“Dead Hearts” shoot starts tomorrow…

And I’m excited, nervous, scared, thrilled, over-joyed, etc, etc, etc. All of the emotions one could feel before such a big day, I’m feeling’em. This short film has technically been in the works for 10 years or so now. How do I mean? Well, check this…

To Recap:

2005: While at community college (don’t knock it, I highly recommend it as a great place to get a higher ed), I watch two films for the first time:¬†Reservoir Dogs and¬†Pulp Fiction. Classics. I’m blown by how…cool each film is. The dialogue pops, the jokes hit perfectly, and the shocks are big. I was instantly in love. These two films coupled with my affection for¬†Clerks (which I saw my sophomore year of high school) made me realize that film could be a possible career path. Well, I could at least try and make films, even if I never made it in Hollywood.

Late 2005: Still feeling the affects of those QT films, an idea popped in my head for a movie scene. Well, less an idea and more a small seed. And not really one scene but rather two. It was at first the question of “What if the roles were slightly changed for Jules, Vincent, and The Wolf?” From there, I started writing down little pieces of dialogue, snippets of visuals, etc. in my head. It was hackneyed, horribly written, formatted incorrectly, and I was writing it in a little 3×5 Mead notepad on my lunch breaks from work. But it was something.

2005-2008: That notepad followed me to my (2nd) brief tenure at KU, to Wisconsin, and to Minnesota. (Note: As a matter of fact, I believe I still have it somewhere in storage.) There are scribbles, changes, new *unrelated* ideas, and it’s all together awesome and bad. But I proceeded forward until…

Late 2008: I am promoted with the retail big box company I was currently working for. I went from being a simple hourly employee to a salaried manager. I went from working just 40 hrs per week to 60 (by my choice honestly.) I had no social life where I lived in Minnesota. Went on a few dates but nothing more. Most of my time was spent doing most of the following: A) Work B) Work from home C) video games D) watching movies at home and E) watching movies at the run down theater the small town I lived in had. It was during this time I gained a crap ton (that is an actual measurement in my opinion) of weight and started to suffer from severe depression. That little notepad I had? It just sat in a box, never being touched. I would talk about it sometimes with people, but that was it.

Mid-2010: I move to KS for work and Cuz R (who is my actual cousin and #BestFriend4Life) moved with me too. It was during our time living together that I would mention my story sometimes while also throwing other ideas back and forth every once in a while. But we were both so focused on our jobs and had no idea how to actually make a movie (at all or in the middle-of-nowhere KS) that if never became more than just talk.

Mid-2015: I know this is a 5 year jump, but not much progressed with this film during that time. However, at this time in the story, I had been talking to my wife a lot about actually making that idea from 2005 as a short film. I was working a job that had me on the road 95% of the time, I was miserable, and I was not enjoying life at all. The wife asked what would make me happy; I told her, “Honestly, getting off the road, working a part time job at a bookstore, and making my short film.” She could have been logical and rational and said “I wish you could, but we need to be able to provide for ourselves and the kids we want someday, so lets just find you a job in your field closer to home, etc.” But, that’s not¬†how my wife rolls.

9/21/15: This day is specific for a reason: this is the day that a phone call between my wife and I would change everything. I was in St. Louis for work, having just completed an assignment, and I had seen her only a couple days over the last month. I was sitting in my car in the parking lot of the mall I had just stopped working at and I was crying. Literally crying. So of course she is too. There’s a break in the blubber-fest and she says “Why not? Why not come home and make your movie? What is stopping you?” It was at this moment that I fell even more in love with her and also realized that the answer of what I should do was right in front of me. So I literally called my boss once I got off the phone with her and put in my 2 weeks. Was it slightly foolhardy? A little irrational? Yes, oh god yes. Yet, it was the best decision for me to make. (Spoiler Alert: Our movie shoot is taking place almost exactly 1 year from this day.)

Late 2015-2016: So after I got off the road, I started hammering away at the script. It was too long, bloated, had plot holes galore, and just wasn’t that good at all. But putting those words on the page was the most thrilling rush of excitement; it was like riding that awesome new ride at Walt Disney World for the first time again and then riding a bazillion times after that, each ride better than the last. Knowing I couldn’t do this all alone, I sought the help of some trusted confidants.

Durka: To produce and push me to make this project an actual project, rather than a crazy fever dream.

Cuz R: To help rewrite, redraft, and redevelop the film. He became the official co-writer and my partner in crime. The film went from being a silly idea by me to a true vision for both of us.

The wife: She says she only wanted to handle craft services, but she really wanted to be in show biz ūüôā

9/15/16: We are less than 24 hrs before we are on set, calling action on the first shot. I have so many worries going through my head. I am bouncing back and forth between extreme confidence to utter despair. But I wouldn’t ask for anything different. The call sheets for tomorrow have been sent by the 1st AD. Follow up texts are being sent by various folks to finish prepping for tomorrow. Equipment rentals and purchases are arriving at any time today. A final walkthrough for the biggest scene (the one that started all of this) is tonight at 9 pm.

It’s all coming together. 10 years of waiting finally coming to an end. Once we wrap Saturday evening…raising a kid will be a piece of cake (Cue nervous laughter.)

Let’s break some legs!

Keepin’ it Geeky,

j

 

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Give me those neon vibes!

So, just like everyone else I am obsessed with¬†Stranger¬†Things. The cast, the production, the¬†MUSIC,¬†THE SCORE!!!!!,¬†etc…all of it is amaze-balls.

Whats the best thing about the show? It has itched the film/tv itch I’ve had for quite some time (and by quite some time, I mean a few years.) As I’m getting ready to start my next go around of the show, I realized that the era it represents (the neon colored 80s) may be my favorite film era. Seriously, looking at my favorite movies of all time, the ones that have stuck with me over the years are all from that decade. I have a feeling my future film projects will consist of a lot of love to the 80s. Yeah, it may become old hat and boring, but I don’t care. I plan on telling stories the way I want to. Until then, enjoy this great video from¬†Vox discussing how the opening title credits to¬†Stranger Things was created.

I come bearing gifts…

I know I had this whole plan with some amazing structure that would ensure I was blogging daily. Yeah, well, I obviously failed. But I need to do some personal reflection on whether I “failed” or I just set my standards too high. Since changing my job status last Fall (I went from being salaried to an independent contractor for the same company) my schedule has gotten more hectic and off kilter. I’ll have a few days where I am completely free to do as I please and when that happens, I have every intention to work on my projects. But then I let other, less important things get in my way (damn you Far Cry 4 and Assassin’s Creed IV: Blag Flag!!!!)

However, I finished the biggest distraction recently which was moving to our new house. Only thing now is I have to A) Get my temporary office set up, B) I have a bunch of work stuff for the next 3 weeks, C) I have to finish unpacking and setting up the house, and D) My partner Ryan and I are now entering in to crunch time for editing on the short we are working on for our friend Durka. Crunch time as in we need to get damn close to a final cut pretty damn soon because we have festival deadlines. (Note: This is not a complaint, we are loving working on this project, but it is a realization that things are gonna get tense soon if we don’t start wrapping this bad boy up.)

With all that said, I still think there is no reason why I can’t spend some time each day working on a blog update. I am going to try and get back to working on the format I laid out a while back (Film Friday and the like.) Until then, just bare with me and my randomness.

As a¬†mea culpa for my ball dropping, I offer up this juicy morsel. A new short I came across on Vimeo (a place that I have fallen IN LOVE with) today. I think I’ll be posting more of these as well; link a few and schedule them to be dropped over the next several days so in case I don’t make it a priority to blog, you at least have something to entertain you. I give you:

But I’d Really Have to Kill You¬†by Max Sherman, starring Ben York Jones & Tim Baltz. It is a simple short that does a great job of utilizing the typical office workspace and voiceover narration. The ending really sells it. Great job Mr. Sherman!

But I’d Really Have To Kill You from max sherman on Vimeo.

Keepin’ it Geeky,

The Oey

 

Been waiting 30 years for this…

So today is an odd day for me. I am going to be partaking in one of my favorite events with my wife for the first time (a KC Chiefs game) and have had a great weekend filled with food, board games, friends, and family. I have no complaints about anything. Except for…

Today is the day I turn 30. GASP! SHOCK! I know right? Today is my birthday and I always figured this would be the one that felt odd. It would feel like I’m finally an “adult” ya know? Like I would wake up and want to buy some khakis, get a mortgage, start an Roth IRA, and observe the market for stock trends…but then I realized that I’ve already done all of those things. I’ve been adulting for a while it seems.

So why does 30 seem like a such a big deal to me? I’m not sure to be honest. Part of me thinks it tied to my sense of mortality and my fear of death; for a good number of people who did not take care of their health at a younger age (like myself), 30 can be the midway point of your life. This could be “middle-aged” for me. In 30 years time I could possibly be lying flat on a morgue slab, having shuffled off the mortal coil. That scares the hell out of me. I’m not going to get in to specifics or religion mumbo-jumbo right now, but no matter what my views of life and death are, dying is the scariest thing in the world to me.

And because of that fear, I feel I’ve missed out on some things. I’ve spent the last two years in mild depression, neglecting my health, relationships, and pursuing my dreams. I was so worried about turning 30 soon that I forgot that I was currently 28, 29. It was infuriating being ¬†constricted¬†by the irrational fear of something that could come in 30 or 60 years, hell it could of come that very day. So I focused on doing what was expected of me; throw all of my energy in to a career/job that I only had mild interest in, come home miserable from the grind, maybe get off my butt sometimes, and try not to upset Mrs. Harris with my whining or depressed mood.

It wasn’t until part of the way in 2015 that I finally started listening to what Mrs. Harris had been¬†saying for some time; she kept talking that she knew that I needed to chase dreams. It was now more important than ever. She didn’t want me to be filled with nothing but regret 5, 10 years from now. After listening to her say this on¬†repeat, I finally agreed to take the plunge. I’ll chase my dreams or maybe fail, but at least I would have no regrets. During this time of transition, while we would get stressed about finances or unsure what the future holds for us, I started to feel the depression slip away. I felt the stress I had carried with me for years dissipate. The growl and scowl I always had was no longer around.

I was realizing that going after my dreams was worth it. Which I was able to do because my wife kept saying “Why not? Why not chase your dreams? We only have one ¬†life, might as well make it worthwhile right?” She could not have been more right. So thank you Mrs. Harris, for believing in me. For enduring my unrelenting complaints and word vomiting of anger, my difficult depression, for believing in me, for pushing me to finally get off my ass and to do something with myself. While today may be my birthday and you have given me a bunch of great gifts, the best gift you gave me was your never-ending belief in me. Succeed or fail, I’ll be happy with you pushing me to go for the stars.

Thanks for the great 30th birthday Mrs. Harris. I don’t know how you can top this ūüôā

Keepin’ it Geeky,

The Oey

Best of 2015!!!!! (Film Friday)

It’s that time once again! Where everyone rolls out their “Best of 2015” list for just about everything. Good thing you have me to protect you from the lack of originality that is the “Best of…” topic…

Ok, I kid. I love those lists. I read as many as I can the last week of the year (and the first week of the new one.) I too enjoy compiling these lists. So I shall provide my much-desired thoughts on what was the best to come through the cinemas this past year. Mind you, these are only for films that I actually saw either at home or in theaters. The release for the film had to be in 2015, but I did not have to see it in theaters for my list. That means there may not be as many films that are “critically acclaimed” as I usually wait until just before the next Oscars to binge those. So without further ado, here are my Best Films of 2015.

8) Crimson Peak dir. by Guilmerro del Toro and written by del Toro & Matthew Robbins

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This film makes it to my list based purely on the technical achievements it had. Let me get my complaints out of the way: I did not connect with the characters, I felt many of the actors were either forcing it or were fast asleep, and story-wise I saw the big twist at the end coming from a mile away. However, it was probably the best costume, set, and maybe even sound design in any movie that came out in 2015. All three categories should be heavy favorites for Oscar consideration. I didn’t enjoy this film as a moviegoer, I enjoyed it as student of film and the machinations that turn the wheels in films.

7) Kingsman: The Secret Service dir. by Matthew Vaughn, written by Jane Goldman & Matthew Vaughn

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This is what happens when James Bond is written by comics superstar Mark Millar and adapted by Matthew Vaughn. Balls to the walls (or batshit crazy may be more applicable) action with plenty of humor throughout. What Vaughn does with a story and twists everything on its head is just genius. He did it with X-Men: First Class, Kick Ass, and Layer Cake and will continue to do so in the future. Colin Firth proved he was more than just a romantic leading man, he could be an action superstar. Samuel L. Jackson hams it up as a mix between Lex Luthor and a major Bond baddie. Taron Edgerton oozes charisma and marks his place on the map as an up and comer to look out for. The action scenes were wildly inventive and the breakneck pacing means you never get bored. There are some moments you have to watch with a strong stomach (let me say this is a VERY violent film) but trust me, it is worth pushing through for.

6) Ex Machina dir. and written by Alex Garland

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Probably the biggest gamble I took going to the theaters all year. Most of the time when I venture to the cinemas there is a good chance I’m going to be a fan of the feature I go to see, simply because I’m fairly selective with my moviegoing dollars. This one I only went to go see because A) Alex Garland was involved, who was involved with¬†28 Days Later and B) My cousin R wanted to check it out. Man am I glad we went! This movie was not only visually stunning, but had powerful performances across the board. And it gets under your skin. As you are watching the slow burn buildup to the final few scenes, you can’t help but start questioning everyones motives and wondering who you should be trying to root for. Plus, it has a dance with Oscar Isaac that just messes with your mind in just the right way.

5) It Follows dir. and written by David Robert Mitchell

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Ok this one just barely qualified for the list. The wife and I didn’t watch it until just a few nights ago but this shows how impactful it was. Usually, when I watch horror movies I can’t get in to it due to the idiotic, paper-thin characters, the needless gore, and the cheap thrills for the sake of cheap thrills. Sometimes though, a movie comes along that just grabs me by the throat and doesn’t let go;¬†It Follows¬†is one such movie. From the opening, tension filled scene to the ambiguous ending, my wife and I were on the edge of our seat for the entire movie. So much so that I can recall multiple times that we both said “Nope, not finishing, nope nope nope” and yet still kept watching because it was just soooo good. Because this is one of those films that sticks with ya, we had to watch several episodes of¬†Scrubs right after to get the feeling the film left is in off of us. I myself will eventually attempt making a feature length horror and I pray it is at least a quarter as good as this one.

4) Inside Out dir. by Peter Docter & Ronnie Del Carmen and written by Peter Docter, Meg LeFauve, & Josh Cooley

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To me, this film pulled the heartstrings the hardest. Don’t get me wrong, it is downright hilarious. How could it not be with Amy Poehler voicing the lead (Leslie Knope from¬†Parks & Rec is one of the greatest TV characters of all time.) Visually amazing and with a strong, relatable story about growing up and the emotions that come with that journey, it had something everyone could hang on to. And the character Bing Bong? I don’t think I’ve cried harder because of animated character ever in my ¬†life.

3) The Martian dir. by Ridley Scott and written by Drew Goddard

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This is the one that may cause the divide. First, for having it on my list and second, for having it so high. But this is my list so I can do whateva I want! ¬†The Martian was Ridley Scott back in top form. His last few films were either hated by most or had too many nagging plot holes to truly enjoy. Yet, with this Drew Goddard script he turns in a powerful Sci Fi feature that is breathtaking in so many ways. I had read most of the book beforehand so I knew most what was going to happen yet that didn’t stop me from being surprised as everything that was taking place was brand new information. Mr. Scott, I’m glad to see you back in tip top shape!

P.S. Of the two most recent Matt Damon space movies (The Martian and Interstellar), this one is by far the better movie.

2) Star Wars: The Force Awakens dir. by JJ Abrahams and written by Lawrence Kasdan and JJ Abrahams.

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What more can be said about the highest grossing movie of 2015 (and possibly the highest of all time?) I’m going to keep it brief and just say this: This movie made me become a¬†Star Wars fan. Now, I want SW everything.

1) Mad Max: Fury Road dir. and written by George Miller

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This is me watching MM:FR

No film this year made me sweat and breath heavy like this one (eww, don’t be gross.) Seriously, from the first 45 seconds to the final fade out, I was being dragged along a face melting 2 hour long chase scene that was going to drag you by head or your balls, but it was going to drag you regardless. The music, the world design, the action sequences, FURIOUSA!!!!, the list could go on and on and on about how amazing this movie is. George Miller wanted to bring insanity to the silver screen in ways we had never seen before and he achieved it. Not only is this my favorite film (and the BEST film) of 2015, but it is one of my all time favorite films…ever.

Keepin’ it Geeky,

The Oey

A little cut here and a little snip there (Way Back Wednesday)

So I’ve been editing away at footage I shot from one our buddy A was in town last week (the 8 year old that took all my energy.) In the last year something he’s picked up that he’s extremely gifted at is skateboarding. The kid can shred and he doesn’t realize how good he is for only being in it for barely a year.

So when he was here I made sure to get a good chunk of footage of him dropping in to quarter and half pipes (he did his first 5 ft drop too! It was awesome!) So I started clipping them together tonight to see if I could make something cool. Even put in a neat After Effects (AE) comp; a very choppy and amateurish title card like Guy Ritchie does (learned how to do it from this tutorial.)

While snipping and trimming, I began to hark back to the first time I took on any kind of film/video/editing task. I was a Sophomore in high school and in our youth group we had started to use videos we made ourselves in the messages each week (extensively, very seldom did we not have one.) D, son of Pastor R, was immensely talented on making these. I would help in what ways I could; camera man, actor, idea guy, etc. But it was a while before I decided to take one on all by myself. When I was asked if I’d like to give it a go, I told D that I would need a week to shoot things and another week to edit (due to my editing knowledge only coming from looking over D’s shoulder when he worked on his projects.) He said no prob and gave me the equipment to fulfill my “vision.”

My “vision” (yeah, I suddenly became the pretentious high school filmmaker that just annoys everyone) was simple enough; some video footage of our youth group hanging out before, during, and after service, some “BTS” footage of the setup for Wednesday youth group, and a little music video to one of my favorite Demon Hunter songs, “My Heartstrings Come Undone” (still a good song but I was totally an emo/screamo/metal/hardcore wannabe at that time.) The footage of everyone in the group was easy enough. Open LCD screen, push record, and just go let everyone¬†be silly with a camera in their face. Done and done.

Next, the BTS footage. I did some handheld stuff during worship band rehearsal and then put it on a ladder (didn’t have a tripod) and just recorded all of the volunteers setting the stage, instruments, and what not for the next night’s service. Part two done. Now, my big¬†Pi√®ce de r√©sistance!

My idea was to use my friend Lil B (I was good friends with his older brother Big B…don’t let the names fool you, they were both of equal size and very talented athletes, these names are not reflections of their actual sizes) as the subject of the music video. My idea was to intercut scenes from a fairly popular film adaption of the life and death of Christ (I think it came out in the 90s, not the Scorsese flick and¬†Passion of Christ¬†wasn’t coming out for a few months…I just remember this movie being on two VHS and having to copy them on to a DVD to copy to my computer…it was a pain.) I would show Lil B in mental/emotional anguish, cut with the physical anguish of Christ’s crucifixion, and end with Lil B seeking solace at the foot of the cross when all of a sudden, the Man in the White Robe puts his arm on his shoulder to be lift him up.

Ok, in retrospect I totally see why this is a very silly idea (or at least a little too on the nose.) However, in my defense, I was just a high school kid who was just kind of making it up as he went. Anyway, I had Lil B come over and we spent the better part of the day and evening filming all over our little town of 984 people. We wrapped around 10 pm that night and I resigned myself to my “editing bay”, a term I use VERY loosely. A week later I emerged (only smelling¬†kind of¬†bad) with film in hand. I sped off to youth group and handed it off to Pastor R. I don’t even remember if he had a chance to watch it before service.

It was time. It was here; Premiere Night! Everything I had been building towards for two weeks was finally going to be seen by all of my friends! What an experience! The lights went¬†down, projector came¬†on, and we then faded in…

More to come next week.

Keepin’ it Geeky,

The Oey

Film Friday Apology

So as you may have noticed there was not a¬†Film Friday update and I apologize for that. I’ve been quite busy with an eight year old who is visiting who is just a bundle of energy and takes a lot of focus to keep tabs on. That’s not a complaint mind you, the kid is awesome and a blast, just tiring and is the focus of my time (were he in school during his stay it would be different, but alas he is not.) So writing, shooting, and editing my vlogs for¬†Film Friday¬†are kind of out of the question until after Christmas.

I will, however, give three hints as to the first film I will be discussing.

  1. The voice of Jamie Lee Curtis
  2. Tight pants
  3. Synthesizers

I’m curious as to whether or not anyone can figure it out. Get to guessing!

Keepin’ it Geeky,

The Oey