Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The new cut of Little Red Riding Hood is pretty much done as I hunt for a new composer for that one after Chris disappeared on me. Other than that, though and a few minor touch ups that need to be done, it's pretty much finished.

Dream House is still going strong but near the end too, got some final sound mixing, a few shots of pick ups to refilm quickly and an actress, Deirdre Yee, who is going to redub Kate in the next week or so. Also have a very talented composer, Sergio Pena, doing the score. What I've heard of his music is great, reminescent a bit of Pino Donaggio's music.
While I've been waiting for all that to materialize, I did a new draft of Alison in Wonderland I'm much happier with. I've revised lots of it and it flows much better with the point of it (a spiritual journey story with Wonderland being a metaphor for Bush America) even stronger than before. I've added about 10 pages of scenes to bring to runtime to 70 pages. Now I will have a 70 minute film on my hands. This new draft is pretty much my locked down version and I will use it to find funding.

There are several new scenes added which flesh out the characters and arcs much better, but my favorite being a scene where the Red Queen has her black court jester put on a puppet show inspired by Flavor of Love.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I've been working a bit on the Two Short Films by J.L. Carrozza DVD. I posted some specs on my website at last update, but I though I'd go into specifics a bit more.

The films themselves are going to be presented at a much higher bitrate than the special features, naturally. They will be matted in 16:9 widescreen and compression will be as minimal as possible and they're going to look almost as good as printed to DV tape. The audio will be uncompressed PCM, ie, raw stereo. I was going to use higher bit-rate Dolby Digital stereo but I was unimpressed by the sound of it in the prototypes I've been making. Not bad, but still a little too muffled and compressed for my taste. This will be the best presentation of both films in the best version humanly possible.

The films will feature detailed commentary tracks. I have already prepared extensive notes for both of them and they will record as soon as the two films are completed.

One thing that may disappoint some, however, is that I've chosen to omit menus for the DVD. I really think snazzy, slick menus are the most overrated aspect of DVDs in general. You can get to any part of the disc you want via a bit of proficiency with the DVD remote. They also are above my software's technological limitations. They would make the disc take longer since I have no experience with making DVD menus and would mean I would have to invest in more costly software. Sorry, but no. The commentary track can also be selected via a simple push of the "audio" button.

In terms of special features, I've completed work on both making of specials for Little Red Riding Hood and Dream House, both of which have a lot of never before seen footage. Little Red Riding Hood's is 12 minutes long and more concise but actually shows more than the last did and Dream House's has everything the production diaries had minus the introductions and then some. It runs around 20 minutes. Both making of documentaries are like exploitation films in of themselves, I swear.

There will also be redone trailers which will also be on YouTube soon as well as a deleted scenes special for Dream House showing reconstructions of three deleted scenes from the film.

Last and likely least, as a more comedic special feature, The Big Toe in its entirety will be included. Of all my Kojiro Abe-era films that one is my favorite and is the closest to success of my "early work". And we all have to start somewhere!

All this for less than the price of a case of Guinness: $12: a sum that includes domestic shipping (international folks will probably have to pay around $15). There will be a promo on YouTube in the not too distant future.

Monday, April 13, 2009

I've been thinking more about Alison in Wonderland lately. I thought I'd throw some of my recent and past ideas for the film.

I'm gonna shoot the whole film on HD. To give the real world and Wonderland scenes different aesthetics, however, I'm gonna shoot the real world stuff on a grittier, bought prosumer HDV camera (probably the Canon AX-H1) and the Wonderland stuff on a higher quality professional camera with better depth of field. I got to handle Panasonic DVCPRO equipment and liked the depth of field, which is way shallower and I'd like to employ the HD equivalent to those. Though the real world stuff be lit in a more naturalistic fashion (with the cheap 100 watt lanterns I've used for my past several films) and I'll want professional light kits for the Wonderland stuff, overall depth of field will be given far more attention than in past films of mine in both aspects. Wide angle is great for action scenes but for the dialogue scenes I'm going for softer focus and longer lenses.

As far as the film itself, I'd like to do the real world wraparound scenes first and shoot them a bit more realistically, more like Dream House minus the horrific aspect and especially my planned look for Witch's Castle, then with the Wonderland stuff we'll be back in total Little Red Riding Hood territory with geyers of stage blood, puppets, wackiness and more flamboyant camera work.

The story would not be complete without its characters. Alison, originally envisioned as a bitchy blond in my old version, is now a more graceful and cute, if tormented girl. I see her resembling Jenny Agutter in Walkabout. Spunky, smart and upset at the seeming collapse of the world around her. Not a lot of Carroll's nonsensical characters are going to used here except the most famous. The Caterpillar is based off a friend of mine who didn't do anything but smoke loads of marijuana everyday, I'm giving him a rewrite in the script to get him more like this. The Cheshire Cat is a total pretentious prick who believes he is in possession of every bit of knowledge in the whole universe. I'm not sure about the Mock Turtle. I may use him or I may not. The Caterpillar, Cat and Turtle will all be puppets, but larger, specially-made puppets.

Of course I'm gonna run wild with The Mad Hatter scenes, I see the character as being like a mix between Ledger's Joker and Johnny Depp's Willy Wonka (if you can picture that). If Dave Luce is involved, it will be the third film in which he ties a female up to a chair and tries to do something perverted to her. Like the Wolf, he lives in a shack in the woods which I originally had envisioned like the Wolf's house with perverted shit everywhere, but I now am thinking something more like the set of a children's show from Hell with everything painted bright circus colors and stripes. The character is more evil and less insane and much scarier. I recently watched that Gobstopper fake trailer with Christopher Lloyd (the first time I'd seen him since Angels in the Outfield) that pretends to be a remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory done like Hostel and Saw. It made me realize that I wish somebody would make a film with ghoulish stuff like that but all happy and colorful like Tim Burton's Charlie. That's what I'm gonna try to do with this.

The real treat though is the Queen of Hearts character. Her love of decapitations will mean a gorefest with spurting Lone Wolf and Cub stump blood. She's not going to be a Japanese noblewoman like in the original script but more like a decadent 18th century European libertine lady. Think Marie Antoinette meets Elizabeth Bathory mixed with a female version of Vincent Price's Prince Prospero in Masque of the Red Death. If not as violent as the Mad Hatter, she is in many ways far more dangerous and the true villain, as unlike the Hatter, who's just a low level sociopath, she is a conniving psychopath who has loads of power. She'll live in a castle (a miniature) with the heads of her enemies impaled on the spiked castle gates and then her hall with filled with impaled heads (including that of her ex-husband the King of Hearts) on pikes around her throne like Vlad the Impaler. She truly will be the Red Queen. I see her as being as a very physically large red haired woman as well. Not as in overweight, as in height and build and beautiful in an icy way with pure white skin.

I'm gonna make a lot of additions/alterations and do a new draft soon.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Have I gone mad for actually thinking Pride and Predator could be a good movie? Honestly, the thought of seeing screaming British accented chicks in exquisite early 19th century dresses get slashed up by Predator as they scream "Oh goodness no!" and stage blood geysers from their stumps makes me want to hysterically fall over laughing on the floor. This is where comedy needs to go. It's either self aware and pretentious or foul and raunchy nowadays, it needs to go to complete and utter absurdist slapstick goofiness. I want comedy films that look like live action Tom and Jerry cartoons.

Getting up to business, I thought I'd take some time to actually describe the new sound mixes for Little Red Riding Hood and Dream House. Little Red Riding Hood has been cleaned up. The dialogue and on-set sound effects are still intact, but the majority of the foley has been replaced by much stronger, more effective sound work and most of the film's background noise has been replaced with better, cleaner tone.

Dream House had much messier sound to begin with since the GL2 is a manual audio camera. It's not hard to get good sound out of a point and shoot and even though a manual audio camera can yield far better results, not used properly it will be completely unusable. I didn't factor this in and thus a lot of the onset dialogue was rickety. Most of the foley has been scrapped and replaced, more tone has been used and Kevin James has relooped most of his performance in the film. I'm also hiring a young actress to redub Kate very soon. The new Dream House's greatest attribute is its new effect: the ghost has its own "sound", which is ambient white noise mostly derived from machinery.

I love movies that use ambient noise in their sound mix to inspire fear and disorientation. The Exorcist is a fantastic example, as are David Lynch's films especially Eraserhead. Another favorite of mine is the "musical sound" score of Toru Takemitsu for Masaki Kobayashi's Kwaidan (Takemitsu also used creepy ambient noise for Teshigahara's Woman in the Dunes and Face of Another as well). Though Yoshio Miyajima's lustrous cinematography greatly makes Kwaidan such a compelling visit to the ghostly world of Lafcadio Hearn's old Japan, Takemitsu's always unnerving audio effects make the film stand in your subconscious in just as much of a vivid fashion. Since Nicky was heavily inspired by the Japanese female ghosts, including Kwaidan's own Yuki Onna (Snow Woman), I figured I'd go all the way with the effect. Interestingly enough, I got the idea to use white noise for the sound of the ghost without even remembering the paranormal associations made with white noise. I just thought it was creepy.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Gave my website another update.

Way more information now.