Roadblocks In My Mind

I haven’t posted here in a while. That seems to always be the first thing I say huh? Maybe that’s why I haven’t posted. No, really, do you want to hear the reasons? Okay here goes…

First, I’ve been overwhelmed and daunted by the audio editing that needs to happen. Every time I dig in and start trying to get my head around even where to start or how to do it I run into a roadblock. Either I have a question I can’t find the answer to, or I just simply can’t figure out how to do something and I’m afraid of screwing it up in such a way that I have to start over…so I don’t even really start.

2nd, I have been working more on the score. It has to get done too, and I figured if I got it done and dropped it in everywhere it goes in the movie that would cut down on the sound errors from production that I have to fix. Seems legit.
…and I have made some good progress there. I got the guitar tracks done (I found they need some fixing in places but it’s not that big a problem), I just need to record the bass. I got the crack in my upright fixed. but that brings me to the…

Third thing. Recording the bass parts on the upright is daunting in itself. I’m not all that hot on the upright. I’m going to record it on my own alone in my room, at times that won’t disturb anyone (which are rare, as my free time always seems to be while someone is trying to sleep in the next room) …but that’s all okay. I can handle that stuff. It’ll get done.

IV. The people that I’ve been leaning on the help with other parts of the post production…well, either they can’t do it at all, or it’s way on the back burner. I get it. We’re all busy. And there’s no money, so it has to be back burner. But it still knocks the wind out of my sails when I am tired and it’s 11:30 on a week night, and I could dig in and start the next task and I look at the list of things to do and I see that I haven’t heard from the guy who is supposed to be working on the blah blah blah in almost a year, and then you know what? I’m going to bed. That’s what happens. or…

Distractions # 254 - 408

Yeah, this picture will make sense in an second. keep reading…

5. I get distracted by some other project. Freelance design (for money, so I gotta do that first right?), or I get all wrapped up fixing something on my car, or it’s some other project in the woodshop like these guitar pedals I’m working on, or the Fretless 4 string bass with a whammy bar I want to build and I have all the parts for (their in a bin under the shop table just waiting for me. calling to me…) or I start collecting comic books again, or I get all inspired to write new episodes of the web series I want to do next… you see what I mean? The distractions are endless. No, not distractions – inspirations. They are valid projects too. I just have tons of ideas and they all want to get done. Unfortunately I only have so much time, and more importantly, energy.

Overdrive Guitar Pedal in the making

Distraction #68

So I am thinking of starting a Kickstarter or IndieGoGo campaign to raise money to get the audio editing done professionally. Yes I tried this before, a couple of times. And it was a huge draw of that precious time and energy, and unfortunately was wildly unsuccessful. But this time I think I’ll have a better idea how to do it better and make it more successful.

But of course there are things that need to get done ahead of that even (like redesigning the website so it isn’t flash and works on mobile devices) so it gets pushed off and pushed off.

But rest assured people, this movie will get completed. It really is nearly there. There are a few people that can vouch for that because they have seen it. yeah, it needs some cleaning up and a few more touches, but it is already a watchable movie. I know that because I’m one of the people who has seen it.

Oh, and also…

It’s coming…

Sound Editing

Beats by Dr. Dre

Beats by Dr. Dre: Gunna spend a lot of time with these on my head

Man! I did not know what I was doing while making this film! I knew that of course. Every step along the way I had to say to myself “okay, I don’t know how to do this. I guess I better learn how to do this…” and then I would dig into research – reading everything I could, talking to people and going through tutorials and seminars. I learned a lot, and over all I am really happy with Overcoming Going Under, the film and the process (except for the incredible amount of time it’s taken…I’m getting impatient, as I’m sure is everyone who helped out along the way) but there are some things that I definitely will do differently in the future.

At the top of that list is production sound. I’ve got a different camera now (Canon 7D), and will be recording separate audio on future shoots with a dedicated person keeping an ear on the sound and an eye on the meters whenever humanly possible.

But OCGU is in the can, and I got what I got. That’s what I have to work with – hand squeaks, background noise, varying levels and all. I’ve been thinking all along the way that I wanted to have a pro work on the sound. My experience with recording music has taught me that professional sound editors and engineers hear things differently than the rest of us. Deeper, fuller. More-so even than musicians. That is why I attempted twice to raise money for this stage of the post production…but to no avail.

I was very disheartened by the lack of support and interest in the fund raising efforts (partly why the post has gone so slowly the last two years and the blog posts have been so few and far between) but I came to the realization that no one cares about this film as much as me, and no one should. Not until it’s released. Once it’s out there it can succeed or fail on it’s own merits, and we’ll see how that goes sooner or later, but until that point it’s still just merely an idea. A project, a concept, a potentiality. It’s on me, and me alone, to bring it to fruition.

So as the progress pushed forward with every bit of free time and energy I had, I held onto the idea that I might be able to find a pro sound editor to donate his or her time to the project (just as everyone else did during production) but when the one I had lined up had to back out because it’s just too big of an undertaking, I decided that again it was time to buckle down, learn a new skill, and do it myself.

Turns out it’s not as magical and tricky as I had thought. My sound editor friend, although regretfully unable to devote time, was eager to pull back the curtain and show me some of the secrets. Just like the Wizard in the Wizard of Oz, it turned out to be a lot less overwhelming once you get a chance to see the mechanism behind the curtain. Turns out I know most of the stuff conceptually already. There isn’t any magic to it, as far as I can see (which we’ll reserve judgement on; we’ll see what tune I’m singing when I’m a little further down that 67 item checklist…) so I’m just going to buckle down and plow through it scene by scene just like I did with the editing, effects, and color/lighting.

Wish me luck. I’ll keep you posted on the progress…

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner

Seems like every time I write a post here I’m saying it’s been a long time and I’ve been very busy. That just happens to be the truth – I’ve got a million projects going all the time and now is now exception. But with that said, I do have some updates.

So we are approaching the end of another year and I’m regrouping again and getting ready to buckle down anew. The coming year is going to be the year Overcoming Going Under comes to completion and gets submitted to festivals. We’re putting the plan together now. I’ll tell you about the plans for 2012 in a minute. Let me first quickly update you on the progress over 2011.

At the beginning of the year I was buckling down to plow through the second pass of the edit. That came together in a few months of very focused work (in addition to the day job of course) and it looks really good. I only shaved about 7 minutes off the first cut but I think it is much improved.

I also revisited the Voice in January’s head – it wasn’t working as I first recorded it (the idea I had for making it sound creepy wasn’t working at all and needed to be rethought) as well as how is fit with what was happening on screen. The actors did a great job, but every place that the performances varied from how I had envisioned it in the script stage moved the Voice further away from working. I needed to re-write the Voice taking the actual performances and editing into consideration. So I did that, and I re-recorded the voice using a new technique called reverse reverb. It turned out WAY better.

Next on the list of problems to tackle was how to visually cue that January was experiencing the world around him differently than everyone else. I had some ideas about color and light which brought me to some amazing plugins and filters for Final Cut Pro from Crumplepop and Cinegrain. Using these I was able to get the look I had in my head. It took a couple months to plow through the edit again and add these effects but it turned out great as well.

Then it was time to start handing reels off to the sound editor so he could dig into the monumental task of fixing all my stupid sound mistakes during production…and boy were there a bunch! Trouble is, as soon as we got through all the planning for how to work together (and even set-up the ftp to pass files back and forth) he realized that he wasn’t going to be able to devote the time needed to work on this project. He had to back out. I understood (there isn’t any money for post – remember the kickstarter campaign? yeah, so anyway…) but it was a major set back.

This derailed the post process for a couple months while I dealt with being very alone here in Santa Cruz and feeling disjointed from my life. Mostly sitting in the bar Castaways and lamenting my woes to Connie (who is awesome by the way) while drinking many gallons of Maker’s and Coke.

So that brings us almost up to date. Over the thanksgiving holiday I visited LA and met with the aforementioned sound editor and he gave me some tips and kinda pulled the curtain back and showed me there wasn’t really too much magic behind the sound editing. I could do it after all. So that is what I decided I’m going to do. Every step along this process I’ve had to stop and learn a new skill. When I decided to write a script I had to spend some time learning how. Then when that was done I had to figure out what they heck goes into pre-production preparation etc etc. I learned to direct actors, shoot a film, edit in Final Cut Pro…now it’s time to learn how to edit sound. While I’m plowing through this next pass I’ll be continuing to get the score together, and finishing up the remaining animated sequences. After that all that will be left is the opening and closing credits. The last phase of the process will be to dive into figuring out how to strategically submit the film to festivals. Then we’ll see how this decade long project fairs for itself. It’ll either sink or swim on it’s own merits. Either way it will be a massive achievement…and I’m eager to dive into the next one!

Time to Buckle Down


It’s been a long time since I’ve written here. It’s been a busy year…busy on other fronts. I think the second attempt to raise money being such a complete bust (just like the first attempt) took the wind out of my sails. I had to focus on some other things in my life and there just wasn’t much time or energy left over for this or any other project.

So the year is coming to a close and I am feeling the itch to get back to it in earnest. That nagging voice in my head is not going to let me not finish. That was never an option. But going slow has had to be the way up till now.

So earlier in the year I got a job in northern California and moved to Santa Cruz. I didn’t know anyone or anything about the area except that people had always told me I’d love it. I’d just broken up with my girlfriend a couple months before and it was a real “reset” moment. I was starting from zero. It’s been good over all, but pretty lonely at times, which was distracting. So between that and a pretty exhausted full time job nothing was getting done on OCGU. It’s hard to get motivated to sit and edit when you’re starved for human contact. So I’d go out and try and meet people. It’s been quite a social experiment.

Anyway, that’s not what I’m here to talk about. What I want to say is that I seem to have moved past that loneliness thing and that has allowed for enough focus to spark my determination. So in spite of the work week being mostly accounted for I’m buckling down to get this film done!

The year hasn’t been completely without forward progress:
1. The rough cut has been done for a while, but after some input from trusted friends and colleagues I know what I want to do to tighten it up…and it won’t take too long to do either.
2. Major progress has been made on the recording of the score. The drums are done and the guitar and bass are well underway. Maybe another month and that’ll be done I think.
3. I’ve also continued to peak some interest in the film. I’m sure as soon as I have the next cut done things will start to move fast.

So to anyone who’s been waiting for this film to be completed and has started to become discouraged – hang in there; it’s coming…

Would you like to invest in a feature film?

I know times are tough. If you can support the film, great. If not that’s fine too…BUT, what I would like you to do is email your friends, family and colleagues about our fundraiser on kickstarter! Send them the link, tell them about the project if you haven’t already. Tell them you really want to see it get finished and you think it has a shot at the festivals!

Here is the link to send:

Post it on facebook. Post it on twitter. Just get behind this sucker and help me get ‘er done!

We’ve got 44 days left to raise the money! Please help.

Paranormal Activity

A scene from Paranormal Activity

A scene from Paranormal Activity

Hey Folks, not much to say this week, but I did get a call from Jennifer Bronstein (Mayli) who’s friend is the lead actress in Paranormal Activity which is in theaters now. According to this article it is the most profitable movie of all time, raking in a rediculous 434,000 percent return on investment!

Now that movie has a few things going for it that OCGU doesn’t: 1. it’s scary, and people dig that these days for some reason, 2. it’s a pretty simple story and it’s easily conveyed (OCGU is kinda…complicated. sorry, that’s just what came out)

The made the movie for $15,000 around the same time as we were shooting Overcoming Going Under, they promoted the hell out of it online, got it into the Slamdance Film Festival, which is in Park City Utah at the same time as Sundance, and sold it for $7 million. Then it became the number one movie in America and made $65 Million so far.

I’m not saying OCGU is going to do that, but I think it has a shot at at least getting in a festival, getting sold, and having a theatrical run – which would be huge for everyone involved. So if you know anyone who might be interested in investing in a film now would be a great time for them to get on board with this production and help us get it finished. Also if you have any ideas or would like to help with the promotional effort, or ideas about how to go about it please get in touch. I’ve got a team of a few folks helping plan things out, but the more help we can get the better. Thanks!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

This Is The Stage I Was Raising Money For

So I’m working on the final touches of the edit and I’m entering the stage that I was trying to raise money for – the technical end of post production which includes color correction and audio mixing and design. These are things that I know little about and will have to learn a lot about. Thank goodness for, is all I have to say.

I didn’t know what I was doing in the other stages either, and had to learn, but the last stage (editing) took so long it has been a while since I didn’t know what the next step was. I was hoping to raise some money so I could get the help of some pros to really do the next steps right (sound and color mainly) but it looks like I’m going to need to ask those folks if they’ll stick with the indie no budget thing we’ve had going here and do the work for free.

I’ve put together a little team to help me with some of the tasks that are coming up like planning the festival submissions and…ahem…raising money (no, not giving up on that one) so hopefully we’ll be able to scratch together some money so we can get through the post process in less time than it has taken so far. I really want to see this movie! Don’t you? You can help – just donate what you can in the sidebar there. or you can tell your friends about it and maybe someone you know would be interested in investing in the film. We’ve got a whole plan laid out for that and we can go over that with you at any time. Just shoot me an email!

Sometimes You Can’t See It Until You See It

So the rough cut is done, and I’ve been going through it making notes about how to improve it and fix things. There are a lot of things that still need to be done – illustrations for animated sequences, the score, etc etc – but it is way closer and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel…but I just made a disturbing realization; a lot of the voice over doesn’t work.

The main character, January, hears a voice in his head. That is a BIG plot point. It could be argued that is what the movie is about. I would make that argument in fact. Once again though I have found something I didn’t do right during production and it’s biting me on the backend. That whole “we’ll fix it in post” thing is a load of crap. It’s way better to get it right during production and not have to worry about fixing problems in post. Each phase should be free to be creative and not have to catch up the slack of the previous stage, I think…but I couldn’t know what I didn’t know. So I have learned a lot of lessons in this process by making mistakes that I will do my best not to repeat on future projects.

This lesson I actually learned months ago. I learned it during production but it was too late really…and I didn’t forsee this particular problem. The lesson is “Always have a script supervisor.” It is really important to have someone who’s job it is to keep their ears open but their eyes on the script. The Director is getting pulled in so many directions and has so many things to constantly be keeping in mind it is really hard to give the script as much attention as it needs. You want to see that your actors are giving good performances and that the story is being told. Knowing I was editing the film as well I was also thinking about how I’d edit it, but I learned a lot of lessons when I actually got to that stage and saw what I had done…but that is a lesson for another post on another day.

The problem here was because the Voice in January’s head was going to be recorded later and added in post no one was taking into adequate consideration that part of the story and where it would fall in the story. The actors where paying attention to their part and doing their best for the scene, but no one was there to remind them about the invisible and inaudible (at that point) Voice that was going to be interacting with them in the final scene.

Also what worked well on the page didn’t really turn out to work so well with what we actually shot. So what I think I’m going to do is go through the film as it is now and rewrite the Voice in January’s head and record it right to the film. This way it will get across that part of the story as concisely as possible and it will fit way better than what I’ve got now…which most of you will never see (thank goodness)