Monday, November 8, 2010

Banned From TV! - Hauntedweb Commercial 2010

In a previous blog I told the story of how we got hooked up with Hauntedweb of Memphis to shoot their commercial. And I teased how that commercial got banned from TV. Yup, the first commercial we ever had to play on local TV and it lasted maybe 2 days. 

Remember the "infamous face rub" moment I mentioned before? Well see, once the commercial started running, someone called the sponsor and complained that it was depicting violence against women. Now I agree that scene was unsettling. I was there when we shot it and I can tell you, it was pretty fucking creepy. So I do understand and empathize with any complaints. I even remember watching Craig edit the commercial and saying to him, "That's gonna air on TV?" Even I knew then it was a little too risqué. But, as a horror fan I can also appreciate the story/vibe we were telling with that scene. 

What I don't get is why they (whoever the "they" is that made this decision) decided to run a haunted house commercial at 9 o'clock in the MORNING during the local news program. Marketing 101 tells me that's not exactly the target audience for such a thing. My guess is that it was the most affordable air time. 

But it was a fun and interesting experience and I certainly don't regret any decision. After all, we gave the client what he wanted in this commercial, so we did our part. I hate it for him that he had to pull the commercial. However, there is a silver lining. They continued to run the commercial on the website and wound up raising $78,000 for Youth Villages! 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hauntedweb Commercial 2010

You know the saying, "if you want something done, give it to a busy person"? Wow, is that ever true. I get so much more done when I'm in the thick of things, going with the flow, moving from task to task than I ever do sitting on my ass. Such is the case with this past August and September. 

Fresh off of shooting "BLOOD THERAPY," we get asked to shoot a commercial for a local haunted attraction. It's called Hauntedweb of Memphis and it benefits Youth Villages. On a side note, isn't it cool how horror people are the nicest people in the world? Most of them are family guys/gals, and enjoy donating their time to benefit others and have a little fun doing it. That's the atmosphere we walked into at Hauntedweb. 

First, a little backstory. In 2009 when I was co-producing "A Disjointed Proposal" (directed by Derek Steiner), it was my job to find an F/X person. I asked around the few film contacts I had made by that time and was referred to Duane P. Craig. After getting in touch with him we agreed to meet at the haunt one afternoon since he was already there prepping for the haunt season. This was probably early Sept 2009 if I had to guess, because we made "Proposal" in Oct. Anyway, we meet and agree that Duane is the guy for the job. While we were there, he introduced us to Patrick and the haunt crew and then we got the grand tour. Wow! The amount of talent drifting through that place at that moment was astonishing. The haunt was and is still housed in an old movie theatre. The scary scenarios change every year or two, and at that time we got to walk through an asylum, a creepy shack complete with creepy cannibal family (played by real actors), and a dark vortex of neon paint and 3D clown effects. Holy shit I was in heaven!! Craig put it best. It's like a horror fan's Chuck E. Cheese. 

Fast forward to the following May (2010) and we're downtown at the annual zombie walk. By this time we had become friends with Duane so we stopped in to say hello. He and Patrick from Hauntedweb had a makeup stand set up for attendees to come by and get a zombie makeover before the walk. We didn't hang around long. They were very busy. But after the walk was over we ran into them again. Patrick immediately came up to us and started chatting. 

Cut to July and he asks us if we'd like to shoot their next commercial for the haunt. Hell yeah! But we were deep into pre-production on "BLOOD THERAPY" and if we could fit it in we definitely wanted to. Fortunately it did work out and we finished "BLOOD THERAPY" on time. But there was one catch. 

The deadline for the Indie Memphis Film Fest had passed and the start date for the fest was fast approaching. I was gonna do whatever it took to get our short in that fest. I contacted the director and pled my case and he agreed as long as I could deliver a screener within a very short amount of time. I mean, he needed it like soon. The thing that saved us is, Craig edits as we're shooting so by the time we wrapped production, we were already close to picture lock. Now all that was left (I say "all" like it's no big deal, heh) was color correction, sound, and all the zillion other things that goes into post-production. But at least we were close to picture lock. It gave us the confidence we needed to put "Blood Therapy" on hold to shoot the commercial for Hauntedweb. Now keep in mind that the commercial also had a deadline. I don't remember the exact date, but it had to be delivered *before* the screener for "BLOOD THERAPY". Whew!

So we shot the commercial at the end of August (we shot "BLOOD THERAPY" in early August!). What a great, great time we had! We met some amazingly talented people at the haunt. Many of whom I'm proud to call friends today. Here's a quick little story about one of the moments of filming - and this moment is in the final edit. It involved the character of the girl who gets taken captive and the character of the henchman. The actress is lying on the table and Craig (director) gives the henchman actor direction to hold her down as she's squirming and then gently rub her face as if he's admiring her. Oh my God! Let me tell you! It was a genuinely creepy moment to witness and I'm thrilled to say it also came through on camera. I (and everyone else there) got chills. There was a literal gasp heard after Craig called cut from everyone exhaling. And then the room burst into applause. In another blog entry I'll tell the story about how this "infamous face rub" moment got our commercial banned from local TV!

In the end it all worked out. We shot and edited the commercial, and delivered it to the TV station on time. And we worked on "BLOOD THERAPY" at every opportunity and delivered it on time to play in Indie Memphis. Everybody got what they needed and we were of course extremely happy for the opportunities!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Post-Indie Memphis

What an amazing week this has been! Not only did Craig and I celebrate our 11th anniversary, but we also watched one of our movies in a THEATER for the FIRST TIME EVER! We were pretty stoked about that.

The day started out as any other Saturday. I played with the dogs, did a little exploring in Fallout: New Vegas, and cooked dinner. But by that night, we were surrounded by friends, family, and cast/crew. I admit, I was nervous sitting there in the darkened theater, watching each movie before ours. My mind was full of so many thoughts. "Will it look good?... Will the audience clap or boo?... Are they really gonna make me come down front for a filmmaker Q&A?... Mm'mmm, how I love Malco's buttered popcorn..."

Turns out, we did not get booed. But I did have to go down to the front with the other filmmakers and say a few words. God, I hate speaking in public. The thoughts are so much clearer in my head than coming out of my mouth. That's why I enjoy writing so much. Fortunately, "Blood Therapy" cemented my desire to direct.

Oh, one cool thing did happen to me at the premiere. A total stranger, a non-filmmaker, came up to me after the Q&A and shook my hand and told me he really enjoyed my film. Man, that's what it's all about right there. If I entertained one person, I've done my job.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Review: "Blood Therapy"

A big thanks for the favorable review from Live From Memphis!

"Blood Therapy"

After being attacked by an unknown assailant, Eddie (Christian Walker) finds himself out of sorts. He's depressed, photophobic, and can't seem to find anything appealing to eat. Thinking he's having trouble adjusting to working the night shift, he decides to see a psychiatrist, played by Donald Myers. Needless to say, this is not going to end well.

Written and directed by Valerie O. Morris, "Blood Therapy" boasts a distinctive visual style, buttressed by some excellent cinematography from Craig Morris. Walker holds the screen like the stealth leading man he is (seriously, somebody write a feature around this guy), Myers slips comfortably into the professional, soothing tones of the shrink who has no idea his current client is special. Tight, efficient, and well-executed without being showy, "Blood Therapy" brims with promise for future projects from Cinegore Productions.

-Chris McCoy

"Blood Therapy" screens at Studio on the Square on Saturday, October 23 at 10:00 PM as part of Shorts Program 3.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Indie Memphis bound!

"Blood Therapy" has been officially selected to screen as part of the Indie Memphis Film Festival in Oct. It will play at Malco's Studio on the Square on Oct 23rd.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Official "Blood Therapy" Trailer

The final edit is complete! Enjoy the trailer!

"A man must learn to embrace change before he can discover his true self."

Blood Therapy trailer

Christian Walker
Donald Meyers
Duane P. Craig

Cinematography/Editing: Craig Morris
Co-Producer: Arnold Edwards II

Written, Produced, and Directed by: Valarie O. Morris

Monday, August 30, 2010

"Blood Therapy" - Day 3


That's a wrap, folks! Principle photography is finished!

What an amazing day! Everything came together so effortlessly. The actors were amazing and the blood f/x were yummy! I could have done without it being 87 degrees in my kitchen while we were shooting, but you take what you can get during Memphis summers. But the cast and crew were troopers, always professional!

You know what I loved about today? Those little moments that make me giddy about being a filmmaker. I witnessed several of those today. A heartfelt line, an intense head movement, a gleam in an actor's eye... those little moments are special to me. Seeing it happen before my very eyes and because of something I wrote is one of the greatest feelings a filmmaker can experience. I hope I never forget that.

Something kinda wicked and cool happened during one of our scenes. It was an exterior attack sequence. It was about 9pm, and while we were discussing the shot, one of the bats from our trees flew right through our little group. It was creepy watching him zig zag through us!

All in all, it was a wonderful shoot. I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with this talented group of people. Having seen the rough edit coming together, I can honestly say that this is our best yet. And it's all thanks to our amazing Cinegore cast and crew!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

"Blood Therapy" - Day 2


We shot two scenes today. The shoot went great. We even finished ahead of schedule! Craig did a great job with lighting. This is as much his design as it is mine. I just told him what I'd like to see and he works his voodoo magic to make it happen.

Craig is already hard at work on getting the tentative edit done. The pool scene from the 7th came together nicely. And the footage from today is looking good, too.

One nice thing about finishing ahead of schedule is being able to sit around with cast/crew and just chill. Talk movies, or whatever. I like working with this bunch!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

"Blood Therapy" - Day 1


Day 1 is in the can! The pool shoot went better than I ever expected. We came prepared and we kicked butt! The actors and extras were great, the shots went off (mostly) problem-free, and I had some of the most talented filmmakers supporting me today. Couldn't ask for a better shoot.

The underwater shot that I got turned out great! A big thanks to one of our actors (Rodney!) for assisting me. Couldn't have done it without him.

Unfortunately, the crane shot that Craig planned got ruined. A brand new tape was no good and didn't record properly. Ahh, such is no-budget filmmaking. Fortunately, we had alternative shots planned. Whew!

Just saw a very rough cut of today's footage... me like!

Friday, August 6, 2010

"Blood Therapy" shoot begins!

It has been a while since my last update, but I am pleased to say that we have been working on various projects (update on that later) during that time. And tomorrow, Aug 7, we go into principle photography for our latest project, "Blood Therapy"! I am very excited about this one! It's a script I wrote back in January and began pre-production on back in April for a summer shoot. The stars have finally aligned and it's time to shoot!

Blood Therapy is about a guy who must learn to embrace change before he can discover his true self. It's a horror short that I wrote and will direct. It stars some of the best in Memphis: Christian Walker, Don Meyers, and Duane P. Craig. I'm honored to get to work with these fine actors.

Check out a lighting test Craig and I did for the shoot. Please pay no attention to me in the pic or the sloppy background. It was simply a lighting test. :)

"Blood Therapy" will be shot in a film noir style. The dark tone of the film lends itself well to this type of design.

I'll be updating this blog as production rolls along!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

final thoughts - "Terror Tube"

"Terror Tube" is a short, silly, and not-so-serious look at the dangers of watching television. This was a short film shot for a local film festival. Filmmakers were required to submit a film that was under five minutes in length, contained a likeness of a local TV horror host ("Sivad", WHBQ-TV, Memphis, TN), at least eight instances of alliteration, and at least one instance of smoke/fog. This film was shot over three days with a consumer HDV camcorder (Canon HV20). Cast and crew were friends and family. Post-production was done on a Macbook Pro using Final Cut Studio 2. The short won the BEST ACTOR Award (for the horror host, played by Valarie O. Morris) at the film fest. -- Craig

Looking back, it was as if Terror Tube was meant to be. The whole project from the script to the props to the actual filming, everything came together so effortlessly. I'd like to think it's because of my talent as a producer and ability to make things happen, but there had to be some divine intervention. Terror Tube and Cinegorella are my love letter to all the horror hosts of yesteryear. Perhaps they were all smiling down on us. -- val

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Terror Tube" playing at FABA! event

Sunday, May 30, 2010 - FABA! fundraiser event

FABA! (For Artists By Artists) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping artists, filmmakers, and musicians in the Memphis, TN area. "Terror Tube" will play in this year's event. And an autographed dvd will be raffled off as part of the fundraiser. It should be a good time. Looking forward to seeing a lot of our local film friends!

FABA! on Facebook

Thursday, February 18, 2010

"FRIDGE" playing @ Women in Horror Fest

The awesome and talented Andrew Shearer and the Gonzoriffic crew are celebrating Women in Horror month by holding a festival in Athens, GA. Feb 27th at 10 PM. Cinegore Pictures is proud to announce that our short, "Don't Look in the Fridge", will screen at the festival. I am thrilled that even more movie fans will get to see our movie! "Fridge" was a blast to make and will always hold a special place in my heart as it was my first directorial effort. A big thanks to Gonzoriffic for all their hard work in making this festival possible!

Women in Horror Recognition Month is the brainchild of Hannah Neurotica. February 2010 marks the first annual celebration. Ms. Hannah also runs the regular Ax Wound: Gender & The Horror Genre 'zine.

Movies screening at the Athens fest:

Belated by Valentine's Lover (Ruby LaRocca)
Wretched (Heidi Martinuzzi)
Safety F.I.R.S.T. (Dayna Knoffke)
Death In Charge (Devi Snively)
Gimme (Monica Puller)
Taste of Fear, Taste of Flesh (Stacie Ponder)
Perfect Harry (Countess Samela)
Lip Stick (Shannon Lark & Stacie Ponder)
Brains (Brandy Rainey)
Don't Look In The Fridge (Valarie O. Morris)
I'm A Little Tea Pot (Sallie Smith)
Snuff (Maude Michaud)

Check out the cool festival poster:

by Andrew Shearer

And the festival flyer:

by Rachael Deacon

How can you join in the celebration if you aren't near a festival? Easy! Rent a horror movie either written, directed, or produced by a woman. You would be surprised at just how many mainstream horror movies there are! To name a few (old and new):

Pet Sematary
Near Dark
American Psycho
Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
Slumber Party Massacre
Jennifer's Body

Women in Horror Recognition Month: