Latest entry: Entry 32,
Friday August 12, 2005
Entry 13. By David,
Monday, May 12, 2003
It's been a very very good couple of weeks.
I've been working on the animatic. I have about
eight minutes of the film roughly plotted. It's nice to watch,
even with temporary dialogue, temporary sound, stills standing
in for animation and missing sound effects.
I spoke again to Shaun,
who said he's still willing to do the voice of Palumbo, and
that he's able to do his recording in early June. I was also
contacted by several voice actors who saw one of the press
releases I sent out (so they have been good for something),
and now it looks like we've got a full (and good-sounding)
To backtrack a little bit: I met Santo
Cilauro at the Newcastle Young Writers Festival
last year. In the course of visiting him at his place of work
the other day, I asked if he would voice the character of
Sal, the hot dog vendor/informant, and he said "yes"!
Words fail me, really. You sort of need to see the expression
on my face to understand how juiced I am. My friends have,
and I suspect they're only going to put up with it for so
As if all this wasn't enough, it looks like
I've (provisionally) got a small but extremely useful grant
from Next Wave, which means the big May 2004 premiere screening
I described earlier
is that little bit closer to being a reality.
coming up Milhouse.
I have no idea how long this insanely good fortune
is going to hold out, but HERMAN is starting to feel like
a really big deal. Can it live up to the hype? Absolutely!
Just look at this:
Entry 14. By David,
Wednesday, June 4, 2003
The animatic is finished. I had hoped that once
it was done I would be able to look at it and have a completely
convincing preview of how the film will come out, but unfortunately
it doesn't quite work that way.
There are many moments which are let down by
temp music (or no music), flat dialogue or just because there's
no animation to properly express them. But these are mostly
small, and will be fixed when the real stuff gets laid in.
I've gone back and played script doctor on a
couple bits that are overwritten, added a little bit more
funniness (I think) and I've got a good idea how everything
will be done when party rock animated frame-by-frame fun time
starts. And I'm surprised at how good some parts of the animatic
Next job is recording the final dialogue.
Obviously I've now met the people who contacted
me about doing voices for HERMAN (seeing as I've recorded
them for the animatic). They are all nice and all sound good,
which seems like an unlikely occurrence to me. I would've
thought I'd hear from at least one person who kind of sucks.
I guess it's because I never placed ads announcing a "casting
call". The right people just happened across my press
garbage. If one were cynical one might suggest that they're
all nice because I'm employing them, but that, of course,
would be a load of tot because they're not getting paid and
they will soon learn that I'm a perfectionist taskmaster on
a Kubrick level; David "let's do twenty takes and sell
'em a load of clams" Blumenstein, that's me. We'll find
out how nice they are when I have them repeat the same two
words over and over and over in a steaming sound booth for
hours on end while I hold down the "oxygen escape"
button, slowly draining their air supply so they choke on
their words, delicate foamy bubbles forming on their lips
as their lifeless heads thump down on the microphone, releasing
screaming feedback into the studio which blends seamlessly
with the shrill howling of the wolves I release into the booth
to messily gorge on the carcasses.
"Hi" to any of the HERMAN actors who
may be reading!
I got a nice e-mail from some animators who
are angling for grant money for animation pilots. My reply
to them featured an over-long coalescence of my thoughts about
how the whole "grant" thing works (although I doubt
I know much more than they do). After this, I will try not
to mention grants in this journal again if possible.
As far as I can
tell, it works this way:
Funding bodies need to justify
their existence to the government, else they won't receive
money to give out. So they look out for projects which are
low risk, commercially -- meaning, they've got recognisable
names attached to them, either as PRODUCER (a good producer
will make the film happen), DIRECTOR (someone with a track
record) or maybe ACTORS (if they're famous, the film has
a good chance of being commercial).
Then, when their low risk projects
pan out (or even if they don't), they can turn to the government
and say, "Look who we funded this year: successful,
talented PEOPLE YOU'VE HEARD OF. Can we have an increase
If they took risks and funded
projects by nobodies, they might have an accidental success
or two, but the worry is that they'll end up with a bunch
of films nobody is interested in, or worse; films that didn't
even get off the ground because the "unknown"
people making them were incompetent. And chances are, even
those accidental successes won't be BIG successes.
The funding bodies are forced
into this position because there's only so much government
cash to go around. What they do is, I think, understandable.
And yet it means a lot of poor-to-average films are being
given money, being made and being sold because they have
"names" attached. This is unfortunate, but I can't
think of a way this could change.
So the way people get started
is by (a) knowing people who can help them, or (b) by having
powerful drive combined with great talent such that they
simply CAN NOT be ignored for long.
That's how it looks to me, from
where I am. People I've spoken with inside and immediately
outside the mysterious realm of "the Australian film
industry" seem to confirm this assessment, more or
less (but I'd be really interested to hear a rebuttal).
Some of the help I've received
so far has been because I knew people. Some has been because
people had confidence in my ability, and/or liked the idea.
In the end, I'm not sure it matters where your stepping
stones come from, as long as you use them to do creative
things (badly scripted feature films starring soap actors
"making the leap to the silver screen" do not
So in conclusion (and jesus
have I been crapping on, for which I apologise, but I guess
it's because I've been sorting thru these things in my head
lately), probably all you can do to help ensure you get
funding (and this is of course coming from somebody who's
barely gotten any), is:
1. Have famous people
on board. If you can't promise that, then
2. Have a producer who is well known within the film
industry as a "mover and shaker". If you
can't promise that, then
3. Have a production team made up of people who are
famous within the film industry. If you can't promise
4. Have a production team made up of people who have
a body of work which proves they can get things done.
If you can't promise that, then
5. Have a letter from a TV network or film distributor
which says that they will buy and screen your project
when it's made. If you can't promise that, then
6. Have a letter from another source of funding which
says that they will co-produce your project.
I guess I'm an optimist, because
I like to think that cream will rise, even if it doesn't
get free money from the government. I hope you have good
luck with your funding applications. I feel so full of shit
having said all that stuff up there, because I clearly have
little experience with such things and I'm basing all my
assumptions on extrapolations and guesswork. It sounds right,
though, doesn't it? Let me know if it sounds at all helpful,
and if it is I'll put it up in the MAKING HERMAN journal.
I haven't heard back, but I thought I'd stick
that up there anyway.
Oh, and in the news:
* Bill Murray will voice the title role in
GARFIELD, based on the Jim Davis comic strip, for Twentieth
Century Fox and director Peter Hewitt. Breckin Meyer and
Jennifer Love Hewitt also star. Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow
(TOY STORY) wrote the script.
Jesus H. Christ on a cracker.
Entry 15. By David,
Wednesday, July 9, 2003
Recorded a lot of the final dialogue yesterday.
Managed to get most of the main actors in the studio in the
one day (Shaun, Katrina, Brian, Thomas). Been listening back
to what we got, and I reckon it's all pretty nice.
As it turns out, I was pretty on the money with
my predictions of last entry (steaming sound booth, twenty
takes, but no "oxygen excape" or hungry wolves).
The actors were all very gracious and willing to oblige me
with endless variations on a single line. Met Shaun at last
(had already met Katrina, Brian and Thomas to record rough
temp dialogue, see previous), and we all agree he's a nice
guy who took the occasional geek-outs ("Will you ever
do Milo again?") with good humour. Katrina is very sweet
and very professional, and sounds very sexy saying "Jesus
flaming Christ". Brian is a lovely gentleman (the type
we're not used to dealing with). He handled my relentless
pummeling ("one more time, louder and quicker")
very well, and only swore once. Thomas is a nutbag, but he's
our kind of nutbag, and his
impression of an inbred hillbilly Ku Klux Klan member
is truly exemplary.
Adam was on hand to feed everyone lines (the
written kind) and toss in observations and comments (and occasionally
usurp my God-given DIRECTOR-POWER). Jake did a nice job sitting
on the outside of the booth making sure sound levels were
OK and there was no clipping (distortion due to high volume)
on the tape. There was bottled water and cookies on hand.
Soon I will schedule a time to record all the
other dialogue from all the other people, including Adam,
who seems impatient to record, probably because he's unemployed
The latest issue of if
Magazine is out. "if" stands for INSIDE
FILM (although when I worked there as an "intern"
-- or more accurately, "schlepper" -- it stood for
INDEPENDENT FILMMAKER). This month's issue has got a two (!)
page HERMAN article. I tip my hat to them for that, and to
the writer particularly for removing all the ummms, errrs
and welllllls from my quotes.
I took ten minutes or so today to whip THIS
together. Eh? Eh?
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