Thursday, April 21, 2011


Okay it's been too long since a post. WAY too long. When I started this blog, I was resolved to be consistent. So, here's my trying to be consistent.

I don't have a lot to write about. I am making a new film though! This one's called "Attic" and I'm pretty excited about it. It's a suspense/horror film. I do kind of cringe at the word "horror" though, because I feel the horror genre has been warped and is somewhat misunderstood now a days. Just to be clear, Attic is not a slasher, blood and guts horror film. I love the script because it reminds me of a more classical horror story; in the vein of Psycho, Twilight Zone, etc. I'm trying to take this classification and really run with it too. It's interesting story boarding and breaking down a script to try and achieve a very specific style. I haven't done it before, and I'm not even sure if that particular style is going to break through in any extremely obvious ways. But that's okay, I'd prefer that my style never be too obvious in a film. I like to look at a script and approach it as naturally as possible, because I know my own personality and style will naturally play through that way. But there is still a time and place for filtering my natural style through the lens of another style, and that's what I'm doing with this film. It's interesting! And a lot of fun.

If you're reading this, check out the fundraising page:
More than just a fundraising page, it's got info about the film, cast, etc. Good stuff!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Zone

"To make a fighter, you gotta strip 'em down to bare wood. You can't just tell them to forget everything they know, you gotta make them forget it in their bones. Make them so tired they only listen to you, only hear your voice, only do what you say and nothing else..."
- Morgan Freeman, Million Dollar Baby

I (the director) am the boxer, the film's the trainer.

It suddenly hit me this morning that I feel this way, and it's the way I have felt for all the other films I've directed. Once I start getting this close to the film shoot, I get tunnel vision and I forget everything else. The film is it. Everything I say, do, see or hear somehow loops back to the film, reminding me of it in some way. Making me think about it in a different way.

This morning I was shocked at how tired I was. In my fatigued state, as I was thinking about the film, the above quote came to mind. Then, I started thinking about why it came to mind.

I've been up late two nights in a row working on this film (well, late for an out-of-college guy like me) and it struck me that I am letting the film "train" me. I also realized that I think that's a good portion of what good directing is. I need to submit myself to the film's story and act out of the things I discover as I delve into the story, characters and themes. Directing isn't so much about being in charge as it is about being the champion of the film, the "fighter" for the story. The director is (or should be) the one who acquires the most intimate knowledge of the script, who relates to it the most personally, or is trained to operate within the fictional world of the script more than anyone else. He then takes this knowledge and relays it to his team.
This has proven to be good brain-fodder for me the past hour or so and is actually quite encouraging and challenging, too. It encourages me to keep on digging deeper and deeper into the characters, themes, story and world; rehearsing them over and over in my head until they become instinctual knowledge to me. Just like the fighter learns to fight instinctually.

Okay, I'm going to cut this post short because I don't want stretch the analogy too much!

Yay for external processing!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Gettin' down to it!

The shoot's only two weeks from this Friday! It's really coming down to it now and I can feel the stress mounting. So many things that have come together, but so many things that need to come together still, or get finished before this shoot happens. It's difficult to produce a film like this and, with so many practical things weighing on your mind, still be creative.

Judith Weston's books, "The Film Director's Intuition" has been helping a lot though. I do feel that, with a combination of my experience directing and some of my recent self-educating attempts, I am better prepared to direct a film than I ever have. This confidence has helped my script breakdown process and story boarding process to go faster than ever before, with better results. The saved time and anxiety on the directing end has helped me focus my attention on the producing end, when it needs to be there.

I say I'm a confident director now... but at the same time I can't truly say that. I don't believe any director should ever be totally confident. There should always be some measure of humility when approaching a film. You don't know what awesome moments may come up while you're shooting that have nothing to do with you, and you don't know what ideas you're coming up with that may be completely horrible ideas.

I'm excited that, after all these months, I haven't lost the vision I originally had for this film. My ideas haven't stayed the same, but instead of changing completely, my understanding of the characters and events of the story has only deepened. That's what excites me about this film. That's what makes me think this will be a short film that a lot of people will be able to relate to; even though it's set two thousand years ago and involves a mythical creature.

Anyway, I'm kind of rambling now... TWO WEEKS!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Break it down!

I'm Breaking down the script for Valley of Mist right now. It's a challenge! There are so many possible themes to be mined in this story and I want to make sure I focus on the right one, but still keep all the elements there that need to be there. I've been spending time every day this week reading the script over and over again trying to internalize the characters and discern what all is happening "beneath the surface" of this story.

This script break down is both easier and harder than break downs I've done in the past. Because I wrote it, I already have a pretty clear idea of how I see this movie tonally. I also have a good idea as to who the characters are, their backgrounds, their relationship to each other, etc. But, what I am finding to be more of a challenge is discerning their motivations, deep desires, and what it is in this movie that they're not saying to each other (the beneath the surface stuff). This is turning out to be a good exercise for me in that way. It's actually forcing me to look a little deeper into myself and why I wrote this script the way I did. And, somehow, as a consequence of that, I am beginning to let the story and the characters take on a life of their own, separate from me. So now the story is becoming something larger than just a cool idea I had in my head one day, but it is hopefully becoming something more transcendent.

I am doing all of this before I determine the visual style or storyboard the film, because the story, themes and character's relationship are going to strongly dictate how this film is shot.

We'll see! It's fun for me to externalize my thoughts like this. I'm an external processor so having a blog to let my stream of conscious flow onto from time to time is very helpful.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I know it sounds cliche, but I honestly do feel overwhelmed by the amount of support I have received, so far, for Valley of Mist. In five days, I have raised $500! It's a staggering thought that people believe in you enough to put their money towards something you want to make. It feels good! And not in a "I'm so great" way, but in a challenging way. I now know that there are people out there who want to see this film and want to see me make it. That challenges me to do a great job! If anybody who is reading this blog has donated, THANK YOU.

I have now made contact with Richard Applegate phd. He spent years researching the Samala language and wrote the Samala dictionary (their first and only dictionary). He is probably the most knowledgeable person on earth when it comes to the native language of the Chumash people. I am very excited to possibly have him translating the lines with me.

On a slightly separate note I just finished reading "Making Movies" by Sidney Lumet. It's been challenging me to think a lot about movies, and mainly, trusting my intuition when it comes to scripts. I've also been watching a lot of Judith Weston interviews and am about to order her book "The Film Director's Intuition." She also talks about trusting your instincts and intuition when it comes to directing a scene, or deciding how it will be executed. I have been hanging on to that feeling, that vision, that first attracted me to Valley of Mist. I've been realizing that I've had a tendency to sacrifice my vision, what I intuitively feel is right, from the early stages of production on the altar of practicality. On set conditions aren't ideal to get a shot, I'm afraid of looking silly for being really excited about something, or I'm just too plain lazy to spend the mental energy it would take to translate that picture, that emotion, I had in my head to the screen. What I am trying to do with this film is trust my intuition. I've done it before and never been disappointed. I need to hang on to this movie I have inside my mind and not let go of it. Because I know if I can make the movie that way, it'll be great.

Now I need to throw in a disclaimer (as much as people hate them). I love collaboration. It makes films better. Part of my vision for this film is to push everyone involved to treat their specific job as their own artistic expression. Hopefully, this film will come through as a collaboration of artists, who all believe in something. Who all believe in this movie.

Okay, I'm rambling now. Just thought I'd give an update: the main one being, $500 so far! I'll repeat myself and say it really is overwhelming.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Goals for my new film

Well, I have finally jumped into production mode, full throttle, on a short film titled "Valley of Mist" (working title). The film follows the story of a Samala man and wife, 1500 years ago, as they journey through the mountains trying to make it into the Los Angeles Basin. They're lost, tired and scared, and to make matters worse, they quickly realize they are being pursued by a mysterious spirit.

My goals for this film are ambitious. I want to create a creature/spirit that looks really good. Scary, yet beautiful. I love fantasy, I love movie creatures, and most of all, I am fascinated by Native American culture. I want to portray the Native Americans in this movie in a unique, authentic way. Their relationship is the focal point of the entire film and I can't wait to explore the dynamics with the actors. I'm also really excited to get a chance to show a glimpse of what Native American culture was like back then. These people have been here for such a long time, and I think it's fascinating that there is so much history in this region that we know nothing about. So many people who have lived here, so long ago, who we'll never know anything about. I hope to, in some very small way, delve into that ancient world. Truly, I wish I could make a feature film to provide an even more immersive experience. But, at this time, there are limits to what I can do financially!

This is the link to my fundraising site:

I hope to raise $1000 for the film. It's not much, but I think it'll do the trick.

And finally, I'm really excited! I'm excited to be directing something again! Pray that all the needed funds come in, the locations work out, the costumes work out, basically that everything works out. Because, in pre-production, almost anything can go wrong, which is nerve wracking. But, I feel really good about the team I have assembled so far and I'm at the point where I'm confident we can do this!