Monday, December 14, 2009

Holiday Hiatus

Okay, okay, I know it's been awhile, but I've been determined to post something in December, so here it is, an official DR update.

There are a few things going on DR at the moment, even in the midst of holiday preparations and festivities. The website should be up in the next week and can actually be seen now in it's construction phase. Feel free to check it out. I always like looking at new developments as they're being constructed - one can imagine all the possibilities at this stage in development. I hope you feel the same about the site. We'll be polished and live soon enough!

The cutting is on hold until after the New Year. Since I'll be doing the bulk of the fine cutting, I've decided to take a healthy break to regain a fresh perspective. In the meantime, besides building the official website, I've been sharing the cut with fellow filmmakers and established producers that have been down the post-production and distribution road before. The feedback has been encouraging and constructive, and I've been collecting the notes. Needless to say, I'm excited about the outlook for our film.

We're presently planning another shoot day - there are a few scenes to be added that will strengthen the story - and another shoot day means more cash to raise. Along with the additional shoot day (in ABQ) we need a full sound mix and score, and some ADR, along with color correcting. A local (Brooklyn) producer, after viewing our cut, was kind enough to offer color correct services at no cost. Big lift. The cost of sound and music work has been estimated and I'm preparing to hit the street with my begging cup after the New Year to get the relatively small amount of funds to finish DR and get it right and ready for the world. I'm feeling good about the prospects of finding support.

If you factor in the day of shooting, the fine cut, sound mix, score, etc., the sum of that equation equals DR ready for any and all festivals and/or distributors early spring, 2010. That's the plan and I'm certain nothing will stop us from getting this done on schedule. We're all looking forward to sharing Desert Rain with all of you.

If you haven't checked out the trailer, we're on YouTube. Follow this link: We're also on twitter:

Thanks for your continued support and Happy Holidays!!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Trouble With Post

That's right, post production can be troubling.  I'm finding it's much easier to get people on board with your insane demands for the short term of a 10 day shoot schedule than it is for the long term of a multi month post process.  During production, you're in the midst of it, in the heat of the battle, and pure adrenaline drives all forward in lieu of hard cash.  During post, I found it much more difficult to inspire the troops on a daily basis and keep a solid momentum for the almost 2 months of rough cutting.  The other problem with post is this - all of the problems created while shooting are there in your face and require much more work to solve.  When shooting, you're always going forward, regardless of what happened before.  During the post process, you go forward until you realize, "Oh crap.  Did we REALLY do that?"  And now you MUST go backwards!

The plan now is to take a few weeks, probably two weeks, to step back and do nothing DR.  Then we'll watch the rough cut.  After watching the rough cut, we'll make a determination of what needs to be done to make the film complete and final - and what it will cost to do so, since as I mentioned, no monies in post equals less getting done.  Part of the purpose of the rough cut was to have a showpiece for raising the TBD finishing funds needed to make DR as good as it can be, so the plan is in place and we're moving forward on the plan soon enough.  What kind of things need to be done to the film to make it right?  Possibly a day of shooting (I hope NOT!), definitely some ADR, sound design and mixing, color and picture correcting (reframing, cropping, etc.) and the creation of a DR website with all the gadgets.  This is most of what's still needed, though I'm sure there's other stuff to be done - oh yeah, like scoring, securing rights to music already contributed, and settling actor deal memo issues.  Maybe that's it?  Maybe not. :)  

The great news to come out of post is this - we have a nice film that really moves.  We made a feature for under 10K and it looks great.  Overall, we did a good job and I'm proud of the work - it's a miracle the film is what it is.  We simply need to make it as good as it can be, and that's what post is all about.  We're almost there, and we won't stop until we get there...or at least I won't.

Our first goal in post was achieved - we thankfully and successfully made our deadlines for SXSW and CINEQUEST.  I really wanted to submit to DURANGO since it's so close to ABQ, but they do NOT accept rough cuts.  Screw them!  :)))  I'll have to find another fest within traveling distance, though I'm hoping we make SXSW and cast and crew find time to make the trip.  Next deadlines are the L.A. FILM FEST and TRIBECA, both in December.  Stay tuned...

And oh yeah, if you haven't seen the trailer, check it out on YT.  Here's a link -  Enjoy!  

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

We Can See The Light!

I know - it's been a dang month since I updated, but we've been cutting the film obsessively, every minute...okay, not every minute, but our goal is the SXSW November 5th and it took a mammoth effort by all to make it happen, and guess what?  It's happening!

Tomorrow, Thursday, we make a last pass on cutting.  Our intention (and it's a must) is to "lock picture" tomorrow, then prep the film for our sound mixer/designer, Richard Seitz, and our color correct/image correct guy, Charles.  Both of these gentlemen are pros and friends of myself or Ryan, and they're giving us their services for next to nothing.  I can't say enough how much it means to have such contributions.  I've said it in earlier posts - people have been so kind to us, and it's continued through post.  Rich and Charles will need roughly 10 days to finish their work, with no help from me, which is great news - we get a mini vacation from the picture.  :)  Maybe I'll go to a movie, or have a beer somewhere.  I miss those little things.

We've been cutting sound and picture for 6 weeks now, and we're very happy with where we're at.  The movie has a flow to it, it really moves.  It's clocking in under 85 minutes!  Our tagline will be "Come see our film and we'll have you home in time for Dexter."  

We're also submitting to Cinequest, San Fran Int'l, and Durango - we love the city of Durango and it's close to ABQ.  These fests share the same deadline as SXSW.  This is our first round of submissions.  We have a list of fests with submission deadlines over the next few months, and we'll hit them all.  After the initial round of submissions, we're scheduled to take a month off from cutting, then make another pass based on our fresh perspective, for the next round of submissions.  I expect that pass to be minor lifting at most.

Before being completely ready with this cut, we do have a few chores to complete.  There's more music to collect and lay in.  We have roughly 16 songs for our soundtrack, all contributed from artists we know.  Angie has worked hard to collect these songs, meeting with artists, going to performances, pushing them into recording studios...she's handled the music portion of post.  We also need to record a mock radio broadcast for the final sequence, which we have scheduled for Sunday.  We then lay that into the film on Sunday night.  We do NOT need to record score for this cut - we're submitting with a "temp score" and we've been in discussions with a few artists about scoring the film...including one major recording artist.  Stay tuned!

We made the SXSW deadline and now we're keeping fingers crossed because we REALLY want to make it INTO the SXSW Festival. Either way, we'll get in somewhere out there, and we will certainly spread the word when it happens. Desert Rain will be coming to a film fest near you soon enough! :)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lessons Learned

It's exactly a week since we arrived back in New York after making DR in Albuquerque, and with a week of R&R mixed with watching and reviewing the footage, I've had the chance to digest what it is we did in those two weeks in the desert, and how we can do things differently next time.  Next time???   I know, we just got back and there's still work to do on this one, but I'm so excited about the footage I can't help but believe "next time" is going to come before we know it - I'm already churning with ideas. 

So here are a few lessons learned in the making of Desert Rain:

This one is a maybe...still thinking about it, but I'm thinking next time I will NOT shoot in sequence, or at least not shoot the 1st scene on the first day.  The reason?  The opening of your film should be strong - in our opening, our leads get evicted and have their car repossessed.  The strength is there in content, but when I say strong, in this case I mean strong technically...the camera work should be solid, performance solid, direction solid...all across the board.  On the 1st day of shooting you're probably NOT going to be there yet.  We needed time to warm up - we really hit a stride a few days in, but up front we were still searching, and though the audience may still be searching early as well, still getting to know us, I think you want to start with something less significant on the front end of your schedule.  I said maybe to open this statement - the maybe lies in the fact that MAYBE the actors benefited from starting at the beginning.  They really grew into the characters as the story evolved and the drama heightened.

Which leads me to my next lesson - rehearse.  We had the opportunity to do this, but I chose NOT to.  I get bored easily, so I thought it would benefit all if the scenes were fresh to us, especially me.  I was wrong.  I SOOO enjoyed working with the actors, that I wish I would have spent a little more time rehearsing scenes.  There were plenty of discussions beforehand - we really searched for answers together - but maybe we should have played some stuff out before the cameras rolled...again, maybe...I know, I'm so wishy washy.

If you want to direct, get a DP!  I have plenty of experience shooting and operating camera.  Some people actually think I'm pretty good at it.  Most of the footage in DR is striking, but some of the shots reminded me of the fact that I was wearing 10 hats at once, and if the direction didn't suffer, the photography did, and if the photography didn't suffer, the craft service did.  Point is, you can't do it all, especially if you're directing.  I tried to get a DP but it didn't work out.  In the end, I hope most people think I'm crazy for suggesting anyone else could have shot this film the way I did, but that may be wishful thinking.  Next time, I get a DP, even if I win awards for the photography.

Use a friggin' monitor!  I had all these wonderful ideas in pre-production.  One of them was, if we want to make a feature in 10 days (we needed 11 plus a b unit day) you can't have people standing around looking at a monitor.  I figured the flip screen on the camera was enough, well guess what, it's not!  The damn thing lied to me!  The actual image projects slightly wider than the screen, and in some shots we see things in the frame, like boom poles, and camera filter holders, that I did NOT see when shooting.  We'll need to crop and resize a few images because of it.  I think we did work faster without the monitor, but a little 7" screen would have been just fine, even if it meant an extra day of shooting.  Use a monitor people - I will for sure next time.

Work with what you have.  We DID do this, so in this case I'm stating something that worked for us and allowed us to achieve our goal.  We shot with the money we thought we could actually raise and did not aim higher - we can get X amount of dollars, that's our budget.  We used locations we knew well and had ties or ins to, we used cast members we knew or came referred, wardrobe and props we owned, and so on and so on...the car Dan and Skye drive throughout the film is actually owned by our lead actor, Dan Van Hart!  That's the way to make a no-budge film!

Here's another thing we did - we were ambitious in our story.  We raised the stakes.  Many indies think they need to have two people in a room talking about shit no one cares about, except the filmmakers and their friends and family.  We took an indie, maverick attitude toward our production technique, and applied that shooting method to a film with high stakes, action, and drama.  We have fights, a kidnapping, a car crash, a crazy number of locations, police vehicles, and guns.  Our characters make tough decisions that lead to real consequences.  The story twists and turns.  There's little sit and talk here - we really went for it.  We're taking the audience on a ride.  That's what you need to do at any budget level.  It's not easy.  You have to be ambitious and find a way.  That was our greatest strength - making big things happen with the very little we had.  And you know how we did it...

Don't take no for an answer!  It takes a lot of effort to make a film - ask anyone who does it or anyone who was around us when we made the film.  It also takes a lot of guts and moxie.  Use that moxie.  Let someone know when they say no, that's not acceptable - you're blood and guts are in this thing.  We shot at a popular restaurant in ABQ.  We had permission to be there, but there was one issue - the music was on.  We asked to have it turned off while we shot our scene for sound considerations (and music clearance issues!) - keep in mind, they were still operating as we filmed.  We were told no, they couldn't turn it off - it would turn off their whole PA system.  I told the manager, look, we've been out here making this movie for 10 days now, we're working our ass off to create this thing, it means a lot to ALL of us this little thing we're doing and if he could take one minute to go downstairs and turn this music off for no more than 20 minutes I would really, really appreciate it.  I pleaded with the guy - he saw how much it meant to me, and he did it.  We got the shot.  We had moments like this everyday, weaseling our way in and out of locations and trouble...our will and determination guided us past these obstacles.  We NEVER took no for an answer - not once.  With no insurance.  With no money to offer.  With no permits - we always pressed for a yes, and we got it.

Last thing I'll say here, and we did this, so I guess again it's not REALLY a lesson learned, but sometimes we DID lose sight of this simple idea - enjoy yourself!  There's nothing more exciting to me than making movies and if you're going to do it, enjoy it, the whole process, good and bad.  There's no experience like it, it comes and goes so fast, so enjoy it, relish it, have a laugh, live in that moment...and then do it all again next time. :)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Wrapped and back in Brooklyn

The wonderful and exhausting experience that was Desert Rain has officially entered the next phase.  We finished shooting Thursday evening and got sloshed on homemade margaritas.  Of course, we had to watch dailies during the wrap party and in the course of our celebration we somehow lost track of Tape #7.  Thankfully it's backed up to hard drive, but losing tapes is not something you want to do when you work so hard to get the footage.  We couldn't look thoroughly enough before leaving Albuquerque Friday afternoon, but I'm praying it shows up in the next day or so.  A running line throughout shooting was "lucky take 7" - it's fitting that the number 7 has taken center stage in the missing tape saga.  

In the end we recorded just under 30 hours of footage for a 90 minute film.  That's roughly 20:1 on the shooting ratio, which gives us plenty of choices in post.  My gut feeling tells me we have 97% of the film, if not all of it.  There's a phone call we need to shoot (we'll shoot it here in NY) and there could be one or two beats missing from the story. Technically, we have some sound and camera issues that can probably be salvaged in post, but maybe not.  Put all of this together and it could mean another day of shooting back in Albuquerque to complete the film. I hope to avoid it - we all do - but 11 days to shoot a feature is a ridiculous pace, and if we need a day of pickups, I can live with it.  We may have no choice.

I'd like to take this moment to thank my super duper cast and crew - everyone worked so hard.  I saw this movie in my head well before we started shooting, and all involved helped me realize that vision.  It was incredible to see shots and scenes come off exactly the way I envisioned, and I owe it all to them - they worked like dogs and never wavered.  We all came together, we all believed.  The experience was like no other, for me personally, and it was largely because of the people around me.  Thanks guys!

I'm excited to be back in Brooklyn, relaxing some, and even more excited to be dropping the footage with my editor, Matt Zoller Seitz, this coming Monday - I truly feel we have a great little film.  Shooting the movie was an ambitious venture, and I'm counting on that ambitious spirit to drive us through post and beyond.  Our sights are set on the SXSW November deadline - yeah, quite ambitious indeed.  

Monday, September 7, 2009

More Fun In The Sun


This has been an exhausting experience, but even more than exhausting, it's been amazing.  I always adhere to the Goethe quote about commitment - to paraphrase, when you commit to something, anything, all else follows.  The commitment to make our film has proven this to be true - everywhere we've turned in Albuquerque there's been a helping, welcoming hand, and every time we were challenged or needed to get something done, it's happened.  We've truly been blessed through our first 8 days of shooting (plus a 9th day of B Unit).

The next three days will be our last days of filming.  We have a jam packed schedule for the next two, with a little less to do on our last day, Thursday the 10th.  We're close to realizing the goal we set out to achieve - getting a feature film in the can.  11 days of principal and 1 day of b-unit have us right on the cusp of having all the footage needed.  My only concern in falling short is our ambitious schedule these next two days.  On the other hand, I find solace in the fact that we've averaged 9-10 pages a day thus far - we've made every day without fail - and I'm confident we'll find a way once again.

Shooting here in the 'Burque has been a joy.  It's always sunny (probably like LA before all the smog), there's no noise, or distractions, or parking issues.  Everything comes cheap and easy it seems...maybe a little slow. :)  But all of us have been amazed with what we've been able to get on a daily basis.  We have no insurance, no permits, and no money, but we shoot at will, wherever and whenever we want.  It's so liberating.  For instance, on Day #6 we shot a scene in the film that calls for Dan, our lead, to run into a gas station and rob the store at gunpoint.  We secured the location (for free, like most of the other locations) but we failed to tell the owner about the armed robbery...ooops.  No problem.  We talked him into it, and he ran his business between takes, as we had our guy running in and out of the place with a gun and then speeding away.  This is the story throughout - on most days we show up at a place, stage our shot, roll it, cut it, and get lost, no questions asked, no disturbances, and no cash demanded.  Try that in NY or LA!

As we come down the stretch, I can't say enough about how much of an impact this experience has had on me personally.  Anything is possible if you believe.  I think the crew and cast feel it as well.  We're like modern day cowboys in the wild west just taking what's ours, and it feels incredible.  I owe the world to our minuscule, multi-tasking crew - Angie Morrow (Producer), Ryan Pearson (Producer), Tito Sanchez (Co-Producer), Miles Vedder (Sound), and Olajide Kashu (Production Assist).  Without them, we have nothing.  This small group, including myself, are handling all the duties usually reserved for a crew of at least 50 on most indie productions, and up to 250 on major motion pictures.  We're not cutting any corners, we're simply trying new ways to make it happen and we're working our asses off.  The dailies look great - I couldn't be happier, and I can't wait to share Desert Rain with all of you.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

30 Pages "In The Can"

That's right, 4 days in, 30 pages done - that's a very fast pace.  We're all working like dogs, and I barely have enough energy to write this entry, so I'll keep it brief.

Day 3 was our first bump in the road.  We shot some incredible footage (the dailies were encouraging) but it seemed everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.  We did make our intended page count for the day, but it was tough as hell...and hot as hell!

We picked ourselves up nicely today.  It seemed all of us were determined to make today a good one, and it was probably our best yet. Brea Cola killed it in her performance, and all around the cast and crew worked at a high level.

Enjoy the pics - I need to get some sleep.  I have a 645am wakeup for a 930 call.  No sleep till Brooklyn. :)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Cameras Rolling

It's been an exhausting week.  Everything happened at once - monies, script, cast, locations, all rolled together, a massive wave of happenings.  We went non-stop for the most part. The core of our team - myself, Angie, and Ryan Pearson, a producer who saved our butt on the funding - have averaged about 5 hours sleep per night.  My mantra has become No Sleep Till Brooklyn - we return home on the 11th, hopefully with a completed feature under our belt.

The week culminated with Shoot Day #1 this past Friday, the 28th.  I figured if we got the first day in the books, we could reconvene over the weekend and figure out where we need to shore things up.  The strategy worked well - we spent this entire weekend making the necessary adjustments.  The shoot day itself was a great success.  We completed 8 pages of script in a shade under 12 hours.  Not bad for a 1st shoot day.  Our total crew size is 5, so we're all working like dogs, but we had a blast doing it.  

My favorite part of the day was during a company move (moving from one location to the next). I had planned to shoot some road side shots of Dan and Skye trekking through the streets of Albuquerque in the blazing sun, but I also left open the possibility of shooting on a city bus if it came along - it did!  We had 3 bucks in change ready to go, and the 3 of us hopped on the bus, ready to shoot.  There was no objection from the bus driver, so we shot on the bus for roughly half hour.  As we filmed on the bus, our two support vehicles followed the bus as best they could.  It was a great example of the beauty in working small.  It's a liberating thing to be able to hop on the city bus and shoot in real situations with your actors.  The results are amazing - I think we now have the footage for our opening title sequence. :)

Looking forward to Day #2 in the morn.  This week will be a tough one.  We're shooting 7 straight days, with plans to take off next Monday and Tuesday.  Those plans are looking shaky right now as the schedule has tightened up - we may need to shoot on those days after all.  But hey, whatever it takes to get back to Brooklyn with a feature film in our hands. :)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Desert Rain Shuffle

We're trying to make the schedule work for all and the biggest juggle is our lead actor. Since we're no-budge, he needs to maintain shifts at his day job so he can earn cash for rent and keep the job.  At the same time, we need to make the movie by any means, and I'm really trying to avoid nights, though in some cases that's not possible. We're a 10 day shoot, and I'm frantically putting the pieces together to make it work for us and him.

From where I'm sitting right now, everything looks good, other than the lead actor scheduling issue.  We have 75% of the necessary funds in place, and we're about 80% cast. I'm struggling with the idea of bringing an established actor from NY for a small yet central role to the story. He's the perfect look/type but the cost involved and the hassle of transpo/lodging/meals around the clock is making the decision difficult.  I need to let him know by tomorrow.

Locations are coming together.  I have one location that I'm being quite particular about (ROB and DIANE'S place) and my first option fell through.  We found the perfect house on the top of a hill, overlooking the Sandia Mountains (pictured above).  It was for sale, so no residents to deal with, and it was furnished!  The real estate broker was asking way too much to shoot there so we had to move on and we're still looking.  Plenty of time to find it, and that's not bad - one location up in the air with more than two weeks out from the scheduled shoot date.

I'm halfway through the script (some scenes need to be fleshed further) and I hope to have the 2nd half done by Friday, though it's more likely to go through the weekend.  That's fine.  I'm shooting mostly in sequence, so if I deliver Monday, that gives actors more than a week to get familiar with the material.  The dialogue is more a placeholder than anything else.  I expect to rework as we shoot and allow for plenty of improv.  My anxieties over script and story are close to quelled - I feel good about where we are in that regard.  So what AM I worried about?  Not a thing - we're making a movie, not rebuilding a nation!  This is fun stuff and I'm enjoying the process.  My goal is to pass that enjoyment on to all involved in the making of DESERT RAIN.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Funds and Cast

An early promo shot for DESERT RAIN. 

Monies trickling in, slowly but surely. Yesterday was a great day for fundraising, and besides actual funds being promised (about 40% of the budget yesterday) I also found a few good leads to more cash. Definitely encouraging. Raising funds for a film is not easy and I've spent more time making phone calls and sending emails to raise funds than I have working on story and script. That needs to reverse itself real soon. Sure, I have the outline, I know the story, and I have script pages, but actors get anxious without something to work from. Understandable. But I'm of the belief that if we have everything we need to shoot, especially on a project like this - microbudge, guerilla-style - we can find the scenes when we're out there. I like the idea of discovering as we go, within the framework of the outline. Many filmmakers have worked that formula to great success, and I'm confident we can do the same.

Speaking of actors, I got two HUGE commitments yesterday. JAMES MADIO will play a small but crucial role as ROB, SKYE'S brother in-law who refuses Skye and DAN help in the middle of the story, prompting them to kidnap Rob and DIANE'S 5 year-old son, DYLAN. James is a friend and talented actor and I'm thankful he'll be joining us.

The role of LEFTY, the local music producer who has put Dan and Skye in the tough spot they're in by accepting $5000 of Dan's money to promote his demo and singing career, will be played by BREA COLA. I should have preceded this announcement with the classic "SPOILER ALERT "- throughout the film we don't know that Lefty is a woman and former girlfriend of Dan. But maybe I'll change it after all. You'll have to watch and see. :)

JESUS JR., an ABQ local, will play RICO. Jesus is one of the biggest guys you will ever meet, and I'm glad he's working with us, and not against us. The second I laid eyes on him I knew he was the perfect Rico. I was glad he accepted my zero dollar offer to play the part.

Okay, now let me get back to writing the damn script for these wonderful actors.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

17 Days Out

When you're writing, producing, and directing a micro-budget, you're doing most of everything yourself. If you're fortunate, you have SOME help. I do have my girlfriend of 6 years and ABQ local Angelica Morrow producing with me, but ultimately if I stop, we stop. So I can't stop. :)

I'm in Venice, CA for two weeks after 10 days of prep in Albuquerque. The Venice move was a planned vacation that is now doubling as pre-production headquarters. Besides writing this blog, I am writing the script (need to have at least the 1st half of the film written by Friday) and making calls daily to coordinate all shooting activities in ABQ. I hope to have the first 3 or 4 days of our 10 day schedule locked down before returning to ABQ - that will give us a week to plan ahead for days 5 through 10. Not traditionally how one would plan a shoot, but we're run and gun, seat of the pants, guerilla filmmakers - we wouldn't do it any other way. This entire project is no more than a compulsion that we are making a reality. And it's quickly taking shape.

To give you an idea of a prep day 17 days out (17 days from shooting, for those who don't speak film-ese) here's a rundown of my day. This is all post-early morning run and workout on the beach. :)

Update Twitter. Update Blog. Check emails. Today's first emails included two regarding cast members (one of which may not work out) and one from a producer friend in NY re: joining the shoot - it doesn't look like he'll make it. No worries there. Then it's two major calls to potential financiers. Again, we're talking micro-budget, so these are private individuals I know personally that may contribute funds for a backend profit share or simply as a contribution. I have raised 25% of the budget thus far through these types of calls - it's really the only way at this level.

Besides these duties, it's imperative I write 15 script pages by end of day - I envision a 80-85 page shooting script when all is said and done. The 15 pages if I'm lucky will come before mid-afternoon, so I have some day left for other things (basketball on the beach?). If they don't come by mid-afternoon, I resume writing after dinner. In addition to the writing, I will make calls back to NM to touch base with actors, a local producer, and my sound guy to make sure everyone is in the know on where things stand. Nothing is official until the last monies are secured, but I WILL get the money one way or the other...just a matter of when. I also plan to call a local (LA) buddy who's an established actor and ask if he'll come out for 1 stinking day. If he says no I'll kidnap him. What else today? I'm sure there will be other calls and emails as the day progresses, but this is an overview of what we're doing on a daily basis over the next few days while in Venice.

It seems like a lot to do in one day, but that's filmmaking and it's what we love. It's easy to work hard and lose track of time when working on something you're passionate about. I'm very passionate about DESERT RAIN.

Friday, August 7, 2009


It's official. DESERT RAIN will be filmed on location in Albuquerque, New Mexico from August 28th through Sept 6th, a 10-day shoot schedule. We are writing furiously, casting daily, and securing locations as we go.

DESERT RAIN is a micro-budget feature being written, produced and directed by STEVE LOFF. It tells the story of DAN and SKYE, a young couple in a small desert town who find themselves in a bad situation that only gets worse. On the hunt for LEFTY, a local music producer who scammed them out of $5,000, and on the run from authorities for a faltered kidnapping, Dan and Skye press on through the unique characters and places of Albuquerque in their quest to find Lefty and finally make their break for Los Angeles. DESERT RAIN can be likened to a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde.

DESERT RAIN will be the first film shot under the guidelines of the DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENTS. The Declaration Of Independents is a filmmaking movement designed to empower all filmmakers to realize their stories by any means necessary. The Declaration destroys all unecessary elements and "line items" in the filmmaking process, removing all obstructions, and thus creating a film in its essence - story, image, direction, and performance.

The film is being produced by Steve Loff and ANGELICA MORROW. DANIEL VAN HART and ALEXANDRIA MORROW have been cast as Dan and Skye, respectively.

The film will be shot in DV format and entirely on location in Albuquerque, New Mexico. DESERT RAIN is intended for the 2010 film festival circuit.

In the desert of life, there's only one escape from the heat.
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Thursday, August 6, 2009


“The absence of limitations is the enemy of art.”
- Orson Welles

One Director.

One Writer (Director may be the writer. Director may also be the producer).

No more than 5 person crew. Director, shooter, sound mixer, and *two wild cards. *(Any crew persons of your choosing.)

No guns.

No extras or background. Background must be actual, and not hired or staged.

No location fees.

No permits.

No insurance.

No “movie” lights. Natural light and practical lights only (“available light”), which may be manipulated, i.e., bounced, diffused, gelled, etc.

No grip equipment.

No set dressings. Props only at actor/character insistence, or necessary to character, per writer or director vision, i.e., Lionel’s Blanket.

Actor is makeup/hair/wardrobe ready.
No hair/makeup person. No wardrobe purchased – must be actors’ own clothes, or borrowed, or loaned.

No paperwork. Script ok. Call sheet ok. Shot list or storyboard ok. No Production Reports. No time reports. No labor logs.

must complete rough-cut or offline before passing off to an Editor. Films edited throughout by Director held in highest regard.

No special equipment, i.e., cranes, dollies, steadicam, car mounts, etc. - sticks (tripod) and handheld only. Camera may be stabilized by anything in surroundings, i.e., sidewalk, car, mailbox, etc.

Only equipment permissible is basic camera, sound, and items needed to manipulate “available light,” as previously mentioned.

Camera filters
allowed. Special lenses allowed.

Any digital format is acceptable. No film. Though film is the most beautiful shooting format, it is cost prohibitive and cumbersome, and its use is in conflict with our goal – telling the story by any means possible.

In our choosing the digital format,
it is imperative the content of the story, and the shooting technique, be conducive to our medium. Gone with the Wind would have been ineffective in DV, but The Blair Witch Project would have been ineffective without the use of DV.

no less than 75 minutes in length, and no more than 100 minutes.

Maximum 18 shoot days. Re-shoot and pickup/b-roll days may be added if necessary.

must take place in one city, though it is unnecessary to be “city specific.” Fictional cities ok, like Oz.

No location “lock downs.” Scene must be recorded amidst real conditions. Ok to get personal appearance releases from passersby (another permitted piece of paperwork?).

must be self-made (made by any of the filmmakers), public domain, or contributed. Bottom line, no music rights will be purchased for ridiculous sums from known, professional artists, or anyone else for that matter.

Sound design is ok. Post-Production manipulation of image is ok, i.e., color correct, slow motion, etc.

In summation, the creation of a film generally requires the highest complexity amongst the arts, yet more often than not it generates the lowest form of art. The Declaration aims to reverse the formula. Like a painting, or a novel, a film produced under the Declaration requires few mechanics, and less obstruction in the creation of the Motion Picture as high art.

Essentially, the Declaration of Independents is an effort to dilute the filmmaking process, and reduce it to its simplest and most vital components – Story, Image, Direction, and Performance.