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Confessions of a Working Director - 1/15/2010

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Things are chaotic at the Wicked Pixel Cinema HQ building these days, with much progress being made in the area of music for Ratline.  A couple of awesome bands have signed on to be in the soundtrack and I'll tell you all about them in the near future.  Jeremy Wallace is negotiating with additional bands and coordinating delivery of all these fine tracks of music to our offices. 

In the music score front, Gus Stevenson is workin' long hours fine tuning the mixes and exploring additional paths the Ratline score may traverse.

We also have our Wicked Pixel Cinema Holiday Raffle ending today.  Jim Wayer and I just had a quick meeting to determine the best way to draw and announce the winner.  We're all pretty overwhelmed with Ratline and other duties, but we'll still take a break next week to let everyone know who wins the brand new XBox Elite, plus a big honkin' stack of games, movies, music, and more.

Earlier this week, I stepped away from Ratline to meet up with Aaron Crozier, who kindly invited a select few of us to screen his rough cut of Mil Mascaras: Aztec Revenge, Mr. Crozier's feature film directorial debut.  He wanted feedback on the rough cut to determine if the movie is working, if any pickups or re-shoots are needed, etc.  In April of 2009, Jim Wayer and I spent a few days working on the grip/electric crew on the set of Mil Mascaras: Aztec Revenge.  I could tell, even from just these few days, that the movie was going to be very bizarre.

Leading thespian Mil Mascaras, who's name means "Man of 1,000 masks" is a professional wrestler and actor.  Aztec Revenge is his twentieth feature film in a movie career that began in 1968. 

Aztec Revenge is pretty insane.  You've got ninjas, a talking head in a box, escaped convicts, a climactic battle with a robot, and of course many hulking luchadores.  If Mexican wrestling, hot sorority sisters, jet packs, and lots of supernatural shenanigans sounds like fun, then Mil Mascaras: Aztec Revenge is definitely for you.

After seeing Aaron's rough cut, I know the movie works.  It is definitely unique, not just because of the above-mentioned craziness, but because seldom are movies this goofy so well shot.  The vibrant, often high-contrast lighting, the colorful costumes, great shot compositions, and visually interesting locations all combine to create a fun, comic book feel.  (The film's cinematographer is Ben Burke, who is also an electrician on Ratline.)

Mil Mascaras: Aztec Revenge has a ludicrous but engaging plot, and it is well told by Mr. Crozier, so that keeps you hooked in while you're waiting for the next insane event to happen.  I mentioned the climactic battle with the robot, right?  Seriously, this movie is quite a spectacle to behold.  I told Aaron that his movie is the definition of a "cult film" ...I sure hope he took that as a compliment!

After the Mil Mascaras: Aztec Revenge screening I zipped back to Wicked Pixel Cinema and continued pushing forward on Ratline.  In my last blog, I mentioned how sluggish, and start-and-stop Ratline post-production has been due to the project's financial woes.  This is stressful and upsetting.  But last night a very positive thought jumped into my brain. 

First, I'm thankful that I get to do what I do, whether it's being the director of Ratline, or working on other director's movies like Stake Land, Aztec Revenge, or Rhineland.  And it is this love of what I do that keeps me focused on my tasks at hand, and keeps me enthusiastic about those tasks.  Yep, Ratline post-production has gone on longer than it should have, and very often that creates great anxiety and anger in me. 

However... The positive thought that jumped into my brain, returning from Aaron's movie to continue work on my own: I am still incredibly enthusiastic about Ratline.  Despite the gray hairs it has given me, I still think the movie rocks, and it is still a pleasure to be working on it.

Thanks for reading.

- Eric Stanze

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