Thursday, August 20, 2015

Knocking the Dust Off

Wow. So uh, it's been over two years since I wrote anything on this blog. In my defense, the IRS had to believe I was dead if I was going to avoid the tax evasion charges. I come to you now from Cell-block B of the Haynesville Correctional Center, and with plenty of time on my hands I figured I'd sit down and write another one of these things.

A lot of you have probably written this film off as dead. At least two of those of you are probably my parents. The truth of the matter is we took on a really ambitious project that we probably would have rightfully deemed insane had we been older and more not stupid. But we're here now, and we have no intention of abandoning what we started. We HAVE been derelict in keeping informed those few of you who have been following this project over the past few years, and I'm going to attempt to rectify that now.

There's so much I feel I have to explain to you...
By now, anybody who's interested has seen the throne room scene we put online in May for L. Frank Baum's birthday (observed, due to technical difficulties). While still imperfect, that clip was something of a triumph for Sean and myself: a successful attempt to implement miniature background plates into the production in a more realistic way than we've managed in the past. We've learned a lot in the heinously long six years we've spent working on this movie (and finishing another one), and this was a very solid proof-of-concept for us finding a way forward.

We've discovered daring new ways to cause each other physical and emotional discomfort!
Some of you may know, though we've never said it here on the blog, that we wrapped principal photography in May of 2014 and had a full edit of the film put together not long thereafter. The biggest hurdle for us was, is, and will continue to be visual effects. Volunteer visual effects assistance has proven notoriously difficult for us to come by, and I can only do so much on my own. My time is limited and there are certain skill-sets I just don't have. Sean himself has no background in visual effects and hasn't been able to assist me in any way, until now.

The miniature throne room and Oz head were successful enough that Sean and I have decided to work on more miniature environments. He's recently put a lot of work into building a pretty exacting miniature replica of the Kansas farmhouse. This will be used to capture plates for our tornado sequence, replacing the CG house seen in a couple of the trailers. It will also make its way into a full farmhouse model, once Sean has finished the barn and surrounding environment.

It's actually more structurally sound than the real building.
Our goal is to whittle down our list of 650 required VFX shots as much as possible on our own. There will be some we just don't have the capability for, but we can chew through at least a solid 2/3rds of this list by ourselves. Our distributor/executive producer is still hard at work trying to find a visual effects studio to assist with the film, which becomes a more achievable goal the shorter we can get the list of required shots.

To that end we've even mounted minimal reshoots of new live-action material when possible. For example, due to lack of time and resources, our original cornfield sequence was shot with Mariellen Kemp and Chester the puppet on a green screen. Last weekend we knocked the dust off Chester and took him out to an actual cornfield to film him being rescued by a Dorothy stand-in named Gabby. And to prove how much more professional we are now, unlike our misadventures in Kansas, we actually got permission to film on this location.

Because there's no explaining this to the police.
Completing this sequence for real allowed us to cut about ten visual effects shots from the film. And that's how we're going to finish this movie, by trudging forward and gathering what we need piece-by-piece. Sean and I both have full-time jobs and average incomes, so time and resources don't allow for a more satisfying solution than that at present. We appreciate everybody who ever was or still is interested in seeing this film, and we promise you it will get finished.