behind the scenes at StrangewerksFilms

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CHEAPO DOLLY TRACK

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Strangewerks Films’ new high tech dolly track–ain’t she a beaut?

So I have a dolly for my camera. It’s one of those “Glide Gear” systems they sell on ebay. It’s pretty nice for the relatively inexpensive price. The only problem is, I don’t have any track to go with it.

They have a track system on ebay as well, but I didn’t feel like dropping the $150+ for it. So I went down to the Home Depo and bought a 2 X 4 and some plastic pipe (one inch in diameter). Oh, some screws too. Cost me about $18 bucks. I went with one inch because it lifts the glide wheels off the ground a little more, in case you’re shooting somewhere outside and there’s gravel around that could obstruct the wheels.

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Unfortunately, I had to do the construction in my tiny NYC apartment, not much room to maneuver around, esp. with curious cats like Madame Sylvia here…,

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I had to cut down the pipe to around five feet because I don’t think it would fit in the company SUV if it was much longer. I would’ve liked it longer to provide for more tracking shot time,  but at least we got this muich. Maybe I can devise some kind of interlocking pipe system to make it longer…! Mwahahaha! Oh and I only stripped one screw!

It’s crucial to get as much camera movement into your project as you can and not just the handheld stuff. (I’ve had distributors tell me that overseas audiences don’t like the handheld stuff that much.) Getting smooth camera motion into your film is key to making it look professional. Also, it’ll set your film apart from all the other low-budget crap a distributor has to weed through. That and using a boom mic instead of a camera mic! Ditch the camera mic you guys/gals/gender fluid types/whomever is reading this. (Ol’ Max is open to everyone!)

Now, the only thing is, if I want to use this thing for a scene where two people are talking as they walk down the street, I’m gonna have to move it like twenty times to cover the whole scene.IMG_4245-min

So, if you see some strange guy moving his homemade dolly track down the sidewalk, again and again, don’t make fun of him, he’s just trying to save a few bucks!

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“DEMON NUN” SHOOTS

 

Hi Guys,

We’re just in the beginning phase of shooting our new picture, codenamed “Demon Nun!’

We had a shoot at St. Phillips Episcopal Church in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn last week and it was glorious! We actually made our day!  Plus we got to work with a bunch of great extras and our wonderful crew, without whom we’d probably still be out there shooting. (Much thanks Tuesday, Ash, Paul and of course Drew!) Everyone was stupendously talented!

Here’s some shots. We’re doing 4K on the Canon 5D Mark IV and I have to say, I love this camera! Most of these shots are from some protest scenes we shot in front of the church. You can also see one of the church’s beautiful stained glass windows in one of the shots….

Everybody had a blast. Thanks to all for making it a great time!

XOXOXO

Max Dementor

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Christina Prostano as our news reporter…

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Matthew Edell is James

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April Love is Sarah…

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Tuesday Shirk and Maria de Jesus Castellon on set

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Rebekah and Allison in action…

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Maria acting…

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Rachel with Rebekah and Ash…

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Nick and Rebekah acting…

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Nick and Ken acting…

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Window at St. Phillips…

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All our wonderful extras at the “protest.’ (At least they weren’t protesting the craft services table!)

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Gary as Dean

 

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Alla as Alice…

alegraAllegra playing Diane…

Lifeform Trailer is Here! (So is the official film site…)

Screen shot 2017-04-08 at 9.07.33 PMIt’s been a little bit, but here I am to announce the brand new trailer for Lifeform, as well as the official film website for our new horror film. Yay!

http://lifeform.strangewerksfilms.com/

Please, if you haven’t already, check out the site. You can also sign up in order to stay informed about where to view the film when we finally navigate the crazy world of film distribution and hopefully don’t get taken for all we own in the process of said navigation! (Have I said too much?) Thanks ahead of time for signing up!!!

At any rate, I think we’ll share with you while we make this journey, for your edification and our own.  To whit: for those who want to learn how to get their film distributed, read on…

The first thing we did was set up the official web site so that potential distributors would have a location they could check out to learn a little about the film, have the opportunity to see the trailer and learn how to contact our company so they could see a screener of the film. A screener is basically a copy of the film that is set up with some type of “copyright protection” on it so that they can watch it and see if they’d be interested in (hopefully) purchasing the film, or (probably) representing it to actual distributors in the U.S. and territories outside the U.S.  The copyright protection is basically the words “Property of Strangewerks Films” popping up on the screen every few minutes, so that if some lunkhead in Bangladesh manages to somehow download the film (it’s password protected) he’ll have the annoying words mucking it up. Used to be, you would send actual DVDS out all over the world to try and get people to look at it. Thank God I don’t have to do that anymore, was that a pain!

After this was done, I began the very long process of researching companies on the web to see who might be my target audience–companies that might like to distribute indie horror films–and who in that company, usually someone in “acquisitions”, would be my intended contact person.

You can do a search on “horror films,” terms like that and it may lead you to a blog where somebody has posted a list of horror film distributors. This has proved fruitful. So has iMDB Pro. It’s a great tool for getting email addresses and contact people. However, many times it’s not up to date. Don’t be afraid to extrapolate an address, based on the email info on iMDB. Try adding “acquisitions” @blah blah company.com–sometimes it will work.

I think it’s just a matter of emailing as many of these companies as you possibly can. Don’t be afraid to hit them all really. You never know who has a subdivision that does lower profile films. (They might not want to post them on iMDB Pro, only their big studio pictures–the cowards!)

You’ll definitely get acquisitions people contacting you for the link to your screener. I’ve received quite a number of requests so far and I’ll let you know how it goes. Later!

Tentacle Hand From Hell!

So okay, genetic manipulation is bad. Don’t take my friggin’ word for it. Just see for yourself:

 

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Here’s some pics of the Ethan Monster’s gnarled tentacle hand from the film Lifeform…

Basically, it’s a silicone glove the performer slips on. There’s a wire inside the tentacle to help it hold whatever positions we put it into. (Mostly strangling people.)

Below are a couple of in-production pics for the tentacle. The first one shows us filling the hollow latex tentacle with Smooth-On FlexFoam-It. Very messy process, but it was a lot of fun watching it foam out of the pour hole.

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Below is the finished silicone tentacle, removed from its mold. You can see the foam filling coming out the back

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After this we attached it to the silicone glove at the joint we molded into the glove. Then it was painted with FuseFX platinum silicone paint and Psycho Paint. It was a blast being able to cut loose and be creative with the makeup. Nobody really does practical monster makeup for features, or so it seems these days.

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Just one of the many crazy monster makeups we did for the shoot! (Actors Ree Merrill and Adam Cerny goofing around on set with aforementioned tentacle…)

Mutated Monster Face…

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Now that our horror feature film Lifeform is about to be released, I thought it would be cool to show some of the many horror special effects makeups we created for it. (Too many if you ask my wife!)

We figured we’d have at least two creatures in the film–one is the main creature played by Virginia Logan and the other is the son of the villain, who is played by Adam Cerny. For him, we thought we’d have some crazy face mutation as well as a mutated monster hand. In this piece, we’ll show some of the steps involved in creating the face prothetic.

Here’s a shot of the face sculpture, you can see where we tried to work some tentacles in. Everyone knows tentacles are what’s best in life, after laying wasted to your enemies, listening to the lamentations of their girlfriends, etc. etc.

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After sculpting it, I had Anthony Jones cast it in Rebound from Smooth-On and make the mother mold for it.  Then he casted the piece in silicone, also from Smooth-On. Don’t remember which one. He did a great job. All the details were perfectly transferred to the piece.

After that, Christine painted it with silicone paint. She’s an artist, so of course she did a smashing job of bringing out the fine details (and she has not coerced my admiration for her work in any way!)

Here it is on Adam. He did a great job of acting out the part of a mutant freak! Though he really doesn’t look that happy, in fact he looks a little annoyed. The things you have to do for showbiz…

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The top shot is from the film set…looks pretty awesome especially with creature contacts. He gets to strangle people with his mutant tentacle hand too, a pretty standard horror movie convention, but still delicious!

GOOD NEWS!

The official trailer for our 2017 horror film “Lifeform” will be dropping next month, along with the official site for the film. “Lifeform” will be available for distributors to pick up at that time as well. We are very excited! (Hopefully you are too. If not, I will personally come over and tap dance for you. Or sing. Depends on my mood.) beauty-is-a-beast1

Giving Life to Lifeform…

We’re in the midst of creating 3D animations for our film Lifeform. The software we chose was Blender–a free and open-source 3D computer graphics software product used for creating visual effects. Here at our studio we’re doing the animation, lighting and compositing. Modeling and rigging were handled by talented Blender vets Kevin Hayes and Nathan Taylor, respectively. At last count there were forty–odd (and we do mean odd) 3D fx shots in the film, which, while it doesn’t sound like a lot, is a HUGE amount of work, not to mention render time. Currently we’re averaging a day-and-a-half to two days of render time per shot, so you can imagine how long it’s taking to wade through the list. Still, it’s worth it when you see the results…   One of the more interesting facts is that you actually output the animation as a series of still images, .pngs, which you then import into Aftereffects, in order to create an entire animation, who’d have figured that? When we designed the actual creature, I was looking to invest attributes from actual creatures in nature, in order to give it a more authentic feel. Some dinosaur plating here, some praying mantis there, a scorpion tail over here… Now we’re trying to emulate some of the physical movements these creatures make in the real world to bring the illusion home.


One tip I would give to any fledgling animators: don’t forget to use the animation curves to smooth out the model’s movements. You can use the bezier tools to make them less “roller-coaster” like–some of mine were looking like the Cyclone at Coney Island before I smoothed them out!
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The goal is to finish all the 3D shots in the next few months and then on to color correcting and sound mix! Ugh…