Thursday, November 2, 2017

Terrortory 2 Update


Okay, you want some real behind-the-scenes dirt? Here you go.

Making movies with micro budgets is HARD, man. It's hard, even when you get actors and actresses who are there for you, and have your back.

But when you get ones who don't have you're back? When they're there only for their reels, or for the money? Big problems.

Today, I give you the segment called "The Fountain". I'm gonna break a little news here that we've kept under wraps.

I met a local author named Ronald Malfi a few months back. It's weird, because he lives near where I grew up, he went to the same high school I went to, and he's published like 20 books, but somehow I'd never heard of the guy.

My buddy Stewie introduced me to him by giving me his book, "The Night Parade". The book was REALLY good. My only problem with it is that there's no sequel.


From there I read a couple of other books, and they were all very good too. Check it out, you can find his books here:
http://amzn.to/2ztc9rt

I just started reading his new book "Bone White", and as expected, it's great too. (the others I can recommend are Little Girls, Floating Staircase and December Park)

So I reached out to the guy and he'd apparently heard of me, and seen some of my movies. (his brother sort of knew me in high school, I think he said) We agreed to meet for a beer and a little chit chat.

At the bar we ended up being there for like four hours. Way more than one beer. That was the first time it occurred to me--hey, it would be cool if he wrote a segment for Terrortory 2...

I can't remember if I mentioned it to him at that meeting, or one of the next bar meetings we had. It's funny, but we'd only plan to hang out and drink a beer or two, and every time we'd end up talking until the bar closed. About scripts and books, ideas and things we were working on.

Anyway, at some point I asked him if he'd be interested in writing a segment. He seemed like he might be. For the next month he started pitching me ideas. A lot of good ones, but he kept throwing more and more out, and finally one in particular seemed fully formed at the pitch.

It was called the Fountain, and had a very EC Comics kind of feel to it. He wrote the whole script and sent it to me, and I said--Yeah, let's do it.

THINGS GET UGLY FROM HERE

I'm pretty sure this segment is cursed. I've been trying to shoot it for three months. I cast the two main leads, but then struggled to cast a part that involves nudity. Not sure why it's so hard to find around here now, but it is.

I've also had to find a remote country store, which is pretty hard to do in this area. Most of them seemed to be around 3 hours away, which is too far. It would basically add an entire extra day of shooting.

Then I needed to find a store I could shoot the inside of, if whatever store I found wouldn't let us.

Through the month of October I struggled to not only create some major props, including the "Fountain" itself, but to get locations and that actress.

I got a name referral from a friend, and reached out to this model(who has done some acting). Here is how the original contact went:

ME: I'm trying to contact you about a possible acting gig. (XXXXXX recommended you; I've directed her in two films). Can you hit me up at MY EMAIL or respond here will also work I think)

HER: ok
where are you based

ME: Maryland. I met you WAY back in the day at a horrorfind convention when my first film came out. (Hunting Humans)

HER: ok

And that is where the conversation ended until late that night when she followed up with:
HER: so what is this gig
ME: It's for Terrortory 2--the sequel to my last film. It's an anthology horror, like Creepshow, and this is the last segment we need to film. The segment is called "The Fountain".

Some of the details are, we're shooting the scenes November 4th. The
nudity is full body but non-sexual--you'd actually be covered in blood and
it's a night scene, so I'm not even sure how much is going to be seen.
It's outside though, so depending on weather could be cold. The pay is
AMOUNT(we'll be shooting some indoor, non-nude scenes from about 5pm-10pm,
then outdoor from about 11pm-1am).

Let me know if it's something you'd be interested in.

Then there was silence for a day, then this:

HER: so is there a lot of dialogue?

ME: Not a ton. Long as you don't show it to anyone, I can send it to you to see if you think you're okay with it.

HER: ok
if lot of dialogue im not interested

That's where I was like...say what? Actors ALWAYS want more lines...but she wants less? Oooookay.

I send her the script, and she says she's in. I give her contact info to Zig and he gets in touch with her to give her details of the shoot.

That's when she sends him this:
HER: and this is accessbile via traim/bus.?  i live i  ny so i dont have a car

Okay...let me give you a little advice if you're an actor: If you don't have a vehicle, you may want to PUT THAT IN THE FUCKING CONVERSATION AT SOME POINT BEFORE THE UPM CONTACTS YOU.

Now I'm clearly going to have additional costs of getting bus tickets both ways, plus I have to get someone to pick her up at the bus station to bring her to set, which is about 75 minutes away from the bus station.

Zig finds possible bus schedules. If she comes in at the 3pm bus, she can be on set at 5pm. We'll be shooting until about 1am, then we can get her back to the station by 3am to catch that bus home.

She doesn't want to do that much travelling in one day. I get that. But now that means I'm adding in a hotel. This model has now become over half my total budget for this segment. And judging by how difficult the communication has been so far, I anticipate the actual shoot to be a nightmare.

But I keep plugging away. Working through the Halloween season when I'd rather be enjoying myself. I create this "fountain", I paint it and add some crackle stuff that'll make it look old. With my brother's help I create a weird statue for the top of it.

I find a remote store about 90 minutes away, contact them and they're closed on Sundays. We can shoot the exterior there, no problem. A buddy of mine with an antique store says his store can double as the interior, but they don't close at all during the day. (the scene takes place during the day)

So I'll have to light the place like it's a daylight scene, but I think it's doable.

All the actors say that the weekend of November 4th will work. I'm hoping it's not going to be so cold that the model will freak out when she gets nude that night. I figure we'll shoot a couple minutes, cover her up a couple minutes, shoot a couple of minutes. I don't need TOO many shots of her completely naked.

But then...two weeks before the shoot, the main female actress goes MIA. Doesn't respond to emails. Doesn't return phone calls. I get that stuff comes up. But there's no reason to not drop me an email that says "Hey, something came up, can't do it. That's just unprofessional and dickish.

Anyway, this girl's name is Sarah Burton, and if you're an indie filmmaker, I'd advise you to avoid using her. I certainly will never cast her in anything. I found out by a simple Fb search that she took a new job on October 30th, so I'm guessing that's the reason.

So this week I scrambled to find a replacement. There's not a ton of local female talent that I haven't already used in Terrortory 1 or 2, so it's tough. Nobody could do it on such short notice, so I finally pulled the plug on the segment.

I will attempt it again in the spring, as soon as the weather gets tolerable enough to do so. I will recast both female parts.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR TERRORTORY 2?

Well, the film is already feature length--probably about 83 minutes after credits. What I could do is either release it whenever it's done, and then when I get the Fountain done, I can insert it and re-upload it to Amazon so people can see it.

Or I can just wait and get the Fountain done and put it all out at once.

Both options are open to me, but I haven't decided yet.



Saturday, October 14, 2017

Rough Cut Of Pumpkin Trail Done


A face cast that Mark did of one of the actors. Why he did it...well, you'll just have to watch the flick when it comes out...

Anyway, got a rough cut of the Pumpkin Trail done and tomorrow am going out to try to get some pickups shot done for it. With no actors. Primarily just a shot of the forest at night, still. Because the forest at night is pitch black, we're gonna be rolling just as the sun goes down, and I'll just use the darkest shot that's still visible for the actual movie.

I'll get some noises(foley) that I need. Then some shots with the THING in the pumpkin trail. Can't say much. You know.

Am doing double duty though, as BEFORE that, I'm heading across the Bay Bridge to scout out some country stores for some scenes for The Fountain segment. I really need a desolate store exterior. I'm shooting the interiors elsewhere, but finding a running store that doesn't have any customers, and is in the middle of nowhere...could be tricky.

Still looking for one of the lead actresses. I don't get why it's so fucking hard to find around here nowadays. I mean, I'm paying cash money. It's not gratuitous, and it's not sexual.

Basically, if I get that location nailed down, and I get that actress nailed down for the dates...we'll be a go. And THEN...when that segment's shot...I can breathe again. Because the hardest part is done.

After production, that's where you really make the movie. At the edit chair. But you have all the time you need, you can work in the comfort of your home, with music playing or not, whatever you feel like.

Editing--movies, at least--can be a lot of fun. The other shit I edit, the stuff I get paid to edit...not so much fun.

I guess I can mention that the rough edit of the Pumpkin Trail isn't as terrible as I thought, though it still disappoints me in parts. And yes, the THING in the movie is super campy, so at least I know Rob Dimension's gonna like it. :)

I showed Zig, and he thought I oversold its suckitude on the phone. "It's fine," he assured me.

"Hey, fine is two steps above what I was aiming for," I thought.

Anyway...going to bed. Going to be a long day tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Breaking Me Down Part II. The Epic Conclusion.


Sorry, can't really show too many photos from night 2 without spoiling everything.

So day 2--I wake up and find out that the scratchy throat and heavy feeling in my jaw had turned into a full blown cold. Runny nose, VERY sore throat.

No big deal--just gotta go direct a complicated segment all night long.

I get there early to try to set up the main location and shoot a couple of shots that will actually be the last shot of the movie. The location is every bit as challenging to get to as we'd thought, but I sort of slide down the hill with the equipment, so it saves some time.

We get the shots done, but one of the actors still hasn't shown up. We're scheduled to shoot from 8pm-3:30am, but one of the actors has to work in the morning so he's hoping we end early.

Yeah, right.

The late actor doesn't show up until around 8:30--and I forgot to tell you that the actors forgot to take off their lavs when they left. So not only am I worried that when they powered them down, we lost the audio, but I didn't get to dump any of the cards, which I have to do now as they show up.

I'm doing that, but we're running late on the start.

I try to get what I can. We shoot out one actor(not the one who works in the morning), and he leaves, but not before accidentally leaning on of the main pumpkins and splitting it down the side. Super.

We shoot until we get to the troublesome effect, and I set it up. We tried it. It...sort of worked. Parts of it. I can't really describe it until the movie comes out, so you won't know what I'm talking about.

We're running late, but we're done on that location. We have to move a decent distance away, carrying all the equipment, and I'm already tired. (and my scratchy throat is ROUGH)
(It's humid as fuck, and we've all soaked through our shirts with sweat...)

The replacement FX guy, who turns out to be very helpful, goes to get the body parts and FX gags that Mark has prepared.

I make the lazy-man's decision to walk down the hill and just do it there. It's so dark, nobody's going to be able to see anything in the background other than out-of-focus forest and the dark. Everybody seems happy with my decision.

Only issue is that I never planned on the scene being in this location, so it causes some confusion. I also get my first taste of a shot that's in the script, but there is NO way to make it happen. I shoot, and I shoot, and I wing the whole thing, barely checking my shot list.  Just no time, and the area is different than I'd planned for.

But I'm pretty sure I'm missing some shots. My head is pretty stuffy, I'm hot and tired. I do what I can, get what I can, and finally call it around 3:30am. Ironic, because I never finish on time.

Me, Mike and Zig hit Denny's for breakfast. I know I have to go home, do a rough cut of this segment fast so I can see what I'm missing, and whether I can go get pickup shots without the actors...all before the leaves change much more on the trees.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Breaking Me Down, One Segment At A Time. Pumpkin Trail Part 1...


The past week was tough. Right up until the last minute, I was working on some practical FX to take the place of what I was given last week that was...bad...to say the least.

I'm not positive my version will work, but it will work better than the other.

There is a metric fuckton of props in this segment, so I had to confirm I had them all and wouldn't forget to take them on the days needed. Had to finish carving a few pumpkins--I had given some out to friends to carve too, since we had around 40 total.

Then I ran around and picked them all up the day before the shoot. I went to bed early Friday night, knowing that I had to be down on set at 8:30 am.

This

Is

When

Things

Went

Wrong

First thing you do on shoot day is check your phone to see whether there's any last minute problems. But oddly enough, I tap the power button on my phone and it flashes that symbol that tells me there's no battery left. Even though it's been plugged in all night.

I unplug it from the computer and plug it into another computer, thinking maybe the USB port on that computer went bad. Nope. No charge. So it's either the charge cable has gone bad, or the phone has.

I'm suddenly phone-less on a shoot day.

I'm up early so I toss everything in the car and head to Walgreens with my laptop. Buy a new charge cable. Plug it into my laptop. It starts charging.

I hit Dunkin Donuts to get some donuts for everybody. Check my phone and hey, it turns on enough that I can see that I have a text message from one actor that says "Call me ASAP", and was sent at 8am. I don't have enough charge to call anybody, so I text him back to call Zig.

I drive to the parking lot that we meet in, and by that time have enough that I can check the voicemail the actor left. It says, basically, "Hey, my face is swollen up and I'm in pain, and if you have any other options for actors, maybe call one."

I do not have any backups for the role. Who the hell could take a role with zero notice and learn 16 pages of dialogue? We're shooting over 11 pages on the first day, so there's no down time to give anybody.

I'm hoping Zig has told him to come and we'll just deal with it. If the actor can do it, we'll just make his swollen face part of the character. Whatever.

He shows up. Doesn't look TOO bad, but he's definitely in pain. I ask him if he can do it. He's a champ, says he will. But he warns me he'll be a little muddy on the lines, as he's taking some painkillers.

The other actors show up, and we get to shooting. Again, small crew. Me, my brother Mike, Zig, and Stewie shows up for a little while.

Crazily enough, we not only get the 11 pages done, but we get another 1 page scene done before we leave at about 11pm. (we shot from 10am-11pm)

I've been getting a scratchy throat for a couple of days, but I'm glad it didn't turn into a full blown cold for my first day. Unfortunately, I woke up the next day and it HAD turned into that.

And we had a big day of FX, shooting at night, and one of the cast has mentioned he works early the next morning so that--even though the shooting schedule has for weeks said that we'll be shooting until 4am--he'd love to end early.

But hey, here's a shot of the pumpkin trail(part of it) that my brother shot on day(night) 1...






Monday, September 18, 2017

Never Before Seen Pictures From the Terrortory 1 Wrap

I know I haven't really done many updates--had a lot to do.

At this moment I'm doing last-minute prep to shoot the "Pumpkin Trail" segment this coming weekend. We were supposed to shoot it last weekend, but rain was threatening and I had to either cancel the camera rental on Monday, or eat it if it rained.

On top of that, there was some other FX issues that you just would not believe if I told you. If you have seen Brutal Massacre: A Comedy, then you might be able to imagine it. (and if you haven't seen that movie, DO IT. If you work in low budget horror, you will dig it in a big way.

Anyway, today I'm going back out to the woods to get a few pickup shots for the main story plus some foley. Cutting's coming down from Connecticut, and Joe's coming out, so it'll be a reunion.

I was out in the woods again yesterday doing my final location scout for the Pumpkin Trail.  Keeping track of all the trails and locations is tough, to say the least.

I can confirm that I will debut a teaser for Terrortory 2 at Monstermania at the end of this month, so if you're around, come check it out and say hi. (If you can't make it, don't worry--I'll put it online sometime after that)

So here's some pics from the first wrap that I never put out, featuring the Gotz character. I figure it's long enough to wait to spoil this, right?

All pics are by my brother Mike Kangas--you can see some of his pics here:
http://www.thepicta.com/user/mike__kangas/1642219067

And follow him on Instagram. It's mike_kangas there.



This is what no-budget sound department looks like. I hope it becomes a meme on the Movie Set Memes group. (It's Steve "Stewie" Pattee, working hard as usual)

Laura, Steve and Brad. Pretending to have fun.



So, this. Probably needs some explanation, because you didn't see it in the movie, did you?

We had some issues with the first version of the doll-face makeup for Brad. It wasn't good. Made him look like some sort of geisha doll. I'd show it to you, but Brad made me destroy all pictures of it. (Okay, not really, but why embarrass all of us by showing it?)

Well, they had THIS mask in their stuff so we toyed with the idea of using it instead. Only problem for me was that it really made no sense to the plot. See, Gotz turns people into dolls. So why on earth would he turn Brad's character into leatherface?

So we shot some pics, but never used it. I may have rolled some video, I can't remember.

Gotz, doing his best Elvis, I think. That's M.T. Smith under the mask--he's also Smiling Jack in the film. (so if you see that question on Jeopardy, now you can totally answer it)

Goddamn Stewie trying to score with Gotz. He's really desperate.

Then below, another two shots of Gotz. You can see my immediate problem, which is that we didn't make his neck match the mask. So any low shots got really problematic.



You could say this is me lying down on the job. But what it REALLY was was one of the most dangerous shots ever. I lay down there while she swung the stick at me, so it's sort of the Gotz-dies POV.

It was pretty scary looking through that lens as she swung it over and over. Luckily, I hadn't irritated her enough that she "accidentally" hit me or anything.

Another shot oft he not-used mask.

Weirdly enough, people don't want you to bash heads in on their carpet. They don't want blood stains all over. How ridiculous, right? So we had a piece of the carpet, and took it outside to try to fake it out there.

The color balance on the lights didn't match AT all--a fact I'm sure you can see in the final film. No matter what I did to try to get it to match, couldn't get it perfect.

Also, this is the FIRST time we tried it. His face didn't bash in like I wanted it--the top of his head sort of popped off and blood oozed out. It was kind of cool looking, but not so realistic.


Anyway, more to come. I gotta go get my equipment ready.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Music Of Terrortory and Terrortory 2


When I first started on Terrortory I wasn't sure what we were going to do musically. My usual and first love is orchestral--it's what I've heard in the movies I've loved all my life. From Bernard Herrmann to John Williams to Basil Pouledouris to Alan Silvestri to Jerry Goldsmith to Danny Elfman and more.

But in the back of my mind were guys like Harold Faltermeyer and Tangerine Dream and Vangelis.

They did some pretty incredible, non traditional scores using synthesizers. And with Terrortory being an old-fashioned horror anthology, now would be the time to go with that sort of sound if I ever did.

Well, way things worked out, I couldn't get one composer to do the whole thing anyway. Time was not our friend, and by the time I moved forward and realized my regular guy Chad couldn't do it, the sand was slipping through the hourglass too fast for one guy to meet the deadline.

So I started thinking...there's no REAL reason that the segments couldn't be scored by different people. We could keep the classic orchestral stuff for the main storyline--which would be handled by the talented Terence Jones(who returns for the sequel)--and then I would start looking around for talented synth guys.
By the way, you can get the score for Terrortory here at Terry's site:
http://www.terencejonesmusic.co.uk/music/

I'd been part of a synth FB group for quite a while, and had heard some great songs. Could any of them segue into actually doing MUSIC that would accompany the video, rather than just a SONG?

Turns out that I got a lot of submissions. I went with a well-known guy named Daniel Deluxe for the Smiling Jack segment, and he hit nearly a home run right off the bat. The music he gave me the first time is about 98% of what's in the final movie. I had one tweak for it, which he did right away, and it was perfect.

Then another guy named Ben Mosely--his moniker is Bishop of Battle--came on to do Siren. He was super cool to work with, and unlike Daniel, we talked face to face a few times in vid-chat to discuss ideas and my thoughts. The Siren score turned out awesome.

Meanwhile, another guy had started work on the Drone Collector but after he saw how much work it was for the money, he bailed. I don't blame him--if the only reason you're doing it is for the money, then this probably isn't for you.

I didn't exactly have a backup, and hadn't even found anybody to do Prowler yet, so I hit Ben up because he's mentioned he'd be interested in doing more. I sent him Drone Collector and he went to work.

I also mentioned that if he had time and wanted to do Prowler, well, I'd owe him big.

He got both done, and they're both very different-sounding and excellent scores.

-----------

Also in the back of my mind was the end-credit music. What do I do about that?

Well, I aimed high at first. Like, WAY too fucking high. I actually looked into licensing real 80's songs that would be perfect for the after-"We're going to the beach" cut to black.

On my list:
Ain't Nothing Gonna Break My Stride
We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off(To Have A Good Time)
Modern Love
Don't You Want Me
She Drives Me Crazy
I Can't Go For That
Can't Get Enuff - Winger
Lips and Hips - Electric Boys

Had a conversation on the phone with a very nice guy who licenses music for TV and movies. It would cost $500 just for him to find out the exact amount it would take to license a song and from who. But he told me--if I didn't have a minimum of $5000, there was no way I was going to get rights to any song that played on the radio in the 80's for any more than a couple of years, and if I wanted anything that hit the top 40--WAAAY more.

And as I told him, no, I didn't have that money. He was super cool about it. Gave me a lot of information, when he could have just told me to fuck off, peon.
UPDATE--I located his name and company in case you have the money and want a good music clearance guy.

THE MUSIC BRIDGE LLC
(Music Clearance, Licensing, Supervision and Consultation)
P.O. Box 661918, Los Angeles, CA., CA 90066
Phone: (310) 398-9650 Fax: (310) 398-4850
Website: www.themusicbridge.com

Then I went back to the music groups. I had been listening to quite a few songs, and some of them were pretty perfect. I made a list of my top 10. They were these, in no particular order:


This is the song that ended up in the credits, and it's perfect there. The guys in Foret De Vin were super cool to work with, and had no problem with the contract. (it takes no rights other than the rights to put it in the movie--the master use and sync rights)



FM-84 is a group that hit it big just about the time I was looking at credits music. They got back to me, but they'd hired a company to place their music in movies and TV, so I'd have to go through that company. That would have ended up being too much money, so they were out of the running. But that song(and that album) still kicks so much ass.



I didn't get that far in pursuing this song, but it's such a catchy, funky tune, and the whole "Men are not nice guys" sort of fits into my idea of how a lot of the men are in the film.

This one doesn't have a video, but is totally worth a listen on Soundcloud:
https://soundcloud.com/rad-rush-records/sebastian-gampl-winner-get-it-on



This one fit in with the fact that Brad and Carly were on vacation(holiday), and is just a super catchy jingle.

I knew I wanted an upbeat song, because in my mind I was sort of trying to ape the feel of the ending to Lost Boys. You know, drop a great one-liner and punch out to black. I knew I'd never do it as well as Lost Boys, but steal from the greats, am I right?

Anyway, I'm on the search for the end-credits to Terrortory 2 and may have found the perfect song. I'm talking to the artist now, so fingers crossed.

But I can let you hear this--this is a song that gets played in the movie. Since I've already licensed the rights, I have no problem letting you hear it. It's a funky, cool tune by a very talented guy from Poland--go buy it and support him.




Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Terrortory 2 Update. I got good news, and I got bad news...


Okay. Let me lay it out for you.

Been working incredibly hard to edit the wrap. The sheer amount of compositing work is pretty staggering. I don't feel like ever putting Smiling Jack in anything again, because filling in the actor's eyeholes gets tedious, but that's nothing compared to the hole in the top that I have to fill in.

At this point I now have a playable edit of the whole main storyline. (I was calling this the "wrap-around", but in this case it's the main story so I'm going to stop calling it the wrap)

It's about 45 minutes long, which is right in line with the script length. I'm missing the last 3 or 4 shots though, which we didn't shoot. I have to get out and do that soon before the leaves start changing.

More and more I've been getting bombed by the "This many days 'til Halloween!", and I realize that my deadline is 30 days LESS than that, and there's just no way I'm going to get the other two segments shot and edited, as well as scored, as well as make a trailer and a poster, and do both the front-end and back-end credits to the movie...in this space of time.

I had a plan that I'd shoot the Pumpkin Trail segment, put it in, then release on October 1st--then when I got the final segment done I could insert it, and re-upload the whole movie.

But no way is it all going to happen unless I start cutting major corners--meaning, the quality will suffer.

So today I finally made the decision...going to have to push back the date.

It's funny...when I originally told people I was going to go for the October 1st release, we all had a laugh about how insane it was. Then somewhere in there I convinced myself I could do it...and reality has now corrected me.

I'm not sure when the exact release will be. I still plan on shooting Pumpkin Trail in September, then The Fountain in October. I SHOULD have the movie done completely by the end of the year then, no problem.

Just gotta figure out what month will be good to release it.

See, this is a thousands-of-dollars decision. If we don't hit the bonus on Amazon, we lose over five thousand dollars. Our best chance was obviously October, since that's Halloween/horror month, and we already did it with the first film.

If we don't hit the bonus but do about the same numbers, then this is pretty much a break-even scenario for me. That's not great, given the amount of time I put in.

These are the things keeping me up at night. (or trying to...but thank Crom for pot brownies)

I leave you with this...probably my favorite picture I ever shot of Richard Cutting on set. He plays Aiden, one of the main characters in the movie.