Archive for the Making Movies Category

More than the Least You Can Do

Posted in Making Movies, Rants on May 4, 2012 by Tom McIntire

What Light scriptie extraordinaire Robyn Scaringi wrote a great blog post about the do’s and don’ts for no/lo budget indie film producers called The Least You Can Do. Having been on both sides of this situation, Robyn’s tough love for aspiring film producers hit more than a few notes for me. I hope I’ve been guilty of only a couple of the bonehead moves she mentions. Apologies to Robyn for jumping on her bandwagon but I wanted to add a few things.

For budding producers/filmmakers:

  1. DON’T post raw footage or rough cuts online in any public location. If you want to get feedback from selected peers, set a password on the online footage.
  2. DON”T post a low res version online. Why the hell would you shoot something in HD and then show a crappy low res version?
  3. DON’T apologize for the quality of a project – finish the film  and make it the best it can be before you show it – edit it well, adjust the sound, color correct it. If you need help with any of these, ask around – there’s probably someone already involved who can help or refer someone.
  4. Part of a producer’s job is to raise enough money to ensure a safe, productive shoot. Use,, get your friend’s band to play at a fundraiser, have a movie night, bake cookies, recycle aluminum cans, but please don’t play the poor starving artist card and expect everything for free. If  your idea is good, you should be able to articulate why it is good, and finding support will be much easier. A good pitch might help you attract a producer who is skilled at raising money if you are not.
  5. Create realistic shooting schedules. There are 24 hours in a day, people need to eat, sleep, get into costume and makeup, lights need to be set, unexpected problems come up.  Give yourself and your cast and crew some breathing room. They will probably need a day off if you are shooting more than 5 days in a row. I have messed this up myself a few times.

Movie Review: Humpday

Posted in acting, Making Movies, Movie reviews, screenwriting with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on November 24, 2009 by Tom McIntire

I approached the content of Seattle writer/director Lynn Shelton‘s Humpday with some trepidation – in America pretty much the worst thing you can say (or even imply) about a straight man is that he may have some sexual interest in another man. You can see this in evidence in everything from homophobic stand-up comedy to sports trash-talking to films about straight men posing as gays to gain some special right or privilege (or the girl). What I did not want to see was yet another gay-bashing disguised as comedy. I was delighted to find the subject treated in an honest, sensitive and thoughtful manner in the knowing and funny film Humpday.

Dealing with issues of identity and choices beyond sex and sexuality, Humpday chronicles the reunion of college buddies Ben and Andrew. One has taken a more conventional path including marriage, a house and talk of having children. The other has followed the path of the Beat generation artists and poets, traveling around the world with no particular goal in mind but the trip itself. Their assumptions about one another are challenged as are their doubts about themselves and the choices they have made.

Shelton’s script is beautifully crafted and realized. Knowing a bit about the film from reviews and word-of-mouth, I wondered through the first half hour or so how she was going to pull this off. Natural, believable characters unfold as their relationships bend and twist and evolve, revealing surprising truths about love and friendship and sex. Strong performances from the cast, including Shelton’s own luminous supporting role as free-spirited Monica, demonstrate the director’s skillful,  subtle touch. Alycia Delmore‘s turn as Anna, the patient wife struggling to understand her husband and herself and what it means to be married, brings a focus and clarity that is clever and satisfying. Mark Duplass and Joshua Leonard ultimately carry  the day though, delivering what feels like a single seamless performance in their critical scenes together. Their chemistry is just right, as is this enjoyable AND intelligent film.

Humpday is available on Netflix.


Wondering what to give? How about an executive producer credit on IMDB?

Posted in Making Movies, Non-profit filmmaking, reelheart, screenwriting, Seattle events, Toronto on November 23, 2009 by Tom McIntire

2010 ReelHeART International Film FestivalNon-profit Smiling Z Studios has been designated as the production team for the winning script in the 2010 ReelHeART International Film Festival (RHIFF) short screenplay competition. If we meet our fundraising goals and produce the project, the finished film will screen in Toronto in June 2010 on RHIFF’s main stage. Toronto is a great place to visit and RHIFF is definitely a go-to event.

You can help get this film made AND get a gift for your ‘person who has everything’. The wanna-be movie mogul in your life can have an Associate Producer ($500) or Executive Producer ($2000) credit on and in the credits for our upcoming production. Lots of other levels of support are available too. You can support the project on or go directly to the Smiling Z Studios site and choose Donate in the left column. You’ll further the art of filmmaking in Seattle while strengthening ties to Toronto’s filmmaking and viewing communities.

Want something you can wrap? Choose our recently released short environmentally themed sci-fi thriller Greenspoke on DVD from Greenspoke is an Accolade Award of Merit winner and received a great review in The Seattle WeeklyGreenspoke posters, T-shirts and even temporary tattoos are available on the official Greenspoke site (scroll down after you watch the trailer).

Places Every One

Posted in Greenspoke, Making Movies, screenwriting on October 26, 2009 by Tom McIntire
Michael Lorefice wrapping the logo on the emissions station sign

Michael Lorefice wrapping the logo on the emissions station sign used in Greenspoke.

The Saturn was due for an emissions check. A cold, heavy rain fell as I made the familiar trip past the State Emissions Inspection Station sign. Why a familiar trip when we only get our car checked every two years? Applus+ Technologies, the company that runs the emissions stations in Washington, was kind enough to allow us to use the Sodo station for several scenes in my short film Greenspoke. Tim glides by the sign on his bike in the film, answering the question ‘where is he going anyway?’ I’ve seen him do that exact ride a million times. Well, maybe a thousand. For our scenes in the bays and interior of the inspection station, the management was extremely helpful, even advising our lead actor Tim Gouran on how to probe like a pro.

Visiting locations you have used in a film, especially when you have literally spent hundreds of hours watching, editing, watching and re-editing the piece, is magically surreal. I almost said magically delicious. This place that initially lived in your imagination as you wrote the script took on another life when you played out your story in this physical space. The story grew into the space until they were inextricably linked. Eventually the place works its way into your consciousness like a character all its own. As I pulled up into the lane we used for Ruri’s scenes with John, the cold gray space seemed empty without the lights, dollies, camera, cast and crew. Even with that, it had a familiarity and chilly warmth that left me waiting for the line:

“You passed with flying colors.”

The friendly attendant missed her cue but the car passed and I was on my way. I never did hear that lone serendipitous train whistle we got in the film.

I had a similar experience when out cycling at Golden Gardens, the Seattle park where we shot the beach scenes in the climax of Greenspoke. This also was the location where we shot several scenes for my acting turn as a multi-murderer in the Trapped Principal episode of the Japanese television series Gyoten Sekai. This park is used often in film productions here in Seattle, so it wasn’t unusual to see a film crew. What was fun was to see the 1st Assistant Camera from Greenspoke, Angie Bernardoni and then realize that our Director of Photography Ryan Purcell and Sound man extraordinaire Matt Sheldon were also on the beach making movie magic. Even though it was a warm day, I felt again the chill of our December shoot, reliving over and over again the teeth-chattering cold that the talent went through and that I have seen (and felt) hundreds of times as well as I tweaked the color and the edit and manipulated the sounds of their screams, the passing train and the water.

Greenspoke storyboard

Greenspoke storyboard

I’m currently working on storyboards to help me tweak my feature length script The Smiling Zombie. Storyboarding helps me identify weak sections of my scripts, visualize the locations I need and develop broad production design concepts. They also help in working with the director of photography to help us find the right dramatic and visual tension for a scene. Something they don’t do, which is part of the joy of making the film, is  flesh out all the nuances of an actual space and how that can be used to further the story and enrich the visual aspects of the film. It’s like the difference between looking at a map and walking down the street. As I make my new ‘maps’, I’m looking forward to walking down the streets of the new places it brings into my stories and my life.

Dealing with Current Realities Or Am I Related to Francis Ford Coppolla?

Posted in Greenspoke, Making Movies, Non-profit filmmaking, reelheart with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 2, 2009 by Tom McIntire

Filmmaking has been a passion of mine for many years, supported financially by me through my corporate employment. When I was at the 2008 ReelHeART International Film Festival (RHIFF) with my short film two julias, I received a phone call from my employer of 6 years letting me know they were laying off several people in my department and that I was one of them.  The ironic timing of the call did not go unnoticed since I had made my first film as part of an employee filmmaking contest there. They let me go while I was on vacation at the first film festival to show one of my films in competition.

RHIFF is a great filmmaker-friendly festival and definitely worth the submission fee – I have entered again for 2010. However my overall festival submission strategy has definitely changed since then. I tended to take a shotgun approach before.  I research the festivals more and take advantage of early bird submission rates where I can to save money. If you use, use their search and watch list functions rather than waiting for their e-mail notifications. Most of the e-mail notifications are for the higher fee late or final deadlines. More money for WAB and the festival but not the best use of limited filmmaker bucks.

I took a leap of faith and used my severance to fund Greenspoke, a project that was already in pre-production before my layoff.   I do not regret making that decision – that project kept me sane through what I thought would be a couple of months seeking employment. Greenspoke has done well so far, showing in four festivals and getting a good review in The Seattle Weekly. Oddly my layoff from a high profile employer and continued filmmaking also led to a small piece in The Seattle Times as well. Unfortunately the article makes it sound like the layoff somehow helped my filmmaking career – that is not the case. That story came up in a job interview I had shortly after the article came out.

As I have been searching for a web editor job over the last 15 months, I have had to adjust my expectations as a filmmaker to line up with current realities. Before I would have gone ahead with a project even if funding was iffy — that just isn’t possible anymore.  I can’t proceed with any production activities until firm money in place. I set up non-profit Smiling Z Studios as a means of soliciting tax-deductible donations. When many of your previous supporters are also out of work or worried about losing their jobs, it is tough to make the pitch that a non-profit  independent film production is a great place to make their charitable donations. We do pay all of our cast and crew, many of whom are struggling financially, as part of the studio’s mission. However,  if a potential donor is on the fence between supporting our projects vs making a donation to a food bank or the Red Cross, I would not want them to choose the studio.

Most of us wonder what we would do if we won the lottery. I often think about what it would be like to make that transition from mostly self-funded director/producer to working as a director with full production support and investors who believe in me and my abilities enough to finance my projects. While that is not out of the realm of possibility, I do believe the odds are better to win the lottery and give these feelings the same kind of weight. I think most artists sans trust fund or those who lack a family connection to Francis Ford Coppolla struggle with how they are going to pay for their art.

So what do I do while I’m sorting this all out? Work on the things I can. Besides checking in with friends and former co-workers (again) who may be able to help me find work, I’ve redoubled my efforts to seek gainful employment. There do seem to be more jobs out there in my field and I’ve even had a couple of promising interviews.  I’ve also started working on storyboards for my feature length screenplay The Smiling Zombie, which was a finalist in the 2009 ReelHeART International Film Festival Screenplay Competition. The Smiling Zombie is about Jack, a successful musical theatre performer whose career is cut short by multiple sclerosis. With the support of his HIV+ partner, Jack attempts a comeback of sorts with a featured extra role in a no-budget zombie film. Making the best out of a bad situation seems to be a theme here?

Paper and pens I got, and storyboards help me to really think through the script, its problems and strengths, and what the overall look and feel will be. If I work on the things I can, I’ll be ready with a new job and a solid script and storyboards when things turn around. And who knows, maybe I am related to Francis Ford Coppolla?

Filmmaker or not, what are you doing to keep your passions going during these tough times?

Greenspoke screenings in the Seattle/Tacoma area in Sept-Oct

Posted in festivals, Greenspoke, Making Movies, Seattle events with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 19, 2009 by Tom McIntire

GreenspokeTom McIntire’s award-winning short Greenspoke will be screening in several Seattle-area festivals in Sept and Oct. Check it out!

Upcoming Seattle/Tacoma screenings:

Greenspoke premieres at Bumbershoot
Monday Sept 7 at 8pm
SIFF Cinema.

International Film Festival Ireland (Clonmel) – Sept 9

Maelstrom International Festival of Fantastic Films (Seattle) – Sept 18-20 (also at SIFF Cinema)

Tacoma Film Festival – Oct 6 at 9:30pm at the Grand Cinema

Other upcoming screenings:

Greenspoke will also be screening at the International Film Festival Ireland on Wed Sept 9 in Clonmel, Tiperarry.

Thanks again to all of you who came out for the Aug 4th preview!

P.S. We have all kinds of fun Greenspoke merchandise available on the official site:

Aug 4 Fundraiser Screening Plus Live Music at Central Cinema – tix at

Posted in acting, Greenspoke, Making Movies, reelheart, screenwriting, Seattle events with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 17, 2009 by Tom McIntire

Smiling Z Studios

Two award-winning  short films, snacks, live music from The Daguerreotypes and a no-host bar – come see Tom McIntire’s award-winning political satire “two julias”, plus be a part of the first super secret preview screening of his latest, the sci-fi thriller “Greenspoke”.

two julias: Much to the delight of his kinky girlfriend, a counter-terrorism agent abuses his authority by spying on single women just for fun. A young woman looking for love online and a lecherous married salesman get entangled in their games. A darkly comedic political satire. Break a heart in seven languages! Winner honorable mention and director’s pick 2008 ReelHeART International Film Festival and recently nominated for Best USA Film under 25 Minutes at International Film Festival Ireland.

Greenspoke: A beautiful Japanese translator and a world-weary vehicle emissions technician awaken profoundly changed by the work of a brilliant scientist who believes he has found the solution to climate change. Winner of the Accolade Award of Merit: Short Film and nominated for Best International Film under 50 Munutes at International Film Festival Ireland.

The Daguerreotypes: Their quirky music is featured in both films – come hear this great band live!

Net proceeds benefit Smiling Z Studios, the nonprofit film studio dedicated to providing paid cast and crew positions in quality Seattle film productions

NOTE: No one under 21 years old will be admitted.

Feel free to share this info with your friends, including the discount code for your poor friends. Enter the discount code “blog” and get in at the cast and crew price of $12. Make your rich friends pay at the higher levels listed on brownpapertickets – purchases at the $25 and $50 levels include a portion that is tax-deductible, plus some thank you gifts.

I hope you can make it!

two julias and Greenspoke have both been nominated for awards

two julias and Greenspoke have both been nominated for awards

Greenspoke won an Award of Merit for Short Film

Greenspoke won an Award of Merit for Short Film

two julias won an honorable mention and a director's pick

two julias won an honorable mention and a director's pick