stills from our last shoot.

Hotel, No-Tell…

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

To borrow another line from popular culture, what happens on set stays on set. It’s frustrating when you’ve witnessed some exciting things and can’t tell anyone about them, but you put your film in a much weaker position if you dribble out details without a plan. But allow me to say that we dug our way through some very important scenes this weekend in the midst of two family reunions and one deacon convention. And the only extra expense was a bottle of expensive tequila. Not for us, but for the chap in the room next door who’s date was a little freaked out by Nicole’s screaming, and from whom we wanted as much silence as possible. Everyone ended up happy.

So yes, our crew of ten worked three long days and what we captured invigorated all present and gave the film new momentum. Again, we didn’t get as much done as we may have wanted, but we’re still in sight of our goals and a little wiser about a few things. For one, none of us will eat shellfish that’s a few days old as it nearly cost us our DP. For another, it can be handy to check that your footage is, in fact, alive and well on your memory card before you move on. Little stuff like that can save you lots of time, money and pangs of crushing regret.

The next shoot falls on August 4th and 5th, (and possibly another day before or after to make up for what we didn’t get), and it’s another big one. We’re shipping in a few specialists in the form of some very talented actors, and I’m soliciting the help of friends and family to act as fans of our author character. I’ve got a few takers, but could use a few more. It’s a day of standing around with moments of concerted effort, but there’s food, fame and a few memories for those who make the trip. If you’re reading this and it sounds like your idea of a good time, shoot me an email. Men, women, tweens, teens, and toddlers may apply. If you’re something else, please contact me right away. You’ll be up front.

Indie United HC rides again in a week and change. Until then, here are some stills.

A Garden State of Mind

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Another weekend, more footage; that’s the short of it. The long version is we embarked on yet another breed of adventure in our journey toward finé. So far, we’ve gone from live convention, to windy beach, to intimate enclosure, to busy motorway (that’s computer-generated motorway for all you insurance companies and film commissioners out there). And again, we lucked out on the weather. Our skies and surroundings remain consistent from March, which for New Jersey is somewhat lucky. That said, New Jersey is known to be pretty schizophrenic, so short of snowfall we might always be able to get away with a few raindrops here and there as long as they don’t ruin our exterior props. Here’s hoping that kind of luck holds up come August when we’re shooting at an outside pool and in a hotel parking lot.

Next up are a few leftover beach scenes – including a particularly striking special effect surprise – and a couple of driving pickups. If all goes well (and it better), we’re back to the hotel for some intense, dramatic sequences. There, we’ll be learning the best angles of a medium-sized hotel room, and how to best tell our story within them. Then we break into the hallways for an impromptu dance number complete with acrobatics. That may or may not be true, but you’ll have to wait and see.

The next shoot dates are as follows:

Beach/Driving Pickups – July 12th and 13th, or 13th and 14th.

First Set of Hotel Scenes – July 21st and 22nd, 22nd and 23rd, or 23rd and 24th

I’ll be updating as I receive final confirmations from cast and crew. Then it’s look out August, here we come. ‘Til then, here are a few more stills for you to look at.

Not all indie-horror films…

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

…can be tarred with the same brush. I think that goes doubly for HorrorCon. This past weekend only went further to prove to me that we may doing something unique, here. That’s not to say it’s an “art film” or “experimental cinema” or even “groundbreaking”, but it is starting to reveal itself in ways that feel wholly uncalculated. Pardon me if that sounds facile, but as it often happens, the film is taking on a life of its own and in this case I think I know why.

The novella was inspired by sources quite distant to the genre in which we’re attempting to tread and adapted with as tight a script as I could write, yet one that invited creative collaboration by design. I wanted an improvisational, exploratory vibe, which meant my hiring and casting had to be spot on. If it was, I could let the players – both in front and behind the camera – run a little off the leash and still stay well within our strict, budget constraints. Up to the point of this shoot, it was hard to tell exactly what was happening. I was pleased with what we were getting, but where earlier shoots required wrangling with crowds and ever-shifting conditions, this one occurred completely inside a closed, indoor set. This allowed for a far more relaxed group, and within an hour we had transformed a small, seaside cottage into one character’s gut-wrenching, domestic hell. Luckily for us, we were able to add to an already entropic environ with touches that revealed character while piercing the heart. From there, we moved at our own pace with only the subtly shifting, slightly fading, always filtering light acting as our stopwatch. Even in that context, we had back-up if need be. Reminiscent of imaginative childhood games, we were free to play until our internal batteries ran dry.

The results were startlingly real, and often sublime. Another baby step in a long walk to glory, but one well worth taking. The dates of our next step are still being decided, but I’ll be savoring this one until then. I think we all learned how much of the story will be grounded, and where our core energy will sit. And for damn sure we learned the role of the slider dolly in our filmmaking future. Thankfully, we learned how to set it up and break it down quickly, because I have a feeling we’ll be using it quite a bit in the next round and beyond. The key is to not let it dictate our perspective, but keep it ready in our quiver for when its services best convey our vision.

Lastly but not leastly, congratulations go to our prolific Roma Gypsy, Evgeniya Radilova, for her outstanding performance in Natalia Pelevine‘s stunning two-woman show, I Plead Guilty. The run ended May 29th, but the word is they’ll be taking the show into Washington, D.C. Great stuff, and good luck. Erik “Dane Harding” Audé also continues to throw his weight around on the tube, including work in a few episodes of TNT’s Rizzoli & Isles. We wish him luck with that pending HBO dealie, too.

That’s all for now! You can check out the HorrorCon Facebook Page for some stills from the shoot, if you like. Of course, stay tuned for new shoot dates, and please: stay out of the sun.

Rise, Conners, Rise!

Friday, May 20th, 2011

There is shooting to be done, by gods. Specifically, it’s time to finish what we started and start anew. The footage from the Cape May Point shoot has at last been reviewed, and lordy does it look good. The waves continued to crash all day thanks to the high winds and abruptly sloping shore, and while the sun eventually came out and the sky turned blue, there was no mistaking the mood of that beach: angry, insistent…tormenting. There will be some re-shooting – just a few short sequences – another scene shot utilizing a very dead fish, and then it’s off to Eliza’s plagued domicile to get a deeper sense of her doomed existence. If I can find a car that will work as her similarly weathered transportation, we could go into Sunday with a few more scenes.

Speaking of cars, if anyone has or knows anyone who has a small-ish, scratch-and-dent hatchback that they wouldn’t mind renting us for the day (or lending for some sweet prizes/credits), please send me an email or message us on our Facebook page. A picture would be appreciated if you can swing it. Black is very good, but we’re open as long as it says, “artsy, slightly complicated, a little sloppy”. Volkswagen Golfs and the like tend to be cute and Gothic, also a match.

Here are the shoot details:

June 4th (5th) – Cape May Point

June 24-25 – Crowne Plaza Hotel

I’ll be sending individual emails with further instructions as soon as I figure out what the hell that means. Suffice it to say there will be more details involving transport, lodging, wardrobe and other minor considerations. In the meantime, head on over to the HorrorCon Facebook Page and check out some killer stills from the last shoot, and if you’re in a shopping mood, check out our Yellow Horse Productions & Publishing merch shop for some cool HorrorCon shirts and hats! A small portion of the proceeds goes to funding our production.

Take scare!

As the Sun Sets…

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

…on the HorrorCon Kickstarter pledge drive and another successful, adventure-filled shoot, we salute everyone who opened their hearts, wallets and several cans of wicked, windburned, kick-ass. Sunset Beach barely knew what hit it when our cast and crew of eleven strong rode up to the wind-beaten shores of New Jersey’s southernmost tip.

The weather forecast threatened sun and warmth, which would have brought out droves of diamond hunting locals and tourists, but a few phone calls to my old friend Mother Nature meant chilly, blustery conditions that attracted only a relative handful of cooperatively cool fisherman, and later, a few, small groups of beachcombers. And as always, the very lovely Sunset Gifts and Grille folks were accommodating with their restrooms and well-wishes. I’m sure few will forget the very bloody nose of one of our important, minor characters as he took his lunch break amongst them. Patrick James Dean was well on his way to becoming Patrick James Dead and he had his share of fun with it, asking for band-aids and answering inquiries about falling off his bike. Small children were held close to their guardians as he strolled around the grounds; a tribute to SFX master Tony Mandile who traveled all the way from Toms River to bless our production with his prodigious talents. A great guy who got stuck in with us on the beach whether he was needed at the moment or not, he and every last Conner refused to let the difficult conditions work the smallest complaint from their lips. What can I say? My peeps, from the bare-legged star of the film to my nerve-pinched DP, rolled around in the stony sand as if it were the most natural thing in the world to do on a Saturday in late April.

This is one tough fucking bunch. I love ’em all.

Special thanks to my good buddy Chris Livezey for stepping into his roll with smiling aplomb. In fact, we had to remind him to stop smiling so much! Thanks go also to Jason Goodrich for not only helping us get some insanely cool shots, but standing in front of the camera and absolutely killing his role as leader of the wrecking crew. In all, from top to bottom, we had solid, sustained efforts to make this film the best it can be, and I couldn’t be more pleased and satisfied. I hope everyone got some quality rest after they celebrated with their libations of choice, because I know I did.

Before I go, let me address the Kickstarter project. Those visiting this blog might look at our falling well short of our goal as a failure. Technically, it is. Those who pledged via the website will keep their extremely generous offerings and are left with the decision to send them to Yellow Horse Productions again, via check or cash, for the same rewards. In fact, everyone who chooses to send us money of any amount will receive a name credit plus the other promised rewards, and those who pledged on the higher slope of the scale will become associate producers. For all those who weren’t able to pledge at this time, or simply forgot, we still love you. If you do find yourself in a giving mood, feel free to contact us with any amount you’d like to donate. We’ll gladly, and humbly, accept. After all, I expected a few bucks from a large network of people. That’s not what went down, but what did go down simply floored me. This is no failure, by any stretch, and I won’t hear that from anyone.

Expect another post soon with a few stills from this past weekend, and I’ll be working on dates for the next round of principal photography. And huge thanks to everyone: the cast, the crew, the people at Sunset Beach, and everyone who sacrificed their walk along the small stretch of beach that became our set. You can’t possibly know what an amazing experience you’re all helping deliver to me, and how unbelievably grateful I am to each and every one of you.

(Above poster design courtesy of Lisa de Araujo)

HorrorCon News…

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

I thought it was a time to give everyone a quick round-up of what’s been going on behind the scenes here at Yellow Horse Productions, as well as what’s happening with some of our cast and crew. Then maybe I’ll let you all know about the PVC drainage tube attached to the heater in my attic that has come loose from the side of the condo. It’s been banging a lot in the wind and it’s really annoying. I’m sure you’ll want to know more.

In a tense scene, Francis (Ray Turturro) chases down Eliza (Nicole Vogt-Lowell) to tell her she has toilet paper stuck to her shoe.

First of all, I’ve been editing an assortment of sequences together in hopes that they cut well enough to not have to re-shoot. The good news is that I think I can get most if not all of the footage to work, which is really good news when you consider that I couldn’t re-shoot any of it. With a minimum of dialog dubbing and a little creative splicing, I should be able to put something together that more than does the job. Conditions were brutal, and we had to stick and move like a team of boxers. To have anything usable at all is a miracle. To have the loose, rock-and-roll style footage we have is even more of a miracle. It’s like a double-miracle latte with a shot of cool.

The next shoot date has been set to take place on Saturday, April 30th. We’re shooting some intense scenes on the beach, and for those who know the script, you know what that means. Reading these scenes is difficult for me. Shooting them is going to be quite the emotional adventure. We’ll be rehearsing them Friday night, so I’ll be hoping my cast and crew arrive with plenty of time to plan them out.

Photo courtesy of the very manly "Women's Poker News".

Also, congratulations to a couple members of our cast for their work on other projects. Erik Audé (pictured) got his behind handed to him by none other than Jason Ritter (son of John Ritter) during a bar scene in an episode of “The Event”. You can watch the episode in its entirety here, or you can just jump to 17:30 to see the beating go down. It looked like Hollywood-style mismatch magic to me until I learned Ritter plays an alien. Best not to mess with the green people, buddy, although I still think you got robbed.

In other cast member news, our resident Roma Gypsy, Evgeniya Radilova, is being singled-out by critics for her laudable portrayal of a thwarted bride-to-be in the Marvell Repertory Company’s production of Federico Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding.

Evgeniya (right) wrestles a woman for the last "musical chair". Or something close.

What they’re saying is pretty heady stuff: “Radilova’s smoldering performance marks her as a young actress definitely worth watching…” (theatermania.com), “She also has the rare gift of portraying uncontrolled passion without making it look ridiculous. Her character’s struggle with her emotions is painfully visible and vividly real…”, (curtainup.com), and one critic even used her performance to comment on the productions as a whole by recalling, “the beautiful naturalness and magnetic performance of the bride (Evgeniya Radilova) whose authentic accent only puts undo emphasis on the others who haven’t one…” (oscaremoore.com).

So, yeah, I’m a little proud of my peeps. And there’s plenty news of their triumphs to come, so watch this space. Now, for those of you who skimmed all of the above to find out what happened with my drainage pipe, you’ll be happy to know that I called my HVAC service company and they’re heading out today to re-clamp it to the side of the building. That should stop the banging.

It would appear we’re all winners, today.

Monster Maniacs…

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

Eliza arrives at the convention. (Nicole Vogt-Lowell)

…take gold! Although, we’d prefer a slightly tarnished silver as it better suits our aesthetic. Nonetheless, cast and crew pulled off a series of stunning upsets to successfully conclude the first round of principal photography. Even the cold light of day is flattering, as the footage is accomplished and compelling thanks to the determined efforts of a stellar, motivated group.* Bravo, Warriors of the Con, bravo.

Eliza is overwhelmed by haunting memories. (Nicole Vogt-Lowell)

The very early day started rather inauspiciously, when I discovered that the vendor table location that was so critical to our set had been moved to an area that would have made shooting impossible. Instead of a wall booth near an entrance, we got an inside booth in a far corner that would have forced us to share half of our table with another vendor. However, a quick word with Monster Mania’s president, the most gracious and accommodating Dave Hagan, illuminated a simple misunderstanding and rectified the situation. Funny how “up against the wall” was what we wanted, and did we ever get it from that point forward.

As a portion of the crew got busy setting up the booth, others were preparing lighting and sound equipment in two of the four rooms reserved for the occasion. Still others, including myself, set out to perform the most crucial task of the day: procuring permission from the surrounding vendors. These are the true heroes of the shoot, as their patience and participation allowed us the environment to tell our story. Without their kindness, we would have had to pack up and go home. Each was promised due recognition both on this blog and future websites, as well as in the credits of the film. It is my top priority to do so, and once I am able to round up all the names and information, it will be done. This story is also about you, good people, and a harried thanks just isn’t enough.

I’d hoped to get the first scene in the can before the early convention arrivals, but technical circumstances proved uncooperative. We were under constantly changing conditions that brought with them new challenges upon the minute. Forget about “thinking on your feet”, we needed to solve a multitude of problems without touching the ground. To wit, we would be continuously busy securing clearances from anyone and everyone who might fall into frame. My assistants were prepared and on the spot, and somehow managed to make it happen without a complaint. None of us had much sleep, and being able to explain and sell our intrusive adventure was hard enough, let alone under tense, stressful conditions. But all stepped up admirably, and before long we began to roll with certain speed.

Jim Wright (Director of Photography) shoots Nicole Vogt-Lowell (Eliza) in the Once Bidden booth.

There must be an old saying about early worms getting the corpse, because the flow and thickness of the initial crowd really seemed to favor us. We had our moving background, yet were afforded enough room to drive our gang of eight-plus through tight halls and entrance ways. While doing so, we were also attempting a cinematic trick by sharpening our lens on our key subjects while keeping the surrounding copyrighted elements just out of focus. Any glimpse of a well-known horror icon would render the shot useless, or at best, expensively fixable. Luckily, this kind of shooting also gave the footage a look that Jim and I both loved. He’d been working with a similar style with his music videos, and the hazy, flaring setting gave our low-budget plenty of high-end depth. Having known Jim for as long as I have, I wasn’t at all surprised that we could discuss what needed to be done for each shot very quickly, with the desired results attained in a few takes.

Max Kalmanowicz rigs Ray Turturro (Francis) up for sound.

Needless to say but I’ll say it anyway, I had the kind of talent required to pull off what many thought just couldn’t be done. If you look back into this blog, you’ll see how carefully I plotted my course through the resources available to me. Yes, uncommon talent was required, as was the right amount of experience. But the most important ingredients needed were “enthusiasm” and “courage”. In my case, I had related production experience, but had never even made a short film in controlled conditions let alone a full feature in largely unpredictable ones. To my credit, I had been involved in hundreds of industrial videos where the ability to work in difficult environments with large groups of people who didn’t want me there came in handy. Knowing how to direct a sequence quickly with little room for error was also something I was familiar with, and I imagine most would say I always find a way to get things done. But I also like being part of a great team, and if you pick the right people, you stand an excellent chance of surpassing your original vision. And folks, let me tell you something: I picked an awesome team.

The photos you see here are of some of the most talented and gutsy creatures ever to grace my corner of the planet. They were taken by another important member of the HC crew, who was part of a group that looked for all the world like they’d be doing this their entire lives. Some had been, most hadn’t. Some I’d known for many years, others I’d only just found by what I can only describe as divine kismet. All feel like family, and there will be more to say about everyone soon, so stay tuned. For now, there’s a small matter I need to bring to your attention.

The HorrorCon Kickstarter Project has been launched! This means you can become part of this unique production by pledging a few dollars towards the project. Every pledge – from a dollar, to ten, to twenty and more – comes with a cool reward, and you can learn all about them by clicking here. Even if you throw us a buck and tell your friends to do the same, that means more positive energy in our direction. You can also give us your feedback and thoughts on the HorrorCon Facebook Page, where you can find even more photos and information.

Callie Chardonnay (Pale Thin Woman) and Henry Scalfo (Devil Horns) pose for a photo.

As I said in my Kickstarter video, HorrorCon is a film about horror fans, for horror fans – but it’s also about people. My experiences with those who proudly proclaim the same fascination with horror and genre entertainment that I do have always shown what kind, friendly, and generous souls they are. It’s not just about the money – many vendors lose money at these shows – it’s about the shared experience of celebrating the beautifully macabre visions of our daring, dark-witted heroes. It’s about breathing the same air as those kindred spirits who love a good fright, and realizing that we’re not alone on the glorious fringes of popular entertainment. Horror conventions are about letting your freak flag fly, and I know we all have one, even if its in a heap in the basement until Halloween rolls around.

We’re only getting started, but we’re out of the gates with strength and style. I’ll be scheduling the next round of principal photography once I sort out a few details, which hopefully will mean rolling cameras and speeding sound sometime in late April. I’d love to get going right away, but a few of my creepy peeps are balancing other projects. But fear not, we’ll get there. All things are possible, as I believe we’ve shown. And there is still plenty of time for us to reach our Kickstarter pledge goal, but let’s not wait too long, hmm? Time flies, in particular when you’ve still got a few key scenes to shoot and there are people breaking down their booths and wheeling them out behind your leads. Or when the light is changing and you want just one more take, since you’ve only just figured out the best way to shoot a scene because there wasn’t a single day of rehearsal. Hell, half the people in the HorrorCon family were complete strangers prior to day one.

Heaven on earth, but decorated like hell, indeed.

*Save one, who will never set foot on my set again unless it’s to play a real-life corpse.

Round two/Boys Out, Babs In…

Friday, December 17th, 2010

Frost forms fast upon my furrowed brow, yet I dare not be deterred. Why am I speaking like Anthony Hopkins in search of a play? And in italics, no less? Mostly, because it’s fun – especiawwy when yew wips aw fwozen. But also because it sounds brave, and bravely we forge, once again, to the rugged shores of Brooklyn for our second round of auditions:

Dates: January 7th and 8th, 2011

Times: (Friday) 4:00 pm – 9:00pm, (Saturday) 1:30 pm – 5:00 pm

Place: 231 Norman Ave., #201, Brooklyn, NY 11222 (Between Russell and Henry streets)

Again, these times are tentative until I hear back from all those interested in attending. For most, I’ll be in touch with you individually as some of you will be reading with one another. For others, contact me for specific times and we’ll see what’s available.

In other news, after much consideration and cooperation with the supremely gracious Gerard McMahon, I have nonetheless decided to withdraw my pursuit of obtaining a synchronization license for “Cry Little Sister”. This also means the script will now have to be changed to reflect the decision. So as much as I loved the plot and character connection with The Lost Boys, I don’t think I’d be able to afford it even if my proposal were to find its mark. But fwet not, conventioneers, I have a backup plan:

Nightmare Castle. The Mario Caiano cult masterpiece involving back-stabbing, castle-dwelling lovers falls cooperatively into the “public domain” category, which means I can actually incorporate clips of Goth Goddess Barbara Steele directly into the action, if I like. Does it strike the same kind of innocently romantic note as the Warner Brothers classic? No, no it does not. But it will add a great deal more serious horror-cred to proceedings, and the rewritten opening scene is gloriously sexy and camp. And c’mon, how can one complain about Barbara Steele? At least she’s still black-swanning around the convention circuit, so I’m proud to salute her exquisite beauty and important body of work.

With that, I bid you leave. Hopefully, I’ll have more to report in terms of music licensing in the next update. I’m currently seeking permission for a variety of psychedelic, shoe-gazing and boot-stomping tracks from the likes of Tamaryn, Kristin Hersh, Light Asylum, The Black Ryder, Washed Out, Valet, No Joy, Linda Perhacs, and more. If things work out, it’ll be an all-out, indie affair with some underground unearthing and smart, cult, jib-cutting. You ask me, that’s where we belong, anyway.

Until next time, Conventioneers™!

Audition Dates!

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Here’s the info so far, gang…

Dates: December 4th and 5th

Times: (tbd)

Place: 231 Norman Ave., #201, Brooklyn, NY 11222 (Between Russell and Henry streets)

At this point I’m thinking of keeping a window open between 1:30 and 4:00 on both days. That should be long enough to decide if I want to jump out of it.

Just kidding! I’m really looking forward to meeting all those who can attend. If you need time outside of that window, or you can’t make one or more of those days, contact me and we’ll work something out. For those who can do it, be prepared for videographic and photographic documentation, and come ready to read your choice of pages from the script. I’ll try and give you as much time as circumstances allow. That goes for me, too, as I’m sure I’ll want to know as much about each of you as I can. I might dissuade you from leaving behind childhood yearbooks and baby pictures, though. Let’s retain some mystery, shall we?

Other news…

I’ve booked two rooms at the hotel: an executive suite that will serve as Dr. Radan’s room, and a regular room that will double as Eliza’s room and cast dressing room. While I’ll be offering travel to and from the shooting location to comfy lodgings at the shore, I don’t see why the room can’t be used as on-site lodging, as well. My leads may like to spend some time in them or something, but we can work this out later.

The Kickstarter campaign is ready to go, but I’m holding off until after the New Year. By then I’ll have my cast and crew and they can assist me in promoting it. The more traffic we drive to the site, the better. Between us, we’ll have hundreds, even dozens, of Facebook friends to shake down. Fun!

I’ll also have some artwork to share very shortly: Dr. Radan’s book cover and signing poster, and the Landmine one-sheet in particular. They’re looking awesome, so check back.

Okay, that’s it. Hope to hear from everyone soon.

-Scott