12-08-28 Pre-Production

    Saturday my wife and I went to the San Diego Zoo. It was the last chance we had to go before our annual passes expired. She loves just sitting and watching the pandas do whatever it is they happen to be doing at the time.

    As we left the panda exhibit, there was a guy who called himself Professor Fred, who was basically there to give people directions. I asked Fred what he was a professor of. He told me he studied advanced primates. It took me a few seconds to get the joke that he watched people. He then asked what I do. I told him I write and direct movies, to which he responded that he was a composer who had just finished writing the score for a documentary. I gave him my card.

    As I was leaving, Fred told me to go talk to Rob, who was producing the Chinese acrobatic show about to start, that Rob was interested in getting into producing movies, and that Rob was in the sound booth.

    Sure enough, Rob is interested. I gave him my card and he immediately sent me an email. So, props to Rob. He seems like a go-getter and I hope we can work together.

    After the acrobatics, we wandered around the rest of the Zoo, heading in the general direction of the lions.

    When we got there I met Daryl, who had a Canon 1D X (a very nice still camera, similar to the 5D, which is what I’ll be shooting TRK on) along with a 300mm lens. He was getting some amazing shots of the lion, one of it yawning. The 12 frames-per-second bursts produced some really impressive images. I asked Daryl about his other cameras and he told me he owned pretty much the entire Canon EOS line, including the 5D Mark III. He told me how awesome the MkIII is.

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    I don’t have a lot of money. I mean, freelance gigs pay enough for me to acquire a pretty nice studio, a decent camera (Canon T2i) and a nice lens (Canon 35mm 1.4 L). But, if I actually want to make a movie and pay people, I just don’t have enough to do that. But, with the amount of money I did have, I could have made TRK and not pay anyone. That reasoning is what kept me from spending that money.

    The fact is, my T2i is not enough to shoot most of the shots. And, the lens I’ve got is a prime lens. That means it doesn’t zoom. Some of the shots TRK calls for require either a dolly, a very steady hand, or a zoom lens. The zoom I wanted is the Canon 70-200mm 2.8 L IS II, and retails for about $2,400. I’ve done a lot of research on this lens and it’s amazing. The camera, the 5D Mark III is $3,400. Again, the research, again, an amazing camera.

    On Saturday, after I got back from the Zoo, I bought the 5D and the lens, and some extra batteries. And then my production budget backup was gone. But, I need these things to shoot the movie. 

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    Of course, in the back of my mind, I had my wife’s and my savings to possibly use.

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    My production vehicle was a car I was calling the Fun-Vee. It was a 2000 Volvo V70 XC. It ran well enough and lasted me for two years. It appears in HUNGER and in a music video I did for The Orange Effect. But, the Fun-Vee had begun to show it’s 180k miles.

    Yesterday I bought SV-1 (a 2012 Scion Xb). It’s been a very expensive weekend. Now the savings is severely diminished.

    This puts me in a very interesting situation. I’ve now got to raise any money I need to make TRK.

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    Permit me to rant a moment.

    There has been a myth floating around about the true cost of an independent movie. I helped with this myth because I shot HUNGER for just under $2,000, spent mostly on gas and food. The actors and crew received food, credit, and footage for their reels. They got to be a part of an amazing independent feature-film, of course. They were not paid in any other way. Moreover, I did not get any permits, nor did I pay anyone for their locations.

    If I were to factor in those expenses, I have no idea how much HUNGER would have cost, suffice it to say that it would not have been affordable for me.

    With TRK, I want to pay people, if not extravagant movie-star money, at least a living wage. And that goes for everyone else who helps make TRK a reality. I don’t plan on making anything on the front end.

    In order to make TRK fairly, with permits and paying people, it’s going to cost me about $30,000 (that’s an extremely rough estimate, and probably a bit low). The deviant nature of the subject of computer hacking is enough to get me in trouble. I don’t want anyone to be able to accuse me of cheating them. It’s not the kind of publicity I want, and I feel it’s just plain wrong.

    It’s a scary place to be, where I am right now. 

    The last time I felt this way I was hitchhiking in Hungary. I had just crossed the border from Romania, and had about 500 miles to go to Budapest, where my plane was leaving from. I hadn’t eaten in a day and I had no money; no vendor took credit cards. I didn’t have a change of clothes. In my backpack was a hat and a coat. This particular stretch of Hungarian highway was famous for people being kidnapped and taken to Turkey, where they were used in Snuff films. And, the sun had just set. Fortunately, a man came along gave me a ride. He fed me on the way with bread and an apple, and gave me all the water I could drink. He took me all the way to the door of the airport.

    That’s how I see my upcoming kickstarter campaign. If it doesn’t work, who knows what happens. If it does, well, then everyone’s in for quite a ride.