14-07-02 Distribution

    The screening is tomorrow. I spent the past couple days getting the movie as good as I can. I see tomorrow’s screening as mostly showing the cast and crew what we were able to do. But, it’s also a beta test to see if the movie is at the level it needs to be for future screenings. 

    I’m not sure about the sound mix. Some people say that the sound should be as close to 0db as possible, as often as possible. But, I think that’s an extreme peak. So, instead, I try to keep the sound between -12db and -6db. I guess I’ve been in too many movies that use volume to replace intensity. That’s not the way I work. In fact, making it a little quieter makes people pay closer attention. Of course, with that technique, it’s easy to go too quiet too, so people can’t hear what’s happening. It’s a subtle difference.

    The thing I’ve been working on for the past two days is trying to fix all the dead pixels in Satsuki’s 5D Mk3. He warned me that shooting with as few lights as we did would push the Mk3’s sensor and any dead pixels would show up. He was right. They did. 

    In fact, in all the earlier versions I had the main offending pixel, which closer to 9+ pixels, I fixed that. But, when I exported the movie to Blu-ray for the first time, a bunch of details that never showed up, showed up. A total of 29 dead pixels had to be fixed. The Dead Pixel Remover effect, which I built in Motion 5, gets into Final Cut X and then everywhere it happens has to be re-rendered. 

    Rendering the entire movie takes basically an entire day. I did it yesterday, but a glitch in my most recent implementation had an error, which showed up when I exported and watched the Blu-ray. So, I had to find the problem today, then fix it in the effect, then make sure it fixed the problem, then re-render the movie… again. I’m burning another test Blu-ray as I write this. I don’t know if it will work. If it won’t, I’ll have to use the export that has 28 offending pixels. It’s less than I’d prefer, but it will work.

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    I was reading an article today that mentioned The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science posted their submission dates. I visited the site, hoping that there might be the smallest chance that ALGORITHM might be submittable. 

    It wasn’t. 

    Here’s why: I used the SAG New Media Agreement to be able to work with SAG actors. (You’ll have read this before earlier in the journal, unless you skipped ahead.) The NMA made ALGORITHM possible. It also mandates that it’s premiere be online. However, The Academy mandates that for a movie to be submittable it must screen in a theater, for a week in Los Angeles county. The theater where it plays must be accessible to the public. That parts not too hard. What’s harder is that the showings must be advertised in a way that’s consistent with standard industry practices. That can cost up to $30k a week. Keep in mind that for world-wide releases, studios usually pay $70+ million. That’s a total budget.

    The issue is that ALGORITHM cost $7k. So the ad budget would be more than four times the budget of the movie. To be blunt, I don’t have that. I can’t get it. In other words, I’m barred from the Academy Awards, regardless of the quality of the movie.

    What that feels like to me is a walled guarded, where the walls are made of money. It didn’t sit well with my iconoclast nature. It makes me want to fight all the harder to make a better model… to prove the model I made ALGORITHM with.

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    As if I wasn’t already a little cranky, I then watched Internet’s Own Boy: The Aaron Swartz Story. A lot of the hackers I follow online have been talking about it, which is reason enough. But, if that weren’t reason enough, there’s more. ALGORITHM is screening at HOPE X in New York, at Midnight. Shortly before that, at 10:00pm, Internet’s Own Boy screens, followed by a Q&A with the director. So, that’s why I watched it.

    The hackers were right. It’s a great documentary and I wish everyone involved much success. That movie does what I’m trying to do, it asks questions that need to be discussed in society today. It does it passionately with some of the U.S.’s top thinkers.

    And, the passion wasn’t lost on me. I was pissed. I’ve mentioned this before. I knew it coming in, but it hasn’t stopped. Working on this kind of material, really looking at it and understanding it, trying to portray it accurately, it’s hard not to become an activist.

    I need to care about the movie as an artist, but this subject matter, there’s just so many things wrong with the way we’re doing tech. What should be done seems so clear, but no one’s taking the steps necessary. I want to stand up and shout. I want to become an activist… a subversive. I want to take my methodical nature that made ALGORITHM possible and point it at this problem and change the world.

    But, right now, my job is to do the most I can with the movie I’ve made. Maybe it will lead to a revolution. Maybe it will lead to another movie. Maybe people will see ALGORITHM and act different. Maybe it will make them think, just enough to see their lives, how their living and examine it. I’m not saying people are living wrong, but it’s always good to step back and take another look.

    It’s like one of the quotes from Internet’s Own Boy said, “Are you doing the thing that’s most important in the world. If not, why not?” Maybe that’s not an exact quote, but it’s how I live.