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Sunday, December 12, 2010

So that was the final entry into the HH log

But I continued to blog about it in private, anything that happened to do with HH. So, in the continuing effort to amuse you faceless masses, I will post those too...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

So there was this contest...

I can't remember how it came up. I think someone mentioned that I ought to do a "Hunting Humans" comic book, and I said I didn't have the time, and this writer buddy chimed in that he could write it.

I guess I probably looked at him funny. He then got a little insulted and said, "What, you don't think I can do it?" And I said that really, no one can get Aric Blue's voice to really sound like it should(and by voice I mean the way they talk, their personality).

So--and you'd think he was drunk, but he doesn't drink--he says "I bet I can write Aric better than you can." And I remember laughing.

He devised a contest--we would both write one issue of a "Hunting Humans" comic and get three objective people to take a look.

About six weeks later we both had our comics. I really just translated the beginning of my "Hunting Humans 3" script into comic form(I didn't have the time to write any new stuff, and please don't ask me about HH2).

We only found 2 judges(one was the other writer's wife) and we turned them over with no author's names on them anywhere. We asked 3 questions: Which was a better comic, which did they like better, and which one was closer to the Aric from the movie.

The first judge(our very own Stewie) emailed me his results--all three in my favor. He thought the other Aric was far too angry to be the Aric from HH.

Then the other judge chimed in(after informing me that she thought she could tell the difference in the scripts just by looking at the formatting, and she was right)--she liked the other writer's script as a comic better, but she agreed my Aric was closer to the movie. (Personally, I think she just said she liked his better out of pity)

So we don't need a third judge, because I've already won two out of three.

The point is...I don't think anyone can write Aric better than I can. I created him. He lives in me, since a huge part of me is him. I've written two and half scripts with him, as well as a ten page bio sheet before I started HH.

The other writer had my wife and I over for dinner the other day where he tried to lose graciously, and failed. Better luck next time!

Monday, October 4, 2010

May 25th, 2003

HH never made us any real money. It slightly more than broke even, but got us a nice profile. We got some very good reviews and MTI got it into every Blockbuster and Hollywood Video out there.

IFM still has the foreign rights and I never did audit them. Frankly, if I had the money I would, but I think by the end of it I'd end up spending so much on an accountant that we'd owe even more money...

We had an expense cap at which point they couldn't take expenses any more, and it's funny how they seem to stop selling your title when the expenses reach that cap.

MAY 25th

Final entry in my HH diary. I’ve started the Fear Of Clowns diary, so this will just sort of move into that.
HH comes out on July 22nd. It’s been given an R rating by the MPAA.

So far I’ve only gotten one check from Tulchin but I’m expecting two more for the domestic distribution, then some for the foreign. We'll basically break even on the deal for domestic, but my main objective was to get our movie distributed so we can aim a little higher on the next flick.

On the foreign front, we got a statement from IFM--the foreign guys--that says they’ve sold $31,000 worth of territories. They’ve collected like $14,000 of that, and they’re billing us like $18,000 in expenses.

Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? Clearly I’m going to have to audit the company. More money out of my pocket.

Anyway, feels strange to end this diary, but since I’m really just continuing on in the other one, I guess it’s not so bad.

One movie down. Infinity to go. One movie at a time.

 HH article in Fangoria

Thursday, September 2, 2010

We Interrupt This Blog

To bring you this--we're trying to raise the last 25% of our budget on the new flick through crowd-sourcing via Indiegogo. So we're asking everybody's help!

But don't worry--there's some cool incentives to be had with your donation! Check out the link below to see the teaser and more info!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

March 16th, 2003

March 16, 2003

Okay. Was the Joe Bob thing back in October? For real?

Damn. The quick summary then.

We’ve signed both foreign and domestic deals for Hunting Humans. The foreign with IFM was done first. They recently sent me magazines from AFM and MIFED with ads for Hunting Humans including the poster.
AFM and MIFED are two of the biggest marketplaces for selling movie rights. IFM attends both.

One of the magazines has a small article where they credit Lisa Michele with being in Enemy of the State.
See, when I was making the press kit I couldn’t get Lisa’s bio. I called her, I emailed her. Nothing. So I made it up. I said she’d had parts in Enemy of the State, The Replacements, and a few other movies shot locally.

Apparently they liked that and used it in the article.

Pretty funny.

Anyway, part of the whole distribution process is “delivery”. That’s where you have to get them the master and it needs to pass “quality control”. We had TONS of problems. Cost a bit of money to fix it. That will, of course, be coming out of our end.

It took a lot of time, but now we’re just waiting to hear when and where the movie will come out. The contract has a tentative date of May 15th, so we’ll see. The day I walk into Blockbuster Video and see it on their shelf will be the last big high for Hunting Humans.
Meantime, we’re prepping for Fear Of Clowns.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

November 1st, 2002: Email to Rick from Joe Bob Briggs

Rick got this reply from Joe Bob, in which he's referring to the rash of snipings in the D.C. area in regards to HH's subject material:

Email from Joe Bob to Rick:

Dear Rick,
>         Oh my God! You made that movie and you live
> in Maryland? Has Chief
> Moose been to your house yet? You guys have either
> the best or the worst
> timing of any filmmakers in history!
>         GREAT job, man. You convinced me.
> Hang in there,
> Joe Bob

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Special Excerpt: Stalking Kevin Smith at Phillycon 2002

This hot chick really has nothing to do with this story...

I mean, first off, how many people have stalked Kevin Smith? It must drive him crazy...Also, it's funny to read that I was trying to give him a tape. Yes, a VCR, times change fast.

Anyway, I'm at the Philadelphia Wizard Convention in 2002 on Friday and I miss an early chance to get into a line to get him to sign shit. That is where the story begins...

Stalking of Kevin Smith:

I find out that Kevin Smith is signing stuff right then. I grab my movie and high-tail it over to him. They've capped off the line though. No more people until the signing the next morning.

Yes, that's right, morning. As in, A.M.

I try to put it from my mind. I buy some stuff for the store, try to get the lay of the land, and in general do nothing of consequence.

The next morning I get up at the ungodly time of 9:45am. I take my patented three-minute shower and am in the show within five minutes of it opening. Target: Kevin Smith.

I'm informed that they're already out of tickets for the signing. I'm like, What The Fuck? This guy's the Special Guest and they're giving out like 100 tickets?

My new plan involves bum-rushing Smith when they escort him in for the signing. The line has formed and he's supposed to show up at 11:00 A.M.

I figure I'll catch him on his way in, force the tape into his hands, and run off like a lunatic.

So I bide my time. I look at all the freakos and the Playboy chicks. I pretend I'm not going to assault the Special Guest.

One such Playboy chick

The time comes. 11:00 A.M. No Kevin Smith. 11:15 A.M. No Kevin Smith. I go back to the booth to make sure the guys don't need anything. As I'm coming back, Kevin Smith shows up. No way could I get to him before he was behind the line.

Thwarted! Lost the battle, but not the war...

Yes, I see him now...

I go up to the line. Instead of Smith sitting at a table signing, he's going to walk through the line chatting and signing. How cool would it be to get in that line?

I approach a decent-looking fellow. Not one of those raving Kevin Smith fans who can tell you how many minutes each of his films are. A regular joe. I ask him if he wants to make $50.

"Doing what?" he wants to know. I tell him. Give this tape to Smith. If Smith doesn't want it, fine, the guy can keep the fifty and give me back the tape. I'll be watching.

The guy says Nah.

I'm pissed. He asks me what's on the tape. I tell him. He says Nah again.

So I try to bribe a Wizard security guy. I tell him "I'm a retailer and I got in here too late to get a ticket. Any way I can get in?" He says no, Smith was late and has to get done so he can get to the question and answer panel.

"Fifty bucks?" I prod him. Clearly he'd like to, but there are too many other Wizard staffers there who'd see. He can't.

Now I'm getting steamed. All this effin work to get a tape to the guy. I decide to bum rush him on the way out then.

I spend the next two hours patiently watching and waiting. Some might say stalking. Those people are very intelligent and scare me.

Same picture, because I'm focused on my prey. He's in my sights.

The line dwindles. Smith gets closer to the exit side of the line.

I close in. I try not to make eye contact. Don't want to spook him.


I marvel at how Lou Ferrigno(signing right next to Smith) is still in awesome shape. Isn't he like sixty years old now?

Then, miracle of miracles, Smith is done. Other onlookers start to press against the rope trying to get him to sign stuff. He does!

I make a frozen rope right to him. Calm, cool, collected. "Hey," I say, "Just wanted to give you a copy of my movie."

He tells me he can't take it right now, but he'll be going by the Oni booth immediately after that and he'll pick it up there. Give it to Brian Johnson.

I thank him, but inside I'm crestfallen. Is this the way he blows off people? Hey, what's that chick got to do with anything?

At the Oni booth, I tell the guy that Kevin asked me to give this to Brian Johnson. He's nice, says he'll give it to him. He goes through the hut in the middle of the booth to the other side.

I take off my hat(incognito now, baby!) and walk around the other side. Brian Johnson is one of the guys from Kevin Smith's movies(I think he plays Steve-Dave). He takes out the insert of the movie poster from Hunting Humans(my movie) and looks at it, shows it to one of the other actors from the Smith movies.

After a moment he tucks it under the table. Will Kevin get it? Only one way to find out.

I go back to where Smith is finishing signing. He's being mobbed and the Wizard guys are trying to get him out of there. Finally, they escort him away. Like his shadow, I follow.

Sure enough, he goes right to the Oni booth. A mob follows him. As soon as he's on the other side, Brian Johnson(may his camels be forever flea-less) hands him my tape. Some words pass, but I can't make them out. Smith takes my tape into the little hut where he disappears for a half an hour to sign things.

He's got it! Sweet! Mission accomplished. I pat myself on the back and go snap some pictures. Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee are signing in preparation for the twelve-issue run of Batman that they'll be doing. Jeph even smiles for me.

Postnote: I don't know whether he ever watched it. Never heard. Ah, well. It's a fun story now though...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

October 27th, 2002: Making Deals, Joe Bob review

I have no picture for my post. So here's a hot chick I took a picture of at a comic convention where I stalked Kevin Smith. You'll read about it in the next blog post.


Funny afterword about this:
I'm not sure if we actually played the Chicago fest or not--one of our foreign dvd covers to HH says we played in it, so I'm confused...where'd they get that info? I don't know.

Also, Tony at IFM turns out to be Anthony Ginnane, who you can see in the very entertaining documentary Not Quite Hollywood, about Australian exploitation movies. He produced a bunch of movies before forming his own distribution label.


    Really ought to update this more often. So much has happened that it’s hard to believe.

    Okay, first and foremost, after a long talk with not only Paul(works at Tulchin’s) and Tony at IFM, we signed the deal with them for foreign. We’ll see how it works out.

    Second, I had sent the movie off to a couple of festivals to see if we could get in. Chicago Independent and Hollywood Film Festival both blew us off, not even telling us we didn’t get in. I mean, how hard is it to email someone? If you’ve got a small indy movie, DON’T send it to them. Chicago claims it’s independent but doesn’t seem to be.

    Anyway, the B-movie Film festival didn’t tell us that we got in, but they emailed me to tell us we were nominated for seven awards, so I’ll forgive them. Best Writing, Best Editing, Best Action Sequences, Best Villain, Best Actor, Best Score and Best Movie. Not bad! (Footnote: We ended up winning two, Best Editing and Best Action Sequences)

    And then there’s the sniper…

    If I had a dime for every person who jokingly asked me if I was the sniper, I’d have enough money to shoot my next movie.

    Then I get word from Mary Koon, assistant to Joe Bob Briggs.

A quick word about Joe Bob, in case you don’t know who he is.  You might remember him from his long run as the host of TNT’s Monstervision. He writes several syndicated columns throughout the country as well as putting out books with his compiled “Joe Bob’s Drive In” movie reviews.

 I had sent a screener to Joe Bob like eight months ago and figured it went into the trash(where the one I gave Kevin Smith probably is—see “Stalking Kevin Smith”(NOTE: WILL BE THE NEXT BLOG POST). 

Anyway, his assistant emails me to tell me Joe Bob’s review goes up on 10/23 and she thought I’d like it. She included the review with her email.

I was elated. At least he didn’t hate it! And hey, Joe Bob actually watched MY movie! This is a guy I used to watch on the freakin’ TV! I’ve got two of his books!

Then I read the review.

Holy shit. I was like…HOLY SHIT. He RAVED about the movie. I couldn’t have written a nicer review if I tried. He wrote:“The story twists and spirals several times in the very accomplished script of Kangas, and this might be one of those movies that's actually helped by the low production values. It looks so grainy and gray it's the kind of home movie a serial killer would make about himself.” Wow.

A few of the other words he used are: “It doesn’t disappoint.” “A well-directed movie”. “…eerily prescient”(go look it up). And then he gives it four out of four stars.

Quite literally, it’s the biggest high I’ve gotten since I finished the movie, including the public screening at United Artists. I mean…HOLY SHIT.

Another thing, Joe Bob GOT it. He actually understood the movie and some of the underlying themes. Few people have commented on the irony about Aric Blue, that he prides himself on how self-aware he is, and yet he’s caught in the same trap that he uses to kill his victims.(his pattern is that he stalks and kills people)

Believe me, I’m coasting on a high right now.

So anyway, we’re in the midst of negotiating the details of the domestic deal. What happened was that I couldn’t find any info about the company who wanted the movie. I thought it was Spartan—turns out it wasn’t.

I have to sign a non-disclosure agreement before I can find out who it is. I can’t say, but they’re small. I talk to the guy in charge who says he’s 95% sure they can get HH into Hollywood Video. They can’t make any promises about Blockbuster, but they have gotten movies in there before.

Out of the thirty grand, I’m gonna have to pay for an MPAA rating which will run about two grand. Then I have to pay Harris $1500 to go through HH looking for any copyright violations and other stuff, as it’s a pre-requisite for getting E&O insurance(which the distributor will pay for).

So the piece of the pie is getting smaller. Harris gets 10% of the thirty grand. In essence, we’ll be making our budget back from the domestic. If all goes well with the foreign, we could make up to 150 grand on that.
Biding my time to see if we get any other responses about the Joe Bob thing.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

July 27th, 2002: Offers

Hey, look! Really bad pre-photoshop(I used Corel Photopaint) poster mock-up.  

Last week we got an offer from IFM Film Associates. It boils down to a percentage deal on all sales, but they’re kind of like a middle-man. I check another filmmaker who used them, and he tells me they have yet to make a dime after the advance.

    Which is weird, because IFM claims they’ve done about $150,000 in sales, so I don’t know what kind of expenses they’re claiming.

    And oh, IFM claims they’re “marginally less enthusiastic about this title, as opposed to [another movie they name] because it has a much grittier look and is less clearly generic.” That’s right, our movie is too original.

    Gonna turn that one down.

    Then tonight Paul at Tulchin’s emails me that we have a new offer from Spartan Video, a buyout offer. They want the US rights for $30,000. We’ll still be able to sell cable/TV rights and foreign. It’s a low offer, but it’s money up front, which is what I’m looking for. That back-end money is for shit when you can’t trust any of these companies.

    So now I have to figure if it’s a good idea. It’s more than the entire budget of our movie, but not as high as we wanted. If I’m confident that Spartan can get the movie into Blockbuster and Hollywood Video though, I may go with them anyway. Time to get some money and move on.

Friday, June 4, 2010


Man, it's like foreshadowing! I name Lion's Gate as a possible distributor, and they end up picking up my next movie(which is also mentioned in this same entry).

Ransom is still a script I like a lot. But it's really not that marketable without a real cast.


    Did the press kits. They turned out pretty nice, but cost about $450. I send twenty-five of the fifty I’ve made, plus screeners to Tulchin. Two weeks later he emailed me a list of the distributors he sent them out to. Some of the names are Universal, Warner Bros, HBO, Showtime.

    I wonder if Harris has even seen the movie. Ain’t no way this is a big-studio movie. I’m thinking more like Fine Line(who is also on the list) and Lion’s Gate.

    Harris lets me know he needs more screeners. I email him and say I’ll send him another fifteen, but that these things aren’t M&M’s and these are the last ones I can send to him for a while.

    In retrospect, I wish I’d had the press kits when I sent out screeners to the festivals we applied to. Would have made a better impression on the judges.

    Anyway, I can now sit back and hopefully wait for the offers to pour in. I’ve finished Ransom For A Psychopath, one of the scripts I was thinking about shooting, but it would cost too much money. Still aiming at Fear Of Clowns. Got about 90 pages done, still working out some kinks.

Friday, May 14, 2010

April 30th, 2002 - Back East Pt2

I get up about one p.m and don’t feel so hot. My wife shows up. I get them to go get me something to eat, and then I throw up some and sleep some more.

After they bring me a sub, I feel a little better. None of us make any move to go into town and watch any movies. Fuck that.

After a while, my wife and I get ready for the awards show. No way am I thinking we’re going to win an award.

You see, the actor Frank Vincent is being honored at the awards gala. He’s also got a movie running in the competition. Now ask me what movie I think is going to win.

It does. Then Best Feature in another category goes to some movie whose producer also helped put on the festival. Conflict of interest, anyone?

The director of that feature also gets Best Screenplay and Best Director. Everyone in the joint seems to know him. I’m feeling like more of a stooge by the minute. I can see this whole thing was planned out before they even started the show.

Well, the dinner took place at the Liberty House, so that was neat. New York City skyline in the background, Statue Of Liberty off to the right. Everyone in suits and tuxes.

My wife and I go back to the room. We’re going to try to go into New York City, but by the time we get ready, it’s pouring rain.

We go back to the room and say fuck it. The whole weekend has pretty much sucked. I spent roughly seven hundred dollars of money I don’t have.

So now I’m sitting here a couple of nights later and the whole thing is like this mini-nightmare. I just never expected a first-year festival to be this political. Christ, it’s who you know even at these little festivals.

I’ve got to jam on these press kits. Hunting Humans has to get out there. I’m working on the screenplay to Fear Of Clowns right now. It’s more of a straight romantic horror mystery. You know.

Monday, May 10, 2010

April 30th, 2002 - Back East Pt1

I believe this is where my hate of New Jersey started. And something I remember from right after we first got to NJ: Rick and I are walking back from where we grabbed lunch and we see a girl, maybe 18, walking the opposite direction from us.

She's crying, and pulling a suitcase behind her. Rick and I watched her walk past. I mean, what were we going to do?

Anyway, the entire night in New York is just one giant surreal thing in my mind. Bizarre. I guess that's New York.
April 30th

We got home from the Back East Picture Show. It took place from the 25th to the 28th of this month. Things started bad. Should have taken it as an omen and gone home right then.

Rick and I left for it on Wednesday night. I had made reservations at an Econo Lodge about two miles from the actual hotel we’d be staying at for the next couple of days(by then it was booked up for that night because we’d planned on coming down on Thursday).

My plan was to get the lay of the land, put some flyers out at the theater, etc. Try to get some people to come to our showing.

What happened was that we got into town within 3 hours. It took us about another hour to find the goddamn hotel. The guy I called didn’t speak much English. He was no help. We finally stopped at the Doubletree and I checked to make sure my reservation was fine and got directions from that guy.

After a small misdirection,we got to the hotel. It was a dump. You at least expect an Econo Lodge to be decent, but this was in a crappy part of town. Tons of construction, lots of litter and crap all over. The rug in our room was stained and burned in places. I didn’t want to put my head on the pillow, the room was that crappy.

We figured to get up early and get over to the theater. I set my alarm for 9:30am.

We get up and roll out. I buy a map of Jersey City at the hotel. We head toward what we hope is the theater.

Construction prevents us from taking certain roads. We keep getting detoured to other roads. We find some of the roads we’re supposed to be on, but they’re not going where we want.

I ask a couple of people where the theater is and they’re like “That’s in Hoboken, right?” as if it’s forty miles away. The paper I have says it’s about three miles away.

It takes us, no shit, two hours to find the theater. No shit. And it was only three miles away.

It’s raining like a bitch, we’re pissed off about what a crappy city Jersey City is, and finally we stumble into the theater.

Hudson Street Cinemas is a two-screen theater. Small and quaint. I meet the guy putting the festival on who seems fairly nice, but he’s asking me questions about how did I do the sound for my movie. I don’t know what the fuck he’s talking about. It’s called a microphone, chief.

He wants to know if we’re going to the seminar or something. I tell him we just want to go get something to eat. We’re hungry and tired from being lost.

We get some lunch at a little crappy steak joint. They don’t serve fries. They serve some onion-covered potato thing. A thimble of bitter cold slaw. The burger is okay.

We head back for our screening, dreading it. You see, they’ve not only given us a bad time slot, but they’ve put us opposite the Director’s Lounge where everyone can go get free drinks and schmooze with the other filmmakers.

Five people come to our showing. Two of them told us beforehand that they would be leaving a little early to go to the Lounge. So then we had three people.

Great, I’m thinking, as I watch the movie for the millionth time. How can we win an award when only three people are watching it?

After the movie, they took a few pics of us. We rushed off to the Lounge. Had some drinks, chatted with some people. Everyone was very transparent with their “What can you do for me?” attitudes. Passing tapes and business cards.

At least we find out that there will be judges voting for the best movies, not the audiences.

That night we go to bed early. I need the sleep. I figure we’ll party the next night. We’ve been passing out cards with invitations to a screening of HH in our room with free drinks.

Friday rolls along. We head to the theater, where it seems no one is taking part of the showings. No one seems to care. Where are all the filmmakers?

We catch a movie called Peroxide Passion. Not bad. Some good acting performances by the leads, but some of the directing is off(or it could be the editing, it’s hard to tell without seeing what they had to work with).

I’m bored. Kinda pissed. We can’t find where people are hanging out, if they even are, so we can’t pass out some more invitations. We want some people to come to the screening in our room, but we’re getting a bad feeling.

I make Rick watch Living In Oblivion. He didn’t find it as funny as I did. He’s real jaded. He gets into these little bitter moods. I can feel it too, but I repress it. Time to get pissed later.

We get some dinner and go to the theater to see what it’s like. Tonight they’re screening the movie that the guy who put on the festival shot, but it’s not in the competition.

There’s a decent crowd out front. Danny Aiello walks by. Some other actors whose faces you know but names you don’t. We decide not to go to the screening. I’m not feeling like watching any of these fucking “filmmakers” movies, ‘cause they didn’t come to mine, did they?

We head back to the bar that hosted the Director’s Lounge. We get some drinks. We head back to the hotel at about 11:30pm. I get the room ready, get some liquor ready.

No one shows. No one. Rick’s pissed. I’m pissed. What the fuck are all these people doing?

Rick and I take the Path, a subway that runs into New York. We get out on 14th street and catch a cab, telling the guy to take us to any happening bar. The guy has no idea what we’re talking about. (He doesn’t seem to speak fluent English; go figure)

Finally he drives us to some strip with a couple of bars on it. We head into one called Bar515 and get some beers. After a while, two girls wander over and ask us what the badges around our necks are. We tell them. One girl is named Rebecca I think, and the other girl is some Hungarian girl who doesn’t speak much English.

Rebecca’s a wanna-be actress. She’s pretty with a good body, but I don’t think she’s got the intelligence to be a good actress.

Bar515 closes at 4am, so they ask us if we wanna go to another bar with them. We’re wasted. We say sure.

They take us over to some theater that’s hosting a Neil Simon play. Some mook is letting some people in the back door, but they won’t let us in, even with the girls. Another guy comes up and Rebecca talks to him. He hands the big black bouncer a hundred dollar bill and we’re in. Let me tell you that I have no idea why that happened.

We’re ushered up some dark stairs into an even darker room. Little black couches, bluish neon lighting around the walls. I get five drinks, which come to thirty six bucks. Rick has to pay for it, ‘cause all I got is plastic at that point, and they won't take credit cards.

We hang around chatting on the couch and then suddenly the girls are gone. They went through some door that is opened and shut periodically to admit certain desirables, of which we are not.

That clinches it. We finish the drinks and get out of there. Where ever we are, it’s close to Times Square, because that’s where we end up.

It’s like Vanilla Sky. There’s no one there. A lone hot dog vendor. We get a hot dog for Rick and a pretzel for me.

Then we head home. We get off the fuckin’ path at the wrong place and have to hoof it about a mile. It seems like ten miles when you’re drunk.

When I get back I call my wife and tell her to go ahead and come if she wants to. The festival isn’t anything like I expect.

I go to bed at about eight a.m.

Monday, May 3, 2010

April 21st, 2002

The interesting anecdote here is that the theater that we used to premiere "Hunting Humans" was the actual theater where Shivers would stalk Lynn and Tuck in "Fear of Clowns".

My projectionist buddy James Fellows got us into both theaters, and dies in both movies.

The line to get into the auditorium.

April 21st

    The screening was yesterday.

    I’ll start off by telling you how soured I am on the state of Maryland in terms of help they give to filmmakers. How about zero?

    I was reticent about mentioning this stuff, ‘cause you don’t want to burn your bridges(but since I may be the only one reading this and I can always hit the delete key), but when we first started prep for the movie I sent a letter to the head of the Maryland Producer’s Club. One Jed Dietz.

    It asked if he had any advice or could offer any help obtaining permits.

    No response.

    I let that slide. Who knows what happened to the letter? I was too busy to ever give it another shot.

    So I put together this screening. My wife makes a bunch of press kits and sends them to the local television stations, newspapers, you name it. We waited a week and got no response.

    I call and email a butt-load of the local newspapers. A small local one called “The Gazette” responds, but that’s it.  Rick and I do an interview that comes out in the April 13th newspaper. It’s pretty good, but the paper is too small to be much help.

    I fax the Sun(the biggest local paper), since I’ve already emailed them and snail mailed them. No response. I think perhaps they have too many good stories. I pick up one and read an article about how to make old furniture look like new furniture.

    I decide they don’t have too many good stories. Finally one of them calls three days before the screening. They want to interview me over the phone. Great, I say. I do the interview. I ask whether they’re going to send someone out to see the movie. They tell me no, they’re doing the story on me and that’s it.

    Totally defeats the purpose. If I wanted a story on me, I’d make it up myself. I need some good quotes, some critics saying they liked the movie.

    My wife called three of the television stations who all say they’re going to try to get a crew out, but it’s a busy Saturday for news.

Me and the wife outside the theater


    I got five hours of sleep the past two nights. Just kept thinking about all the shit I had to do. I did a test run with my computer and made a copy for the VCR in case something drastic happens once we get to the theater.

    It all seems to be going okay. Ticket sales had been okay, but I figured to get a lot more people showing up after hearing about it in the Sun.

    I arrived early(8:15am) at the theater. My buddy had told me a site rep was coming out to supervise us, which was really bad because I was using the theater’s digital projector and sound system when I was expressly told not to.

    We devise a big lie where I brought in all this equipment the night before. To top it off, we’re moving the showing into the biggest theater. I’m worried about the site rep, but I’ve run a couple of scenarios through my head depending on how the person is.

    We get everything set up. We test the sound, get it to the right level. My wife starts blocking off sections for cast/crew/press. I’m running all over. Waiting for Jeff and Paul to show up so I can hand them the video camera and still camera and tell them what to shoot.

    Nine o’clock comes around. One of my employees shows up to be the ticket taker. Jeff shows up shortly after that. Then my brother. Good to go. Nine thirty shows up and there’s still only friends and family.

    I put on the tickets to arrive between 9:45 and 10:00, but you’d still expect some people to show up early. I’m getting worried. I’d hoped for big crowds already. A huge line.

    I start to feel a little better as people arrive. A line does form. It’s not as many people as I’d hoped, but it’s a decent crowd. I get them in a line and have Paul take a picture so you can see what they’re waiting for.

    A few people ask Rick to stand in front of the movie poster so they can take his picture. Funny stuff.

    Everyone gets let in, taking their seats. I stall, hoping more people will show up, or maybe the press. So far, we haven’t seen one press person. That pisses the shit out of me. I guess a movie shot by a Maryland filmmaker in Maryland gets screened all the time at the movie theater.

    Fuckers. This state sucks for indy film.

    Rick and I get up front and say a few words. There may have been 150-200 people there, but in a 450 seat auditorium, it didn’t look like many. I’d had an idea of what I was gonna say and I still blew it. Public speaking is not my forte.

    The movie starts and I run upstairs to get my seat where I can see everyone’s reaction. Rick and my wife are sitting near me.

    The lead-in to the credits didn’t get a whole lot of reaction. I didn’t expect it to really. I imagine a lot of people are slightly shocked, wondering what they’ve stumbled into.

    The movie rolled on. Some scenes that got a reaction at other showings don’t get any reaction and vice versa(the “Must be the pickels” line got NO laugh, while Rick’s naked ass garnered a lot). Rick looked over at me when they laughed at his naked ass with a look that plainly said Fuck You.

    The reaction that most pleased me was when Jeff gets his throat cut in the movie theater. There were a lot of people sucking in a breath when it happened(it was THAT loud) and then a lot of uncomfortable movement. Very cool.

    As expected, people jumped when Paul got clubbed, but I think even more jumped at Rick getting punched after he gets out of the bath.

    Then, disaster.

    Last half hour of the movie, the sound begins reverberating. Every noise, every dialogue, every narration. I RACE up the stairs and stop the movie. I push the space bar, hoping everything will clear itself up, which it normally does.

    Nope. I try again. Nope.

    Finally I load the old version of the movie and hit play and it works. But that meant I would have to come back up and self-load the outtakes. I’m pissed and embarrassed. The one time I need the thing to work and it screws up.

    After the movie everyone seemed to enjoy the outtakes. Lots of laughs. A bunch of people waited around to say hi and tell us how much they enjoyed it. Very cool, but I’m still stewing. No press whatsoever. They’re the fucking reason I did the whole thing.

    I briefly think about doing something rash, like stalking and killing a few reporters for fun. I bet they’d do a story then, wouldn’t they?

My first newspaper story

Friday, April 30, 2010

April 8th, 2002

Ha! Look at that! I say it's a PLUS that the festival was in New Jersey! Man, have I learned better...

April 8th

    No April Fools here. I submitted a screener last week to the Back East Picture Show, as the deadline was March 30th. I was notified on April 1st that we got in.

    Very nice. It’s another festival where they don’t let studio films in, so I feel that we have a chance of winning it. And as a plus, it’s in New Jersey, so Rick and I are gonna attend.

    Of course, everything is expensive. The hotel is going to cost $120 a night. In addition, they only give us one all access pass. For Rick to get one, it will cost $200 plus $125 to the acceptance awards dinner(which is black tie optional). Ouch.

    The movie screening is going full bore. It’s on. Rick and I are going to be interviewed for The Gazette, a local newspaper. My wife sent out press kits to the local news channels and newspapers, so hopefully we’ll get some people there.

    We’ve sold a decent amount of tickets. We only have to sell about half of the seats for me to break even, but I think we may sell out once word gets out. Most people I talk to want to attend, but don’t like the Saturday morning thing.

Friday, April 16, 2010

March 15th, 2002 Press Kits/Prepping For Showing

Hahahahahahahaha! Plans! They're so great. 

I mean, for laughs later.

March 15th, 2002

    Press kits. Harris needs about 25-30 screeners and press kits.

    I don’t know what a press kit is. I ask Harris to send me some samples if he’s got them, which he does.

    After perusing them, I figure out that what I’m missing from my press kits is anything related to the press at all. We had no time to get reporters out to the sets when we were shooting. Then I dove head-first into editing. No time there.

    Now we need some press.

    I call our local movie theater representative and asked him how much it would cost to four-wall my movie.

    Okay, so maybe that’s not what I said. I think I gave him the impression that we were having some investor presentation and “might” need the video projector. He quoted me prices ranging from $800-$1750 plus $500 for the projector.

    Which won’t be a problem if I make the tickets like $30 apiece. Except that you can’t sell tickets to this, because that’s against their contract.

    Fuck that. There’s no way I can put out that kind of money. Time for a plan.

    I call the guy back and tell him I’ve got my own equipment. Scratch the $500 projector. You see, my buddy who works at this theater tells me he can smuggle the projector out for free. Sweet.

    I book the cheapest time, which is Saturday morning. I’m going to sell tickets at my store, so the theater doesn’t know anything about it. When I do the pre-interviews, I won’t specify how to get tickets. I’ll say they won’t be available at the theater and to call my number for information on getting tickets.

    That way I’m not publicly saying I’m charging for the tickets.

    If all goes well, I’ll have seats available for the press, who will come and write up some nice “Local Filmmaker Does Good” with a few pleasant critiques of the movie. I’ll make a sweet press kit, get thirty copies made, send the whole shebang to Harris, and in three months will have checks rolling in.

    That’s the plan, anyway.

Friday, April 9, 2010

March 11, 2002 The Producer's Rep

Live and learn. The deal with Harris worked out okay, but knowing what I know now, I would never sign with a producer's rep that charges money for their services.

They should take a percentage(like 10%, maybe 15% for foreign sales) plus expenses(that you spell out in the contract), and that's it. That's what my current rep does.

March 11th, 2002

    In the back of my mind I’d been mulling over whether to try to get a producer’s rep. What they do is sell your movie for you, and take a cut of the profits. They know all the distributors and they attend all the major festivals, so they know who’s looking for what.

    The way I heard, they get ten percent of your profits, but they pay for themselves; they’ll get you at least ten percent more than you’d get yourself.

    I stumbled onto the web site of producer’s rep Harris Tulchin and Associates. He’s a pretty big-name guy, with offices in Paris, Rome, LA and New York.

    I called there to see whether they were interested in seeing the movie. After finding out that Spectrum was interested and that we’d won an award at a festival, they said send it along.

    Long story short, I talked to Harris. They take $5000 up front plus ten percent of the profits. I said “Wow, that’s a lot of money”, because, to me, it is. He said “If I make you five hundred grand, it won’t be a lot of money, will it?”

    He had a point.

    So I decided to play a little mind game with him. I wanted to see how much faith he had that he could sell the movie.

    Look at it this way: If he thinks he’s going to sell my movie for five hundred grand—a movie that will clear him fifty grand—is he going to turn me down because of the upfront five grand?

    Not if he thinks he’s got a pretty good shot at selling the movie.

    A couple of days later I called him back and told him I couldn’t get any more money, that I’d spent it all on the movie. He said he’d thought about it and would change the contract he’d offered so that the money was deferred against the first payments.

    I’d done it! Clearly he thinks we have a shot of selling the movie, or there’s no way he’d agree to that. Think about it; all the upfront costs and time is going to be on his dime. He’s working for free until he sells my movie.

    If he really does sell my movie, this guy’s going to be in my good graces in a serious way. I may even thank him in my Oscar acceptance speech.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

February 16th, 2002: HH on the Big Screen

February 16th, 2002

    I saw my movie on the big screen last night.

    If there was ever any chance of me doing something else for a living, it’s gone now. The only answer to the question “What are you going to do if you can’t make it doing movies?” is “Die”.

    The theater James works at just got in a big-time expensive video projector. I took a VCR up to the theater and we tested it out, and it looked great. I imagine it’ll look even better if I bring up my computer and we run the movie full-resolution.

    We made plans to play it last night for a select bunch of people(some of the cast and crew, my parents, my parents-in-law, and a few other people who are connected with the film in other ways.)

    It went over great. I think everybody liked it. You could see the surprise in their eyes that I could do something like that. It’s what I’m getting from everyone. In some ways, it’s a hell of a good thing to hear that everyone likes the movie, but there’s also this veiled compliment of “We didn’t think YOU could do something like this.”

    Winning through lowered expectations, I guess.

    Anyway, we’re still arguing over the contract. Spectrum is changing little things that we haven’t talked about when they send me their contract draft, and it’s getting old quick. I’m going through one more draft and then I think we’re moving on.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

February 1st, 2002: Contract disputes Pt. 2

February 1st, 2002

    Been going back and forth with Spectrum. I get a bad feeling about them. It started when the president, a woman named Yvette, told me there was no way she could give us 70 percent of the take. She said, and I’m closely paraphrasing here, “I’d go out of business if I gave that kind of percent. I've never heard of a percentage that high in all my years of business.

    I mention—not argumentative, mind you—that I’ve talked to quite a few people who all mention that it’s pretty standard. Yvette says I should find out who those companies are then, and sell it to them. She didn’t say it snidely or anything, and she qualified it by saying they’d really like to take the movie, they just couldn’t do that percentage.

    On the other points, she didn’t have a problem with my clause stating that if they haven’t given us 125 grand in three years, the contract is null and void.

    I asked her how many units she thought she’d move. She said they don’t talk in units any more(something I found strange, since her other rep told me they’d move 6000 units at Blockbuster alone). She said they talk in terms of gross dollars, and she thought HH would make between $275,000 and $450,000.

    She asked me how much our budget was and I told her eighty-five thousand. She said making that back shouldn’t be a problem.

    Now all this is great, but none of it’s in the contract. And one thing I’ve learned is that if it’s not in the contract, it’s not in the contract.

    One big sticking point is that she said they couldn’t budge from giving us only 25% of the take after recoupables on any DVD receipts under $24.94(which she claimed is “sell-thru”). I asked her why the cut was so much in her favor.

    She said they have to make some of their money back. I asked how that works, since they’re taking all the recoupables from my end. She laughed a little uncomfortably and said they still have out-of-pocket money they need to get back.

    Last but not least, they want a clause taken out that was put in by Saleman that says we need to get a copy of any deal they do and that Spectrum needs our approval on them.

    Now, the approval part is a little unreasonable, but they claim they want the whole clause taken out, because if they sell our film in a package deal, it would violate the privacy of the other films in the group.

    I tell her I’m gonna consult my lawyer. I call Saleman. He says it’s a load of crap. If they don’t tell us how much money they made us, the only way we’re gonna know is if we audit them. And, as Saleman pointed out, if we audit them, we’re gonna find out the terms anyway.

    So I mull it over. The whole package thing sounds like a bad idea to me anyway. Here’s why: Say Spectrum packages ten films(including HH) together and sells the rights to Germany for $100,000. Now, what if the percentage Spectrum is earning for the other nine films is more than HH? What’s to stop Spectrum from saying that $99,000 of those dollars are for the other nine films, and only $1,000 is for HH? In that way, Spectrum would gain more money and I’d be screwed out of the deal.

    I decide to put a clause in saying that there can be no package deals where HH is concerned unless the amount paid for the package is at least proportional to the number of films. I left in the clause about letting us know how much they get in each deal, because I don’t want to be forced into auditing them(which will cost me money).

    I mail the new contract back with a note to call me when they’ve reviewed it. A few days later Yvette calls me back and leaves a message that says she needs to talk to me about four points in the contract.

    I have no doubt about what they are. But I’ve made up my mind that if they insist on the 25%, I won’t sign with them. I’ll shop HH around a bit, since we’ve only sent out about ten screeners. I’ve also looked into self-distributing, which looks feasible if we can pool about $25,000. More on that later.

    I call Yvette back, but it’s Friday, and I think they all left early.

    Then we get hit with some good news for a change.

    Friday night I’m skimming the newsgroups and I see a notice about the winners of the DIY film festival. I’d asked Rick to send a copy of the movie in, but I didn’t know whether he did.

    I see a film called Ocean Park has won Best Film. I figure, Rick didn’t send HH in or also likely, he did and we just didn’t win.

    Imagine my surprise when I scroll down and see “Best Screenplay award goes to writer/director Kevin Kangas, who wrote the dark drama "Hunting Humans," a cold look into the mind of a serial killer that features a unique twist on the theme.”

    This is big. This is great. The first festival we enter, we win an award. The award is big for two reasons: First, it’s a hell of a boost for me right now, as I’m feeling drained and uninspired lately. There’s nothing like success to give you a boost of inspiration.

    Second, any award you can put on the video/DVD box is an incentive for someone to take home your movie, which is increased incentive for Blockbuster or Hollywood Video to put it in their stores.

    Tried to call Rick, but his phone’s off. Too bad, I’m dying to give him the news.

Monday, March 29, 2010

January 25th, 2002

I was gonna put up two posts, but the next one is pretty large--deals in-depth with the problems of the contract. 

But the gist of the early information was that if the distributor is going to take out expendables from your end, you should be getting at least 70% from the net take AND you need to be able to limit how much they can take out. (otherwise they'll make a million dollars and say they spent a million-five so they still don't owe you)

More detailed stuff in the next post.

January 15th, 2002

    New year.

    Soon after I received their email, I talked to a lady named Toni at Spectrum who offered to email me a contract to license HH.

    The contract offered no advance, which is pretty standard. They offered a 50/50 split. After asking around, a few of the more knowledgeable folk on the filmmaking newsgroup let me know that was a pretty bad split. 70/30 in my favor was a little more standard.

    Without a lawyer, I wasn’t signing anything. I asked around and got a reference to Michael Saleman, an attorney with offices out of LA and Texas. I sent him the contract, and he butchered it.

    So last week, I sent it back to Spectrum with the changes. Now I’m waiting to hear what they’re going to say.

    Personally, I want to get all this shit out of the way and get on with the next movie. On a side note, having some crappy health problems. Pain in my gut, blood tests show liver problems(which my doctor temporarily called hepatitis, then said it might just be a virus moving through), and my back has never been worse.

    I’ve been to the chiropractors twice in two days. I’ll be going back two more times this week. I’m in pretty bad shape for a thirty-one year old.

Friday, March 26, 2010

August 21st, 2001/November 19th, 2001

To put the budget in perspective, film cost $3900, development and transfer of the film to BetaSP cost $6900, the D.P. and his hotel cost a total of $2700. So between those three things is $13,500 of the total $20,500...

August 21st, 2001

    Rick came over and we watched the movie, noted any final sound problems we had. Once scene was totally out of sync, so I have to fix that. Then, I’ll be sending it out to distributors(I sent a copy with the fucked-up sync to the Copyright Office to establish my copyright).

    All in all, I’m pleased with the movie. It’s got some moments where I literally cringe because I don’t like the scene, but there’s a lot of great moments too.

    What it all boils down to is that it’s better than I ever expected it to be. I’ll put it up against any other under $25,000 flick, especially by a first-time director. The final budget, total cost to make Hunting Humans, was $20,500.

November 19, 2001

    A lot has happened. I’ve fixed everything that had problems. I started mailing out tapes to distributors(nine have gone out) and already there’s good news.

    One of the ones I sent the tape to first, Spectrum Films, called my voice mail number that I gave them and said they’d like “to discuss a possible distribution deal”. This was on Thursday the 15th.

    I figured I’d call them on Monday, which would give me some time to talk to some people and see if I could get my mind wrapped around what I’d say.

    Instead, Friday came around and they dropped me an email which said the following:

Yvette gave you a call yesterday.  Perhaps you're busy or you found a distributor, but I just wanted you to know that your movie was so "different" it had to make the rounds.  I saw it first and that started the rounds.  Unanimously, it is a good film and we would like to distribute it.

Please let us know either way.”

    It was signed by one of their acquisition guys. All of a sudden it’s not “We want to talk”, it was “We want to distribute”.

    Understand, from all I’d read, it sounded like finding a distributor for an independent movie with no known stars was a little like looking for your contact lens in an in-ground pool.

    And here we are, three weeks after sending out tapes, a distributor has already offered to distribute it.

    I keep my wits about me. First, never celebrate until someone’s signed on the dotted line. Second, I don’t know much about Spectrum. Their web site shows they’ve distributed other small movies, some with small stars and some with no stars. But do they pay well? Do they get behind your movie and try to get it out there?

    And there’s another part of me—the same part that was saying “When are the distributors going to call?”—that’s now saying “Why’d they have to call so soon? None of the other distributors have even had a chance to see it yet?”

    See, no mattter what happens, I’ve always got reason to complain.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Aug 14th/20th, 2001

See? Can you believe how much shit I had to do just to get this movie done? Problem after problem.

August 14, 2001

You know, the shit just can’t go right, can it? I put the pieces of the movie together and rendered it, then tried to play it. The picture stutters after about three minutes, loses audio sync too.

To quote Aric Blue, I mean, what the fuck? This worked before, why is it screwing up now? I haven’t changed anything that I can remember.

So…I’ve pulled out the 900 mhz monster. Would be nice if I could just hook up the hard drives and tell it to have at it, but the hard drive controllers are completely different, so it won’t recognize them. So I have to create little 650meg pieces of the movie, burn them onto CDs and then copy them onto the new hard drive that’s been set up for the computer.

It takes FOREVER. I shit you not. The movie has to be done in about 15 parts. Each part takes 1-2 hours to render. Burning the 15 CDs takes about a ½ hour apiece. Then copy each file from the CD to the new hard drive, which takes 10 minutes apiece. That’s roughly a minimum of 25 hours, and that’s if I sat at the computer non-stop without getting up.

Ye Gods.

August 20th

    Mark it down, baby. I have a completed movie, and it’s on tape now. Words can’t describe how psyched I am. I called Rick at home at 12:30 am to wake his sorry ass up and tell him.

Friday, March 19, 2010

August 7, 2001

Hahahaha, a "900 mhz beast" of a, technology changes fast.

And yeah, the credits are certainly pretty laughable compared to what I can do now, but that's how it goes...

August 7, 2001

Finishing up the “mastering”.

The scene where Aric finally kills Dark bothered me. The music just wasn’t enough of a payoff. I didn’t feel Aric’s victory like I wanted to.

Listening to the title credits music though, there’s a piece of it that would fit perfectly. So I cut it and moved it and listened to it to see whether it works. Boy, does it.

So I told Evan in an email. He went ballistic, sent me a three-page email about how he didn’t want me to change it. He offered to give me back all the money I’d paid along with the points if I left it alone.

I replied, trying to calm him down, then phoned him last night. After letting him hear it, and tweaking it a little, he agreed that it’s fine. I’m not sure if he likes it better than the way he had it, but he sees what I was going for.

I’m rendering the movie now so Rick and I can watch it, make any final adjustments that need to be made. We’re also going to redo the last scene’s narration, ‘cause I don’t like it the way it is.

I’ve got the other computer(a 900mhz beast) rendering the final credits, which I’ve done with 3D Max, which is a little bit like using a cannon to kill a roach, but it gives me extreme control and lets me do professional-like credits. Hopefully, there’s nothing that needs to be changed in them, as it takes about 16 hours to render.

Friday, March 12, 2010

JULY 24th, 2001

This was the beginning of learning just how much work goes into is immense and time consuming, and while the tools have become easier to use, the time it takes to tweak things to where they need to be is still LOOONG.

July 24th

Is the month flying by or what? I’ve laid in the music and am trying to lower it in certain parts and raise other pieces of the soundtrack. I’ve discovered that what I should have done is export the dialogue, the narration, and the M&E(music and effects) tracks separately from each scene.

So I went back and did it. Took a lot of time, exporting each, then laying them all back into the entire film. Luckily, I had kept all the sound elements separate in their tracks so it was easier than if I’d just dropped stuff in the timeline.

My buddy Rich Herard, who’s kind of a sound guru happened to come by  my house(he needed help setting up a laptop), so I played him a bit of the movie I had tried to master.

He liked it, but he said “You gotta do something about the narration. It sounds flat.” Then he said something about pumping up the mids, taking out the highs, or maybe I got that backwards. I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about.

I have a nifty program installed on my hard drive called Cubase VST that I know nothing about. I figured one day I’d mess with it.

Well I boot that up and Rich starts playing with it, proclaiming it to be “the bomb”, and starts making my narration sound good. So now I gotta go through all my narration tracks, fix them with Cubase, export them again, reinsert them into the timeline. And it’s time-consuming.

Ugh. Just one more thing. I’m wondering whether anyone is going to realize how much went into Hunting Humans. I guess that’s what this diary is for.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

July 19, 2001

So the Ransom was a big pipe dream. I finished the script and I think it's pretty good, but it's not something I could do on the cheap cheap. 

I even did a mock poster with Rick, Marsters, and Lance Henriksen as the other main character. I'd show you but it's godawful. I had zero idea of what I was doing graphic design-wise.

JULY 19th

The entire score for HH arrived at my house today. I’m ripping it from the CD, then I have to insert it into the soundtrack in sync, then remaster everything. That’s mixing all the different tracks(dialogue, score, effects) so that they all sound correct in relation to each other.

It’s a long process. I’m gonna have my work cut out for me. The first thing I did was log online and do some research. Found a great site( has a lot of great articles, but none go too deeply into the actual nuts and bolts of mixing.

I’ve been doing CGI work with my brother on a few scenes in the movie that need touching up, but I’ve put them on hold. The movie holds up okay without them, but the sound has to be done.

Got final permission to put VAC in the movie. I’m going to use two of the four songs I asked about. A nice guy named Athan at Metropolis Records is sending me a contract. It stipulates that for every $100K of profit HH does, Metropolis gets $1000, but it’s a fair price to pay, since we’re getting the songs so cheap.

Anyway, I’m defragging my hard drive right now before I begin the sound mastering.

 The end is near, so I’m alternating between this and what could be the next movie we shoot, tentatively called “Ransom For A Psychopath”. I’m telling you, I’m going to establish a serial-killer genre. I’m hoping to get Bruce Campbell in a small part, and maybe James Marsters(Spike on Buffy, The Vampire Slayer) as the psychopath. Rick would co-star as the detective hunting him.

Yeah, I’m already aiming a little high. But as Jack Burton says, if you’re not gonna aim high, don’t bother aiming. (Okay, so he never really said that, but he could have...)

Friday, February 12, 2010

July 7, 2001

This is one of those weird things you just gotta hear to believe...

July 7, 2001

Been to St. Augustine, Florida and back. Nice vacation. I actually didn’t want to come back. The weather was awesome and I hadn’t seen some of the family down there for years.

Evan’s sent me the first 40 minutes of score, and it’s some great stuff.

I had sent a question to Metropolis Records about how much it would cost to license a few songs from Velvet Acid Christ(VAC) for the movie and they said it would be $250 a song, which would include sync rights and performance rights(you need both to use a song in a movie). The price is VERY reasonable, so I’m going to try to pin down the songs I’d like to use.

I’m trying to finish the final credits, but I’m not sure what songs I’ll be using from VAC, and what songs I’ll be using from a guy named Leroy Bocchieri and his group, Day One.

I figure I’m going to put his songs in the office scenes, like they’re playing on the radio. He’s offered to let me use whatever I want.

First time I talk to Evan after I get back, he tells me a VERY strange thing. He had his mom over and she watched the scene where Aric kills everyone in the theater, and she apparently thought it was horrifying. And then he drops the bomb.

He says, “You know, it’s very strange that I’m doing this movie, because do you know who Richard Ramirez is?” The name rings a bell, but I can’t place it right away.

“The Night Stalker,” he says. I remember some sketchy details about him. Killed a bunch of people in the eighties, got caught because of something stupid.

So Evan says, “Yeah, my grandparents were killed by him.”

I’m floored. What do you say to that? And it turns out that it was his mother’s parents. The mother he’s showing my serial killer movie to. Hoo-boy. He says that until he was sixteen he thought his grandparents were killed in an auto accident.

I quickly peruse the Hunting Humans encyclopedia which goes into Ramirez’s history. I spot a name that pops up, though it’s not Evan’s last name. I ask him if that’s his grandparents. He exclaims yeah, how’d I know that? I said the name just jumped out at me. He said he didn’t know any of the details about his grandparents’ death. After reading about it, I told him he didn’t want to know.

Just another interesting anecdote in the story of Hunting Humans.

Monday, February 8, 2010

June 17th, 2001

I know--running out of pics I guess. So here's another wannabe actress. Did I post this already? Am I a dick for running these, or am I a dick for other reasons?

Get ready. It's about to get weird. Not this post. The next one.

I'm just saying. Get ready.

And you do not know tedious until you go in and individually fill in scratches on each frame of a movie. I remember it. It was one of those times I could have said "Screw it," and just ignored it.

But I put the time in. And it was a LOT of time...
(and I used Corel Photopaint, because at this time Adobe Photoshop wouldn't import a movie--only Corel would)

June 17th

Evan called me last night, but I was still brain-dead from the trip, so I didn’t get out of bed to take his call.

I called him tonight. He says he’s got “ground-breaking stuff” to let me listen to, the first eleven minutes of music, and it’s what he calls “one-cue”. He told me that means it’s all one piece of music, and it’s one of the longer ones ever done. He said the only one he knows of that was longer(it was 22 minutes long, but I can’t remember what the movie was)

So I listened to it. Excellent stuff. I’m very happy with it. A lot of what I had heard before was clearly just experimenting, as the final product was great. He’s dropping me a copy of it on CD in the mail, so I’ll be able to hear it in full glory(everything I’ve been listening to has been through the crappy phone-speaker).

I’m trying to get him a video-lock of the final movie, as he’s still scoring to the next-to-the-last version. Once I do that, I have to finish up all the sound, clean up all the film scratches digitally(which I started, but have a TON left to do), and add some CGI work to a few scenes where the special effects didn’t come off. Then when I get Evan’s music back, I’ve got to master it with all the other sound.

And I’ve given myself roughly five weeks to do all that—four, if you count the fact that I’ll be out of town for one of those weeks.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

June 1st/16th, 2001

Hard to believe I didn't even have a DVD burner back in 2001. Man, technology moves fast.

June 1st

After exporting some Quicktime files, then unsuccessfully trying to upload them to Evan’s ftp site, I sent him a CD with the files burned on.

He called me to say the quality wasn’t high enough.

At this point I’m ready to say fuck it, just do the goddamn score and give it to me, I’ll figure out exactly where it goes.

I decide to give it one more try. We’ll compress the files with the cinepak codec. I’ll send him the entire movie. I’ll send it to him in three parts, as I can only fit so much on one CD-ROM.

The downside is that is takes about fourteen hours to export one part, so my computer is all tied up for two days while I export this shit.

It’s frustrating. I’ve got a lot of work to do. I really can’t devote this kind of time. I email Evan and tell him this is it. This has got to work, because I can’t devote any more time to it.

In between all this shit, I’m working on a couple of screenplays. I’m thinking about one of them as our next feature. With luck, we’ll get some money out of HH, enough to get a backer to pony up for a 35mm feature.

June 16th

Am on a plane into BWI now. I’ve been in Vegas for 5 days. Quite a town. Don’t think I’d want to live there. For one, it’s VERY expensive—don’t believe any of the shit people keep saying about how everything there is cheap because they want you to gamble; it’s a load of crap. Second, the air is so dry that even when it’s 104 degrees outside, it doesn’t feel that hot.

The downside is that my skin started flaking like I’d had a bad sunburn and my nose got so dry it began to bleed. This is apparently a common phenomena, as Missy’s brother also got a bloody nose and when he went to get at tissue, the bellhop said “Welcome to Vegas” with a laugh.

The Vegas strip is beautiful at night. You’ve never seen so many lights. It’s a very friendly town. The people who live there, the vacationers, all were very warm and accommodating.

I’ve got to get right on the phone with Evan tonight to see how it’s all progressing. The new movie files I sent him worked perfect, so he’s started. He did the beginning scene which threw me for a loop at first.

See, the movie starts off with black screen and Aric Blue saying the words “Hunting Humans”. Then we dissolve into shots of Baltimore. I pictured it being very ominous, sinister, building.

Evan pictured it like this: You hear the words “Hunting Humans”, then the music slams you: “Bum BUM!” and goes right into the theme that he came up with.

At first I was very put off. I mentioned that it wasn’t like I thought it should be. I told him to play it a few more times. The more I watched it, the more I thought it was interesting. Not bad, just different than I would have gone. I guess this is what they call collaboration.

Time is really crunching. I’ll be back for about two weeks and then I go to Florida with my parents for some family shindig I couldn’t get out of. Then I’ll be back on July 4th and Evan is supposed to be done by the 8th.

We’ll see.

Monday, January 25, 2010

May 21st, 2001

May 21st

Have talked to Evan a couple times. We went through some bits he’d put together. He’d been trying to put together a “sound”, like a small tune that when you heard it, you’d identify it with “Hunting Humans”.

He played me two that were okay, but just didn’t fit the mood for me. Then he played the third, which was very cool. Very dangerous, mysterious.

I tell him to go with that. Play it with strings, with horns. Over a couple of nights he refines it. I’m getting excited. I’m hearing it over the crappy phone speakers and I’m getting excited.

The new problem seems to be how to get timecode that he can put his score to, so when I get it back, I can put it to the movie so it’s timed perfectly.

There doesn’t seem to be a way to do it from my end. Evan’s familiar with people who have the equipment to stripe timecode in the spare audio channel.

I’m not one of those people. I can’t even get visual timecode on, as Adobe Premiere doesn’t seem to be capable of writing it. It can read it, but not write it.

Evan wants me to export Quicktime files that he can import on his computer. This will take quite some time. I’m trying to finish up putting sounds in, revising the movie so I can begin digitally-fixing scratches in the film.

I’ve experimented, and the results are amazing. The key to not paint over the scratches, but to use the “Clone” tool in Photopaint. If you paint or draw, the film grain isn’t there, so it’s pretty apparent where you painted(which is just as bad a scratch). But if you clone another area around the scratch, it looks great.

It’s VERY time-consuming, but worth it.

The deadline is killing me though. I’ve told Evan I need the score back from him by July 8th. I want to have the movie finished by the end of July. I’m hoping to rent the screening room at Jillian’s and play the movie on the giant television screen there. Have the cast and crew there. Get drunk, see what everybody thinks.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

May 8th/12th/17th, 2001

A promo image we shot for HH press kit
(and one I've licensed to other people, in case you
see it on something else)

May 8th

Evan emails me that he won an award, for best art director for some CD cover or something. I think he should be winning awards for his scores. Shit, if he gets his hands on a real orchestra, I think the sky’s the limit. I mean, the guy’s only 25 years old. Imagine him in another ten years.

May 12th

Evan wants to call me, says he’s got something for me to listen to. I tell him I’ll call him, to save him the phone bill(since we’re on opposite coasts). He says don’t worry about it.

So Rick and I are out recording foley sounds all night and we get to my house about midnight. I get Evan’s email, so I email my phone number to him.

A half-hour later I get a call. It’s Evan. He’s kind of soft-spoken, young, enthusiastic. Rick takes off as he sees it’s going to be a long conversation.

Bottom line, I ended up talking with him until about four-thirty in the morning. We chatted film, we chatted composers, we talked about a shitload of stuff. He seemed very cool. Very knowledgeable. Played me some small stuff to give me an idea of what he could do.

He’s got some awesome equipment. Of course, he seems to want to experiment with some weird sounds, when I just want some straight orchestra stuff. At one point he was debating whether to use a “haunting kazoo” as the backbone of the music. I tell him I don’t think that will work.

He says he’ll email me when he wants me to call him.

May 17th

I was flipping channels when I came across a movie with Rebecca DeMornay and Michael Rooker in it. I knew Evan had scored a movie with those two, so I figured what’s the chance they were in two movies together?

I checked the title of the movie and sure enough, it’s the one Evan scored. I watched a little of the movie, called A Table For One. Kind of boring, but not bad. The score was nice.

I tell Evan in an email I saw the movie on Showtime. He told me he didn’t like his score for that one much, as the director didn’t give him much leeway.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

May 1st, 2001

May 1st

I forgot to tell you about this cool song and group I stumbled onto. Hellbent is the name of the band. I had posted an article on the newsgroups that I was looking for industrial songs to include in my movie.

Hellbent was one of the groups that emailed me. They pointed me to a song called “heliophobic”. It was pretty cool, but not really the mood I was looking for.

But on their web site was another song called “3 Murders, 3 Nights” which is COOL. Very ominous, relentless, perfect for the movie. I emailed them back to see whether I could use that one and they were open to it.

But that’s all words until a contract is signed. So I told the guy I’d make up a contract and fax it to them. The guy I’m talking to is from the UK, but the group is made up of guys from all over the world. Guys from big industrial groups like Pig, Chemlab, and more.

They sent me a CD, and it was really good. Then I got a copy of Stuff magazine in the mail and guess who’s reviewed on the new CD page? Hellbent, and they got four out of four stars. So then I panic. What happens if they suddenly think they’re too big to let me license their song for fifty bucks? (and at this point I got them to let me play the whole song over the closing credits, which really ends the movie nicely)

I email the guy right away and tell him that I need the contract signed, as I’m talking with the composer now, and have to know whether to get him to compose a score over the end credits.

The guy—his name is Bryan Black—says he can fax me the signed contract. He does. It’s set, we can use the song. It’s quite a coup, if you ask me.

Meanwhile, I’m going back and forth with Evan. I asked him to start composing some credit stuff. He said he’s working on the “architecture” of the film--I don't know what that means. I’m putting off talking to him on the phone.

I also notice that he hasn’t really said anything about whether he liked the movie or not. Rick’s really wanting some kind of opinion of the film, but so far, Evan’s not very forthcoming. At least he hasn’t said “It blows, I won’t score it”.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

April 28th, 2001

I remember this stuff vividly. Evan's a freakin' musical genius, but working with him could be a trial. I know a lot of super-creative types who are like this.

I'm sure I seem the same way in some respects, so I don't blame him. In the end I don't think anyone could have given me a better score, so it worked out.

But at the time it was frustrating.

April 28th

Oh boy. Jesus, the shit just keeps going wrong.

Not totally true, I guess. There’s good and bad.

Evan emailed me. Said he read my note regarding the music playing over the credits, and he thinks it’s a mistake. Says he hasn’t listened to it yet, but he thinks it won’t work with what he’s going to do, that you have to establish certain things in the credits, blah blah.

Sounded like he was being a bit of a primadonna. He was going to watch the movie “with an open mind” and see what he thought.

The email right after that put him over the top. Said that he thought the song over the credits was “amateurish” and “sucked the big jafooey, which is putting it nicely”. He said that if I insisted on leaving it in, he wouldn’t be able to score my movie. He claimed he can do much better.

I called Rick to tell him about this. He laughed in a wry kind of way. I had already decided on the tact to take with Evan and it goes like this:

There’s no contract between Evan and I. I nagged him to get me one, quite a few times, but he kept putting it off. Hey, whatever. It’s more to protect him than me, as he doesn’t even want all the money up front.

So I’m not going to come out and tell him that the song is definitely out, but I’ll let him know that if he can come up with something I like better, I’m open to it. If he’s willing to work on the credits 100 times if that’s what it takes, then okay. I’m confident he can come up with better, because he’s that good.

But if he doesn’t, I’m not contractually bound to use his version. It would be kind of a dick-move to do, and I’m sure it would sever any future working relationship between us, but I have to do what I think is best for the movie.

So I email him with that and wait. I still haven’t talked to this guy on the phone, and now I’m getting afraid to.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

April 10th 2001

So a little funny anecdote about this. I received a couple of submissions for guys who wanted to do scoring. Guys who had never done anything. I still have Jesper Kyd's submission CD. (check him out here - he's doing okay :)

Another guy was Kevin Riepl. I liked his stuff--he's the guy I mention below when I say I licensed the song "The New Evil".

A few years later when Evan didn't work out for "Fear of Clowns", I shot Kevin Riepl an email to see if he was interested in doing it. He was too busy with scoring videogames, but he referred me to Chad Seiter who ended up hitting it out of the park for me.

So that's why I never throw anything away. CDs, headshots, audition tapes. I'm a little ridiculous with that stuff, but you never know what's gonna come in handy down the line.

Don't know why I don't mention it in the entry below, but Evan Evans had sent some CDs to me and I loved them, but thought there was no way he'd do it for the paltry sum I was offering.

I sent him a letter telling him exactly how much I had and said the job was his if he wanted it. He said send him the movie.

April 10th 2001

The light, I see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I have a rough cut of the movie, minus a few sound effects, the end credits, and the score. It’s got some rough spots, it’s got some nice spots, but all in all it’s a far cry better than many movies that were shot for 1000 times its cost.

Evan Evans has a rough copy on VHS. I mailed it to him, but still haven’t actually called him on the phone, just corresponded in email. I’m gonna call him this week after he’s had some time to respond.

I’m terrified he’s gonna watch it and back out. Say “Hey, this movie’s not for me”, which would be polite for “This movie blows, I’m not gonna attach my name to this”.

That would knock some wind out of my sails, but I’ve got a back-up plan. The guy who does the title score in the movie is available, though I haven’t discussed anything with him. I licensed one of his pieces to play over the opening titles, because it’s perfect.

The movie opens with a quote from Tim Cahill, author of a number of travelling-books. Years back he did a book called “Buried Dreams”, which was based on research and interviews with John Wayne Gacy, infamous serial killer. Anyway, I read the book a long time ago but saved the quote because it really stuck with me.

Regarding the quote; I haven’t actually gotten permission to use it yet. Bothersome. The book is out of print, so I emailed the book company to find out how to get the clearance. I got an email back saying to write to an agency in L.A., as they were Cahill’s agency.

The letter I sent them was returned with an “Unknown Address” on it. Apparently the agency is closed. I emailed the book company again who said they were clueless how to get in touch with Cahill. I’ve searched a lot of places on the web looking for a way to contact him. The closest I got was an “Outside” magazine website, which is all about travel. Cahill writes travel and adventure books now, and had done a few articles on the site.

As I did some more digging, I discovered he was one of the web sites “Contributing Editors”. So I emailed them to see if they could get me in touch with him. No response yet.

Anyway, the movie opens with the quote, then plunges you right into the world of Aric Blue, serial killer. We show him stalking and killing a young woman, his first victim in the movie. He hangs her in the shower to keep her out of the way as he washes to make sure he’s got no blood or incriminating evidence on him. (In the script he also pours industrial-strength drain cleaner in the drain to make sure he leaves no hair in the tub, and he vacuums where he’s been and takes the vacuum bag too. These scenes had to be taken out due to the problems we had on set that night)

So after he kills the woman we fade to black and open up on the credits. Here’s where the song I licensed starts playing. It’s called “The New Evil”—which is very appropriate—and is ominous, menacing, reminiscent of the Halloween theme song. I licensed it for $300 from the guy who I “met” over the internet.

I didn’t realize it, but this would turn out to be a waste of money.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

July 20th-26th, 2000

A promo pic shot after the fact since we needed some pics for the press kit

I don't remember most of this stuff. I don't remember watching any of "Dangerous Mode"(Rick Shipley's movie) with Bubby, but I guess I did.

And the reference to Joe Ripple's movie stands--it was the main thing I didn't like about his and Don Dohler's movies; the Canon GL/XL look. Never liked the picture--just seemed way too video-ish.

But Joe's good people; check out his web site at:

July 20th-26th

Talked to Ripple. He said, no problem, he could swing by and do it. Turns out he directed a movie since we last talked and has a web-site.

I’ve looped some of Rick’s stuff already. With enough takes, and some fiddling with the audio, I’ve found that it’s possible to make the ADR believable.

The important points seem to be this: Have the microphone about the same distance from the actor that it would have been in the scene(which adds “space” to the audio and helps match to the picture). See, if the audio sounds like the actor is speaking into a microphone that is two inches away, but the picture is a wide shot then it won't match. (Especially if you have one actor's audio from the shoot, but are looping another actor in the scene)

Also, the hard consonants seem to be the important syllables. So if they hit most of those, it looks pretty good.

I talk to Bubby(who plays the bad guy) and get him to come over. He hasn’t even seen the movie he did for Rick Shipley, so I show him the copy Shipley sent me. I don't think he’s impressed.

Then I show him some of our stuff. He likes it a lot more. Or maybe he’s just a good actor.

Anyway, I set him up for the ADR and he nails it like he just did the lines yesterday. Fucking amazing.

Couple of days later Ripple comes in. He does well also, but not as good as Bubby. I see some of the footage from his movie. Doesn’t look bad, but you can tell it was shot on video.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

June 25th, 2000/July 1st 2000

This was the worst. Missing a tape of audio, and since we shot on FILM there was no audio. We had to do looping without even the benefit of knowing exactly what was said.

Sure, you HOPE the actor said what was in the script but do you know how often actors subtly change lines?

I do...

June 25th 2000

Editing the picture. Trying a scene one way, trying it another, and seeing which one I like. Shortening clips, retrying the scene, over and over again until it’s perfect.(or as close as you can get with a little footage as we’ve got)

Discovered a BIG problem. I seem to be missing a DAT tape. If it can’t be found, we’ll have to ADR(Automatic Dialogue Replacement) without the Automatic. Also called looping, which is more appropriate to what we’ll have to do.

What that means is that I’ll have the actors watch themselves on television and try to say every line that they said when they did the dialogue.

What makes it extra tough is this. The big movies do ADR in some places because there might be too many other sounds getting in the way of the dialogue(traffic, or a plane, or any other little sound). In their case, they can actually play back the way they said the line and just try to mimic it.

In our case, we don’t even have that. So if one of my actors did any improv at all, we’ll have to take guesses at what they said. (And remember, we shot this movie over a year ago, so it’s not as if the lines are fresh in their head)

I’m going to do some extensive looking for the missing tape, but I’m not hopeful. I have a feeling it must have been lost on location, as whenever a tape got full, I left it at my store. All the other tapes were together, so if the missing tape isn’t at my store, it’s MIA for good.

JULY 1st 2000

The tape is gone. I’ve looked everywhere. It’s gone the way of the dodo.

So…I knew we’d have to do ADR for the final fight scene, as we didn’t record dialogue at all. But now I’m missing a number of other scenes, the toughest being when the police detective comes to Aric’s door and questions him about the murder in his neighborhood.

It’s a lot of dialogue. I haven’t talked to Joe Ripple(who plays the detective) since we shot the movie, other than a few emails here and there.

To test the water, I’m gonna get Rick over here to try some lines out, see how easy/hard this is gonna be. From what I hear, it’s not a walk in the park.

The good news, and I think you always have to try to look for the silver lining—even though you may not find it—is that, with all these problems, there’s not a lot I haven’t learned how to handle.

On the next movie(‘cause there WILL be another), I’m going to be well-prepared and more comfortable, because frankly, I’m pretty sure there’s no problem I can’t work around.