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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.

Monday, January 4, 2010

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