Diary of a Mad Filmmaker: The Magical Murderous Kingdom of Eat Street

The Magical Murderous Kingdom of Eat Street was not, repeat NOT funded by the Minneapolis Chamber of Commerce. But Eat Street WILL blow your mind, whether you like it or not.

The head explosion was accomplished from effects elements by Detonation Films (they have a whole bunch of elements available for free download), and inspired by an Action Movie Essentials tutorial by Creative COW contributor Andrew Kramer: Assisted Suicide. If you’re trying to learn After Effects, I really recommend Creative COW as a tutorial resource, and this is a really fun project to try. Especially once you drop in a few really juicy sound effects.

There is still BIG NEWS COMING for Terminal Philosophy, but I still can’t tell you what. I know you’re all on the edge of your seats and I’m sorry, but this has to be contained until everything is set and we’re sure it’s going forward. Thank you for your patience.

Finally, the included scene from Terminal Philosophy is one featuring Leroy Twarogowski as the God The All-Seeing, and of course Sir Vincent Gaggneepainn as Leo. This scene was shot on our sound stage and, on an interesting note, lit almost entirely with television sets punched up with a tiny bit of incandescent lighting to bring in some color. In addition to the two visible television sets providing light, there is a third, larger set on the floor illuminating the walls.

Vodcast delayed

Sorry, I know I said I was going to post it tonight but the editing was delayed just now by a Final Cut crash and it’s too late to start over again. Got all the footage, I’ll edit it tomorrow, and it’s a good ‘un. Expect it tomorrow evening.

Muchful apologies,

The Magical Murderous Kingdom of Eat Street

Here’s a short film I just finished for my foundation 2D class (it’s not relevant but I’m MAKING it relevant gosh darn it). A little background: a couple blocks from MCAD is a street that, due to the high saturation of restaurants, has been dubbed “Eat Street” by the Minneapolis tourism board. So I made a movie out of it for 2D. Here it is.

My roommate Jacob plays both the salesman’s voice and the conversationalist in the blue hat. My RA Dave is the second conversationalist, Willy, another guy from my building is the person who is far too excited about Eat Street, and Ben (Willy’s roommate) plays Pierre (the Bohemian guy), as well as being the boom operator.


Here’s the article about Terminal Philosophy from Poudre High School’s paper, the Silver Quill. Since the paper is notorious for its lack of proofreading, I did them a favor and proofed it for them:

Terminal Philosophy: A Student Film

Over this past summer, Poudre students decided to take on a large project. Poudre graduate Andrew Gingerich (Class of 2006) and Poudre student Parker Cagle-Smith have been working on a short film.

Terminal Philosophy – the Somber Tale of Leonard Noblac [improper capitalization] is planned to be [passive sentence structure] about 45 minutes long. It features Poudre actors (Vinny [sic] Gagnepain stars, Sean Cummings, Evan Riffe and Mikahil Twarogowski play notable supporting roles) as well as professional actors in Fort Collins (Gale Miller, an accomplished stage actress in Fort Collins, plays the role of Satan).

The film itself is based on Dante’s Divine Comedy. The Divine Comedy is an epic poem written by the Italian author Dane [sic] Aligheri [sic], between the years 1308 and 1321. In the poem, the author travels through Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell. [factual inaccuracy: the author travels through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven] The movie is a loose adaptation, set in assumedly [assumedly?] present time. The original poem is a much more serious work than the movie. It [which? The movie or the poem?] is a black comedy featuring absurd characters and strange acts of violence.

Production began last school year, [factual inaccuracy: preproduction began last school year] when Parker Cagle-Smith began writing a short screenplay. Andrew Gingerich, an already accomplished [awkward wording: consider revising] PHS filmmaker (Wholesale Souls, Inc.) wanted to put it into production. He and Cagle-Smith completed the script together, [unnecessary comma] and set up auditions for actors. At the start of summer vacation, filming began. [factual inaccuracy] Throughout the next couple months, [colloquialism] they would shoot at locations all over [colloquialism] Fort Collins, including Lee Martinez Park and an extensive song-and-dance sequence at the Ever Open Café (on North College).
Principal shooting [sic] has officially been completed, and they [sic] will be filming [factual inaccuracy: no film is involved] one last scene over the Thanksgiving vacation [poor wording: what vacation?]. For two teenagers and hardly any money, Terminal Philosophy – the Somber Tale of Leonard Noblac [improper capitalization] has come a long way [cliché] and should turn out very well. [speculation?] Expect more news as [as] well as [as] the completed movie as [as] the 2006-2007 school year continues.

[Article by Ethan Holbrook]

Overall, this article is rather bland and uninteresting. It’d be nice to get some publicity, but I imagine approximately three people read this all the way through. At least there aren’t glaring, malicious lies or egregious plot revelations. I guess this just goes to show that it’s time to put together a real press kit.

I do, however, think we may have found a new tagline for the film:

Terminal Philosophy: The Somber Tale of Leonard Noblac
A black comedy featuring absurd characters and strange acts of violence

Big news still coming. I promise.

Newspaper Coverage!…Yay?

On Wednesday, the first issue of Poudre High School’s newspaper, the Silver Quill, was released to perhaps a half-dozen screaming fans. If you were there, you probably noticed a movie review under the Virtuosity column.

The movie reviewed was Terminal Philosophy.

Never mind that the film isn’t finished. I’m also sure we can completely disregard the mention of nearly all the cast members who currently attend Poudre (Although Mikhail Twarogowski has already sworn that he will physically remove his name from every issue of the Quill he can get his hands on), or that in the title of the article Philosophy is called a ‘student film’. Nor should we be disturbed that nearly the entire plot is divulged in less than a paragraph (judging by the script, the film at least had the illusion of depth).

So the grand unveiling of Terminal Philosophy comes several months before its completion. It must be a good thing. Now we’ve gained an audience without producing a single frame of film, and we’ve culled the audience down to the manageable minority who aren’t put off by the explicit mention of Satan as an appearing character.

My thanks to the Silver Quill, for publishing the article; Ethan Holbrook, who wrote the thing; and to all the people who skipped over the Virtuosity page in favor of the feature: “In the Crossfire: ‘9/11: How Soon Is Too Soon?'”

Vodcast standards poll

Howdy, all! I’ve just got a couple quick questions about the future of the Diary of a Mad Filmmaker vodcast.

From the beginning, I’ve been committed to keeping the vodcast compatible with the video iPod, primarily to appeal to a wider audience and get a jump on the whole video podcasting stampede that I saw headed my way. This is why I chose to author videos at half-resolution (320×240 pixels). I retain this commitment because I know for a fact that some viewers do, in fact, watch the vodcast on their iPods. I also was committed to keeping file sizes down (I’ve done badly in that respect recently), which is why I chose Quicktime 7 over MPEG-4 encoding. However, something new and exciting happened when Apple announced their new products this month. A new iPod update allows users to download full-resolution (640×480) videos from iTunes and play them back on their iPod (not just new iPods; any video-capable iPod ever made).

Here’s one of the questions: how would people feel about having a separate feed for high(er)-definition vodcasts? I don’t want to release the vodcasts only in 640×480 resolution because I know not all of you have blazing internet connections (I didn’t either until last month). Instead I would offer a separate URL for the high-resolution vodcast that subscribers could use instead of the current URL.

Please comment on this post with your opinions. Would you subscribe to a high-res feed (even if it meant an average download size of 100 megs)? Do you prefer that I just work on keeping downloads small? Do you fear change and just wish I’d keep on doing things exactly the same way I have been (inconsistently)?

Also, if you wish, please let me know what you’d like to see in the future of the vodcast. I feel a bit boring coming to you every couple of weeks to show you a new clip and tell you that there might be light at the end of the tunnel. What do you want to see? Short films? Guests? Roundtable discussions? Personal drama? Shorter vodcasts? Longer vodcasts? Tall, arrogant vodcasts? Tell me what you want! The customer is always right!

Something to tide you over

There are lots of things going on (so many, in fact, and compounded by real schoolwork that I don’t have time to post anything or do a vodcast), but big news is coming soon. I promise. Give me a week. In the meantime, here’s an amazing quote I just found in Futurama:

“Well… editing is a long and expensive process, but we spent all our money on pies, so it’ll be ready Friday.”


Come fly the friendly skies

So… um… funny story.

See… I… uh… bought tickets home for Thanksgiving, and I was really happy because I got a great deal, and… well… it turns out I got a great deal because… I… got round-trip tickets from Denver to Minneapolis, not Minneapolis to Denver (thanks, Orbitz, for making this ever so abundantly clear when I placed the order, by both remembering my previously-searched departure and arrival cities in reverse order and printing the departure and arrival cities in six-point font on the order confirmation).

And because, for some strange voodoo reason, I couldn’t get an e-ticket, they mailed a paper ticket to me (even though they mailed it today, they say it will take about two weeks for it to get here), which I must mail back to them before I can change the flight And nothing doing using their cheap-ass priority mail which only cost me $17.50 (what’s the price of stamps now?); it must be TRACKABLE. So I get to pay UPS or FedEx $20 or so. And then I get to pay all sorts of fees (an “idiot tax,” if you will) of over 130 dollars PER TICKET (this means that, by doing all this, due to the low cost of my original tickets, I recover approximately $30 of the $313 I spent to buy them). Plus any fare differences. This comes to approximately 400 dollars, for which I could buy a whole new set of tickets on… guess where… ORBITZ!

In other words, I could theoretically SAVE a few bucks by NOT getting my tickets refunded. Does anyone out there know differential calculus?

The long and short of this story is that I will be putting a PayPal ‘donate’ button in the sidebar of the front page, under the heading HELP STAMP OUT STUPID MISTAKES. Every penny helps.

5 for a Dollar

We are offcially doing something again. The short short “5 for a Dollar” by Mikhail Twarogowski is currently in preproduction. I am currently looking for six actors and a location. I will soon post a date for casting, or I might just ask the people that I think would fit the parts.

As for Observer and their questionable nature, I will work that out with Mikhail. We need some sort of way to get into the E.R. lobby, we can’t just start with them having their conversation. It doesn’t work in my eyes.

Also, I need a good mic for this and subsequent shorts unless Andrew tells me that the built in mic is good enough. Is it Andrew? IS IT?!

If anyone would either like to be considered for a role, or have a location you’d like to offer/show me (please?), you can contact me at parker@exgfilms.com.

That’s all for now, good night!

Read the script

UPDATE: The script is now slightly different and longer!

Editing woes no more!

I have recovered the Terminal Philosophy edit files! Here’s a picture of me to prove it:

Thumbs Up

I mentioned in the last vodcast the horror of the Final Cut “general error” message. Well, you can rest easily knowing that the problem (if not the mystery behind it) is solved. I got in touch with a very nice film major here (he was one of my orientation leaders), who smuggled me into the editing lab so that I could hook up my hard drive and recover the files that wouldn’t open on my laptop. If you’re not technologically inclined or curious, be content with this explanation: it took some cajoling, but I got the files to work and now I’m back to being a part-time editor as well as a full-time student. If you want all the nitty-gritty techno-details, read ahead:

I figured the problem was something in versioning. When I crossgraded Final Cut so it would run on my Intel Macbook, I sent in the disc for Final Cut 5.0 and got back a disc for Final Cut 5.1. So I was a bit disheartened to see that the G5s in the editing lab are now also using 5.1—I wasn’t sure if the files would load on them, either. But they did. Huh. Anyway, they said the project files were from an older version of the program (true) and that I should re-save them in the new format. I did. I tried the newly saved file on my laptop. Still got the general error. I noticed that the edit lab was running FCP 5.1.1, while my laptop was running 5.1.0. Did a software update. Figured this must be the problem. Tried again. Still didn’t open. So I went stone-age. I opened each individual sequence on the G5, exported them to XML and re-imported them on my laptop. That worked, so I did it with all the sequences I needed, and re-built the projects from there.

So I still have no idea what was causing the problem or, thanks to the EXTREMELY verbose error message “general error,” what the problem even WAS. I’ve narrowed it down to two possibilities: 1) I have an incompatible video card in my Macbook. This is what Apple says, anyways, and it’s why Final Cut Studio is officially unsupported on Macbook. This doesn’t make any sense, though, because the video card is not involved in parsing project files, which is what was failing. 2) It’s because my Macbook has an Intel processor. This also doesn’t make any sense, because FCP 5.1 is universal and should be creating identically-structured files whether it’s running on a computer with a PowerPC or Intel chip.

If you know what caused this problem or have vast piles of cash with my name on them, you can e-mail me.

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