As reported in Entertainment Weekly, the movie I wrote, According to Greta (previously known as simply Greta), is getting a small theatrical release on December 11th. So far, it looks like an exclusive engagement at the Laemmle’s Monica 4-Plex in Santa Monica, CA. But then the DVD drops in the US on January 19, 2010.
My short story, “Unconditional,” is now up on Derek Haas’ very cool short story website, www.popcornfiction.com. Previous contributors include Brian Helgeland and Scott Frank, but Derek appears now to be scraping the bottom of the barrel. His loss is my gain! It’s my first attempt at short fiction in many years. I originally wrote the story as a script for a short film that I never made. I hope you enjoy it.
The sci-fi short film that I wrote and directed (and went gray producing the effects shots for) is premiering at the LA Shortsfest on Monday, July 27th. It’s part of Program #24 at 10PM. If you can sneak out on a school night, I’d love to see you there. Tickets are available online.
The trailer for Greta is up on the official movie website. Check it out.
The producers of Greta have put up a really slick flash site for the movie. Check it out. It incorporates a lot of the music and production design that’s used in the film. I’m particularly enamored of the doodle animations.
There are also sites for the film on MySpace and Facebook.
I’ll post more news about the movie when we know what the release plans will be.
I’ve been mum for a while because this bit of good news had not been officially announced yet and I didn’t want to jinx anything, but…
My first movie just went into production.
It’s called Greta, and it’s being produced by Whitewater Films and directed by Nancy Bardawil. It stars Hilary Duff, Ellen Burstyn, Michael Murphy and Evan Ross. It should go without saying that I’m completely floored by this great cast, especially considering that this is a pretty small movie.
Here’s an article about the project.
This project has been a long time coming. It’s one of the first scripts I ever wrote and, at one point, in a careless moment, I nearly threw away the only existing copy. A number of producers have gotten involved — and then uninvolved — over the years. But it’s finally, truly happening.
In one of my early posts, I talked about the bottle of wine that I’ve been saving until my Big Break, and how, year after year, no matter what good things had happened to me, I’ve yet to pop the cork.
Well, I’m about to pop that motherflippin’ cork. And drink the whole damn bottle.
Last weekend was the second and last of the two-weekend shoot for my short film, Walking Wounded, and I’m still recovering. It’s a 16-page script, which means we averaged four pages per day. That’s like shooting a 110-page feature in about 27 days, which is pretty respectable.
The Panasonic HVX200 treated us pretty well. It’s got its limitations — gainy blacks, for instance — but overall I’m very satisfied. It functioned flawlessly and we’ve got some great images. However, I don’t know how anyone could work with the 4 or 8GB P2 cards. The 16GB cards were released right before this shoot, and we got to use two of them, for a total of 32GB of in-camera storage. That allowed us to shoot an entire day before off-loading, a process that took around half an hour or more. If we had to swap out 4GB cards so we could off-load and keep shooting, I think I would’ve jumped in front of a bus.
Among the random things I learned on this shoot…
- August in the San Fernando Valley is mighty hot, and white people who spend all day on the roof will get sunburned.
- Assistant directors and script supervisors are essential for any production that aims to be even a hair above amateur; I know because we didn’t have one and we suffered for it.
- People who will work on your short for free because they like you — or, even better, they like the project — are priceless.
More updates to come as editing and visual effects get underway.
Okay, so there haven’t been much in the way of updates. Sorry, I’ve been pretty busy working on two different feature projects and trying to fit the short prep into whatever spare moments I can find.
And, all of the sudden — we’re shooting in 3 days! Wow. How did that happen? The good news is, I think we’re almost ready. A very talented cast is in place, the crew is assembled, the script is tight and I’ve got most of it storyboarded.
The cast consists of Rob Zabrecky, who starred in my last short and currently appears in the new — and pretty damn cool — MTV show, Room 401, and Mageina Tovah, whose filmography is downright intimidating, and includes both Spider-Man 2 and 3.
I’m storyboarding the film with FrameForge 3D Studio 2, which is pretty useful, but can also be frustrating. There’s so much that you can do with it, but if you aren’t disciplined, you end up fiddling with details to the point that you’ve spent two hours laying out a handful of shots that only take 30 minutes to actually shoot. That kind of dicking around can turn a time-saving tool into a real time waster.
My advice, should anyone give this software a go is, try not to endlessly manipulate your character’s poses and facial expressions, and build really elaborate, detailed sets. Build a roughly accurate set, position your characters roughly where they need to be and move on.
Here are some sample frames that I rendered in a “sketch” style.
Wish us luck…
The short is coming together. Shooting dates are set. Locations are secured. The script is polished. A slick FX shop has come on board to help out with the effects. And just this week, I secured the talents of a really gifted illustrator for the design of the aliens and their various machines.
His name is Alex Ruiz and here’s a sample of his work.
I’m currently reading The Making Of Star Wars, which I highly recommend. In it, some of the people involved with the film talk about how Ralph McQuarrie’s concept sketches really informed everyone’s vision of what the movie would look and feel like. Looking at Alex’s work, I’m starting to understand what they were talking about.
I’m about to pull the trigger on a fairly ambitious project — a new short film, produced under the auspices of the Socal Film Group. It’s been a while since my last short, DUST DEVIL, and this one will be considerably more demanding and, if things go well, a much more impressive piece of filmmaking.
It’s a sci-fi thriller set in the aftermath of an alien invasion that has decimated the population, a nod to sci-fi films like Omega Man, War of the Worlds and the like.
On a budget of zero.
Okay, not literally zero, but virtually zero. We’ll be renting an HD camera and there will be some basic costs that you just can’t avoid. I also need to pick up a computer with some serious balls and some FX software, but that stuff isn’t a direct production expense, since I can use them for many other applications. But everything else — lighting, grip, crew, talent, locations — will be borrowed, bartered or stolen.
The real trick to this project will be the effects. There will be many. Lots of CGI and lots of really challenging compositing. On a budget of zero.
(If there are any CG artists out there interested in donating their talents in exchange for material for their reel, don’t be shy. Click my name at the bottom of this post and email me.)
Barring unforeseen circumstances, production is going to happen toward the end of July. Postproduction will take considerably longer. I intend to document the entire process right here, in gory detail. So, wish me luck and watch this space.