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:
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)
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.
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.
Monday, September 18, 2017
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
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:
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)
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
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:
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
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.
Thursday, July 27, 2017
I chopped up all of the "Mad Gathering"'s audio, synced it all, and did an entire assembly edit. The whole thing.
Wow, does it suck.
It is pretty clearly one of the toughest scenes I've ever had to edit.
We shot it all out of order because of the people who had to leave early, then the special effects that take place that we can't shoot out of order because of how different people's appearances are after the effect takes place. I got guys who switch frame sides, and multiple people talking to each other, so keeping shit straight on the shoot was tough.
There are many scenes that require compositing--a couple of scenes where the actor's not even there--gotta put them in. (they're 10, and I wasn't dragging them out to the woods til 5am) Another actor whose face SHOULD have been messed up for the shot, but we couldn't mess it up because we had the earlier scenes to shoot. (I had to have this shot now because we'd be losing people early who you could see in the shot)--this actor whose face should be messed up has to GET messed up via compositing.
Now, the reason I'm not TOO down on myself yet is because it's an assembly edit. They all suck.
There's zero rhythm to them. The sound's not fixed AT ALL, so every edit jumps out and screams THIS SUCKS DONKEY BALLS AND YOU'RE A SHIT EDITOR.
This was basically just getting the form of the piece. Finding the best takes, and where they will fit. Next I'll go back and try to massage it all so it's not so ugly. Ten, twelve more passes and I might even find it tolerable.
But I moved past it for now.
Dove into the main storyline that we shot. First, I edited the last scene of the movie. It involves that complicated shot that almost certainly needs some CGI in order to get the effect done. I took it to my brother's with all the raw footage of the scene, so he can take a whack in Cinema 4D, see what he can do.
Overall I think the scene looks great. It's amazing how simple a shot with one actor and straightforward action can be, right?
Then, went to the beginning. Again, one actor with a simple action--looks good.
Next scene, now with two actors. Looks great. Works out well, the performances seem to be coming across nicely. BUT...I discover a pretty severe issue. I'm not gonna get into it here yet until I make sure I'm screwed--will let ya know.
So that's the first 3.5 pages of the script edited together. It clocks in at 4.5 minutes. Not bad, and scenes always get tighter as you make passes.
I also cut a ton of the audio while I was going through files looking for the first couple of scenes audio. I think I have the next two scenes' audio already cut up, each mic.
I know, you want more pictures....can't really help you. Our cool publicity stills have to be kept for web sites and exclusive promos. The web sites love those, and it's not like I have 300 great photos I can give out.
Tomorrow--another full day of editing. (today was only a partial day, which for me is like 8 hours)
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
TUESDAY - DAY 5
I go to sleep late again, and have to get up at 9am to check the weather to see if it's changed. It hadn't. I call Cutting and Zig and see if they just wanna go to the place an hour away when the storm's supposed to hit, and the second it's gone we'll head onto the scene and shoot it.
I walk out the door and it's humid as piss again. I change my shirt into another sleeveless shirt.
The drive takes an hour, as expected. I get there just as rain starts to fall. It pours. Cutting and Zig show up, and we have a pow wow in the car while we watch the doppler radar on Cutting's phone to see how long the storm's going to stay.
We get out of the car and--minor miracle--the humidity has really come down. We head to the location. It's a tourist spot, so I'm not sure how many people are going to be there. I figure: It's a Tuesday. It's still cloudy out. A thunderstorm just blew through here not 30 minutes ago...who's going to come out?
As we're setting up, a couple comes out and is hanging out near us. I'm not ready for the shot, so we tell them--if they want to move out to the spot to take pictures, go ahead. Turns out the guy was there to propose to his girl. So they're at the location kissing and chatting, and meanwhile my drone is on standby waiting for me to launch it. Losing battery by the minute.
They take forever, and another girl's wandering around.
Once they're gone I launch the drone. While it's flying, other lookie-lou's come by. I think the drone scares some of them off; it DOES sound pretty frightening when it's going. Like an angry swarm of bees.
I get some cool video. I even get this video accidentally, but now I'm super glad I got it. It shows me going out to plant some props at the very edge of the "cliff". You can see where I have to turn around, and how slowly I do it--it was pretty terrifying for a moment.
Once the drone comes down though, more people come through. We're waiting for them to leave to get shots. Some people go up the trail behind Cutting to leave, but then stop and just have a discussion on a trail. Right in the picture. And loud enough it's on our audio.
Cutting actually asks one group nicely to take it elsewhere if "they're just chatting". They do, so we get the shots.
Off to Five Guy's for a celebratory dinner.
Tomorrow we have that one final shot to make up for. We need to do it when the light isn't terrible, so we're going to do it in the evening. I can sleep in. But I haven't seen a movie in a while, so I'd really like to see the new Apes movie or Baby Driver.
Zig and Cutting are in, so I guess I'll just get a regular 8 hours of sleep instead of the twelve hours I'd like.
WEDNESDAY - DAY 6
We hit the new Apes movie around noon. Me and Zig liked it; not sure Cutting did.
Then Cutting goes for a doctor's appointment across the bridge. We meet at Chik Fil A for dinner, then down to the original location. It's around 6pm when we walk into the woods, and it's still HUMID.
It's just me, Zig and Cutting, with very minimal equipment. Didn't stop Cutting from bitching though, and then forgetting to wear the right shoes. So if you see the first scene, and then look at scene 2 and go, "Hey, those weren't the shoes he was wearing..." then you are correct, sir.
It's scene 1. We reshoot the whole thing since it's only like 5 shots, but this time without the horrible sun speckling that was going on.
I got some really cool stills of Cutting here--perhaps my favorite I've ever shot of him. Can't show it yet, but you'll see it on a web site, I can promise you that.
Done--a wrap on the wrap.
Next time--what I'm been up to since then...
Sunday, July 23, 2017
Monday Day 4
They're either texting their parents to say goodbye,
or perhaps their agents to ask
"What the hell have you gotten me into?"
I woke up feeling refreshed and not sore at all!
That is a gigantic lie. Just figured I should start off different. I once again reload all the equipment I took out of the car the night before. I fill the cooler with water and ice, and put that in the car. You know, the exciting things involved in filmmaking.
Head on down to the site. I hustle into the woods and get a quick scene done--it's just Cutting waiting for a second in the woods, then he leaves. It's four shots. The humidity is fogging up my lens again. It's super hot--and it's only 8:15 in the morning.
Then we head back to the parking lot, where one of the girls for the next scene has shown up. Then the other two girls show up. We head to the OTHER parking lot for a separate section of the woods and start shooting.
The girls seem game, and cool to do the scene, which I have to shoot awkwardly because it involves prosthetic effects added to their faces at intervals, and then more walking.
On a side note, I sometimes think these actors who have never worked with me will look into my casting notices and then look me up. They see I've done some real movies, things that can be actually viewed. They've got professional posters that look like real-budget movies. Then come to set expecting things like "hair and makeup" and "P.A."s, and in general, a crew.
Since Bounty my sets are more like a college film-shoot headed up by a film geek with not a lot of friends. My crew on this one consisted of LITERALLY two people, Zig and my brother Mike. That's it. We lugged all the equipment in, and anything we couldn't, the actors stuffed in their backpacks. Joe helped out more than an actor should, frankly, and Cutting even carried stuff besides his orange chair. The days Matt was there, he helped out too.
I don't, for the most part, like talent carrying shit. They've got other things to deal with.
But the low budget coupled with my reluctance to ask people to come work for free are both striving to put me in an early grave. Frankly, I think they should work harder.
Ziegler and FX artist Mark Wenger.
Anyway, we shot half the scene then ate lunch--my brother went to the deli every day and got whatever people wanted. So he's doing P.A. work too. Also, they know him at the deli so they treat him pretty well.
We get done and we're not far off the schedule. While we were eating lunch I decide to move the location of the next scene from way off to about 200 feet up a hill from where we are. Because I'm dying.
It's a big Smiling Jack attacks scene. Tess comes back--she was one of the kids earlier. She's super cool, and has no problem falling down, getting her face smushed into the ground over and over, and just in general having fun. I wish I was young again so I could have some fun too, but apparently it's very hard to de-age yourself without drinking the blood of babies.
(and even then it's a very slow process, and babies don't exactly grow on trees)
Will, Matt, Cutting, Tess, me and Zig.
My brother's taking the picture.
We have a couple of effects that look like they may work, but every time I shoot Jack when he moves his head, I start to have flashbacks to how much frame-by-frame compositing work I have to do to make it look like his head is hollow.
We have one final shot, and we wrap--about an hour late again(at 7pm instead of six). We drag all the shit out of the woods. I'm good to just go home and fall down, but Cutting and Zig and Mike seem to want to order pizza from the local shop that has REAL good pizza, so I say sure. Mike goes to get it, while Cutting and Zig and I go to my parents house to sit on the deck. (Okay, I went in the pool for a couple of minutes, in my jean shorts and all)
We ate pizza, sat there and chatted until about 9pm. Then home to do the normal routine.
We're watching tomorrow's weather because we have a complicated scene to shoot about an hour away from any of us, then we gotta come back the other direction for 90 minutes and fix that first drone shot that was overexposed. A thunderstorm is supposed to be rolling in in the middle of the day. If it moves one way or the other, we may be able to shoot it.
Saturday, July 22, 2017
Sunday, Day 3I don't wanna bore you with this again, but I am so sore when I wake up that I'd give you my entire silver age comic collection if you'd just let me stay home, and go shoot this for me.
We head in for the opening shot of the movie. It involves a really cool drone shot. Unfortunately it's so goddamn sunny that I can't get it to not blow out white with brightness unless I put the ND filters on it, but if I do that, then it's too dark once the drone comes through the canopy. I can let the drone compensate for it, but it doesn't look great when it does it.
I do some other shots with the regular camera, but the sun is putting bright highlights whenever my guy walks the trail and the sun shines through. It's tough. And still HOT.
And now people are having a party somewhere in the distance where you can hear them partying. And then someone runs a buzzsaw not nearby, but still--it's a buzzsaw. You can hear it. Then a dog barks for like 20 minutes straight. If I was their neighbor I would have either killed the dog, or them.
We move not very far away--I'm beginning to change locations out of convenience. Not a great thing to do, but let's face it--I spent a ton of time in the first film shooting visually-different locations in the woods, but we still had asshats being pissed because "It all takes place in the same location."
Well, first--no it's not. The longest segment of the movie takes place IN A HOUSE. There's another long scene in a warehouse. Then the actual scenes in the woods were shot in radically different places and/or times of the year.
Second, and more important--do these people get pissed when they watch Friday the 13th? Why's the whole movie take place at a camp? And then part 2 and 3? MORE CAMP. WTF is up with that, right?
We move to another scene with Smiling Jack. I'm not really feeling most of what I'm shooting, but I refer back to my own rule which is NEVER JUDGE YOUR SHIT WHILE YOU'RE SHOOTING IT.
Still, would love to have the sun go away. For a couple of days.
Then we have some on-paper easy scenes. It's all talking and walking. But Cutting, the lead actor is having a hard time remembering some of the lines, and he's getting frustrated over it, which can kill an actor on set. I pretend it doesn't bother me--and it doesn't bother me that he's missing them, it bothers me that it's so goddamn hot and my arms are dying.
I figure it's cuz Cutting's not getting enough sleep, and if the heat is boiling his brain the way it's hurting mine then it makes sense. Later, after we're done shooting I ask him about it. Because he nailed all those long speeches and exposition in Garden of Hedon, so I was surprised that these short sentence, big paragraphs would give him problems. He says it's because many of the sentences are variations on each other with slight differences.
I dunno, but whatever. We're all doing the best we can under brutal conditions. I remember thinking "Man, shooting outside in July could be bad..." but I really never anticipated it would be like this.
But here I am walking backwards while shooting Cutting and Joe walking toward me, and I have to try to walk around a trail I can't see. My brother is spotting me, tugging gently in directions to let me know where it veers, but still...hard to compensate while also keeping focus and composition.
Again we wrap about an hour late. On the easiest shoot-day we're going to have. I really thought we'd make this one. But between the heat slowing us down, the moves, the stopping for the COUNTLESS planes going overhead ruining our audio(we're not exactly near the airport), and the fact that I have to get a lot of coverage because I'm not positive of exactly what points the lines veered from the script--it all took a lot of extra time.
I actually have been going by my parents' house to jump in the pool after every shoot--sort of a chlorine insect wash. Then I head home, dump footage, back it up, start batteries charging. I don't get to bed until after midnight, and I have to be up again at 7am to head to the set.