Las Vegas

Tomorrow night at 10 PM, Coyote will play at theatre7 as a part of the Pollygrind underground film fest.  Mr Oberst will be there to answer questions after the film. 

Here’s a sample question: Why is your character so mad all of the time?

Horror Cons can go Fuck Themselves…

This is a blog post from last month. I’ve avoided posting it for various reasons, but since my blog exists (in my mind, anyway) to help the struggling DIY filmmaker, here it is in its hateful glory.

It’s been a while since my last post.  It’s been a LONG while since my last post with substance. I feel as though I’ve been too artificial in my posts lately.  It’s time to return to the ranting, volatile artist that drives all of my art.

I’ve been doing this little dance number for any potential exhibitor of the film.  I basically beg them to take a look at Coyote for whatever exhibition they’re running.  Generally, you don’t beg the people, you pay them a premium.  20-60 bucks just to give your film a watch… or potentially, to pick up a package from you and throw it in the garbage.

So when any of these exhibitors, be they festivals, conventions, film series, etc. gives you word that your film will be a part of their screening schedule, the natural inclination is to pat yourself on the back, and turn your movie over to the caring hands of an exhibitor.  Sometimes this is a pleasant experience, but more times than not, it’s a soul-crushing adventure that will leave you questioning why you ever chose this route to reach an audience.

The black hole of these soul-crushers is that of the horror convention.  I’ve now been a part of a couple, and I have to say, I’ve seen enough to never submit a film to a horror convention ever again.  I hope that you, my dear filmmaking reader, will take this blog article to heart, since it will most certainly alienate me from a few groups that might have otherwise supported future projects of mine.  An age old motto comes to mind in this situation: “Fuck ‘em.”

So let’s talk about one convention in particular, Parafest.  It was Coyote’s east-coast premiere, and I’m pretty sure a conspiracy to fuck me and the film as hard as possible, while maintaining an heir of politeness.

My initial contact with Parafest was strange.  I requested a fee waiver from the festival director; she came back to me with a proposition.  They would review the film for free.  If I was accepted, then I pay the submission fee.  For those of you with even a modest sense of foreboding, you’re probably thinking that they’ll most certainly accept the film, and they did.  Now they didn’t accept it because of any sort of artistic merit or because they saw something positive in the film.  They accepted it because they wanted my submission fee.  The festivals content was so low on their priority list, that they could accept any piece of garbage, so long as they thought they would profit off of it.  Still, as the desperate filmmaker that I am, I accepted the proposal, gave them my twenty five bucks (A fee that NONE of the good festivals have strong-armed me into paying), and we proceeded toward Coyote’s East-coast premiere, with the promise of Wild-Eye releasing, a distributor with a good track record, appearing at the festival and considering it’s films for distribution.

Following acceptance, I noticed that the con was offering to promote select independent films from their selections if you paid them 500 bucks.  They would put your poster on their flier, but only if you paid them more.  I thought this was a bit fishy, but cons need to make money too, right?  I didn’t purchase this advertisement.  Instead, I planned on doing what we’ve done locally to drum up interest: appeal to people personally with fliers and through conversations.

So Carrie and I went on an adventure.  We flew out to Bethlehem, PA.  (I’ve yet to miss a screening of the film) to see how the film would be presented, and how it would be received, and to promote the film within the convention.  Like other cons the festival room was in some far off room in the same building as all of the celebrities.  In our case you had to traverse 3 hallways and go up a flight of stairs.  When people showed up at the door for earlier screenings they said things like, “I didn’t even know this was here.”  Screenings were populated by the filmmakers, and an insincere host, generally less than 10 people.

So off we go to talk to people at the bar and talking to the celebs, right?  WRONG!  When I notified the festival director about my intention to attend the screening, she assured me weekend passes to the convention ( I really only needed a day, but I appreciated the generosity).  When we got there, I spoke to four festival representatives and two hosts about where to get passes.  What I was told?  I’d have to buy them.  So again, I would have to spend more money to promote my film.  Going broke on plane tickets I decided to forgo the obnoxiously expensive convention passes, and trust the hosts when they said they promote each and every film before they screen at the bar and in the convention center.

We sit through another indie short.  There weren’t enough people, so the host shows it a second time.  It becomes apparent to me at this point, that they’ve gone completely off schedule, and have failed to screen several of the shorts that were accepted into the festival.  Since I’m in attendance, the host says, let’s watch Coyote next.  I doubt anyone had seen the fliers that I distributed, since the ones we gave to the festival representatives, Carrie found folded and discarded on the tank of a bathroom toilet.  If they had, they would have arrived just in time to see the credits.

So finally, let’s get on with it.  Including myself and Carrie, Coyote screened to a massive audience of six patrons.  Two of which were writers for a review site called Vile reviews.  In my last desperate attempt to network, I gave the guys a copy of the dvd.  They asked for an interview, which I agreed to do on the spot.  They then decided not to do the interview until the next day.

We didn’t return for day 2 of the con.  What’s the result?  Our very first negative review of Coyote by Vile Reviews.  (As a side note: Is it funny that the names “con” and “Vile Reviews” reflect so perfectly my opinions of them?)  The review is filled with weird backhanded compliments, but insists that Coyote should have been a short film.  They couldn’t completely trash it because that would discredit the con, but they wanted to make sure the review wasn’t positive.  They sent me a link to the review today as though I should promote it.  Here’s that: http://www.vilereviews.com/Coyote.html.  If you comment with a “fuck you,” it’ll probably be removed.

In summation, horror conventions have one purpose: profit.  They have no problem exploiting the artist for his or her money, and have no intention of promoting or seeing the artist succeed.  Their primary focus is on the celebs, which may seem obvious, but sometimes we artists like to think that people have a desire to advance new ideas and voices.  If that was their focus, they’d be running a festival and not a con.

Coyote Festival Tour

So we made it into a couple of film festivals.  In the last few weeks, I’ve been out to a few offbeat festivals in the midwest.

This weekend Carrie and I will head out to Tennessee this weekend for two screenings at the unreal film festival in Memphis and the body count movie day in Nashville.  The week after, we’ll be in Las Vegas for the extremely cool Pollygrind.  Finally we’ll be back in the midwest for Peoria IL’s the Drunken Zombie Film Festival

This is probably as close as I’ll ever come to being in a band.

I just got this cheapo tablet that will shoot video.  I’ll update you all with some photos from the fests since these things are happen instantaneously.

What’s going on with Coyote? ALSO FREE STUFF!

We’ve done a couple of screenings (not including the one that was shut down) in St. Louis, and I believe there is another on the horizon in August.  There’s no official word on a schedule yet, so I can’t say for sure.

Besides that, we’re just waiting on the film festivals to announce their schedules.  We could be screening in as many as 20 festivals.  It could be as little as zero too, and as an eternal pessimist, I’ll think that until someone tells me otherwise.  Most announce their schedules in September, so don’t hold your breath.

I’ve also gotten some interesting inquiries from distributors and a sales rep.  I’m not sure what’s going on here, and talks have been minimal.  If we got a deal, that would be a dream, but again, I’m too pessimistic to think something will actually happen on that front.

…so I’m looking at the final two festivals I plan on submitting to, and one of them has the option to submit a screener as a VHS.  I thought that was really cool, so I recorded over an old copy of Creepshow.  It’s too damn cool to send out to just this festival, so I thought I’d do a little contest, and give away a FREE VHS BOOTLEG COPY OF COYOTE.

Our IMDB is pretty skimpy, so let’s do something involving that.  If you head over to http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2385041/, you can rate the film, write a short review, or participate on the messageboard.  If you do any of these things, then send me an email (trevor.juenger@gmail.com) with the subject “CONTEST,”  You’ll be entered to win that VHS copy.  I’ll even give you multiple entries if you do more than one of those things.  I’ll give you good odds too… 1 in 10 gets a one of a kind VHS… if you happened to do rate, review, and participate on the message board you’d have a 3 in 10 chance of winning.

I guess it kind of sucks if you don’t have a VCR though.

 

UPDATE:

Chris Many won the VHS.  He was nice enough to snap a picture and post it on Facebook.

bootlegI didn’t send him the batteries, I don’t think.

 

Film Festivals and Reviews

Since Coyote is finished, I’ve been working in two directions.  One is to reach out to independent reviewers to help reach new audiences.  From the responses I’ve gotten, I have to say, most of these guys and girls are genuine.  They aren’t trying to make a buck off of artists who live and die by their work.  Here‘s the beginning of what will hopefully become a lengthy list of reviews for Coyote.

In my experience, film festivals have been of a different nature.  Withoutabox makes it so easy for people to screen a couple of films in their basement, yet charge 50+ dollars for submission fees.  The economy of all this seems corrupt.  I’ve been told by festival directors that submission fees are the only thing that can pay for the overhead of the festival.  This is a terrible argument unless your film festival is free to the public.  It’s basically saying, “we can’t sell our tickets. No one’s going to show up for the films except the festival coordinators and the filmmakers. Give us money.”  If they can’t bring in a crowd, what’s the point in submitting your film at all?  Many festivals expect the filmmaker to do the grassroots promotion they need to bring an audience, but that takes longer than a day to achieve.  That festival isn’t going to pay for your travel or lodging either.

That’s even if they accept your film.  In my earlier days, I flushed a good deal of money submitting to fests with a mission statement that seemed to appeal to me.  Please, if you ever plan on submitting to any film festival ever, get in touch with the festival director before you ever touch a form (certainly before you cut a check).

That said, in my recent quests for suitable festivals for Coyote, I’ve found some really great ones that have responded to my emails and questions, and seem to have a passion about showing films that they love.  I’m clinging to the hope that I’ll stumble into some weird arena where festivals will be mostly legitimate.  Horror and foreign festivals have had a 50% (ish) success rate in correspondence, and that seems like a magnificent shift from my genre-less USA only search in prior years.

Here’s my suggestion to you wannabe filmmakers out there… When you do your research on festivals, skepticism is your friend.  If there’s a large submission fee ($50 bucks is way too much…If your job was to sit around and judge movies… not even judge them with forethought and reason; just good or bad… How much would you expect to be paid for your services?), and admission to the festival costs 10 dollars or more, something is wrong.  If no one returns your emails, that’s a big fucking red flag.

Please learn from my mistakes, and don’t contribute to a corrupt economy of scammers.  Find the festivals that are real people and support those guys, and in turn, they’ll support you.

If you find yourself completely disenfranchised by festivals, seek out those bloggers and inject a little optimism into your life.

VOD and Midnight Screening

Film’s done.  What’s next?

I’ve been trying to wrap my head around putting Coyote on some kind of on-demand service.  Vimeo wants 200 dollars to let you ask for money?  That’s a little steep considering they’re also taking 10% of whatever you charge.  Not much fun looking elsewhere either.  Aggregators like distribber charge a hefty fee for getting your film on netflix and itunes.  It seems like as an emerging distribution channel opens, companies try to take advantage of artists when they could use the incredible ease that online distribution provides to at least cut an honest deal with the filmmaker.

Any of you who claimed a pre-screener on indiegogo will probably get a private link from youtube of all places.

We’re mixed in 5.1 now.  It sounds great, but I’m just dreading authoring this to dvd and bluray though.

Oh, my, I do like that projection…

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April 26th, we premiere.  I’ve got everything in order with the projector and sound.  My last two screenings came off of a dvd, and sounded like garbage.  I’m really happy to have a quality screening.  Speaking of that.  The show is free and strategically located in St. Louis, Missouri to deny my blog readers from attending.  In the unlikely event that any of you can attend, here’s the flyer for the thing:

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Epic Timeline pt. 2

epictimeline2If all goes as planned, Coyote will be complete (sans Oberst and Mullen ADR and the score) by tomorrow evening.  My job will be nearly finished, except for that whole promotion and exhibition part.  In 2 hours or so, I’ll have all available elements placed, synched, mixed, and edited.  It is EXHAUSTING trying to perform the work of an entire post production house as one person.  I think I’ve spent at least 10 hours a day since December 27 on this thing.

Tomorrow, I’ll take one final pass at foley since I seem to miss elements on every viewing.  There’s also one more rotoscope I need to do.  It’s at about 50% right now.  There’s some processing and color grading to do on a couple of shots still, but that’s all really, really close to completion.

Mike Schiralli  came over a couple of days ago and embarrassed me with my lack of knowledge of adobe premiere’s audio plugins.  I’ve been experimenting a little the last couple of days, and I think I’m a stronger editor for it now.  Thanks, Mike.

Short blog post!  I’m going to run to my basement to film a dangling lady’s foot, and a corpse before it gets deep into the AM.

 

I’ve got a second…

So I’m transcoding another rough cut to bluray (I’ve been having a ton of issues with encore burning bad blurays), and I’ve got a second to talk.

Almost all of that list on the epic timeline post is complete.  There’s still the car stalking shot, but snow is preventing me from shooting that without a really weird continuity error.  Since I’m using those as a tool of sorts, I can’t have them without any sort of meaning to the film.  Where’s that heat wave when you need it?

Chris Bruemmer and I shot a couple of things yesterday including the credits shot.  It’s a pretty cool skull I made most of.  Chris finished it quite nicely with some mortician’s putty.  Did you know that crickets eat waxworms?  I thought that was really weird.  I probably should have gotten some diopter footage of that, but just take my word for it.

Tomorrow, Mike and I begin mixing audio for this thing.  I stress the word BEGIN.  This is probably going to be a long and tedious process.  There are still a lot of sound effects and foley to lay in.  ADR for Bill wont come until the end of the month, so this is very preliminary.

Another boring post.  I’ll give you a photo next time.

Music oft hath such a charm To make bad good, and good provoke to harm. (William Shakespeare – Measure for Measure, 4.1.14)

November 19th, 2011:  

     Getting ready for bed, I put my laptop on my makeshift nightstand next to my bed, so I could commence my nightly ritual of falling asleep to the Simpsons.

THE NEXT MORNING: November 20th, 2011,

     Trevor sent me the script for his newest work “Coyote”, a project he had asked me to compose the score for (If I was interested of course).  Before I left the bed, I started reading.  45 min later, after I had finished, I switched rooms to my dining room workstation, and read it again.  That may not seem like a big deal, but let me assure you, as someone with ADD, this is a BIG DEAL.  His script got my attention in such a way that I had no choice but to get enveloped by the nightmarish vision Trevor put before me.  It was such a vivid experience, making my imagination run wild.  It was dark, mysterious, and appealed to my sensibilities.  

Needless to say, I really hoped this film got made. 

     Then things got better.  How’s that you ask?  Well Bill Oberst Jr. signed on as our lead.  Bill is the most underrated actor in Hollywood today.  Period.  A true talent, and class act.

Cut to July, 2012:

     Filming begins during the hottest summer in St. Louis history, but Bill and Victoria Mullen went through hell for the sake of art, and their performances were fantastic, despite the sweltering heat.  

     In the next months, Trevor starts editing the footage.  In October, he invites me over for a viewing of the rough cut of the film.  Despite all the flaws of it being a rough cut, I was amazed, and extremely intimidated.  All I could think to myself was “How the HELL can I make my music live up to what I just saw?”  Not only that, the longest film I have scored before this was 6 minutes…  A far cry from the 1 hour 20 min (approx) of Coyote.  

INTIMIDATED.  

December, 2012:

     Trevor gives me a slightly more polished version of the rough cut to work with.  Having that in my possession allowed me to finally start my composing in earnest.  Being able to look at the footage immediately inspired me.  The 1st few pieces I composed practically FLEW out me.  Trevor immediately placed them in the film and they fit perfectly.  It was one of those amazing moments when we all felt that “YES – this is really coming together beautifully.”  

     Things are moving along now.  Here’s a snippet of a scene for you to listen to:

To all that are reading this, take care of yourselves!