Monthly Archives: March 2009

You’re Going All The Way…

…to the END OF THE LINE.

Here is the stamp that we’re getting custom-made for “The Conductor” to stamp Owen’s passport with when he boards the “Sheol Express”.

Also, we’ll be getting Owen’s passport CUSTOM MADE by Indy Magnoli, who specializes in making passport reproductions (and recently made Julia Roberts’ and Clive Owen’s passports for the movie “Duplicity”).  Check him out here. We’re embossing it with a crest from the “Confederation of Sheol Sovreigns” that is being designed by resident wunderkid and our digital artist, Bryce Kroll.  Check out his other stuff here.

The History of Sheol: Part IV – The Drums of War

“Nevertheless, to this day, the threat of Achra’s return remains, and the possibility of a Third War lingers. Recent reports suggest that Achra is mustering an army of unprecedented force far to the West, prepping to sweep into Araboth and claim it in his name. Rumors tell of legions of black ships, massing in the western Herman sea, preparing to besiege Araboth. This leaves many questions: will Achra and his new army vanquish Araboth? Will Araboth destroy Achra, defending its faithful citizens? Or will Araboth pick up and leave altogether, determined to reclaim the Land of the Living, thereby forsaking Sheol to an eternity without salvation?”

***

Historian Reaf Cobham III’s published account of Araboth ends here. Undoubtedly, his personal journals contain troves of additional information, but according to Cobham III himself, these writings will remain unpublished. “As of yet, speculation,” he huffs. “I publish only Truth.” 

(Lost? Read “SHEOL“).

Props

Our production designers recently contacted Anything But Costumes, a props rental house in New Jersey. To give you an idea of what our train will look like on-screen, here’s some of the items they requested from the company’s inventory:

Item #    Item Description
1AR027    Photograph, risque, 19th c nudes (x9)
1AR044    Photos, various for frames (x20)
1AR053    Photo, large in beige matte
1BX035    Jewelry box, glass w/brass edge
1D003    Daguerreotype, tintype in small case
1FF069    Silver and fabric frame w/dried flowers read more »

Are YOU Ready for Your Breakout Role?

Hello, beautiful people!

Question: have you always known that you wanted to act, but never been given the chance? Always wanted to be in the movies, but never could work up the gumption to get those headshots done? Well, now’s your chance! We’re looking for a few small parts in our movie (some speaking), and if you’re in New York and feel you fit a description, we want YOU to apply!

All roles below are compensated $20.00/half day (this is under the table, folks ;)), and include hot meals and snacks on-set!  This may be the best job offer you see this month!

Here’s what we need, from a “featured players” point of view:

FYNN - 60s-80′s, male. Joyful, scraggly. Speaking role. Needed Sat. Apr 11.
AFRICAN BOY - 8-11, black male. Featured extra. Needed Fri. Apr 10, Sat. Apr 11.
JAPANESE PAINTER - 30′s-60′s, Japanese male. Quiet, artistic. Nonspeaking but featured role. Needed Sat. Apr 11, Sun. Apr 12 in PM.
SCHOLAR - 30′s – 60′s. The “professor” look. Nonspeaking but featured role.  Needed Sun. Apr 12 in PM.

…And here’s our “extras” – “background talent”, if you prefer – needs:

Fri April 10 – 2 extras needed all day. Any age/race.
Sat April 11 – 12 extras needed all day. Various ages, races, nationalities. Particularly need children or people 30+, multicultural, “ethnic garb” a plus.
Sun April 12 – 2 extras needed 9AM-3PM: any age/race. 3 extras needed in PM: Various ages, races, nationalities. Particularly 30+, multicultural, “ethnic garb” a plus.
Mon April 13 – 3 “Businesswomen” in AM. “Jeweler” in AM. (anyone want to pitch an idea for another group of people we could see in the train? People from all ages and classes ride the Sheol Express).

If you would like to apply for a part, send an e-mail to casting@thesheolexpress.com, with either the name of the character you want to play, or “extra” in the subject. Attach a picture of yourself, mention any experience you have (resumes welcome), and detail the days you are available/would like to BE IN A MOVIE!

This will be a huge help, guys. We’re excited to work with you!

That Silent Other

Although my MMORPG guildies and “Sheol” readers may not believe it: Yes! I am, in fact, still alive and directing. Truthfully, never has blogging been my forte or interest. I value privacy, and would rather spend my hours in the world doing, not weaving cyber-confessions for the web. However, every so often, a project or cause or idea cracks the ice of my accountability-aversion, and then it’s WordPress and passwords and fonts and NO, dammit, the picture should be RIGHT-justified! …until the sun goes down. “The Sheol Express” is one such endeavor, and as I was sitting here waiting for video to render a job with which I am presently engaged, I thought: what better way to kill some down-time than by giving our blog a shout? So here it is.

This movie rocks. You can argue and laugh and roll your eyes and attribute my conviction to my direct involvement, but skepticism will not change the Truth. Rehearsing with our actors has opened up new avenues of possibility, and next week we’ll bring Andrew (our DP) into the mix to start tinkering with our preliminary shotlist, adopting the invention introduced by Randall, Alexandria, Michael, and Ashton. The closer we draw to production, the more I discover that my role as director is that of Facilitator: having shaped “the vision” with Ryan, we now must keep our departmental experts in constant, easy communication with each other. I can’t tell you how many production meetings I’ve attended during which Ryan and I ask questions, then open up the floor to people smarter than us. “The Sheol Express” is a collaborative endeavor that defies the prevailing auteur approach… which, I suspect, is a reason we’ve butted heads with NYU authorities on more than one occasion. It is remarkable to me how credit-centric the film business is. It feeds on egos and preys on passion – if you give it your soul, it will damn you without redemption. Expect no return on your sacrifice. So I thank God for the breath of fresh air the “Sheol” team is gifted, as I sincerely believe we are combatting this disease with effective teamwork. Honestly, it feels more like a family than a crew, and for this, I am grateful.

***

On another note, there have been many questions about Ryan’s and my decision to co-direct, and how this decision will affect our set dynamic. Firstly, I must say that neither of us puts much stake in the auteur theory. While one person can make a brilliant film, greatness is not the exclusive ward of the individual. We firmly believe that the right team can outshine the solitary soldier – “woe to him that is alone when he falls, and has not another to pick him up.” We complement each other like peanut butter and jelly, and when we agreed to tackle this beast, our relational point of comparison was – brace yourselves, ladies and gentlemen! – marriage. As much as two humans can, we must share one mind. BUT, and this is where things get interesting, our differences also birth a host of benefits (get your mind out of the gutter). Put bluntly, we cover each other’s asses. 

…And here is where I unveil my geekdom, by comparing our approaches to videogames. Any Real Time Strategy fans out there? You know who you are. Red Alert, Starcraft, Age of Empires (I’ll still kick your ass)… the top-down, micro-managing, big picture sort of titles that put the lives of legions in your hands. Well, that’s Patch: a multitasking logistical god. Don’t cross him online, ye of the RTS world! But while I can hold my own in RTS classics, I’m primarily an RPG player. For me, it’s all about first-person world immersion! The experience is tantamount, the environments are key, the details essential to fleshing out the Universe, so that sometimes, the practicals are lost in the ideals.

But our forces combined? My focused specificity couples with Patch’s logistical oversight like a frackin’ chain spell. We’ve had our share of “marital disputes”, but the endgame strength of our pairing unleashes a whirlwind of production. And we’re also just really good friends. So. Yeah. I never watched the Power Rangers.

***

Recently, the question was posed to me: “do you think that tackling the grand questions about the Universe [ie., Truth, as in “The Sheol Express”] is actually a way you have of deflecting a filmic investigation of more personal struggles within yourself?” I answer: no. Maybe I’m the only one’s ever thought about jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge on account of the lack of a coherent worldview, but c’mon, man – we all need an anchor. Something solid to cling to, enabling us at least to believe we’re more than driftwood. Hell, Ivan beat me to it: 

“The universal and everlasting craving of humanity – to find someone to worship. So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find someone to worship…For the secret of man’s being is not only to live but to have something to live for. Without a stable conception of the object of life, man would not consent to go on living, and would rather destroy himself than remain on earth, though he had bread in abundance.”

…Then again, we could all just laugh.

***

My next film project, though, likely will deal with something a little more modest, short and experimental. It’s not everyday we take a train ride through the afterlife, and I’m itching to watch somebody wash his hands, or lose his car keys, or get dumped, or something. Still, I’ll be writing the big ones like “The Secret Masters of the Universe” (legislative editor Edmund Erasmus unearths a conspiracy to end the world in seven days), “The Ferrymen” (carrying the ashes of their village’s dead, two brothers traverse a subterranean world to reach a mythical paradise), and possibly a play entitled “Sailing to Golgotha” (a sailor receives an absurd vision, instructing him to travel to Jerusalem and witness “the death of God”) – editing a documentary about infant health in Burma, and another about Alaskan predator control, with my brother Dan’s support – but am planning to esteem the mundane therein.

Several days ago, my sister sent me a precious email, which I will cherish forever: 

“Life isnt about the ups and downs. Its about the little moments that make up the ups and downs in life. Just another one of my wise thoughts I figured out from just taking a step back and observing my life. Moments when the world seems to be at peace with you and you are perfectly content with the world. These moments make me ahppy. When Sadie does something stupid but cute, when Josh breaks out in song, when Mom makes my favorite food, when Dad comes and swoops me up in a giant hug. This is why we live life, for these special treasured moments. Remember these.”  

I intend to, Christie. 

So! “Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness” – signing off  -

Mike

Oooohhh… shiny!

One of our production designers just placed an order from Home Depot for all of the hardware….

Again, this is just so cool for me because it means that we’re making a MOVIE!  A real, live, physical movie that has REAL STUFF in it – it’s no longer just a script or idea or budget.

Okay, so the stuff is sorta random by itself… but just you wait…

Pictures from the build coming later this week, and stay tuned for our first video production diary tomorrow!

Hello to Our International Friends!

So, we’ve been poking around our Google analytics site, and looking at where, exactly, our web traffic comes from. It’s a little bit of an ego trip, but oh well – it’s fun. Kinda like googeling (googling?) your name, in quotes. Don’t pretend you’ve never done it.

But Google’s tools are a little crazy in what you can tell about your visitors, so I know we have visitors from the US, Canada, Costa Rica, Peru, Russia, and India. Now, my Mom is on vacation in Costa Rica right now, so I have a sneaking suspicion that’s where that traffic is coming from (hi, Mom!), but I just wanted to say HEY to everyone else from around the globe who’s following us! We’d love it if you said HEY back!

More “Watchmen” Pizazz…

I am so over this movie…

And then THIS shows up.

The History of Sheol: Part III – The Second War

“Meanwhile, in Araboth, unhappy rumblings filled the streets and rippled throughout the woods, as people continued to question the way of life they had once held so dear. Maybe Achra had been right!, they thought. It took the Second War to address such suspicion. Yerik, a humble and charismatic woodsman, championed Araboth’s traditional way of life, defending the peace. He preached tranquility and servanthood, warning against the dangers of complacency, a disease to which Araboth’s government had fallen prey. Naturally, those in power did not appreciate Yerik’s outspoken criticism. They declared the woodsman an outlaw and enemy of the very peace he worked to defend. 

“Misunderstanding his message of peace, Yerik’s supporters declared war on the government that had saved them during the First War. The political leaders were toppled, and a new regime was established in the woodsman’s name. But much to his militant supporters’ chagrin, Yerik did not endorse their efforts. Instead, he decried their violent actions, insisting that they had undermined his message. Disillusioned and drunk on their newfound power, they condemned the woodsman to death. True to his word, Yerik did not resort to violence in defense of his life. Instead, he turned himself in, and in sacrificing his life, gave testament to the truth and power of his peaceful message. So moved were the members of the new regime that they stepped down, and for years thereafter, Araboth thrived, living out Yerik’s prophesied peace.”

(Lost? Read “SHEOL“).