Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Most Difficult Thing...

Here is the movie we made over the weekend for the 48 Hour Film Project, a little comedy we like to call The Most Difficult Thing. You should watch it. It's all funny and stuff. Please feel free to send it out to everyone in the ENTIRE UNIVERSE...

Monday, July 27, 2009

We Did It! Screening this Wednesday in Royal Oak!

The Lionbelly Media team came loaded for bear this past weekend, and we successfully turned in our 48 Hour Film Project movie last night in Detroit. That was some weekend, and I couldn't be hapier with our whole posse and their creative powers.

In the next few days, after our brains have had a chance to cool, we'll post our movie and more comprehensive behind-the-scenes commentary of how the whole thing went down. In the meantime, we wanted to let everybody know that our movie is going to screen along with 12 other teams' projects, at the Main Art theater in Royal Oak this Wednesday, July 29th, at 6:30 pm. here's a map link.

A bunch of us will be there, if you feel like heading over to one of the coolest movie houses in Michigan and see what kind of trouble a bunch of moviemakers can get into in a scant two days of madness...

More soon!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What We're Doing This Weekend...

48 Hour Filmmaker: Detroit 2009

Well, it's almost here. Tomorrow at 7pm, we will be getting our official assignment for the Detroit 48 Film Project, and then scuttling off for the rest of the weekend to make a complete short movie.

Our team is seasoned. Our cast flinty. We have some great secret weapons in our arsenal. Plus, we like making stuff. What more could we ask for?

Whatever happens, we will post our finished movie on the blog for all to view by Monday, unless there's some kind of rule against doing that til after the official screening. Speaking of-- we are in the first screening group, so our movie will show during the 6:30 pm showing on Wednesday, July 29th, at the Main Art Theater in Royal Oak (directions at the end of this post).

Wish us luck, my friends. Next time you see anybody from the Lionbelly 48 Hour Team, we will prolly look semi-insane, but happy...

* * *
Main Art Theater
118 N. Main, Royal Oak
(248) 263-2111


Wednesday, July 22, 2009


This little gem, by the mad Canadian geniuses Jason Eisner (director) and Rob Cotterill (producer), is a super-bloody, profanity-filled, completely inappropriate for kids, hilarious little gem about Christmas trees getting their 'venge on. This is the same duo who made the awesome fake trailer short Hobo With A Shotgun, and here they up the ante in every possible way. Jason and Rob met on the set of Trailer park Boys, one of Canada's funniest television exports, which is a great excuse to give a shot out or a holla or whatever the kids do today to that show...

Check out the Treevenge site here.

Thank you for hosting this awesome bit of filmic debauchery!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Amazing Visionary Animation!

Good Woobly-Goobly! My friend Chris just sent me a link to one of the coolest animation reels I have ever laid eyes on-- the stop-motion magic of Tobias Stretch. Wow. Wow! WOW!!!!

Aside from the demanding technical nightmare of making the following 5 minutes of animated bliss (like, how on EARTH did he animate the two-headed wheelchair dude in the snow, without adding footprints?), the imagery is so original and manages to tap into some kind of organic creative space-- it's like we're actually watching an alternate universe in action. Did I mention "Wow"?

Do yourself a favor and watch this, and then when you're done, check out Mr. Stretch's other films and artwork at What we have here is a genius, and one I predict will become well known very soon...

Monday, July 13, 2009

What We Did Over The Weekend!

This past weekend a bunch of the posse got together and made up a movie on the fly, as we shot it! Well, okay, it wasn't COMPLETELY on the fly-- we had met once to discuss some basic character and story stuff, but that was all the preproduction that was done...

It was a really cool experiment. We had three actors (Kristin Beckett, David Serra and myself) and three crew people (Jen Locke, Sara Jackson and Walter Seibert), each scene was set up just a few moments before the camera rolled, and the dialog was fully improvised...

By the time we finished principal photography around 4pm on Sunday afternoon, we were all pretty zonked, but also I think we all walked away thinking we had gone well beyond what we thought we'd achieve. It was interesting making something in a more exploratory mode, rather than pre-planned from a script. I'd say the project morphed at least three major times, from one "genre" to another, and in the end it will be interesting to see what it wants to be edited into...

This project marks our first collaboration with Greg McIntosh, local musician-extraordinaire and guitarist for the Great Lakes Myth Society, one of this country's finest bands. Greg will be composing the music for this sucker, and I could not be happier about it.

It was also interesting for me, being on the proverbial "other side of the camera" for once, and having an immersion into what actors have to do and think about, etc. I'm now in even more awe of Kristin and David and Tom and all the other good folk we work with. That stuff is pretty exhausting. If you know any actors, I suggest patting them on the head and buying them a lemonade...

Since this project is in its infancy, we'll avoid giving much detail away as to the plot, etc., and leave you with a few photos from the shoot, taken by Walter. We'll post some more pictures a bit later...

Actors, ahoy!

Jen on the Camera!

Into the Wilderness We Go!

Belgian Holiday Noir-o-Rama!

Dearest Readers,

Once again, my little angel of a sister, June, has brought an awesome short movie to my attention, and once again it shall be shared with you. June is quite the movie finder, and in fact it's getting a little embarassing that she consistently outdoes me in this regard.

I keep getting to that one YouTube video with the monkey peeing in its own mouth, I start watching it over and over (because, hey, it's monkey peeing in its own mouth!) and next thing you know it's 1am and there' no time left to go looking for more cinema-esque fare. Sigh...

I'll do better, I promise...

Today's awesome selection comes from the country of Belgium, from the year 1996, and from the hilarious mind of director Vincent Bal. It is a painstakingly detailed homage to the film noir crime movies of the 40s, and is WAY funnier than most peeing monkeys. Seriously. Please sit back, click the little PLAY triangle, and enjoy...


Thursday, July 9, 2009

Aussie Awesomeness!!!

Holy crap! My sister, June, just sent me a link to an extremely kick-ass short movie called SPIDER, from some creative Australian filmmakers who banded together as Bluetongue Films. They just put a bunch of stuff up on YouTube, and it's all worth watching. The two we're going to link to are pretty darkly comic, but they make all sorts of stuff...

Here is SPIDER, written by Nash Edgerton & David Michôd. Directed by Nash Edgerton.

And here is the equally awesome I LOVE SARAH JANE, written by Spencer Susser & David Michôd. Directed by Spencer Susser.

These cats are exactly what we aspire to, moviemaking-wise. Maybe we can visit Australia some day, get one or two of them all jacked up on radioactive material, and then have them bite us. TOTALLY worked for that Spiderman kid...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Interview With Jay Dahl!

A few postings back, we featured the very creepy short film "There Are Monsters", by Jay Dahl of Black Dog Films out of Halifax, Canada. It's one of the best things I've found online so far and I've watched it several times.

Well, as a special treat to you, our readers, Mr. Dahl has agreed to be interviewed for the Blogatorium and he has much goodness to share. Some of it is of the technical film-geek variety, some is more about his philosophy of movie making, but all of it is generously offered and thoughtful. Check it out:

Jay Dahl, badass

LB: On the technical side of things, what camera(s) and format(s) did you shoot "There Are Monsters" with, how long did principal photography take, and what did you edit on?

JAY: It was shot with the panasonic 900 ‑ which is a couple years old now but we got some great glass for it ‑ we used mostly long lenses for the doc feel. The format was DVCPRO50 shot at 24p.

It took two very big days to shoot ‑ maybe 14‑15 hours each day. I like my crews small so I think there were maybe 15 of us at the most. There were only two locations so it was possible to do it in two days ‑ it should have been three but we were pushing about 15,000 dollars for the whole film, so two days was all we could budget for.

We had no money for an editor so I cut it myself on my Avid Express Pro (though I just bought a Final Cut Pro system and love it). This was my last project on the Avid system.

The online edit and colour correct was done on a squillion‑dollar Avid Nitrous system in a post facility. Even the effects were done in the Nitrous (you can tell they're just simple in‑camera, jump‑cuts or liquefy filters on the Nitrous).

It was mastered as a 23.98 hd project ‑ so I could easily go to NTSC or PAL or even a film print.

LB: What can you tell us about your thinking behind how you shot the creepy "grocery store" scene? When you are shooting handheld with lots of little zoom moves, etc., how do you deal with focus?

JAY: We use a crew for the most part ‑ we're all from the film world so we're used to having the three to four man camera department. For this film there were just two in the camera dept ‑ a D.P. Kyle Cameron (who also operated) and a focus puller named Cam Erais. We really needed one more but I like small crews and those two guys are the best east of Montreal.

I really wanted a 'video camera feel' to give that documentary effect. I think realism heightens the fear, so I really liked when it got soft and even asked them to rack focus during the scenes and then used many soft moments in my final cut (which of course the camera guys hate even though it's a stylistic choice ‑ these guys are pros so being soft to them can be a career‑killer move.)

LB: The acting is freaking great, across the board. How did you find your cast, and what can you tell us about working with them?

JAY: They are really a killer bunch of actors, I'm glad you think so too. I've worked with many of them before, and some I've wanted to work with for years so finally we got the opportunity. Usually I do a long drawn out audition phase as casting is EVERYTHING ‑ but this time I knew who I wanted for each part.

Steve Arnold plays the main guy and he is BRILLIANT ‑ he really understands that film is all about UNDER‑ACTING ‑ for theatre you have to shout your emotions but for film you just need to THINK them. I was blown away by Steve - there wasn't one bad take. The same can be said, I think for everyone. Kristin Langille as the wife is fantastic. Kim Parkhill in the store was brilliant as well ‑ the interesting thing is that she is gorgeous in real life ‑ our stellar make‑up department really nicely and subtly 'monster‑ized' her just perfectly.

The acting style is REALISM and if you haven't tried it ‑ it's hard to do. There's another short on my site, BACKJUMPING, most people think it's a real documentary. I love realism when it's done well in film: guys like Paul Greengrass and Scorcese get unbelievable realism, I love it when I believe it!

We worked very hard on the scenes. If I am shooting video then I don't give a shit about stock and just turn the camera on and run the scene again and again. I have a rep for doing very long takes and rarely cutting. It's tough on everyone but you'll get realism if you can reduce the FILMMAKING part of the set and concentrate on the STORY AND PERFORMANCE. Many times in film it's the set and crew that is the star ‑ I think as directors its our job to make the story and performances the star of your film.

Like I said, it's very, very tough to get something that feels REAL. I think we had about 5 hours of burned stock for a 10 minute short ‑ most of that was actor performance, so yah, the shooting ratio goes out the window when you do realism, ha!

LB: Your short almost feels like it could be part of a larger piece. Are there any plans to make a feature-length version of "There Are Monsters"?

JAY: Yup. There is a feature being made right now. most of it was shot last summer and I'm cutting it now. It has the same title. We'll do pick‑up shots in August and then hopefully onlined, mixed and mastered by December.

The feature is considerably different than the short as I only raised 300,000 for 90 minutes, which is a laughable budget but fuck it, I did it. Let's hope it turns out! Because it's so low budget one big difference with the feature is that it is POV like THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT and CLOVERFIELD. We just simply couldn't afford to light things as pretty as we did on the short, so we decided to make a mockumentary. Our package truck for the two day short actually had more grip and gaffer gear than our 20 day feature!

The feature is the story of a bunch of university film students who are out filming stuff for their school when they start to catch freaky stuff on their cameras. It all ends very badly.

LB: How did you come up with the idea?

JAY: Just out one day and walked past someone that had a funny look in their eye. And I thought, "What if that person was a monster?" Yup, it was as simple as that.

I'm also not a big fan of gore and torture porn. I miss 'good' horrors like THE EXORCIST and THE SHINING ‑ now everyone wants SAW and THE HILLS HAVE EYES ‑ so I wanted to make something that was really SCARY again, not gross, which I knew would be challenging. I also love the doppleganger myth and movies like that, so I knew I'd always do my version.

And finally I love utilizing the documentary style and had a theory that the more realistic I made something, the more people would empathize with what's happening and therefore the more then would get frightened when that world they thought they knew turned on them. I think I was correct on this theory. One of my favourite horror moments in history is in Ridley Scott's original ALIEN ‑ when the first chestbuster comes out during dinner: that scene is so realistic ‑ the acting is AMAZING ‑ the realism really heightens the shock of the scene. Still very, very effective, even 30 years later.

LB: You have made many comedies in the past and I'm wondering if doing something in the horror genre was kind of a lark, or something you'd been wanting to do for awhile?

JAY: Yup, this was a departure for me, there is no doubt. I think that I have been 'the comedy guy' for so long that people weren't too sure when I said, "Oh I'm making a horror". They even started laughing when the film began when I played it at our local film festival ‑ people again thought they were getting a Jay Dahl comedy. And then that little girl hit the window and I watched 500 people in the theatre literaly leave their seats - haha success! It was a great feeling.

My favourite filmmaker is Kubrick. I mean this is a guy that transcended simple visiual story‑telling to create CINEMATIC EXPERIENCES. But what I admire the most about Kubrick was his ability to jump from genre to genre. I mean he did war, comedy, sci‑fi, period, sports ‑ he could do anything. And when he approached a project he said to himself: "I'm going to make the scariest movie of all time, or the most important sci fi of all time," and then he'd go ahead and do just that. I sort of took a page from Kubrick's genre‑jumping when I started going down the horror avenue. I hope to do all sorts of films in the end: more comedies and horrors, but also definitely a WESTERN, and definitely SCI FI. It's like discovering the film medium all over again when you challenge yourself with a whole new genre.