“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 🙂

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

 

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

 

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 Pièce de résistance!

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

Careful, your idea pile is overflowing…

So on Black Friday (which shall now be referred to as “BF” going forward) I can gladly say two things: All of my shopping avoided the BF crowds and were extremely awesome buys. The only store I actually went wasn’t until the afternoon and it was at TableTop Hobby, an amazing boardgames/hobby store that I frequent as often as possible. I picked up Android: Netrunner 2.0 and an expansion pack, which I’ve had my eye on for quite awhile. (Side note: My sis and I spent most of the afternoon and early evening playing Dice Masters and Netrunner at TableTop…was an awesome time.)

The other purchases were, well, less “tangible” I guess. They can’t be physically touched but will have (and already had) a tremendous impact on my filmmaking/creative endeavors. I picked up the complete filmmaker bundle from Triune Films (the guys behind Film Riot, my fav show on YouTube) as well as their “Writing 101 by Seth Worley” lessons. To top it all off, CreativeLive was having a BF sale on Ryan Connolly’s (owner of Triune Films) Guerrilla Filmmaking class that I’ve been interested in for awhile. I am loving all of these digital goodies. Right now I’m diving into the Worley stuff. He talked about one basic idea forming method that I jumped on right away; the Idea Pile.

While I am not going to go too in depth on it (mainly because it is from a paid for product that I am sure Mr. Worley would like to see others pay for), I will see the Idea Pile is genius. It is really how to group all of those random ideas one gets for a film (for example: a random scene, a line of dialogue, a cool moment, a particular camera shot, etc.) By building up this pile until it is overflowing, you can then start placing all of these things on the skeleton of the Three Act Structure. I did this tonight for a cool scene and an interesting character I came up with last night. Several pages later, I have a pretty big idea pile. Time for the next stop, which is when the ideas stop coming. If your ideas stopped coming hard and fast like when you started the Idea Pile, this is the part that will let put some structure to everything you thought of, and then ask questions.

Questions like “what if…” and “why” and “how did this happen” could all then lead to more meat for the skeleton you’ve created. Before you know it you have a full story laid out and now you just need to take that baby and make it in to your screenplay. While I know it is a pretty simple concept, I really dig the idea of turning unbridled imagination chaos into something more concrete ya know?

Keepin’ it Geeky,

The Oey

 

Deadlines, shmedlines…

Deadlines can be two things at once; an amazing blessing and a dreadful curse. Think about it; it is a blessing because you have a goal in mind, something to strive for and on the flip side, every day that passes by the pressure/stress of making said deadline just increases. I can feel the pain of constant deadlines. At a prior job I spent many days worrying about making deadlines for various reports, projects, and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators.) It made it seem like taking a lunch or a day off was putting me days behind. It was miserable. (For those of you who currently have jobs like that, my heart goes out to ya.) There was the positive side of it though like I mentioned. Once you met your deadline and you were finished…such sweet release.

When I walked away from the career, it was amazing how much better I felt not always having to deal with a constant deadline hanging over my head. However, I felt I started to become complacent. There wasn’t a driving force making me do something. While it is awesome not having that pressure, it is less awesome to have something hold you accountable to get things done. For example, I would hard on a project if I knew it was due in two weeks. Now,  without a deadline, if I wanted to complete a personal project it becomes one of those “I’ll get around to it eventually” things. That’s not good.

That is why I am going back to the deadline route. While Over the next 5 weeks we will have three holidays, I will be traveling all over Kansas for work the first two weeks, going to Wisconsin for two weeks to help my family move, and possibly get things ready for another New Year’s bash at our place, and help my producing partner prep her short film for January (which is followed by prep for mine)…I’m still going to stick to a deadline. Actually, a few of them.

The deadlines will be focused on my creative projects that I am working on. There are quite a few of those. While all of them can be considered a big undertaking in their own right, I like to pile a lot on my plate. So here is what I’m thinking for my deadlines for various projects –

Daily: Update the blog

12/31/15: Both short films have been revised, broken down, locations scouted, and prepping a casting call.

12/25/15: First draft of feature length done

1/31/16: Second draft of feature length completed

2/15/16: Casting call completed

3/31/16: Final revisions made on short films and feature length

End of May: Shorts completed, editing started, start festival submission process.

That all seems very doable. Just gotta find ways to to help me stay on top of these. I did download an app called “HabitBull”, so maybe that’ll help. At least I know some of these deadlines will get some progress today; E., my partner-in-crime (or producing partner if you won’t to be more accurate) is in town today and we are going to be diving headfirst in to this stuff. Can’t wait!

Time to own these deadlines!