Friday, May 24, 2013

Buccaneer Galaxy!

Announcing our next project:



A webseries co-written by Alan Steadman (Squidbillies, Revenge Academy) and starring Ashly Burch (School of Thrones, Borderlands 2)

BUCCANEER GALAXY

Across the seven celestial spheres there is no mage more feared, no wizard more reviled, than the ruthless necromancer Lycra Bloodstone! ...Or at least that's how she'd like to be known. Instead, despite her best efforts, Lycra constantly finds herself the subject of good publicity. Killing planets, pirating trade ships, eating pets; nothing works! There are always unintentional positive consequences to her actions.

But now, with news of a scared object unearthed in the farthest reaches of space, she sees her chance to at last gain the notoriety she craves as well as power over life and death itself! Set in a swashbuckling universe of squid ships, cannon balls and powerful sorcery, "Buccaneer Galaxy" will deliver incredible action, insane personalities and a unique blend of old school visual effects.

INFLUENCES and OBJECTIVES:

In the tradition of this blog, I'll take a moment to talk in depth about the inner workings of my process. It's all astoundingly pretentious, so if it gets to be too much please keep in mind that I am the kind of person who freely and enthusiastically puts poop jokes in their films.

For me, I find a project by triangulating three main components: Aesthetic, Theme, and Content.
Aesthetic:
So there's four main aspects of the show's aesthetic: the CGI environments, the live action actors, the 2-D magic/flourish effects and the stop-motion/puppet creatures. The motive behind utilizing all of these techniques is not to create a look reminiscent of a particular era of film or genre, but rather evoke a particular kind of imagination. My goal is to have the audience achieve a state of mind similar to that of child playing with toys, creating a makeshift fantasy with whatever they have on hand. Though potent in its own way, I think no visual effect that convinces you something is ACTUALLY happening can possibly have this particular power.

That's the thrill I get when I watch:
Hausu
Latitude Zero
Flash Gordon
Holy Flame of the Martial World
Hercules
Star Crash
Jason and the Argonauts
The Fabulous World of Jules Verne

Also it will prevent anyone for taking anything they see too seriously. No more tone/aesthetic dissonance.

Unlike my previous films, I don't want a prior understanding of a particular aesthetic to be required to fully "get" the choices being made.

Production design influences:

Primarily the production design will stem from the artwork of modern fantasy artists, specifically:

Rodney Matthews, his work particularly will be felt in the diamond jungle and Tower of Azathoth. His work on Gerry Anderson's Lavender Castle is an obvious touchstone for this weird sci-fi by way of fantasy universe, even though the show's execution is a little clunky today.

Stephen B. Grimes for his his work on Krull.

And mostly the work of Mike Dubisch, who will be doing the concept design work for "Buccaneer Galaxy".

Camera Design:
This is where the real synthesis I'm going for will take place. I'm want to counter the barrage of artifice with immediate, free, flowing camera design. The vast majority of the film with be shot on steadi-cam to subliminally put the viewer into the "room" with fantastic elements on display. I used haphazard handheld in "Frank Dancoolo" to cheaply enhance the frenetic feel of that film, then I locked the camera into dolly/gib moves exclusively on "Doctor Glamour" to hone my compositional skills in the hard light of gentle static shots. "Buccaneer Galaxy" will sit somewhere between. Alive and willful enough to feel the human hand of the camera, while not shaky or desperate enough to distract or obscure. And crash zooms, reverse and otherwise, will abound, because, come on, crash zooms!

Theme:
I deliberately went into writing "Buccaneer Galaxy" as pure candy entertainment. Hopefully it still will work primarily on that level. However, themes emerged whether I wanted them to or not. All of them are centered around Lycra and her journey. Lycra is a character who has lost her faith and is scrambling for identity. She's on a quest of self actualization, as she's not just on a quest to destroy the universe, but to be free of that universe. But ultimately, if she'd just stop being so selfish, mopey and stubborn, she could save the galaxy. If she stopped trying to be someone else and accept who she is, she could affect far greater change. The dramatic irony of this is where a lot of the humor comes from. So then, what's the theme that emerged? To boil it down to an axiom: Be true to oneself.  BORING, but that's what it is.

Content:
For all my formalist tap dancing and grandiose statements about imagination, the content of the show is stupefyingly derivative of the following:

Slayers
Excel Saga
The Spelljammer Campaign setting for D&D from the early 90s

and most importantly: Black Adder

That's all mixed up well of a lifetime of silly fantasy tropes, cartoon logic and my penchant for the works of HP Lovecraft.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

FESTIVAL ROUND UP 2: FABULOUS EDITION

WINNER
BEST OF FESTIVAL
H.P. LOVECRAFT FILM FESTIVAL


OFFICIAL SELECTION
OUTFEST FILM FESTIVAL
FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL
FRAMELINE 36 FILM FESTIVAL
A NIGHT OF HORROR FILM FESTIVAL
PHOENIX COMIC CON
ROSE CITY STEAM PUNK FILM FESTIVAL

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

FESTIVAL ROUND-UP


WOO! Doctor Glamour is finally done. I cut five minutes out and remixed it. Now it is even awesomer.

We are playing at.....

2012 BOSTON SCI-FI FILM FESTIVAL
2012 RADCON
2012 INTERNATIONAL SCI-FI & HORROR FILM FESTIVAL
2012 GASPARILLA FILM FESTIVAL
2012 WORLDCON
2012 PHOENIX COMICON
2012 TRI-CITIES FILM FESTIVAL
2012 LONDON SCI-FI FILM FESTIVAL

With more to come I'm sure!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

So Close, Yet So Far


So it's the end of November and still no movie. This is the result of three things:

1.) I have had a crushingly busy month at my day job and have not had time to organize the final color correction and extras shoot

2.) The final sound mix that has a crucial boost to the intelligibility of the lyrics has been delayed due to budget among other things

3.) A version with mediocre color correction and a stereo sound mix has been sent to over 20 film festivals

Now, I could release an online private link to donors and friends that has the current sound mix and a few funky color issues. The "festival screener" version, if you will. But I want the first time you see it to be the best it can be.

Rest assured, the Doctor is coming, maybe just in time for Christmas.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Got a quick shout for the "Doctor Glamour" trailer on Director's Notes. I hope to sit down and do an interview with them once the film's out (and if they like it!) Check it out here: http://www.directorsnotes.com/2011/10/04/doctor-glamour-trailer/

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Doctor Glamour has a Trailer!



A genius scientist contacts another dimension to save the woman he loves, summoning a flamboyant rock & roll superhero.

Coming 2012
Find out more at:
DoctorGlamour.com

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Anime Exorcism

I've never been content to merely like or dislike a piece of media, I need to understand why. This is paramount when I'm culling influences for a new project. Why am I interested in this thing? How does this gel with other influences? Do all these things reinforce the themes I'm trying to express?

I feel this is especially important with "Buccaneer Galaxy," as I am really playing with fire. Why are the elements so volatile in this case? Well, this time I'm not spoofing over serious sci-fi or adapting the classic artwork of a master. Instead, I'm taking a crack at something most people don't like: an Anime Sitcom.

Don't run! There are other influences as well, but they are easy to like and easy to explain.  But to explain why I like "FLCL," "Excel Saga" and most importantly "Slayers," we first need to start with what people often don't like. Lots of folks get turned off by the way these things LOOK. This is not a failing of the art itself, but rather the fact that it has become obnoxiously homogeneous.

If you look at the sheer variety of design choices and art direction in American animation today, it's staggering. Each show's identity is allowed to be reinforced by its look.

Would "Adventure Time" evoke the effusive innocence, charm and vulnerability of a high school doodle on the back of a DandD character sheet, if it looked like "Young Justice"? Of course not. It would suffer immensely.

Most of the anime that comes to our shores has no such variety and therefore no such visual clues as to the actual tone or personality of the piece. So when you see this:


and this:


Your brain has no reason to make a distinction.

Let me tell you, the content of these shows are WORLDS apart. One is loaded with melodrama, the other is slapstick comedy. I dare the uninitiated to guess which is which. Anime form often stops good shows from finding a western audience, just because they look the same as products that are loaded with fan service, pedophilia and sexism.

I have to look past the form to enjoy any of it. And that's the reason I want to take elements from this stuff.  These shows have fun characters, hilarious situations and a lighthearted approach to fantasy concepts that rivals any western entertainment.

This separation of form and content has allowed me to engage these shows on their own terms, but what I aim to do is take the good (content elements) and chuck the visual form entirely. I want to provide a visual context for these concepts they are rarely allowed. I want to take the strong, funny, and downright accessible skeleton of a 90s anime sitcom and grow a horrifying mutant body for it. One without spikey hair.

Which brings us to the previous post about VFX, as well as the a future post about "Buccaneer Galaxy"'s mix of Harryhausen, Flynn, Spelljammer and Blackadder.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

New Project Smell

Alright, it took me a year to start talking about the next project after "Frank DanCoolo" was finished. This time I'm going to start yammering about my next project a month or two before the "Doctor Glamour" is completed.

Really the catalyst for this was seeing the work Dillon Markey was doing at his stop motion workshop last night. He was working on a dragon puppet. I gotta have me one of those in a project.

So what I hope is next is an action/comedy/high fantasy/space pirate webseries. It needs funding and may never happen if a few key elements don't come together.

It's called

BUCCANEER GALAXY

Across the seven celestial spheres there is no mage more feared, no wizard more reviled, than the ruthless necromancer Lycra Bloodstone! ...Or at least that's how she'd like to be known. Instead, despite her best efforts, Lycra constantly finds herself the subject of good publicity. Killing planets, pirating trade ships, eating pets; nothing works! There are always unintentional positive consequences to her actions.

But now, with news of a scared object unearthed in the farthest reaches of space, she sees her chance to at last gain the notoriety she craves as well as power over life and death itself! Set in a swashbuckling universe of squid ships, cannon balls and powerful sorcery, "Buccaneer Galaxy" will deliver incredible action, insane personalities and a unique blend of old school visual effects.

I hope to have a final draft of the scripts by year's end. It's pretty exciting to work on. I'll be posting updates here on the development and some insight into the influences I'll be drawing upon in the coming weeks.