Pooped

March 17th, 2010

I can’t watch our film anymore. I still think it’s great, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve just seen it so many times. I’ve watched it by myself. I’ve watched it with a handful of people. I’ve watched it with 300 people. Every time I am always anticipating the the next scene or the next joke, hoping the audience reacts. And then, when laughter comes out of nowhere, out of a scene that hasn’t got a big laugh before with other audiences, I’m completely thrown off. Completely. It’s a great feeling, but also a bizarre feeling.

So what I do now is peek my head in the theater, or press my ear up to the door when I know a funny scene is coming up, hoping to hear the laughter. This is almost worse than actually watching it. I am only getting a quick glimpse into whether the audience likes it or not. If I were sitting there the whole time I would really be able to feel how they react.

It’s really just all over-thinking. I’m even over-thinking it as I’m writing about over-thinking it.

A week ago I went back to Virginia for a screening. There were about 250 people there. Of those 250, maybe a handful wanted to make movies or act or write in real life. So this was a good test. Real people watching the film. Granted, some of these people were my best friends from childhook, but there was a big majority that had simply read about the film in the local paper or heard about it thru word of mouth. I don’t really get nervous (exception: Buffalo Bills football games), but at this screening I had an odd feeling. This was the first time the movie was going to be shown in front of an audience of people who weren’t at a film festival or living in Los Angeles. Not that the people at the festivals or Los Angeles aren’t real people, but they sometimes have some tie to the “industry.”

Little side rant – I coach a sports clinic twice a week for 3-5 year old kids. This past week one of my kids had to go to the bathroom. I called for his teacher, because I am not allowed to take them. This means the kid must hold in whatever he has for an extra 60 seconds, which to a kid, is a lifetime. Well the teacher got there and the kid had already pooped on the ground. Seriously. Pooped. On. The. Ground. Again – POOPED. ON. THE. GROUND. He couldn’t help it. It just came.

Why the rant? I felt like that before the screening. I wasn’t necessarily going to poop on the ground, but that little boy must have felt an odd sensation come over him and he knew he needed to take care of it. That’s like this screening and a bunch more we have coming up. We are now taking our film out to all over. From Ohio, to New York, to Philadelphia, to dozens of more places. With real people.

This is what we wanted. And last week in Virginia there were 250 people laughing throughout the whole film. People really responded. A husband and wife came up to me, they had read about the screening in a local paper, but they said they had a son who just started college and she was going to make sure he saw this film. That’s amazing. I hope these screenings allow more and more people to see the film.

-Stephen Hale

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever had to do hungover?

March 9th, 2010

Win tickets or dvds of One Too Many Mornings right now – head on over to our good friend Dave Malki’s hilarious webcomic Wondermark for all the details.

Dave is a real inspiration to all of us, in that he’s actually able to live his life being creative, and doing so all on his own. I think we’ve found right away that in order to be a successful artist, there’s an element of entreprenurialship (that is not a word) involved – and there’s just as much of an art to the business side as there is to the creative work.

I’m constantly impressed by both Dave’s constant stream of creative output, but also in the manner he’s been able to cultivate his audience. Primarily: being awesome. This kind of contest, to me it’s exactly what artists who admire each other’s work need to do in order to keep moving forward. Especially because all of you will absolutely dig his wild sense of humor – you should be checking out Wondermark regardless.

Busy Bees

March 8th, 2010

This is going to be a busy Spring. Stephen just got back from a successful screening in Virginia, Mike is off to Martha’s Vineyard this weekend, and Anthony is going to be on KCRW’s show The Business today.

Here’s the cliff’s notes version of what’s going on:

First off, we had a really awesome sold out screening at the Cinefamily here in Los Angeles. It was rad to see a bunch of friends we met at Sundance come out to catch the film. Check out the video from the screening below:

The demand was so high for tickets, that we’re having a SECOND LOS ANGELES SCREENING NEXT WEEK on March 16th at the Downtown Independent. This one is going to be even more special. Filmmaker John August is going to host the Q+A afterwards, and tickets are only $7!

We all read John’s blog on an almost daily basis – it’s essential reading for screenwriters – so to have him there to support us is really amazing. For anyone who missed the last one, or anyone who wants to see the movie again – this is a great chance.

In the meantime, we’ve been setting up screenings all across the US. Massachusetts, Tennessee, Ohio, and Upstate NY screenings are all confirmed, and we have dozens more in the works. If you’re at all interested in hosting a screening at your local theatre, college, or even in your living room – don’t hesitate to email us. We want to share our film with as many people as possible.

The last thing I want to quickly say – all of this crazy momentum surrounding our movie – it’s all because of word-of-mouth. We haven’t invested one cent into any sort of traditional marketing (we don’t actually have one cent to do this). So for anyone who has facebooked about us, or tweeted about us, or said to their friend “hey i saw this great movie, and you should check it out” – THANK YOU. You are the reason why people are continuing to discover our film, and we couldn’t be more appreciative.

Onward,
Mike

February 16th, 2010

ROUND TWO

Couple more clips from our time at Sundance 2010. I wish we could have captured all the special moments, but we did the best we could. The blog isn’t over. We will be updating with future screening dates, and continued stories about how it’s going.

Upcoming Screenings

February 12th, 2010

Hey everyone –

If you haven’t heard, Sundance was an incredible time for us and our film. Having been to Sundance for the past 5 years, I always dreamed of being on the other side of it, knowing how hard it was to make a film that would screen there. It was every bit as amazing as I imagined – it also really proves that seriously, anyone can do it. If you really feel passionate about a story – you can find a way to make it – you can get your film in front of audiences. You don’t need to have a ton of money, you don’t need to come from a rich family, you just need a vision, and a plan, and time. It’s an obtainable goal.

I think our favorite part of Sundance was actually meeting all the other filmmakers that were there – everyone in our category were just such rad people. We hope that maybe one day we could work with them, or at least catch up with them at other festivals. All the industry stuff, and the press stuff – it was definitely overwhelming – but we found ourselves just gravitating to the events where all the other directors and actors were. Sharing the stories of how we made the film. It was great.

The screenings were also incredible. The audiences were just so great. It was nice to see the movie looked great on such a large screen too, as we had pretty much only seen it on my laptop up until then. The Q+A’s were really awesome as well – my favorite question came from a man who had drank an entire bottle of wine thru the screening: (to Stephen) “Do you know that you look like Dave Matthews?”

And now we’re home, nursing our various colds and sinus infections we must have caught up there in Utah, knowing that we’ll look back on this as a pretty monumental time in our lives. The one thing we do not feel, though, is closure. We know we still have a lot of work still ahead just to get the film out there. Just to make people aware

One of the ways we’re getting it out there is by setting up sneak preview screenings around the US, the first of which is happening next week is Los Angeles:

Tuesday February 16th – LOS ANGELES, CA – Cinefamily / Silent Movie Theatre
Click here for tickets. 8:00pm. Cast/Crew there for Q+A.

Saturday March 6th – NORTHERN VIRGINIA – Chantilly High School
Click here for tickets. 7:00pm. Stephen Hale will be there for Q+A.

Thursday May 6th – ATHENS, OH – Ohio University
Tickets on sale soon. Cast/Crew will be there for Q+A.

And we have even more coming up on the horizon that we can’t wait to tell you about once they’re finalized.

If you can’t wait though – the film is indeed available RIGHT NOW in our store for download or dvd purchase. We also have it available for rent on YouTube.

Seriously – you can watch it RIGHT NOW!

For all of you that have seen the film already (or are going to watch it RIGHT NOW), we’re going to host a skype Q+A just for you on February 23rd at 7:30pm PST. Just email us your skype name – we’re excited to talk to you.

In fact, I would say that connecting to people who love the film has been the real reward for making it. Seriously, if any of you are aspiring filmmakers and want advice – we want to share our process. Our contact/facebook info is on the About page – don’t hesitate to write. We’re friendly.

Additionally, if you dig the movie – please help us spread the word of mouth! Every facebook status update or twitter message you’ve written really helps us get the word out. For a film like ours, we simply don’t have the money for expensive ad campaigns, but what we do have is a community of awesome like-minded people who simply love independent film, and hopefully want to share that love with their friends.

It’s been kind of amazing – some people have told us that the story of how we made our film has inspired them to go out and make their own films. That’s so ridiculously awesome, but the main reason I think it’s great is simply because I just want to see more movies like ours. People shouldn’t be afraid to tell personal stories, and I actually really like when I see a film with awesome actors I’ve never seen before. I feel like I’ve said this before – if we can do it – you can do it.

I feel like there’s so much more that we can write, but for now I just hope that those of you in LA can come to our screening. And those of you outside of LA will check out our film in one of the other ways.

Until next time,
Mike

Videos from Sundance

January 27th, 2010

Sundance has been absolutely incredible. The screenings have been packed. People have been laughing really loudly. It’s a dream experience.

We’re working really hard just doing as much press and meeting as many people as possible while we are out here. Trying to get the word out as best as we can.

We haven’t written about this yet, but our film is now also available to rent on YouTube.

It’s a total experiment, but is just another way people can watch our film.

In the meantime, we’ve been recording little videos on our flip camera, which I’ll post below:

One Too Many Mornings Soundtrack

January 24th, 2010

Mark Harrison, one fourth of my favorite band Capybara, told me before our premiere screening, that this past year he has spent more time sleeping out of his van than in an actual bed. While he and his band are still totally broke – he said he’s never been happier in his life.

Capybara made the music for OTMM completely free of charge. They devoted hours and hours of work for literally ZERO dollars in return. And now you can get it – for almost free of charge. They’re releasing the soundtrack right now, on their own, for the mere sum of $2.

TWO DOLLARS gets you the tunes heard in the movie. Just click below to get it.

And here’s a video of them singing to an actual Capybara:

CAPYBARA sings to a capybara. from mark harrison on Vimeo.

Sundance Day 1

January 21st, 2010

Apologies for the raw-ness of these videos – we are so exhausted, there’s no time for editing right now. But we just wanted to share with you this quick bit of us on the streets of Park City. Tomorrow’s our premiere, and I will not lie – I am incredibly nervous. -mm

The Last Two Weeks

January 21st, 2010

I never thought we would get here. Honestly. These last two weeks have been a pain in my ass. In a good way.

I work at a YMCA. I am a sports director, and our winter season is starting up the same weekend Sundance begins. I’ve been putting youth football, soccer, and basketball teams together for over 400 kids.

I also work making One Too Many Mornings. So as I’m doing my real job, I’ve got to stay as available as possible so that Anthony and Mike can keep me updated with all the different moving parts that are involved with finishing up the movie.

The movie, as you know, is low budget.

If we were able to pay ourselves for making it I wouldn’t have to worry about my job. My job would be to help finish the film, make dvds, get posters, contact people about the film and all the other things we’re doing to get past the finish line. But we are low budget. So I work at a YMCA. Mike works at a record label. Anthony works for a….well Anthony has had about 10 jobs over the span of making our film and I’m not quite sure what he is doing now. But that just goes to show you, he has had to take a lot of different jobs because we’re normal, blue-collar people. Who just happened to devote a whole lot of time towards making a movie in our free time.

But these last two weeks have been really hard – it’s our big push. And I know we are in the same boat with a lot of filmmakers going to Sundance, but we’ve added to our insanity: we are self-releasing the movie. We are selling DVD’s and Downloads of our film right now, as you read this. So go buy one right now and then come back and finish reading this.

product

Why are we doing this? Because WE WANT YOU TO SEE IT! We want you to show it to your neighbor, your aunt, your teacher, whoever. We would prefer they all buy it, but we really just want as many people to see this film as possible.

But what I’m most proud of – we worked hard on making a REALLY GREAT DVD too. This isn’t just the movie, and a separate menu with chapters – there’s over 90 minutes of extra bonus content on there. We filmed a lot of behind the scenes stuff. We have a lot of deleted scenes. We have some of our short films on there. Bloopers. Extra comedy bits. It’s packed.

And it almost didn’t get done.

Like I said before – LOW BUDGET – we have to do everything ourselves, or with generous friends. Last week Mike got about 6 hours of sleep over the span of four days. He had to be up all night checking sound with Tucker. Finishing the DVD. Rechecking the sound. Working with Hrishikesh on graphics. Anthony was there for an all-nighter as well. As for me, I fell asleep because 400 kids at the YMCA needed me!

Mike actually called me on the last night of all of this around 8pm and said he was afraid to drive home because he didn’t want to fall asleep at the wheel. I tried to convince him that him crashing and dying would probably help our film more than he could imagine, and I tried to encourage him to drive home. But he’s smarter than me so he just hung out for awhile until he felt ready to drive.

But this is where we are at now. And finally, after two years and the past two weeks of all nighters, we have something seriously awesome to show you guys.

So check it out. Or chip in with a friend and split the DVD. We want you to see the awesome stuff we’ve done. I don’t ever brag, and I hardly ever talk about myself or what I’ve done, but I’m proud of this.

-Stephen Hale

Punched In the Face

January 12th, 2010

A writer makes a decision with each word they put on the page; those decisions turn into gray hairs, three-ring binders, and even more decisions for the producer. My problem: I’m a writer/producer.

With my co-writers, Stephen Hale and Mike Mohan, we made the decision to write a scene where a fist fight occurs. Halfway thru the movie, one of the characters gets punched in the face, and for the rest of the movie has a black eye. As a writer, creatively, it made sense. As a producer of a very low budget movie, not so much. That means we’d need a make up person for 50% of the movie. But we were writing, this was the creative part of the process, so I told the producer side of me to shut the hell up. While writing, we tried to stay open to every idea for the sake of the story. The producing part will happen when the script is ready.

Werner Herzog famously dragged a steam ship over mountain in Fitzcarraldo; our black eye morphed into a 300 ton ship in the way of us telling our story. We needed it, but had zero money to pay someone. Mike suggested we talk to his friend who would teach me how to apply my own black eye (Oh, by the way, I also acted in the film, and played the character that gets hit in the face). She did a great job, teaching me the right technique. She was super patient with me. I gave it a shot. The first one wasn’t good. I got a do over. The second one didn’t look that bad (but it still wasn’t great).

The cool part of the black eye was the highlight area. You didn’t put make-up on this area to mimic the swelling. Well, I thought I had gotten the hang of it: I practiced every day the week leading up to our first day of shooting. I was confident I could pull it off. So on our day 1 of production I got to set an hour early and applied my own black eye. We had begun shooting our first feature film. It was an amazing feeling. Nothing could stop us. And after the adrenaline faded three weeks later, we realized my black eye was awful. It looked like the letter “L” on my left eye. It was weird and distracting. Evidence below.

Picture 11

We had to be honest with ourselves. We couldn’t jeopardize the movie with me doing my own make-up, while simultaneously producing and acting. It was dumb, but we used the tools we had and fell short. I had to make the hardest decision of the movie. With no money and fifteen pages in the can, I had to stop the momentum. We started over. We found a young makeup artist just out of school that helped us out. And the two years of shooting One Too Many Mornings, the fiasco with our black eye faded away to new challenges.

By far, deciding to reshoot the black eye was the hardest decision we had to make while making the movie. It was the first big choice on set. We went with our gut, our gut was wrong, and we couldn’t be afraid to make the hard decision to fix the mistake. It took so much effort to get us to the point of actually starting to shoot this thing, and to start over was devastating. You just hope those hard decisions will make your movie better.