Category Archives: Production Journal

The Schlock Party II: Out of the Closet, Into the Fire

Last week, I told this story:

meyer bros

Our trailer unexpectedly received a bunch of positive attention on the Internet, because the very awesome Avery Guerra liked it and started spreading the word around. Then, Joblo.com referred to it as “Schlock Party” but that was totally fine, because the worst review we ever got was that a film of ours was “just ok.”

I love it when people like our work, because the best reason for making movies is to make people happy.  It’s awesome when you see people laughing and enjoying themselves while watching something that you had a hand in. But at least “schlock party” is an emotional response, whereas “just ok” is a lot like saying “I suppose I could have committed suicide during this film and it wouldn’t have bothered me one way or the other.”

The part of the Joblo story that really stung about the schlock party story is when I was quoted as saying: “Our prior horror efforts, including Consumed are dark, grim tales, which we enjoy, but didn’t feel that tone was what we wanted in a Bigfoot film. We agreed that Jaws had a good balance or horror, comedy, and adventure which we are attempting to capture.” Then author responded with: “Based on the two trailers below, farther from JAWS this film could not be.”

Sigh…

Me as Dave Smith, the androgynous lead singer of BADNESS

Me as Dave Smith, the androgynous lead singer of Badness.  I guess if you can tell anything from the picture, it’s that I’m sooo the opposite of a tool.

I, naturally, felt like a complete tool.  My quote was very tool-ish, but why was it necessary for this guy to point that out? Back in the old days, when we were promoting Badness, our imaginary rock band that couldn’t play instruments, promoting our work seemed much easier.  We had a couple films and a website for the band and, for some reason, I was always much more outgoing and impervious to ever feeling like a tool.  Like I did now.  It would take a well-known speech by actress/director Jodie Foster to help me start to comprehend why.

In ninth grade, I had to give a speech about myself in English class, and thinking that would be super easy, I didn’t prepare anything.  I said I made movies, cause that was really all I did, then I ran out of material.  After 2 minutes of me staring blankly at the rest of the class staring blankly back at me, Mr. Carey took pity on me and started asking me questions and trying to coax me into not looking like a total ass.

“Who writes your films?” he asked helpfully.

“I… uh… I usually write them,” I answered.  I was a writer AND a director.  Wait till they found out I also acted!

If they had seen any of my films, they'd be even more impressed!

If they had seen any of my films, they’d be even more impressed!

“And how many films have you made?” was the follow up from Mr. Carey’s stupid teacher face.

Shit.  I done tons!  Let’s see…  I won’t count the cartoons I did on our Texas Instruments computer.  So, let’s see.  Teeth was my first.  Then we did Adventure Barney.  Wait, that was technically Dennis’ movie.  Do I count Vacation ’88?  It was just a home movie, but I thought it more of a docudrama.  Then there was the one I was currently working on.  But that didn’t count cause it wasn’t finished.

“One,” I answered.

Mr. Carey blinked at me.

“You usually write your own movies,” he said incredulously, having lost any pity he may have at one time had for me,  “but you’ve only done one?”

This picture of me taken during my high school years is proof positive that I wasn't a tool.

This picture of me taken during my high school years is proof positive that I wasn’t a tool.

All I could do was return to my seat with my head hanging low and accept the realization that high school was really going to suck for me.  This episode was humiliating and while I don’t mind telling you about it, I would be mortified if it was ever posted online.   It was perhaps this incident that sent me into the Filmmaker Closet.  I adopted a very strict Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy when it came to my film work, and that isn’t the best promotion strategy.

Years later, I produced a short about drunk driving that I was shopping around to different educational film distributors.  This is the first time I had ever done anything like this before, and I was terrified, naturally.  I distinctly remember I wouldn’t even refer to the film as a “film” when talking to people about it.  I called it a “video.”  Somehow, “video” sounded less George McFly to me.

About the same time, actress/director Jodie Foster delivered a speech that I, and a lot of other people, were greatly moved by. She said, “You gotta lose yourself to the music  The moment – you better own it.  You better never let it go.  You only got one shot.  Do not miss your chance to blow.  This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo.”  Powerful words.  Words so powerful they were even made into a song by Eminem.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KghdDdJ2BT0?rel=0&w=420&h=315]

I remember that song playing in the car when I was on my way to transfer my miniDV master of my film  to a real format that professionals used so I could ship it off  to its new distributor.  And, even with the liberties Eminem took with Foster’s poetry (like adding something about his mom’s spaghetti), the song was very inspirational.  And it reminded me that I do only have one shot – one life – and this is it right now.  There’s no dress rehearsal.  And there’s no time for shenanigans.

That’s a hard lesson to get through one’s thick skull, and it took years, but I knew it was time to come out of the Filmmaker Closet.   I had been so comfortable as Dave Smith from BADNESS because I was promoting our work as Dave Smith and wasn’t preoccupied with what people thought of him.  I knew I either had to stop caring so much how I was coming off and pay more attention to what I was trying to accomplish or I needed to put on the wig and become Dave Smith forever.  Which wouldn’t have sounded so Norman Bates-ish if the real Dave Smith wasn’t stuffed in my attic.

The real Dave Smith.  We all go a little mad sometimes.

The real Dave Smith. It’s not as if he were a maniac – a raving thing.  He just goes a little mad sometimes.  We all go a little mad sometimes.

So, I switched to a strict Didn’t Ask?/I’m Telling You Anyway policy when it comes to the movie.  At times, I’m embarrassed at the self promoting whore I’ve become.  But it’s my duty to be a whore – for the film, for myself, and for everyone who busted their butts helping us out.  I have to spread the word.  It’s part of the job.  No one will ever hear of your film if you try to promote it from the closet.

I’m even cool with it if Mr. Carey tracks me down one day and corners me on some rambling. nonsensical babble I just spouted.  Because maybe this time – if I really pay attention – I’ll see one lone dude in the classroom thinking, “Cool!  I love a good Sasquatch flick!” While my classmates laugh their asses off at me.

Last week, I said that the lesson we took from our Joblo experience at the time was that that you have to be extra careful that what you say to the press can’t be misconstrued.  But I think maybe the real lesson here is people aren’t just going to be critical of your work, but they will set out to make you look like a tool -especially if you just said something toolish – and you need to get used to that.

Not missing footage from Kingdom of the Spiders starring William Shatner and Tyler Meyer... but it could be

Would a tool ever present himself this way? Obviously not.

A lot of people use “I don’t care what other people think” as an excuse to be a dick.  Don’t be a dick.  But don’t judge yourself by what others think.  Work hard.  Stay focused.  If you believe in what you’re doing, there will eventually be others who feel the same way, unless you’re doing some kind of weird puppet/poop/snuff film.

I remember bracing myself for the inevitable blizzard of negative comments that would no doubt accompany the Joblo story.  Hopefully, I’d be able to handle them and it wouldn’t derail the motivation that this sudden, unexpected burst of publicity had brought us.

But only one person ever commented.

avery

Thanks, Avery.

-Tyler

Quick Update: We’re getting there…

It’s been a while since Tyler or I have written an update to this site. Needless to say, things have been very hectic these past few months.    But, I’ll do my best to sum it all up and then get into what’s next.

First of all, we finished the last of our outdoor shooting. This is a tremendous milestone, considering that 80% of the film takes place outside in the woods. We managed to get in about 5 more shooting days before the weather would no longer permit it.  But we got a lot of good footage during those five days, including the majority of the climax (what’s left will be mentioned below).

These were not easy days. People were tired and worn out. Schedules, as usual, were tough to coordinate. But, folks hung in there and gave their all. And I think it will show in the end product.

Getting the shot, anyway we can.

Since then, Tyler has been continuing to edit the film. I’ve seen much of the new stuff from this year added in and it looks damn good. I have been working on rewriting the few remaining scenes to account for location and story changes. And we both have been having meetings regarding the stuff that’s left. And in between all of that, we have been dealing with real life, which is it’s own unique type of pain in the ass. I think I speak for us both when I say that the bullshit, imaginary world of moviemaking is way more fun.

"Death and danger are my various breads and various butters."

Which leads me to what is next. We have three indoor scenes to shoot with the three core actors. We are location scouting for two of them, and one is inside a vehicle. We have one indoor scene that is half complete, but the location is not available until the weather gets nicer. And we have some effects shots to do in the studio (We call anywhere people let us shoot indoors “the studio.” We’re kinda like filmmaking hobos that way.).  One of the key effects bits involves the climax of the film and a really cool stunt that would kill people if we tried if for real. Which, of course, we considered.

Tyler, with his Nth adventure hat on, makes magic out of fur and leaves.

Add to that all the work that needs to done in post (more editing, sound, visual effects, music), and we still have a ways to go. But we are confident that the film will premiere this year. Somewhere.

Insanity: the final stage of filmmaking

What then? Who knows. But, keep checking here for updates and more insight on this ate-up process as we put the finishing touches on the greatest bigfoot movie to ever to be made for a few grand by two jackasses and a team of untrained professionals in their own backyard. Ever!

Feel the heat! More shooting, more good times.

It has been a while since our last post. It has also been a while since we have shot anything. There are a couple of reasons for this. One, our real lives, the things we do that pay the bills, have been kind enough to really interfere in our filmmaking time. Two, availability. Making a micro-budget movie tends to put you at the mercy of the schedule of the people who are kind enough to volunteer their time to your endeavor. And third, it has been apocalypticly hot out. Every time we turn on the weather report, it’s another Heat Emergency. And, let’s face it – a bigfoot movie with a dizzy sasquatch that passes out in every scene is not really what we are going for.

So, we’re determined to grab the days when we can and get this film finished before the fall (or rather, before Mother Nature decides to mess with us again). In the meantime, we have been working on what we can; Tyler editing our footage into a very viewable rough cut, myself working on some scene rewrites, our make-up FX  head creating and testing new blood formulas (enjoying it a little too much sometimes, I think).  So, without further ado, or excuses, I give you Day 23 of shooting.

Day 23 – August 1, 2010

After a day of purchasing supplies, dusting off the wardrobe, arranging the availability of the actors, and confirming a shooting location,  the team was ready to begin another intensive day of shooting in the woods.

Tyler and his army of one.

We arrived on location and I was pleased to see a familiar face onset: Kirk. Kirk has been a friend of Tyler’s for many moons, and he helped us out on our short film The Projection Booth. He had been following our progress via this wonderful blogstrosity here, and had offered his services should we need. Hell yeah, we do! In fact, just a few nights before I had told Tyler that he desperately needed a right-hand man, or two, to work with him through the organized chaos that is our shooting style. Being so short-staffed, while intentional, has also been a bit of a hindrance.

So, it was cool to see Kirk again after all this time. And it eased my mind to know that Tyler had someone there whom he knew and trusted, and who knew him and his bizarreness, to provide needed support. Kirk would be our sound guy this shoot. Awesome!

You think you're above the law?

Stephan, Max, and I geared up. Today would be a actiony day. Two scenes, both with a fair share of running, ducking, jumping, falling, and slamming into trees.  The first 2/3 of the day was a lot of me doing the aforementioned physical work. It was surprisingly hot, and I was soaked, exhausted, and not feeling well by the time we finished. For some reason, only a handful of water bottles were brought down from the vehicles into the woods, so it was a while still before I got any fluids in me.

"More action hero, and less you, please."

Stephan had a stunt, which he nailed several times very well, and then he and Max had some running of their own to do. And it was done. It’s been rare, but I love when we get a whole scene finished in a day, more-or-less on schedule.

We then headed back out to the Lebanon, OH location for a couple of quick pickup shots for a scene that seemed to be missing some things.

Water... why did it have to be water?

Max was not pleased to find out that he was going to wind up in the creek for what would be the second time.  But, he stuck it out. We shot there for about an hour or so, then called it a day. Everyone did a terrific job and it felt good to get back into the groove. And Kirk jumped right into the mess without missing a beat. It was a good day.

August 2, 2010 – August 4, 2010

I have heat exhaustion, having been severely dehydrated from the 5 hrs in the heat.  I spend the next 3 days dizzy, cramping, nauseous, and swimming in Powerade.  I curse my stupidity for not ensuring we had enough fluids on set because, as a former EMT and US Army Medic, I most definitely know better. I decide that I would rather be accidentally caught on fire again than to let myself get dehydrated like this again. In a light-headed daze, I silently make a Khan-like vow to avenge myself.