Evil Dead, keeping busy

Tomorrow I have the opportunity to go see a screening of the Evil Dead remake. Should be fun.

I remember the first time I saw the original. I think I was in 6th grade or so. Went over this guy Dave’s house for his birthday. Spent most of the time with a blanket up over my mouth, ready to cover my eyes.

You remember sniglets? Well, they were popular at the time, and there was one that defined what I was doing. I remember everyone having a great laugh at that.

Suffice it to say, Sam Raimi and his film have been a great source of ‘what can be done,’ when it comes to filmmaking. Shot on $90k, it premiered at the 1982 Cannes festival, and helped to usher in the career of Bruce Campbell, and Raimi.

I’m looking forward to the screening. One thing that sticks out to me, and that I appreciate, is the fact that it’s all practical special effects, no CG. At least, that’s what I’ve read.

I have been editing up a storm these past two weeks, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. I have Internet Affairs to finish (3 more episodes), and I recently put the final touches on episodes 7 and 8 of The Thing. You can see them on our site until Monday. We’ll be switching over to blip.tv for a wider distribution. Let’s hope it finds an audience. We’ll be removing the first 7 episodes, and releasing them once every 5 days or so. That should put us on track for the next batch of episodes.

Fingers crossed.

In other news, the pilot is slowly taking shape. I have so much pre-production work to do between now and May 5th, which should be our first shoot date… I’m feeling slightly overwhelmed. But, I have wonder people helping me, and I know it’ll get done in a timely fashion.

In other news, I have to get some posters and postcards printed for our Soho Int’l Film Festival screening. Gotta make that happen soon. We’re only 13 days out!

Shot more of The Thing today. Marc said that my camerawork reminded him of a Truffaut film. I’ll take his word for it. It was probably when I almost tripped on the sidewalk…

I think I’m going to give the 1982 version of Evil Dead a spin tonight, before tomorrow’s screening. I tried to get into a free screening of G.I. Joe II last night, but to no avail. Oh well.

Thanks for reading.

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A One Man Band

First off, let me preface this post as saying that, a lot of the time, I am not a one-man-band. I get plenty of help behind the camera on a number of projects.

But. I have taken it upon myself to learn as much as I can and do as much as I can, so that in certain circumstances, I can accomplish much of what happens on a low-budget set. And, during post production.

Now, over the course of the last month or so, I have been sending out dvd screeners of 5AM. But, because of my inexperience, I was exporting my… shit.

Ok, so. There are a number of ways to burn a DVD so that it plays like a DVD. There are also a number of programs that’ll do it for you. I have two. DVD Studio Pro, which is part of the Final Cut Suite, and Toast Titanium.

Now, I had been using DVD Studio Pro (from here on known as DVDSP) because it works seamlessly with FCP and Compressor. What I’ve been doing is, exporting a full contained movie from FCP, and then creating an HD MPEG-2 file from one of the Apple DVD presets in Compressor. This was giving me a gorgeous 1080p file, with an aac sound file, and everything seemed right with the world.

The thing is, DVDs program in at 720p. Fuck.

Now, I didn’t know this because, for some GODDAMN reason, whenever I burned a DVD in DVDSP using this 1080p file onto a regular DVD, it would say the burn was successful, I would put it on my iMac, and the fucking thing would play. Perfectly. So, I sent out 8 of these screeners.

A couple of days ago I received word from one of the festivals I’d sent the screener to, and they said that it didn’t work. Ok, whatever. I’ll try sending them out another one, maybe it was one of those things.

Now, I thought that playing it on a machine I did not burn the disc on was a reasonable enough control group. Color me surprised when I couldn’t get these discs to play on my laptop, my x-box, or my dvd player.

This happened last night at about 11pm, and Karen decided to put me on suicide watch. I had spent the last month busting my ass to get these goddamn screeners out, and not a single one of them worked.

I spent the night and the first part of my day watching tutorial after tutorial on how to get these screeners to work. I exported all new files in 720p. I followed all of the instructions in youtube videos that had successful comments and people cheering the posters.

I slowly went insane. I went so far as to throw my sweatshirt onto the ground and stomp on it, instead of my laptop, which was my first choice.

My head was no longer in the correct frame of mind, and all of the words I read on forums and articles on how to export for a great DVD experience were no longer making sense.

And then I remembered that, when we showed The Thing at Anthology Archives and New Filmmakers, that I had created a preset for a contained MPEG-2 file (both video and audio). If I had the rest of my life to try and remember how in the hell I created that preset, I still wouldn’t be able to come up with the ‘how’.

I burned my first dvd, the light in my eyes slowly dimming, and it worked. It worked on my x-box, my laptop, and my imac. I had a trifecta, and I thought I was going to swoon.

I burned my second. It worked on my laptop, my x-box… and not my iMac.

What the shit.

I tried it in my DVD player. Worked fine.

I simply couldn’t believe this was happening. Why in the hell wasn’t it working on my iMac?

Thoughts raced through my head. Do I go with what I have? I have to get these screeners out there. What are my options?

It’s about this time that I realize that my great 1080p dvd that I sent to Soho won’t work as a screener. It won’t work. I want it to look good, for god sake, and the fact is that I’m doing something wrong with my regular DVD output because, on my TV (it’s a big one) the image looks pixilated. I don’t want that for the screening.

So, I check my options.

Blu Ray is one of them. Cool. I do some research. Blu Ray burns 1080p. Fantastic.

I get some pricing. It’s absurd. Now, mind you, it was the first place I called… $100 for a master Blu Ray, and $20 a copy.

I went to J&R and bought a Blu Ray burner for $240, and some discs. I mean, why not at that point. Hell, I can start charging people myself, now.

So. I did some more research and found a cheaper place in mid-town. I might call them tomorrow, see what the deal is. At this point… well, let me get back on track.

I’ve got a stack of DVDs that work in 3 out of 4 machines. As Meatloaf said ‘two out of three ain’t bad.’ Bear with me.

I label them up, I get them out the door to the post office. I send them to four out of 8 festivals… and I’m relieved. But it’s a temporary relief because if yesterday showed me anything it’s that even though it looks like I know what I’m doing, I don’t. Not fully. I thought I had a handle on the DVD screeners. I really did. You’d figure that a program that is designed to BURN DVDS would not say ‘your DVD burned successfully’ when it’s clearly unplayable.

This happened across the board with each and every dual MPEG-2 and AAC file I brought it, even the 720p’s. It wasn’t until the contained file that I got any cooperation at all.

So. I have to figure out what went wrong. Which is exhausting, but it’ll save me money in the long run. I spent another $25 in postage today because of what amounts to a stupid mistake. Stupid for a number of reasons, not just user error.

Sigh.

I got little sleep last night, so I’m heading off to bed soon. I have Internet Affairs to finish editing. I have episode 7 of The Thing to polish. We wrapped on episode 8 on Sunday. It’s a good one.

Tonight I went to see Last Man Club at Axis Company. It’s a good production, well acted, good story. If you’re in NYC, I’d recommend it.

Two videos for you:

The Career of Paul Thomas Anderson in Five Shots from Kevin B. Lee on Vimeo.

Breaking the 4th Wall Movie Supercut from Leigh Singer on Vimeo.

Tomorrow, Lynn and I do some location scouting. I’ll report back with pictures.

Thanks for reading. If you’re ever in need to figure out 1,000 ways how not to burn a DVD, ask me.

John Painz

Cannes, part 3, and 8 for Vegas

So, the other night I was up, probably as late as I am now, and I decided to do some research on last year’s Cannes Short Film Festival.

What I found was that I have been hopelessly (or hopefully) naive… and that’s ok. I think it’s healthy to have some part of you that hopes against the odds.

In 2012, 4500 short films were submitted to Cannes. 10 were selected.

When I found that out, I couldn’t help but think of this:

Sigh.

Today, Julie, Producer Julie, and I put the final stamp on the season (and possible series) finale of 8 for Vegas. You can see it below:

It’s a whopper of an episode, coming in at over 18 minutes. I could have split it up, but the fact is I needed to finish it. It’s been a weight on me ever since we finished production, three months ago.

Suffice it to say, 8 for Vegas was a labor of love.

Not only was I able to hang out with my friends, make new friends, and tell a reasonably funny story, but after episode 1 I really got the acting bug.

I’m not sure others will find my work or my abilities (said loosely) beneficial to their own productions, but you never know. I know I wouldn’t have acted in 5AM with as much confidence had it not been for 8 for Vegas, so… I’ve got that going for me.

I want to thank each and every donor who took the time to check out our campaign, our earlier episodes, and our plea video and decide that we were worth taking a chance on. I realize 8 for Vegas Season 2 was a bit of a departure from Season 1, but, adaptability is the name of the game when you can’t pay anyone. We did the best we could, and I think everyone involved did a bang-up job.

It’s late. I have a shoot in the morning, and I’m on the verge of losing another hour of sleep because of Daylight Savings Time.

Thanks for reading. If you’re a fan or you’re a masochist and you’ve been watching 8 for Vegas, I hope you enjoy the finale.

John Painz

Cannes, part II

I received this email today:

Dear John PAINZ

Thank you for presenting your film 5AM, which we have received, to the selection committee of the Festival de Cannes.

The press conference during which we will announce the films selected will be held on April 18th 2013.

If your film is selected for the festival you will be notified before this date.

Yours sincerely, (removed)

CRAZY!

There was a thrill just receiving that email, let me tell you.

Is it a long shot? Sure. But who cares. I’m excited. Sending off ones film off to festivals becomes a bit of an addiction. The waiting is impossible.

My first knowledge of the Cannes Film Festival was due to this film:

This was pre-internet, of course, but still. Finding it on the poster/cover of my favorite film was a big deal, even though I had no idea what it meant. But, as I increased my viewing experiences, I saw it pop up a few more times. Most specifically in the trailer for Pulp Fiction.

Some of my favorite films have won the Palme d’or over the years. Blow-Up, MASH, The Conversation, Taxi Driver, Apocalypse Now, Barton Fink, and more.

So, I keep my fingers crossed. Regardless, the act of submitting the film was a wonderful opportunity, and broke back wonderful feelings that I felt when I first experienced a number of the films I listed above.

One day, I hope to show a feature there. I will continue forward, enjoying the process, the lessons, and enjoy the experiences of future projects.

Thanks for reading.

John

Cannes, and a couple of other things…

SO!

About two months ago, Julie sends me a link to submit 5AM to the Cannes Film Festival. I laugh, I call her nuts, I speak to her mom and say she needs deep, psychological help.

Then she tells me it’s free to enter. I put her mom on hold and think about it for a second. I get back on the line and tell her to give the whole ‘therapy’ thing some thought, and say to Julie ok, I’m in.

Maybe the person watching it will just LOVE it. Maybe they will love the $1,000 I stuck in the envelope*… who knows.

Time goes by, I don’t give it much thought because we keep sending 5AM out to other local festivals. We are working on casting the pilot, etc.

On Friday I realize the deadline has to be coming up. And, sure enough, it’s March 4th. You have to have your film registration filled out by the 4th. No problem. I fill out the form, everything’s great, I get something to print out and send with my DVD copy. Ok. I do NOT bother to read anything else.

Well, on Saturday we had our second day of casting, and had some great people come by to read. It was a very fruitful day, but I’ll get to that.

Sunday, I’m transcoding footage for the season finale of 8 for Vegas, and then syncing. It’s so strange to look at footage that is three months old. What’s great is that I get a laugh out of myself when the jokes hit… and since it’s been so long, they almost come out of nowhere. Which is good.

This morning I’m hanging out, and I check the Cannes site only to find that the films have to be in their hands by the 7th of March.

It’s early in the morning. I’m counting on my fingers. 3 days. 4, counting today. I start the counting over.

Shit. Really? I start going over pricing for shipping. USPS cannot guarantee it by the 7th. Well, they’re going down the tubes anyway, so, ok. I check FedEx. They can do it. $60. There by the 6th. Ok.

I check UPS. The other service that, you know, should be the competition. Lo and behold, $60. Wow. What are the odds?

So I do a mental coin flip in my head. I stop mid-flip and say ‘why not? Sure the odds are against you. Me. The odds are against me. But that’s no reason to not try. Well, it could be a good reason. Stop flip flopping. No, you. YOU.”

It went on for some time. Finally, something Julie, Producer Julie said came to mind. Spielberg is chairing the 2013 Cannes festival. And if there is anyone on this planet besides Peter Jackson who would love the idea of 5AM, it’s Spielberg.

That’s not just me talking. My mom said that, too.

So I figured what the hell. I went to the blood donation place… see? I don’t even know what the fucking place is called, but I’m in for the long joke… I went there and donated like 4 pints of blood. It was great. I didn’t feel tired or faint or nothing. I got like $30, which was more than enough to cover the balance of what I have left of savings bonds from when I was a kid… I cashed them in, went to FedEx, spent 20 minutes trying to figure out the customs forms, and sent that sucker off.

So, fingers crossed.

Tomorrow, I have the pleasure of putting through the SAG paperwork on the fantastic as-of-yet-named pilot that I’ve been talking about for some time now. I’m very excited about it.

Lynn, Katie, Julie, and I sat behind a table and had people read for a script. This is called ‘auditioning.’ It’s a frightening process on both sides of the table. These wonderful people take time out of their days to attend these ‘auditions’ and then wait with baited breath to see if they got the part. Or a part.

The amount of courage that walks through the door is something to envy, truly.

Let me break down who’s doing what so far, in terms of crew.

Lynn Mancinelli is co-producer. That’s Producer, not produce. No veggies, fruits… how can those two words have the same goddamn spelling?

Julie Sisson, co-producing.

Katie McHugh is 1st AD.

Holly… something. I forgot her last name. Holly Hughes. Yeah. She’s 2nd AD.

Paul Garafola is going to be 2nd Camera.

I’m going to be doing something, I don’t know what…

Sound is going to be this great kid Jaylen Thompson. I say ‘kid’ because I’m twice his age. So, I can say kid.

He helped us out on The Thing. He’s a good guy, very talented, we’re happy to have him.

I’ll introduce the cast once the paperwork goes through. But they all did wonderful jobs, and it was not easy choosing the cast.

We found out when we’ll be playing the Soho International Film Festival. It’ll be April 9th… a Tuesday. So funny that it’s a Tuesday, my old pool league night. It’s the night where the majority of my friends will be at a bar, shooting pool, and not coming to the screening. Sigh. But, whatever. They’ll see it sooner or later.

The final thing to mention, we wrapped Internet Affairs yesterday. It was fun. Bittersweet. Aside from the noise, it was a good shoot.

Well, that’s it for this evening, sports fans. I’m sending off information to the SIFF so they can start putting it up on their site. It’s all very exciting!

Talk soon.

John painz

* It was not $1,000. I mean, I stuck no money in the envelope.

Casting round 2 and film festivals

On Saturday, we’ll start the second round of casting for the pilot. We have one, possibly two roles locked, which is very exciting. People seem excited to work on it, so… that’s good.

On January 31st, Julie and I sent out the first of 6 submissions to film festivals for 5AM.

On Sunday, we had our first bite.

5AM Soho International Film Festival teaser from John Painz on Vimeo.

Not too shabby, huh? Here’s the poster.

We’re super excited. I hope it’s a sign of things to come.

I was really hoping to get the pilot project shot in March, but that seems an impossibility. We’ll see, for certain, after this weekend. We’ll make the deciding choices on roles.

Let’s see. What else…

We finished episode 7 of The Thing. Came out quite well. Tomorrow, the cast is recording a podcast for an Off Broadway theater site. Should be fun!

Thanks for reading.

John