The damn cat and the new movie

It’s 2:26am on Saturday morning, or Friday evening. I never know how to say that. And I’m up. Like, AWAKE awake.

Karen and I got a new cat about a month or so ago. He did that thing where he was trying to get adopted so he put on the song and dance of not being the fucking Exorcist of cats. He’s a good goddamn actor. Get him home, was supposed to be a she… long story. Suffice it to say, no surface, no object, no limb is safe.

Still, he’s a cutie.

Name is Shazam. I’d make a joke about how I wish there was a Vietnamese restaurant around, but you’ve heard it before.

Problem is, my cat Doc is 14. Shazam is like 1 or so. There is no balance of power. So they have to be separated. Doc sleeps with us, Shazam has the rest of the apartment. Well, Doc’s not happy about that, and around 4am or so, he cries until he gets let out. Since Karen works, I take the night shift and get up.

I haven’t had a full nights sleep the entire time we’ve had this new guy. It all culminated to me falling asleep at 8:30pm last night, and now I’m awake. If I was an alcoholic, none of this would be a problem.

So!

Here I am. 2:32am. Friday, Saturday, I don’t know. But let me give you the scoop.

Stuck, the film we’re all making, is happening. Got some cast members, got a location (my apartment, big stretch), and we now have a fundraising campaign. Check it out.

This is the campaign video we made on Friday of last week:

And the first promo image:

So, yeah. Off and running.

We have some great people involved. First, Julie, producer Julie, along with Lynn Mancinelli, who helped us on Untitled Zombie Project. Very happy to be working with both of them again.

Everyone looks so happy.

Out of the 8 or so roles, we’ve got 5 or 6 cast… I’m not sure. 6. Including me. Let’s see. We’ve got Britt Genelin, who I’ve worked with on The Thing. Galit Sperling, Satomi Hofmann, and Katie Howe, all of whom helped us out on Untitled Zombie Project. And a few… no. Maybe one more, a guy. But we’re locking him down now.

Great looking cast, right? Very excited about it.

We’ve reached just over $1,200 so far, out of $7,000. I figured since this is mainly a blog about filmmaking, I would break down what we’re trying to achieve with the budget.

We have a very small crew. VERY small. It’s basically me and Julie. And Lynn, although she is in the rehearsal stages of a fantastic new play happening at Axis Theater called Nothing on Earth. It’s about Houdini, and I am really looking forward to seeing it. Lynn will be on hand when she can.

So, small crew. That being said, we are hoping to get a higher quality camera for the shoot. We’re looking at two different options. The Canon C300 or the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. Not sure which, yet. Have to see what we raise. But, here’s a breakdown.

First and foremost, we want to pay our actors. They’re giving up their time and energy on the project… it’s only right that they get compensated. That is roughly 16% of our total budget. Food and transportation for the cast/crew, that’s 15%. Equipment rental. We’re looking at the camera, lenses, and sound equipment (lav mics and a mixer). 40% of our budget.

Hard drives – 10%. Rehearsals, 5%. Incidentals (meaning, short here, short there) 5%. The remaining 9% is for post production.

Fingers crossed, we make our budget. Worst case scenario (which isn’t even that bad), we get to pay everyone, feed them and we use the equipment we have. I am really hoping for a better quality of image, but we’ll see how the fundraiser plays out.

I’ve gotten a wonderful response from friends who’ve read the script. Over the course of the last year and a half I’ve met some wonderful people who are extremely talented and would love to work with on projects. The biggest problem, or I should say the hardest choice, was shooting the entire film with non-union actors.

It was also the easiest choice, because it was a matter of finances. Shooting a SAG film has it’s issues. Salaries, insurance, hiring a payroll company, and the 4.5% royalties deal attached to all SAG ultra-low-budget film productions. For those of you who do not know what that is, I’ll see if I can explain it.

If you make a SAG ultra-low-budget feature film, you’re paying your SAG actors the minimum their union will allow. Roughly comes out to $100 a day, plus medical insurance, pension, taxes, I think… comes out to more like $136 per day.

Now, because you’re paying the minimum, and the union wants to protect their actors, one of the agreements you set up with SAG is that if your film gets distribution, SAG requests 4.5% of the gross (I think… seems silly if it was the net, what with Hollywood accounting and all) receipts. Now, over the course of the last year or so, I’ve read a handful of horror stories where films that did well at festivals, the filmmakers were approached with sales deals. But the distributors would not agree to paying the 4.5% to SAG. So, these filmmakers would either accept the deal presented to them, or be out of luck.

The problem is, since the distributor is not on the hook for the 4.5%, the filmmaker is. And if the film makes any money in distribution, the filmmaker is responsible for that money. So, if I were to sell a film for $50,000, and the film, best case scenario, makes $1,000,000, I would owe SAG $45,000. To start.

So, add to it all the additional costs of a SAG film… this makes it a hard sell.

Finding out that such talented people we’ve worked with in the past were all non-union… I can’t even begin to tell you how thrilled Julie and I were.

And so here we are. It’s 3:25am, and I’m still awake.

Thanks for reading. I have to publicly thank a bunch of people for their donations. I’ll be doing that soon.

All the best,

John

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2013 – a re-cap

Not much happened in 2013.

Ha, ha.

Let’s see.

Julie and I produced 5AM. We got into two festivals, and that was awesome.

Julie and I also wrangled up some great people for a re-boot of 8 for Vegas. Drew Jeeves, Ian Bjorklund, Marc Palmieri, Lynn Mancinelli, Kelly Grant, Brian Sloan, Chantal Ngwa, and Heather Cambanes made it such a great project. We shot it for a Comedy Central pilot competition.

We followed that up with Lynn on the Untitled Zombie Project. Michael Keyloun, Melanie Ryan, Kelly Grant, Brian Sloan, Galit Sperling, Kelsey O’Brien, Derek Blythe, John Carrey, Rick Toscano, Satomi Hofmann, and a bunch of others gave us two fantastic days of shooting in April. It’s out two festivals right now, and a bunch more next year. Fingers crossed.

Marc, Lynn, James Honderich, George Demas, Spencer Aste, Joe Fuer, and a bunch of others continued to produce episodes of The Thing. I’m very proud of those episodes.

Marc, Jeremy Johnson, Jill Helene, and I shot this short sonnet for The Shakespeare Exchange:

I shot a feature film for my friend Kelsey O’Brien. She had some great people involved. Sam Garland, Sibyl Santiago, Mark Parker, Cat Cabral, and more. I met some nice people and learned a lot.

Karen and I went to San Diego and I shot this at the Wine + Food Festival with a gopro:

I walked dogs for five months or so. I survived, but just barely.

My cat Boone passed on to kitty heaven. She and her brother Doc were mine since they were two months old. She was a wonderful cat, took very well to Karen, and we both miss her greatly.

We got a new cat just recently. He’s a terror. He’s lucky we’re not in the middle of an apocalypse because, the fact is, even though Doc’s got more meat on him, Shazam (the new cat) would get eaten first.

I wrote four feature length scripts this year. After taking some of my own advice, I wrote a script that I can produce with reasonable ease, and for a reasonable amount of money. ‘Reasonable’ being relative, of course. Julie and I had a reading a little over a week ago with some great people and it went really well. We’re in the process of casting, and should be shooting it in February. Fingers crossed.

I got a handful of paid gigs this year. I’m happy about the work I did. I’m looking forward to cultivating some relationships with other DPs, to get even more work.

2014 is starting off with my own feature film. It’s the first time I’ve been able to say that, and it feels good. Julie wrote me earlier that 2014 was going to be our year. I really hope it is. She’s been nothing but fantastic ever since we produced the first season of 8 for Vegas.

Marc, Lynn, and James have way too much faith in me with The Thing, and I really appreciate it. They’re wonderful to work with, they’ve been wonderful friends, and I consider myself very lucky.

The same can be said of Kelsey. I thought, and continue to think, that she was nuts to ask me to shoot her film. But we had fun, and I thank her for the opportunity.

So many people made my projects a reality. I mentioned some of them here. There are many more, too many to mention. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your trust, your time, your talent. I hope that we all continue to not only get work in the future, but work together again, because I had so much fun. Thank you all.

Thanks to my mom and Karen. They’ve been nothing but supportive, and I really appreciate it.

It’s 10 to midnight on December 31st. I wish you all a happy New Year. I hope 2014 is everything you hope it is.

All the best,

John Painz