Thursday, December 30, 2010

Much ado about something

I was recently sucked into the holiday vortex and despite my best efforts I got absolutely nothing accomplished on the film front over the past week.  A part of me earlier today at work seriously considered breaking out the white board to list all the things I needed to do in the immediate future.  Depending on what I get accomplished tonight probably will determine if I follow through on that idea.  Personally I see no other alternative and nothing will grab my attention quicker than ‘Get off your ass and do something!’ scrawled in red marker.  Hopefully I can make headway on a number of projects the next three days.

Topping out the list of things to do is ‘Junct.  I’m currently importing the footage on my laptop from last weeks shoot in Philadelphia at the Moonstone Arts Center.  I plan to break it down into a few QTs for DLS to preview.  The footage is still worthless and will continue to be so until we get the proper release forms from the owner of Robin’s Books and the author A.K. who was doing the reading and Q&A.  I would plug the author's book, but I will hold off until I get that signed release form in my hands.

It’s safe to assume with only a week out that LA is a bust.  We had hoped to travel out there to film/interview people from the new faculty majority coalition during their counter conference.  I think it could have been a great opportunity for gathering footage for the documentary but without guaranteed release forms the point is moot and certainly not cost effective.  The sad thing is I downloaded an app for my iPhone to seek out roach coaches.  I had been looking forward to a lobster sandwich from the Lobstatruck and a hot dog from Pinks.

I just finished installing the newest version of iLife on the mac thinking I’d be making my life easier when it came to revamping my website.  I like the templates that come with iWeb, the problem is I’m not sure how to import the files into my web service.  So it appears that I will be booting up the PC and designing it with dreamweaver.  Boo-Hiss!  Someone find me an intern to do this stuff for me!

On the scumberland productions front I’m hoping to sit down as early as tomorrow to recut ‘Hollow’ so I can submit it to withoutabox.  I had put in for an IMDB credit nearly three months ago and haven’t heard a thing since.  What sucks is I spent several hours one night after work filling out all the information on the film figuring since it was part of the P21 lineup it would automatically qualify like ‘Eight Minutes’ had the previous year.

48HFP has a new competition starting up next month.  I put the word out to the cast and crew to see who would be interested/available the 18th-20th of February. The difference with this specific competition is it’s green themed and team captain picks the genre.  I have a few styles/formats rolling around in my head that I’m tempted to try.  I love filming but I’m half tempted to shoot stills with my canon and string them together like a comic book or La Jetee’.  If executed correctly it could be quite beautiful.

Tonight while the documentary footage compresses I’ll be working on ‘Gray’s Ferry’ I think.  I have fleshed out the outline for the entire 6 episode span so it shouldn’t be too difficult to knock at least one episode out tonight.  I really need to get on it since I got a message from F.T. the other night wanting an update.

Lastly, I offered to help a friend with one of her babies; Children of Lazarus.  I’m not sure if I will be helping in development, production or both, but I’m pretty excited about it.  K. of KYB Studios is a really creative and intelligent artist and I’m looking forward to working with her, regardless of the capacity.

Time for less blogging and more creating.  See everyone in 2011!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Attacking windmills

I just got in from taping at Moonstone Arts Center in Philadelphia.  Footage will be reviewed and imported in a few days.  I decided to do a video blog tonight to sum up what occurred and my initial thoughts on the project.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The birth of 2255 FILMS

Here it is, nearly the end of 2010 and I find myself finally breaking down by creating a film blog to chronicle my progress.  I think the final shove came about a week ago when I received a message from Debra Leigh Scott informing me that we would be proceeding with the documentary that will be accompanying her forthcoming book about adjunct labor abuse and the rapid decline in higher education.  First thing is first however, I need to backtrack to the summer of 2009 and give a brief summary as to how this came about.  I apologize in advance for any grammatical errors and run on sentences longer than a North Korean train carrying nuclear weapons.  I blame it on my secondary education, or lack there of.  I’m sure it will become more evident as the blog progresses.  I also freely admit I’m a repeat offender when it comes to mixing past and present tense and not knowing whether or not to use then or than, despite looking it up on several occasions.

I should first point out that most people know me by Scumberland Productions and while I love the name I really doubt I’d be taken serious running around with that name in the Documentary realm.  From here on out Scumberland will be solely reserved for timed filmmaking competitions.  For all serious and dare I say it paying gigs it will be under 2255 FILMS starting the beginning of 2011.  In the meantime all information regarding film projects can be found at the Scumberland website.  That is as soon as I have time to update it.

July of 2009 I had thrown Scumberland in as a team to compete in ProjectTwenty1.  To sum it up briefly it is a film competition that takes place over the course of 21 days.  Teams have to write,shoot and edit a short in that time frame based on a secret element revealed on the first night of the competition.  One of the awesome aspects of this particular brain child from Stephanie and Matt is that they highly encourage networking.  In fact the kick off event is comprised of a monstrous meet and greet, complete with name tags saying what your specialty is (writer, editor, actor, director, musician, etc...etc...).  Just walking into that event and seeing nearly 200 people all with the same goal in mind can be positively overwhelming, more so when you don’t know anyone beyond your crew members that decided to tag along for the evening.

My crew and I had found a little corner of the bowling alley to set up shop for the evening.  It mainly was comprised of us and an overabundance of tator tots.  The reason I remember this is that North Bowl has some slamming tator tots and I think about an hour in all of us were belly aching from over gorging ourselves on them.  The other thing I remember distinctly from that evening was the fact that people were talking to my grip thinking he was either the director or they thought he was a free agent.  Filmmaking is still very much a boys club, luckily for me I have the body of a twelve year old boy.  

In a nut shell I didn’t talk to many people that evening.  One person of the handful that I talked to that evening was perhaps the most pivotal in my film career to date.  That night I had no idea what kind of impact that conversation was going to have on me and even now as I type it is still pretty mind blowing.

Before that evening I pretty much did the bulk of the writing when it came to making shorts.  I knew what I was capable of doing during production and post, so I knew my limitations.  When Debra introduced herself to me I noticed the writer name tag on her lapel and thought  ‘Great, another one...”.  I had just finished a conversation with another writer that I just didn’t click with and my crew members knew I was a plastic butter knife away from slitting my wrists.  It was so mentally taxing that I would have left if they had announced the secret element already. I’m glad they hadn’t because after a few minutes of talking with her I knew we were on the same page.  She just got it and Debra had no qualms about voicing her opinion on what good cinema was.  Everything was great up until she told me she was a college professor that taught English, creative and screenwriting.  It instantly brought me back to senior English in high school, in particular how much I sucked at the subject.  The only thing I remember from that class was creating a cast list for Macbeth where I made Roseanne Barr one of the witches.  Needless to say I sucked pretty hardcore at writing and the only reason they passed me was because I was an athlete.  At least now there’s spellcheck for when I toss in the occasional fifty cent word to sound somewhat intelligent.

When we finally wrapped up our conversation an hour later my crew wanted to know what we had been talking about for so long.  All I could stammer out to them was ‘She’s a freaking professor!’ while holding onto her business card in disbelief.  Overall it was a great conversation I just couldn’t get past the fact that she was an educator and that any script I wrote for her to proofread would come back marked up in red ink.  It was daunting.

The next day I began to work on the script and decided that I wasn’t ready for my soul to be crushed by some big bad English professor.  I didn’t the mind constructive criticism, I was just worried about how much I’d get torn apart by her.  I was afraid that I’d be screaming for the hills within a day, vowing to never pick up a camera again once she got through editing the screenplay.  Then I got a cordial follow up email from her later on that evening.  It was the only email I received from the handful I had talked to at the networking mixer the previous night.  The following day a friend request on Facebook appeared.  Finally after telling my crew about the follow up correspondences it sunk into my thick skull, but only after they all said I’d be stupid to pass up an opportunity to work with her.  They may have beat me with a telephone book as well.

Two days into the competition I finally mustered up the courage to email her back and to ask if she was still interesting in looking over what we had come up with.  A part of me was hoping that she had gone with another team, mainly because she still scared the hebbie jebbies out of me.  When I found out that no other team had picked her up I actually got pissed because most teams would be lucky to have her.  That’s when I bit the bullet and sent off the draft the following morning.

By day three paranoia set in at work.  I checked my email like a crackhead constantly searching his couch cushions for his pipe.  I was an absolute nightmare to deal with until five of five when I got her notes.  My natural reaction was ‘WTF?’.  I was completely beside myself and thought my head was going to explode when I looked at the revisions.  There was no red text but lots of blue italicized with links.  It only took a few minutes to realize Debra had been researching the subject the entire day and that’s when my crappy attitude was kicked to the curb.  I needed to be put in check and to come to the realization that it wasn’t a personal attack.  I’m glad she was the one to do that for me.  Since then I haven’t taken criticism personal, at least to my knowledge I haven’t.

The finished film ‘Eight Minutes‘ is no gem but I learned far more from that project than all the ones previously combined.  If you search hard enough on the web you can probably find it.  I honestly don’t want to make people’s ears bleed with ‘I can’t sing-sing’.  It’s bad enough that people have gotten this far into the blog.  I promise it’s just about over!

Roughly two months before this years P21 event I received an email from Debra in regards to the competition and if Scumberland would be back in the running because she was interested in working with me again.  I responded on both accounts with a very polite ‘Hell yes!’.  The second short we created together ‘Hollow’, again was no crowd pleaser but I’m quite happy with it.  We didn’t break down by creating a Horror or Comedy like a majority of the teams this year.  Personally, I like thinking so far out of the box that I can’t see the damn thing with binoculars and I’m certainly the type that doesn’t conform to mainstream beliefs and thoughts.  I’m all about raising my freak flag high and proud!

During the production of ‘Hollow’ Debra and I were volleying emails voicing our complaints about various things that had really gotten our panties in a twist.  One of the things that has been bothering her for quite some time was adjunct labor abuse.  She has been keeping a blog on it for roughly two years now called:  'Junct: The Trashing of Higher Ed and has been wanting to publish a book on the subject.  It wasn’t until after we wrapped on P21 that she asked if I would be interested in filming a documentary to accompany that book.  Honestly this was a no brainer, even for me.  I signed on the beginning of September and will be starting principle photography starting this Wednesday night in Philadelphia at the Moonstone Arts Center.

I can already see this as being one Hell of a ride.