Monday, November 10, 2008

DOB - Day 7 of Principle

June 13, 2008

Nothing like shooting a horror movie on Friday the 13th! *cue spooky music*

Other than having to cut it short due to some heavy thunderstorms that came through, it was pretty uneventful. Our still photographer slash "audio guy" didn't even break out the camera for this shoot, so I don't even have anything to show for it. I'm not sure anyone even enjoys reading these blog updates because not much goes on, lol! It doesn't matter, really. I mainly write these blogs for my own personal satisfaction. One day I'll be able to look back at these and see how far we've come.

Anywho, we did manage to get two scenes shot. One outdoor during the magic hour and one indoor. Lighting went well. Craig is getting much more comfortable, I think. He should; his lighting is looking better and better.

We finished one indoor scene just in time to check the weather and see that we were about to get hit with a terrible storm. We quickly packed up and left. The last place I wanted to be during a storm was a trailer. I'll never forget this Friday the 13th, not only because we were filming, but because Craig and I drove home in a horrendous downpour in head-on 40+ winds down a dark highway. What normally takes a little over an hour lasted an eternity. Not fun.

Until next time!

Monday, June 16, 2008

DOB - Day 6 of Filming

June 7, 2008


Another outside night shoot under our belts. I can tell summer is almost here. It's hot and muggy even at midnight and the bugs are in full force. Tonight was a re-shoot from a day 3. Craig and I both agreed that while the performances were fine, our lighting and framing was horrible. This is a key scene in the movie and it had to be up to par.

We did a little rearranging of the scene and wound up getting some good stuff. Much better than the first go 'round. The performances were even better and the lighting looked fantastic! Lori Mills had some emotional moments and she nailed it. It should come across nicely in the final edit.

All in all, I believe it was worth it to re-shoot. The final edit will benefit for sure. Thanks to everyone who participated!

DOB - Day 5 of Filming

Friday, May 30, 2008

Bugs, bugs, bugs! Oh my goodness there were tons of bugs! That's what you get when you shoot by a pond during the Spring/Summer. Despite the bugs, the actors were in good spirits and I greatly appreciate their patience.

The scene we shot had to be tweaked a bit due to rotten wood on the deck we were using, but I think it turned out ok. The worst part of the night was having to pause every few minutes to wait for the airplanes. We learned that our location is in a flight path for the FedEx planes, joy joy.

Even though James wasn't in any of the scenes we were shooting, he decided to join us. And of course we put him to work documenting the shoot with the handycam. I don't think he minded. Thanks, James!

We still have quite a bit to do, but it's coming together. Craig's lighting is really improving, too. He took the time to create some nice shadows for these scenes and it really paid off. And having Roger around is an advantage. He and Craig work so well together; they are definitely in sync.

DOB - Day 4 of Filming

May 25, 2008 - Memorial Weekend

Today was the first time we have had all of our actors together on set. Since it was a holiday weekend, Craig and I chose to bring out BBQ for everyone. It's just a small token of our appreciation for everyone's help. Lord knows we couldn't get this done without our actors and crew. Thanks, everyone!

The shoot wasn't an ideal one, unfortunately. The air conditioner in the trailer we are shooting in was out. A 90 degree day in Memphis in a trailer with little cool air does not make for a comfortable time. However, we all pulled through it just fine. We got a couple of scenes shot - never enough for my tastes - and I learned how difficult it is to decorate a set. This is not a job for me. My own house is barely decorated!

Lighting set ups didn't go as smoothly as we had hoped, either. Filming in the small trailer makes for difficulty with getting things placed in the right spots. All things considered, Craig looked great.

Pics courtesy of Roger Cotton. Enjoy!

Update: 8-22-13
All pics of Degree of Blood have been removed. We changed domains where the pics were stored and since the movie was never finished, I didn't see a reason to re-upload them. 

DOB - Day 3 of Principle Photography

May 17, 2008

Our third night of principle photography didn't come without its hurdles, but it sure was fun! We had originally planned to shoot this particular exterior scene 2 months ago when the foliage had not grown in due to the spring rain. However, due to some unforeseen issues it got postponed. When we arrived on location Craig and I were both shocked at the state of the area. Weeds, vines, grass, etc. had overgrown the area around this pond we were to use. Three weeks ago, at our second shoot, this area still looked clear enough to use. At first we toyed with the idea of a re-write, but I wasn't too thrilled with that idea. Craig, being the loving husband he is really stepped up. He and Dolan Mills (Nathan) each grabbed a pair of shears and went to cutting. Before we knew it, they had the area cleaned out enough to make it work. I owe a huge thanks to both of these guys for tackling the hurdle.

For this shoot, we got to mix it up with Degree of Blood's three other actors. Lori and Dolan Mills and James McElyea all did a fantastic job. In fact, Lori Mills (Alison) did such a great job in one of her scenes Craig actually stopped the camera. Lori's character was to stumble and fall, and Lori did a very convincing fall. I bit my tongue from yelling "Cut!", but Craig had already stopped camera. I took a step forward to where she was on the ground and waited an extra second to see if she was ok. Thankfully, it was only acting and she wasn't hurt at all. It should look great in the final film! Now I've got to teach my cameraman to always keep rolling! Real pain and injury is always better than fake. Everyone knows that. Haha! Great job, Lori!

Both Lori and James played their parts well and projected their voices nicely, too. Dolan is the lucky actor who also gets to play our monster. So, he got to don the costume for the first time. Let me tell you, he did a frighteningly good job! I won't dare spoil anything regarding the monster, so you'll have to wait for the dvd.

Sadly, our professional photographer, Roger Cotton, was not in attendance. The following pictures were taken by yours truly and it shows. We missed you, Roger!

Update: 8-22-13
All pics of Degree of Blood have been removed. We changed domains where the pics were stored and since the movie was never finished, I didn't see a reason to re-upload them. 

DOB - Day 2 of Principle Photography

April 26, 2008

I was very pleased with our second night of shooting. We were all much more comfortable in our respective roles which helped move things along more smoothly. I felt as though I gave more efficient direction and our actors looked more relaxed, too.

Valerie Campbell and Jeff Glatstein have a definite grasp on their characters and it shows. I appreciate how prepared everyone was. Craig Morris ran his (homemade!) steady cam for some of the shoot, which consisted of a walking segment. Those shots are always fun and they turned out well.

Check out some pics from the shoot courtesy of Roger Cotton:

Update: 8-22-13
All pics of Degree of Blood have been removed. We changed domains where the pics were stored and since the movie was never finished, I didn't see a reason to re-upload them. 

DOB - Day 1 of Principle Photography

April 18, 2008

Principle photography on Degree of Blood has begun! Cast members Valerie Campbell, Jeff Glatstein, and Jessica Glatstein were in attendance. Fortunately, we didn't have many obstacles to over come on this first night. Camera placement in the tiny room we were shooting in was challenging, but in the end I think Craig Morris (our Director of Photography) succeeded.

Our resident Still Photographer (among other titles!), Roger Cotton, snapped several shots to document the shoot. Here is a small taste. Enjoy!

Update: 8-22-13
All pics of Degree of Blood have been removed. We changed domains where the pics were stored and since the movie was never finished, I didn't see a reason to re-upload them. 

Announcing: Degree of Blood

Our next film project will mark my directorial debut and it is one that I am very excited about. It is a film that was conceived from the notion of making a Bigfoot movie. One day I was brainstorming the idea of "a man in a suit" and from that, Degree of Blood was born. (Yet, there's no Bigfoot! haha) It was written during the summer/fall of 2007.

Pre-production has already begun and filming will commence this spring ('08). I'll try to update this blog with photos and progress. Add me at for more information. In the meantime, enjoy the poster and teaser trailer!

Written and Directed by: Valarie O. Morris
Produced by: Valarie O. Morris and Craig Morris
Director of Photography: Craig Morris
Edited by: Craig Morris

Thursday, June 12, 2008

my thoughts on Legion

If you've been reading this blog, you will have noticed that all of Craig's 'Legion' production notes have been posted. I thought I'd say a few more things about Legion. If for no other reason to have various thoughts all in one place.

Legion - 2007

Directed by: Craig Morris
Written by: Craig and Valarie O. Morris

We've all made home movies. You know, those crappy videos we made with our brothers and sisters because we got our hands on a family member's gigantic VHS video recorder? Yeah, I've done that. And they do look like crap. I had no editing machine back then and was too lazy too hook up two VCR's to edit. I don't count that as my introduction to filmmaking and if you saw them, you'd understand why!

I do, however, consider Legion my first official entry into the world of filmmaking. Even though I didn't direct this first short, I learned more from producing it than I could ever express and am forever grateful for the opportunity. Legion was a vision that Craig had that when he shared it with me, I fell in love with. I've always wanted to make movies. Now, not only did I have someone just as passionate to make them with but also the means to make it look less like a kid's home movie. Or at least that was my hope.

Legion's sole purpose was to get us both experienced with the whole process: directing, lighting, producing, editing and writing. We didn't focus as much attention on the writing as we probably should have because we really wanted to work out the kinks in the other areas before putting a lot of effort into creating a three act script. In other words, we wanted to see if we could handle the technical and logistic side of filmmaking first. Fortunately, we feel we can.

One other aspect that I got to experience was acting. I played two roles: a newscaster (Connie Miller) and the alien creature. Playing a newscaster was difficult. Much more difficult than I imagined. It's obvious I am no actor, but Craig tells me that staring into a camera (which I had to do as part of my character's job) is difficult and that I should consider trying again in a future movie. I'll have to write myself a good role and then I may try again. However, if I could play our monster in every movie, I would jump at that opportunity! As a child, and even still today, I was always fascinated with who played the monster, so to experience that was awesome! It also gave me a newfound appreciation for the physical activity actors put themselves through. However, bruised knees and sore muscles will not stop me from playing the part of a monster again!

Legion was shot on a Canon HV20 in its "24p" mode, lit with $6 aluminum work lights from Wal-mart, and edited with Final Cut Studio 2. Non-actors, consisting of family members and myself, starred in the short. Family members and friends also acted as our crew. My thanks to everyone who participated.

"Technically", I think Legion is an OK short. I hope you'll watch it and maybe leave some feedback. Please stayed tuned for our next project, one that I will be directing. I can't wait!

Here are a few production shots. Beware: I'm no photographer!

The Director

We had a crane!

Setting Up

Cheap Lighting!

Cast & Crew

The REAL Cast & Crew

~ val

Legion on the Web

originally posted by Craig on Dec 24, 2007

I have posted Legion on both YouTube and Atom Films. YouTube has both the film and the blooper reel. Atom Films will have just the film. It’s been uploaded, but I have to wait for Atom to approve the film and add it to their system. It could take several days, especially since it is the holiday weekend.

Again, thanks to everyone who helped me create this little film. It’s certainly not the best piece of drama made, but hey, it was a lot of fun to make.


originally posted by Craig on Dec 11, 2007

Last night, I completed the editing on Legion. YAY! It’s not exactly what I had envisioned, but hey, it’s my first attempt at directing a no-budget short film with non-actors. Considering my cast have never acted before, I was very pleased with their performances, especially with my poor directing. The lighting was poor too, but hey, I was using $6 lights from Wal-Mart. You get what ya pay for.

Numerous technical issues have plagued the editing process. Final Cut Pro has become very unstable. It actually deleted about 38 clips from my timeline when I was exporting it to finish my sound mix in Soundtrack. It even deleted the original files from my HDD, forcing me to recapture the footage. Umm, thanks a lot Apple. I’m sure part of the problem is lack of RAM. Trying to use only 2GB of RAM to edit HD with 5.1 surround just isn’t feasible.

Also, the 3D animation software I was using on my PC decided to stop working as well. It now just completely locks up Windows Vista when I run it. This started right after the latest Vista update, so I’m sure I have Microsoft to thank for that. Sure, the 3D software was freeware, so I can’t really complain. However, my opening and ending sequences are unfinished, thereby making the ending a bit confusing.

After that, I’ve decided to just call it quits on this project. Once I get the DVD made, I’m going to have to reformat my iMac and see if that cures the instability.

I’m exporting the small Web version now. I’ll then do a larger version. Once that is done, I’ll post it here!

Thanks to everyone who helped me practice my film-making skills. I’m sorry that the movie turned out bad, but this is just a first step. I hope the next one will be better.

Getting close!

originally posted by Craig on Dec 8, 2007

OK, I know it’s been a while since I updated the blog. Work just got a little busy. Plus, I had to spend time riding the motorcycle while the weather was warm. Now that it’s getting colder, it’s time to get back to editing.

I finished cleaning up some edits today. Tomorrow, we’ll be shooting the final shots. Once I drop those in, I just need to do a few comps and build the closing credits.

To be honest, I’m not pleased with how this film turned out. I obviously know nothing about writing a decent script. Oh well, this was just a learning experiment. I’ve definitely learned many things NOT to do on my next film.

Still waiting…

originally posted by Craig on June 18, 2007

Stupid weather! I’ve been needing to shoot some exterior shots. Unfortunately, I really need the sky to be completely clear. Naturally, it’s been hazy and overcast just about ever day for the past 2 weeks. If it doesn’t clear up soon, I’m just going to have to deal with the clouds in the shot. That’s just going to make the composite shot more difficult to do, but I’m ready to wrap up all the photography so I can finish my edit.

Day 6 - Principle Photography

originally posted by Craig on June 9, 2007

Principle photography is almost complete! I will be grateful too. Shooting is hard work! heh

We re-shot all the bedroom shots last night. After a “wardrobe malfunction” on the previous shoot, we decided to just redo that whole scene. That was fine because my lighting was better this time.

It really is a challenge to light a room with nothing but aluminum work lights. Without proper flags and focusable lights, it was tough getting the look I wanted. I fumbled around for way too long trying to light the scene. I finally had to just admit I wasn’t going to get much better with the lights I had. But that’s fine. I’m pleased with how it turned out.

Even though it required us staying up until 3:30 a.m., we got all the shots we needed. The only thing left is a few EXT shots of a truck and one more green-screen shot that will be used in a composite.

Production is almost over. Yay! I’ve already edited about 1/3 of the film. Once I cut the new footage, it will be time for sound design/Foley, music, and VFX. For such a short film, it sure is taking a long time. But that’s just part of doing this kind of work part-time.

I’m in Motion!

originally posted by Craig on June 6, 2007

I’ve started to work on some of the composite shots for the film. I just got Apple’s Motion 3, and I’m quickly learning the ins and outs of this software. I’ve used Adobe After Effects, but never got real deep into that. I guess that’s a good thing since Motion’s interface is a little different.

So far, I’ve figured out the main techniques I need, like doing a stencil silhouette alpha mask, basic motion tracking, and using the keyframe editor. I realize that Apple tried to simplify 2D compositing by including built-in behaviors. But I’m glad that they also included a good, old-fashioned keyframe editor for people like me who like to do things the hard way. There’s just something more gratifying about doing my own motion paths.

While my artistic skills are a bit limited, at least I’ve figured out how to do the type of shot I had envisioned for the ending. The trick now is to make it look good. Of course, this is the “easy” comp. There’s going to be another one earlier in the film that’s going to require a lot of tweaking since the elements must be animated on a 3D plane. But I have confidence that I can pull it off.

A Special Thanks

originally posted by Craig on May 30, 2007

I’d like to give a special thanks to my parents. They have always believed in me, and for that, I will be eternally grateful. I realize how fortunate I am to have parents that care so much. The help they are giving me with getting my film made is truly a blessing.

To my parents, I say a heartfelt “Thank You!” for helping me realize my dreams.

Best Cast and Crew!

originally posted by Craig on May 29, 2007

I just have to acknowledge my cast and crew. Everyone has done such a tremendous job. They are all helping me achieve a dream, and without them, it wouldn’t be possible.

Here is our fearless cast and crew:

Lori Mills - Production Assistant, Medic, back hair shaver *giggle*
Dolan Mills - “Jonathan”
Susie Daniel - Production Assistant
Roger Cotton - Boom Operator, Gaffer
Stacey Peterson - “Sarah” (aka. The New Scream Queen)
Avery Peterson - cute little kid who insisted on being in the photo. heheh
Valarie O. Morris - “The Alien”, “Connie Miller”, Producer, Music, Continuity
Craig Morris - Director, Producer, Editor (I’m not thanking myself however. heh)

Mark Alexander - “News Anchor”
Teresa Moore - Caterer, Location Manager
Monte Moore - Production Assistant
Chris McGee - 3D consultant

Thank you all for everything you do. You are all so accommodating and patient with me. You’ve made this difficult process so much easier…and so much fun!

Day 5 - Principle Photography

originally posted by Craig on May 28, 2007

Oh boy…what a day! I knew this day was gonna be tough, but several unexpected events took place. Allow me to elaborate on the joys of guerilla filmmaking…

First, I set up the crane to get my opening shot. I then realized that the angle I wanted didn’t have anything in the foreground, which made the crane shot worthless. So, we moved around to get a small tree in the foreground. Problem sorta solved. Then, the jib arm developed a weird glitch. It would “pop” at two locations in the move, which causes a small, yet very noticeable, camera shake. So, I didn’t get the exact shot I wanted. Oh well, the jib arm was free.

The next few shots went very well. My lead male actor got to run around numerous times while I fumbled around with getting decent shots. And my lead actress delivered a blood-curdling scream that nearly freaked me out. It was perfect!!! We were getting into a groove!

Then tragedy struck. We were about to set up for another shot that required repositioning the lights. Like a big dummy, I walked over to the light (which was still on), and tried to free some slack from the power cables. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize there was no available slack on the cable (it was pitch dark). As you can imagine, when I pulled on the cable, the 500-watt light came crashing down…right on my head! A flash of blue, sparkling light burst out around my head as the bulb gave in to the force of impact. The metal frame that holds a glass protective shield hit me square on the top of my head, shattering the glass all over my head. The crew frantically tried to catch it, but my idiot self was in such a hurry, I gave no warning to anyone about what I was about to do. I should receive a Darwin Award for this utter stupidity. *sigh*

So, after about an hour of Val and my sister moping the blood from my head and trying to decide if putting a Band-Aid on my head would actually work, we finally started shooting again. Surprisingly, I didn’t even get a headache from this. Just a bleeding wound that I’m sure will leave a permanent scar on my head. Yay! A war wound!

Well, after all that, I really couldn’t concentrate as well on my shooting. Some of the shots suffered from that, but overall, I think we got decent footage. I know of only 1 shot I missed getting. Not bad since we shot almost 70 shots in the span of about 7 hours. Robert Rodriquez would be proud!

So, there is my tale of wounds and wayward cranes. Some of my cast and crew may exaggerate this tale. But I assure you, I am fine! Now, lets go shoot some more!

Craig “Is there glass in my hair?” Morris

Fake Blood

originally posted by Craig on May 25, 2007

Well, we tested out the fake blood splatter effect tonight. Sadly, it looks horrible. Yeah, it would work for a cheap gunshot wound, but not for the splatter effect I need. Looks like I’ll be doing more green screen work as I try to composite the blood into the scene. I need Tom Savini!

The fake blood we used looks very realistic though. It’s nothing more than a cup of water, one TBS of flour (boiled for 15 minutes), and Black Cherry Kool-aid mix. It smells yummy and looks great on video. Yeah, my alien is going to have red blood. It just looks cooler than some funky color. I could do the old florescent blood trick a la Predator, but that’s been done before.

Tomorrow night is the big shoot! Hope everything goes well. I’m getting nervous…

Day 4 - Principle Photography

originally posted by Craig on May 20, 2007

Got all the interior truck shots last night. My lighting job was horrible. It’s clear I am clueless about lighting. While I thought the driving effect was pretty convincing, I underexposed and under-lit the scene. I also didn’t have the proper colored gel to get the look I wanted, and my HD camera picked up way too much of the green. I knew this would happen while I was shooting. I also knew that I should have just lit it normal and added the color in post, but I didn’t. I’m such a moron.

We were shooting in a neighborhood, and the streetlights were lighting up the neighbor’s white shutters too much. Since we’re just simulating the driving (all exterior shots will be done later), I wanted to make sure that nothing was visible outside the windows. If I was smart, I would have brought some black sheets with me to cover the windows. But I was afraid the interior lighting would catch the material. So, I just used a stronger light and stopped the iris down to make sure the BG went dark. Unfortunately, this caused me to lose most of the detail. Oh well, live and learn.

So far, everything is cutting together pretty well. It’s gonna be a long process of doing the sound mix and foley, but I think I pulled off the look I was going for. Once I added the sound effects of car noise (my wife recorded my truck sounds on our drive back home), it actually made it look like he was really driving. We also had a handheld light with a red gel on it that my wife moved across the scene to simulate passing brake lights or stop lights. It gave it just enough motion to sell the shot (I think). Gotta love the trickery of filmmaking!

I’ll spend the next week editing. Then, next Saturday, we’ll have an extremely long day of shooting. I hope we have time to film everything, but I’m not holding my breath. It always takes longer than you anticipate!

Day 3 - Principle Photography

originally posted by Craig on May 19, 2007

Finally! Got to shoot some of the actual story elements last night. The was the first of at least 3 nights of shooting we’ll be doing. Got the opening montage shots that go under the credits and about 3/4 of the phone conversation before we ran out of time. It was 11:30 p.m., and every one, including myself, was getting tired. My real job drained me, thanks to a last minute project that forced me to work late.

My lead actress, Stacey Peterson, did a spectacular job! Even though she’s not a professional actress, she followed my direction perfectly. It really made the shoot go smoothly. I’ve actually shot worse performances from trained actors before! We are very lucky to have such a gifted person in our film. She’s doing a better job than I am with directing.

I’ve edited part of the opening sequence and the beginning of the 2nd sequence. Even though my lighting wasn’t very good for some of it, it will be good enough (thank the maker of the color correction filter in Final Cut!). I quickly learned that I can’t trust the monitor I was using, even though it was calibrated. Doh!

Tonight, we’re off to shoot the other half of the phone conversation. Hopefully, I’ll do a decent job with lighting the interior of a truck.

One edit complete

originally posted by Craig on May 9, 2007

Last night, I completed the editing for my news broadcast segment. This will be playing on a TV during the actual shoot. I’ve burned it to DVD using iDVD. It was shot in widescreen, and iDVD 6 is supposed to support 16:9. However, I struggled for a while to get this to work. It would always display the 16:9 footage in 4:3, even though I made sure the exported video was flagged at 16:9. It would play back correctly in the Quicktime Player, but iDVD would not pick up the 16:9 flag. Argh!

Finally, I realized what I was doing wrong. I was actually creating a self-contained .mov file. When I just chose the “Export to Quicktime” option and deselected the “Make self-contained movie” option, it worked perfectly. This doesn’t make sense to me, but whatever. Now the video is in anamorphic widescreen (and even letterboxes properly on a 4:3 display.) Yay!

Here’s my “edit suite”. The PC, running After Effects, is on the left, and the 24″ iMac, running Final Cut Express HD, is on the right. You can get a sneak peek at the news broadcast on the screen. Oooh, intrigued yet??

Day 2 - More Chroma Keying

originally posted by Craig on April 30, 2007

The One-Man Crew…desperately in need of a haircut!

Just wrapped another day of shooting. My wife is playing the role of a reporter, and I needed to do another key. I decided to just buy a 10′x12′ green chroma key sheet so I could shoot this at home. I stretched the sheet between 2 light stands (not the most sturdy way), and used some heavy-duty clamps to hold it tight. It was lit with 2 100-watt work lights.

Worked pretty good, though I did get a little spill on the actress. I just didn’t have enough room to get her far enough away from the sheet. Oh well, Final Cut’s keyer is very forgiving.

Here’s the set up. No one watching the film will ever know she was only wearing shorts. Ahh, the magic of filmmaking.

Next up…trying to make a costume. Oh boy...


originally posted by Craig on April 20, 2007

Wow, the chroma-key in Final Cut works great! Even with my sub-par lighting job (the fill light was way too bright!), the composite turned out perfect. This is the first time I’ve ever used chroma-key in a NLE. Compared to the old hardware keyer in the Grass Valley switcher I used to use, Final Cut’s keyer blows that away. So easy.

Well, at least that part is out of the way now. I was afraid my key would be sloppy. Whew!

Day 1 - Principle Photography

originally posted by Craig on April 20, 2007

Shot my first footage today. My actor showed up on time and ready to go. I spent about 1-1/2 hours setting up the lights beforehand. Fortunately, I was shooting in my employer’s TV studio, so I got to use their ARRI light kit. I was glad I didn’t have to bring my own lights.

This footage was shot against a blue-screen since it’s going to be composited later. Lit the chroma-key wall with a single 650-watt Fresnel and used 3 150-watt Fresnel lamps with diffusion to light the actor. I really needed a scrim for one of my lights, but I couldn’t find them. My boss is in Vegas, so I couldn’t ask him, and none of his TV minions were there today. Oh well.

The audio was a bit echoey since I was shooting in the back of the studio (all the acoustic panels were near the TV set, which I wasn’t shooting on.) But I don’t think it will matter due to the way I’m going to be showing this in the final film.

So far, so good. Hope the rest of the shoots go as smoothly as this one did.

Animation test

originally posted by Craig on April 17, 2007

Well, I just realized that I have no business trying to do any 3D animation for this film. I can’t afford decent software, I haven’t touched 3D software since Lightwave 3D on an Amiga 4000 in 1995, and I can’t afford to pay a real animator for the shots I need.

I have once chance, though. I know an animator that did some work for my employer a few years ago. Perhaps he’d be willing to donate to the cause. Can’t hurt to ask!

If he won’t do it, then I may just have to deal with having cheap 3D shots in my film. Since I have zero modeling skills, about all I can do is find free 3D models on the Web and hope for the best. These are 2 shots I’ve done using the free Anim8tor software for the PC and Blender for Mac, composited in After Effects:

I really hope I can find a good animator to do this.

Lighting... the cheap way

originally posted by Craig on April 16, 2007

Preproduction is winding down. I’m just prepping all the equipment now and doing more screen tests. I knew lighting was going to be the most challenging part since I can’t buy a real set of lights. So, I have to improvise.

Since I’m shooting with a video camera with decent low-light sensitivity, I don’t need real bright lights. Plus, this movie will take place at night (though the outdoor scenes will be shot during daylight using a day-for-night trick). I’m just using 4 small aluminum work lights ($6 apiece at Wal-mart). This will give me my key, fill, and back lights, and an extra light for lighting up the background. Unfortunately, they are hard to control since they give off wide-angle harsh light. After a few test, I knew I would have to spend a little more money.

A quick trip to B&H Photo scored me some diffusion material that will be attached to the front of the lights to give the light a smoother look. No more harsh shadows. I also ordered some colored gel material to give the light a little color. That helps set the mood. I’ll use orange gels for a warmer look to the intro, but then switch to the cool blue gels for the action scene. Nothing too drastic. Just a hint of color is all you need.

I also ordered 2 cheap light stands ($19 apiece). I originally planned to just clamp the lights to furniture or wherever I wants. But as I did some tests, I realized that I would have to compromise the composition too much. The stands will help me place the lights exactly where I need them. That will save a ton of time during shooting.

All that’s left is to make some gobos, which are nothing more than patterns you put in front of a light. It can help create texture on a plain background. Since my lights don’t have holders for gobos, I’ll have to improvise again. I’ll go to Wal-Mart once again and pick up some of those aluminum cooking sheets. They normally come in a package of around 10. Simply bend them to shape and cut the patterns out. Clamp it to the light using clothespins. Instant gobo on the cheap.

Now, I just hope my lighting skills are good enough to make this film look decent. We’ll see...

Welcome to the “Legion” Production Blog!

originally posted by Craig on April 14, 2007

Almost everything is in place to begin production on my film, “Legion.” This film tells the story of a husband and wife who have a perfect life. But their happiness comes to an abrupt end as a sinister force begins it’s attack on the Earth. Their perfect life will be a distant memory as they fight to survive the incredible events unfolding on our planet.

“Legion” stars Stacey Peterson, Mark Alexander, Val O. Morris, and David Pickett. It will be shot in high-definition video (1080/24p) in the widescreen (16:9) format. It will premiere on the Web in Fall 2007.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

reposting our production blogs

Our 'Legion' and 'Degree of Blood' production blogs have been hosted elsewhere since we began making movies, so I thought it'd be a good idea to get all of our movie blogs in one place. Over the next couple of days I will be reposting each blog here. Every blog entry will have its own label for ease of categorizing each movie. And to all those involved with Legion, enjoy the trip down memory lane. :)

the birth of Cinegore Pictures

Welcome to the first post at the Cinegore Pictures blog! I'm Val, your ghost without the most, and will likely be the main blogger for the site. Cinegore Pictures is the child of the "Demented Duo" (Craig Morris and Valarie O. Morris). After a year of writing and filming shorts, we have finally decided on a name for our production company. Cinegore Pictures represents several things. First and foremost, it represents our desire and appreciation for cinematic experiences, hence the use of part of the word "cinema". We both agree that even at a low budget level, movies can still be cinematic. Secondly, we are mainly interested in the horror genre, a genre we both grew up on, which is why the word "gore" is part of the name. Lastly, the word "cinegore". Its sound signifies our love of movie monsters. And monsters of all types will be in healthy supply in our catalog.

As independent filmmakers, it is our vision to bring horror entertainment with the scope of a cinematic experience, strong characters, and fun gore to the world of independent cinema. We got our start in 2007 with our first short, Legion. We are currently in production for Degree of Blood, another short that is the first to bare the Cinegore name. Craig and I both write, direct, and produce our own movies. We also handle all editing and scoring in house. We have been blessed with a close group of friends and family who also help with production (audio, lighting, etc.) as well as acting.

While we are currently focusing on shorts, features is something that we both want to move into eventually. We're having a great experience and look forward to making many more fun movies.