Archive for November 2009

BTB Nabs Three Awards at Melbourne Film Festival

November 27, 2009

Pleased to report that in its first film festival appearence at the Melbourne Independent Filmmakers Festival in Melbourne, Florida, Beneath the Blue won the MIFF’s “Independent Spirit Award” plus two other individual awards — Best Cinematography (Lila Javan) and Filmmaker of Distinction (Michael D. Sellers).

It was quite a whirlwind of a week-end and many thanks to the Melbourne Festival organizers Terry Cronin, Robin Krasny, Rob Kurrus and many other volunteers.  Also a special thanks to all of our BTB investors and producers who came.

Also congrats to the other film-makers.

Here are a few pics — and there are many more pics at the MIFF Facebook Page:


First Screening!

November 7, 2009

We’ve had our first screening and I have to say it was nerve-wracking for me, especially because the HD Master was fresh from the lab and we’d had no time to pre-screen it so I was living in fear of a technical glitch but thankfully nothing like that happened — it screened beautifully, lots of buzz and congratulations from the buyers who were there along with various others. Now I must also tell you that when the film-maker is present, people are always polite and enthusiastic so we have to factor that in. I did manage to sprinkle some “spies” into the audience who engaged viewers in discussion afterward when I wasn’t around and the enthusiasm still seemed to be genuine.

Meanwhile in the booth at AFM we are having steady meetings and getting into negotiations for some new territories. The market overall is not a great one — the number of buyers is down over last year — and last year was down over the previous year. But the good news is that David Suarez, our head of sales, mounted a massive phone call campaign using 8 unpaid interns to call all our buyers and set up meetings so we’ve been having steady meetings from 9:30 in the morning until 7:30 or even 8 at night. David has been unable to take a lunch break –we’ve been getting him a sandwich around 4 or five PM. I’m taking sales meetings too for the first time in a few years and am getting back into the “sales and marketing” mode.

More soon…..

We Have a Movie!

November 4, 2009

Well, I am pleased to report that today (yesterday, technically), at 5:14PM, we officially delivered the baby — Beneath the Blue came forth into the world as a complete (if not “completed”– more about that later) movie. I have not slept more than two hours in any of the last four days …….nor has Mark Linthicum, who is a true hero you will meet at the premiere……It’s been a non-stop push to the finish but we made it and what we have looks more promising than anything I’ve been associated with thus far.

The crazy part of this is that while I’ve been in the mad push to deliver the baby, the rest of our “lean team” at Quantum has been pushing just as hard to get ready for American Film Market, which starts tomorrow (6 hours from now, to be exact — technically today).

And it’s crazy indeed.

As I was delivering the hard drives to the lab for creation of the HDCAM master that will be the source for the screening, I got a phone call from Freddie Naff, our production designer on Karla and Eye of the Dolphin, whom we had engaged to create a mega-cool but ultimately low-cost look for our suite at AFM. I have been pushing really hard to upgrade everything even though we are downsized. I made sure all our trailers are HD; that we have two ultra sleek HD TV’s in the room to show the trailers on; that our overall “look” is slicker than anything we have done previously. Freddie came up with the following design (never mind the actual posters — this is just a design template …. believe me, Beneath the Blue gets primary placement)…….
poster wall logo layout

Pretty cool, IMHO….

Anyway, so as I was delivering the film on hard drives to the duplication house, completely sleep-deprived of course after the big push — the first problem was that when the dup house put the project file up on the computer, some final last-hour changes that Mark and I had made were not there. There was a fade-out of the music on the end credits that was no longer there; and an effets shot that we had put in at the last minute. So there was a sudden crisis about the hard drive and what was on it, and whether it represented the final final thing we had done.

And just in the middle of this, while I’m making multiple conference calls trying to get all the right people talking to each other about the problem with the master, suddenly I get a call from Freddie who is near hysterical at the beginning and then truly breaks down in tears. Turns out he was on his way to AFM with our entire cool wall display roped onto the roof of his car, when he stopped off at IKEA to buy some last minute things — and then came out to find that whatever was on the roof of his car (our entire AFM office, basically) was gone. I’m not kidding. You can’t make this up.

So … the good news was that all of the stuff either came from IKEA, or a printer who works 24/7, or an art supply house …. and so I ended up going to Ikea and buying replacement stuff for all the stuff from there, jammed it into my car, while Freddie and the other members of our little family fanned out to get the rest. The bottom line is that now, as of 1:43am, it looks like we will be fully where we were supposed to be, but instead of being there by 9am tomorrow, it will be 12 noon before we are there. In the meantime, we have an entertaining story to tell about our office being stolen from an Ikea parking lot.
Anyway, that’s the report as of 1:44am.

AFM in 6 hours.

First screening of Beneath the Blue in 30 hours.

Thanks to everyone for the words of encouragement and support. They really help. I apologize if it seems like an unseemly scramble but this is how it is.

By the way, there was a World Series game 5 tonight, right? Yanks were up 3-1. What happened?

Next Day – Nov 1 (actually Nov 2 12:44am)

November 2, 2009

Disaster strikes.

I kid you not. I haven’t slept more than four hours a day in the last ten days. We worked our way through the whole weekend. Halloween? Not. College football? Not. USC got absolutely hammered by Oregon and I only heard about it the next day……Is there a World Series going on? I know it’s the Phillies and the Yankees but that’s it. And I’m a sports addict.

Today we had a miscommunication. Mark Linthicum, my “Mr. Everything” in post, is leaving for a vacation on Tuesday at 9pm from LAX. I somehow thought he was available to help us finish the mix and visuals for the Nov 5 screening through Monday but it turns out no, he’s not. He’s got another client who needs him and he’s been trying to “signal” that to me without beating me over the head wth it. Problem is, we got to 5pm on Sunday when he said, in essence, I’m dont at 8pm tonight. I freaked because we have another day’s worth of work to do. The good news is he’s provided, over the last week, someone who can help. But still…Mark is THE man…. David Bartlett is great but we’ve never worked together and now all of a sudden it’s going to be David in charge of the mix.

Meanwhile, because of our beleagured status, I’m more hands on than ever …. the opening credit sequence? Me. The end titles? Me. The dolphin sounds throughout? Me. It’s 12:48am Monday morning. I have no chance of sleeping. I’m not asking anyone to feel sorry for me. I am blessed to be given the opportunity to make a movie that I care about. I can show you hundreds, thousands, who only dream of that opportunity. But I’m “runnin’ on empty” here to some degree.

Meanwhile our whole sales/marketing team is gearing up for AFM and there are a million issues there that I’m responsible for as well. I won’t even start.

But we’ll get it done.

This has been a six minute post. Back to work.

October 31 — 11:40PM

November 1, 2009

Well, it’s Saturday night, Halloween — we’re still here at 11:40 and looks like another 2-3 hours before we can break, then we have to start up at 8am tomorrow and even then it looks like this will spill over onto Monday before we finish. Our actual deadline for delivering to AFM for the buyer screening is end of the day Monday. By then I will be a limp dishrag for sure, as will Mark Linthicum and David Bartlett.

We have been jamming on three levels since 8am this morning.

1) David Bartlett has been doing atmospheres and laying in sound effects. (Atmospheres being an overall ambient character — often very detailed — for each major environment. Of particular concern is the undersea lab environment and he’s spent a lot of time on that. Also the SURTASS Low Frequency Active Sonar sound…. this is a tricky one because we want to make it realistic but there are limits to what you can do in a theater without blowing out the speakers or having things distort. So we are pushing the envelope on that. Also all of the environments– underwater, beach, the exterior of the dolphin research center. Understand that when we record live, we mike for the voices so there is an attempt to minimize the environmental sounds in order to get clean dialogue. But that means that for presentation — never mind final final cut — we have to recreate and re-imagine a lot. So David’s been doing that.

2) Mark has been working on visuals, completing the last of the special effects shots and checking the color timing and a dozen other things about he visuals.

3) My job has been to sit across from Mark on another computer/editing console where I’ve been finalizing the dolphin sounds throughout the film, pulling from a library of thousands of real sounds — plus creating and utilizing the artificial “whistle language” which Hawk uses to engender human-dolphin communication. I had done this in rough draft before — now trying to make it as real and close to final as possible. My other two jobs have been to do the opening title sequence and the closing titles and I haven’t done them yet. Bogged down on the dolphin stuff but I’m getting there.

Additionally, Mark and I and David viewed the film this afternoon and took notes and I came up with the following list of “fixes” which we have to accomplish between today and tomorrow. They won’t make much sense reading them in the abstract — but give a sense of the process by which we are whittling away and getting down to a bottom line.

The first column defines what kind of fix — SFX (Special Effects, Color Timing, Sound, etc).
The Second column indicates who called for it — “Both” means Mark and I both want it. “ML” means it’s something Mark wants done. And “MS” means it’s something I want done.
The third column is Priority — A+, A, B, C. We will get the A+’s and A’s done for sure, and some of the B’s. C’s are for another cut another day.

SFX BOTH A Up ahead in that Naval base (need the island)…..
SFX BOTH A need it again ….”you’re in restricted naval waters…
SFX BOTH A Island establishing shot after the speech
SFX BOTH A Island morning of final confrontation — chase etc
SFX BOTH A another missing islandn AS RASCA IS ON THE WAY……..
SFX BOTH A Two more island shots in the chase
EDIT BOTH A we use the same shot atthe beginning of the movie and the beginning of the demonstration scene. We need t o swap out that shot.
SFX BOTH A second dolphin in experiment 7….
SFX MS A Can see 40ft sign in the BG behind raca at the bottom…….also can see lots of freckles/different skin tone on the girl…wonder if we can fix that easily?
FRAME BOTH A+ Remove the trainer’s hand….
SFX BOTH A+ temp shot graphic” … need to work some of the new footage into this.
SFX MS A shot of beach right after hospital — is this the same one we use later at the end? same two people swimming…..(yes, confirmed…..need another one, or take the two swimmers out in the foreground from one of the shots)….
SFX MS B Anchor chain when Craig goes in the water…..
FRAME MS A Boom in the shot—-over craig and alyssa…..
SFX MS A Review ferry in last scene — may have to be taken out of one shot.
SFX MS A Rosca Rosca Rosca….spelling…..
SFX BOTH A Fuckin’ fin shot…….

SFX B A Make the slowmo better and smoother on the dolphins — afterefects…..
SFX ML A stabilize and de-noise three dolphings jumping
SFX MS A Photo effect of Craig’s photos needs improvement
SFX MS A On the second split scren POV of the platform (Rasca’s POV) maybe we can do a digital zoom to make it feel like motion?
SFX MS A Platform has to be taken out.
SFX BOTH A Rasca hears pinger — capacity turned down.
SFX BOTH A Shot of the jetskis from platform look fake …. jetskis too saturated or something…….
SFX MS A What happened to the zoom on the first shot……
SFX BOTH A Same shot seen before — remove two people from water
SFX MS A+ Cut from alyssa after “another group of dead dolphins” has a wild frame in there I think………
SFX MS B experiment — color of the donut doesn’t look white enough ….
SFX MS B Not sure about the choie of Hawk’s picture on the “dialogue computer”…..
SFX MS B Wow the snout on that dolphin is a mess. Maybe we should try to clean it up (for Veronica’s sake?)
SFX MS B Roof is kidn of hot white—helluva bright moon
SFX MS B That first shot of the mood could use a cloud or something other than pure black all around it.
SFX MS B On the shots of the ship, I feel like the moon should be in the left side f the frame, not right…..not sure why — has to do with the first shot of the scene having it that way….it’s like w’ere crossing the line………
SFX ML B DOLPHIN IN FIRT UW SHOT… can probably wait until future….
SFX MS B Rasca scars really visible…….
SFX MS C can see paul’s tatoo when ie’s trying to save alyssa…….
CT MS A blue water on dolphin shot from eod — looks green……..
CT ML A Color correct the lab when she walks to the screen to get hawk
CT MS A fish fry “you’re not messing with me — color timing is uneven…….
CT MS A color timing note — one of the shots whern they are coming into the pen is much greener than others. need to look at that.
CT MS A when Alyssa and Rasca swim, add blue to the water if possib le
CT MS A Check the water match …UW shot is blue/green, then above water shot where we see the flashlight the water is brown …then at the end when we are on Hawk on the surface it’s a bit b blue. Need to color time – smooth it out
CT MS A When Rasca goes under the boat after reunion, why so red….
CT ML A Sonice fx shot graphic …..color time the water…..
CT BOTH A Bring blacks down on shot of Hwk and Daniel coming out to see Blaine…..
CT MS A Flippin fin needs to be more blue, less green….(eod shot)
CT ML B Too much color in opening 20 minutes………..
CT MS B There is a shot just before the first above water shat of the boat that is so dark — can’t tell what it is
SOUND MS A DUVEY…….on phone. sounds funny b ecaue her name is funny — can we lose this.
SOUND MS B can i feed her some fish — may be hard to understand……….
SOUND MS A music at the fishfry second half …. need something radically different.
SOUND MS A research center tomorrow — kita’s line (sound gliche)…….
SOUND MS A pull down the sound of the glove coming off….
SOUND MS A James Harers is here to see him — dialogue glitch.
SOUND MS A source music at beach restaurant Gwen/Craig?.
SOUND MS B The dolphin they called Rasca should be “call Rasca”…remove “d” from “called”..
SOUND MS C for a little “while” nto “waal”
SOUND MS B “hate to see your career end like that” — sound glitch? Check.
SOUND BOTH A Hear some director voice
SOUND MS A I thnk you’re insane some verbal blitch….
SOUND MS A Hawk’s Okay this is as far as we cna go — ready” doesn’t sound right…maybe we lose it?
FRAME MS A Stop your vessle…punch in a bit. Double is VERY obviousl…….
EDIT ML dissolve to alyssa and dolphin perhaps shold be a fade out and fade in. something about the transition from the title sequence dolphins (abstract, somewhere out there) to Alyssa and our dolphin, is not quite right.
EDIT SJ B alyssa’s jiggly butt on boat…….
EDIT MS A lose shot of external speaker
EDIT MS B Check continuity on baby on line “to them I’m not a good guy”
EDIT MS B frist shot of water when kids see rasca….may see a little bit of bubbles from a rasca jump……
EDIT ML A bar transition bothers mark
EDIT BOTH A we use the same shot atthe beginning of the movie and the beginning of the demonstration scene. We need t o swap out that shot.
EDIT MS B Maybe trim from the head of Officer Michael Zombie departure
EDIT MS A Yeah, the whole date is too long…….people are going to get impatient. Need to get to the kiss quicker….
EDIT MS A Important: Not sure about Rasca’s last shot leaving the rescue …. did we get any new shots that could help? Maybe a speed run w edidn’t use? This is the worst transition in the movie …. bet we have new material that could help.
EDIT MS B More shots of Gwen trying to get Rasca to cooperate……
EDIT MS A tamika’s speech may need dialogue lift….i’m not sure about one line — need to listen to it and decide. afraid it might be over the top…..i think shen she’s said ‘the’ve crossed a ine and we can’t allow it to stand…..we fight this together, as a family”…….I think a piece of that , probably “crossed a line and we can’t allow it to stand” may need to go.
EDIT BOTH A Same shot ttwicefrom the side of the boat — before “thermocline” line…..
EDIT MS A Lose the shot of the driver looking like a dope…just go to his hand…
EDIT BOTH A Flare…….cut out one shot?
ADR MS C made it to two minutes should be “made it to 100 feet”…..fix in ADR

And that’s where are as of what is now 11:57PM on October 31st.

Back to work. This is exhausting but exhilirating too.