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Knock Knock: Production Thread

Posted: Tue, 5th Oct 2010, 4:57am

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The Strider

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Howdy ho neighbors,

I've always loved fooling around with the idea of making movies. I've made a few less-than-exceptional shorts and wrote a couple awful scripts, but so it goes. It's only recently that I've decided, "Damn it, I am a filmmaker. I will do this, and nothing can stop me." Now, on account of my affection for the paranormal and speculative fiction, I'm working with my up-and-coming production company, S&T Pictures, to make a 10 minute short about first contact.

Here's the title: Knock Knock


Logo courtesy of Shadow013

The tagline: You never know when the neighbors might drop in.

The premise: On a cold winter's night in the American midwest, four friends with differing perspectives encounter a crashed alien spacecraft. The pilot is still alive, wounded, and extremely dangerous.

This week from Oct. 7th to 9th I'll be knee-deep in pre-production BS, finding a budget, locations, props, and developing the effects to pull off this magic act. Wish me luck. I already know that I will be directing, shooting and editing, and my business savvy cousin, Stephen Smith, will be producing. It will be shot in late December, and I've got my fingers crossed for snow!

If you need a laugh (or need to be pleasantly surprised), it'd be great if you could stop by our YouTube Channel.

I will keep you all updated whenever I know anything.

"I don't think there's anything to be afraid of. Failure brings great rewards -- in the life of an artist." - Quentin Tarantino

Last edited Mon, 11th Oct 2010, 8:10pm; edited 3 times in total.

Posted: Tue, 5th Oct 2010, 12:26pm

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mercianfilm

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I can't really help with the logo side of things but i wanted to say i love the idea- especially the tagline- i don't know why to be honest but it just seems funny, are you going to be incorporating any comedic elements to it?
Posted: Tue, 5th Oct 2010, 10:32pm

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The Strider

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No, it may have a light comedic touch here or there with the interplay between characters, but this is a straightforward thriller. Now, if it comes across as unintentionally hilarious in the final product, only time will tell. The title comes from events in the film, and the tagline is by design slightly humorous.
Posted: Wed, 6th Oct 2010, 4:07am

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Shadow013

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Hey! Sounds interesting. I wouldn't mind helping out with the logo, if you want. Check out the production thread for my movie SGP Man to see the logo I made for it. Just to see my abilities, I guess. smile
Posted: Wed, 6th Oct 2010, 4:38am

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The Strider

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Thanks for your interest, Shadow013. Go ahead and take a crack at it. smile
Posted: Thu, 7th Oct 2010, 10:32am

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mercianfilm

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Great biggrin i think comedy adds another dimension to films- even serious ones, it makes your characters seem more real- after all, in reality no one is serious all the time and people find ways of making light of situations to cope with some ordeals. There was a story of some british soldiers in the first world war who published their own mock newspaper containing satirical elements and even cartoons- even through all the events of those years people still found ways of keeping their spirits up!
I agree with you though about only adding a bit- don't want to over do it .

Good luck with it!
Posted: Thu, 7th Oct 2010, 8:28pm

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Shadow013

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Hey, just sent you a PM with some logo tests I made.
Posted: Fri, 8th Oct 2010, 4:28am

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The Strider

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Today we worked on our lighting set-up in conjunction with fog effects. We're shooting test footage on our Panasonic PV-GS320, but the final film will be shot on a Canon VIXIA HF M30, and will be in glorious 1080p. We're still developing the creature makeup, but to get an idea of the character and how to get a good looking silhouette, we shot this:



And here's the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KabstVJH3X0

Stephen Smith will be portraying the alien pilot. I'm the guy you hear directing, and behind the camera I'm demonstrating the motion I want him to emulate. Despite the usual YouTube compression, I think you can tell why I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. I did have three-point lighting in the room, but we pared it down to a single 150W halogen worklight for this shot.
Posted: Fri, 8th Oct 2010, 9:14am

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mercianfilm

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nice pose! what kind of stuff is he wearing? it might be embarassing but i wonder if he could wear something tight fitting underneath like a wetsuit...or tights- just to hold and tighten his thighs and legs to make him look more thin- the arms and the stomach look really spooky!
Posted: Fri, 8th Oct 2010, 11:37pm

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The Strider

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Some more experimental hijinks:


Today we did the math and came up with a budget. $1400.00. It's high for a low budget, I suppose. wink There will be 5 cast and 3 crew members, to be determined.
Posted: Sat, 9th Oct 2010, 12:08am

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rogolo

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Looks very Sunshine-y.

Good luck with your production, though. Actually looks promising so far smile
Posted: Mon, 11th Oct 2010, 8:06pm

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The Strider

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I prefer to think of it as Close Encounters-y. wink

Anyways, we followed the instructions in this tutorial and built what's called a Fig Rig, which is sort of a poor man's Steadicam. We spruced ours up a little and it came out looking like this:



It works decently well. It took about 2 hours to build and cost around $30.
Posted: Tue, 12th Oct 2010, 12:51pm

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mercianfilm

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Looks good! Have you got any footage you've shot using it? Like a test or something.
Posted: Tue, 12th Oct 2010, 12:55pm

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Sollthar

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Oh, this looks nice! Cool test footage. cool

Good luck with the production!
Posted: Tue, 12th Oct 2010, 8:55pm

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The Strider

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mercianfilm wrote:

Looks good! Have you got any footage you've shot using it? Like a test or something.
Yes, actually. I don't know when I'll get around to uploading that. The main difference between the Fig Rig and bare hands is that it makes handheld static and panning shots much smoother, but if the cameraman walks it looks only about as good as it would without the Fig Rig. We'll need to hatch an evil scheme and come up with a cheap dolly.

And Sollthar, thanks for the luck. smile
Posted: Thu, 14th Oct 2010, 3:41am

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The Strider

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The wheels keep on turnin'. We've decided, all things considered, that it's better to go for all the marbles and buy ourselves a smegging Canon Rebel T2i, which I imagine most of you are familiar with. My producing partners and I attended a meeting of the Indiana Filmmaker's Network and it was brought up as, and I quote (to the best of my recollection) "the best possible option for no-to-low budget productions". I'm not sure if I agree, but it is pretty awesome and only marginally more expensive than the VIXIA HF M30 we had planned on buying for the production. This development will probably result in delays, but as we're trying to do this professionally and right, it's worth our time and money.

So shooting will probably take place in late January to early February. The budget, on account of less equipment necessary to support the T2i, will remain the same.

The most difficult part of the screenplay to accomplish is the crashsite of the alien spacecraft. We'll be setting a small portion of a field on fire. The local fire department will naturally have to be involved. What we're going to do, most likely, is lay down a lot of turf and pepper it with random junk that looks good (at least at a distance) and burns well. I'm really excited about this whole process, though, because I've always been attracted to practical effects and I love the chance to handle it professionally and, hopefully, get a really cool result. And, of course, some digitally composited fire elements will be used. smile
Posted: Thu, 14th Oct 2010, 11:48am

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mercianfilm

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That sounds amazing! Have you thought of using sand/ metal plates on the ground to protect the grass- if you shoot it from far enough i doubt it would be noticable.
Posted: Thu, 14th Oct 2010, 12:18pm

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rogolo

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mercianfilm wrote:

Have you thought of using sand/ metal plates on the ground to protect the grass- if you shoot it from far enough i doubt it would be noticable.
Aye, 'cause if there is one thing Indiana is lacking, it's vast tracts of nothingness.

Gotta preserve every square inch possible! wink
Posted: Wed, 20th Oct 2010, 11:17am

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The Strider

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Well, we're still waiting on that T2i. American economy frakking sucks. Also, we're looking into building ourselves a GlideCam, which, when done right with the T2i, can turn out footage that looks like this. We were, needless to say, blown away by the stunningly filmic results in that footage. Of course, the T2i wouldn't be complete without a good lens, and to my good fortune it turns out my deceased grandfather was a bit of a 35mm nut, and left behind an old, awesome film camera with a big set of lenses, filters, etc. They're in great condition and they work with the T2i. I'm very pleased by my good fortune, now that I don't have to shell out another couple hundred bucks.

Incidentally, I recently got around to getting a website for my production company, S&T Pictures, set up on Wordpress. You can find it here. It's not super awesome, but it is functional.
Posted: Wed, 20th Oct 2010, 1:16pm

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Biblmac

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Looking good Strider. Looks like everything is coming together!
Posted: Thu, 21st Oct 2010, 11:42pm

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The Strider

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Well, tonight I should have some storyboards from the final sequence to show you, but until then I figured I'd take the time to promote our previous film, 'Point A', which is available for viewing in the FxHome Cinema. The S&T gang is awfully proud of it, even though all I can see now is its irritating flaws, and things that I could have done better. Still, it's gotten a very good reaction from a lot of people and I think, in the absence of our next, hopefully superior film, that you ought to give it a look. biggrin

The version on FxHome has music that I mixed in Garageband, but there's an alternate (and tonally superior) version on YouTube, set to Hans Zimmer's 'Inception'. It's the original edit, but it only exists for promotional purposes, for obvious reasons. smile
Posted: Tue, 26th Oct 2010, 12:55pm

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mercianfilm

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There are some really stunning shots with that Glidecam i hope you're successful building one, i think it looks really cool!
Posted: Wed, 27th Oct 2010, 10:14pm

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The Strider

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For those you waiting for storyboards, well, I'm still waiting, too. smile We're striving to get the best possible pre-planning for this short, and if that hunting for an available sketch artist, so be it.

But, so we could try some of the techniques we have planned for 'Knock Knock', we spent an evening shooting a scriptless short, called 'Xenophobia'. It actually turned out pretty well, though it's hardly novel, what with the typical amateur plot, you know the drill: "Guy hears strange noises around the house, investigates". The real highlight is the adlibbed dialogue between Stephen and I. About 60% of it is shot with the Fig Rig, so if you were looking for a demo, here it is. Here's the link to YouTube.
Posted: Sun, 31st Oct 2010, 3:33am

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The Strider

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That smegging T2i, with the 18-55mm kit lens, is on its way. That means two things:

1) We're broke.

2) We can realize our vision for 'Knock Knock', and pre-prod's wheels will start turning.

So that's pretty boss.

In the meantime -- and this is pure, shameless, enthusiastic self-promotion -- you ought to see how far we've taken our current tech, in our previous short films:
'Point A'
'Dan Stevens, P.I.' (A rather handsome noir parody)
and 'Xenophobia'

Apparently, even though I undersell these on purpose (I mean, no HD? Crap sound? We just can't compete, can we? wink ), we keep getting an extremely positive response from people. I know a few professionals who've been very generous in their praise, especially of 'Point A'. We're amateurs, but we're not apathetic. We do our damnedest. And we're getting better.
Posted: Sun, 31st Oct 2010, 3:47am

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Biblmac

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Glad to hear things are moving! Congrats on the T2i!
Posted: Fri, 18th Feb 2011, 5:33pm

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The Strider

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So...

After much ado, training our default cinematographer how to use the T2i effectively, rewriting the heck out of the screenplay, dealing with divorce, economic depression, and extensive rescheduling, we are finally getting the ball rolling on this thing. This is my film school, or at least the first semester.

It's now titled, taking a page from Philip K. Dick (and a deep breath), 'You Never Know When The Neighbors Might Drop In', which you may recall was the tagline, previously. It somehow works better, in our silly, arrogant opinions.

So now we're going to be shooting in April.

You can read more about it here, at the revamped S&T Pictures website. There's a weird concept trailer, logo, our composer proverbially fiddling at his piano, some wonky test footage and a little background information.
Posted: Fri, 18th Feb 2011, 6:25pm

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Travis Kunze

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I've gotta say the first youtube vid you've got here with the test alien footage reminds me of the X-Files. lol
Posted: Sat, 19th Feb 2011, 6:53pm

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The Strider

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Considering that the producer is a massive 'X-Files' junkie, that's not in any way unintentional. smile

This Thursday, we'll be holding a meeting between our five man band to help put the film into concrete particulars, such as a schedule, props, casting sheets, that sort of thing. We may also shoot an announcement video, just to be friendly.
Posted: Sat, 19th Feb 2011, 10:52pm

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Travis Kunze

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X-Files is pretty good, little lame in parts, but good none the less. Looking forward to this projects final results.
Posted: Sat, 16th Apr 2011, 8:43pm

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2xZProductions

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You said that you were filming in April. Was wondering how everything was going with this?