Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Word About Casting(and Terrortory)

We forgot to take cast/crew pics until the end, so here's who was there at 5am Sunday morning as we finished(Brad has just left). Left to Right in top pic--Me, my brother Mike, Laura and Stewie. In bottom pic on left is Matt Smith.

One of the huge challenges of working on micro-budget flicks like Terrortory is that I've been my own DP(Director of Photography) on all of my segments.

Now on the one hand it's nice because I'm definitely getting as close to the image in my head as possible without having to talk through it with the DP. On the other hand you don't get any of the collaboration that frequently results in better images than you imagined, which can frequently happen with talented DP's.

But the main setback for me that I get from being my own DP is that much of my focus is literally on the focus and the composition, and I'm so intent on that that I am frequently not paying as much attention to the actors as I should.

Actors need feedback and attention. It's not a dig. Acting is a challenging job in the fact that there isn't a right or a wrong way to do it. Actors can only do what they feel is correct for their character in the moment, so they may not understand what your original intention for that character is. At times this can be a good thing, but at other times it's not. And you need to let them know what you were going for, or let them know they ARE on the right track.

And as I'm listening to the audio on the wrap we shot I realize a lot of what I'm doing is being more focused on getting the shots and the focus(because the lenses we used on this shoot were nice, but had very small depth of fields), and I really wish I had had the time/awareness to have given them more.

It's not a knock on them at all. Brad Masters and Laura Kiser were phenomenal, and testament to the Frankenheimer notion that "casting is 65 percent of directing". If they hadn't been as good as they are then this could have all gone wrong.

Luckily, even with the massive setbacks I had--it was the most problematic shoot I've ever been on--I think we came out with some great stuff. Only time will tell, as I've just begun going through the footage but I'm excited to see what we got!

Laura Kiser and Brad Masters

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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Terrortory Concludes(For Me)

Gearing up to shoot the big wrap-around for Terrortory. Some people aren't familiar with what that is, so here you go:

Terrortory is an anthology horror feature, meaning that it has a bunch of short movies in it that are tied together by the "wrap-around" or "through-story".

While I like to say the film is similar to the great Creepshow, that film didn't really have a wrap or through-story. It had more of a bookend, with Billy reading his comic and getting yelled at by his father.

A better idea of a through-story is Tales From The Darkside, which has a witch who has captured a boy and is going to cook and eat him. He delays his death by telling stories to her, and each time he starts to tell a story we see the actual story he's telling as a mini-movie.

That's similar to what we're doing, except our through-story is much better than TFTD. (he said humbly)

I don't want to say too much about it, but it follows through on what I believe Terrortory was made for, which is this: Every story I did, including the wrap, starts out being something you've seen before and takes a (hopefully) unseen turn. Which is why most of the pictures you see are going to look like standard "people go out in the woods and get butchered".

Like, the above pic is just a test photo I did the other night while I was doing a last-minute run through of the main location for the wrap. It's gonna pretty much appear to be a riff on The Strangers.

We have some talented actors coming on--M.T. Smith(pictured above) is actually playing his second masked killer in Terrortory, having played Smiling Jack also.  He loves dressing a Jason and Michael Myers, so this is a lot of fun for him.

Then Brad Masters is playing Tray. He's a talented local guy who I've been wanting to work with for a while. Super-nice guy, which you wouldn't expect from a guy who looks like the studly good-looking bad guy from a lot of 80's movies.

Finally Laura Kiser is an actress coming down from New York. We auditioned a lot of really talented actresses but there was something so natural about hers that I cast her without even asking for a callback.

Wish I could show you what's coming, but we're not far from the finish line now. I'm guessing we could probably premiere it in something like January or February, but nobody wants to schedule a premiere when snow could screw you, so look for early Spring.