Category Archives: Updates

Sneak Peek #16 Shooting with Lynn Lowry

In this behind-the-scenes video, Lynn Lowry (Shivers, The Crazies, Cat People) joins our cast!  We’ve had this up on our YouTube page for a while but never posted it here!  That makes it some kind of exclusive!

What’s a writer/producer to do?

NOTE: Tyler, the hater of blogging, had the brilliant idea that we should update this thing more frequently as we prepare to unveil our film this year. Not just frequently, but weekly. I know. He is insane. But, there are certain times you battle the crazy and certain times you give in.  So, you’ll get new Tyler posts on Mondays, and Dennis posts on Fridays. Should be fun. And hard. Damn you, Tyler.  Here is my first Friday post. 

The toil and questioning of writing are complete. The confusion and delusion of pre-production is finished. The chaos and magic of shooting is over. And now, for some time now, the anticipation and impatience of post-production is well underway. And that is where I have the most difficult time as a filmmaker.

I am primarily a writer. No matter what else I might do on a film (produce, direct, act, etc.), the writing is where the bulk of my time is put in. It is the most satisfying, and sometimes frustrating, part of the project for me. I’m privy to information no one else knows, to the origins of what we are about to do. I get to be with it first, to nurture vague thoughts and ideas, mere images in my head, and turn them into plot and structure and living, breathing characters. I create the blueprint, nay the flag that, if I do it well, others will follow into the year(s) long battle that will become our film.

Once I hand off the script, if I am not directing, I enter producer/writer mode, where I am trying to organize an actual film and work on numerous rewrites of the script until Tyler and I are both pleased. Once production begins, if I am primarily producer, making sure shit is getting done, that people know when and where to be, bitching when we’re off schedule, making sure Tyler is doing okay, etc. And if I am acting, as was the case in Grassman, I still have to do all of that and pretend to know my lines and trick everyone into thinking I’m all thespian-like. Pre-prod and production are extremely hectic, exhilarating, and stressful times that make me want to get to do this full-time.

Powerless producer mode.

Powerless producer mode.

Then the lights are turned off, the cameras packed up, and the cast and crew head their separate ways. Post-production has begun at Monkey Productions and is, for me, the most useless I feel during the entire project. You see, unlike big time productions with money and facilities, Monkey Prod consists of Tyler’s home office and my home office, which means that Tyler takes all of the film home with him to work on. I take home… well, nothing. Once post-production begins, I put my writing pants on again and look for the next project to compose.

And as far as the film goes, I am considerably in the dark, particularly the further along it gets. Because we are a self-financed indie production, all of our projects, including Grassman, have had open-ended deadlines. Because we have no investors or studio or business partners to answer to, we can take as long as we need to complete our project. In fact, the time when this is most apparent, because it is literally just Tyler and I, is during post-production. There are no actors schedules to work around, no locations being torn down, no snow storms coming to white out the project. The only pressure we find ourselves under come from ourselves and the various friends and family members that continue to ask “So, where’s the movie already?” and “Are you ever going to finish it?”

This independence is both good and bad. It’s good in that unlike many investor finance or distributor-advanced films, we don’t have to rush to meet unreasonable deadlines to make unsympathetic suits happy, putting out something that we aren’t 100% happy with. On the other hand, given the types of people that Tyler and I are with various levels of ADHD, OCD, depression, and numerous other therapy demanding issues hindering our effectiveness and progress, this lack of deadlines can become a crutch. It can be seen as an open excuse for delay, or as a rational for a level of perfectionism that could border on obsessive.

It is one of the things I struggle with as a writer: I have no deadline, therefore I have no reason to complete my novel just yet. I should take some time to perfect my outline, or to really nail this world-building I’ve only begun to sketch out. I can’t possible start yet, because I haven’t gotten into the heads of my sub-characters yet. The excuses and rationalizing can be endless.

It has, at times, also puts a strain on the relationship that Tyler and I have as creative and business partners. During post-production, I’m in powerless producer mode. This means I am producer in name, but with no real effective way to motivate the production. I have no purse strings to tighten, no jobs to threaten, no alternatives to offer. I am essentially neutered. All I can do is complain and whine and hope. I find myself going back and forth between bitching and motivating. And all from my virtual office, via texts and Facebook messages and Google Hangouts. I can’t even stand over his shoulder and do it.

Although I trust no other person with our film like I do him, Tyler has all the cards at the juncture. He has the entire film, all the files, the editing machine(s), and the backups. I often tell him that at this point in the game, he understand the characters and story better than I do, because he is working on the final version of which my script was only the framework. His edit is the true story now, the one that will be shared with you. And, unfortunately, he’s the only one that truly knows where that story is right now and what needs to be done to complete it.

The point is this: filmmaking is indeed a collaborative effort. But depending on the budget and size of your production, it may be less collaborative than you would like at times, to the point of frustration and helplessness. But you must drive on. Depending on your role, you need to do the hell out of your part and support the other when they are doing theirs. And if you are a producer in powerless mode, try your damnedest to keep communicating with whomever your creative, mad scientist is as they lock themselves away to edit your project. I choose to communicate via bitching and motivating, so Tyler knows 1) that people still give a shit about the film, and 2) that he’s still the guy to get it done right.


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Blogs are Stupid to Write

So, this is what I think – blogs are pretty stupid to write.  It’s no damn fun.  It’s time consuming.  Too many words.  You have stick all those words together so it  makes sense.  I’m just not a blogger.

You tell 'em I'm comin'! And Crazy Town's comin' with me!

Me thinking about blogging.

I don’t even keep up with any blogs except this one.  But for the past year or so, I’ve been checking this page hoping for some new content and there never is any.  A very big disappointment, since I am dying to find out how the movie is going.  Of course, I know how it’s going because I’m making it, but it’s always more fun to read about it.  Especially if there’s pictures.

It’s pretty much awesome when you read about your own movie online.  Makes you feel like you’re making a real movie and it really motivates you to keep going.  Which, of course, is the hardest thing to do.  Most people fail at this simply because they give up.  You get your ass beat one too many times and eventually you throw in the towel.  Here’s a clip of Rocky Balboa saying it better.  Skip the part where he’s talking about holding a baby or something dumb like that.  Not sure why that’s in there.  I guess this is from a movie or something.

(The irony here is that years earlier, if Rocky had thrown in the towel instead of “moving forward” he could have saved his best friend Apollo Creed from his tragic death in the ring at the hands of Ivan Drago, but we won’t debate that here.)

You keep moving forward.  And sometimes there are obstacles in your path and sometimes you stumble around haplessly like a doofus without getting anything done while people wait for your Bigfoot movie to come out.  But you keep moving forward.   2013 wasn’t when we were originally looking at as a release date, but it’s where we are now.  And there are any number of reasons it’s been delayed, not the least of which is that making a movie is really hard.  Something that is so important for filmmakers to have is a schedule with strict deadlines and a willingness to abandon some of the ideas and elements that you’re in love with in order to get it finished.  I don’t have that willingness.  I could get it, but I don’t want it right now.  Unfortunately, I’m very stubborn sometimes, so I don’t even bother arguing with me about it.

I believe it what I’m doing and the way I’m doing it, but I also know I took 9 years once to make a 20 minute movie.  So, there’s occasionally this nagging feeling in my brain that I’m heading down the same path with this film. This year was certainly not as productive as I would have hoped – I was diagnosed with sleep apnea and spent the first 6 months of the year trying to feel normal again.  During that time, I wasn’t able to concentrate on anything other than my day-job and much of the time even doing just that felt like too much.

By June, I was feeling good again, and I got a lot of work done in the summer.  But then in September, I had a hard drive crash where I ended up losing a bit of work.  I’ve learned to back stuff up over the years after having hard drives crash on every project I do ever, but I hadn’t backed up in a while.  I didn’t lose too much, just enough to be a total motivation buzzkill.  I’m still putting some of the pieces back together.

I’ve stepped up the back-upping.  I got automated backups going all over the place, using multiple hard drives, optical discs, and cloud storage.  This is something I’ve always sucked at, thought I fixed, and then realized that I still sucked at it, so I fixed it more.  I think.

Kind of like blog writing.  I sucked at that, worked hard (not at all, really) at writing consistant updates in a timely fashion and then stopped cause blogging totally sucks.   But I’m going to try that again, while I try to build up the momentum again and get this thing done in a timely fashion.  If you work at it hard enough and never give up no matter how many times you stumble, you can become the person you’ve always wanted to be and change anything you want about yourself.  Will I actually change this?  I don’t know.  I really have no control over anything I do, so the best we can do is cross our fingers and hope. In the meantime, I’ll try to distract you with the following still from the movie.


(P.S. Thanks for reading this nonsense and for your interest in our film.  We’re working hard to see that it not only gets finished, but kicks serious ass.)

Real-life Bigfoot researcher Wayne Burton watches his partner Dallas Gilbert talk on the phone in a riveting scene from Monkey Production's The Legend of Grassman.