Sunday, August 10, 2014

Film Makers Advice, Horror Films

The great thing about being a film maker is that others who have come before you are willing to give advice. Some of the worlds greatest film makers have left behind hours and hours of film making advice. From big budget film makers to low budget masters these men and women have recorded their experiences on video, film and with the written word.
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 I love advice from film makers so much that I do interviews with those whom I admire. I love to learn new things that can only be told to me by those who are out there in the trenches. I wrote a book about film making with the core lessons being provided by the hardest working micro budget digital film makers on earth. I hope that before you begin your journey as a film maker you will pick up the book or the one that is to follow and take the advice of those film makers.

 Okay I admire so many film makers from the past and the presence that it was hard to pick just a few of them for this post so I will do at least three post like this with a different subject being covered in each. The advice today is on horror film making.

The first film maker is Guillermo del Toro. I believe that he is one of the greatest directors on earth. It sort of broke my heart when he dropped out of shooting Hobbit, but I understand his reasons. 


 Next up is advice from the film maker behind the Conjuring, James Wan.


  Next up is the film maker behind the greatest horror film of all time. You can debate this amongst your selves, but on most list, including mine is The Exorcist.


  I am adding his quick interview about the sequel to his masterpiece and how much it sucked.


 Next up is a film maker from my home town Philadelphia. Now cut that out, he has made a few great films. Also I would like to say that he produced and co wrote The Devil, a movie that is a tight as hell character driven low budget horror film. I am talking about M. Night Shyamalan.


 Next is John Carpenter, the great film maker behind The Thing, Halloween, The Fog and Escape from New York.



 Val Lewton is a name that every horror film maker should investigate. He was a producer who built the foundation for every horror film to follow his Cat People. I could not find an interview with him, but he did leave behind some great footage.

 Next is foreign horror film makers and I will limit this to two film makers. First up is Dario Argento the legendary Italian Film maker.


 The second interview is with Takashi Miike, I believe that he is the greatest living director. That is my opinion, most of you will differ. He has directed every genre known to man including musicals and westerns. Here is a littlr interview along with the trailer to one of his films.



 That will be it for today. Thank you for visiting and please take a moment to share this post and to consider checking out my book of interviews.

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Mad Max, Fury Road Trailer

Mad Max, Fury Road Trailer 

I know that this blog is dedicated to low budget film making, but I am a fan too and the original Mad Max film was low budget. I could spend a few hundred words trying to sell the fact that Mad Max Fury Road connects to the topics that I normally cover, but why bother. Here is the trailer. Enjoy and the next post will be about fan films.


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  Thank you for visiting and please take a moment to add me to your google plus and to share this post with a friend. 

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Gotham City Sirens, Update

The campaign has reaches it goal of 900 dollars, but you can still donate..

Keep in mind that crowd funding campaigns are tricky. You should always aim for more than your goal. Even if you reach it with a day or two left you want to continue to push through to the end. There have been campaigns at kickstarter that hit their goal and then ended up falling short because someone backed out after the fact.

Visit kickstarter and indiegogo. Check out campaigns and if you see one that you really like then get involved.

That will be it for today. Good luck and have a nice day.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Gotham City Sirens, The Interview


    Years ago when the words fan film were mentioned you knew that you were in for an second rate film populated by fans of star wars wearing Halloween costumes and fighting with toy lightsabers. We have come a long way since those days. Now fan films are filmed as well as the original material and sometimes much better written. Many great digital film makers have gotten their start shooting short fan films. The truth about film making is that most film makers on one level or another when they are starting out are writing and shooting versions of the material that they grew up watching. Spielberg was making his versions of the movies that he watched as a kid. Tarantino is doing his versions of those gangster and exploitation films from the 1970's that he loves so much. Every film maker begins somewhere and with this post I begin a series of post on the Fan Film.

This is my interview with Terell Culbert, the film maker behind  The Catwoman and the upcoming Gotham City Sirens. Before I begin I would like to thank him for agreeing to do this interview and to remind you guys there is time left to check out his campaign and help out.  You can do so by clicking here.

Q) Because there has been so many versions of each and every hero and villain that populate the Dark Knight universe it has given both writers and film makers more freedom to create their own versions of these classic characters. What lead you to do select this subject material?

A) The diversity. I love the fact that this motley crew tells their own story almost immediately. Selina is a villain with the possibility of one day becoming a hero. Ivy is a boss in my book! She’s got that perfect blend of insanity and leadership abilities. Harley is a mash-up between the Joker and Billy the kid.

Q) The fan short film The Catwoman is a slightly different take on the character than we have seen before. When writing an origin story did you feel any pressure to cling to what had been done before or did you feel free to tell the story in your own unique way?

A) I didn’t really feel pressured. Catwoman has always been this flirtatious vixen with a vague amount of depth. So I wanted to give people a unique origin story that explains why Selina is a villain with the potential for good.

Q) What was the shooting schedule like on The Catwoman? Also I must ask what type of camera did you use while filming it? Where you pleased with the results and will you be using it again on the new project?

A) Our shooting schedule for the Catwoman was pretty rough. The actors were involved in other projects already. So while we used four days to shoot the actual film. We wrapped in about three weeks. The camera I used was a Canon EOS Rebel T3i it’s a Digital SLR camera. I will absolutely be using it for this project and many others. It’s so easy to transport and use.

Q) How important is it to find the right actresses for Gotham City Sirens?

A) It was very important! While casting I found a lot of Actresses who had one or the other, the look, but not the personality or the personality, but not the look. When you do a fan film it has to come off authentic, in a way. My budget is ridiculously small so I can’t depend on great stunts or CGI. My performers have to make you believe that there is a corrupt city named Gotham that inhabits these awesome characters.

Q) I have told anyone who wants to work on a micro budget digital film that they should first watch that old Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special. The one where Charlie Brown and Snoopy make popcorn, buttered toast and jellybeans for Thanksgiving dinner and then they should take away the popcorn, jellybeans and butter from the toast so that they will begin understanding how little they should expect to be compensated while working on a film shoot. On any given day how many people are working behind the scenes on your film shoot?

A) (Laughs) Great example. Normally it’s just me, sometimes I am lucky to get a second or third person to help me.

Q) With the help of your crowdfunding campaign you are going to be producing Gotham City Sirens. What is the length that you are aiming for with this project?

A) 40 minutes.

Q) You are going to be taking on some pretty (in more ways that one) iconic characters from the Dark Knight universe in the forms of Harley Quinn, Catwoman and Poison Ivy. Is this a case of going big or go home, or did the story you have in mind when you began demand that all of them be included?

A) This film really did demand that I include other female characters who could stand with or against Selina. I feel like It’s a great installment to Catwoman’s universe.

Q) Some fan film makers only want to make fan films. I understand that you would like to branch out from this area of film making. In an idea world what kind of films are you making in the future?

A) Drama/ horror. I really like both those genres.

Q) Any final thoughts on making fans films in general.

A) There are a lot of awesome fan films out there with amazing special effects and cool movie props. However, this should never be the catalyst for making a film in my opinion. Each fan film that I have done is due to a long experience of reading watching and caring for these fictional characters.

    Thank you again for taking the time to do this interview. We all look forward to seeing the finished film.

Facebook Link.

Okay guys that is it for today. As always please take a moment to hit the like button on stumbleupon and to share this post on facebook.  Social media has to become a habit. This is the most important tool to the indie film maker. It is important for a kickstarter or indiegogo campaign to become a success and it is important for blogs like this to grow. By helping to grow an audience for others we grow an audience for ourselves and our future projects.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Check Out These Crowdfunding Campaigns

 There are a few crowdfunding campaigns that I would like to share with you guys today. I usually learn about campaigns from someone sending me a email or on google plus. I do not think that this campaign is more important than that campaign or this subject material is more worthy than that one. It usually comes down to the film maker, their passion for the project and the past work that they have done.

If any of you have a campaign starting up and want to talk about it please drop me a note by leaving a comment or visiting me on google plus and I will get back to you. Digital feature film making does not have to be a lonely business. It is okay to make connections along the way.

Okay first up is an international production. There is a few days left in this campaign so if you wish to get involved you will have to move quickly. I understand that this film maker shot her last film using a T2i, I would like to do an interview about that soon. - ນ້ອງຮັກ (Nong Hak / Dearest Sister) - A Lao Horror from Mattie Do on Vimeo.

  The next project that I want to look at is something that could be something very special. I like new twist on the horror film model. The film Mermaid Down could be that and more.


Mermaid Down - A Film In Pre-Production from Mermaid Down on Vimeo.

  Next up is a horror comedy titled Back from the Grave.

Anyone who knows me personally would tell you that I love Shakespeare. I cannot get enough of Shakespeare and someday I am going to shoot a twist on Hamlet. Okay that takes me to this kickstarter project, Thane of East County.

Next is the campaign for a horror film titled Headless.


  The last film is a Fan film. I think some of the best low budget film making is being done in the area of fan films. This one is from the Dark Knight universe, Gotham City Sirens.

Dominate The Stock Market

That will be it for today. On a personal note I would like to add that my screen writing book is now available again at Amazon. You can check it out by clicking the image on the right side of this page.

 Please take a moment to share this post and to like the post of stumbleupon.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Tokyo Grand Guignol, The Interview

 This is going to be a long interview so I will not do much in the  way of introduction except to say thank you to all of the film makers involved with Tokyo Grand Guignol and their producer and production company. If I am ever in Tokyo I intend to check in with them.

    Some projects stand out from the others and this one caught my attention at first because of visually stunning it looks. There are places on earth that seem to be saturated with more color. Tokyo seems to be one such place as the stills from this film look amazing. Then I studied the concept behind the project and I came away thinking I had to know more about this film. That lead me to contact the film makers and after overcoming a bit of a language barrier I have the interview below for you.
    Do not forget to visit their crowdfunding campaign. You can visit it by clicking here.

    Also I would like to thank Yann Moreau for making this interview happen.

Q)Before we begin the interview please take a few moments to tell us about your Indiegogo campaign.

A) First, thank you very much for your interest in our project! It was a long road to make it but because of the interest and passion, as yours, we could make it.
To come back on the indie gogo crowfunding campaign, what we can say is it's very helpful and always positive way to work on a project. We started to talk about TOKYO GRAND GUIGNOL more than 2 years ago, so, after all this time, and already 4 shooting, we make it because we need a little extra money to finish the movie in the best way possible (especially to make post production important steps like audio mixing, some CGI, start marketing, subtitle,...). The campaign will finish on June 16, and every coin is important for us! So, thank you by advance to your great reader.

Q) It would seem that this film touches a number of areas that most low budget film makers would want to know more about.   Most film makers would find it a daunting task to shoot a film in their home country and in their native language. Taking a subject like Grand Guignol and using it in a totally new setting had to be challenging. What advice do you wish you had received before you attempted this project?

A) To be honest, we started to talk about this project so long time ago, we mostly get prepared for the badest situation. As usual in this kind of indie movie, the best advise could be "don't wait too much, don't fear too much, just take your camera and shoot".  We tried first to get budget with the regular "asking to companies" way, but the concept was little bit to strange for most of japanese producers, haha.
Of course, the main challenge was to manage communication between french directors and japanese team, but our japanese producer (Hiroei Ishihara) selected always great teams, and Gilles Landucci and me  (Yann Moreau) worked as Associate Producers, like a link between the french way to work (just do it) and japanese way (let's think, to make it better).

Q) Grand Guignol started in France, how aware were you of this subject material before you were contacted about making this film?

A) This project started with the intention to ask french directors their "visions" about Tokyo and japanese "culture and life". By passion, we are all fans of fantasy and "genre" in cinema, so very quickly we were thinking it will be interesting to make scary stories, with the usual Grand Guignol style (imagination, blood and sensuality), in Tokyo.

Q)Shooting an Anthology is a difficult job when undertaken by one film maker. The most obvious problem that would have to be overcome when there are many film makers involved in the same project is at the level of the camera itself. Did the four film makers have to agree on types of cameras that would be used for this production and the frame rates?

A) For the camera work, we choose to make it all with Cannon mark 2 and 3, and some lenses generously provided by Cannon. Framerate is based on NTSC format. Except that, each director manages his own style of shooting, editing, ...

Q) The anthology film has never really been given the respect that they deserve by the film viewing public or by beginning film makers.  I got introduce to this genre of film making as a child by movies like Black Sabbath and Trilogy of Terror. Movies with a clearly defined binding element. In the case of Black Sabbath theme and in the case of Trilogy of Terror a single actress starring in each film that formed the Trilogy.
Recently we have seen in the US. films like V.H.S. and the ABC’s of Death. Were there films that made you eager to tackle this form of film making?

A) All the directors of TOKYO GRAND GUIGNOL made a lot of short films previously, and we all love anthology like Black Sabbath or Creepshow (in France, we were all wicked by the old VHS cover by Melki!).
We talked a lot of time to make one, but we didn't have enough strong concept, and new, to make one. Until TGG.

Q) This project came with basic rules.  (The rules of this project are simple: A limited budget, total freedom and imaginative stories of 25 minutes which need to include a kiss and be mostly shot at night.) Did the film makers involved find these simple rules restricting or liberating?

A)I think in the case of the 4 directors, it's was a good thing to have a common base to make a strong identity to the movie. But usually, the more freedom we have, the better it is.
At beginning, 7 directors were involved, but because it was difficult to keep the schedule, budget and duration for each story (15 min become 20/25min now for each one); we split the project in 2. Now we are making the 4 first stories (by Nicolas Alberny, Francois Gaillard, Gilles Landucci and Yann Moreau), which will make a 90min feature film. Then, hopefully, we want to make a Volume 2, with the others directors already planned (Xavier Gens from THEV DIVIDE and FRONTIERs, Jean Frederic Chaleyat and Frederic Grousset. All associates producers now)

Q) About the production of the film. Where the films being shot all at the same time or where spaced out over weeks or even months? Secondly was their ever moments when the film makers and or their casts had the chance to interact?

A) Our brave producer took the good decision to set 1 shooting every 3 months, to keep the energy, but in same time to have enough time to prepare well each shooting.
Depending of the directors, each shooting was 7 days to 9 days.

Q) Also from the crowdfunding campaign I see that you all had the same production crew.  Some film makers prefer to use their own personnel particularly behind the camera or even man the camera themselves. Did this ever become an issue?

A)This movie was made in the very independant way, with a limited budget, so our plan from the beginning was to hire only director who can handle themselves the camera work, editing, ...
But because we know each others very well, and are friends, we were happy to give an hand if the director asked. There was 1 main director on each story, mostly helped by another one (for second camera, time to time, or help), with a commun base for sound, assistant, ... and always great and very gentle actors team!
Everybody was so great anyway!

Q) Tokyo is one of the most visually stunning cities on earth. I hope to film their someday. With such a canvas available to you were their times when the city itself felt like a character in your project?

A) Depending of the sensibility of each director. Some prefers focus on japanese interiors and story culture, others focus on outdoor shooting to play with the Tokyo Architecture. On the 4 directors, i think it will be an interesting 50/50 style. On my side, i fell in love of Tokyo 7 years ago. Since this time, i always wanted to show some particular places.
Each single station of Tokyo has his own personnality, style, like a small town. That’s a huge pleasure to shoot there (and live there, haha). If you like strange modern architectures, please come in Tokyo Rodney!

Q) Looking at what is called Asian cinema from a distance it is difficult to get a feeling for the state of independent film making in a country like Japan. Has the Dslr cameras and availability of low cost editing software impacted film making there as much as it has here in the US.?  Also since the directors involved are from France, how has it affected film making in their home country?

A) In Japan, there is no place for independant filmmakers, in the way of Sundance style. Or you make your movie by yourself (with your own money), or you make it in production company (and it will look like a TV Drama, for 90%). But sometimes, it's working. My friend Akira Ikeda just got many prizes around the world with his super indie "Anatony of paperclip".  Bravo!
In France, if it's very difficult, or incredibly looooong, to get money for official (lazy) producers, it's really possible to get money help from gouverment, and free services from technicians and actors (even famous).
We can not complain too much, haha. In Japan, it's almost impossible to get something free/inexpensive (locations, actor, services,...); thats why it's very difficult for indie producer.
That’s why we are very grateful to Dice Entertainment and Hiroei Ishihara.

Q) What are the plans for Tokyo Grand Guignol when it is completed?

A)First, we plan to show the movie in festivals Tour, then we hope to get a passionate distributor to take car of it, And a great co-producer to help for the Volume 2, ahah.

Q) Any final thoughts or advice for the beginning digital feature film maker?

A)As i mention, make a movie is a very long road. Most of the people will say it's impossible, or not reasonable, but now, with DLSR and strong computer, our beautifulest dreams come true.
So, we have no excuse to try. Do your best, even in uneasy situation, and you will be always proud of your work. Good luck to everyone!!!

Again thank you very much for taking time out to do this interview. We all look forward to seeing the finished product.

Each one of us during any given year will pick the one or two crowdfunding campaigns that we personally get involved with. My contribution is usually to invest my time and effort in getting the word out about a project. Some projects I like more than others. This is one of those projects that I love. The location, the story elements. The fact that it is an Anthology. The fact that they are seeking a reasonable sum of money.

 Indiegogo Page click here.

For this campaign to reach its goal it does not require much more than for you guys to spread the word about it.  Twitter is a place to do this along with facebook. I am one of those people who if anyone ask me about movies I have a dozen new ones to talk about each week along with my plans for one or two that I want to do. This is one film that I am going to mention here at this blog a few more times as they near the end of their campaign. I may even pull out the Surfin Bird song to get my point across.

Thank you for dropping by. We are going to get back to the found footage series soon. I think that their asre two interviews left in the series and then we are probably going to investigate the state of low budget film making in other countries. Also I am thinking about adding a directors reel page and an actors page. There are a lot of actors who have mentioned to me that they are looking for work, but cannot get a hundred people in a year to check out their reels.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Crowdfunding Campaigns Worth Checking Out

    Indiegogo and Kickstarter have become huge parts of the indie film making landscape. Develop a kickass concept and trailer and you could be well on your way to getting the funds needed to complete your film.

Most of us have read the stories about films like the Veronica Mars’s movie raising millions of dollars. Many of us believed that the world did not need to have another moment of the Veronica Mars universe inflicted upon us, but what we believe does not matter if there were, and since it pulled in around five million dollars from its fans, thousands of people willing to donate their money to the cause.

    The pool of money out there to be dipped into is limited not by who ever else is at the pool at that time, but by our ability to find our core audience and convince them to become engaged with our projects.

    Crowdfunding is the best thing to ever happen to those of us who have zero interest in dealing with the Hollywood system. Hollywood had three things to hold over the indie film maker. Its distribution network. With the growth of VOD and theaters being equipped with digital projectors we can get our films out to the public without them. The second thing was money. Movies cost millions of dollars to make.
Now they can be done for thousands. Special effects cost millions and now you can do most of them yourself.  With crowd funding the money problem can be met and overcome. The last part is stars. They have access to quality actors while if your were a micro budget film maker you had access to retired clowns and sock puppets. I got news for Hollywood, there are some fantastic actors out here and they are starving for work.

Before I get to the campaigns I would like to do a bit of a follow up to one of the crowdfunding interviews that I did last year. It was perhaps my favorite interview and strangely the least read of all of them. Also it was the most successful campaign of them all. The interview was Me + You. If you would like to read the complete interview you can find it in my film making book. Available at the right side of this page.

    Now lets get to the campaigns. Some are ending soon so please jump in if you wish to help. Taking five minutes to share a campaign is the best thing you can do.  You reach a few hundred people with your social media and in turn they reach a few thousand. Somewhere down the line someone hears about a campaign and they will donate. This is powerful where campaigns are only seeking a few thousand dollars.

The first campaign is also a preview of my next interview. It is an Anthology shot by four French film makers in Japan. They are looking for money to help finish the film. Check out Tokyo Grand Guignol.

Next is one of my favorite topics being tackled as a live action film. The genre is Anime.

Next up is an actual horror anthology. Yeah, I know, two in one post. I have to admit that I wish that anthology was as popular as Found Footage.  This one is titled THE MORTUARY COLLECTION and can be found at kickstarter         .

The next is a sort of throwback to tradition kind of horror. The movie is titled
The Uncanny Alley.

The last film is sort of a Viking Epic that will be shot in Norway. I may have to interview these guys. I have to know how this kind of medieval film making is done. The movie is titled From Ashes To Embers.


Okay that will be it for today. My next post will be my interview with the film makers behind Tokyo Grand
Guignol. Good luck with you film making and remember to share this post and the films mentioned in this post. If any of you have a crowdfunding campaign leave me a message as a comment or on google plus and I will see if I can highlight it here.

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