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Confessions of a Working Director - 4/17/2009

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I've been spending more and more time in the edit room, toiling in the first stages of RATLINE post-production.  At this time, it is less about editing the movie and more about setting up and streamlining the workflow.  After all this technical stuff, I'll get to dive into the more creative stuff.

At the same time RATLINE is entering post-production, so is another movie I worked on called FIVE.  Jessie Seitz directed, wrote, and produced FIVE.  I was the project's executive producer, and I'm supervising post-production as Jessie edits.  The movie is about the personal trials of a blue collar family in a Midwest factory town - as seen through the eyes of a five year old girl.  The movie stars Jim VanBebber (DEADBEAT AT DAWN and THE MANSON FAMILY), Amanda Pemberton (who also stars in RATLINE), and Amy Rose (who has small parts in both RATLINE and DEADWOOD PARK). 

Another highlight of the FIVE cast is Ugly Shyla, who plays the imaginary friend of the above mentioned five-year-old girl.  Ugly Shyla is a sub-culture artist who's work leans toward the gothic and macabre - definitely stuff FEARnet readers would get in to.  Shyla's doll art has gathered her tremendous acclaim.  She also has an extremely impressive modeling resume.  But most impressive to me was how Shyla conducted herself on the production of FIVE, as well as how she continues to support FIVE's director, Jessie Seitz. 

When Shyla was working on FIVE, she was reliable and dedicated, even though the low-budget shoot was often exhausting, uncomfortable, and stressful.  And she delivered a great performance, despite the less-than-glamorous working conditions.  But most importantly, I noticed that Shyla treated Jessie with much respect, kindness, encouragement.  A couple of times since FIVE wrapped, Jessie has mentioned to me how much professional and personal inspiration she has received from Shyla.  Though I don't know Shyla very well personally, I've seen enough to know that she's an exceptional human being.  In my industry - and it would seem in most others - a person of Ugly Shyla's quality is quite rare. 

If you're not familiar with her artistic deeds, you can put your eyeballs on some of Shyla's artwork here.

This month and next month are chaotic.  In addition to RATLINE post-production, we have one final day of special effects insert shooting this month.  In addition to numerous other bits 'n' pieces, we'll be doing close ups of a severed head that RATLINE special effects man Jim Wayer has been working on.  Jim's workload is massive these days - he's been juggling RATLINE special effects, functioning as Wicked Pixel Cinema's business manager, helming RATLINE's marketing, and designing RATLINE's soon-to-be-unveiled official website.  This severed head is the very LAST special effect Jim is to make for RATLINE.  After we shoot it, a bit of the pressure that's been crushing Jim for months will be lifted.

Adding to this and next month's chaos... we are currently in the thick of shooting interviews with RATLINE department heads, to be used in the DVD bonus features.  Trevor Williams has transitioned from his job as production designer on RATLINE to producer of these interviews (as well as everything else having to do with RATLINE's behind-the-scenes documentation).

Next week Jim and I are going to be in Columbia, Missouri working on Aaron Crozier's first feature film, VENGANZA AZTECA.  Aaron has directed some very cool shorts and music videos, which impressed the producers of VENGANZA AZTECA, so they hired Mr. Crozier to direct.  Though this is a bigger budget film than anything Wicked Pixel Cinema has produced to date (the movie will likely get a limited theatrical release) it is still a very low budget film, so Aaron has had to call on his industry peers and friends to get this flick in the can.  Because I know what a big break this is for Aaron, and because Aaron has worked very hard for me on my past movies, and has always been extremely supportive, I scraped together a few days this month to dedicate to his shoot.

After Jim and I get back from the VENGANZA AZTECA set, I'll take a two-minute breather, then dive right back into RATLINE post-production.  Then in May, we travel to Dallas for Texas Frightmare Weekend horror convention, where I'm participating as a featured guest.  After Texas, Jason and I head to Philadelphia to shoot RATLINE's open credits sequence.  After Philadelphia comes the RATLINE wrap party.  Between all these events in May is nothing but RATLINE editing. 

At the end of May, I collapse.

Thanks for reading.
Eric Stanze

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