Here We Are Again


It’s been an awfully long time since I used this blog. It’s not because I was deliberately neglecting it. There have been many reasons. First of which was all the things I have been doing. Back in November I embarked on directing my second short film, Terrestrial, starring Bill Oberst Jr. and a few faces from Lepus. The shoot was quite an ordeal. I had such a bad migraine on day one that I began vomiting that morning. The next few days were smooth. Since we shot it there have been some stumbling blocks. The editor’s mom fell ill causing the first pause in completion. Then we started shooting an ill conceived improv web series and put Terrestrial on the back burner yet again. I stepped away from the series after two very stressful shoots. By that time I had accepted the position of Film Festival Coordinator for Phoenix Comicon and it consumed a lot of my time. In what little downtime I had between work and an con duties I was the subject of a short documentary about fathers and sons. It was a very cathartic thing for my father and me. All the while I have been working on writing scripts for a sitcom based loosely on my family and a horror film about demons. The latter is going to be a big collaborative effort between myself and some old and new friends. I’m very excited about it.

So let’s get to talking about each thing individually. First Terrestrial. I have talked about the movie briefly on here before. Bill was fantastic. The rest of the cast was amazing. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to make this with. Everyone was awesome. Bill’s performance was at times childlike, murderous and evil, funny and creepy. It’s got sides of his talent rarely seen on screen. We will be getting back to finishing this up very soon. I’m excited to get people to see it. As for the rest of the cast what can I say? Willman Vergara Jr. was someone I wanted to work with on Lepus but couldn’t find a good spot for. I’m so glad we found a place for him on this one. Randy Robinson and RJ Markham, who were both in Lepus, came back for more twisted fun and did a wonderful job. Everyone was very well prepared and kept us moving ahead of schedule. They were on point with their characters and delightfully funny.

As for the next bit. It’s a sore subject and I really don’t want to step on anyone’s toes or offend when I speak of it. It was a web series about ghost hunting called Specter Quest. The reason I say it was ill conceived is because we all seemed to have different ideas of what it should be and how to get there we didn’t stick to the plan I laid out. They have decided to continue on without me. And I wish them the best of luck with it.

Phoenix Comicon was a great experience this year. It was my first year as Film Festival Coordinator and it couldn’t have gone better if I actually knew what I was doing. The film selections were better than ever this year. We even had the chance to screen a little seen movie called Moontrap from the 80’s starring Bruce Campbell and Walter Koenig. Campbell was kind enough to come up to the film festival unannounced and do a little introduction to the film, much to the delight of the audience…and the staff. We had some standout movies and shorts this year. Jessica Cameron sent me her directorial debut, Truth Or Dare, to screen at the con. It’s a shame she and the cast and crew couldn’t be there. We had something happen I had never seen with my own eyes before. Two grown men came out of the screening room looking weak and pale. Both nearly threw up at what they had seen. It was incredible. I met some very talented and great people this year working at the con. I have been volunteering for years but this is the first time having this level of responsibility. I can’t wait for next year.

I was anxious to work on another movie. I have wanted to experience what it’s like to work on a documentary so I responded to an ad. I met the director for dinner. We got to talking and he wanted to make something about fathers and sons and estrangement. My father and I have had some serious ups and downs over the years. There were years at a time I refused to talk to him. Other times he was so messed up on drugs he was stealing my belongings and selling them for drug money. He even tried to convince a Mexican former boxer that I was calling him “spick” and “wetback” behind his back just to get this boxer to beat me up. My dad has been sober for more than four years now and was recently married to a great woman. I was his best man. We’ve worked out most of our issues. I asked my dad if he’d be a part of this documentary and he immediately agreed. In fact, he almost started crying before I could even tell him fully what it was all about. He hasn’t seen it yet but I am very proud of it. It was not my project. It belongs to a new friend. I am excited to continue it on. He wants to stretch it into a feature at some point and add in new subjects.

Finally, without giving too much away, I want to talk about a new movie I’m working on right now. We have a title. We have the story. We all just need to sit down and put it into proper screenplay format. I will say this – it’s about demons. It’s technically an anthology film but more in the vein of Pulp Fiction or The Signal. Each story carries over characters from previous shorts and they are all connected into one large story. I will only be directing one or two parts. The others are being done by some other new friends, one I met through Phoenix Comicon. He had a great eye when it came to making something visually striking with very little. The short I want him to do may actually be a silent film with a healthy dose of violence, kidnapping and maybe a little sex. Each story deals with a different kind of demon. We have stories ranging from half demon babies to a man everyone believes to be schizophrenic to a crossroads demon story. We’re really looking forward to our first script meeting in a few short days.

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll be back soon. I kinda promise.

 

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Lepus And Terrestrial Updates


ImageI know, I know. I spend a lot of time on here talking about Lepus. Cut me some slack. This is the first time I have officially directed something. It’s like when someone has a baby. Even if the baby is a hideous chud they still want to share pictures on Facebook all the time. Now, I’m not calling Lepus hideous. I’m simply stating that, for all intents and purposes, this is my baby and I want to share it with the world. Is that so wrong? I’m proud of what I created. 

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Last night Brian and I met with David Sabal for a few mintues before he was a guest on The Gorram Nerd Hour. During that time he filled us in on what was happening with distribution. It’s been decided that we are going to be distributed by Worldwide MultiMedia. The other five distributors that were looking to pick us up wanted to wait too long to release the DVD. Worldwide can have it out by June (more details on the exact release date as they come in). They will also have copies available before hand for us to autograph and sell at Phoenix Comicon in May. If you’re gonna be there then come get your copy. You won’t be disappointed…well, I can vouch for Lepus at least, not the other shorts in the Scream Machine DVD. Maybe I should “You hopefully won’t be disappointed as I haven’t seen the other shorts”. Anyway, we will also be selling copies through our Facebook page.

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Last night we did a little foley work on the project and then talked about our next short film, Terrestrial, that we will hopefully be shooting next month. We just have to wait and see when our lead actor is available. He is going to be busy shooting a movie through part of February. Our second largest role, the character of Travis, has a similar issue with the actor. We wanted to shoot a certain week in February and he will be out of town. These are the people we absolutely want for the short and we will wait if that is what it takes. We loved these actors and really want to see what they do with the roles. You can hear the official casting announcements on The Gorram Nerd Hour later tonight when it goes up. Otherwise you can wait a week for us to post it on our Facebook page and Twitter.

1st Round Of Auditions Are Done For Terrestrial


Another day of auditions completed. We found most of our core cast and they were amazing. The tone for this one is much different and darker than what we did with “Lepus” and the people auditioning just got it. How we’ve been so blessed with the people we’ve had the chance to work with is beyond me. We got really lucky with the “Lepus” cast and many of them came in for the audition tonight and proved they can go beyond playing the broad goofiness to playing darker comedy. 

If you would have asked me a year ago where we’d be right now I would not have expected this. Brian and I were sitting around wondering if our feature script for “Welcome To Deadsville” could even get sold. We didn’t have connections. We had no experience. So we wrote a couple of shorts for me to direct. “Lepus” was picked up for distribution before it was even shot and now we’re making “Terrestrial”. This will show a different style in writing for the both of us and directing for me. 

We had three people who worked on “Lepus” come in to audition for us tonight. Each one of them brought their own special magic to what we wrote. We also had some others whom we want to work with but couldn’t find a good fit for last time around come in. Then there were the new guys. All of them did wonderfully. They are going to make my job very hard. We had about eight people come out for three roles. We didn’t ask too many people as we didn’t want to feel as though we were rejecting very many. I think we found exactly what we need from certain people. I need to review the audition tapes before final decisions are made but I am very happy with everyone I think we may cast. 

Now we get down to real fun – finding locations, working out actor’s schedules, props and transportation. 

A Quick Terrestrial Update


Later tonight we will be holding an open casting call for our next short film entitled Terrestrial. We are really looking forward to it. Several of our actors for Lepus have asked to audition for us again. I guess they enjoyed their time working with us the last time around.

The story is about a man who has lost everything in his life – how wife and kids have left, he’s been fired from his job. He doesn’t even have any furniture left. This is all due to the belief that there is an alien living in his closet. He attends a support group for alien abductees and they laugh him out of the room. It is then that the alien in the closet begins to tell him to kill.

Everyone that has read the script says that it is unique and darkly funny. I just hope we can find the right people to do the script justice. We will find out tonight.

Thoughts Of Past And Future


Here we are, just a few short months after I started this blog, and we have one short film nearly ready to show, another starting next month and The Gorram Nerd Hour has recorded nearly 20 episodes. All of that in just a few short months. When I started this blog I was talking about the features Brian Smith and I have been writing. We got detoured…but for good reason. We needed something to showcase our talent. We were a little arrogant to think that two writers with no credits to their names could get someone to give them money to produce and direct a movie of their own. Now we’ll have two things to show.

Since I was a boy I have loved movies. I would sit and watch an action movie like any little would. I loved Commando, Lethal Weapon and Die Hard. I also had an affection for every other type of film. I didn’t care. If someone made I wanted to see it. Science Fiction, Horror, Romantic Comedy, Sappy Melodrama, Musicals. I just loved movies. What I took away from all of that was that it was what I wanted to do. I wanted to make movies of my own. At first I thought I wanted to be an actor until I took a drama class in High School and my teacher had me direct something for the first time. That’s when my passion made itself crystal clear. I loved the behind the scenes aspect of things. 

I always enjoyed writing. It has been a passion of mine for as long as I remember. What I wrote was always weird. I would go off and write a sequel to Romeo & Juliet in iambic pentameter or a western about aliens hiding among the townsfolk and planning on destroying the town with radioactive lima beans. So when Brian and I sat down to write Lepus I suggested we write the whole thing in Klingon save for the killer’s one line which would be in German. 

Sometimes I need to be reigned in.

We decided not to go with Klingon. But we kept Brian’s line in German. There is not one good reason for it other than it made us laugh. Lepus is a comedy, after all. We started off goofy with our next short film and decided to go darker once we started writing. Terrestrial will be a different side of our writing. It’s tone is more serious while still being quirky. 

As I write this we are only a couple days away from the open casting call for Terrestrial. I couldn’t be more excited about who we have coming in to read. a couple of our Lepus cast members are coming in for it – Jai Yunae and Randy Robinson. I loved working with them on Lepus. I can’t wait to see what they bring to this audition. We also have some other really talented people we didn’t cast for Lepus coming in for another go. Wilman Vergara II was someone I was really impressed with and just couldn’t find a good place to put him last time. This time he’s coming in to read for the lead in Terrestrial and I think he’s got a great shot at it. Adam Boggs is another up and comer I really liked and he’s coming in to read for us again. I was impressed with both of them so much. I’m glad they want to come in and try for this one. 

We’re still not at a point where we’ve been able to pay anyone for their work. It’s all just copy and credit basically. I’m amazed by the talent that has been willing to work with us for nothing. Hopefully by the time we get started on the next two parts of Lepus we have a budget…something to pay these amazing people for their time. 

Back to Lepus for a moment – The rough cut I saw a while back is good. I was really happy with how it turned out. It was a very rough cut with no score, no effects, no foley. But it was great, great enough for Walter Reuther (aka Scarlet Fry) to tell me it was his favorite in the anthology horror DVD we will be included on. And he directed all the other shorts. 

David Sabal, our wonderful renaissance man (DP, producer, editor) just got the score back from the composer. I asked for something similar to a score from the 80’s scifi and horror movies I loved so much. I wanted something like an old John Carpenter score. From what I hear the composer delivered. Hopefully I will hear it in the next few days. 

Now on to The Gorram Nerd Hour. We have been having a lot of fun recording our show every week. Brian and I love working on it. We are talking about re-tooling the show a little. The first twenty or so weeks have been about finding out what works and what doesn’t. We’re gonna be trying a few new things in upcoming episodes that could prove to be a lot of fun. We are also going to be spending the weekend of February 8-10th at the Bloody Hero International Film Festival at the Phoenix Convention Center. We will be recording our podcast, conducting interviews and serving on the jury. This is a big deal for us. I know I’m really excited about it. We may have another fun surprise for our listeners that weekend too. This will be a part of the re-tool of the show. Let us know what you think.

One last thing before I wrap this up. We had a friend from our Abnormal Entertainment family in town last weekend. Camm Harston, co-host of Raise Your Spirits with Camm and Kevin. While he was here Brian and I both guested on their show. We had a lot of fun and everyone should go listen.

Here;s hoping 2013 proves even better for Robot Vampire Productions than 2012. We’re already off to a great start.

 

Next Up – Terrestrial


Now that Lepus is nearly finished Brian and I have settled on our next project. We want to make our short called Terrestrial.

We wrote it directly after Lepus. I started wondering what Elliot would be like if E.T. never came back to him like he promised. Would the adult Elliot be messed up by this? Our answer was yes. He believes he has an alien living in his closet whom he shares a psychic bond with. This alien is telling him to do bad things. It caused his wife and children to leave and got him laughed out of his Alien Abductees Anonymous group. The alien forces him to take his revenge.

This short film, while still funny, is much darker in tone than the over the top weirdness that was Lepus. Now it is just a matter of putting together a cast and crew for the short. We would like to use some of the people we used in Lepus. I also plan to play a small role this time. Brian, who has apparently been bitten by the acting bug, has asked to play a role again.

When we were casting Lepus we saw some very talented people that we just couldn’t find a good fit for in that short. I would like to bring them in for this one. The script is more dialogue heavy than Lepus was and we need good people for it. I’m hoping we can get this put together by the end of February.

Fingers crossed.

Lepus Is Tentatively A Go


Brian and I just got back from meeting with the guy who was going to help us with our short film “Lepus”. He’s already read the script a few times and finds it very funny.

We are looking at October as the production time frame as the short takes place at Halloween. This gives us the chance to get the costumes, cast the piece, and scout the three locations we need.

He even mentioned that if it works out he would like to include it on a DVD showcasing short films from local filmmakers. He also liked our idea for our second short called “Terrestrial”. We pitched him the idea tonight. He wants to see the script so we can possibly shoot both in quick succession and have them ready for entry into short film competitions by April and May.

Next stop Deadsville. If we can garner a little bit of buzz from the shorts we can hopefully raise the money we want for the first feature, “Welcome To Deadsville”. It was the first script we wrote together and it is our baby. We don’t want to sell it someone else to take the beating heart out of it and put some bland, watered down thing on the screen. We want it done our way.

Lepus is going to show we can do it. Terrestrial will prove it wasn’t a fluke. This is gonna be a fun ride.

Another Short Film Written


My writing partner will be the first to admit that he has trouble getting motivated to write. It can be frustrating at times. Last night I wanted to work on Unhinged, our slasher movie, and he just wanted to watch Psych on television. During the commercial breaks I took the time to work out an idea and would pitch pieces every break.

Originally the story was going to be about a man who may or may not have an alien living in his closet. I wanted to it to be like an adult version of E.T. if Elliot just couldn’t let go and went crazy from it. The idea shifted a bit between the talks last night and putting it on paper tonight. The one idea that remained was that a man believes he has an alien living in his closet. The other thing that stuck was the title I pitched to him – Terrestrial. We both agreed it was a nice allusion to E.T. as an extra terrestrial.

The story goes to some pretty dark places, like how the “alien” forces our main character to order hookers, sleep with while playing Milli Vanilli music, and the “alien” watches from the closet.

What’s funny is that my writing partner didn’t realize that I was aiming for this to be a comedy, albeit a dark comedy, but a comedy nonetheless. We’re going to have someone else read it in the next couple days and see what they think. Even if the script sucks I got my partner to sit down and push through for 12 straight pages. That’s something.