Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween of the Apocalypse

Happy Halloween to everyone from the cast & crew of "Walking Apocalypse."

Actor Jimi Bommarito is the test subject whose mutation triggers an unstoppable chain of events that leads to Nick Candelaria's run for his life.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

72 hours left to live...

This is the situation Nick Candelaria faces in “Walking Apocalypse.” What would you do if you were in Nick's shoes?

Turn yourself into a hospital? Not when you know that whatever it is you were injected with is a secret and proprietary experimental process that was smuggled out of the lab you work for by a geneticist trying to defect. A process you have been told is a “biological super-weapon.”

Turn yourself into your employer? Of course, what other choice do you have? They invented it, and with a 72 hour deadline, who else can save your life? But if you learn that your employer intends to cover up its illegal human genome manipulation by eliminating all evidence, including you?

You run for your life.

But where can you turn? The CDC? The FBI? Homeland Security? None of them, not even the CDC, has any experience with this revolutionary process. And you have just 72 hours to live.

Nick is on the run, and the clock is ticking. What will he do?

Jackson, Michigan City Hall on West Michigan Avenue.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Location scouts

I was performing some location scouting last week, and will again in the weeks to come. As the locations in the script become finalized with the outline for the rewrite (even though the actual 2nd draft rewrite has yet to begin) actual physical locations in & around Jackson, Michigan will be needed to shoot these scenes at.

While I'm scouting, I also keep in mind the other four completed feature-length screenplays I have written and several others in various stages of development that I intend to film in the future. I might run across a location that won't work for this film, but that would be perfect for the film we plan to shoot within a year of completing “Walking Apocalypse.”

I welcome and appreciate the many locations that have allowed me to shoot gratis to produce the trailer and for my previous film work. For the feature film, we will need additional locations that were not utilized in the trailer, and I will be on the lookout from now until we begin principal photography next spring.

Downtown Jackson, Michigan, from outside the Carnegie Library at 244 W. Michigan Ave.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Film editing

Saturday morning I sent all of the footage we shot for the trailer off to our film editor in California.

Brian Greenway and I went over the footage to decide what takes we preferred for each shot before sending it off along with some specific instructions regarding the editing. I don't expect the first edit ready for a little while yet.

We're hoping to have a short trailer ready for release before Thanksgiving. Please keep checking back with this blog regarding that announcement.

The footage of the trailer is en-route to California on a portable drive via USPS.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The character arc

I met with lead actor Todd Lutz today for coffee and “shop talk” at Jackson Cuppa on Mechanic Street.

We discussed the lead character's motivation, his background and the choices he is forced to make during the script.

I'm fortunate to have an actor who is very motivated to learn everything he can about the character he is portraying. Todd made several good suggestions, some of which I will definitely attempt to incorporate into the revised draft of the feature screenplay.

One problem we writers face is exposition. It's not always easy to get information across to the audience without having it revealed through dialogue, but it's always preferable to avoid that and to convey information through visuals, if at all possible.

I'm still in the “aerial view” phase of the rewrite, making a pass over the script, enacting any changes that seem obvious without making significant alterations yet. The next step will be an in-depth, thorough analysis of the script, which will be followed by a new outline, then the rewrite. It's a long process, but a necessary one.

Jackson Cuppa, 634 N. Mechanic St, Jackson, MI 49202.

Monday, October 21, 2013

It takes a lot of people to make a movie...

Something I've learned from shooting the trailer for “Walking Apocalypse” and from the unfinished film, “The Devil of the Desert Sands,” is just how much of a collaborative effort filmmaking is.

The script never, ever gets translated perfectly to the screen. And this isn't a bad thing, because actors and crew often have ideas that improve the scene, whether it's dialogue, action, framing or something else. As a director, you have to learn to listen and decide objectively. I have told many people that my screenplays are not Commandants. They are not chiseled-in-stone and immutable. If someone has an idea or suggestion, I might not always agree with it or use it, but I will always listen.

Paul Broussard made suggestions that improved a scene he wasn't even acting in, which shows Paul's professionalism and interest in the film being the best it can be. Brian Greenway was coming up with better ways of doing things every day we shot. Amanda Trudell kept us on track and on target. Jon Rowland made sound and lighting suggestions that enhanced scenes or avoided problems.

The actors were great, too. They took direction very well and asked questions to make sure they understood the scene that was being shot, and they were never satisfied until it was just right.

It takes many creative talents to make a movie a reality. Egos need to be kept in check, because the film product is not enhanced by having one person run roughshod over everyone else and refusing to consider other opinions and options. I worked with a great cast and crew and I'm looking forward to working with them again when we shoot the feature in the Spring of 2014.

David Higgins & Brian G. Walsh in a scene from "The Devil of the Desert Sands."

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Screenwriters & Directors

I've been reading “Directing Actors” by Judith Weston, which was recommended to me by executive producer & screenwriter of “Keepers” Sharma Krauskopf. There is a lot of good advice and instruction in the book, but I'm disappointed that the author, despite protestations to the contrary, shows a striking lack of respect for writers.

To quote Ms. Weston, “It is exactly the job of the director and actors to create the sub-world. Heeding shortcuts to the characters' emotional life will make the director's and actors' job more, not less, difficult.”

As taught by screenwriting guru Hal Croasmun, the best in the business, creating sub-text is the province of the screenwriter so that depth is added to the characters and story. The screenwriter's use of subtext raises an average script significantly. A screenwriter hands the director a complete story world with people and places already created. The job of the director and actor is to interpret and portray this, not to recreate the characters and story by deciding upon subtext for themselves.

On page 167, the author goes on to state that “it is especially important to cross out (or at least approach with serious skepticism) the parentheticals: “pause,” “beat,” and “she takes a moment.” All these kinds of stage directions are adjectives, adverbs, indications of transitions or psychological explanations, or emotional maps (“He cannot look away”; “She makes a decision”). They are not playable. What the writer has done by putting in these abbreviated emotional guideposts is to take a stab at providing the characters' subtext.

The writer “takes a stab” at providing subtext? This is a preposterous statement and an insult to the screenwriter. This is like you saying something to me, and I then tell you that you don't know what you really meant by what you said, but I do know what you really meant, even though you said it and would obviously know what hidden meaning was behind your own words.

The screenwriter creates the story and characters, therefore the screenwriter knows the subtext of the character and dialogue. Without accurately interpreting the characters, the director and/or actors could add a subtext that is inappropriate. It is arrogant and egotistical for anyone to dismiss the writer as unable to provide the subtext for the very characters he or she created. And I disagree that “He cannot look away” and “she makes a decision” are not playable. These are very playable by talented actors and directors who correctly interpret the intent.

As I've stated many times in the past, the screenwriter gets very little respect, pay or acknowledgment for motion pictures. This is usually because the director deliberately makes changes to put his or her own “stamp” on the film. In this way, we can never know whether or not the film would have been better if it had more closely resembled the written blueprint (the screenplay) that was provided. All we can judge is the final result that has been altered, for better or worse, by the director.

Filmmaking is a collaborative effort, but it all starts with the screenplay. Without this blueprint there is no story, no characters and no film. Good directors and good actors can significantly improve a script, but it's important to remember that it's far easier to improve and embellish a finished product than it is to create that product out of nothing at all. Hollywood does not recognize this, as the lion's share of the credit for films is divided between the director and the actors. Most people don't know the name of a single professional screenwriter, not even an A-List screenwriter.

Judith Weston's "Directing Actors" is available on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Directing-Actors-Memorable-Performances-Television/dp/0941188248/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1382320924&sr=1-1&keywords=directing+actors

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Planning

While reviewing the 1st draft of the feature screenplay, I've also been working on the planning side of the film production business regarding which will be the next movie we will shoot. Since I have several completed feature-length scripts, a determination regarding feasability is most important.

Some of my scripts are of the blockbuster variety, which are actually out of our league right now with regard to production costs. Those movies will have to wait until we have established ourselves as a viable filmmaking entity with “Walking Apocalypse” and our follow-up film, which won't be a sequel but another original film.

Some of the cast and crew enjoy a moment of rest in the cafeteria at Midbrook Products in Jackson, Michigan on Sunday, September 22, 2013.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Biological Weapon Apocalypse

A major storyline in “Walking Apocalypse” involves a genetic process originally designed to cure all hereditary diseases being perverted into a biological super-weapon.

The danger of biological weapons cannot be understated. Those who resort to them usually have a limited objective in mind involving an immediate threat. The problem lies not just in that once you resort to bio-weapons, you invite retaliation, but that as such weapons become more advanced they become more unpredictable and less subject to control.

When genetics is added to the equation, the problem increases astronomically. The mapping of the human genome was touted as the single greatest advance in human medicine and as a boon to the health of all human beings. In reality, many people behind-the-scenes had far more dubious intentions.

When governments become involved, people should be wary. By definition, a government's first priority is to ensure survival by any and all means. Anything that can be used as a weapon will be considered. Genetics is potentially the most powerful weapon we will ever possess. The ability to kill on a level invisible to the naked eye is a great advantage, and advances being made can make such acts difficult to trace.

We are entering an era when a genetic weapon could potentially wipe out the human species. “Walking Apocalypse” is a cautionary tale of just such a threat.

Image copyright Armin K├╝belbeck (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Syringe_Glove_01.jpg)

Monday, October 14, 2013

“Evolution is painful”

The tagline of “Walking Apocalypse” refers to the cold, hard truth of “survival of the fittest.” If a new species develops to compete with an exising one, that competition may result in the extinction of the species less able to thrive. When the two species competing for the same limited resources clash, the only options will be cooperation or destruction. The history of humanity is riddled with wars of conquest and extermination.

This is the dilemma facing those pursuing protagonist Nick Candelaria after he is injected with a revolutionary genetic process that has been sabotaged by its creator. The process he has been injected with has incalculable value to the future of the human race, but the sabotage to that process has rendered his continued existence too dangerous to chance. If he is not captured before he infects someone else, a chain reaction will start that won't stop until the entire human species is infected. Nick is on the run somewhere in and around Jackson, Michigan, and the doomsday clock is ticking.

Nick's infected DNA undergoing radical transformation.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Work in progress

We're still working on the trailer, and hope to have something we can send to our film editor in Los Angeles this coming week. It's a painstaking process going through every take for every scene shot over the three weeks of filming.

Once we get the trailer ready for “prime time,” we'll have a powerful promotional tool to help generate interest for our marketing campaign.

John Lennox, Brian Greenway and Jon Rowland on the roof of Midbrook Products, Sunday, September 29, 2013.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The “Walking Apocalypse” feature film

Tentatively, we have decided upon a May 2014 shooting schedule, probably beginning Monday, May 5. A lot of work still needs to be done until then. We have to recruit crew members who will commit to working on the feature for the length of the shoot, which is still undetermined.

The 1st draft screenplay was 100 pages long. When the revised draft is completed, we'll have to do a breakdown and stripboard to determine how many pages of the script we can shoot per day.

Todd Lutz and Mahalia Greenway prepare to shoot the first shot of the last scene of the trailer script, Scene #24, Take 1.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The "Walking Apocalypse" feature screenplay

Yesterday I began a “1st pass” read and rewrite of the feature screenplay, making minor changes. Following that, I will begin a page-by-page analysis of the script, then begin the rewrite.

While working on the trailer, I was rewriting scenes “in my head,” so to speak. There will be some changes to characters and storyline from the 1st draft of the feature screenplay.

Jon Rowland preps sound as Director of Photography Brian Greenway and lead actress Mahalia Greenway prepare to film fight director-actor John Lennox's roof hunt-and-chase scene at Midbrook Products on Sunday, September 29, 2103.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Working on the trailer edit

We had a production meeting Friday to take a look at a rough cut of the trailer that I put together in order to have a visual starting point for how we want it edited.  From this we'll decide if there are better takes to use for selected scenes, what scenes need to be deleted or trimmed, and so on.

The next step is to send the rough cut along with all applicable takes to our film editor, who will edit the trailer.  Then we'll view that, and decide if we like it “as is” or if more changes need to be made.  When we're satisfied, the trailer clips will have to be graded and color-corrected before we put the trailer out to the public.

"I see dead people..." Brian Greenway prepares to film the tragic victims of a process gone awry.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Thinking Big

We had an abbreviated production meeting this morning, followed by a quick location scout for a possible place for Walsh Brothers Productions, LLC and partners Brian & Mahalia Greenway to utilize as a studio set for our slate of future films. I don't think small, so many of my film ideas are big, some on the blockbuster scale. It's early days yet, but I want to make my intentions clear: I intend to shoot these movies, all of them, in and around Jackson, Michigan. This is home and I want to make it a better place, and Brian & Mahalia Greenway are in complete agreement with me.

Although I can't include details, future films include a supernatural thriller, an action-drama, a horror, a sci-fi horror and a trio of science fiction films. And those are just the films that have completed screenplays. There are television ideas in the development pipeline, too, including a camp comedy, an action-horror and an epic science fiction series.

There are big things coming from Walsh Brothers and Brian & Mahalia Greenway -- and they're coming to Jackson, Michigan and its surrounding communities.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Today's Jackson Citizen-Patriot Entertainment Section, Page C2

The story about our film and my plans to change Jackson, Michigan and its surrounding communities into an independent filmmaking Mecca is in today's print edition of the Jackson Citizen-Patriot newspaper.

It's going to take some help, but we've got the talent and dedication to make this work. We welcome all those who would like to help make this dream a reality.

A local film is a community effort

Two of the most important things this production has going for it are the people and community involvement.

The screenplay is the blueprint for the film, but no matter how well-written, it all goes for naught without help. The talented skill people behind the scenes such as Brian Greenway, Amanda Trudell, Jon Rowland, Megan Tipton and John Lennox took the printed words from the page and transformed them into something special. And invaluable behind-the-scenes assistance was also rendered by Camera Assistant Jeff Makarauskas and Production Assistant Jacquelyn Marks.

And the actors, such as Todd Lutz, Mahalia Greenway, Paul Broussard, John Lennox, Amanda Trudell, Phil Foster, Toney Delgado, Lisa Douglass, Karen Kidder-Barrett, Mike Lantis, Cheryl Marks, Jimi Bommarito, Nicki McDonald, Tahachi Hardrick, Paul Current, & stunt driver Johnathan Hutchins helped bring the scenes to life.

And then there are the locations and the people who graciously allowed us to film on their property: TransPharm Pre-Clinical Solutions in Napoleon, Midbrook Products in Jackson, Cheryl Marks' residence in Parma, and Bucky Harris Park in downtown Jackson.

Men in motion: John Lennox and Brian Greenway move back to their starting point for another take of trailer scene number 24.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Post-production of the presentation trailer

We begin the post-production phase for the trailer, when each of the 24 scenes scripted for the trailer will be indexed long with each shot for each scene and each take of each shot. It can be tedious, but to me it's still fun. You get to see mistakes, dialogue flubs, and amusing moments that won't make the final cut.

Jon Rowland and Brian Greenway share a laugh on the roof of Midbrook Products on Sunday, September 29, 2013.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Welcome to Hollywood, Michigan!

Without a good local media, you might as well be living in a vacuum. Fortunately, Zeke Jennings, Arts & Entertainment reporter for the Jackson Citizen-Patriot and Mlive.com, has published a story about our film and my plans for moviemaking in Jackson.

To read the story, please point your browser to: http://www.mlive.com/entertainment/jackson/index.ssf/2013/10/filmmaker_brian_g_walsh_hoping.html

This story will also be appearing in the print edition of the Jackson Citizen-Patriot newspaper, probably this Sunday, October 6, 2013.

It took a lot of good people to make this trailer a reality, and it will take many more to produce the feature film. And we have plans for many more feature films.

Let's rock Jackson, Michigan!

Lead actor Todd Lutz takes a ride to the roof for his confrontation scene.

Now the real work begins!

We have completed all of the filming, with only some promotional photos remaining to be shot. We've set up a production meeting for the end of the week, where Amanda Trudell, Brian Greenway, Mahalia Greenway and I will discuss the trailer, plan for the upcoming feature film shoot in the Spring of 2014, and devise strategy for the marketing and promotion of the film.

I'm also going to begin an in-depth analysis of the 1st draft of the completed feature film script, utilizing a process I created for the screenwriting workshop I taught last year. It's an excellent method for determining what is missing and what can be improved in a feature film screenplay.

Lead actress Mahalia Greenway stands by to assist while lead actor Todd Lutz prepares for his scene.