Thursday, February 26, 2015

Film Day 10 - Welcome to the Party

Date: Tuesday, August 18, 2014
Film: Lost Penny

Film Day 10... "Welcome to the Party, Penny." We filmed the scenes involving Penny's introduction to the Club. Here, Penny (Rachael McOwen) meets the Hostess (Melanie Gaydos) and gets her number badge. Also, we finished filming with Lucien (Christopher Elliott) and a quick scene with Gadget (Stephen Velichko).

Check out the photos from the other film days for Lost Penny...
Film Day 1 - Film Day 2 - Film Day 3-5 - Film Day 6 - Film Day 7 - Film Day 8 - Film Day 9 - Film Day 10

Friday, February 20, 2015

Roll the Credits

We're currently working on the credit roll for our feature film, Lost Penny.

Movie credits are a way to acknowledge all the people involved in making a movie. We all see the faces of the actors (or at least hear their voices if it's an animated film), but rarely do we get a chance to see the people behind the scenes.

There are a lot of people who make a film possible... doing a lot of different jobs. And there are a lot of strange-sounding movie jobs out there.

Foley Artist? Gaffer? Dolly Grip?

Best Boy?

Is there a Worst Boy? (Actually there is, at least on one movie. But more on that later.)

And while all those are real jobs on a film set, sometimes the filmmakers like to have a little fun. Hence we get Crazy Credits. Just to see if you're watching. Here's a few memorable Crazy Credits:
  • The Beatles' film Help! (1965) was "respectfully dedicated to Elias Howe who invented the sewing machine in 1846." (Probably because it was a Help!ful invention)
  • There's a "Bathtub Wrangler" in Ghostbusters II (1989)
  • In Fargo (1996), there is a symbol similar to the Artist Formerly Known as Prince in the credits as "victim in field". (Perhaps they couldn't convince the real Artist Formerly Known as Prince to do the cameo)
  • The movie Jabberwocky (1977) put in their credits: "All characters portrayed in this film are entirely fictitious and bear no resemblance to anyone living or dead, except for one."
  • Adolf Hitler is listed as "Worst Boy" in Airplane II: The Sequel (1982)
Not sure what a Worst Boy does on set... We'd rather stick with a Best Boy. (Which, by the way, is the main assistant to either the Gaffer or the Key Grip. Doesn't necessarily have to be a boy, either. Even if the Best Boy is a girl, she's still the Best Boy.)

For more strange movie credits, check out an earlier blog post we did awhile back.

[Image by opensource]

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Lost Penny Day

Penny looking at all the pennies
Did you know that today is Lost Penny Day?

What is Lost Penny Day? Well, apparently, this is the day to look for all the loose change (i.e. pennies, but really any kind of change) lying around your house. You know, those coins you find between the cracks of your sofa? Or hiding among the dust bunnies under your bed?

It's time to find those lost pennies! (Once a penny is found, it is no longer lost, is it?) Then, take that money to the bank. Use it to buy something special. (Depending on how much money you find, this might be enough to buy a lollipop.)

Or use the money to donate to a worthy cause. (Lots of those around.) Or contribute to the project of a struggling artist... (There are lots of struggling independent filmmakers. Just check out all the films listed on Indiegogo or Kickstarter. We are thankful for those of you who contributed to our recent feature film!)

But why today, February 12th of all days? Well, it's also Abraham Lincoln's birthday and since his likeness graces the American penny, today is the day. (Since 1995. Who know? We could have been celebrating for 20 years.)

And how could we not mention this day when we have a movie coming along that's full of lost pennies! Including its title. Lost Penny. Check it out...

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Friday, January 30, 2015

Trailer Under Construction

Editing Update:
We're still working on the edit for our feature film, Lost Penny. And part of that edit means we're starting to work on a movie trailer.

Which means we're hoping to get said movie trailer online soon.

Actually, creating a movie trailer is a lot like creating another mini-movie. The key is story. To tell the story of the movie.

However, not so much of the story that, after watching the trailer, you won't need to watch the movie. (You've probably seen those trailer that give away all the secrets of the movie.)

A good trailer shows just enough to tease the audience, leaving the viewer to want more.

Stay tuned... 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Film Day 9 - Penny and Lucien

Date: Monday, August 18, 2014
Film: Lost Penny

The beginning of Week 3... A day of filming with Penny (Rachael McOwen) and Lucien (Christopher Elliott). The Enforcer (Robert Tanos) also had a quick scene.

Check out the photos from the other film days for Lost Penny...
Film Day 1 - Film Day 2 - Film Day 3-5 - Film Day 6 - Film Day 7 - Film Day 8 - Film Day 9 - Film Day 10

Friday, January 9, 2015

Can You Spot Jake the Explainer?

He's called Jake the Explainer. And he shows up in a lot of movies.

His actual name doesn't have to be Jake. (Actually, he sometimes goes by the name of Sam or Morris.) And Jake doesn't even have to be male. He (or she) is a character in a movie that gets to explain the plot (or parts of the plot) to the other characters and, ultimately, to the audience.

Jake is perhaps most famous for showing up in murder mysteries. Here, Jake is the private investigator who gently explains to a room full of suspects whodunnit. How. And why. Mystery solved.

But he doesn't just come into murder mysteries. Screenwriters employ Jake for all sorts of movies. And sadly, he often becomes a crutch for lazy storytelling. But sometimes you just can't avoid Jake. Sometimes the audience needs something to be explained. That's when Jake needs to make an appearance. (By the way, Jake the Explainer can be any character in the movie. Even one of the main characters can briefly turned into Jake.)

Take Morpheus in The Matrix (1999). The movie world demands that things be explained to Neo (and to the audience) because otherwise, it just doesn't make sense. The job was given to Morphesus.

Jake can also explain backstory or some other important information. Jurassic Park (1993) needed to explain the "science" behind the dinosaurs. So, the filmmakers used a PSA-style cartoon featuring Mr. DNA (aka Jake).

Because Jake is cliché, it is the stuff of parody. There are lots of examples, but here's an old one from Road to Morocco (1942).
Bob Hope: A fine thing. First, you sell me for two hundred bucks. Then I'm gonna marry the Princess; then you cut in on me. Then we're carried off by a desert sheikh. Now, we're gonna have our heads chopped off.
Bing Crosby: I know all that.
Bob Hope: Yeah, but the people who came in the middle of the picture don't.
Bing Crosby: You mean they missed my song?
The key is to find the creative way to employ Jake's exposition.

A good challenge for filmmakers. To see how to hide Jake so that he isn't all that recognizable. We can hide exposition (Jake) within conflict or humor. We can imply information, rather than tell it straight out. With too much exposition the audience gets bored, but with too little they get confused. We need to find the right balance.

Jake the Explainer is probably going to show up sometime in the next movie you watch, even if for a brief appearance.

Can you spot him?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Future is Here

It's 2015. But where are the flying cars?

Did you know that this is the future that Marty McFly time-traveled to in Back to the Future II (1989)?

So... where are all the flying cars? The hover boards? And that incredible futuristic fashion (that kinda resembles the late 1980s)?

Well, it looks like it's possible that the Back to the Future team fell into the "Nobody knows anything" trap of the film industry.

"Nobody knows anything" is a quote from veteran screenwriter William Goldman. He's got a point. Predictions can be made about the future, but nobody really can know for sure about anything, because, it's, well, the future. At best, we guess. (And Back to the Future did get a few things right... or close.)

There is no formula in entertainment. Otherwise, there would be no flops in Hollywood. Yes, the people that make up the entertainment industry don't "know anything". A few examples...

The great silent film icon, Charlie Chaplin, once said that "Movies are a fad. Audiences really want to see live actors on a stage."

Walt Disney's feature length Snow White (1937) was considered his big "folly" before its release and he was told (anonymously) that he should "stick to shorts." (And while Disney was right to stick by Snow White, even Disney's magic couldn't predict a sure win every time.)

In 1939, the New York Times gave their review of the television display at the World's Fair: "The problem with television is that people must sit and keep their eyes glued on a screen; the average American family hasn’t time for it."

In a recent interview, actor Al Pacino recalled his time on set of the classic movie, The Godfather (1972). He and co-star Diane Keaton "thought the movie was so bad, and that we were the worst things in it."

But, this may be just what keeps filmmakers making movies. Filmmaking is not an assembly line in some factory. It's a mountain that we strive to conquer. But the mountain keeps changing. It moves. It morphs. And that is the challenge. And while it can be frustrating at times, it can also be what keeps us going. We rejoice at our successes and keep learning from our experiences.

It's 2015. It's time to tell futuristic Marty and Biff to get working on those flying cars. We only have until October 21 to make those a reality...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

How to Put Out a Computer Fire

This is a Guest Post written by Maria Antonia. If you would like to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

This cover for the front of the computer pretty much just melted and fell to the floor. 

It's like getting hit by lightning. (Or so I imagine. I've never actually been hit by lightning. I don't know anybody that's been hit by lightning.) And as getting struck by lightning is not exactly an everyday occurrence, so is this...

What am I talking about? Putting out a computer fire.

And I can honestly say that I have dealt with such a fire. And, it was not the most pleasant experience. (In fact, it's taken almost two months for me to write it down.)

But let me start with a little background. As an indie film production company, we have multiple computers that we work on to edit our film projects. To help us know which computer is which, we've given names to each of our computers. The computer in question is called "Apollo".

Okay. So, back in October, Apollo caught on fire.

I'm not talking about any little fire. I mean flames -- yes, flames -- were shooting out of the computer.

The front of the computer.

Do I need to back up a bit? Probably.

Let me set the scene. I was working on another of our computers (the production office one), which is in the upstairs office. Nobody was around except me. (In fact, Martin had just left.) Apollo was in the basement office. So, that meant I was quite a distance away, blissfully unaware of any unauthorized disaster that was about to take place.

I was rather puzzled when I smelled something burning. What could be burning? I had no clue. I decided to investigate.

Here's what I saw, even before I fully understood what was happening. A glow and the sound of flames. (If you've ever been around a camp fire that's going strong, that's the same sound.) It was about this same time that the fire alarm decided it, too, smelled smoke and started to screech its warning.

That's when I rounded the corner and saw the computer. On fire.

My first thought was "Fire Extinguisher". I ran to grab it, then hurried back to Apollo, pulled the pin at the top and aimed it at the computer. I pressed down on the handle, but...

It. Did. Not. Work.

I ran to find the phone. I couldn't find the phone.

I tried the extinguisher again. I still couldn't get it to work! I ran to get water (fully aware that you should never use water for an electrical fire, but I was desperate). I didn't manage to get much water as the water came out of the tap too slowly for the current situation. (Fires will not wait for slow taps.) So I abandoned the water idea. I tried the extinguisher AGAIN.

This time it worked.

Two squirts. The fire was out.

I opened windows. I couldn't believe the amount of black smoke. (Meanwhile, the fire alarm continued to screech. I decided it was time to silence it, but thankful that it worked and did its job.)

So, what happened to the computer? And why did it spontaneously combust? We still don't quite know. Perhaps it was the dust accumulation. (Let me tell you, I've become a bit of a dust-buster when it comes to computer dust.) Perhaps also a power surge of some sort.

Apollo is a very sad sight right now. It will soon be sitting in a computer graveyard, I suppose.

What did we lose? We actually don't know exactly quite what we lost... yet. Fortunately most of the drives were pretty much up-to-date and backed up on our backup drives. Most of the footage from our movie Lost Penny was not on Apollo. Although some was and we may have lost a few clips.

We just got the new computer... Apollo's replacement. (Assembled by SLP Computer Repairs. Thanks, Steve! And thanks to Autumn for helping with cleaning and painting the smoke-damaged room!) And slowly we are going through each hard drive. (Except for 2 or 3 of the drives that suffered the most fire damage. They might be hopeless. I mean they were On Fire!)

So, while I would not recommend to anybody to have to go through such an experience, I would recommend keeping any computer you have dust-free and fully backed-up on a regular basis. And a working knowledge (and quick access) to a fire extinguisher. (Sadly you can't test a fire extinguisher out as it won't be any good once you've done so.)

How do you put out a computer fire?

Quickly. Although, I hope you never have to.

About our Guest Blogger...
MARIA ANTONIA wears many hats on a CubeCity film set, from Production Coordinator to 1st A.D. to Script Supervisor. She was inspired and awed by her recent trip to film in Haiti, and is glad she had little contact with Haitian insects (although, she is still taking her malaria medication, just in case).

If you would like to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Film Day 8 - Back Inside the Club

Date: Saturday, August 16, 2014
Film: Lost Penny

The end of Week 2. We were back with Penny, inside the Club. We said goodbye to a couple of crew members, and hello to a couple new ones.

Check out the photos from the other film days for Lost Penny...
Film Day 1 - Film Day 2 - Film Day 3-5 - Film Day 6 - Film Day 7 - Film Day 8 - Film Day 9 - Film Day 10