Johnny B. Naked, Part I

In time, we will regret this... but here's a little test clip.


The Italian Film

Since we haven't decided for sure which screenplay we'll shoot, let's just call it The Italian Film for now (in the tradition of The Chinese Movie). I'll post my screenplay up on The Study of Leonard Hughes. Here are some visual elements for the film.

Intense Math, Part VII

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Intense Math: Special Edition.

There were a few minor changes I wanted to make before submitting this film to festivals. I fixed the three dolly shots so they don't shake as much. I fixed two reaction shots that had frame blending before and looked very blurry. I also remastered the audio mix. I this version Han Solo doesn't shoot first.

Look for Winter's Day: Special Edition with all new screaming, coming to a theatre near you.


Arizona Citizen, Part III

Arizona Citizen is now complete. Brock has really outdone himself on this one. Look out Screen Wars, he's coming... and he's completely nuts!


That's right, Greatest of All Time... World's Best Living Tiptop Player. I defy you to challenge me.

12 Brothers - The Music: Balance

In honor of Star Wars, I bring you this demo in the hopes of bringing Balance to the Force. Please be kind in listening to this song. I was not warmed up, and there are some screamier parts, and some softer high parts in the song, which I didn't exactly nail. It's an emotional song, and that's what counts. Future versions can only get better.


Tim Nm, CPA, Part I

I suppose this post could be called, Let's Go To The Video Tape, Part II. However, the project formerly known as the "Chinese Movie" now has a name. This one has seemed to stick, though I never felt very strongly about it. As strongly as I feel about this movie, and as hard as we pushed to do the impossible, and shoot this thing despite being on vacation, having limited time, having limited access to the lead actor, having no secured locations, and no script written ahead of time, the title doesn't do anything for me, one way or another.

Jeremy will be happy to see any kind of status about it. Having taken the role of actor in this film, he didn't get to see what was going on as it was being shot, and only five still pictures since. A test of edited footage was at one time uploaded for him to see, then deleted before he got the chance. Meanwhile, select others, all less related to the project but important nonetheless, have had a chance to view and comment on parts of the footage.

Mind you, this is no formal announcement that work on editing the film has begun in earnest, but pehaps Jeremy can take heart that a ", Part I" post has indeed been created. It can only bode well for what will happen in the near future. The Westerns are almost in the can, the Drama film is close at hand, and Brock has the Thriller film in the works. After that, there will be no more short filmmaking for some time, even if Screen Wars re-ups for another season, I tell you that.

On a side note, it seems that I myself may be called on to star in film about a documentary filmmaker obsessed with his subject. This film, from all I gather, will be highly improvised and shot on location where life happens. Sound familiar? Will I participate in such a project, one that so closely resembles mine, that, should it progress more rapidly that this, may, in fact, compromise the viability of the Tim Nm, CPA project? I just might, and I will thoroughly enjoy doing it.

Furthermore, as the 18 or so Tim Nm source tapes sit neatly in a row, on the extreme Southern edge of my workspace, tape log always nearby, work has begun, in all sincerity, on a sequel to this very film. In the sequel, Tim Nm takes his "masterpiece" to its logical next step, the film festival circuit. Or, perhaps it is more appropriate to say that Tim brings it, because there can be no guarantee of any takers. Our protagonist, after crashing directorial panel discussions, raiding the projection booth, and squandering all of his resources in this unlikely endeavor, finds himself without a job and without a family. Determined, he takes the Blockbuster job, as an avenue to promote his film, within the store (look for Days of Being Wrinkle Free in the foreign film section), and to promote his very own film festival, NmFest '05, featuring panel lively discussions with one Tim Nm. Poor attendence force him to reconsider his efforts, or at least to regroup. Seeking to get closer to his roots, he finds himself in Chinatown, but even this is not enough. A poor facsimile, indeed. The only logical step is to go directly to the source of his inspiration. A trip to mother China is in order, and a quest to make his next film, this time with actual Chinese, no doubt with time spent tracking down the vaunted WKW. Cut to 2055, his second film, named for fifty years hence the debut of his first. Fade to black. Roll credits. Roll credits again. The end.

That's the long way of saying that as sequels go, we have as much or more material as when we undertook the original, all in one evenings work. There are questions that remain. Shoot it in September or December? Will Jeremy participate willingly, or withhold performance in hopes of accelerating delivery of the original? Will Molly ever know that Jeremy shot a feature-length film while she was at work?

Your thoughts...

Arizona Citizen, Part II

As you may know, there was no audio recorded on the footage for Brock H. Brown's Arizona Citizen. The reason for this is unknown, but as Editor, I remain undaunted. Today, the missing dialog was recorded. Brock and Gabe did an excellent job lip synching to the footage. C'mon, this is how all hollywood movies are made, no?

Now that there is dialog to work with, I'm sure this film will be done in no time.

Note: Brock's starting to act strange. I've always suspected he is quite the enigmatic director. However, today he wouldn't stop talking about eggrolls. I'm going to have to keep a close eye on him.


The Visitor, Part II

And the winner is... the sharp, high contrast look with rich greens and blues. Thanks for your votes!

Futher, The Visitor is now complete. It looks good, and the edit went smoothly (the color correction was a bear, thanks to constantly changing cloud cover). I'm real happy with the film, and it went very much according to plan. It is now exactly as I had envisioned: a strange and touching family film. Still, it's not as exciting to me as some of the other projects on my plate, that push the envelope a bit more, but it was fun to make, and a testament to our improving abilities to make films, and bring them to being the way we envision them.

I hope you get a kick out of it, and that it makes it to the Western stage of Screen Wars.

Winter's Day, Part IV

Vote, or the girl dies!

Winter's Day aired yesterday, on the first episode of Screen Wars: Action. There's still time to vote, if you haven't already.

We are up against Number One by Angel Ruiz and The Quest: Search For Master Po by James Riley. Both films are solid competition. Number One had a great look, lighting, camera angles, and subtle effects. The Quest was very funny, with a great look, and well-coreographed action sequences. If we lose to either one, it would be no surprise. Good work all around.

Technical note: The film was displayed in the wrong aspect ratio (16:9 instead of the intended 2.35:1), and it was unusually contrasty, creating dark shadows on the faces while outside the house, removing all details. Not good, I'm going to have to bring this up, if we win.


12 Brothers - The Lyrics: Balance

Prerequisite reading thus far:

We have reached the final chapter, Balance. The story goes something like this ...

The 11 brothers and their father have hit on hard times. The downturn in the market has forced them into near poverty. Now they must contemplate the choice between bankruptcy or trying to salvage their floundering family business. Not having the personality of quitters they decide to go for it and attempt to acquire a loan from a powerful investment banking company in the southwest (you know the one). This loan will help get them through the hard times and hopefully over the hump and back to being successful again. Of course, what they really need is redemption with their lost brother. Bringing him back into the fold, no doubt, would fulfill their emotional needs and, perhaps most importantly, provide them with the economic stability that they desire. #12, being as gracious as he is, gives them what they need on both counts.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Below are your lyrics. These are the original lyrics that I had written for this song. My main issue with them is that there's too much mixing of metaphors and the tone differs too much from the surrounding songs. I had written some alternate lyrics that spoke more in business and banking terms but I can't find them at the moment. We'll deal with these for now and if I can find the other's I'll post them in the comments section.

Verse 1:

now you've seen me again
but don't recognize me
when you look into my eyes
when you make your plea
you can't really see
what you need from me

Chorus 1:

you want a ship to weather the storm
when i could offer so much more
what you want is not to be
but i'll help with what you need

Verse 2:

who could this man be
that he should know us intimately
and propose to fill our needs
our father misses his son
and we desire atonement
but could he be this one

Chorus 2:

we want a ship to weather the storm
and a ballot to carry reform
we want a taste of good graces
and feel of warm embraces

Verse 3:

so how do you plead
and will you concede
that you are guilty
i've put forth a test
that you've passed quite well
and now the matter can rest

Chorus 3:

you want a ship to weather the storm
when I could offer so much more
what you want is not to be
but now you have all that you need

OK, let's hear the music.



And I'm not talking hi-def.

I'm talking about the new
Hoop Dreams DVD that just got released by the ultimate DVD company, Criterion. No one makes a better DVD. They have the best quality transfers, the best special features, and, most importantly, the best selection of films to choose from. They only go for the important ones. In fact, just typing this up makes me realize that it's time to re-live the In The Mood For Love 2-disc Criterion DVD.

It has been quite some time since I've seen Hoop Dreams. I still remember that night, though. Me, Joshua, A&B. We even got pulled over by the cops that night. For nothing.

Hoop Dreams is undoubtedly one of the best documentaries of my generation. I haven't picked it up yet, but I'm adding it to my Amazon Wish List. Anyone who wants to make a poor boy happy can snap to it.


Try Primer

Before I get to writing the final piece of 12 Brothers - The Lryics, I thought I would check in with a movie rental suggestion. Go pick up Primer from your local Blockbuster. One of the best science fiction movies I've seen in a long time. If you can, don't read anything about it before watching it. Just go in blind.

To be honest, my mind is still in shambles trying to figure out exactly what happened in this movie. I'm very much lost and confused. And I'm OK with that. I'll definitely need to see it a second time (and a third, and a ...). Maybe one day I'll figure it all out.

The acting is admittedly average at best. The direction and story make up for it, though, in a huge way. It was just so easy to get engrossed in this thing. I'd be interested to hear everyone else's opinions on this.


Arizona Citizen, Part I

I have to start off by saying what a pleasure it was to participate in Brock H. Brown's latest film, Arizona Citizen, first as cinematographer and camera operator, and now as editor. It is a wonderful thing that Brock has entrusted me to handle these important duties on what may be the finest film of his brief, but bright, career.

On set, it was a wonder to observe as he simultaneously acted, directed the other actors, and clearly articulated his cinematic vision for me to capture. It was multitasking at its finest and art at its purest, all the the same time.

To get things started, I offer these intense stills. Enjoy.


The Visitor, Part I

Much of The Visitor story has already been related. A quick refresher: An alien (the outer space kind) is befriended by a pioneer (the Old West kind) family and all sorts of warm and fuzzy things ensue.

The purpose of this post is to get some feedback on the look of the film. It was intended to be sepia-toned, and I was supposed to shoot it in black and white and color it in post. Well, I negelected to activate the black and white feature, so I have color footage, which looks pretty darn good in color. So, the original vision has been brought into question somewhat.

With that said, I give you eight potential looks. Let me know what you think.

Winter's Day, Part III

I did my interview for Screen Wars: Action last night.

The shoot was out at Canyon Raceway, the (self-proclaimed, I'm sure) "diamond in the desert," located around 99th Ave & Carefree Highway, but much further off the beaten path than that might imply. For one thing, the Carefree Highway takes a big swing to the North up to Lake Pleasant, and this is down Lake Pleasant Road and off a couple miles down an unmarked dirt road. If it wasn't for the lights at the track, which we took a chance and followed, we certainly would not have found the place by means of signage or directions.

It was a crazy atmosphere, with cars roaring around the track, just feet from where we were shooting. Then the cars would come off the track and almost run us over while manueving through "pit row," which was just a dirt lane next to where the cars parked. I was forseeing major audio problems. We'll have to wait and see how it turned out.

The interview was good, certainly better than the last go round. Not only was I more comfortable, but they prepped me better, and Amanda did the interview. It was much more freeform and fun. I even did a "drop," one of those "Hi, I'm Josh Provost, Director of Winter's Day, and you're watching Screen Wars on AZ-TV" things.

So, that's it, Winter's Day will air Saturday, May 14th. Here we go again!


12 Brothers - The Music: Investment

Here is the Investment demo I recorded about a week ago. The music was actually written a week before that. I was getting ahead of the game, but can you blame me? You'l notice I play he verse part over without any words, that's where you come in. Even with that fourth verse, it's still under three minutes.

12 Brothers - The Lyrics: Investment

Prerequisite reading thus far:

Here's how the story goes: #12 has regained his composure and he has decided to re-enter the business world under his assumed identity. He can't rely on his family name any more so he has to start from the bottom and work his way up, just like any other young scrub. He winds up at an investment banking company south of the border and he works his magic like only he could. One wise move after another get him recognition from his superiors, and in turn, a promotion to Vice President. My how the tables have turned.

As time passes, #12 proves to be correct in his investment decisions. His cattle options were booming for seven years and he's amassed a vast little fortune himself. And just as he predicted the market starts to turn sour in 2011. He's ahead of the game and he's shorted the market, doubling profits again, winning on the upside and the down.

For those who invested elsewhere, however, it's going to be a rough stretch as the entire market takes a down turn unseen since the 1920s. Former millionaires are bankrupt and forced to sell all of their property, left homeless on the street.

Here are the lyrics:

Verse 1:

here's your cube and welcome to our firm
you can make it here if you can just grin and bear it
though the ladder climbing's slow here
so your shoes had better wear

Verse 2:

senor, this offer's window's getting narrow
so you'll need to sign up quick
if you dream of spending millions
then listen to our picks

Chorus 1:

cattle options
expire in seven years
sell them in
two thousand eleven

Verse 3:

hijo, you made some wise decisions
now we'll make it through the famine
you've earned your new promotion
more money and power in the balance

Chorus 2:

cattle options
expired this year
if you ignored the warning
you'll go hungry i fear

I always liked this song. Yes, it's somewhat short, but that keeps with the style of the other songs (excluding Sunsets) and I feel it packs an efficient punch.


Days of Being Western

So, yesterday was the big Western film shoot day. We actually followed through on some pretty ambitious and grandious ideas yesterday.

The lead up to the Western challenge was slow in developing. Everyone definitely wanted to do a Western. We were all very much intrigued by the concept. However, the story ideas didn't really flow at first.

Making a Western could be a real trap. There are so many themes and elements that are so common, so cliche. You just have to believe that there will be a lot of filmmakers doing shootouts and showdowns. I think we all wanted to play with the genre, use familiar elements, but take it to a new level. Specifically, I wanted to focus on the story, not the typical norms, and take some more modern filmmaking and storytelling techniques into this effort.

Story development started to pick up about two weeks ago. Brock wrote an interesting script called The Remorseful. It was a shootout, but with a great opening, a good leadup, and a meaningful end. However, it required more wardrobed actors than we could reasonably get together. Sadly, yet another great Brock H. Brown screenplay on the shelf.

I swung by Pioneer Arizona Living History Village a week ago, on a whim. This village is a mile or so from my home, but it a destination with its own exit off the freeway, so I never have been by it before. It's a popular field trip destination. Well, this was a good whim. Pioneer has thirty or so actual historic buildings on ninety acres of land at the base of a mountain. Most of these buildings are from the last half of the Nineteenth Century, and were transported to Pioneer Village when it was founded, about fifty years ago.

Pioneer Village has everything, including the more fundamental things besides saloons, banks, and blacksmith shops. Of particular interest to me were the trade shops, like the Tonsorial Parlor, the Carpenter Shop, the Print Shop, and the Dress Shop, to name a few. These buildings were really decked out inside, fully outfitted with all the authentic artifacts. It really struck me that we should use these great buildings, and really soak up the ambiance. To get away from the shootouts and do a great story that was more focused on a common tradesman.

So, let's take a quick U-turn from that idea. My real first idea was to blow up the Western concept entirely. To put an alien--a big headed, bulgy-eyed alien--on the frontier and see what would happen when he ran into a pioneer family. We're talking mundane daily chores meets campy costumes and cheesy special effects. It was to a be a Western/Sci-Fi/Comedy entitled The Visitor. I'll get back to that later.

Gabe came up with a great script about a bank robbery, with a great twist, called Western Bank(is that the final title?). Brock busted out yet another screenplay, this time a chilling story of a town tormented by bandits, with a shocking twist, called The Hollows. It was great stuff. Finally, that night before the shoot, I put together some key props for a story about a printer in the Print Shop, and wrote half a screenplay, called Arizona Citizen, after the Tucson newspaper that started in 1870.

So there it was, we ended up with a total of five (maybe more) fairly well-developed story ideas, most of which were advanced even as far as the realm of storyboards, setups, and overheads. We're getting better at this.

For The Visitor, we recruited Bonnie and Joe as the parents, and Falyn and Sawyer as the kids. Angie played the alien. We got all the props and wardrobe together on Friday. Brock called up a family friend who was into Westerns, and we all came with whatever clothes we had that somewhat approximated "Western wear." And that was it, it really seemed like we might not have enough people to get any of these films made.

Now, we've had situations before where we had multiple stories on the table before. We had tossed about the idea of shooting more than one film in a single session. This last came up around the Almost Famous Film Festival 48 Hour Challenge. However, filmmaking is such hard work, we never had the energy to follow through. Undaunted, we arranged our shooting schedule around the idea of shooting three or four films in a single day, since we were paying for and had the location secured. Big plans.

We arrived at Pioneer Village around 9am, checked in, and carted everything out to the Ranch Complex, to shoot The Visitor. This was everyone's first look at Angie in full costume, and it was pretty wild. It was surreal on the set, and no doubt will be even more so once edited. We moved along smoothly, and almost everything worked out fine. The wind cooperated, the animals cooperated, the children cooperated. The clouds didn't always cooperate, but we can work that. Though it was smooth, it wasn't as quick as we had planned. We were supposed to be done by 10:30, but it took until noon.

We carted the gear back to the downtown area, into the Bank, and debated which film to make next over lunch. It was decided that since Joe could stick around, we would shoot Gabe's film next. However, in trying to get the first shot, we had camera problems, which we couldn't figure out at first. The camera wouldn't stay on for more than fifteen seconds at a time, and it looked like our grand plans were wrecked. However, eventually I had a Nintendo moment, and blew into the tape mechanism, and the camera started working again.

Gabe's shoot went very fast. It had been well planned out, and Gabe knew what he was going for. I was enlisted to be the bank teller, we improvised a costume, and I gave Gabe a quick tutorial on operating the GS400, and he was set from there. This film will look real terrific. I'm looking forward to seeing the shots through the teller window bars.

The bank shoot wrapped up very fast. It was about 2:30pm at that point, and we had access to the grounds and Print Shop for at least another half hour, maybe longer, and we had the great props I had put together for the printer story. I proposed shooting a final film in fifteen minutes, and doing it Tim Nm-style, handheld, improvised, exploratory, experimental, dynamic. Brock and Gabe geared up to act in this one, we mounted the camera on Gabe's new homemade steadicam, and invaded the Print Shop.

First pass was to soak in the ambiance on the Print Shop and all its intricacies, with fixed and moving shots of all the equipment, metal and wood typeblocks, trays, rulers, etc. Next, Brock came in, and I shot him exploring this environment firsthand, checking out blocks, operating equipment, and so on. Then we brought in Gabe and Joe to antagonize him, shot both sides of some heated conversations, plus the climactic and symbolic end of the film.

I think everyone had a lot of fun with this one, I know I did. Though we have had good success with typical shoots, and have gotten great results, I keep coming back to this style as more exciting and more fulfilling. It really is an exploratory experience, and the performances were very spontaneous and intense. The biggest obstacle is getting away from the "What do you want me to do now?" mentality, that specific actions are correct or desired. All I'm looking for is just to do, to interact, with both the environment and with the other characters. As long as you move, look, study, do, you can't make a mistake. It's very liberating.

That was that, it was 3:30pm, and we packed up and paid for the location, three films later. We actually did some very ambitious work and pulled it off, in only six and a half hours.

Back home, I immediately captured the footage and watched much of it. The Visitor looks terrific. Intended to be sepia toned, it was shot in color and looks great that way. Only some major exposure problems due to passing clouds may prevent this from staying in color. The LCD viewfinder doesn't do justice to the quality of the visuals on this camera. Western Bank looked great through the LCD, so I am sure it will look great when Gabe gets a chance to inspect the footage. Arizona Citizen has no sound, for an unknown reason. However, it's not a loss, because it looks fantastic, really amazing. So, hopefully we will record some dialog for it later, or maybe just subtitle it. It will see the light of day, and it will be all the more experimental due to the technical challenges!

It was a long weekend, between The Subject, and these Western films. I'm beat. I'll start up separate threads for The Visitor and Arizona Citizen, and post some stills later.


Comments on The Subject

Yesterday Angie and I had the privilege of participating in Brock H. Brown's latest film, The Subject. It was my first time on a real film shoot. In other words, one in which real film was used. It was quite a learning experience, and quite a workout.

When we arrived, shortly after 9am, the studio was still locked. We passed the time chatting with fellow filmmakers and the lead actor received his sickly makeup treatment. Finally, we were allowed in at around 10am.

We were greeted by a studio filled with crap: couches, chairs, tables, TV news studio desks, theatrical sets, etc. This was large studio, somewhere in the neighborhood of 25'x50'. And yet, it was nearly full of all this stuff, or at least the half where we needed to shoot was full. Emptiness to bare black walls, mind you, is critical to the look of this film. So, after a quick assessment, we moved everything from one side of the studio to the other, tearing down the sets in the process. We pulled back the curtains to reveal... more stuff, which we also moved.

In the control room, the other critical location for this film, was a ton of stuff, three big desk, configured as a student radio stations, with nothing where it needed to be for our purposes. Again, a quick assessment, and we decided to clear the room, rearranging the desks to meet our needs without turning off or disconnecting the maze of wires and equipment that makes the radio station go. Banners and photos came off the walls, desks were moved, CDs were tucked away. The control room windows were thoroughly cleaned inside and out, and I was introduced to the wonders of gaff tape (what can't this stuff do?!).

There we were, with the set just as the screenplay called for, and not two and half hours after we should have started shooting. Everyone got into full costume and the first setup began. By 2pm, only four or five shots and two or three setups had been completed, out of a total of 70 or so. Bearing in mind the need of one of the actors to leave at 5:30, and the need to vacate the studio shortly thereafter, the shoot kicked into high gear. Even then, there was a lot of standing around, a lot of waiting.

I learned a lot. For one, planning is everything. Brock had full storyboards, setup overheads, shot lists, and more. Two, it's good to have someone around who knows the intricacies of the camera and lighting equipment. Three, it was reaffirmed that Brock is an excellent director in all respects. He always had an insightful answer to every question, whether technical, blocking, lighting, or performance, he knew what he wanted and could clearly articulate it. Further, he solicited and listened to suggestions (and even listened to unsolicited suggestions, too), and was willing to adapt and be resourceful. He tolerated me, even though I was probably out of line on a number of occassions, pointing out concerns I was having with angles and lighting. As an actor on this project, it was most definitely not my place, and tried to bite my tongue as much as possible, but I couldn't in every occassion. Thanks Brock, I hope you'll have me back next time.

It was great to be in the company of people who were very sharp and quick in all aspects of filmmaking. It was nice to be around people who spoke the language of filmmaking, whether it was F-stops, stop loss, flagging, bounce, etc. I could speak freely about these things and people knew what they meant.

Although it got rushed towards the end, it was still challenging and fun. From what we saw on set using digital stills, this film will live up to Brock's vision in every way. There were even some unexpected bonuses, particularly the reflections in the windows, on both sides, which creating some captivating, though unplanned, visuals.

There wasn't as much pressure as I had anticipated. I thought that the burden of having limited film stock available would be an ever-present pressure, but it was not, because everything had been well planned, and Brock could, at a moments notice, gauge if he was ahead or behind with respects to schedules, shots, and footage unused. And due to the technical savvy of the crew, the setups were relatively quick and painless, without too much time wasted getting the equipment configured. Though a little slower than video setups, it was not tremendously slower, as I had anticipated. Again, due to the skill of those involved, and the planning work that was put into it.

It was a full ten hours of work (we had to put back everything we tore down or moved, don't forget), and I could barely get around today, but it was well worth it. I really can't wait to see what the footage looks like. This will be Brock's best work to date, I know it!