Wednesday, September 28, 2011


We have our project "MegaBalls" now with a line producer who will create a budget, schedule and script breakdown. We looking to see how close to our estimate of $500k will be, or if it can be filmed less money (or if we under-estimated and need much more...). Once that's done we will turn attention to a simple venture plan and approach/re-approach private equity armed with a better defined package.

We are pleased that the line producer like the script...found it funny and well written...and sees it to be a very viable project.

And happy birthday to Joe Cirillo!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cliff Robertson

We mourn the passing of actor Cliff Robertson. Cliff was an Oscar and Emmy winning actor who's work included film, television, stage and voice-over. He served the Board of SAG for almost 30 years.

A chance encounter 11 years ago created a running acquaintane with Cliff, who was not only a staunch support of the struggling actor but also one who believed in being pro-active with one's career. He read one of our projects, Hot Properties, and liked it enough to write a Letter of Interest to play the role of Max Conrad.

Goodbye, Cliff. Your friendship, support, talent and integrity will live with us always.

Still working on it...

Today I worked out a long synopsis of our project Hot Properties. The completed screenplay is based on a play I directed sometiem ago in New York, as written by Richard Wolf; we share the screenplay rights. We did three staged readings to packed audiences, and got a standing ovation each time.

Joe and I have also been taking bids to have a budget prepared for MegaBalls. We're need to see how low the porject could be shot for (the minimum), and then to have 2nd budget for the $500k projection (the maximum). This will also gives us a shooting schedule and script breakdown, and be added to the development package to appeal for financing.

At the same time we're working on the details of a true MegaBalls 'teaser', and how to finance it(probably for about $5,000). Then we can hire a DP w/ camera and shoot one or two pieces of scenes that will give an idea of what the story is. The money will allow us to hire SAG actors for the teaser - hopefully the actors we'd like in the feature film. We'll add narrations about the back story, and edit the teaser to 3 minutes.

Thanks to Elizabeth Wentworth, we've connected to a producer/line producer in Florida, Elayne Schneiderman. She has great credits and was a pleasure to chat with - and she also knows our casting director, Ellen Jacoby. Elayne has asked to read the 3 synopsis - for "MegaBalls," "Love of a Lifetime," and "Hot Properties." I hope we'll be working with Elayne on the two Florida-based films, if we're lucky!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Test results

I finally have some time to report my impressions of the Pentax K-x DSLR used in the test I did earlier this summer...and on the use of the Sony Vegas HD Platinum editing system.

I used a simple tripod and followed the user guide to get the best adjustments for the image. I was limited by my tripod which did not have a ball-head, but we made due. We did not use any form of a script, just a small shot list - so I could see if I could assemble the shots into a cohesive bit. One downside of DSLR cameras is you must use the rear screen in the video capture mode. We had a very sunny day, so I needed to find ways to shade the screen to better see the image. I focused while in the photo-mode, zooming in close to get a good tight focus, then zoomed out to the frame I wanted and switched to video-capture mode.  Considering we had no crew it was a challenge, but we managed.

I did notice one issue with the camera. It has an internal warning system to indicate if the camera is overheating. When the camera gets too hot it will shut down and take 5-10 minutes to cool before you can shoot again. I was pacing how frequent I shot, and limited the length of each shot. But, the outside temp plus direct sun overhead seemed to make the camera heat up faster. The solution was to just pace ourselves, and shade the camera when we could, especially in between takes. We only filmed for about 70 minutes.

Since we had no dialogue, we did not record sound. In retrospect, I wish I did do a sound test, using both the camera's built-in mic and my Zoom H-2 Recorder. Maybe some day I'll do a sound test just on something like passing traffic.

It was easy enough to load the 'footage' into the editing sytem using a USB cable connection to the Pentax. The Vegas HD program worked very well. I am impressed on what it can do for such an affordably priced piece of software. When I needed to fix/adjust something it was easy enough to find a solution by posting a question on Google, often leading direct to instructions. I experimented with adding wild track sound and SFX, music, and titles/graphics...all were easy to handle.

The final result was 50-secs of edited footage, plus opening credits, end credits and text totaling 104 seconds. The image was very good, even thought the Pentax shoots only in 720P but its 24FPS gives the image a smooth look. Pentax has released a newer version with many improvements, including able to shoot in 1080i. But this test showed the limitations of the unit, and in any future use I'll be better prepared.

We have not yet determined if we would use the Pentax to shoot the full 5-min teaser - I may be better served if I find a DP with a Canon. Both the camera and DP would be an improvement, and it would free us up to focus more on the directing. That, of course, will add some cost to the budget. In addition to the DP, we will need to sign the SAG Demo agreement (so we can use actors we want in the actual film)...add to that insurance, we'll need about $5k to shoot an effective teaser.

Over the next few weeks we'll go through the full length script to see what bits we could pull out that would not only indicate what MegaBalls is about - while being funny - but would be easy/practical to shoot and not require too many actors (and no extras).

It's a challenge, but it's part of our development plans. First the camera test, then a 5-min teaser, and then hopefully funding...and then the full project. We are giving much thought to each step, because there is much at stake.

Stay tuned.