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Abandoned Property. Sounds of struggle, muffled. Gunshot. Silence... A dark comedy with a thrilling twist

A FEW THINGS ABOUT ME

At age thirteen I made my first movie, a short cartoon. And I got a kick out of it! At age nineteen I wrote my first feature script. And shoved it into the drawer. At age twenty one I wrote twelve short scripts, and shoved them into the drawer. At age thirty one I wrote a script and found the agent. He shoved it into the drawer. At age forty three I wrote the script and sent it to Hollywood. You guessed it, they shoved it into the drawer. Well, that really ticked me off. So, I wrote another script and made a movie. Finally!

Favorite color: transparent

Favorite food: food

Political orientation: hardened optimist

OK, so much for formalities, now back to the movie.

Where is Hank?

The Story

Officer Jack pulls into abandoned property. He walks straight towards the dead body concealed by the dense vegetation. Not noticing it, he turns back and leaves.

Karen is uneasy. She's been looking for her landlord Hank, and instead she had found her ex-boyfriend from Chicago, whom she broke up with two years ago. Weird enough, they bumped into each other at the abandoned property. Two teenagers, Aaron and Kyle are also fond of the place. Torn up and abandoned, it's the perfect sanctuary, a spiritual hangout that will shake them to the bone. But for now their thrill is only to get stoned.

Something is not right there. A lot of people would stop by, but not for long. Suddenly they would get restless and leave. There is something forbidding and eerie about it. The rumor has it, it's the place where Hank's twin brother Earl has lost his marbles.

HOW THIS MOVIE CAME TO BE

February of 2007 I moved to Tucson. Both studios I worked for went bankrupt within a month. Guess it was a sign. I picked a rental on the edge of town. Film making was now only a distant past. In Chicago I worked on Indy projects, knew people and could call in favors. And in Tucson? Oh well, you win some and then lose even more. Or so I thought.

THE SET

As luck would have it, I lived right by the abandoned property. It was a trashed out shack with a lot of stuff baking in the sun. And it looked weird. Like people had just left, leaving everything behind - some ten years ago. Then it dawned on me. It's a perfect setup for a story! A murder mystery!

A dead body found at the abandoned property! It's an exterior - there was no need for lighting or extra grips! Beautiful!

I finished the story in a week and the script a month later. Needless to say, it had to be a comedy. Great! I can make the movie now!

CAST AND CREW

Well, not so fast Bubba! I was new to Tucson. How am I gonna find the good talent and the crew? At this point, I have to share a peculiar thing with you. Every time I hit a wall with a project, and in desperation, utter words like “How on Earth am I gonna do that?”, things would just happen. No joke, every time.

So, a few days later, I unloaded my grief to Kevin (Patrick), the guy I knew from the water store. “You know, I had been in a couple of low budget productions here in Tucson” he said. So we started talking. And I learned not only did he work in front of the camera but also knew the nuts and bolts of a rolling production. It was a Godsend!

In one stroke, I got the co-producer, casting director and the police officer character. Kevin did one casting call and all the characters coasted in.

I planned to use my old SD cam, but now, it just won’t cut it. The talent was too good to be wasted by a low quality image. So my piggy bank succumbed to the unfortunate encounter with the hammer, and the rest I borrowed (thanks Julius) and bought a new HD camera and a few other things to make the shoot easier.

Appropriately, the production company was named Flat Broke Pictures.

THE CAN THING...

$30K and twenty seven days later, the movie was in the can. I have to thank the crew and the cast - they were exceptional. There is a silver lining in this project. Every time we would finish a scene or two, the results were way beyond expectation.

Case in point #1; I was hoping for an average cast and ended up with actors better than seasoned talent. Every one of them.

Case in point #2; we were praying for a decent audio (the Achilles heal of countless indie movies) and even the pros commented on how clean the audio was (thanks Kenny).

Case in point #3; after reviewing the footage in open color IO (created by Sony for big budget films) I found that it also has a pristine 35mm quality, with huge latitude and is ideal for compositing and keying. And that's a must.

.

… AND AFTER THE CAN

Well, I started tinkering with post-production during the shoot, but results were frustrating. Editing, I am at home with, but proper color correction? On 2K footage? Creating good particle CG? And don't even get me started on sound design and the score... I tried various low end solutions, spent another $7K on equipment and after a year, finally realized that it will not suffice. High end post-production is a very expensive, tedious and time consuming job when done right.

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

In a nutshell, it was depressing.

And then one day, after uttering that quintessential line, “ And how on Earth am I suppose to do that?” I got a phone call from Tina (Gabrielle character). So, like any nice guy, I unloaded my grief onto her and she said “Why don't you try Kickstarter?” Kickstarter? What is that? I had no idea. I heard about it on NPR but, I had no clue to what it was. And then I learned about crowd sourcing and realized it was the best chance I have to finish the movie the way I want it. Go straight to the audience and tell them - ”Hey, this is the movie I want to make but I'm stuck! I need help! If you like the idea please pitch in”.

So, there you have it. It took a while but, I had to break it down. I need your help. I would like to make this movie as good as possible.

For years I worked on other productions, honing my craft, but I could never call them my own. This movie has evolved in both quality and scope, way beyond my initial expectations. The way I see it, it has the potential to be a very good and entertaining motion picture.

ABOUT FUNDING AND ALL THAT PHASE TALK

So far the project has cost a bit over $40K. It needs $95,000.00 to be completed, $45,000.00 for PHASE I and $50,000.00 for PHASE II.

PHASE I will pay for acquisition of additional footage of the airplane interior (green screen), additional B-roll (approximately another thirty hours), picture lock and sound design with the score.

If the goal is exceeded, the extra funds will be used for PHASE II, which includes creation of CG elements – airplane models (three – one small for wide shots, medium and a highly detailed one for extreme closeups (the original script had only noise and the shadow of the plane in it). Those CG shots will add a tremendous production value to the movie), animation (cloud particles and rain sequence), compositing and color correction.

Alot of shots need rotoscoping to fix up reflections and the depth of field (bad lens issue). This phase will also tackle title sequence and animated transitions.

Let me say a few words about the release schedule. The planned release is Fall of 2014. Does it really take that long, you might ask? Unfortunately, it does. Let me explain.

There are 65 scenes in the script, some long, some short. The airplane will add 5 more. Footage wise, each scene was shot from a minimum of three different angles with four takes per shot in average. We were shooting two hours of footage per day, give or take. Multiply that with twenty seven days and you get fifty four hours of footage. That is without the B-roll, which is another twenty plus hours.

In average it takes four days to rough cut the scene. If you multiply that with sixty five scenes you end up with roughly nine months of editing only, without the B-roll and the plane shots.

EARLY COMPOSITING TESTS

On the visual side, once editing is done there is another beast to tackle. Compositing.

If you didn't, please check out COMPOSITING TESTS video clip. You will notice that each take is repeated twice. First time in the original form, and the second time with compositing effect.

Since we couldn't drive the squad, we had to cheat. The car was parked and Officer Jack was pretending he's driving. To fix that, every bit of scenery visible through the windows needs to be replaced with the moving background. And that's the easy part. Now, did you notice anything odd with Police Officer's glasses? No? Check it out again and you'll see. Reflections in his glasses are that of a driveway, not a moving street. All that needs to be cleaned up and replaced as well.

There are plenty of shots needing similar treatment as well. You know how the movie business works; if there is no budget for it, you cheat and then fix it in the post - if you can.

Well, you got a taste of what lies ahead on the visual side (not including the CG elements). I won't go into the score and sound design. That's another beast in it's own right. In short, it takes a lot of work to make the movie look and feel right

B_Roll Sampler - footage is not color corrected or cleaned (city lights, cars and people have to be removed). This is just to give you a feel for some of the visuals in the movie

For three years I was trying to do it by putting every penny and spare time into it, but it was a constant catching up game. I would get a top of the line computer and guess what? It's not fast enough and I had to upgrade. I would add plenty of storage space and realize it's not nearly enough, because now the pipeline is changed to accommodate uncompressed edit, or compositing will not work out. So I had to add ten more drives. And those issues are just the tip of the iceberg.

We hope “Where is Hank?” has sparked your curiosity and, like us, will want to see it finished. Please help us reach our goal and make us proud with this project. Good movies can touch the heart, and we hope “Where is Hank?” has touched yours.

IF I PLEDGE, WHAT WILL I GET?

Hugs and Kisses!

Well, not really. As the next best thing you will receive one or more movie memorabilia, DVD and the Blu Ray (depending on your pledge amount) and your name will be immortalized for posterity in the movie credits (again, depending on your pledge amount). Not so shabby, huh? You can find the details in the pledge amount section.

Here is the sampler of some of our unique memorabilia. Enjoy!

And for the end, this is my old reel. It's far from perfect, but I was young then.

Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Rest assured, this movie will be done. The most challenging and unpredictable aspect is the time. The estimate for the completion of the project was done based on experience and opinions of professionals involved. Those estimates were done on the conservative side, but as with all the estimates, they are flowed. The reality is much more complex, and there is a fair chance of not finishing the project by the deadline. It might take six months longer. Or more. Our educated guess is that won't happen, but we could be wrong. Let me give you an example.
When the script was broken down into shooting days it was assumed we will wrap up in 14 days. It took 27. We had a constant problem with low flying aircraft, and sudden wind gusts that were making audio unusable. That forced us to repeat 15% of the scenes.
In the post, from my experience, the biggest challenge is the score. If that doesn't work the movie doesn't work. Often times you have to work with several artists to see what can they bring to the table. And when you find the right one you keep it! And again, finding the right one can be a lengthy process.
What's left after that is special effects and tedious clan up that will take months. A friend of mine has a rule of thumb; he spends 20% of time on 80% of the project. The remaining 80% is needed to tweak 20% that's left. I have learned that those numbers are pretty accurate.
Is everything else going to be a smooth ride? Of course not. Movie making is a lot like life itself. Right when you think you're on the safe side, you get clobbered on your head. But hey, what would life be without challenges? And the same rule works for movies. The more difficult the process, the better the product.

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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