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Blog Posts

Surviving Cinema - 'Let The Rest Of The World In'

This is a period of great transition for me.  At the end of October, I moved my production company Wicked Pixel Cinema out of the building we've occupied for 13 years.  The full story on that is right here.  The move-out had a great impact on me emotionally, simply because I had felt so at home in that building for so many years.  The reason for the move out was pretty simple...

As recently as five years ago, having a headquarters for our Wicked Pixel Cinema operations was very important.  It was not just a place for me to work, edit, and hold meetings.  It was a central hub where team members could gather to work on whatever was needed, whether the project involved graphic design, post-production, music, or DVD authoring.  Technology has advanced much in recent years.  The result is that today, most of what Wicked Pixel Cinema team members are doing can be accomplished from their own homes.

As I slugged my way through Ratline post-production over the last 18 months, I halted editing multiple times because we were out of money, and I had to do something else to bring some cash in.  I realized that cash flow would be greatly improved if I eliminated the overhead.  Paying for the space on Alaska Avenue and the utilities there each month represented most of the money that was being spent during post-production.  Compared to post-production of my last feature, Deadwood Park, edited at the same facility, there were significantly fewer warm bodies around for Ratline post.  The space just wasn't necessary anymore, so it made no sense to keep paying for it.  After Ratline editing was completed, we moved the company out.

I still own the building, and it will remain occupied by members of the Wicked Pixel Cinema team.  Jason Christ and Jim Wayer rent the apartment on the first floor, where they've been living for over a year.  Upstairs, where Wicked Pixel Cinema used to be, Ratline music score composer Gus Stevenson has moved himself and his music studio in.

Trevor Williams, Jim Wayer, and I reassembled the post-production suite in my home twelve blocks away, where I've also set up my office.  I have not worked and lived in the same space for six years, so it feels kinda weird. 

At the top of this blog, I said this was a period of great transition - and that is not just in reference to moving out of the Alaska Avenue location.  At this point I'm trying to keep as much as I can packed up in boxes.  My home may be the new Wicked Pixel Cinema HQ for a long while - or it may be HQ for just another month or two.  I may stay headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri.  Or, in a month or two, I may be operating from a completely different part of the country.  I won't go into any more detail than that - mostly because the situation is constantly changing.  Some opportunities have presented themselves, but I am advancing on them cautiously.  I really don't know where I will be living and working in two months, and that is both exciting and stressful!

I've been asked what my next move is, now that Ratline is done.  First and foremost, I must focus on the release of Ratline.  Producer Jeremy Wallace and I are exploring multiple options for distribution.  We are still not ready to sign on any dotted lines.  However, I expect a contract to be signed and a plan of attack for the release of the movie to be established before 2010 is over.

After that, I am not interested in launching a new Wicked Pixel Cinema project.  I want to advance, and one way I'd like to move up is by combining my skills and resources with other established production companies, producers, and filmmakers.  I've been my only boss for a long while.  Now I'd very much welcome a chance to work for someone other than myself - to see how much higher I can climb, and to see how far I can help the people around me climb.

In my "spare time" - of which there is precious little - I am writing something new with a writing partner on the west coast.  However, I have absolutely no idea if this will be my next project, or if it will ever get produced at all.  It is strange, where my mind is today, compared to my attitude at the start of Ratline pre-production in 2008.  Back then, uncertainty was the enemy.  The priority was to take control, block out the rest of the world, map out my next feature film, and make it happen. 

Today, uncertainly seems like it's just part of the process.  I've worked very hard and I've earned a lot of reward that I hope will be coming my way soon.  I'm not interested in again blocking out the world to make another low-budget feature like Ratline - a production that damn near demolished me.  I think my next movie will be better - and be a less agonizing experience for me - if I keep my mind open, explore my opportunities, and let the rest of the world in.  Because somewhere out there is that reward I've been earning.

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