Movin’ and Groovin’

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* Penelope Davis working her magic at the poster image photo shoot. Photo by Christopher Marchetti.

It’s been a while since we’ve posted an update (as my Dad pointed out to me over the weekend), but it’s kind of hard to post when it’s mostly about still waiting for stuff to be finished. We’re still waiting for the music and sound mixing to be finished, and we’re still waiting on the video graphics and poster layout to be completed. I’ve been busy learning AfterEffects to deal with a green screen dealio. So the focus has been on doing what can be done and trusting (with follow up!) that the pieces of the movie still in process will all fall in place exactly as they need to.

It is a little weird. After the non-stop movin’ and groovin’ of pre-production and production, this part of the process kind of feels like swimming through molasses. So what are we doing right now, you ask? Well, there’s film festival research, website construction, pulling together all the parts for the press kit and getting the next project(s) going in development.

So yeah, still movin’ and groovin’, but more of a waltz at the mo’. Don’t worry, though. I can feel the post-pro engine revving up and we’ll be back to a full on tarantella before much longer. And, as soon as I’ve got the final poster image, we’ll be moving this blog over the the “official” website, so stay tuned!

Until next time…Viva los Zombies!

Now, Do the “Sexy” V!

2013-01-26_15-34-18_987Years ago, back when Angie, Christian Smith and I were part of Coyote Radio Theater, we scored this Big Gig – playing the Orpheum Theatre in Flagstaff. We knew we needed a great poster for this gig.

And for that, we needed some very good photos. There weren’t that many great photographers in Prescott back then.

We’d heard of Christopher Marchetti, of course.

He was this fantastic photographer who did the big league stuff – swanky shoots for catalogues, bands, etc. His studio is on the top floor of the old Masonic Temple – the ceremonial room, in fact, with thick carpet, richly ornamented ceiling, scads of cutting edge equipment, design forward furnishings, etc. I mean, if there ever was a Bond Villain who was a photographer for Paris Vogue, his lair would look a lot like this.

So, out of our league. But, it never hurts to ask. So, we did. And he said yes. We had a great shoot with the various wonderful oddball voice actors who were going to bring these radio theatre characters to life. Chris really took in that odd energy and found ways to get it in the photo. Our performers really opened up to the camera and we got some of the best photos we ever had of the group.

Here it is, years later, we’re making our first Crest Top movie, “The Dead Votes Society,” a satire about politics in Arizona, adapted by Angie, Christian and I from the original radio sketch.

Angie, as these things usually happen, HAD AN IDEA. “What if on the movie poster we had this grave and the hand of a zombie is coming up out of the grave and its making that “V for Victory” sign with its zombie fingers and we superimpose the title of the movie, “Dead Votes Society” with the V in Votes being the zombie fingers making the V for Victory sign?

Once again, we needed a really excellent photographer – since this poster will be seen at film festivals all over this great land of ours. By great good fortune, Chris Marchetti contacted us about the same time and offered his help on this project. Angie is excitedly telling our good friend, graphic designer Tres Ikner about our luck working with Chris Marchetti again. He says, “I love that image. Who’s doing your poster design to go along with that image?” Angie shrugs. Tres taps his own chest and nods knowingly. Holy cats, we know the coolest people.

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So, we leap into action. As producer, Angie recruits one of our zombie actors, the very expressive Cason Murphy, to be our Zombie Hand Model.

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Production Designer Penelope Davis develops a two by two shallow box that can have sod laid across the top, a slit made in the grass and a tube run up at an angle for Cason to extend his hand up through the sod. Then, Penelope puts together a zombie distressed fashion shirt and jacket sleeve, which, in combination with her application of the zombie make-up designed by Ridge Gallagher, make for a hand that looks like its coming back from the grave with something to say.

As director, I managed to find damn near the last piece of sod in Arizona. Who knew they stopped making it in winter? The folks at Evergreen Turf in Chandler, AZ were incredibly helpful with this bizarre request.

It all came together on Saturday, in that fantastical loft at the top of the Masonic Temple. Once again, it was a pleasure to watch Chris Marchetti work – his intuition with the shot is only matched by his patience as we figured out how to get an image that was at once easy to read, funny and maybe a little profound in its own silly way. 

2013-01-26_16-00-26_800By the end of the shoot, Angie was standing next to Chris and shouting suggestions to the unseen Cason under the sod box.

“Do a sleepy V  . . . do a happy V . . . do an angry V . . . ” And Cason’s zombie hand would change right in front of us as Chris clicked away.

By the time we got to “Do a Sexy V!” we knew we had it. Can’t wait to get the images to Tres for the movie poster.

What a fantastic ride we are on!

¡Viva los Zombies!

Mister Jackson Works His Magic

MattJackson* Matt Jackson working his movie music/sound magic.

Angie here. I flipped out a little when I realized we hadn’t done a blog post since December – DECEMBER!!! But the reality is that between post-production, the holidays and the general winter urge to hole up inside the house until spring, it’s no surprise.

Regardless, here’s the latest scoop: Matt Jackson is pretty much done with the music for Dead Votes. The music for the opening credits is AWESOME (as Matt said, “Nothing says ‘zombies’ like bassoons…and cows”). And the uber-pompous French horns in the theme for the “Hot Coffee!” news show is equally fantastic. Seriously, is there a more pompous sounding instrument than a French horn?!

Meanwhile, Chad Castigliano is busy working on the graphics and AfterEffects for the movie. We’re heading over to see what he’s done and do some troubleshooting later tonight. ‘Cause there are always challenges, right? Nick Stecki is kicking off the sound mixing/foley/music SFX. I can’t wait to hear what he does with that!

And while the guys are tackling those aspects of post, I’m busy learning color correction and gathering all the goodies for the website. Andrew and Christian are busy working on the trailer script and the script for the upcoming feature.

Throw in a photo shoot with photog Denise Elfenbein for head shots and a photo shoot with photog Christopher Marchetti for the poster art (next Saturday!!!) and that mostly covers the plethora of movie madness biz.

More news on Thursday – swear! But in the meantime…Viva los zombies!

More Mustache!

CasonVO* Cason Murphy did a great job on his voice over work.

Andrew and I spent most of last week at Matt’s as Dead Votes actors congo-lined through the studio to record their ADR and voice over bits. Judy Stahl had the toughest job – lots of ADR for her – which she handled with patience and persistence. I was also thrilled that we got exactly zero flack for asking folks to give up a few hours (or more, for Judy) during the hectic pre-holiday dash to come and talk, growl, and cheer into the mic. We are so lucky to have such great folks to work with!

But the coolest and most bizarre thing was watching the hubster direct. Who would have thought phrases like “More mustache!” and “Try hipster HAL (from 2001 Space Odyssey)” would be so damn effective? I wouldn’t have, but I guess that’s why Andrew is the director and I’m the producer. Kevin Goss (Blaine Walpole) changed the way he held his mouth after the “more mustache” direction and gave us exactly what we were looking for. Cason Murphy also managed to pull off not only a “Hipster HAL,” but also a “carefree Hipster HAL” voice.

As expected, there was a lot of laughter in the studio. I have no idea how other folks work on movies since this is our first, but I don’t think I’d like working on a movie where there wasn’t lots of laughter and silliness. I mean, I understand that there are serious movies that require a bit more gravity. Really, I get it. But I have to say that if I’m going to commit all the time and effort it takes to see a project through, it had damn well better be fun. So I will ALWAYS say yes to laughter on set and in studio. Always, always, always.

Until next time…viva los zombies!

Turn the Amp to 11

We’re still running flat out to get a final edit ready to hand off to Matt Jackson next week so he can get started on the sound track for Dead Votes Society. After looking at all the footage, we pretty much decided we needed to ADR (Automated Dialogue Replacement) the Press Conference scene we shot at the Courthouse Square. Nick Stecki is super talented, but there are so many external noises (damn you, motorcycles! and dogs! and car alarms! and wandering saxophone players! and yes, even a horse!) that it will sound best to ADR all of Serena’s (Judy Stahl) and Blaine’s (Kevin Goss) lines.

It’s a whole new layer of post-production that the average movie goer doesn’t even think about, but we’re actually kind of excited to learn how to do it. Besides, without ADR the entire movie would be less awesome. And we’re committed to making Dead Votes as awesome as possible!

For those who wanna see how ADR is done, here is a short “Behind the Scenes” video of the folks behind ‘The Navigator” doing some ADR for their movie. 

Enter Soundman

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Sunday night, Angie (Madame Producer) and I (Herr Director) met with our good friend Matt Jackson (musician/composer/sound engineer) and went over the rough cut of “Dead Votes Society.”

This was the first time Angie had seen my rough cut of the short. As you may remember, she’s doing her own cut, so we can compare and come up with a version that uses the best from both of our approaches. And doesn’t lead to fist fights in the editing bay.

It was also the first time Matt had seen the rough cut. In fact, its the first time the three of us have worked together since the days of Coyote Radio Theater on KJZA. We’d had a great time doing that, we respect the man and knew he worked in a simular comedic vein to Christian, Angie and I.

Earlier in the process, Matt and I had talked about how we’d like to approach the project. We decided he would write and create the music, and oversee the post-production sound at his studio. Premiere Pro 6 and Pro Tools 9 HD would be the software of choice. 

First, we watched the 10:40 rough cut just for fun and to see when the laughs were coming in at this point. Thankfully, there were some. (Hey, after all this editing, its difficult sometimes to remember where it is funny.) 

Then, we watched it a second time and took notes. We agreed its easier to adjust the length of the music, so Matt is going to rough out the music cues while we still are futzing around with the editing. We came up with some musical ideas for Matt to explore.

We talked about how to solve the unwanted background sounds on the Square (more on that later). 

I love working with talented people. More importantly, people who I enjoy hanging with, just as much as I respect their work. Feeling a great 2nd wind coming on!

Exploding Head, Part 2

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*Graphic from Fill the Land with Cinemas - hey, that sounds like a great idea to me!

Yikes! Almost a whole week without a blog post. Bet ya thought we were sitting around the house in our undies eating bon-bons, didn’t ya? Well, that would be wrong. Just to prove it, I’ll give you a quick update of all the frying pans currently in the fire.

First off, Andrew has completed a rough cut of the movie (I’m still working on mine). We are meeting with Matt Jackson so he can get started on the music tomorrow. I’m THRILLED to be working with Matt again. Not only is he super talented, but he really “gets” what we’re trying to do. I’m not guessing here. He did the music for Coyote Radio Theater for a few years, so I know he will come up with something even better than what we’ve imagined.

The “official” website for Dead Votes Society is currently under construction – unfortunately this blog header won’t work, so I’ve got to make a new one. Importing everything over from this blog to the website is easy. But, there’s all sorts of new content that needs to be purtied up before the website will be ready to go live.

Christian Smith, the unofficial editor of The Crest Top Chronicles, has begged for mercy and is on a temporary hiatus with his Letters to the Editors posts while he focuses on the latest draft of the feature script. Once he’s done with it, it’s our turn to do a revision. Read, write, revise, repeat until the damn thing is as tight as we can get it. The plan is to shoot the feature next year, but the script is king – without a great script, why waste time and money on a movie? So that is a big deal and worthy of a blog vacay.

Speaking of new scripts, we’re also working on a whole ‘nother media platform for the next project that will probably be rolling out next summer. I won’t even get into that, ’cause we’re still technically in the development phase, but we’ve been having an awful lot of fun with it so far. And yes, it is directly related to Dead Votes Society, at least in terms of story line. So that means MORE ZOMBIES!!! 

And in amongst all of that, we’ve come up with the poster concept (that will be photographed probably in January) and I’m working on pulling together the Press Kit and a whole slew o’ marketing ideas. Oh, and keeping track of the film festival deadlines so that when the movie is ready, we’ll be ready to go. So, y’know, we’ve been busy!

Until next week…Viva los zombies!