Today I wanted to take a moment to talk about a couple of independent movie projects on Indiegogo I’ve recently contributed to that are worth your attention. If they sound interesting to you, please help them out and send a few bucks their way!

GreenIndiegogo Link

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Director: Jamel Booth

Plot Outline: Meet Sal. He lives with his two best friends, Natalie and James. He’s an all around upstanding citizen, whose biggest crime is an overdue library book. Sal lives a generally simple life, until an unexpected opportunity lands in his lap. He is forced to make the tough decision of determining what’s right and what’s wrong. But when a powerful figure steps out of the shadows, what began as a seemingly rewarding business venture soon ends in a tough final decision- sell or die.

Green is the debut feature film from Jamel Booth. Jamel’s a friend from Chicago who was asking me about screenwriting & filmmaking from the day I met him, and I’m excited to see what he does with this project.

I Don’t RecallIndiegogo Link

I Don't Recall

Director: Jason W. Schaver

Plot Outline: I Don’t Recall tells the story of Martin Corrigan, a mild mannered massage therapist in his mid 30s who is constantly being taken for granted by his parents, brother, his boss, and even his girlfriend.  After being the victim of a hit and run, Martin has temporary memory loss. During this time he gets to know his family as strangers and does not like them at all. Once his memory comes back, and seeing his family in this new light, Martin decides to fake amnesia to delay going back to his miserable life of being a chronic pushover.

I Don’t Recall is the fourth feature film by Jason Schaver. I wrote about his first movie, The Truth About Average Guys, a few years ago (see that post here.) TTAAG was one of my inspirations for making Uncommon Law. It was a quality, funny movie produced on a shoestring budget, and it reassured me that, hell yes, I can do this. I’ve talked with Jason a little bit about this project, and he sounds pumped up about it. I know I’m looking forward to seeing it.

It’s kinda funny when you run into someone after a long time, tell them what you’re up to, and they look at you like you’ve gone completely insane. It probably doesn’t help matters when you kinda agree with them.

My last several weeks have been consumed with auditions, callbacks, responding to hundreds of emails, script revisions, production meetings, and all other manner of insanity that goes into filmmaking when you don’t have anything resembling a budget. On top of that and the usual work load, I shot & edited a music video for Heath McNease (premiering soon!)

The audition process has been incredibly eye opening, particularly because I’ve always been on the other side of the table. I’ve compiled some notes, and when I get a chance I’ll make a post of helpful tips for people submitting for auditions. I’ve already decided that for my next film, I’m going to hire a casting director, because I don’t even know how many hours I spent fielding emails and getting everything prepped for the auditions. I had over 100 people audition for Uncommon Law, with over 200 submitting their information to be considered. I’ve seen a lot of good people, and it’s taken two eight hour casting meetings just to narrow it down to the point where we’ve almost got the whole thing cast. I start making calls to people tomorrow.

Fortunately, my good friend Amy has taken on the role of production manager, which has totally saved my butt. It’s great having someone to bounce ideas off, contact everyone, find locations, and handle the production side of things. Now that casting is just about over, it’ll free me up to focus on the artistic side of things, since I still have little things like revisions and storyboards to worry about (not to mention obtaining equipment.) However, I am taking a reprieve tomorrow to see Super 8. Somehow that feels appropriate, all things considered.

As a side note, I’d like to return to my sleep schedule from ten years ago when I was just fine on four hours of sleep, but I’m afraid my body would rebel against me.

So if you’re wondering why my posts have been more sporadic lately, it’s because I’ve got a number of things on my plate. Aside from the usual work stuff, I’ve got two big projects I’m working on:

1.) I’m in pre-production on my first feature film, Uncommon Law. This has been consuming most of my non-work hours lately. I’m working on screenplay revisions now, along with researching equipment to buy. I was on the phone today ordering replacement parts for my tripod (harder to track down than you’d think), debating on fronting the cost for some high-end lights, and hoping I can find someone who’ll loan me a Canon 7D so I don’t have to buy that, too. It’d be great if I could find a reliable production manager who I could delegate some of the planning tasks to, so I can focus more on the artistic side.

2.) Still slowly chipping away on my novel. I started work on it last November, but recently I decided to toss out the existing chapters and start from scratch. It wasn’t that the writing was bad, but more that I felt the story could be better told in a different style. I had been writing the book from multiple POVs (ala A Song of Ice & Fire), but realized that the story didn’t NEED multiple perspectives in order to be told. Beyond that, I realized that the story I was telling wasn’t the most effective way to open up an ongoing series and introduce people to this world. So I’ve put all that to the side, and am instead starting fresh with something new. I’ve got tons of pages worth of notes about the characters and the world they inhabit (Scrivener is my friend), and I’m excited to go further with it. You know, after I’ve got the movie wrapped; until then, this is low priority.

I’ve got a couple other things in the works, but they’re still in the very early stages. I’m meeting with someone about another project tomorrow, and if all goes well I’ll have something else to announce here soon.

My new digital short, “Super Villains in Love” is now online at Funny or Die & YouTube! Go check it out and help me spread the link around! And remember, if you see an evil genius walking around this Valentine’s Day, perhaps looking forlornly at some fresh flowers in a window, give him a hug. Even the insanely evil need a little love from time to time.

Of all the digital shorts I’ve made, I’ve probably put the most time into this one. Between writing, planning, shooting, & editing, I’ve got at least 24 hours invested in this baby. A lot of it is because I was trying out several new things with this short, making it a test run in some ways for the feature I’m planning to shoot.

Rather than shoot on my PD-150 that I’ve been using for the last eight years, I shot this one on my Canon Rebel T1i. It was a completely different experience shooting on a DSLR, and was made more difficult by the fact that I was also in front of the camera for the whole thing; it also didn’t help that I need to replace the head on my good tripod, so I was stuck doing only static shots on an old crappy tripod. I can get better picture quality on my Rebel because I can shoot in HD & use my good lenses, but the downside is that it doesn’t have an audio input. This required me to hook my mic up to my PD-150, record the sound on there, and then sync the two up in post. It’s not ideal, but it’s the setup I’m stuck with until I can afford a Zoom H4n audio recorder.

On top of that, the audio for the second scene I shot was completely unusable because the location was right across from the freeway. For that, I had to sit down in a quiet room with Lacey and re-record the lines while watching the video with headphones on, and then match up all the lines as best I could (or should I say, Sean used his degree in audio to guide me through the whole process.) So I got a nice first-hand lesson in how to do ADR.

Finally, I sat down with Kelly for three hours and worked on the music for the whole thing. This is the first short for which I’ve had a custom score, and it was an unusual experience. He already had a few ideas from watching a rough cut, so he showed me some ideas, I told him what I’d been thinking, and we watched it through about a gazillion times while trying out different things. It was tough trying to direct music, finding the terms that best got across what I was thinking, but he was able to decipher my grasps at coherency and produced a score that’s a great fit.

This short has been a fantastic learning experience, and I’m really proud of the finished product. Give it a watch & share it with your friends!

2011’s gearing up to be a busy year for me. I’m kicking it off with a new digital short, “Super Villains in Love,” that I’m going to film on Tuesday and post online ahead of Valentine’s Day (because really, what better way to celebrate than with a couple full of evil intentions.)

In addition, and this is the big one, I’m starting development on my first feature film! It’s a romantic comedy called Uncommon Law, and I’m really excited about it. I made two attempts at shooting a feature several years ago, with both ending in failure. But times have changed, and I’ve got much higher hopes for this film. For one thing, I’m a significantly better writer now (looking back at that old script, it’s plain to see just how terrible it was; we’re talking painfully bad.) I’m also older, less naïve, have a college degree, and more experience both behind and in front of the camera. I’m also smart enough now to surround myself with talented people in various technical areas, rather than trying to do everything at once. It’s going to be a long, difficult road, and I’ve still got a ways to go and several positions to fill, but it’s a journey I can’t wait to take.

It’s been two weeks since I’ve updated this, but it’s been a busy two weeks. I had my audition for the Atlanta Unifieds this past Tuesday, and was very happy with how it went. Also, I finished filming Home Sweet Home last Saturday, which was a week later than I had originally planned because of complications that arose, but I’ve learned to expect problems by this point (since they’ve come up in every single film project I’ve ever attempted.) Then on the last night of shooting, there was an interesting moment where I was filming a scene outside the Trade Center that involved an actress screaming bloody murder, and a police car pulled up to ask me some questions. All things considered, though, I was really glad it was the police, because the alternative probably wouldn’t have been good at all.

Now that April is here, it’s time for me to really get to work. I have to get Home Sweet Home edited fairly soon so I can get it to Sean & Will so they can work on the sound & color correction respectively. I also have to finish editing The Dark Side of Sun Rock; I have a self-imposed deadline for that being completed by the beginning of May so I can get it into a few festivals, but more urgently I need to get a few clips from it to my lead actress for her reel. There are a couple of scenes in it that are still driving me berserk because of continuity problems or lack of good coverage which I’m still trying to find solutions for, and which may result in me headdesking until something comes to me.

The other thing I’ve got going on in April is Script Frenzy, the younger cousin of NaNoWriMo. For anyone unfamiliar, NaNoWriMo is a writing event in November where the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. Script Frenzy is similar, except instead of a novel, the goal is to write a 100 page script in one month. I’ve been looking forward to this since I found out about it a few weeks ago, and set aside one of the screenplays I’d been developing until April for this. It’s entitled Once Bit, and it’s my take on the vampire genre. I’m really excited about it, and can’t wait to see how it turns out. If you’re interested in undertaking this challenge as well, let me know so I can have other people to commiserate with. My user ID on the site is IcyBrian.

Today is the first day of shooting for my short film, Home Sweet Home. This is the first short film I’ve shot in over a year and a half, and I can’t express just how much I’ve missed it. I’ve shot a few digital shorts since then, but doing this kind of narrative is a whole different beast. It’s completely crazy & hectic, and by the end I know I’m going to want to kill myself, but I love it.

I didn’t get to film nearly as many short films (or even digital shorts) as I would have liked when I was in college. I always had too many things piling up on me, whether it was class work, shows, my responsibilities with TBNL & ITP, or maintaining my personal life, and so that was the thing that fell to the wayside. Now that I’m out of college and getting settled back in to life in Atlanta, I’m ready to get back to work.

I made a conscious decision a few weeks ago to start focusing more on writing & filmmaking than on acting, because that’s more where my passion lies. I still enjoy acting, but I don’t get nearly as excited about it as I do about ideas I come up with that I want to develop into screenplays. I also know where my strengths lie, and I know I’m a better writer & director than I am an actor.  Besides, I figure I can still get my acting fix by giving myself small roles in my own projects. Regardless, I’m happy with this decision, and feel that it relieves some of the pressure I’ve been putting on myself lately to get my act together.

This project came at me about a month ago from a friend of mine, Jason Geigerman, who’s now working out in LA. He was looking to put together a feature length film comprised of several short films about the apocalypse, and asked me if I’d be interested in writing & directing one. It came at a really good time for me, when I desperately needed to be doing something creative, so I jumped on it. I’m using the upstairs at the Trade Center for most of it, because with as much junk as we’ve accumulated over the years, it really does look like a wasteland up there. I wrote the short around the location, because there’s a lot of potential there for some great images. I’m sure I’ll make another post later with more details, but for now here’s the information on it that I’ve put up on the Cold Silver Films website.