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False starts and new hopes

Posted in Greenspoke with tags , , , , on August 17, 2008 by Tom McIntire

We were watching the Olympic sprinters yesterday. One of the runners called a time out because the officials kept them in a down position too long. Then the same runner started too soon and they had to start again. Her dilemma resonated with me after the day I had with Greenspoke.

I’ve been shoving this short sci-fi project along through:

  • scheduling messups (mine)
  • getting laid off
  • recruiting barely available staff because of my last-minutitis
  • having equipment we needed just out of reach
  • giving an onerous task of production management to an eleventh hour part-time production team
  • not listening to my instincts and impressions

After some harsh words and soul-searching, I realized that I would not be doing the project or the people involved justice if I went ahead. My good friend Michael listened and let me work it through and figure out that the best solution was to put the project off until spring.

I love this script. I am proud of it and what it promises as a short form piece. So I am going to take a different approach:

  • hire a professional production management team so I’m not worrying about whether the actors and crew are taken care of, especially when we shoot outdoors
  • compress the shooting schedule and shoot on consecutive days so we can secure the best crew without restricting their ability to get other paid assignments
  • define roles and responsibilities at the very start with every member of the team
  • go into our first shooting day focused on getting the best shots and performances from my actors

The sprinter I mentioned did not finish fast enough to get a medal. But she finished, false starts and all. And maybe we can finish and get the gold with more careful planning and attention to detail.


Greenspoke starts shooting on 8/23

Posted in Greenspoke with tags , , , , , , , , , on August 13, 2008 by Tom McIntire

It’s been a busy few weeks. I’ve neglected the blog since we got back from Toronto. My former employer has decided that we need to see other people, so I’m looking for Web or video editing jobs in Seattle or telecommuting – let me know if you have any leads.

Our next short, Greenspoke, what my producer Will Chase calls an eco-terror sci-fi thriller, is chugging along. We have a great cast in place, a 9-shooting day schedule (all on weekends), HD equipment lined up thanks to our line producer Lucien Flynn, a crew forming magically, and my good friends and collaborators Michael Lorefice and Paul Yoo sharing dp duties.

Starting a new project is always an anxious moment for me. Will it suck? Will we have good weather when we need it? Do I have the right insurance? Will we be able to get the right locations? Will has been helping ease some of this anxiety because he is handling alot of the things I used to do myself. But there is still the nagging worry that all these people are counting on me, the writer and director, to put something together that we will all be proud of. I also know that we’ve been down this path before and it is a fascinating (if nerve-wracking) trip.

Seeing actors bring your words to life is one of the most thrilling moments for a writer. Seeing something fresh and unexpected from the actors’ interpretations keeps you thinking of other ways to tell the story, and other stories that evolve from your original idea. Getting the right mood with an overall connectedness of the disparate pieces is a wonderful puzzle to solve as a director. Skilled artists and technicians get the lighting right, makeup artists create amazing illusions, video teams create and refine their piece with alternate angles and truly moving pictures as dollies whiz the camera about, production teams create schedules that flow and allow for the expected unexpected issues. Long way of saying it is an organic, collaborative labor of love.

Festival closing and other news

Posted in Toronto with tags , , , , , on June 23, 2008 by Tom McIntire

I was having internet access issues in Toronto so sorry that I haven’t kept up with the blog. The festival was a wonderful experience. Lots of good films and friendly smart fun filmmakers and festival folks.

Films that stood out (in no particular order):

Close to Midnight – personal and yet accessible story line, thoughtful choices from lenses to camera angles to color to music, extraordinary performances from the actors (Michael Bianco brought a rare level of sensitivity to the role of Chris Ryan). Kudos to director Ken Castellano and the cast and crew for this moving feature.

Brick by Brick … a Civil Rights Story – at times frightening and disturbing in its raw look at racism, director Bill Kavanaugh’s and Sylke Froechtenigt’s skillfully told tale of a long-term fight to integrate the city of Yonkers.

Leda and Her Art – 92 years old and she makes me feel like a total slacker – the funny and insightful story of Brazilian sculptor Leda Gontijo. There are people in the world who show you how to be alive – Leda is one of them.

Paola or The Art of Survival – Barbara Sostaric’s well-crafted and touching documentary about the obstacles and creative solutions of Paola, a single mother in Recife, Brazil as she tries to support her family. Paola’s story is troubling in its depiction of abject poverty yet inspirational when we see Paola’s resilience and dedication to her children.

The Red Room – Writer/director Elina Fessa’s beautifully realized story of an exotic dancer confronted by a long-lost love.

The German Lullaby – Director Tess Malone examines the betrayal of an innocent and the echoes that ring out through generations to come.

Futures and Derivatives – Writer/director Andrew Halpern creates a world where beauty is revealed in a very unlikely place.

Soul 37 – it’s all about heart and living fully – link goes to a previous blog entry about this touching film by David Shin.

Asian Task Force – a skillfully executed send-up of 90s cops shows like the A-team. If you like hot Asian actors playing something other than the nerd, funny and amazing fight scenes, then this one is for you. William Lu directed – Comedy Central needs to pick this one up to follow Reno 911 and class the evening up a bit.

Sneaky Snake – Lost in the Holy Land – need I say more? Best Animation Winner and that snake is a flirt

And Then She Was Gone – this lovely, dreamy film was shot in Savannah and features Diana Scarwid and actor/director Jacqueline Pennewill (also directed by Pete Konczal)

But back to me me me

two julias got an extra screening because people were trying to buy tickets after the original screening date. Several other films were in the same sitch. How fun is that? It gave me a chance to see films that I had missed – (The Red Room, Portrait of Envy) and to feel the reactions of a mostly new audience to two julias.

I was invited to be interviewed (along with several other visiting filmmakers) by saucy RHIFF director Shannon Kelly at their Lunch and Learn series. I talked about what drove me to write the script and told Shannon my favorite curse word. One of those is true.

And on a less positive note, my now former employer had the grace and style to call me during the festival to let me know we were breaking up. I went in to pack up my stuff today and turn in the card keys. I feel suddenly much lighter.

two julias has been launched

Posted in Toronto with tags , , , , , , on June 19, 2008 by Tom McIntire

Met with Nathan (the projectionist) about the sound and aspect ratio a few minutes before start time. Shannon Kelly held the start time until she could get there to kick things off properly. Brian did a lovely song and dance and kept us amused while we waited. I talked about writing the script two years ago in response to the privacy abuses of the Patriot Act.

Opening film in the group was a beautiful, poetic piece called Ismeriatwo julias was next. I didn’t notice how overly bright it was until the movie was actually running. It looked blown out on the large screen TV. 25 or so enthusiastic viewers seemed to enjoy it – laughed in most of the right places. I had great support from filmmakers David Shin (Soul 37), Will Lu (Asian Task Force) and Cosmos Kiindarius (The Quickie). I’ll be bugging them for feedback tomorrow.

Kurt and I wound up leaving during Susan For Now. It was making me physically ill (literally) – too much actual blood (it was a documentary about S/M sex clubs in Seattle). I had to leave when they started lighting alcohol on a woman’s back. It’s too bad because the rest of the program sounded interesting but I needed to keep that yummy dinner down.

Now we can relax a bit and enjoy the rest of the fest.

2 Hours Until the World Premiere of two julias!

Posted in Toronto with tags , , , , , on June 18, 2008 by Tom McIntire

I used an exclamation point. Don’t be scared. We just got back from an amazing filmmakers dinner at a wonderful Italian restaurant called Grupa (I may not be spelling that right). I had Falfalle with seafood and it was so good my stomach fell out. I put it back in and Kurt and I headed back to the bed and breakfast to get cleaned up for the premiere.

Earlier today, I dropped by the radio station  (CIUT) and left a few free passes. Also stopped a few people on the street and pitched their attendance – free pass, free popcorn, cajun canapes (no accent because I am lazy) and Nine, count ’em, Nine short films. Such a deal! I’m excited and nervous and hope I don’t make an ass out of myself when I have to talk in front of the audience. I’m happy with what we did in the film – I’ll be sad if it doesn’t get a good response but also know in my heart that it is good work.

We went to the screenplay reading today of Scavenger, a post-apocalyptic sci fi treat and got to meet and dine with the screenwriter tonight. Sounds like she has a lot of good things happening in her world. It’s been wonderful meeting so many diverse (in every sense) filmmakers, writers and audiences.

Toronto is a beautiful, walkable city. I did get to ride in Patsy’s red mini-van limo again today, all the way in the back. Star treatment. 😉

Off to Toronto!

Posted in Toronto with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2008 by Tom McIntire

We’re heading to the ReelHeART International Film Festival (RHIFF) in Toronto tomorrow morning. The shuttle arrives at the uncivilized hour of 4:35 am. That’s a nice time to come home after a long crazy evening – not  a great time to roll out of bed and comb your teeth, brush your hair, take the dog for a shower and do your business on the lawn.

I’m excited and nervous about the festival. two julias was my life for about a year – I made some lasting friendships, learned alot about working with actors and producing a film on a microbudget, and am proud of the piece we submitted. It’s wonderful to get into a festival in a big film town like Toronto. RHIFF has been great and I’ll be posting my impressions as Kurt and I spend time at the festival and in and around Toronto.

So where’s the zombie? And why is he smiling?

Posted in Introduction with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 14, 2008 by Tom McIntire

Smiling Zombie Productions is a Seattle-based film production company. Our recent production, two julias, is an official selection of the ReelHeART International Film Festival (RHIFF) in Toronto.

two julias, the story of a young woman seeking love online who gets caught up in an international counter-terrorism operation, premieres June 18 at 8 pm as part of a great RHIFF lineup.

Tom McIntire leads the Smiling Zombie team. His feature-length screenplay, The Smiling Zombie, made it through the first round in the Washington State Screenwriting Competition. Finalists will be announced July 1.