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Confessions of a Working Director - 11/30/2009


Shooting pickups in post-production is a common undertaking.  In the course of editing you sometimes find mistakes that require re-shoots.  You can also discover opportunities to improve the movie by shooting just a little something extra to add to the stew. 

In a week I'll be helming the first of two pickup shooting days for Ratline.  Only three or four of the shots I'll be getting are re-shoots to correct mistakes.  Most of the shots sprang into my brain as bonus enhancements for the movie.  And lastly, a number of the shots will provide visual linking cues.  During the shoot, one of the most common problems we had was keeping locations locked.  We were constantly dealing with locations falling through at the last minute, or even after we had shot there for a couple of days.  The most maddening aspect of the Ratline production was having to constantly scramble for replacement shooting locations - while still staying on schedule.  In some cases, we were securing locations 24 to 48 hours before we were to begin shooting major scenes there.  In the end, the location problems did not kick our ass - everything I needed I shot. 

However, due to the insane frenzy surrounding the locations, many times two or three locations were shot at to sell a single location in the story.  To tidy this up in the edit, I need to shoot visual linking shots - images that inform the audience where they are geographically at various points in the narrative. 

I'm actually looking forward to these pickup shooting days.  Except that I know most of it will be outside, and it's gonna be cold.  Then again, that seems to be tradition at this point.  If we ain't freezing our butts off, we ain't making Ratline.

While doing all this work for Ratline, we are also keeping busy with a variety of other endeavors.  Most recently we launched Wicked Pixel Cinema's Holiday Raffle.  You can enter today to win a huge prize package including a brand new XBox 360 Elite!  In addition to this, the lucky winner will receive five games, all of the Wicked Pixel Cinema DVD catalog, two original motion picture soundtrack CDs, and a small stack of awesome Wicked Pixel Cinema t-shirts!  Pretty cool, eh?  It only takes a few seconds to enter.  All the details are right here.

We are also still collecting entries - features and shorts - for The Cinema Edge Awards.  The deadline to enter is rapidly approaching, so if you've made an independent film and you are seeking distribution through a major distributor, you're gonna have to move fast!  The winning feature of The Cinema Edge Awards receives a DVD distribution deal with VCI Entertainment, one of the longest running and most successful distributors in America.  Plus, Wicked Pixel Cinema will provide substantial promotional support for the DVD release of the winning flick.  This is the only film contest in the country that doesn't just improve your chances of scoring a distribution deal, the prize IS the distribution deal!  Check out all the entry guidelines and other details right here.

2009 is almost over.  This year has flown by.  I've had some incredible experiences, both with my own team in finishing up the Ratline shoot and getting into editing, and also with new friends on the Stake Land shoot.  Mostly, though, this year has been about survival.  Thanks to the terrible economy and some of the dishonest and/or incompetent companies we made the mistake of doing business with, we've been just barely scraping by financially.  While we see wonderful things on the horizon for Wicked Pixel Cinema, they are still way off in the distance.  The goal right now is to survive, and stay strong enough to continue marching toward more prosperous days in 2010.

It is easy to get down about our current financial struggles, but every once in a while there emerge signs that we are still on the right path.  Jessie Seitz, member of the staff here, a producer on Ratline, and co-story writer on Deadwood Park, has been making major leaps forward in her writing career, usually in ways that directly or indirectly connect to Wicked Pixel Cinema.  She writes a monthly column, called The Devil Inside, for Lip-Service webzine, she keeps a regular blog on the Scars Magazine website, and she is a staff writer for Gothic Beauty Magazine.  An article Jessie wrote about clothing designer Jessica Louise got front-cover display on the current issue of Gothic Beauty.

The morning after I returned from the Stake Land shoot, on my way back to work at my own company, I stopped by a book store to see if I could find the new issue of Rue Morgue Magazine.  Larry Fessenden had told me on the Stake Land set that the new Rue Morgue contained a very positive review of my film Deadwood Park.  Not only did I find the Rue Morgue issue I was seeking, I had a moment of confidence-boosting realization.  Looking at all the magazines for sale there at Borders, I could see the Gothic Beauty issue with Jessie's article displayed on the front cover.  I could also see the current issue of Rue Morgue, containing a good review of Deadwood Park.

And I could also see the most recent issue of Ultra Violent Magazine, which contains a whopping 11 page interview with me.  It was pretty cool to see so much indication of progress and success at one time, in one place.

When I see things like this, I don't get excited.  I don't start thinking we're something special.  I don't start feeling cocky.  Instead I breath a small sigh of relief... relief that in addition to working ourselves to exhaustion, someone is actually noticing.

Thanks for reading.

- Eric Stanze