Monday, June 30, 2008

PANTS!

Finished up the edit, including titles, music and sound effects, for BLOOD RED PANTS, the oddball video that the character Kelsey watches in the IT HAUNTS segmment of TWISTED FATES.

Fun stuff.

Bit by bit...

Friday, June 27, 2008

41

It is perhaps fitting in light of my two recent long-winded cranky old man rant postings that I turn 41 today.

You kids get off of my lawn!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

C'mon everyone - let's put on a BETTER show!

"Every generation has said the same f**king thing."
- John Carpenter in a recent Fangoria interview

You know, I recently read an article about a presentation by Mark Gill on the "Indie Film Crisis."

http://weblogs.variety.com/thompsononhollywood/2008/06/laff-mark-gill.html

In a nutshell his message boiled down to a few things:

1) The industry/outlook for indie films in horrible and will only get worse

2) There are too many movies being released, so...

3) What we need to do is make fewer indie films, but better ones

Hmmm....seems like I've heard all this before...at least three times.

When I co-owned a comic book store in the 90s, I heard the very same thing about "indie" comics. Marvel and DC were the "major studios" and along with a few second-tier big players were flooding the market with titles, targeted as putting out crap, squeezing out the indie guys, etc. Distribution was consolodating/tightening. Costs were rising. Profit margins were shrinking. All the same points as Mark's film talk. And it all boiled down to the same solution: we have to make less product, make less crap, and make "better" stuff.

I read similar rants about zines when I was dabbling in that self-publishing world. It was along the lines of "how do we get more respect and exposure and stop being seen as a bastard child of the comics or publishing markets?" The solution? To fight against the worsening distribution/general outlook for zines by not making so much crap and making sure we make better zines.

Then there were several bulletin board discussions about "microcinema"/shot-on-video movies several years ago. Same thing. The "big guys" (major movie productions as well as major chain video rental stores) continued to squeeze out the little guy and microcinema was seen by the masses as inferior to shot-on-film "real" movies. Jason Santo in fact wanted to create a "microcinema manifesto" that was basically the same solution as all of the above - decrease the volume of output and make "better" movies. Jason is a really nice guy by the way, but I disagreed with him on the whole "manifesto" thing.

Why?

Well, my main thing was, WHO is going to define "better?" Jason, who had his heart in the right place, was trying to collaboratively create a set of standards, that several of us microcinemamakers would all sign on to. Aside from how does microcinema survive in this cutthroat and getting-worse-everyday "industry," Jason was also stuck on the "how do we get more respect" angle.

We started with things like not using natural indoor lighting, never using a built-in camera microphone, etc., but a soon as it moved to non-technical issues, things got kind of gray.

Having made shameless b-movie schlock stuff, it seemed as if my stuff might not be seen as "good enough" within parameters of such a manifesto. If it spoke specifically about character development, and I just wanted to make an action packed, gore-soaked zombie flick, would that not be qualified as "better" product? The problem was that I knew there was an audience for a no-budget, minimal plot gorefest. However, making such a movie would only enforce the stereotype by the general public of microcinema as no-plot, no-budget, amateur backyard crap. So should I not make it?

I could go on about all sides of this issue, from the fact that it's a business business as well as an artistic business, to the fact that everyone has different tastes, as well as different motivations for making art or trying to sell it.

But the bottom line is that is seems like the same solution keeps coming up - "we've got to make less stuff and make better stuff!" But it never works - because the creators (filmmakers, comic book guys, zinesters, etc.) all have their own reasons for making their art. If they are in it for money, they'll keep doing what they think will make them money regardless if a person or committee or club think it's "good." If they are driven by a passion inside, they will make what their heart tells them, regardless of what the world thinks of it.

A market is a market and power is power; the public is fickle; different strokes for different folks; change is the only constant; blah blah blah.

Every generation has said the same f**king thing.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

It Haunts Teaser Trailer

Here is a teaser for IT HAUNTS, one of the segments of the TWISTED FATES horror anthology.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The SciFi Channel Slides Further into Uselessness

The slide.

In my mind, it started with Remote Control. MTV stands for Music Television and that's what it was when my family first got cable back in the 80s. And being in high school, I was totally in MTV's demographic and I ate it up.

Then they put on the game show Remote Control and I recall it being a big deal because the channel was dedicated to music videos (concerts and music news as well, but all music-related) and here was something completely non-music-related. Why did they do it? I can't read the minds of the programmers, but I suspect they were trying to make money. After all, in the business world (and as Gene Simmons is always reminding folks, it's show "business"), making money is job #1. So they came up with something that would appeal to their demographic and that they could offer to advertisers as something "new."

Well, I was never a huge fan, but I did watch it so obviously the tactic of appealling to the demographic worked and I didn't rebel against it being on MTV and not being about music.

So that is the beginning of the slide. Then there was The Real World in the early 90s and since I was just out of college I was again in the perfect demographic. And again it worked and I paid attention through 2 more seasons.

So along all of these years, MTV morphed into this youth-culture channel with all sorts of game show and reality stuff on it and barely has anything to do with music anymore. But it's still called MTV. Why? Partially because it had become a "brand," but also because it had a slot on cable and satellite systems. I understand it's hard to get a new channel into the line-up so even thought the content changed (albeit slowly over time) the name remained.

Same thing with VH1, which for you youngins stands for Video Hits 1, as in music video. Now it is mostly "celebreality" stuff. But VH1 still works because no one needs to know what it stands for.

A&E used to be like the cable version of PBS - history documentaries and british theater and such. Now its Gene Simmons and Dog the Bounty Hunter. A&E stands for Arts & Entertainment, but now it's just "A&E: Real Life. Drama," because it is hard to call The Two Coreys part of the "Arts" with a straight face.

I remember when TLC was kind of like PBS, too: educational programming, documentaries, etc. That's because TLC stands for The Learning Channel. They were trying to teach us something. Now it's TLC: Life Suprises," and all about Jon & Kate Plus 8 and Little People Big World.

CMT stands for Country Music Television, but it has it's share of slide what with running marathons of Hogan Knows Best, Trading Spouses and Nanny 911, none of which have anything to do with country music.

At least Court TV had the decency to change it's name to TruTV, reflecting it's change from courtroom play-by-play and crime/legal shows to all reality programming.

Similarly, TNN, which was The Nashville Network, changed it's name and programming to SpikeTV, pretty much doing a 100% revamp, but managing to keep it's slot on cable and satellite line-ups.

BET had a pretty wide range to start with - music video to reality programming, it doesn't matter: as along as it features black people, the channel's name still fits. Likewise channels like The Travel Channel, The Food Network and Comedy Central can be relied upon to show programs that make sense given the channel's name.

AMC has been an interesting case to watch. Seems to me that early on it was focused on critically-acclaimed movies, in particular older ones, hence the name American Movie Classics. I wasn't an avid watcher of AMC, but I remember when I saw a commercial for Iron Eagle. Iron Eagle? A "Classic?" Really? I mean, it's a good example of an 80s action flick, but it seemed odd to hold it up with To Kill a Mockingbird and Grapes of Wrath and other stuff that it seemed they were showing. But see, what they were doing was the slide - they were programming to the demographic, or perhaps programming to A demographic - one that spent more money and would allow them to charge more for advertising. See, it all comes back to that old money thing. So now, "AMC" seems to be used in all promos instead of "Amercian Movie Classics," and "classics" can now include Funny Farm starring Chevy Chase and Teen Wolf. Not only that, but AMC has slid into Remote Control mode. At least some of their TV shows like Sunday Morning Shotout, have been about movies, but now the channel prevoiously all about movies is airing original tv series about advertising execs (Mad Men), meth cooks (Breaking Bad) and proudly has plans to add more tv series next year. None of which have anything to do with movies. How long before AMC doesn't even show movies. Hmmmm.....

Which brings us to the real point of this rant, the SciFi Channel, or SciFi as it's currently being marketed as.

Wrestling.

On the SciFi Channel.

Absolutely nothing to do with science fiction - a pure and obvious programming change to make more money. Someone ran some numbers and found that there was some crossover in demographics of those who watched some SciFi Channel stuff also watched wrestling. So they put it on and were able to tout it to all the advertisers as some awesome demographics/synergy wizardry and change more money.

I could go on about the channel's choices for programming but that's another rant altogether. To that end, take a look at what inspired this rant of mine: http://www.rimworlds.com/csfcabout.htm - scroll down to read "the screed." And tell them Dr. Squid sent you.

Might the SciFi Channel soon abbreviate it's name to SFC, so that all science fiction reference is removed? Then they can use the tagline "SFC: So. Freakin. Cool."Probably something like that.

Postscript: I watch all kinds of TV shows - this piece is mainly talking about the move away from various channels' originally stated genres as expressed by their channel names. I watch Gene Simmons Family Jewels as well as Dog The Bounty Hunter, Jon & Kate Plus 8 and Little People Big World. In fact I've been to the Roloff's farm, met Amy, bought some pumpkins and checked out their various attractions like this pirate ship:



And further: Yes, I know that the SciFi Channel has been showing wrestling for a while now. I'm just getting around to bitching about it now. I've been busy.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Fear Of The Dark


Michelle "Ame" Mahoney screams her lungs out in the It Haunts segment of TWISTED FATES.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tasty!


Michelle "Ame" Mahoney and Morgan Mayhem get up close and personal in the It Haunts segment of TWISTED FATES.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Alma and Natalie



Here is Doom Grrl as Alma Heggs in the It Haunts segment of TWISTED FATES. Nice red sweater and nice graveyard!



Here is Amanda Bounds as Natalie in the It Haunts segment of TWISTED FATES. Nice shades!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Blood Red Pants!

The Pants Made Her Crave The Taste of BLOOD!!!!!

Here are a couple of pics of "Blood Red Pants," the cheesy b-movie that Kelsey watches on TV in the It Haunts segment of TWISTED FATES.



Monday, June 09, 2008

Twisted Fates Rolls On

More progress on TWISTED FATES - Decided to switch out the VideoDrone story (which I had set-up no less than 4 times and each time it fell through) for another story, It Haunts.

Here is the synopsis: Young Kelsey, having just broken up with her boyfriend, takes a housesitting job in the remote countryside. The homeowners seem nice enough, but soon after they leave, strange and disturbing things start happening. As Kelsey makes startling discoveries about the homeowners, nightmarish visions appear. Cell service is spotty and a kindly neighbor warns of the road washing out. Shock builds on shock. Darkness falls as shadows of dread grow. Will Kelsey survive the night or loose her soul in this haunted house?

Starring Michelle "Ame" Mahoney as Kelsey, John Bowker as Ollie, Doom Grrl as Alma, Joe Scott as Luther, Morgan Mayhem as Loretta and Amanda Bounds as Natalie. Filmed at the eclectic Atomic Bonfire Art Studio in the real ghost town of Peoria, Oregon.
Michelle and Amanda played major roles in John Bowker's PLATOON OF THE DEAD, planned for a 2009 release from Tempe Video. Morgan, Doom Grrl and Joe Scott also appeared in that movie. In addition, Michelle, Doom Grrl and Morgan appear in my almost-done thriller DEADLY PREMONITIONS. In one sequence, Michelle will be watching a cheesy b-movie on TV called "Blood Red Pants," which will feature Amira, Barb White and Tom Stedham, all from DEADLY PREMONITIONS. Tom has also appeared in Steve Sessions' TORMENT.

Shot the bulk of It Haunts in mid-May and finished up last weekend. Here's a few photos (more to come over the next several days):





Went up to Mike's twice for more work on DEADLY PREMONITIONS - he's going to run a filmlook test next.

John Bowker was in town the other day. We uploaded some of the PLATOON OF THE DEAD behind-the-scenes stuff I shot into his editing system and also did some sound work for the opening and finale with iMovie and GarageBand on my iMac.

Bob Olin reports he had someone drop out of the Welcome Sister segment for TWISTED FATES, so we are bumping shooting back to August.

More soon...
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