Wednesday, March 22, 2006

HPC in the 21st Century

I am pleased to announce that Happy Cloud Pictures is now part of the 21st Century.
Last week, we met with our new investor and executive producer, whose belief in us enabled the purchase of a brand new XL2, complete with two extra prime lenses, glass filters, a wireless mic system and a like-new Senheiser shotgun microphone.

Thanks to my screenwriting skills (not to mention my contract-tweaking skills), we were also able to afford an iMac so I can start honing my editing abilities in the pro format that God intended (the "blood money" I've talked about here before). It was the right decision. My aging PC with its deteriorating Pentium III just wasn't up to the challenge of running Premiere in the manner I required. With Final Cut Pro on the way (which I'll have to teach myself - *sigh*), we'll be unstoppable. Theoretically.

Add to all of that a new Century Stand that I found on ebay and we're filmmakers again! (Yeah, there's a jib arm and mini-crane that I have my eye on, but it's not a requirement right now...)

Just as I vowed last year, 2006 is going to be the year that Happy Cloud Pictures attempts to sell out. We spent far too much time in 2005 working on other people's projects while our own fell by the wayside. It became apparent that in order to do said selling-out, we'd have to upgrade our camera and microphones (hence the above). Now with all of that accomplished, we turned our attention to the appropriate sell-out project to go with the badass equipment.

We'll be announcing it officially in a few weeks, but it looks like we'll be starting with a vampire thriller called Abbatoir. After having studied the needs of several distributors with whom I have established good relationships, we came to the conclusion that vampires are always in. The idea was Amy's. After a particularly frustrating spate of time wasted on another production, we were on our way home and she blurted out, "Screw it! We should just do a vampire brothel movie!"

"And what would it be about?"

She glared at me. "Vampires," she growled. "In a brothel!"

So for the next few weeks, I figured out how to do this type of movie without going the Bordello of Blood route. And I did. And it we work it right, and implement it correctly, it will actually be bloody, sexy, stylish and very good. We're finishing with the casting now. The effects will be provided by our partner, Bill Homan, and Don Bumgarner of Cleveland F/X. I'm feeling very optimistic.

The reason I'm so optimistic about shooting a feature in five weeks with a new camera that shoots in a format I'm not completely familiar with? Two words: High Stakes.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, High Stakes is the short that we shot for JD Casey's Brinke's Tales of Terror. All things considered, it was a simple shoot - four people in a room for the bulk of the story. But because of the time-constraints of one of the actors, we had to steamroll through the script and the various make-up effects in six hours. The total script shot: fifteen pages. Total shooting time: six hours.

We can shoot Abbatoir in ten days. There will doubtless be pick-up days, but it will not be the gruelling two-year production schedule that The Resurrection Game turned out to be.
I feel very good about 2006. As I say this, I am conscious to avoid any white 'x's painted on the pavement.


I want to make mention of three things:

My interview with make-up God, Dick Smith, appears in Penny Blood #5, which hit the stands last week. I'm incredibly proud of this piece and Penny Blood is a cool magazine. Buy it. Support the publisher.

Sirens of Cinema #3 is on stands this week. It's gorgeous. It's the best issue we've put out. It looks gorgeous, our new layout artist, John Boone, is a genius. The articles are all tight and thought-provoking. Buy it. Support my publisher. (I'll be premiering this issue at I-CON this weekend in Long Island, btw.)

My good buddies at Secret Scroll Digest, Mike Haushaulter and Carolyn Oliver, hipped me to this new book, Book of the Dead: The Complete History of Zombie Cinema by Jamie Russell. Not only is it an awesome book... I'm in it. First, Russell twice quotes from an article I wrote on Night of the Living Dead '90 for Cinefantastique back in 2003 or so. And credits me for the work!

Second, he reviews The Resurrection Game. And liked it. He reviewed the horrible "Robot Epilepsy Theater" VHS bootleg from our early convention days. And still liked it. And he didn't like every zombie movie he reviewed in this book. In fact, he ended the review by wishing that someone with taste would give me money.

I don't know Russell from Adam. It's actually disturbing that I wasn't aware of this book in any way shape or form. I worked hard to build a grass-roots support for Res. Game, so when something like this flies under my radar, it's irksome, despite being a pleasant surprise.
So buy it. Support Russell and the wonderful Harvey Fenton's FAB Press.

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