Sunday, June 28, 2009

Well, I decided to go back to more cinematic unfinished business and asked to interview T.F. Mou again, this time with good equipment, sound and a bit of a crew. He agreed and I'll be seeing him at the end of July.

What will hopefully result is the documentary that everybody deserves. I'm shooting for an hour runtime and am going in much more depth about Mou himself. And the sound will be good.

The very tentative, pulling dates out of my rear idea is that Conversations with T.F. Mou (this time for real) be on DVD by Halloween or Christmas depending on the completion and how easy/hard production is. Like the new Little Red Riding Hood and Dream House it'll also go to the fests.

I'm getting a little worried about being able to make my July 6th deadline for the DVD, though, since my Epson replacement still isn't here yet.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Why I Make Violent Movies

A great Japanese cinematic philosopher who understood man's duality.

One of the very most common criticisms I receive from criticists is "Your movies are morally perverse and too violent". Many of these people are young women who I insulted in the past because I was a troubled young man who modeled his relationships with ladies off Streetfighter-era Sonny Chiba's, but it is an interesting question I thought deserves a through look and an earnest answer.

Deep down, I do not wish or desire to will violence upon any human being, though at some moments of strong emotion I entertain the concept of beating up a few people whose neurosis gets on my nerves or taking a baseball bat to the head of a callous sociopath here and there, but all human beings have moments where they feel like this. Need proof? Read a history book or watch Fox News tonight. I detest human violence thoroughly but am fascinated by it and am repulsed by death but also acknowledge it as a necessary part of our existence. All species must inherently destroy to continue their existence, humans are no exception to this rule even though we are the first to notice and question it. As my cat tears the head off a cute mouse or rabbit, I don't think he questions the morality of what he's done afterward. If you want to get really technical, even vegans are inherent "murderers". The world is balance. Life begets death and death begets life. Just as when all creatures die, they fertilize the soil that allows plants to grow.

A great American philosopher who dared see through society's inherent ridiculousness.

However, humans have taken violence, callousness and selfishness to the next level. We are a walking duality and hypocrisy, a species caught toward the end of a millennial-long adolescence, just as teen-hood for many consists of heart wrenching moments and incredible emotional highs, no species has created so much wondrous culture or thought so deeply of the universe they live in, but no species has also inflicted so much horror, death and destruction upon itself, other species and its environment. We, as a species, are essentially committing mass suicide like Lemmings off a cliff if we keep up behavior like this. We will all die but we can choose to save ourselves and live in peace with ourselves and our environment. It is NOT impossible. This is the human condition and our great duality, we have a choice to make: either choose harmony or destruction.

When I made Little Red Riding Hood and Dream House (and yes, especially The Magic Forest), I was in a particularly troubled time in my life, a quarter-life crisis of sorts, but even then I understood the human duality even if I didn't believe in "the good" enough. Is it really surprising that they are "dark films" anyways with what was going on? Even films that are "violent and nihilistic" even if they don't offer solutions, are at least helpful in pointing out society's problems, they are cinematic "wake up calls" and some are subtle cautions like Dog Day Afternoon whereas others are blunt, stern warnings like Cannibal Holocaust. A bleak PG-13 or R-rated Hollywood film versus an outrageously cruel and nihilistic video nasty is like "your work needs much improvement" versus "your work fucking blows". In most cases, both mean the exact same thing, but one is simply a more polite and socially acceptable way of saying it. Many directors and screenwriters are actually philosophers, even many horror directors. I find George Romero's films, if not exactly upbeat, to be some of the most brilliant philosophy I've ever seen, on par with anything Voltaire, Nietzsche or Sartre ever penned. Perhaps, he'll be looked upon like that in a century or two.

Long before Hostel and Saw, there was Perseus and Medusa.

Dream House
, in particular, was a horror film about something I care about and am frightened by: the subjugation of women to men in society. Perhaps, it was a bit of harsh warning, but it was not a porn flick for people with a bondage and rape fetish. All humans have the capacity for good and bad. If someone came into your house and did heinous things to your family but you survived and had a chance to meet them face to face a short time later, would you not hurt or kill them even though all moral teachings for most of man's history forbids killing other human beings under any circumstances? People, particularly the "religious" justify war and atrocities very easily, but even the Ten Commandments says "Thou Shall Not Kill" and doesn't throw in "under certain circumstances outlined in article A through C, parts 6-8". However, even the kindest people would often strike back at someone shortly after the murder of their child or support an armed conflict if their leaders sweet talk them into it in just the right ways. While many refuse to admit it, some people loathe themselves when they realize that they have a Vader-like "dark side" to their Anakin Skywalker, myself included, but don't. You are not human if you don't have it.

So I don't make violent films because I want to run around on a raping and killing spree like a few have accused me of. I make them because I understand the human duality and am fascinated by it. In real life, some humans are cruel to other humans. Go to the library and read a holocaust book and you'll find things mentioned that cinema could never depict, even in these alleged "violent and Godless" days. Even many of the great myths, particularly the Greek ones like Homer's Iliad and Odyssey, are violent as fuck. If someone filmed the stories in the Old Testament completely "uncensored" the resulting 60 hour film would get an NC-17 without question if the board was even awake by the end of it. If death is inherently a part of life on Earth and violence is still a large part of our history and current state, why the hell SHOULDN'T we be upfront about it and makes films that explore and criticize it? My next film, Alison in Wonderland, will have many moments of violence and nastiness, but also tender moments of joy and sincere sorrow. That is the human condition and depicting that is what storytelling should be about.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Little Red Riding Hood now has an IMDb page.

I and some of the other people involved who aren't already on IMDb haven't been added yet, but soon I will be, as will Dream House sooner or later.

Friday, June 19, 2009

So the Epson came, but it was defective. I'm getting a replacement, but no DVDs until the replacement arrives.

Anyways, the day I will start taking orders is July 6th. That will give me time and leeway to produce some of them while at the same time ironing out the technical difficulties.

I'm in the midst of submitting both films to a bunch of film festivals. Dream House is in consideration at the Terror Film Festival and they have an entry for it on their submitted films page. This will mean both films will soon also have IMDb pages, as will yours truly.

And here are some Alison in Wonderland concept pieces I did recently that give a good idea of what the film will look like visually.

My vision of the character of Alison, a smart but very confused young woman as she spaces out in the park after around 56 hours of no sleep.
Even when I had designs on making the film as the more straightforward but vague Alice in Wonderland last year, I wanted the White Rabbit that leads Alice/Alison to Wonderland to be a girl in a Playboy bunny costume as a tip of the hat to the anime Miyuki-chan in Wonderland. Now, however, it's as much a homage to that as a jab at corporate America (a big theme here), since the White Rabbit will look just like something that Hugh Hefner would happily play with on his deathbed. The roller skates, however, are a bit of a perhaps even subconscious nod to the depiction of the character in that Disney kids' show they used to make of Alice back in the 90s that Neil probably remembers far better than I do. I think the Red Queen was a black lady and the slightest hint of pompous self-involvement was the full extent of her brutality.
The Cheshire Cat in all his psychotronic glory. The puppet will have a design based off a silver tabby American Shorthair and will be double-exposed so as to appear transparent. The only trade-off is that it will be nearly impossible to move the camera. His voice will be very "David Bowie".The Mad Hatter and the March Hare, his repressed homosexual lover. For portrayal, think Heath Ledger's Joker and Alex from A Clockwork Orange gone bisexual on a shoestring budget with some Willy Wonka thrown in there. The inside of the character's house will look like if Pee Wee Herman and Dave Luce's Wolf from Little Red Riding Hood were roommates. Though I seem to have drawn him subconsciously to look a little like Dave, Dave will not be playing the role due to a recent "war on stupidity" he has decided to declare upon me.And here we have the Red Queen, which will be the part where the movie will really return to that much-loved Little Red Riding Hood territory. She's absolutely going to be viciously brutal, like a mix between Vlad Dracul and Elizabeth Bathory. Like how Vlad would dine among his impaled, piked former subjects (a detail that I read as a child and will never forget as a mental image), she keeps her victims' impaled, rotting heads in her throne room as decorations among lots of Mario Bava and Roger Corman Poe film candles and vases filled with her beloved red roses. Her scenes will almost invoke John Boorman's Excalibur on a shoe-string. I've added a few little bits to the script showing her torture chambers which contain little jabs at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Her "Card Guard" who I originally envisioned as wearing silly full card costume outfits, will have a design very akin to the Knights Templar with a white tunic under chain-mail but their "card number" instead of a red cross.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Unfortunately, the DVDs will have to delayed for a few weeks. Look for them at the beginning of July now instead.

I have encountered a bit of a technical difficulty due to lack of foresight. Before I designed the DVD discs themselves today, I didn't do enough homework on adhesive DVD labels and have found out just how badly they damage DVDs and sometimes their respective players. Just about every DVD-R with a sticky label I've ever purchased has suffered massive disc rot in the span of six months. Thus, I have to invest a hundred bucks in an Epson printer, which prints directly onto "printable" DVDs and are said to be a far superior method. I need a better photo printer anyways since I'm not happy with how the DVD covers are looking printed.
The audio commentaries are done now too and I burned the first test copy. Now all I need to do is to physically produce the DVDs.

They will be, of course, DVD-Rs, but burned slowly on Verbatim media for maximum compatibility.

Again, there are no menus, but I plan on making a second pressing that has them by Christmas, I've encoded everything on different tracks due to the differing video and audio bitrates, which may make things a little tricky to navigate on certain players.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hopefully this promo will give you an idea of what to expect from the DVD.

The DVD's special features are just about done.

I went to PACTV and recorded the audio commentary for both films as well as some voice overs. I was going to just "talk through the movies" but I had such detailed notes from months ago that I couldn't keep up with the fast paced films, so I have done it in sound bytes which will be edited together in sync with the two films.

The DVDs will be rolled out sooner rather than later. After the commentaries are done being edited I'll just be waiting on the materials now.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

YouTube clips of the two new cuts. Hope these entice you, the viewer, to see more.

From these clips you can see how things have changed, Little Red Riding Hood has been slicked up and Dream House has pretty much been completely overhauled.

Little Red Riding Hood features music by Herman Witkam. My thanks goes out to him for doing an absolutely ace job with the music.

You can see how I've used ambient noise to amp up the creepiness factor of the ghost scenes in Dream House, I was very inspired by Toru Takemitsu's Kwaidan and Woman in the Dunes scores, David Lynch's sound FX, Han Zimmer's Joker motif in The Dark Knight and The Exorcist's sound mix, as I said.

Interestingly enough, both these clips are the few bits of the movie that include music not written by Herman or Sergio, for Neil's appearence in Little Red Riding Hood, I used music actually written by Neil for Harold. I figured that a. it would be fitting for Neil to do the music for himself and b. I always liked the score for Harold but have as much pride for the actual film as a puddle of my own vomit. It sounds very "geriatric". I also used a brief non-original piece by Riz Ortolani in Dream House, "Girolimoni", it was used in the old cut too and I like its effect very much. I figured nobody would take offense at the use of about a minute of a very obscure piece of film music, but if they do I can always go back and remove it later.
Little Red Riding Hood's donesville now too!

Woo hoo!

Now to work on submitting to festivals, finishing all the special features and getting the DVD in good working order. The DVDs will literally be available to buy the day that happens, anywhere from the end of this month to the middle of July.

Friday, June 05, 2009

As I receive humorous YouTube threats on my life courtesy of Dave Luce and Tom "Eyeball Neck" Hinchey due to changes made to both films and their removal from YouTube, the new cut of Dream House is done. Yes, it's done. Took me two months longer than I thought it would, but it is now finished and I can forget about haunted houses and perverted rapists for a while.

Composer Sergio Pena did a fine job with the music and I'm happy with the film overall. It's a much lower key film than Little Red Riding Hood and much more a work of pure horror, though there's a slight element of political satire in the film (wacko townies and depressed goth kids). The new cut is much more serious, its aim is more obvious with all the crap trimmed out and the finale is way, way scarier and more disturbing made shorter.

All Little Red Riding Hood needs is a minor touch up and the rest of the music and I'll be set with that too.

There will be clips on YouTube of both new cuts as soon as that happens.

I can't say exactly when the DVD will be available (probably mid July), but most of the special features are donesville too or I at least have all the neccessary material to complete them. The commentaries need to be recorded and that's about it.