Monthly Archives: December 2009

Feedback from Screenings

So -

As we said before, we were going to do an informal screening of the 4th cut of “The Sheol Express” for some friends and peers last weekend.  Well, we did, and I just wanted to update everyone and let you all know that it went great.   People really got involved with the film, watching, thinking about, interpreting, criticizing, and complementing it.

There were moments, characters, lines that we hated; the audience had no problem with them.  There were plot points that we thought were totally vague and convoluted at this point; they got them.  On the flip side, though, there were several moments that the audience had very strong reactions to that we thought were relatively innocuous, and characters that we thought were just sort of there to fill space (er… I mean, we think everyone is important…) people used to build their interpretation of the film.

Something that has been fascinating was seeing people’s reactions to the character of Rachael.  Many people love her and think that Alexandra Grossi, the actress who played her beautifully, is brilliant, a “star in the making”.  Others really hate her, despise her and how she plays it.  The most interesting thing, though, is that it’s almost exclusively divided among men and women – men love the character, women hate her.  I’d love to write more about this later, once I can collaborate with Mike, and perhaps we can talk about our writing process and how we think this relates.

Anyway, watching people talk about a movie that you’ve made is one of the most interesting and exciting things to me.  Listening to people interpret, re-interpret, and learning what a piece of work means to people is one of the most rewarding parts of filmmaking, because you get to see how the piece affects different people, which reminds you that you’ve somehow tapped into something universal that runs through humans.

Anyway, we’re very excited to share the film with all of you, and see what all of you think of it!  Thanks for reading!

“The Hedgehog in the Fog”

1975, Soviet Russia: “The Hedgehog in the Fog”, a short animated film directed by Yuriy Norshteyn, hits the screen. I stumbled across it the other day and want to share it with you here. I was interested to learn that it garnered a lot of worldwide attention. In fact, Hayao Miyazaki cites it as one of his favorite animated films of all time.

If for no other reason, check it out for the visuals. According to Wikipedia (heh), the fog effects “were created by putting a very thin piece of paper on top of the scene and slowly lifting it up toward the camera frame-by-frame until everything behind it became blurry and white”.

Another Day, Another Cut

Good morning, loyal fans!

What’s going on with “The Sheol Express”, you ask?  We’ve been doing lots of behind-the-scenes post-production work that’s not quite blog-appropriate, but we wanted to drop a line and update what we can.  We’ve been slowly raising the money that we need to complete the film through post-production, and our editor Evan Derrick is relentlessly refining the cut of the film:

Something very exciting that’s happening this weekend is that we’ve flown Evan to NY to be with us as we try to “picture-lock” the edit, so it can move on to the audio and visual effects stages of post-production.  We took a look at the third cut of the film earlier this week, and we’ve recently placed our collaborative changes into a “fine cut” – v4.0.

Tomorrow, we will be screening this cut of “The Sheol Express” for the first “audience” (that isn’t limited to our selves and our moms).  We’ve got about 15 friends coming over to our house in Harlem, NYC, to view the film.  We’ve invited a few of our trusted film peers, a couple of them editors, some people who have been involved with the production from day one who know the story, members of our post-production team, several people who have no idea what the film is about, and one who has never even heard of us before.

The idea is to be able to get a good read on how the story is being communicated to the audience – if it’s too ambiguous, too simplistic, if all the fart jokes carry or not, etc.  We’ve spent over 15 months on this, and we want to make sure that we’re not “too close” to some of the material to be able to edit it objectively.

So, this means that tonight, we’re working on refining audio cuts, adjusting volume levels, putting in temporary music, and generally making the cut palatable for our audience tomorrow.

So, wish us luck, and if any of our actors are reading this, Evan does accept bribes in the form of financial compensation, strong mixed drinks, or babysitting his kids for a weekend, in return for more screen time.