Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Keeping the Faith: Surreal Endings and Exposing Yourself

It's now Wednesday July 28. Monday I got the music for the intro. Yesterday I sent my last note to Scott. That was the day he also received the final sound files from our sound editor Richard Ross. The film is now complete, and needs no more direction from me or anyone else. By Saturday July 31, I will have 4 DVDs in my hand. And on Sunday August 1, I will be on a plane to Dublin, Ireland.

While most people might think this is a moment to celebrate, I'm only pondering how and when I'll get the rest of the work done.

Things I still need to do:

  • finalize and send out the licensing contracts

  • complete list and schedule of film festivals

  • prepare film festival marketing material

  • write and distribute press release

  • plan cast & crew screening

  • burn DVD's for cast and crew and investors
These are the little things, but they are still part of the process. As a creator, whether writer/artist/filmmaker, it is our obligation to not only create the project, but to make sure it is seen, that it speaks, and it's allowed to breathe in the light of day.

It would be easy enough to take a photograph, write a book, paint a masterpiece, and let it lie dormant in the closet, gathering dust, left alone and frozen in time for posterity. And in many cases that's what we do and there's nothing wrong with that. But sometimes, just sometimes, our creation takes its own journey and we follow along, or drive the train. It craves to be exposed, revealed.

I don't feel like I'm quite done with this film yet, because it still has an unknown destination, a destiny if you will. So my happy ending is surreal... fluid, unknown, and floating freely forward.

After my return, when I've had some time to digest the production of it all, perhaps I'll be able to write then what I can't write now. Lessons learned. Gratitude unleashed. Goals and forsaken dreams. Promises and commitments. And directing, dear lord, directing.

It has, thus far, been a sweet voyage. And now I shall leave for my own travels - secure in the knowledge that I have accomplished what I set out to do, met my goals, and (hopefully) properly acknowledged and shared the journey with a team that I admire and love.

One thing I can say... I could not have done this film without the team of creative people who pulled together beside me and offered their time, talent and trust, dedicating themselves to this film while asking very little of me. That, my friends, is faith.

Keep the faith, and the world is yours.

p.s. Don't get me wrong. I'll be celebrating -- in Dublin, Oslo, Avignon and London. And I'll keep you posted about our progress later in August. For now, I'm making new memories.  

Monday, July 26, 2010

Museworks Logo Intro

It's official. Love it.

Notice the details... logo gets bigger as it moves up the tree. First you see "muse", then there is a flash, then you see "works" as it fades out.

Superb music - nice rhythm, subtle crescendo, sweet dissonance, and a shift in key at the crescendo. It makes me feel like there are possibilities in the world.

In a word, Magical

Outstanding work by composer Douglas Pipes, artist Jennifer Downey, and special effects master Matt Rhodes.

The image can change, but this is the theme that's mine, for any film I do.

Friday, July 9, 2010


Today, we got the email from Richard Ross, our sound designer. The film is locked. What does this mean? It means, my friends, that all video/pictures/frames are set. We are making NO MORE CHANGES to the film.

At this point we are "laying off" the sound, cleaning it up, mastering the levels, adding sound effects, adding music (so that it fades in and out at the appropriate times visually), and general scrubbing the sound so it's squeaky clean. Sound sweetening. Oh yes, this is a good place to be.

Once all this sound sweetening is done, then we will "lay on" the sound track (all audio files) and the entire film will be completed. Oh, and while the sound is being worked on, Mr. Scott (editor extraordinaire) will be working with me to complete the color correction process. Some scenes are white, some scenes are darker, and some scenes are shadowed. Nothing's perfect. So we will perfect what we can and try to create a uniform look and feel.

After these two Very Important Final Tasks are done, we will create our Master DVD file.

While it may seem like the end, or near the end, I still feel the weight of the work in front of me, probably even more so than ever. Each of these last steps is harder and slower than I could even have imagined. It's like dragging yourself through thick, goopy mud, when before you were jogging sprightly through the grass. Tough stuff.

In the midst of this madness, I have purchased a new bed (replacing both the mattress and box springs at least once), bought a new car, dyed my hair, and started re-training for an October triathlon. Maybe I need to find myself a nice poppy field to lay down in instead...

I leave August 1 for Europe. 15 days. Dublin, Oslo, Avignon, London. And I will be taking 4 DVD's with me. That's my goal and I'm sticking to it.

I hope everyone has a FABULOUS weekend!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Creating the Brand... courtesy of Artist Jennifer Downey

It's been over a month since I've written a real blog posting, but oh, it has been one long journey. We are, my friends, nearing the end of production. Final edits have been completed. Versions have been posted. Effects have been added, changed, re-added, edited and changed again. Credits writted and changed. Music composed. Licensed music edited, cut in and laid on the video. Conference calls with the composer. Meeting with the sound post-production guru (aka Richard Ross, AES). And, totally unforeseen, we had to create an intro graphic announcing Museworks. As soon as I saw the rough cut, I knew it was wrong, so wrong, to have my logo, or any logo for that matter, laying on top of the first scene of the film. That's a core rule of branding and something I do know a little about.

Spent a couple of hours yesterday at the studio of our effects master Matt Rhodes. Yesterday, June 30, was Film Lock Day. And although we didn't officially lock it, we did indeed lock the direction and changes to get there. I drove over to Oakland and sat down with a big fat glass of red wine (yes, it was quite delicious) and we started tackling all the little finishing touches remianing to be done -- which effects to stick with, which to dismiss, at what point we fade out the effects, etc. Then we hashed through the credits -- how to pace them, which to de-emphasize, changing the order, adding new names, adding music credit details, on and on. Then we headed into unknown territory: the graphic intro.

This is a little project I've been tackling for the last 10 days or so. Once I realized that I needed the intro, I flashed back to Jennifer Downey, our original storyboard illustrator. She's a talented artist and has a lot of really great art that we could choose from. So I perused her website and selected two images that I thought would work for the intro. But talented often means busy and despite multiple phone and email messages back and forth, we never connected live. But she made it happen. She was able to access the electronic file of one of the paintings and emailed it over, cropped exactly how I needed it. I thank God here for the blessings of technology (again) and for all the years of extended love shared among my friends. As Jennifer was getting ready to board her flight for vacation, she emailed me the image and went on her way. That's trust AND love right there. Doesn't get any better than that.

The image:  Old Wise Limbs
Oil on Canvas
24 x 44 x 1.5 in

So with our film composer on the line (again), we reviewed the intros used by Paramount, Universal, Dreamworks, and 20th Century Fox. Each was almost exactly 22 seconds. Weird. So we stuck with 15 seconds and created a little graphic "pow" moment for Douglas, because he's a musician and he'll like that.

The intro looks fabulous. Mucho thanks to Jennifer for making the time to get us the artwork. It's just beautiful.

Jennifer Downey
A native Californian, Jennifer lives and works in Berkeley, across the bay from San Francisco. After graduating from UC Davis with degrees in English and Economics, she pursued a "sensible" career in business. However, after finding office politics, hour-long commutes, dress-down Fridays, and cubicle confines anything but conducive to creativity, she quit, packed her bags, and left for Ireland. In the small, coastal town of Galway, the Atlantic wind cleared her head and she rediscovered her original love: art.

In her illustration work, Jennifer combines bold, graphic color with clean line. She is interested in how line and color interact--how an image transforms as one views it from a color-dominant perspective and then from a line-dominant one. She strives to create images that engage the viewer and make the accompanying text or message memorable.

Jennifer is inspired by wilderness, mythology, activism, travel, salon-style conversations, trail rides, the changing of seasons, live music, and people who see no choice but to follow their passions.

You can view Jennifer's art on her website or at
Check out other studio intros on youtube.
Dreamworks Intro