Tag Archives: trailer

The Schlock Party II: Out of the Closet, Into the Fire

Last week, I told this story:

meyer bros

Our trailer unexpectedly received a bunch of positive attention on the Internet, because the very awesome Avery Guerra liked it and started spreading the word around. Then, Joblo.com referred to it as “Schlock Party” but that was totally fine, because the worst review we ever got was that a film of ours was “just ok.”

I love it when people like our work, because the best reason for making movies is to make people happy.  It’s awesome when you see people laughing and enjoying themselves while watching something that you had a hand in. But at least “schlock party” is an emotional response, whereas “just ok” is a lot like saying “I suppose I could have committed suicide during this film and it wouldn’t have bothered me one way or the other.”

The part of the Joblo story that really stung about the schlock party story is when I was quoted as saying: “Our prior horror efforts, including Consumed are dark, grim tales, which we enjoy, but didn’t feel that tone was what we wanted in a Bigfoot film. We agreed that Jaws had a good balance or horror, comedy, and adventure which we are attempting to capture.” Then author responded with: “Based on the two trailers below, farther from JAWS this film could not be.”

Sigh…

Me as Dave Smith, the androgynous lead singer of BADNESS

Me as Dave Smith, the androgynous lead singer of Badness.  I guess if you can tell anything from the picture, it’s that I’m sooo the opposite of a tool.

I, naturally, felt like a complete tool.  My quote was very tool-ish, but why was it necessary for this guy to point that out? Back in the old days, when we were promoting Badness, our imaginary rock band that couldn’t play instruments, promoting our work seemed much easier.  We had a couple films and a website for the band and, for some reason, I was always much more outgoing and impervious to ever feeling like a tool.  Like I did now.  It would take a well-known speech by actress/director Jodie Foster to help me start to comprehend why.

In ninth grade, I had to give a speech about myself in English class, and thinking that would be super easy, I didn’t prepare anything.  I said I made movies, cause that was really all I did, then I ran out of material.  After 2 minutes of me staring blankly at the rest of the class staring blankly back at me, Mr. Carey took pity on me and started asking me questions and trying to coax me into not looking like a total ass.

“Who writes your films?” he asked helpfully.

“I… uh… I usually write them,” I answered.  I was a writer AND a director.  Wait till they found out I also acted!

If they had seen any of my films, they'd be even more impressed!

If they had seen any of my films, they’d be even more impressed!

“And how many films have you made?” was the follow up from Mr. Carey’s stupid teacher face.

Shit.  I done tons!  Let’s see…  I won’t count the cartoons I did on our Texas Instruments computer.  So, let’s see.  Teeth was my first.  Then we did Adventure Barney.  Wait, that was technically Dennis’ movie.  Do I count Vacation ’88?  It was just a home movie, but I thought it more of a docudrama.  Then there was the one I was currently working on.  But that didn’t count cause it wasn’t finished.

“One,” I answered.

Mr. Carey blinked at me.

“You usually write your own movies,” he said incredulously, having lost any pity he may have at one time had for me,  “but you’ve only done one?”

This picture of me taken during my high school years is proof positive that I wasn't a tool.

This picture of me taken during my high school years is proof positive that I wasn’t a tool.

All I could do was return to my seat with my head hanging low and accept the realization that high school was really going to suck for me.  This episode was humiliating and while I don’t mind telling you about it, I would be mortified if it was ever posted online.   It was perhaps this incident that sent me into the Filmmaker Closet.  I adopted a very strict Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell policy when it came to my film work, and that isn’t the best promotion strategy.

Years later, I produced a short about drunk driving that I was shopping around to different educational film distributors.  This is the first time I had ever done anything like this before, and I was terrified, naturally.  I distinctly remember I wouldn’t even refer to the film as a “film” when talking to people about it.  I called it a “video.”  Somehow, “video” sounded less George McFly to me.

About the same time, actress/director Jodie Foster delivered a speech that I, and a lot of other people, were greatly moved by. She said, “You gotta lose yourself to the music  The moment – you better own it.  You better never let it go.  You only got one shot.  Do not miss your chance to blow.  This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo.”  Powerful words.  Words so powerful they were even made into a song by Eminem.

I remember that song playing in the car when I was on my way to transfer my miniDV master of my film  to a real format that professionals used so I could ship it off  to its new distributor.  And, even with the liberties Eminem took with Foster’s poetry (like adding something about his mom’s spaghetti), the song was very inspirational.  And it reminded me that I do only have one shot – one life – and this is it right now.  There’s no dress rehearsal.  And there’s no time for shenanigans.

That’s a hard lesson to get through one’s thick skull, and it took years, but I knew it was time to come out of the Filmmaker Closet.   I had been so comfortable as Dave Smith from BADNESS because I was promoting our work as Dave Smith and wasn’t preoccupied with what people thought of him.  I knew I either had to stop caring so much how I was coming off and pay more attention to what I was trying to accomplish or I needed to put on the wig and become Dave Smith forever.  Which wouldn’t have sounded so Norman Bates-ish if the real Dave Smith wasn’t stuffed in my attic.

The real Dave Smith.  We all go a little mad sometimes.

The real Dave Smith. It’s not as if he were a maniac – a raving thing.  He just goes a little mad sometimes.  We all go a little mad sometimes.

So, I switched to a strict Didn’t Ask?/I’m Telling You Anyway policy when it comes to the movie.  At times, I’m embarrassed at the self promoting whore I’ve become.  But it’s my duty to be a whore – for the film, for myself, and for everyone who busted their butts helping us out.  I have to spread the word.  It’s part of the job.  No one will ever hear of your film if you try to promote it from the closet.

I’m even cool with it if Mr. Carey tracks me down one day and corners me on some rambling. nonsensical babble I just spouted.  Because maybe this time – if I really pay attention – I’ll see one lone dude in the classroom thinking, “Cool!  I love a good Sasquatch flick!” While my classmates laugh their asses off at me.

Last week, I said that the lesson we took from our Joblo experience at the time was that that you have to be extra careful that what you say to the press can’t be misconstrued.  But I think maybe the real lesson here is people aren’t just going to be critical of your work, but they will set out to make you look like a tool -especially if you just said something toolish – and you need to get used to that.

Not missing footage from Kingdom of the Spiders starring William Shatner and Tyler Meyer... but it could be

Would a tool ever present himself this way? Obviously not.

A lot of people use “I don’t care what other people think” as an excuse to be a dick.  Don’t be a dick.  But don’t judge yourself by what others think.  Work hard.  Stay focused.  If you believe in what you’re doing, there will eventually be others who feel the same way, unless you’re doing some kind of weird puppet/poop/snuff film.

I remember bracing myself for the inevitable blizzard of negative comments that would no doubt accompany the Joblo story.  Hopefully, I’d be able to handle them and it wouldn’t derail the motivation that this sudden, unexpected burst of publicity had brought us.

But only one person ever commented.

avery

Thanks, Avery.

-Tyler

Director’s Journal #X: Summary of 43 Entries that were Never Written

The shoot was crazy.  Like being high on Quaaludes in a tornado.  I hesitate to call it hellish.  Cause it was the coolest thing we have ever done.  But it was hellish.  The good kind.   I stopped making time to write journal entries in the summer, but once September hit I was on the fast track to Crazy Town.  There was no time for anything except to try to keep my head above water.  When the shoot actually started, I switched from trying to keep my head above water to trying not to drown so much.  What was it like?  EARFDHFRGEHHDGGGHHHH!!!!!!!

EARFDHFRGEHH-DGGGHHHH!!!!!!!

And then October came.  And the shoot didn’t stop. It kept going.  The plan was to shoot most of it in September and then in October we’d kind of take it easy.  Get a scene here.  Do a scene there.  But Mother Nature handed us our own asses in September, and when we weren’t having our asses handed to us, it actually still took a lot longer to shoot than I had planned.  Not once did we stay on schedule in September – on those days that we actually had a schedule.

And now October was here.  And the shoot kept going.  We’d have a couple days off between shoots, but it kept going.  The seasons were about to change and the falling leaves were a constant reminder that the clock was ticking on our little filmmaking endeavor.  But after a while, that would become a comfort to me.  There was no end to the shoot in sight, but the leaves WOULD disappear.   Winter WOULD come.   And it did.  And we all packed up and got there hell out of there.

Tyler in his lair...

And in the dark recesses of my underground editing lair, I began to assess the damage.  Putting scenes together.  Figuring out what we had.  What we needed to get.  What we needed to do over.  I didn’t get too far with that when we realized we could really use a new trailer.   We still have a good chunk of the film to complete; only now we have less money and a tired cast and crew who have already endured a long hellish (good) shoot.  So, Dennis and I figured, we first needed to get everyone excited again, and also create a showreel that we could use for convincing new partners that we aren’t out of our minds (I have determined that at least 50% of the people we come into contact with, when told that we are “independent filmmakers” actually THINK we said “We are out of our freakin minds.  I EAT MY OWN FLESH!  EEET!!!  EEEET!!!”).

We are independent filmmakers!

So I began the arduous trailer-making process where you take a bunch of unrelated footage from the hours and hours of footage you’ve shot and start piecing it together to tell a story that is similar to your actual story, only shorter and containing just the really good parts, only without actually giving away the good parts cause then you’ll ruin the movie.

I don’t really know how to do that too well.  So I cheated a bit.  I found a trailer I liked and slapped my shots on top of their shots.  Throw in some music and half-assed digital effects in there and we gots ourselves a trailer.

And we’ve gotten some pretty positive reaction online from the trailer, and that’s been really cool.  It’s a bit surreal to me that people are talking about this movie while we’re still making it – that’s NEVER happened to us – but it’s very cool.

As I write this, I am locked in my aforementioned underground editing lair for the next week, editing what we have and planning Phase 2 of the shoot.  We have Phases.  By the end of the week, we’ll have a solid plan for moving forward that will put us on track to finish this bastard this year.  Woot!  Woot!  Crazy Town, here I come!

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

We may not have leaves, but, damn it, we got us some lights

This catches us up to the final days of the shoot last fall. The weather had finally decided to work against us again, with little or no leaves on the trees. Shots had to be limited to show only the lower foliage that still have green. The ground was covered in fallen leaves. And the temperature was steadily getting colder and colder.  By the time we got to these two days, Tyler and I had decided this would be it, until the spring. On that note, here we go.

Day 19 – Nov 1

We’ve have a bit of a break. The weather today is not too bad. Sun is out. And since we’ve got Rich and Matt on set we figure we’re going to squeeze whatever we can out of the opportunity. Tyler decides we’re going to get some more walking footage (which we need plenty of) and shoot a few dialog scenes. And that is pretty much what we do the whole day, except for an impromptu soccer break.

Walk hard

"There she was just a walkin down the street, singin..."

We get some dialog with Matt, Rich, and Max that we had missed earlier, and I am done for the day, so I hang around pretending to produce something. Although it did not seem like the most productive day, it was all necessary footage and would have to be done sometime.  Actually turned out to be a nice, laid-back, relaxing day of shooting.

We called it a day, thus ending our first leg of shooting with the primary cast members.  Everyone went their separate ways, eager awaiting the arrival of spring.  Tyler went to Disney World with his wife for a couple of weeks. I began working on other writing projects, and kept telling myself I needed to update this blog.

Day 20 – Nov 21

We resumed shooting this day for something a bit different. This day would involve a semi-different location (up ’til now, we only shot exteriors of this place) with half of the day being interior scenes. That’s right. We were finally going indoors! And by “we” I mean a whole other set of actors. Today, we would be joined by Dennis (my son, because it’s nepotism, not nope-otism), Erin, and Naomi. Another addition on set this day would be Steve, who designed our bigfoot face, and who would be lighting and assisting Tyler.

Yes… lighting. This would be the first real use of lighting on the film. Most of the time, Tyler has wanted to capture things in natural light. It may not have worked out on some of the previous night shots (that remains to be seen), but this scene actually requires light in specific ways to strategically show (or hide) things. As the producer/jobless person on set, all I can say is that is looks cool from where I stand.

Let there be light!

Most of the scene involves Erin and Naomi, and then Naomi on her own. Both of them did excellent work, despite an early case of the giggles by one of the players (whose name rhymes with “air in”). Stephan was on set for the weapon scene. Noami did her outside scene alone, in the freezing cold,  and nailed it every take. Everyone filled up on pizza, we got a few more shots in, then called it a winter. From what I have seen of the footage, it looks terrific. It was a great note to end the first phase of shooting on.

This concludes the journal of the first part of shooting. Although we intended to get the entire movie filmed during this time, we came to learn that things rarely work out as planned and that you have to be able to adapt quickly and cheaply, and keep moving forward.

We are lucky enough to have a cast and crew of excited, dedicate folks who, despite the obstacles we faced, pushed through with us without complaint, without negativity, and without calling Tyler and I names.  So, to them, I say “Thank you” and I look forward to seeing you in the spring.

Stay tuned to this blog for more info on the film, like what we’re doing during the downtime, and for any other developments.