28 December 2007

and so it begins...

borders currently has a buy 2 get 1 free sale going on. so i decided to get the new doctor who series 1 thru 3. however, borders didn't have series 1. since these sets are so expensive, i opted not to get series 2 & 3.

on my way home, i went to best buy because i heard that they were also having a sale. imagine my surprise when i found the babylon 5 season boxed sets for $20 per set. babylon 5 is one of my all time favourite series. i've been meaning to pick these sets up ever since they came out a few years ago...but they list at $60. so of course i picked up all five seasons.

if you haven't watched babylon 5, treat yourself. this is the way that i usually explain it:

when you watch season 1, you're going to say "joey has finally lost it...i was bored to tears". then you'll move onto season 2...you'll say "well, it's alright...the new captain is better, but i still don't see what the big deal is"...until the season 2 finale. that's when you'll start to get glued to your tv. season 3 is when you start yelling at the tv. seasons 4 & 5 will make you weep.

you see, series creator j. michael strazynski (best known these days for writing the comics "amazing spider-man" and "thor") wanted to write a series that was basically a novel for television. he wanted a series with a definite beginning, middle and end. in my opinion, he succeeded. events that occur in season 1 don't have an impact until season 3.

and the moral of the story is: if you want to start watching babylon 5, the magic word is patience.

26 December 2007

murch & the pitfalls of editing while sitting down

as you can probably tell by the title of the post, i finished reading murch's "in the blink of an eye". this is an excellent treatise on the art of film editing. i have the 2nd edition, so it has an afterward on digital editing. what is amazing to me is that the copyright on the book is 2001, a scant 7 years ago, and this section is already outdated. don't get me wrong, the philosophy is timeless, as murch compares and contrasts the benefits & hazards of digital editing versus analog editing. however, technology has progressed so quickly that all of murch's milestones have not only come true, but have also been surpassed:

1/ memory storage - this was a major pitfall at the time of the 2nd edition. now, with the advent of very cheap external hard drives in the range of 1 terabyte (without going into the math, it's a lot larger than the 120 gigabyte external drive that i own), this isn't even close to being an issue...and they're only gonna get larger, folks.

2/ the cost - standard editing suites (such as the AVID or KEM) would cost in excess of $60,000. now, anyone can go to their local apple store and buy programs such as final cut pro for around $500. final cut pro is the program that murch used to edit the film "cold mountain". this is also the program that chris and i will be using to edit our film.

3/ picture/sound timecode compatibility - this is something that i don't have a lot of knowledge on. however, apple has created software (such as soundtrack and logic studio) that is specifically designed to edit sound. since apple is also the creator of final cut pro, it is not unreasonable to assume that the film and sound editing software packages fully integrate with one another.

4/ 35mm film no longer being shown theatrically - again, i don't have any hard and fast data on this one. however, murch refers to "the phantom menace" being shown digitally in some theaters. he also refers to lucas' "next project" being shot entirely in digital. this "next film" was, of course, "attack of the clones". now, it is very commonplace for filmmakers to shoot entirely in digital. "sin city" is a prime example of this. i also think it is very commonplace for films to be projected digitally. and since the cost of digital equipment goes down every year, this will be even more commonplace. i don't think that it's unreasonable to assume that, within the next ten years, 35mm film will gradually become an exception and not a rule.

these are very exciting times. and it is the perfect time for people such as chris and i to enter into this realm.

in related news, i have also watched a documentary on film editing called "the cutting edge". this is a fantastic introduction to the world of film editing. as you can probably imagine, walter murch is a major contributor to the documentary. he is seen in his editing room working on "cold mountain". one of murch's trademarks is that he edits while standing up. he feels that this brings him closer to the work and keeps his mind and body engaged in the process.

i'm now moving onto a recent find: mike figgis' book "digital filmmaking". it is a rather short book that was just released this year. i'm not super familiar with figgis' work (he directed "leaving las vegas" and "timecode"), but the book is fascinating (i'm already two chapters in). more on this upon completion.

i have an idea for the film, but i have no clue if it's going to work in the story or not. i want a grand guignol style sequence in the tradition of bava and argento...just one, though. more than that would be gratuitous. hell, even the one that i'm contemplating might be gratuitous. if i can get it to work within the context of the story and chris buys off on it, then we'll be in business. (chris, we'll talk about this in detail when next we meet...hopefully sooner rather than later.)

anyway, i hope that you are having a fantastic holiday.

commence with the comments...i'm off to bed.

22 December 2007


started reading walter murch's "in the blink of an eye" this morning. i'm already halfway thru it. this is his treatise on the art of film editing.

my copy of the amazon exclusive 3-disc blade runner soundtrack arrived in the mail today. it is brilliant. we finally have most of the cues used in the film officially on disc to enjoy. i'm listening to it right now as i'm typing this entry.

please allow me to direct you to my good friend nick who has started his own blog called Trash Aesthetics. his latest entry is a fantastic analysis of "from hell" (both the graphic novel and film). please treat yourself and read it. in my opinion, the feature film version of "from hell" is criminally underrated. it is a wonderful gothic horror film that stands confidently on its own.

okay...i'm stepping off of my soapbox now.

more to come later...

21 December 2007

Is this to be an empathy test?

the crown jewel of dvd releases has arrived.

on tuesday, warner bros finally released the 5-disc special edition of blade runner. i have been waiting over ten years for this release. it was supposed to come out around 2000, but has been caught up in legal disputes.

until now, that is.

trust me, you have not truly experienced the film until you see it in 1080p hi-definition. and the documentaries are amazing. there is a featurette about cinematographer jordan cronenweth that made me weep.

i have been spending the past couple of days going thru this collection bit by ever loving bit.

blade runner is, without doubt or hesitation, my favourite film of all time.

as far as our movie is concerned, my study materials have arrived from amazon. i ordered the walter murch book ("in the blink of an eye"), a book on alejandro jodorowsky and the documentary "the cutting edge". i've skimmed thru the books. in the jodorowsky book, there is an entire chapter dedicated to his aborted attempt at making "dune" into a feature film. this was to feature special effects overseen by dan o'bannon (who went on to write the screenplay for "alien"), art direction by h.r. giger (who went on to design the creature in "alien", as well as the sets of the alien planet) and music by pink floyd (who, at the time, had just finished recording "dark side of the moon"). jodorowsky had cast his son to play paul atreides, orson welles to play the evil baron and salvador dali to play the emperor.

sounds absolutely fantastic doesn't it?

too bad that the project collapsed under its own weight. (actually, it isn't too bad because the failure of the project directly led to the creation of the film "alien", which is another one of my all-time favourite films.)

i have taken a few other notes on our movie. we are definitely going to need to do some green screen work. i'm hoping that it will be subtle and minor, but i'm not sure at this point.

and with that, i am officially on vacation for two weeks. i hope to spend my downtime visiting friends and family, watching films, gathering more info for our movie, playing video games and just generally relaxing. i will also be posting to the blog as time permits.

now, more blade runner.

16 December 2007

molto bene

attended the buffy meet-up group christmas party on friday. had the chance to catch up with my good friends john and nick. we spoke at length about the film and both of them were kind enough to offer their services. john and nick have extensive experience in the fields of broadcasting, film theory and film in general.

since i am going to be the film editor, nick recommended a book called "the blink of an eye" (written by master editor walter murch) and the documentary "the cutting edge". i've ordered both of them from amazon. i also ordered a book about alejandro jodorowsky (eccentric film maker responsible for "el topo" and "the holy mountain"). finally, amazon has the exclusive rights to the 3-disc 25th anniversary edition of the blade runner soundtrack. so, of course, i had to get that as well.

(speaking of which, the 5-disc blade runner is coming out on tuesday. run to your local dvd shoppe and get this. it is shaping up to be THE dvd release of the year. you don't want to be left out do you? i didn't think so...)

if you've been reading the comments to these posts, you've seen that nick has recommended a program called "frame forge". this program is used to create storyboards. this means that i'll be considering the following programs once we get things rolling:

*frame forge
*final draft (screenwriting program)
*final cut pro
*logic studio

now all we need is a story. i took more notes yesterday afternoon and started sketching up rough floor plans in my notebook. still in gathering mode. currently watching a documentary on dario argento's film "suspiria". will continue to read lovecraft.

i'm anticipating staying in gathering mode thru the holidays. after january 1st, i'll start the script.

11 December 2007

things learned

started reading "the colour out of space" last night but fell asleep when the medication kicked in. will continue tonight.

i also did something that's new for me: i sketched up some storyboards for one of the set pieces that i listed in the last post. things that i learned from this endeavour:

1/ i cannot draw people. period. (the main character, who is female, does not look female in the storyboards. she looks like a he who is a reject from ziggy stardust's spiders from mars. or this being that i drew might not be male or female. could it be that i have finally discovered the missing link between alice cooper and britney spears? luckily i have none other than leonard nimoy, that venerable host of "in search of...", on speed dial. he'll know what to do.)

2/ drawing storyboards brings up more questions about a scene. this is not bad in any way. this goes to show how useful storyboards can be in designing and thinking about how to shoot a film.

3/ i want to do more storyboarding. i should probably take some sort of sketching class to help (see thing #1 listed above).

ridley scott (director of "alien", "blade runner", and some of the best damn movies ever made) has a history of drawing his own storyboards. he was able to convince fox studios to increase the budget of "alien" by 5 million dollars just by showing them his storyboards. he calls them ridleygrams.

now, i'm definitely no ridley scott. and the film that we're making is not even going to be fit to lick the boots of "alien".

but i love what he calls his storyboards.

so i am going to steal the title and repurpose it for my own use.

my storyboards are officially going to be called "joeygrams" from here on out.


it's official. why, you ask? because it's typed in this here blog.

that's why i love this blog.

i type it, and it is official because i have decreed it as such.

kind of like sir laurence olivier as marcus licinius crassus in "spartacus".

only without the snails and mass crucifixions at the end.

and now, onto more of "the colour out of space".

10 December 2007

random stuff

just a few random items for today's update:

1/ i watched "the call of cthulhu" dvd. this was a film released by the h.p. lovecraft historical society. the filmmakers chose to adapt the story as a 47-min silent film. ultra low-budget, but a lot of fun. it's not the direction i want to go in with our film, though. i don't want the audience to notice our lack of budget (says the complete novice who's never written or made a film before).

2/ i've come up with short-hand titles for our set pieces (at least the ones we have so far). here's the tease (all of these are subject to change or deletion):
i/ the birthing canal (chris' idea; i'll let you salivate over what it might mean)
ii/ the bonfire (my idea; lot more to it than the title suggests)
iii/ the roller-coaster (not so much a set piece as it is a bridge between iii & iv)
iv/ the insanity pull (this is the idea that has been in my head for 2 or 3 yrs)
v/ the stars align (could be the ending; our cecil b. demille shot)

3/ now rewatching the 3-hour "alien" making-of documentary for inspiration.

not ready to tease the character archetypes just yet. i need to mull it over and talk with chris about it. no idea when i'll be ready to write the script.

next reading assignment: "the colour out of space".

09 December 2007

and ye shall rise...

chris just left. we had an impromptu meeting regarding the film. we have a lot of ideas. i took copious notes. to say that i'm excited is an understatement. it just feels real to me now. we have a set number of main characters and character archetypes. we also have a couple of set pieces.

what's also great is that, between the two of us, chris and i have a pretty large film vocabulary. we use examples of scenes from other films as our short hand.

and, appropo of nothing, this is an example of kinds of conversations we typically have:

it is early in the evening. chris and joey are sitting in the living room, eating delicious pasta and tofu. they are also watching 2001 in hi-def. the first monolith sequence occurs. the dawn of man apes are going batshit crazy as they evolve.

joey: imagine if that was cthulhu instead of the monolith.

chris: i always do.

this is why we're a great team.

08 December 2007

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn

and so it begins...

i started going into "gathering" mode this morning and it feels good.

once upon a time, when i was still living with my parents, i used to go to franklin park in ohio. there was an eatery called barry bagels. i loved going there to eat bagels, read and write.

imagine my delight when i found out that there is a barry bagels here in ann arbor. so, i spent a few hours there this morning...eating bagels...reading and writing.

i'm starting with lovecraft's "the call of cthulhu", from where the title of this post is taken. this story is going to play a key part in the film that chris and i are planning. i took a lot of notes this morning while re-reading the story. nothing is fleshed out yet...but i've got ideas...lots and lots of ideas.

the plan is to absorb a lot of lovecraft stories. these will provide the literary spine upon which the film will be structured. visually, we're going for something bava or argento-esque. (those of you who aren't familiar with the works of bava and argento, check out "suspiria", "inferno", "planet of the vampires", "kill baby kill"). audio-wise, i'm not sure yet. i'm planning on revisiting the work of walter murch. he was responsible for the sound engineering on "apocalypse now", "thx-1138", "american graffiti", "the godfather" and a lot of other great films.

chris will be joining me this evening to discuss details.

i'm rebuilding the creative tether.

07 December 2007

all of this has happened before...and it will happen again...


this is going to be my new home on the net for the time being.

i used to post to livejournal. i still lurk there and comment on friend's posts. however, that place feels creatively stale to me. so, i've decided to try this out for size.

but first, a little catching up for those of you in the studio audience who've just joined our program, which is already in progress:

as it says to the right of this post, i'm a musician. i sometimes go by the moniker "root mean squared". i started out as a guitarist, but in the past few years i have drifted from that and make primarily computer-based music. i have an album in the can called "beautiful decay". at some point, i'll find a label for it. but that's another story for another time.

back in july of this year, my musical journey hit a major snag. i have an ear injury that is called "baro-trauma". baro, if i'm not mistaken is short for barometric. another name for it is "acoustic trauma". this was the result of going to a concert and movie, both of which featured very prominent subwoofers. the symptoms are twofold: i have hypersensitive hearing to everyday sounds such as jangling keys and clanging dishes and i have tinnitus (a permanent ringing in the ears). as you can imagine, this might make recording music a bit...tricky. also, i can't go to concerts or movies because they're simply too loud for me now. i am currently under the care of an acupuncture specialist, who has been a tremendous help. i am also taking a few anti-anxiety medications. finally, i have found a physician who has successfully treated this condition in other patients (i have my first appointment with him in january). as a result, i have regained some ground with my hearing. however, there is still a chance that this condition is permanent. i'll cross that bridge when i get to it.

it's interesting how much this parallels another part of my life (a part that you might not know about):

about ten years ago, when i was still playing guitar regularly, i started noticing numbness in my fingers. this is usually the kiss of death for guitarists because it is typically repetitive motion syndrome. turns out that in my case it was just a group of nerves in my shoulder that had gotten bunched up due to my rapid height increase as a child. i was in physical therapy for three or four months.

this injury forced me to rethink my creative outlet. i decided to start writing. i also decided to absorb as much film, music and literature as i could muster. this is how i discovered the music/philosophy of brian eno. it was also when i realized that i someday wanted to be a filmmaker.

all of this palaver leads us here: why a new blog?

it's very simple, actually: as a result of the injury, my connection to the creative force has been severed. i'm going to use this blog as a tool to help me rebuild that connection. i stole the title of this post from battlestar galactica. i believe it to be true. if the first injury led to good things, then i'm going to make damned sure that this injury leads to good things as well.

my dear friend chris and i have been talking about making films for the last four years.

now is the time. i may not be able to play music (for now...that will change over time as i figure out how to work around the sensitivity). but i can still absorb art (giger is key), literature, music (played at a relatively moderate volume) and film (the joys of having hi-def at home). i consider myself to be an empty vessel. this blog will chronicle the journey filling the vessel. chris and i have some ideas for films that i will be researching. this means that i'll be using this board to think out loud. there is one film in particular that i am going to be starting to research on tomorrow morning.

and, you never know when my trusty third person omniscient narrator will pop up.

hey, some people have imaginary friends, i have a third person omniscient narrator.

and he just so happens to be the voice of alec baldwin (see "the royal tenenbaums").

and i want you to post comments, if the mood strikes you. those of you with gmail accounts can log in and comment that way. i'm going to allow anonymous comments for right now. the only rule that i have is that if you're commenting without a gmail account, you must sign your name to the comment. any comments that i see without signatures will be deleted. no flame wars allowed. also, feel free to email me at : crowdedbysouls at gmail dot com.

so, come with me now, gentle reader, as we explore the furthest deepest regions of joey's brain.

we'll laugh. we'll cry (hopefully not too much, because i detest drama unless it's on the bloody tube). we'll wax philosophical.

and now, to bed.