Monthly Archives: February 2009

The History of Sheol: Part I – the Status Quo, the First War, & the Fall of Achra

Araboth is (assuming it exists, according to Reaf Cobham III, of Brouwerij) a forested paradise. It is hidden in the crescent valley on the other side of the mountains that crown the Herman Sea, far to the West of the Land of the Living. Araboth has always existed, just as the End of the Line has always existed; therefore, its history is rich and varied, involved enough to fill sixty-six windows aboard the Sheol Express.

Prior to the First War, Araboth was a land of virtually uninterrupted peace. Those who found it settled gladly, and no one questioned the way of life. Most citizens live in the capital, but the city’s walls are by no means intended to limit. In fact, people live throughout the valley, with rugged individualists and simple rural folk choosing to make the woods their home. Everyone can come and go as they please.

Long ago, Achra, a prominent citizen of Araboth – if Araboth had had a government at the time, he would have ranked among its political leaders – began to question his restful way of life. To put it simply: he was bored. There was no conflict, no challenge; only an easy-going existence with no end in sight. Deeming Araboth an unsustainable utopia, its citizens lazy elitists, Achra rallied a formidable force of supporters, all of whom shared his disillusion. Together, they endeavored to plunge Araboth into conflict, and thereby awaken all those who had “fallen asleep”; that is, turned a blind eye to something as natural as human conflict. The citizens of Araboth were forced to oppose his efforts, in order to protect their way of life. So the Army of the Light (the name of Araboth’s military) came into existence, and Araboth assembled its first governmental system, heretofore unnecessary, because there had never been any miscreants to govern. Walls were erected around the City to protect against Achra’s rebellion. The War was swift: ultimately, Achra and his force were cast out of Araboth, forbidden to return.

Reaf Cobham III, of Brouwerij

A lover of history and a brewer of fine ales.

As captured by concept artist Jordan Hassay.

Puns: Why I Love Making a Train Movie

“Welcome aboard!” -to new team members

“We’re on-track.” -regarding scheduling

“Full steam ahead!” -regarding progress

“Yeeeeeah, there’s a slight derailment along the line.” -regarding problems

“I lost my train of thought.” -a common occurrence


Cohesive Happenings


This, ladies and gentlemen, is collaboration

Hey All!  This is Jenn, Casting Director for The Sheol Express, dropping the blogosphere a quick note on the eve of callbacks! 

Tonight saw yet another successful and productive production meeting. Seriously folks, this is how a film gets off the page and onto the screen – all the fabulous creative minds involved coming together, sharing ideas, working out details, and generally just being on the same page.  

Okay, so it takes a heck of a lot more to actually make a movie, but it would never work without the beautiful cohesion of minds you see above.  LOVE IT.

So now we press on to tomorrow’s adventure: Callbacks.  

Only a couple more days, and we’re going to have a cast!!  (I’m excited, can you tell?)

The History of Sheol: An Introduction

“The Sheol Express” is set in the drought-stricken land of Sheol – a world unto itself, as unique as Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Lewis’ Narnia, and Martin’s Westeros. In the present era, Sheol can be divided geographically into three distinct areas: the Bordertowns in the East, with the forsaken Wastes stretching far West, to the End of the Line. Whispers of a fourth location spread throughout the land – a second-to-last stop called Araboth, before the End of the Line – green, teeming with life and flowing with water.

Does it exist? Some say.

Look for posts over the next couple of weeks detailing the History of Sheol, as recounted by Historian Reaf Cobham III, of Brouwerij, a believer in Araboth and first-class brewer of fine ales.

“You Can’t Do This”

That’s what they told us.

According to Robby – Ryan’s Advanced Production class professor (to complicate things, I am no longer at NYU, which upsets some members of the ruling class) – the soundstage authorities doubt our ability to bring this story to life. It’s too ambitious, too big, too messy, too demanding, too intensive, too [adjective].

And, listen, really, let’s shoot straight here for a moment. We haven’t exactly been angels. We needed eighteen hours to cast in Todman – the facility with the soundstage and casting space – and the cap on time was twelve. Our producer pulled some strings; we turned a bit of a blind eye and like magic, got what we needed.

Until, of course, they found out we’d played the system. And no one likes feeling they’ve been played.

Robby, thank God for him, went to bat for us in a panel meeting. “This project must be made,” he said. “It’s beautiful.”

Having won the ire of our bureaucratic superiors, we’ll be walking on glass for the next couple of weeks, submitting drafts and providing details to assuage their fears. We were concerned the meeting could have been a “we’re sorry, but you’re shut down” kind of situation… thankfully, it wasn’t.

We’re full-steam ahead.

A Slight Problem?

Today I received an e-mail from my production teacher and faculty sponsor, Robby Benson, that contained the following text:

Dear Ryan,

we need to talk. There is a problem.

I have no idea what is going on here.  I think that it may have something to do with some bending of the rules that our production did to secure 4 more hours of audition space in the NYU film facility, but I cannot imagine that it would be anything this “ominous”, as Mike called it.  We’ve arranged a meeting tomorrow at 4pm, so hopefully things will be cleaned up by then.  We’ll keep you posted.

An Example of Concept Art!

Here’s some visual eye-candy for you all.  Concept art!  If you’re gonna have a train, you’ll need a conductor.  And ours is awesome. 

This is done by our amazing concept artist, Jordan Hassay.  Check out his other stuff here:  He also does fantastic storyboards, and his short stop-motion film, “Seeker”, is beginning the film festival circuit.

Our Outstanding DP

The Director of Photography for “The Sheol Express” will be Andrew Ellis. Ryan first worked with Andrew shooting his NYU film “Chess and the Art of Orange Soda” last spring on S16mm. We worked well together, shared a good working style and had a lot of fun. Not only is Andrew an incredibly hard-working DP who can creatively and innovatively churn out shot after shot after shot on a small budget, he has an incredible commitment to the art of cinematography and mastering the craft behind it.

Check out his reel and bio below:

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