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.
The state of contemporary mainstream filmmaking is a farce. Bloated budgets, excessive commercialization, and pandering to the general audience has driven the mindful viewer to other media for intellectual stimulation. We live in an era that, as we’ve been told, would bring about a democratization of film, yet the same mindless drivel is defecated from major studios, and the amateur filmmaker tries his damnedest to shape his own feces into something representative of that. Enough shit! Enough with the hackneyed garbage scripts about cops and robbers, a man and woman falling in love, and flatulence to appeal to the 3 year old in the audience.
Let’s not rebuild the industry. It’s too far gone. Instead, let us embrace the past and build a new future: one that treats the medium of film as an art, not a business; one that empowers the filmmaker over his lofty financers and frees him to create whatever, however he chooses. For an audience that is finally media literate, we must create content to accommodate this literacy, and cease the cultivation of values considered proper by social norms.
We must disregard regulation of our art. The re-editing of a film for an American television audience is revolting. Never should the message be altered to shelter the viewer from art, or worse yet, to inject commercial advertisements. Television and multiplexes should not be the preferred avenue of distribution for filmmakers. They reinforce the flawed regulation and censorship that has plagued the independent filmmaker by influencing the social arena of filmmaking.
Let us then define ourselves as something outside the studio’s influence. “Independent” was stolen from us before many even had access to a camera. We are true independents, with zero connection to any major studio, and starting now, we will no longer behave in a manner that perpetuates the studio’s agenda.
We encourage you to join us. Wake up from the nightmare of viewers judging you for creating art that doesn’t resemble a “regular movie.” Forget the ridiculous idea that you can’t make something worthwhile without a budget. Dust off your dirty old camcorder, and capture moving images that stimulate you, and piece them together in a way that stimulates you further. Revolt against the studios and false independents, and inspire others to join the revolution.
I hereby pledge my allegiance to the DIY Kino Manifesto.
Art-house structuralists? Yeah, basically. Carlsson, Larsen, and I (also a plethora of yet unnamed filmmakers) have been making films in really similar ways for years now. Our films are sometimes radically different in terms of content and style, but we all agreed on a few basic principles in guiding our present and near future methods of production. I think it’s strongest concept is empowering the artist. You must write, direct, and edit your films. It’s that kind of personal touch in every nuance of a film that creates a unique experience for the viewer. It may not necessarily be “good,” but certainly unique. Isn’t that what film fans have been clamoring for?
I’ve had several distractions lately from Coyote, but I think it’s put me in a good place to get some major work done over the next week. I sat down with composer, Michel Schiralli, yesterday to watch the current cut of the film. I seem to have forgotten that I’ve color graded almost all of the footage already. It looks pretty nice, but sounds really awful. There’s a LOT of audio work still, including ADR with Bill Finkbiner that he probably doesn’t even know about yet. Sorry Bill. He hates ADR.
In my absence, Mr. Oberst has done some nice PR for us. He pushed a rough scene from the film at a horror convention somewhere in Middle America. According to him, it caught people’s attention, but I can’t help but think he’s a little biased about the project. 😉
So off we go on a trailer! I have a teeny-tiny idea of how to go about editing this, but hopefully a lightening bolt of inspiration strikes my brain soon. Mike JUST sent me a rough version of some music for said trailer. This is going to be great.
Speaking of brains, a pickup FX shot of a human brain should be done soon. I just picked up the mold to put it all together. Originally the idea was to use an animal brain, but there are more issues trying to pull that off than I care to list.
Here’s a photo for Mr. Finkbiner to keep him from killing me during our future ADR session. This is one of those f/.75 campfire shots that Nick developed. The only existent light source is a fire. Flickerbox? Don’t be a noob.
Full Disclosure: this post is by a cast member of Trevor Juenger’s COYOTE. On the minus side, this means that the author has a vested interest in the film. On the plus side, this means that he was there for the filming and knows what he is talking about (in a general sense…)
I got a mail from Trevor Juenger after returning to LA from shooting my role in COYOTE. It included this sentence:
“People are going to hate this movie, man – HATE IT!”
Hell of a tagline for the poster. Even though he went on to explain why he thought so by writing “They’re going to be completely immersed in mental illness as they watch it, and frankly, I don’t think that’s going to be a pleasurable experience for many people,” he did not say that he hated that they were going to hate it. Most strikingly, he did not say that he intended to make changes so that people would not hate it. My commercial marketing brain recoiled. People hating a movie is bad.
Filming with Trevor was an experience for which I was totally unprepared. He is brilliant. And demanding. And dark. I have worked with all of those things before in different directors. I like all of those things. I admire the creative combustibility of that combination in an artistic compadre.
But there’s something else about Juenger; something I rarely encounter in my commercial acting career:
Trevor Juenger doesn’t care if people like his work.
He really doesn’t. In fact, I think he would far prefer confounding, confusing and distressing his audience to having them walk out of a screening saying “That was fun. What’s for dinner?” Juenger wants to make an impression on people, all right, but he could give a rat’s ass about making it a positive impression. Or an easily digestible one.
Despite the accolades heaped upon his young head already (a film archive site called one of his shorts “the most engrossing audio-visual art film since Eraserhead” for God’s sake,) or perhaps because of them, Trevor Juenger seems to want more than anything to draw viewers into a nightmare…and hold their heads under the cinematic pillow he has placed over their gaping mouths for as long as possible.
I am an actor by trade, which means that’s how I eat. Actually, truth be told, I am not much of an actor, but have learned to be a pretty good entertainer. I would have done well in vaudeville (“what? you don’t like ventriloquism – wait – I juggle plates too!”) My first thought is always of how what I am doing fits into the marketplace I am competing in; of how it fits the supply and demand model. I am a statistician. I am a media whore. It’s how I survive. Trevor is an artist.
For the 4 sweltering weeks in St. Louis in which I was immersed in the bizarre world of COYOTE, Trevor Juenger continually made me ask myself questions to which the answers were always “No:”
* Is art-house horror, the hybrid genre COYOTE falls under, a money-maker in general?
* Are there many independent venues left in the USA that will even play art-house films?
* Is COYOTE easy to describe in one sentence? Or even two?
* Is a film with real vomit and duct-taped eyelids likely to be an easy sell to distributors?
But there are other questions (which I had never thought to ask until I met this guy) to which the answers are less easy to pin down:
* Is cinema a form of art or a form of commerce?
* Does art have to be pleasing?
* Should it be?
* Is it better to gamble that controversial art will find an audience or to make safe money?
* Is telling a story reason enough to make a film in and of itself, profit aside?
* When Trevor asked me “Can we do real vomit?” why was my “yes!” so immediate?
In the midst of a St. Louis heat wave, clad in boxer shorts and a dogskin (more or less,) I realized that I wanted to be like him. I wanted not to care either. I wanted just to create art and let it stand or fall as art without the constant grind of marketing behind it. The damned guy and his insistence on pleasing himself and no one else with his art had awakened my inner idealist, dormant since the first Bush administration.
Look, this whole business is a crap shoot. All of it. If every movie calculated to make safe money by playing it safe with 100% guaranteed people-pleasing content actually did make money, I’d say Juenger was doomed to obscurity. But that isn’t what happens all of the time. It does some of the time, but not all. The movie business will drive you crazy if you try to figure out what people want and give it to them. It isn’t like the audience has ordered a pizza. It’s more like they closed the menu and said “Eh, surprise me.”
I was recently asked by a German horror blog who is friendly towards my work to write an article for them on German horror films. Besides the obligatory Mentions of M and NOSFERATU I had to do some research, in the course of which I came across a 2006 German-language film called CANNIBAL. It more than disturbed me. I can’t say that I enjoyed the experience of watching it. Yet I did watch it and I am glad I did, even though I was troubled and haunted by doing so. Afterwards I thought of the elements in COYOTE that are likely to be visually disturbing (and there are a lot of them.)
And I thought of nightmares.
We all have nightmares. And we all hate them (while we are having them, at least.) Yet we will have them, on and off, until we die. As did our ancestors. As will our descendants. Nightmares must serve some spiritual (or if you prefer, neural/physiological) purpose. Apparently, we need them to….to what? To remind us that our waking lives are not all that horrible after all? To experience and file away the illogical fears that free-float around our hippocampus? To teach us not to eat cake after 1am?
Who knows? We have them and life would be poorer if we didn’t. Erat autem nox.
So Trevor Juenger made a nightmare. And I helped.
It’s a gamble. Trevor doesn’t care if people like it. I do. Neither one of us can help that – it is how we are each built. But while the damned thing is getting finished; all through the silent months of post-production; I will wonder if the combination of entertainer and artist might have resulted in something people will love to not like.