Saturday, November 21, 2009


Spent several hours today getting the precious thirty-odd seconds of stop-motion animation required to bring to life Mike the Headless Chicken, who is (or, rather, was) indeed very, very real.

The "Mike" section of Olivia Forever! comes early in the film, and it is the first of many digressions from the story proper. If it falls flat, chances are the rest of the film will as well. (No pressure or anything.)

The Mike puppet was constructed by our good friend Steampunk Legend Jacob Hildebrandt, who also brought to life the Robot Lady in Son of a Seahorse and The Man Who Loved in The Man Who Loved. He likes building things, is pretty good at it, and likes money, so if you need something built, want it to turn out pretty good, and like to give people money, he just might be your guy.

The Mike footage/sequence is getting more tinkering in post than is per usual for us, and that's because we're looking to replicate a very particular and peculiar look. We're utilizing a lot of the grammar of silent cinema (albeit in widescreen) and purposefully putting in jumps, spatial jitters, and mucking around with the contrast to "degrade" the footage.

It's the kind of thing we want to be careful about-- we don't want to look like arty-farty homage-happy dinguses. We don't want the form this sequence takes to distract from the experience but rather enhance it. We'll have to wait and see how well we do with that.

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Adrienne Patterson as Olivia.

We've (by which I mean, Mary and Tom Russell, the filmmakers behind Son of a Seahorse and The Man Who Loved) been ready to shoot Olivia Forever! (by which I mean, our next feature film, a comedy/period piece) for about a month now (by which I mean, a period of four to five weeks). The only thing that's been prevented us from leaping right in is that we've been waiting on a new shotgun mic, which was supposed to ship, well, almost a month ago, and which has yet to arrive.

But: be it known that our film takes place in the autumn, and this being November and Michigan, autumn is a commodity that will soon be in short supply. But, you say, couldn't you just rewrite it so that it takes place in the winter or the spring, you scrappy and adaptable no-budget filmmakers you? Unfortunately, no, because the film takes place during a very particular autumn-- to wit, the autumn of 2004. You can't really "fudge" or move an election season.

And so, knowing that we needed to shoot some exterior autumnal scenes while said exteriors still looked autumnal and scenic, and fully aware that the all-important microphone might not arrive for some time yet, we reworked said exterior autumnal scenes and removed the dialogue. (We are, after all and as noted above, scrappy and adaptable.) And then, today, we shot two of them: scenes eleven and twenty-four are in the can. Or, more accurately, on a hard drive.

Production: 1.16 % complete.