Saturday, November 28, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Geez, I've been so busy over the past few weeks, that I totally forgot about a very important birthday.

The BLOG! it's been one year since I've started writing the blog, and now that the film has been completed, I thought it would be nice to go back and read what I had written earlier. I'm interested in seeing if I made the mistakes that I ridiculed others about, and seeing if I followed the advice that others had given to me along the way.

So I think I'll do that tomorrow, and maybe I'll write what the ride was like.

As for the short this blog was about, Still only the two screenings to date, and none in my home province. Hopefully that will change in the next month or so.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Nothing to report

After the euphoria of being granted screenings at Shockerfest and the Edmonton International Film Festival, it seems this short has stopped short. No screenings to write about. Can't say I'm not disappointed. Was hoping to get into Vancouver and Whistler, but that didn't happen. It's hard keeping the chin up and trying to be positive when what you know is a really good film is being rejected by festivals left and right. Now I have to wonder if I'm really going to get that Oscar nomination. Oh well, At least I'm in good company. This article in the Vancouver Sun proves my point;

I'm just glad I didn't come off as some cry baby director in a newspaper that thousands of people read, unlike the cry baby director that I sound like in my blog, that no one reads.

Come on festivals, show the movie!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

What a day!

Screening Day! Just under a hundred family, friends and crew members wandered down to the Vancity Theatre in downtown Vancouver on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to watch the official private screening of Serum 1831. It was son nice to see everyone that worked so hard on this film come together again, this time to enjoy the fruits of their labour. And some good food. And wine. But no one drank any pellegrino today, which I think is odd. It was the first thing to go at the mini-screening in June. Go figure. Anywho, from the response of the assembled cast and crew, and friends and family, the film will be very well received.

Well, at least by some people. The Vancouver International Film Festival will not be showing Serum 1831. A bunch of people have asked me if I was really surprised. Well, yeah! But everyone I bitched to about this decision told me the same thing. And upon further review, and counseling from friends and family, I have to realize that they are right. My film never stood a chance.

It seems that VIFF is becoming more and more of a thinking man's film festival. Just speaking to some of the people there gives you a strange feeling. Not that strange feeling you get from eating a day old hot dog. But almost an inferiority complex type of feeling. They can't be bothered by "normal" people. This festival is showcase of the world's greatest cinematic arts! Yeah, whatever. The majority of films at this festival lacks any entertainment value. After reading the festival's literature pertaining to the films available to view this year, I have to say that I'm not really interested in seeing any of them. I try to go to at least, and I mean at the VERY LEAST, one film per festival year at VIFF. This year, it will be a chore to find one I really want to see. Art indeed.

Now you may say that that is just a bitter filmmaker whose work has been refused by the festival talking. But I'm not the only one that is grumbling.

I've asked my co-workers, and friends if they were planning on attending this year's film festival. The standard response was "When is it"? It seems that unless you have a stake in this festival, you don't know when it is. And this is a problem for the film community in Vancouver. If people in the industry don't know when their film festival is, but can tell you without hesitation when the Toronto International Film Festival is, that is a big problem. There is no interest in seeing the films at the Vancouver International Film Festival. The organizers need to change something.

And maybe that something is programming some films made by homegrown talent. This festival needs to change it's mandate. It should start promoting local filmmakers, performers and films. It needs to create a buzz within the local film making community. It needs to change it's programming. Something entertaining. Something that will draw in the general public. Now have I got a film for you.

But alas, they have already rejected me. No artsy-fartsy film festival for me. I'm happy to have Serum 1831 screening at the Edmonton International Film Festival in October. And at the Shockerfest screening in Modesto at the end of September. Two film festivals where people go to be entertained. Who knows, having not been selected for the Vancouver International Film Festival may be the best thing that could have happened to my film. It just means it's too entertaining for this festival.

So thanks Vancouver, for not screening my film at your festival. Confirms what I had set out to do in the first place. To make an enjoyable movie.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Going places

Well, I know it's been awhile since I last updated the blog, but haven't had too much to talk, or bitch, about.

Things are moving forward on the short film front. Looks like we're going to be screening the film for cast and crew on the 13th of September. Invites will be going out late this week. I'm really looking forward to showing it to the people who donated their time, equipment and expertise in making Serum 1831. I hope they are as proud of it as I am.

And they should be. This film is going places. I've sent the film off to 24 film fests and the notification dates are starting to creep closer. I've already heard from 2 of these fests and so far, we're 2 for 2! Serum 1831 will be shown at the Shockerfest FIlm Festival in Modesto California and at the Edmonton International Film Festival in beautiful Edmonton. That be Alberta. Tee-hee.

So great news, and hopefully more great news to follow! Would be awesome to get into the Vancouver Film Festival, and that's one of the next ones on the notification schedule. Hopefully when I screen this film on the 12th, I'll have a few more feastival dates to share with the crew.

Bedtime now.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Now taking Blu-ray pre-orders

So It's been a while since I last updated this blog. I haven't had much to talk about, other than a 3 week vacation to Australia, where the film was screened for a few family and friends to overwhelmingly good reviews, (hey, they're family. They're not allowed to give anything but), and a weekend of camping. So other than that, not much to write home about, Serum 1831-wise anyways.

But Now I have some news. The DVD and blu-ray versions of Serum 1831 will soon be available for you to view in the comfort of your own homes. For those who worked on the film either as cast, crew, background performers or suppliers, you deserve a FREE copy of the regular DVD version of the short. For those who didn't have anything to do with the movie, we'll talk. For everyone, we will be printing a VERY LIMITED NUMBER of blu-ray versions of the movie. This will be the Hi-Def, Dolby 5.1 surround sound version of the movie. Alas, as blu-ray authoring is still very expensive, I can't afford to give away free copies. So there will be a charge for the blu-ray version of the disc. I'm not looking to make a profit on the discs, I just need to cover the costs. I expect it to be in the $35 to $40 range per disc. However, the more people that order the blu-ray discs there are, the cheaper the cost gets.

So with that in mind, I am offering a pre-sale of the blu-ray version of Serum 1831. Please let me know if any of you would like to purchase a blu-ray version of the disc by August 3rd, 2009. On August 4th, I will send out an e-mail to those interested in purchasing a blu-ray version letting you know exactly how much it will cost. You will be able to pay for and pick-up your blu-ray disc at the cast and crew screening of the film, expected to be in mid-August.

Drop me an email at to let me know if you want to buy a blu-ray. All those who didn't work on the film, but do purchase a blu-ray or regular disc, get free admission to the cast and crew screening. All those who don't purchase one, we'll chat ;-)

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mission Complete

7 months and 3 weeks after being notified that I was selected as one of this year's recipients for the Kick Start award, the film is complete. 2 days of filming, 2 months of editing, 3 weeks of sound and video processing and we have a completed project.

The short looks awesome and sounds just as good.

I could not have done this without the help of a boat-load of people. Firstly, the Executive Producer, Grace Gilroy. Without her support on the application form, at the last minute, I might add, this project would never had made it off my desk.

Producer Geoff Teoli. Creatively challenging me and supporting me at the same time. Thanks dude.

Shane Vieau, the most easy going Production Designer around. Beautiful sets, masterfully decorated, and all done on the cheap. Shane worked his ass off on this short film, and all of his hard work shows. Thank you man!

Our on again / off again / on again Production Manager Monty Bannister. Put me through a lot of stress, but I do that to him on a daily basis so I deserve the payback. I know he had fun and his guidance steered the production in the right direction, at this point, which is under or near budget. Thanks.

Catherine Middleton. Deserved to be named a Producer on this film. Went above and beyond the call of duty in, a) bringing me back to earth after I axed a key person working on the film the night before we went to camera (I don't think I ever told that story on this blog, and I still think I was justified) b) playing peacekeeper to bring that person back into the fold so we could film the next day, and c) chauffeuring that person to and from set along with his entire production kit to make him happy. Thank You Catherine for putting the train back on the rails on the eve of production.

Then there's Alan Bartolic. A guy who has no business being a locations scout (even though he is a very good one) and should be an editor full time. The amount of time and effort he put into this film is simply unfathomable. Great ideas, great assembly. Alan made this film what it is today. He made this film his. Thank you, Thank you Alan Bartolic.

Tom Braidwood, my Mentor. Just watching you on the set taught me a lot of what to look for in filming a scene. Your eyes and ears honed the vision I had for this film. And you wrote a pretty good score for the film as well. Is there no end to your talents Thomas?

Mr David Pelletier. A little forward off the top, but definitely the right man for the job. Perfectly lit, well shot and you helped me look at things from a different perspective. More often than not, a better perspective. Thanks Dave.

The amazing cast, Kevan Ohtsji, Shaw Madson, Reese Alexander and Denyc. You brought these characters to life, and I have never regretted casting you in these roles. Here's to much success.

And I can't forget the crew. There are too many of you to name here. Everyone who came out, donating their time on a weekend, not asking for anything in return. Hard working, creative, and they all seemed like they were having a good time. Thank you all.

The fine folks at Post Modern and Finale Editworks, thanks for making this film look and sound amazing. You were gracious and really made us feel important, as if we were spending tens of thousands of dollars producing a feature film and not the couple of thousand that you did. Thanks Linda and Don.

And last but not least, I have to thank my wife Anu. Thank you for believing in me and supporting me the entire way. Without you, I would be a shadow of what I am today. Thank you and I love you.

So this film is now complete. I say "this film" instead of my film because it truly is not my film. This film was made by all of the people above. They made my vision come to life. I am just lucky to have been the director on this film. They have fulfilled a dream of mine, and deserve wheelbarrows full of credit for it's success.

Now that the film is complete, you may think that this is the end of the blog. no more entries. Well, YOU'RE WRONG! This is just the beginning. Serum 1831 now has a life. Public screenings, film festivals, awards! Well, maybe the awards part is a bit pre-mature, but one can hope. I will keep posting the life of Serum 1831 on this blog, so stay tuned for updates. No getting off now, the ride has just begun...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The End Is Near....

Tomorrow I go to Finale to take a look at my completed project. The Colour timing has been done, the sound has been added, and all of the effects are in as well. By this time tomorrow, I should have in my hand a copy of my completed short film. So exciting!

But for tonight, I have to try and get some sleep. Not easy to do in a house where the temperature is sitting at 29.5 degrees C. And That's the temperature inside. Ouch.

So off I go now, trying to sleep with visions of igloos dancing in my head.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I Love This Game!

Monday morning. We all got together at Post Modern Sound to watch the wizards of the mixing board do the sound mix. The experience was awesome! Music, Sound effects, dialogue, all came together and the movie sounds just awesome! Seeing it on the big screen with a pounding Dolby 5.1 surround sound mix was just awesome! It was quite the experience. Did I mention it was Awesome?

And we me with the folks at Finale Editworks on Tuesday. Looks like we'll be getting together in the next few days to do the on-line edit of the picture and start playing with the colour. After that, it's just a matter of days until this Kick Start film is Done! I can't wait!

Oh and speaking of Kick Start films, I was going to write a post-mortem about the films, but decided against it. I couldn't get rid of the headache I had from watching these films. Actually, the headache was not a direct cause of watching the films, it was from the banging of my head against the wall after watching these films trying to figure out how these people get their grants. I'm still trying to figure out why these some of these films were made.

Entertained I was not.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Kick Start Time!

Tonight is screening night for all of last year's Kick Start award winners. It looks like they all completed their projects on time, regardless of the issues faced by the filmmakers, (see previous posts about that rant). They all deserve a hearty congratulations for getting their works completed. No small task, so good on you all. Looking forward to seeing the finished products tonight.

I have to say, watching some of these films in the past have brought me to the point of complete and utter frustration. I wonder, usually out loud, maybe too out loud, how some of these people have gotten their grants, and why the hell I keep getting passed over, (I can't bitch about that anymore). Some of these films are sooooo artsy that they leave most in the audience scratching their heads. Most of the time, after the film stops rolling there isn't a noise to be heard. These filmmakers try to make their film into the most thought provoking, poignant piece of art out there. They try to illicit an emotional response from the audience that they hope will propel the them into the stratosphere of filmmaking elite, but all they end up with is a 15 minute, $20,000 waste of time and effort. The quintessential "Canadian" film. And by that I mean a film that explores and tries to uncover the greater good or the moral deficiencies of today's society. Films that depress the soul, question one's existence, make you feel guilty about splurging on that $5 latte while street people have to weigh the options of either saving a friend's life or freedom? How many people really want to see that?

Now not all of the films made for the Kick Start program fall into the above category. A lot of films are good, entertaining and have done very well on the film festival circuit. Some have even gone into the distribution realm, something one can only dream of for their film. These are the few and far between. However, more and more are emerging.

And that is the direction this program should go. This program should be about choosing scripts and filmmakers that will generate some excitement in the film industry in B.C. They should focus on scripts and filmmakers that have the potential to take filmmaking in B.C. to the next level. Growth in the industry. Give these chosen director the tools and contacts to help them further their careers, get them to the next level to enhance the industry, employing the talent that this province is so rich in. No one goes to a movie to see films that, on a regular basis, is going depress them to the point of tears. This theme occurs all to much with Kick Start films, and for the benefit of the industry in Canada, maybe the focus should shift more towards entertainment and less on the moral questions facing the world.

And with that, I will go tonight to support my fellow filmmakers in their triumphant moments, showing off their films.

I better be entertained.

Oh, and by the way, here's the official poster for Serum 1831

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Something to pique your interest

We're in the home stretch.

Dropped off the material at Post Modern Sound yesterday, and looks like we'll get a spotting session Thursday morning. Here is one of the things I was looking forward to. The chance to work with real post production people. These guys will take this thing to the next level. Only a few weeks to go, then we're all done!

Until then, here's some artwork for the film, as well as an option for the poster.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Looking Good!

Got a chance to sit down with Alan today to look at the films again. But this time, it was a version Alan has been working on that takes this thing to another level.

I know I was saying that I wanted to have this film done and out on the festival circuit by the end of March, but after missing that one festival that I really wanted to get it done for, getting it for the end of March didn't really matter. Having a job to pay the bills also helped in this decision. So, after re-thinking the priorities, it made sense to take a little more time to get this done to the best of our abilities. And boy, did Alan ramp this sucker up!

What I saw today looked absolutely amazing. This is going to be a great looking film, and the extra time taken to bring it to this level is well worth it.

I can't wait to see this thing completed. We should be sitting down with the folks at Post Modern Sound next week sometime to do our spotting session, and we should have the mix done on the 25th. With a little luck, we'll have a screening before I head on down to Australia in the middle of June.

Keeping my fingers crossed.

Oh, and I finished off my new website. If anyone other than me reads this, have a look,

Thursday, April 16, 2009

DONE! Almost....

Today we finally finished the fine cut. Actually, Alan finished the fine cut. I just watched, and put in my two cents every now and then.

But I did do the end credit sequence all by myself! And it looks mighty fine, if I do say so myself.

So now it seems that we are rolling along on this short film, approximately 1 month behind schedule. But I figure there is no real rush in getting this done. We'll take our time and make sure what we put on the screen is the best possible product that we can produce. And from what I see so far, it will be amazing.

In two weeks, we'll hand it off to the sound guys and the post production house to add their magic. It's getting exciting. This is the part of the project that I was actually looking forward to the most. I have always been my own post production house. Everything was done by me, here in front of my Mac. Now with this project, I get a real post production crew, professionals that will, without a doubt, take my project to the next level. I can't wait... again.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Glad that's over

The TV Pilot I was working on...on the short.

I've gotta say, that was one of the stupidest exercises I have been through. Not the people I was working with, but the locations we were filming in.

We were in a house where the owner was just too overbearing. Insane contract demands, insane location fees, and now, insane restoration demands. Laughable. And we had the opportunity to go with another location, well in advance of ever filming there, but never took the chance. Frustrating.

And then there's the nutbars in another part of town, that see a film company coming and just want to bleed every last penny from them. These retailers are hurting because of the economy, and their solution is to hold a film company ransom so they can stay in business. I mean, we weren't even filming on their street, didn't park any vehicles on their street, had nothing to do with their street. They weren't even open for business when we were filming! And they demand huge amounts of cash for loss of business? The nerve of some people.

But it's all over. And it seems that a lot of TV pilots are wrapping up at the same time. Looks like the whole post production team on my short will be jobless for a little while, all at the same time, and it seems that we may get this film done in fairly quick order.

Alan's almost through with the rough edit, and from what I've seen so far, it looks really good. Some things are a little washed out, but generally the picture looks great, the performances are great, and I am happy so for. I can't wait to see the final product. Hopefully Alan will have something ready by the end of the day, or early tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Long time no see.

So it's been a long time and I have no to film to see.

I think I shot this short at the right time of year. Since then, the film industry in Vancouver has gone absolutely insane. Everyone is working. And not just working - working like mad. IT'S MADNESS I SAY!

I am in the middle of a 6 day straight stretch, with another one coming up next week. I may have to work this Saturday as well, giving me no days off until Good Friday. And others are in the same boat.

Alan hasn't been able to get too much done. He's chipping away, but the TV pilot he's working on is as insane as mine. The visual effects guys are being kept busy on another pilot they're working on as well. Haven't heard from them for a few weeks. Like I said - good thing I shot my short when I did - no one's available to help now and it looks like the rest of the year will be just as busy - but maybe not quite at the same pace.

However, all of this production in Vancouver poses one problem - the Post Production houses will be getting very busy as well. Right around the time that I need to do post on my short. I hope that doesn't get too expensive for me.

So regardless to say, no new news on the Serum 1831 front. Alan is still editing and says everything looks great. Hopefully he'll be able to cut some things together and we can meet up near easter to look at a rough cut. Release date now looking like end of April.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Stills and Editing

After a short vacation in Vegas, landed back in Vancouver on Thursday and got back to business. Picked up the Stills photos from Goga, and boy do they look great. Words can't describe the photos, so you'll just have to see them for yourself. I put a few on the website ( ) for anyone reading this to take a look.

Also got my first look at some of the footage yesterday. Alan put together the first scene and I gotta say it looks pretty good. Little bit of continuity issues, but overall the scene worked well. Then the second scene.

All started ok, but then turned sideways pretty fast, as the dolly move wasn't quite executed as hoped. I have 2 actors sitting across from each other in an interrogation room, and it seems that everytime one actor starts saying his lines, all I see is the back of the other actor's head, obscuring the actor delivering his lines. We noticed this on set, and it was brought to the attention of the camera department, but I don't think they got the message. The timing is just not there. Useless if we can't see the actor speaking his lines. Too bad, some of those shots were beautiful. Beautiful, but useless.

So the process goes on. Tomorrow I pick up my next drawdown of funds, and that will keep the editing ball rolling.

Until I have something more to say, enjoy some pictures.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Done... Sort of.

It's over.

4 months of planning all came to a head over the last 2 days. We finished principal photography at 7:00 last night, and I have to say I got everything that I wanted. The performances from the actors, the images on the screen, the sounds. It was all there. But the biggest thing for me was the people.

We had a crew of about 45 people working on set on this short film. That doesn't include the guys from Locations Caterers working at their shop to feed this little army. That doesn't include the casting personnel, the drivers who came out to drive one truck around and Tracy the security captain who sat outside the studio overnight to watch a truck and make sure no one thieved from us. Doesn't include the guys from William F. Whites and Inspired Cinema Camera Systems who took the time to put together a great equipment package, then to also give us incredibly great deals on those equipment rentals. I have never had so many people come out and help me on a short film, and ask for nothing in return. To these people, I offer you my sincerest, heartfelt thanks.

So the filming part of the short is done. Now it's into the editing room. Got lots to look at. And lots of ideas on where to go from here. I couldn't wait to get this thing filmed, and now I can't wait to get this thing edited. Alan better not be sleeping right now. EDIT DAMN IT! EDIT!

Friday, February 20, 2009

9 hours

What a day. Extreme elation to extreme frustration, back to elation then to frustration again. Talk about a roller coaster.

I have to give full credit to my Production Designer, Shane Vieau. This fellow has poured his heart and soul into this short film, from calling in favours, to painting sets all by himself, this man has been tireless in making my vision come to life. Without his dedication, this short would be a fraction of of what it is. From my heart, I thank you.

Elation came in viewing the sets that Shane built. I walked into the location and my jaw dropped. What a beautiful, amazingly decorated set Shane built. I was beside myself. I couldn't keep the smile off my face.

Then the Frustrations began. But it's getting late and I have a movie to make tomorrow, so We'll leave that for another day.

Thanks Shane.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

3 days

Starting to get excited.

Had a great read-thru with the cast yesterday. It's kinda magical when a script you've had running around in your head is actually read aloud by some very talented performers. To actually hear the words, it was awesome. And the way these guys read it, it was almost exactly how I had envisioned it. A little tweaking and hey, it will be there. With this cast, I don't have to do much.

Everything else is falling into place. The sets are built and are being dressed as we speak. Wardrobe is running smoothly, I've got a lab full of animals now, and camera seems to be sorting itself out. My only problem, and it could be a big one, is the visual effects department. Still no word from my supervisor of visual effects. I guess I better start planning on filming this thing without the aid of visual effects.

Not the end of the world, but it would have definitely made the final product that much better. A drooling, stumbling un-dead pig. Think of how cool that would have been. Maybe we can put some make-up on the pig, or something.

So, it looks that everyone is moving in the same direction and Saturday will be one helluva day. I may not be writing much over the next week or so, but I have to say using this blog as a medium to vent has helped me immensely. I should do this more often.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Feeling calm, for some strange reason.

All of my life, I have procrastinated. If I don't have a deadline, I would put it aside and get to it later. More often than not, I would get the job done, but only after waiting until the last minute, and then once finished and out of my hands, I would forget a vital part of the package. Whether it was a science project, book report, some piece of paper due for work or something in my personal life, I always left the job for a later time. I mean, my last short film sat on a shelf for over a year because I didn't have a hard deadline for it's release. Usually I have some sort of thing gnawing at me to finish the job. I still have some tiles to grout in the kitchen, and those have been there for 14 months (got one side grouted, just need to finish the other side).

That's how I've always been. And as a result of that, sometimes my planning is a little off. I usually forget to do something. I know something needs to be done, and that usually gnaws at me. It makes me anxious to the point I can't sleep at night. Which is why, right now, I am wondering why I am feeling rather calm.

I am 1 week away from making my short film masterpiece, and I can't help but feeling I have all of the bases covered. Camera? Check. Sets and decorations? Check. Everyone's insured that needs to be insured. Food is something I don't have to deal with this time, thank God. Got a KILLER cast. Contact lenses are being worked on, got a pig. Two pigs actually. The only wild card right now is my VFX team.

This is the first time I have any visual effects on a film and I have to admit, I'm not sure what needs to be done. My Visual Effects Producer is out in Toronto, and I would dearly love to talk to him about what the hell I need to do on set on Saturday. He hasn't called me in 2 weeks. Will I ever hear from him? Is he still alive? Will someone still be there with me from his department? Should I start planning on not having any VFX in this film? Will the price of gas in Vancouver ever drop below the 80 cent a litre point again?

Ok. That calm feeling, slowly fading away. I guess I'll get no sleep tonight. At least something is back to normal.

Friday, February 13, 2009

One week

What a week this has been.

From meeting with all fo the creative crew members to finally nailing down a cast, it was a very busy, productive week.

Spoke to the cast members today. All of them seem very excited to be on this little masterpiece of mine, and the enthusiasm they all show really puts a part of my mind at ease. I am truly confident that I'm going to get superb performances out of all of these performers. I can't wait to see these guys in action.

Got he hard drive issue sorted out today, with the help of Alan. I think I got a good deal on these hard drives. I know what I was originally quoted was much higher. So every little bit helps.

And I'm going to need every little bit. The camera is still an issue. The latest quote is around $1,500 for the camera package. Now that is an amazing deal, and I have to thank those guys for the deal. But when you haven't budgeted anything at all for a camera package, a $1,500.00 hit is a big hit. I guess we bite the bullet and chalk it up to a learning experience.

Tomorrow's tech survey and production meeting day. A lot of questions will be answered and I'm sure I'll have some more to bitch about. I thought I was being fairly positive in this blog, but people keep asking me what I'll be complaining about next.

It'll be something juicy, I hope.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Casting - a comedy of errors.

What an experience.

I love casting. It never ceases to amaze me. I mean, here are a whole lot of performers, all coming out and pouring their hearts out, putting it all on the table, trying to get a part that doesn't pay too much in a small short film. Every one of them knowing that there is only going to be one chosen for the role they are auditioning for. I give all of them credit. They were all amazing, and I just shake my head at the thought of going through what they went through. There is no way I could go through that. My hat's off to you all.

The problems were not the one's auditioning. The problems were all technical. My camera, a small little video camera that has served me well for 6 years, just died. It just stopped working. after the first audition. It called it quits. Kaput. So we call in the back-up.

Everything;s going smoothly - got 2 batteries and plenty of disk space to record onto. 30 minutes in, it dies. Battery problem. Change battery and keep going. Five minutes later, that battery dies. No charger. Great. Keep going. But don't tell the talent there is no taping. Not sure of the rational behind that decision, but the auditions must go on.

And what auditions they were. There were only a handful of performers that were unsuitable. Everyone else could act in this short and it would be a good movie. But there are only 4 that will make it a great movie.

We all decided on one. Hands down, the best audition for the role. The other three had a few great performances, and we'll whittle those down tomorrow. Or I guess it's today. It's already Thursday. Must go to bed. Need a clear head for casting tomorrow.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Whoa, what a day.

Got all of the creative and logistical types in the same room today to talk about this short film. I've got to say, that as each person walked through the door, my smile broadened. Everything is starting to come together. First AD, Producer, Production Manager, Designer, DOP, Mentor, the people coming through the door, the talent and experience involved, just blew me away. I got this warm and fuzzy feeling inside. I was speechless.

Until the DOP came in and told me that the room we chose as our Interrogation room was too small. No nice to meet you. No looking forward to this project. Just, this room is too small. I thought he was joking. But he was serious.

And it got me thinking. I thought it was perfect. I've been on crime dramas where the interrogation room was 2/3 the size of the one I chose. But here is an experienced DOP telling me that it's a nice sized room, but once you start packing equipment, dollies, cast and crew inside, the room will shrink immensely. And he is absolutely right. He's got the experience, he knows how much room the equipment will take over, I have to trust his judgment. So we look for another room inside of the stage. The thing that makes me feel bad is the construction guys just finished putting in a nice window between the two rooms to make it look more like I was hoping an interrogation room would look. Now What?

Flip the rooms. Use the adjoining room as the Interrogation room, and the room we were going to use as the interrogation room as our bedroom. Done! Everyone's happy and I think the extra space in the interrogation room will provide for a lot of nicer, more interesting shots. Thank you Mr. DOP.

Then came the phone call from my new Costume Designer. Had a great conversation with him, and he has some great ideas. Looks like he will be picking up right from where Maya left off. I am in good hands here.

Then off to the Police Museum to look at our laboratory. After a little discussion, we got everything sorted out without any major problems. Lots of great ideas for Mr. DOP and Mr. Designer, and I am confident that everyone is now on the same page.

Then the spinning began.

Data management. We have decided to go with the Red One Camera. People have been telling me different things about this camera. How it's the greatest thing to ever come about for independent filmmaking, to you should avoid this camera at all costs until workflow problems are worked out. Most of the negativity has come from post production houses, and I can only assume that would stem from not being able to handle the data from the camera. But that could be from people updating the firmware of the camera and then the post production guys have to re-build their workflows to handle the new software protocols. Vicious cycle.

Anywho, what everyone can agree on is that you should have someone on set with you whose job is strictly to handle the data and naming conventions from the camera through to the hard drive you are storing your footage on and to make a back-up of that hard drive. Ok. Makes sense to me. Found someone to do that. He charges $400 per day! yikes! but if that is going to save me a lot of problems in the future, then hire the professional and pay the bill. This could be money well spent.

Then, I am informed that I need to buy 2 hard drives, in a raid configuration, mirrored. Ok. Makes no sense to me. How much? About $1,500.00. Double Yikes! That savings I had from wardrobe and locations is fast being eaten up.

Then the kicker. The data management guy tells me that I should have an Digital HD Technician on set as well. Ok. Technician sounds expensive. How Much? Roughly $700.00 per day, if I let him be the DOP and Camera Operator so he can add to his demo reel. But I already have a DOP, who is my operator as well. So he'll be looking for something in the $1000.00 day range. What the @%#*!!!!!!! That's what I make in a week. That can't be right. Gotta look into that one.

That conversation ended at around 6:30, and my head has been spinning ever since. Time for a warm shower and bed. I'll talk to Alan and sort this out tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, Casting! Yay!

Hopefully there'll be no spinning at this point tomorrow.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

2 weeks

Been a busy little while.

In addition to the regular job, and all of the stress that comes with that, not much was going right with this short film. February 21st seemed to be fast approaching, and I didn't have
anything in place to film. No cast. None of my vital crew. In fact, I was moving backwards in that I had no costume designer, production manager, 1st AD, Casting director, DOP, now Production Coordinator. But then, things started to come together.

It all started with the Casting Director. One big piece of the puzzle fell into place on Monday, and by Tuesday we had a solid number of performers willing to try out for the show, and will have some cast by Tuesday. Awesome.

Then the DOP. Still haven't met in person with him, but talked to him 3 times this week, and feel confident that everything is under control on that end. Hopefully he will be able to find a small grip/electrics crew to come along. That would take another large stressful thing off my plate.

Then we got a great combo package of Make-up artist and her friend a costume designer. Both work on a major TV show here in Vancouver, so with them comes free, or cheap, wardrobe and make-up.

And the week ended with with a new 1st AD. Someone I've worked with in my capacity as an ALM in the past, and who I've enjoyed working with. But... I still need Grip crew, electrics crew, Craft service, catering, and possibly a camera crew. Help?

2 Weeks.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

2 steps forward, 1 back

Frustrating start to the week.

Got a call from the DOP on Monday. He called to let me know that he got accepted to a school of some sort out in Toronto. Good for him. Unfortunately, classes start for him 1 week before I shoot my film. Bad for me. He ain't gonna be here. Looks like I'll have to start looking for a new one. This is a big blow.

However, two steps forward include the addition of our Key make up person and Script supervisor, both of whom I have worked with before and look forward to seeing again. So a little movement forward.

Now, hopefully everyone else will fall into place over the next 2 weeks, and I will be all crewed up.

Won't do me any good if I don't have a cast.

25 days out and looks like I have a lot of work to do.

Pray for me.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Tour Day

It was Post Production Facility Tour Day today! Gathered up my editor Alan, my mentor Tom and joined the other teams to look at what the post production world had to offer.

Now for all my other shorts, my whole post production department consisted of me, myself and I, with the help of my wife and my producer. So while I know a little about editing the video, mixing the audio and correcting the colour, the people I met today are absolutely the best in their field.

The picture editing part of the tour was rather basic. Editing suites, formats and more frightening warnings about using the Red camera system. I'm surprised that so many of the other teams are still going to use the Red after the dire warnings. I guess they have a team from the top down that knows the camera and the workflows needed to successfully use the system. They also have some time to discuss things with the post production people before they go to camera.

Anywho, after the editing facility, it was off to 2 post production sound houses. Both were fascinating. Like I said before, a full post production sound package for $2,500.00! And you get the same treatment as a big budget Hollywood feature would get. The cool parts of the package are the sound design, the foley work, and being able to sit in on the mixing, watching your film come to life right before your eyes. I can't wait.

The only drawback is that I underestimated the amount of time needed by the audio post production team, so it looks like the release date now gets pushed a few weeks. Oh well.

So it looks like I'm going to make the date change official tomorrow. Lost one crew member, my Costume Designer. Hopefully I can find someone as good as her. She opened my eyes to some things I hadn't thought about, and the short will be better for having her along this far. Thanks Maya.

30 days until we go to camera. Need to get a cast, find a new costume designer, production manager, 1st AD and script supervisor. It seems I don't have as much time as I think.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

On the ground - At full stop

Things aren't going smoothly.

Got a call from the Producer informing me that both he and the Executive Producer would like to push our filming dates a week or so. Schedules aren't syncing, people are becoming unavailable, Casting, or lack thereof, is becoming a real issue. Something I didn't want to do. I was really hoping to get this thing in the can and a rough edit done before the end of February, but that doesn't seem as if it's going to happen. Little bit of disappointment, but oh well. The whole reason for getting it done before the end of February was to apply to one particular film festival in Toronto. But at this point, not everyone will be available for our filming on the 7th and 8th, and trying to rush things like casting won't help the project in the long term. I'll just end up settling for whatever cast I can get, and I would rather push filming by a week or two than not get the cast and performances I need. And by pushing, hopefully my 1st AD will be able to help out on set. Pushing is the best thing to do.

So now we film on the 21st and 22nd of February. Can't do it on the 14th. I'd probably lose the entire crew, and my wife. Need them.

We'll see what happens next.

Oh, and by the way, does anyone reading this know how I can get a hold of a trained pig? Something that will sleep and we can wake up on command? Just wondering.

Me sleepy now. Bedtime?


Monday, January 12, 2009

Hitting the ground at a good steady pace

Dear diary,

It's been a while since we've last spoken, and boy do I have stories to tell. Stories of welcoming key personnel and looking for replacement personnel. Changes to the schedule, locations and script. Let's begin.

Finally got our Director of Photography nailed down. Looking forward to working with him, as everyone I spoke to had nothing but great things to say about him. BUT, Iit looks like I may have to find a new Assistant Director, as the one that had agreed to help me out before will now be out of town for the filming dates. This is more my fault than anyone else's, as we decided to change our filming dates to the weekend, the 7th and 8th of February. He is in town on our original dates, but other things had changed, which made the move to film on the weekend possible, which allowed more crew to volunteer their services. Unfortunately, the move to the weekend makes the AD unavailable. *#@%!!!!

So why move the dates to the weekend? My brilliant Production Manager and Production Designer put their heads together and figured a way to get some better locations for free. After a little wheeling and dealing, we managed to move our interrogation room set (previously free only on the weekdays) to a sound stage currently being occupied by the television series we are all currently working on. Free location. Anytime we want. Including weekends. I Like that.

Now that we have decided to film on the weekend, we now have a lot more crew that are willing to help out on the short. No one has to sacrifice a paid work day to volunteer on a non-paying gig. And not only that, the thinking is that more equipment will be available to us for free. I like that too.

So here we are, a little over 3 weeks to our film date and everything seems to be moving forward. One big problem, WE HAVE NO CAST!

We seem to be having trouble finding a casting director to take on the project. No one seems to want to help out for free. Now, I'm 3 weeks away from filming, and haven't looked at any cast yet. I am starting to get worried. I need to get something started by the end of the week or I'm going to be in serious trouble.

And now I'm scouting on a feature, and that takes me away from my computer for the entire day. My Blackberry can only do so much. Another little addition of stress I can do without. Unfortunately, money is NOT something I can do without, so must work. But having trouble keeping focussed. I mean, here is my opportunity to make my life changing (possibly) short film. The short film that I will use to attract work as a director. This has to be perfect. This needs my undivided attention. Well, most of my attention.

NO! My undivided attention! I've got to give this every bit of my effort. There will never be another chance to make a short film with $20,000 of someone else's money. This is the moment, you own it, you better never let it go. You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow. This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo.

Wise words. Thanks Eminem.

Time to put this thing into high gear. This is my chance. Got to get cast, got to refine my vision, got to get it done.

Until next time.