Archive for Shriekfest

Greenspoke Starts Shooting December 2nd!

Posted in Greenspoke, Shriekfest, Toronto with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2008 by Tom McIntire

Scientists aim a green bullet at climate change. Bullets ricochet.

For those of you who know me, the start of principal photography on Greenspoke is not a big surprise. I’ve been asking you for everything from car parts to textbooks to time in your bedroom – and you’ve all been very accommodating! Things have been coming together pretty well and I’m looking forward to finally getting started.

Greenspoke was a semi-finalist in the short sci-fi screenplay category at Shriekfest 2008. The script has been massaged a bit, locations nailed down, a strong crew is in place and we have an excellent cast that I am proud to be directing. On top of all that, my fellow ReelHeART International Film Festival 2008 participant (and short/long form fiction winner!) Tess Malone is flying in from London to help out. How fun is that? And I get to work with production manager Michi Murayama from my days as a devious killer on Japanese network television.

Mikano Fukaya and Tim Gouran head up my hardy cast which includes two julias alums and Seattle stage and film notables. I met today with our director of photography, Ryan Purcell, to go over shot lists. It’s interesting to see where I am willing to give because of budget and time constraints – it’s yet another creative process to figure out how to stay true to the original intent while managing the costs. The manic panic of 48 Hour Film contests helped me hone this skill – if you respect the story and the process, there are lots of ways to say the same thing effectively. That dolly shot would be cool but does it really add that much to the storytelling? Yes but not enough to warrant the cost. Driven pragmatism.

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Lessons Learned in L.A.

Posted in Greenspoke, screenwriting, Shriekfest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2008 by Tom McIntire

My recent trip to Shriekfest was supposed to be about networking with other filmmakers, producers and potential investors. While I did do some networking (and gnoshing) with fellow filmmakers Paul Yoo, William Lu and David Shin, I felt like a fish out of water at the two Shriekfest screenings I attended. After some reflection, I’ve come to these conclusions to make my next outing more productive:

  1. Plan ahead – what are you trying to accomplish on this trip? Have you done your research and legwork to make sure you connect with the people who can help you?
  2. Be prepared – a variation on #1. Do you have your pitch ready? If you have 2 minutes of a producer’s time, will your glorious script grab their attention or will they wish you luck and move on?
  3. Choose the right festivals – if a festival is focused on a specific genre – do you work in that genre? Are you enthusiastic about it? When you watch the films at a particular festival, how would you feel about your work in juxtaposition to the other films you are seeing?
  4. Be open to speaking to people who may not be in a position to help now. I’ve learned so much from other people who are also starting out. We’re dealing with the same issues – commiserate, encourage and stay in touch. When you have a time when you are feeling a little overwhelmed or discouraged, these are the people who can help you understand that it is not you it is just the way this highly competitive business works.
  5. Be honest with yourself about your work – if you are having trouble explaining a script to someone else, is there a problem with the script? We get close to the work we do and can turn a blind eye to glaring problems in the concept or execution. A great story should be easy for you to pitch enthusiastically.
  6. Have fun – you don’t do this for the money – at least not yet anyway. Enjoy the cast of characters you meet from writers to actors to producers to directors to film lovers.
  7. Celebrate your own victories – finishing a script is a major accomplishment. So many people out there are talking about being a writer or a filmmaker. Sitting down and DOING the work to get there is something to be proud of.

OK, so I’m not a party animal

Posted in Movie reviews, Shriekfest with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2008 by Tom McIntire

I was beat last night and skipped opening night of Shriekfest. I did head out today (Saturday) to see the first set of shorts and I finally got to meet the heart and soul of Shriekfest, Denise Gossett. The venue is gorgeous – the screening room at the Raleigh Studios (formerly the Chaplin Studios). Comfy seating for 170, full size screen and across the street from Paramount. I had to sign in at the gate and get a daily visitor pass (which I forgot to return). The Closer is filmed at Raleigh – how do I know? It was painted on the concrete parking space stops, so it must be true.

Standout shorts included:

The Procedure – a cash-hungry man gets a job that becomes more and more frightening. The ending is unexpected and totally satisfying. A great script well-executed. Literally.

Side Effect – nicely realized script with a few surprises. An overworked baby sitter takes a drug to help her get more done. It does.

After the shorts came Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown, which chronicles the peculiar, troubled life of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft. The film includes interviews with Guillermo del Toro and John Carpenter and several current writers. It is at once entertaining and intellectual, finding the humor and humanity of Lovecraft amidst the bizarre world he created. I especially liked the discussion about the impact that such a strong imaginative vision can have on some people, creating something akin to a new religion. This film is accessible enough that people who may not be fans or even aware of Lovecraft can still enjoy learning about the artist’s journey.

If you’re a horror or sci-fi fan in Los Angeles, Shriekfest is definitely worth checking out. Screenings continue today and through Sunday. You can buy tickets at the door and get to meet some interesting people like feature screenplay finalists (each with two scripts!) Tom Manning and fellow ReelHeART 2008 alum Diana Kemp-Jones.

A Weird Weird Day in LA

Posted in Greenspoke, Shriekfest with tags , , , , , on October 3, 2008 by Tom McIntire

I came to Los Angeles to attend the Shriekfest Horror and Sci Fi Film Festival. My short sci fi script, Greenspoke, is a semi-finalist in the short screenplay competition. Even though I didn’t make it to the finals, I thought this would be a good opportunity to meet some other filmmakers and possible agents who can help me get my two feature length scripts produced. Last night was the opening night party. Those of you who know me know I am not exactly a party animal – two drinks and I’m asleep. I never got the chance to test that reaction last night.

My good friend and collaborator Paul Yoo agreed to be my wing man, but he had to work late. I misread the start time of the party – for some reason I thought it kicked off at 9:30 but it actually started at 7. Once I realized that, I checked the bus schedule and found that I could pretty easily zip down there by bus. Paul could meet me there, I’d have a chance to meet festival director Denise Gossett and still have plenty of time to catch up with Paul as we stepped over drunken filmmakers.

The bus is supposed to run every 15-20 minutes at that time of night. I was out there for quite a while, with a couple of dozen other people. There was an actor reviewing a script, a crack head screaming at someone for looking at him, a drunk middle aged woman who stepped out into Santa Monica Blvd traffic (she made it across) but mostly blue collar people who looked like they had just gotten off work. We all piled into the already full bus. I made my way to the back only to realize that I couldn’t see the street signs and the driver wasn’t calling the streets off, so I worked my way back to the front so I could see. Got off at Fairfax as the directions stated, walked around looking for the address or the name of the club. Walked alot. Saw a place it might have been but the address was wrong. I asked a guy at the French Quarter if he had heard of the club. Nope. This was one of those moments when getting an iPhone actually seemed to make sense. Looked for a phone book. No luck. Figured I’d head back to the hotel and check my info, and Paul could meet me there after he finished work. Then we could head over together.

I had to walk a couple of blocks to get the bus going back from West Hollywood to my hotel. The stop was in front of the Studs theater and across from The Pleasure Chest. A car slowed down as the driver looked at me – was he puzzled that I was waiting for a bus? Looking for a good time? Did I look like his long lost prison cellmate? Don’t know. Don’t care – thankfully he kept driving. After what seemed like an eternity, the bus finally arrived, again packed to the gills. At each stop, more people crammed into the bus. A gentleman stood beside me and started to make small talk, then proceeded to tell me what he had just seen at the sex club he was at and started asking me what I liked to do. I laughed at first, which was unfortunate because it seemed to encourage him. Finally I told him he was making me uncomfortable, which got to the gay, bi or straight question. I told him I was straight even though I am in a 19 year relationship with a man. Seemed easier, except then he started on how crazy some of the women are in LA, and well, you get the idea. Paul saved me for a few moments with a phone call – we arranged to meet at my hotel lobby and try to find this club. My bus buddy got off the bus shortly thereafter, making another pitch in my ear on his way out.

Paul’s smarty pants phone couldn’t find the club either. I checked the address on the festival site – I did have the numbers slightly off but I would have walked right past it. We decided to go to the hotel bar, which we didn’t know was hosting a USC stand-up comedian event. We sat in the back and talked films and acting and work while the comedians worked their magic on their alum buddies. When the bar closed we went up to the lobby and talked more. It was a good day that didn’t go as planned.