Adrienne-Barbeau-CANNONBALL-RUN

The Cannonball Run

After watching Smokey & the Bandit the other day, it made me think about The Cannonball Run, another Burt Reynolds vehicle also involving a chase across the country. When I was in high school I attended the Philadelphia Auto Show and got to sit in the Black Lamborghini from The Cannonball Run.

Cannonball_Run_Lambo

So when I saw The Cannonball Run DVD at Barnes & Noble for $5 I couldn’t resist. In my memory this movie was much more fun. But watching it today it really is a terrible movie. The plot is that an underground cross country race called The Cannonball attracts a group of characters–called Cannonballers–and the hilarity ensues or so it claims. But what really happens is Burt Reynolds slaps Dom DeLuise a lot. Adrienne Barbeau tries to get out of tickets with her boobs and Sammy Davis Jr and Dean Martin do whatever it is that they do. Jackie Chan has a great fight sequence but mostly he and his racing partner are casted in embarrassingly racist roles. Roger Moore plays himself driving a spy car. Terry Bradshaw is in it for some reason and a long list of cameos appear throughout the film.

For some reason Dom DeLuise’s character has an alter-ego, Captain Chaos, who Burt doesn’t want to talk about. Captain Chaos fights battles for the meek DeLuise. They refer to Captain Chaos as “HIM” throughout the movie. Farrah Fawcett is unbearably awful in the film and the only real stars are the cars.

Smokey & The Bandit at least had Jackie Gleason which made the movie worthwhile. But Cannonball’s comedy is so outdated it doesn’t hold up at all today. It blows my mind that The Cannonball Run had a sequel and that Burt Reynolds had a career.

View Askew Card

Back in the Day

The top image is the Holiday Card I received from Kevin Smith’s Production Company in 1997.

Me_Kevin

In 1997 I created Jay & Silent Bob action figures for director, Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy, Dogma). Actually they were Bluntman & Chronic action figures. I had a meeting with Kevin in Red Bank, NJ but his flight was delayed getting back to NJ from LA. I waited. He never showed. Feeling guilty, Kevin called me up and rescheduled another meeting with me, this time he would be buying me dinner to make up for the first failed meeting. It’s the least he could do, right?

So on the day that we agreed upon, I headed back to Red Bank. We met at his comic book store, Jay & Silent Bob’s Secret Stash–the original location. All the regulars from the View Askewniverse were there, Jay, Walt Flanigan, Steve-Dave…

Kevin was estatic with the figures, which eventually made it into Kevin’s MTV Spot and on the Clerks 10th Anniversary DVD.

 

We went out for Mexican, Kevin drove. We talked about his script for Superman which he just handed in at the time but which Tim Burton (the then attached director) didn’t like.

At dinner, he discussed the possibility of whether or not the company I was working for at the time (which my father owned), would want to make View Askew action figures as well as possibly creating the visual effects for his upcoming film, Dogma. Kevin explained how he would much rather prefer having an effects company on the East coast so he wouldn’t have to travel out to California.

He sent me a script of Dogma, but the gig never came to fruition, which I blame my father for. He didn’t have the vision or see the possibility of where it would have taken his company. Now his company is gone.

Years went by, I had a son and then was immediately divorced and life went to shit fast.  Kevin and I no longer were keeping in touch. The last conversation I had with Kevin was while he was in the Philly area shooting Jersey Girl, which didn’t turn out too well for him.

Today he has a TV series for fanboys and he pops up in every documentary on Star Wars or superheroes but as a filmmaker he hasn’t seem to have grown like Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez, who  also arrived on the scene at the same time as Smith.

Today, with everyone having access to DSLR video cameras and digital editing, many people are making movies whether they have the talent or not. On one hand it is an awesome time to be an indie filmmaker. On the other hand you have more competition than ever before. Trying to be seen amongst the millions of videos out there is an art on its own.

The other day I saw a girl wearing a shirt which read, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

The filmmakers who have talent can’t bitch if they aren’t working hard for it. And when I see the talentless working hard, at the very least I have to hand it to them for doing the work and completing it.

It’s been 17 years since I had that dinner with Kevin. I am still working hard. Whether I have talent or not is not for me to say. Filmmaking is a craft that I absolutely love. The meeting with Kevin led me to a small role in a film he produced. It was called Big Helium Dog, directed by Brian Lynch. It never was released so I am sure the film was shit. But I drove out to Red Bank for the day to have my head shaved and act like an angry cancer patient. No matter what set I have ever been on, it has always been a lot of sitting around and waiting. The Big Helium Dog was no different. But when you love doing something, even sitting around and waiting brings you joy.

This blog is a bit all over the place. It is a bit of my life history and a bit of  stream of consciousness. So take whatever you want from it. All I know is I am looking forward to more films, more people to make them with and more fun.

 

Dreams of Our Fathers - Joe Ruiz

The Art of Amelia vs. Cthulhu

aectWhen coming up with the concept of Amelia Earhart vs. Cthulhu I knew I needed an image to capture what I saw in my mind. I also knew that I wasn’t the man to create that image. I signed up with Elance and put in a request for a freelance artist to create the poster for Amelia Earhart vs. Cthulhu. Many artists bid for the chance to make the poster and it wasn’t easy picking the person to make this vision come to fruition.

I wanted an artist who could work in oils and who could create a poster that was reminiscient of the old 50s Sci-Fi / Horror posters that I love so much.

When I saw the work of Joe Ruiz, I knew I found my artist. You can find him on Elance here if you want to hire him.

He was a pleasure to work with and improved my concept with his own ideas.

The one piece that he showed me that has stuck with me ever since is his piece titled “Dreams of Our Fathers.”

Dreams of Our Fathers - Joe Ruiz

This piece is just amazing. I am so in love with it.

You can find out more about Joe at his website at www.joemruiz.com

Rebel Without A Crew

Behind The Scenes of Low & High Budget Movies


My two favorite books in the “movie making” genre are on the complete opposite end of the budget spectrum. The Jaws Log by Carl Gottlieb chronicles the chaos that was The Making of Jaws. This movie should have tanked. It had everything going against it during the production and reading it is just as entertaining as the movie itself. But the film gods shined down on this movie making it the first summer blockbuster. Movies and the summer have never been the same since.

The second book is Robert Rodriguez’s Rebel Without A Crew. This is a MUST READ for anyone who wants to make movies. But even if you do not want to make movies, this book is fascinating. Rodriguez puts himself into a drug study for a month to raise the money to make a movie. And that movie was supposed to be made to sell to Mexican TV so he could make his “real” film. But it was so well made that Hollywood began a bidding war over it. I have read this book a few times. It is fun and inspiring.

 

The-War-of-Art_Pressfield

The War of Art… Prepare For Battle

About a year ago I read The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, author of The Legend of Bagger Vance. I read a lot of books about art, or should I say the craft behind art. I’m going to say that I believe this is the best book on the subject. It will make you get off your ass and just do it. It clearly defines the enemy within and why we struggle with doing what we are born to do. It gives tips on how to fight the resistance within and how to succeed. When you see the creation of art as an internal war, it really opens your mind up to ways to conquer all the obstacles that stand in your way of doing what you love. For most artist they struggle with creation. Creation doesn’t play nice. It is never easy or pain free. This universe was created from an enormous explosion. Every day, mothers endure excruciating pain to create life. Babies enter the world screaming and crying. Things are forged by fire. Why then should the creation of books, music, film or any other discipline be devoid of pain and suffering. Once you see it this way you can use strategies to overcome and win the War of Art.

For anyone who is or has ever wanted to create but came up with a million reasons why they couldn’t or shouldn’t, I highly recommend this book. I am reading it for a second time. It is that kind of book–the kind you can return to again and again to uplift your spirit and get moving on your reason for being on this planet.

Tascam-DR-60D

And The Winner Is… Tascam DR-60D

After a lot of reading and research, I finally pulled the trigger on the Tascam DR-60D. I contemplated  the Olympus LS-100. I weighed my options between the Zoom H4n and the H6. I considered  the Marantz PMD661 MKII and pondered the Fostex FR2-LE and DC-R302. The Edirol / Roland R-44 and Sound Devices were just too pricey so I didn’t consider either at this point in time. Despite reading about the many brands of portable field recorders, I kept coming back to Tascam. Tascam is a name I have known for recording since my high school days back in 19..cough.cough..cough..when I tried to record songs using the Tascam PortaOne.

TascamPortaOne

The Tascam PortaOne

 

 

 

 

 

The Tascam models I deliberated on were as follows:

The Tascam HD-P2

I really liked the Tascam HD-P2. I loved the form factor and that it was designed for film/video field recording. It also comes with a strap and has the ability to sync with Timecode. I also like the idea of writing in the names of the shoot with a keyboard that you could attach. But what didn’t work for me is that the device is outdated. The connection to the computer is firewire and despite trying hard to read reviews on this model, there were not too many out there. For whatever reason it appears this device came out and wasn’t very popular and then was discontinued. That was a red flag for me. Plus I read several instances where the XLR connectors were rusting on the devices. Being the most expensive in my Tascam choices I decided that it wasn’t worth dropping $600+ on a device that didn’t really take off among audio users.

Tascam DR-680


Coming in at just over $400, this Tascam 8-track recorder seems to be a win. However I felt that I didn’t need that many tracks on my recorder. I will be eventually adding a mixer that will have multiple tracks in the future so I didn’t see a point in the amount of inputs on this. It was very tempting, At one point this was going to be my choice. I like the form factor and it seems like a solid piece. It is a quiet recorder and would work well in an audio bag. However, just like the HD-P2 I either found too little supporters or quite a bit of detractors. I wasn’t feeling this one in my gut.

Tascam DR-100  MKII


I am really impressed with the DR-100 MKII. I found lots of fans of this model and it has great pre-amps creating a nice silent noise floor. The build is solid and I also love the 2 solution battery option. The main reason I did not chosoe this model was the form factor. I wanted something that would work with shooting DSLR, either on my own or with a small crew–since that seems to be how I roll. The ergonomics on this device are very similar to my Zoom H4 and recording with the Zoom has not been a fun experience. It just isn’t run-n-gun-fun. I did consider getting the Petrol bag for the DR-100 MKII to sling over my shoulder but I just felt like the MKII wasn’t moving me forward. I would suggest to anyone who is starting out with DSLR audio to pick up the DR-100 MKII since it would be a great beginner recorder at a great price. I could have picked up this device for just over $200 new. That was really inciting since it would have allowed me to add more gear with the money I had left over.

Tascam DR-60D

In the end I decided on the DR-60D. It has been designed to work for DSLR shooters. It has a nice SLATE button to help with audio syncing. It also has a camera out so I can have clean audio not only on the recorder but also a backup on the camera. It is a 4 channel recorder and allows a 3/4 inch jack input along with the XLRs. For me that was something I wanted to use with my cheap audio-technica lav mics. I do a lot of shooting with my kids and I wanted to be able to create fun videos without having to use all the expensive mics. The form factor works for me as well. I want everything to be on the front as it is so I can put this in an audio bag or on a shoulder strap and get right to all the controls I need. I have read that the battery life sucks on this device but that I can deal with. I will invest in some rechargeable batteries and deal.

I had initially planned on picking up the 60D but as I tend to do, being quite obsessive compulsive about techie things (more like everything), I dove deep into the interwebs to research. Although I landed on the model I originally wanted I feel better knowing I did the reading.

I am in the process of moving. In about a month I will have a new place with my own space to do short videos to discuss the gear I have. So I’ll try to do a follow-up on the Tascam DR-60D and let you know if I am happy with this choice.

_NEF5294-4x6.1

Amelia Earhart and Kickstarter

Now that the holiday season is almost behind us, it is time to focus on creating a Kickstarter campaign for Amelia Earhart vs. Cthulhu. I am researching projects and deciding on rewards for the campaign and the best time to start. One of the most important parts of the campaign according to everything I have read so far is the campaign video. This is something I will be putting together shortly once I decide on what exactly it is I need to say in the video. When a project is for a charity or a documentary, it is pretty clear how to create the response from a video. But for me, creating a completely fictional world with mythical beasts and missing people it isn’t so cut and dry. My goal is to entertain and to do so with a fantastic tale. I need to get that thought across in a no longer than 90 seconds.

Growing up in the 70s/80s, I was fascinated with mysteries. The TV series In Search Of.. had me glued to my TV. This series of short films hopes to combine the mystery of missing persons with the fascination of myths and monsters. Is Bigfoot out there? Did D.B. Cooper meet his fate when he came upon Sasquatch? These are the questions this series of short films hopes to address.

Kickstarter makes me nervous, I am not going to lie. It is an all-or-nothing campaign. If I do not raise the money needed for this project it will not be happening. So I will work very hard on creating the best campaign I can and push for people to help contribute.

I had the poster art created first to get people excited for a project I know will be just a bunch of fun to create and watch. I also hope that these short films will create a great community of artists in the area to have a product they can be proud of being a part of.

Stay tuned as I keep you updated on the Kickstarter campaign and how you can help make this dream become a reality.

1 2 3 5