Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Waiting Game

We finished shooting on Sunday, September 29, 2013, and have been slowly moving towards the release of our first trailer. We expect to release at least three trailers for “Walking Apocalypse,” revealing a little more each time up to beginning principal photography on the feature film, which is tentatively scheduled to begin on Monday, May 5, 2013, and to last through the end of the month at least.

The script for the movie trailer which was just filmed was comprised of excerpts from the first draft of the feature screenplay. The filming of the trailer itself triggered ideas and possibilities with regard to writing the second draft.

It has been said that “writing is re-writing,” and never is this truer than with regard to screenwriting.

Inevitably after finishing the first draft of a feature-length screenplay, there is the feeling of accomplishment, of satisfaction. But after a little time has passed, you begin to conceive improvements. And when a trailer has been filmed, it changes some of your ideas and spawns new one's. There is always room for some improvement, but that must be balanced by the realities of budget.

With a large budget, the sky's the limit regarding special effects, locations, equipment, cast and crew. With no budget, you must work within tight constraints. Fortunately, we've been blessed with good people who helped make the trailer shoot a success.

The reality of writing a screenplay that you will film yourself is that there are certain things you cannot do. While doing this rewrite, I have to work with the locations available. The original outline and treatment for this script took place in Greenland, with Nick Candelaria becoming infected there before fleeing to the United States in search of the one person who could help him.

As we continue to make new movies, we should be able to do more. We are taking the production of “Walking Apocalypse” slowly for many reasons, including the lack of budget and staff as well being very careful with doing the very best we can within our restrictions.

The first trailer will be released soon, with expanded versions to follow. We are excited to have filmed in Jackson, Napoleon and Parma and are anxious to expand our local operation for this film and several more to follow. We hope you will agree that the trailer was worth the wait.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

US Supreme Court bans patenting of “naturally occuring genes”

In the United States, at least, human genes as they naturally occur in cells in human beings are not patentable. However, synthetic DNA remains subject to patenting.

So-called cDNA, or complementary DNA, as altered genes not found in nature are commonly referred to, are a lucrative business for biotech companies. Worth billions of dollars, these processes are vital to the improvement of the human condition. As they are not naturally-occurring, it seems only fair that the companies that created them should be allowed to patent their own proprietary process.

This landmark ruling should usher in an era of reduced cost to consumers for such medical treatments, as well as providing for more innovation as access to the entire human genome will be universal for biotech companies desiring to break into this market.

But more importantly, this is a statement of ethics. We all want medical technology to improve, but this technology should be within reach of every human being who requires it. To treat life and death as a commercial commodity shows the highest form of cynicism and contempt for human life.

The medical biotech industry did not invent the human genome, therefore, they should not be allowed to patent it peicemeal. Their industrious innovation should not come at the expense of the human beings whose genomes provided the raw material for their manipulation.

For now, we can all breathe a little easier knowing that the very substance at the molecular level that makes us who we are cannot be ruthlessly exploited for profit and kept from us by corporate greed. At least until the next breakthrough challenges our ethics.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

He wants children -- she doesn't

That's the predicament Nick Candelaria, the protagonist of “Walking Apocalypse,” finds himself in at the beginning of the movie. He and his girlfriend didn't plan to have a child, but now that she is pregnant, he realizes it's time to grow up. Nick's not getting any younger, and this might be his last best chance to start a family. His vacation is up and he's decided the time is right to settle down with the woman he loves. Unfortunately, none of their conversations regarding children ever went beyond hypothetical, and he is unprepared for her response.

And that's just the beginning of his day. When he gets to work, he finds out that something has gone terribly wrong with an important and expensive project, the very project that was expected to lift his employer, a small genetic tech lab with a genius scientist, to affluence in the genetic technologies market.

Things snowball from there, but he can't stop thinking about the woman he loves. Was she lying when she said she loved him? Has she decided that he's not the man she wants to father her children?

Those questions become moot because he soon finds himself on the run, not only fighting for his life, but for the existence of the entire human race – because the project has gone terribly wrong. Nick has become infected with a revolutionary process that has been sabotaged. He's got just 72 hours to find a cure or the human race as we know it will face a modern, genetically-engineered extinction event – and Nick will be the executioner.

Nick Candelaria has become a walking apocalypse.

Germs-virus, but not the source of Nick's infection.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Trailer edit in progress...

Our film editor in California, Lance Price, is hard at work on the first trailer, which we hope to release soon. We have been communicating regarding the proper music score for the initial release, and have decided to alter our initial approach to something we both feel will set the mood appropriate to the tone of the film.

Keep watching this space for the announcement of the release of the first “Walking Apocalypse” trailer, coming soon.

The "Walking Apocalypse" trailer is moving towards release.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Election Day in the City of Jackson, Michigan

With my brother's death Saturday, I have been in a temporary funk, unable to concentrate on the things I normally do. I had decided not to vote because of my depression, but after perusing stories regarding the election, I changed my mind and went out to vote early this afternoon.

When I arrived at my designated voting location, I found Jackson Mayoral candidates Jason C. Smith and John Wilson outside, across the parking lot, doing their own campaigning.

I spoke with Jason briefly, who I had met previously, and with John, who I was meeting for the first time. It was good to see these gentleman out doing the legwork for their own campaigns. Both men were approachable, knowledgeable and very personable.

Life does go on, and the mayoral election is very important to the City of Jackson. I encourage everyone to get out and vote in your local elections. No matter who you favor, don't fail to exercise the power you have with that vote you're holding. Let your voice be heard where it counts most. At the ballot box.

Mayoral candidates Jason C. Smith and John Wilson.

For more information regarding each candidates views, please visit

Monday, November 4, 2013

"Some day" never comes

I lost a brother on Saturday.

I know that when he was younger, my older brother Richard believed he could do some great things, but he never got around to actually doing them. I don't know why. I don't know if it was because of a practical upbringing or if it was due to lack of opportunity, or something else. There were many years between us, almost a generation, and we were virtual opposites in temperament. But the unspoken belief that we were capable of doing something more was something we shared.

I wasn't there when the end came. Many times in the past he said he had no regrets, but I don't think that was true. Like all of us, I think he had some, but because there were things he couldn't change, he didn't want to address them. Not being in control was something he couldn't tolerate.

The inability to change something leaves us feeling weak, powerless. But there are so many things we can't change, so many things that can't be undone.

Death is the most sobering, final reminder of opportunities squandered, roads not taken. It reminds you with cruel finality that if you don't pursue your passion now, you probably never will. Failure is a scary thing, and something we are all accustomed to. We know how bad it tastes and how difficult it is to swallow. Our lives are full of failure, with the ultimate loss waiting for us at the end of the journey.

Life is a short, quick stumble to a long, unending freefall.

It's safer not to try something difficult, something others tell us we aren't capable of. Self-doubt is debilitating. Then one day you realize that your life is slipping away. You know that all of the things you've put off, those dreams you've stored in the attic recesses of your mind, are never going to be realized. You will go to your grave pining for what might have been. Telling yourself you will get to it "some day" is a lie, because "some day" doesn't come to pass unless you make it happen. This is the epiphany I experienced just three short years ago. The clock was approaching midnight, and I had done little to achieve my dream.

My life was a failure for the worst possible reason: I had not really tried.

That is when I decided that the dream would no longer be deferred. I would make it happen and I would begin right now. What I didn't know, I would learn. What I couldn't do, I would find a way around. What was beyond my capability and skill, I would look for in others with similar aspirations. But what I would not do is delay the dream any longer. I would make movies.

It was a “call to arms” moment. A realization that failure wasn't a death sentence or judgment of incompetence. Failure is the road that must be traveled, the gauntlet that must be run, before achieving success. You should not be afraid of failure. Failure teaches harsh lessons, but it toughens you and challenges you to use what you've learned. You must build on failure, not let it defeat you.

You can do what you dream, as entrepreneur Elon Musk has proven. We need more people like Elon Musk, a man whose innovative thinking and pioneering spirit inspires daring, creative invention in the quest to reinvent the way we live.

In screenwriting, I teach that adversity reveals the character of the protagonist. And this holds true for all of us as human beings. It's easy to stay the course when the road has no potholes, but if you're bouncing along on one of Michigan's cratered highways, it's not so easy to resist the urge to take an off-ramp. It's how we respond to challenges and failures that measures our spirit.

That singular moment near the close of 2010 when I realized I would pursue a filmmaking career was both frightening and liberating. Though it was a definite leap from my comfort zone, it was also reassuring to know that if I did not carve out a successful career it would not be for lack of trying. No more half-hearted attempts for me. Standing on the edge of a cliff, there is no margin for error.

The human life span is far too short. On a planet billions of years old, even a hundred years is inconsequential. Take stock of your life. Are you doing what you always dreamed you'd do? Have you succumbed to that supposed “real life” and let your aspirations fade? Dig deep, and you'll find that your dreams still live deep inside you. Buried perhaps, but still alive. Alive and ready to be reactivated. If you fail, you can still be proud of the fact that you tried – really tried. There won't be any regrets for what might have been. Because it's better to take that final trip knowing that even if you failed, you pursued your passion with everything you've got.

I have known failure, crushing failure with things very important to me. Failure can embarrass and humiliate, but I don't regret those failures because they were pursued with honest intentions.

I try real hard to forget that I'm going to die some day. It's easier not to think about dying. Moments like this bring that cold, unforgiving truth home with sobering clarity. I do have some regrets. There are some things I will never be able to make right. There have been many missteps, many things left unsaid and undone, and some things I wish I hadn't said and done. But now I know the one regret I won't have is that I didn't pursue my passion. Win or lose, I will go down fighting for what I really want to do, the only thing that makes me feel worthwhile.

Life is not the only thing worth living. Your dreams are worth living, too.

The setting sun from the roof of Midbrook Products in Jackson, Michigan on Sunday, September 29, 2013.