Monday, May 28, 2012

The book signing

Well, I'm finally back. I'm still in Manitoba and about to do the big book-signing for Emperor of Mars today in Winnipeg. During the past week, I made my way from Sherman Oaks to Nevada, Idaho and Wyoming. I helped rescue a 3-week old calf whose leg was crushed, spent a day rounding up cattle in Montana, drove through a snow blizzard and reconnected with an older "great" cousin and his wife.

The pic above is in Jackson Hole, one of my favorite places. 

But right now I'm nervous. Not a bad reason, but having to face people at the book-signing. I have these images I've seen at bookstores where some unknown writer sits waiting for someone to buy their book as people walk past him/her.

Screenwriting is much easier; you write the script and hand it in and they pay you.

But for novels, you gotta show up in a bookstore and meet some friends and some strangers who are curious about watching a writer literally beg for them to buy his/her book. 

Okay, maybe it's not that desperate. Actually the book-signing I did in my home town turned out to be a lot of fun, and over half the buyers were strangers. But I had a somewhat captive audience there as many of the strangers were curious about the book, as the book was was set in their town. 

Today I have the big book-signing, at a city bookstore but fortunately with friends. Will see how it goes and hopefully I sell a few books.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Still here...

Sorry for disappearing, I left for Canada to my home town and then to Winnipeg where a bookstore group will sell Emperor of Mars in their stores. It's also a chance to "visit" as they  say. Also have a dozen DVD's of Ghostkeeper for the Deer Lodger Hotel. Seems they will keep a few and sell the others to guests.

Not a major sale to HBO, but hell, it's still a sale.

Tomorrow I will be one of those sad authors sitting at a desk in a little bookstore in Swan River (Pop 4800) which is a farming community. Next Tues I do the same thing in Winnipeg. I really, really don't like it as I've seen too many authors sitting alone in the back of a bookstore hoping someone will buy their book.

I'll be here for 2 weeks, then back to LA and will now resume blogs. Thanks for hanging around.

BTW, the pic above was taken in Idaho, a really well built house even though it's old

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My Haute Thoughts

When a connection seems broken, the universe finds a way to reconnect... guiding us back to the source with light and love.

No matter where I travel in the world, I always know that there is nothing like a connection with a stranger that proves to be life changing. I've had this experience happen to me in some of the most unlikely places, but each time teaching me something about myself that makes me a better person.

The connections with people who are brought into your life for a much bigger reason... to help you find your purpose are powerful. It reminds me of the Chinese proverb, The Red Thread of Destiny... some connections can never be broken. The next time you run into that person who seems to be connected to you, in ways that you can't explain, consider the possibility that he or she may have been sent by the universe to help you walk into your destiny. Just remember even "angels learn how to fly."

Has this ever happened to you?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Aussie Street Style

First of all, keep in mind that these photos were taken a year ago. This was the end of Aussie summer season in 2011. They were so ahead of us in the States! 

Cut offs, cropped tees, high-waisted bottoms, navajo print, vintage florals, over-sized tops, collars, sheer shirts, vintage booties, and retro sneakers. Very bohemian, very retro, very laid back. I saw so much more than I actually photographed. I would love to see some Aussie street fashion in the winter when there are more layers. 

- Julia

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Melbourne | 3 of 3

We spent a few days hanging out in Fitzroy, a funky and gritty neighborhood of Melbourne, because we loved it so much. This place was lined with cool shops and one-of-a-kind restaurants and cafes, each one designed so well. It was also full of young people with modern-vintage style, so it was a good place to people-watch and make you want to change your entire wardrobe. We visited a handmade artist's market on the weekend and took way too many photos of graffiti because it was all so good. This is when I decided that if I ever open a shop or restaurant, I'm coming to Melbourne to get inspiration. Australians have great taste. 

The next post is our last post from Australia and it's a street fashion post! 

- Julia

We were lucky to be in the area for the Rose Street Artist's Market where around 100 local artists and designers sell some pretty neat things journals, jewelry, and home decor pieces. 
We had dinner at the Little Creatures Dining Hall... one of the coolest restaurants ever. They brew their own beer, make delicious food with good ingredients, and have a big ol' warehouse-style dining room. 
Picking herbs from the restaurant's window boxes on the street. 
Ready to go picnic baskets! Such a good idea! Genius restaurant.

Monday, May 14, 2012

On the subject of Editing.

I've recently been doing some editing for some friends. Not writing editing but actual video editing. I use a software program designed for Macs called Final Cut Pro (nickname FCP) and started using it back in 2002. 

The screen above is my project for Emperor of Mars, very simple as FCP goes, I had photos and some artwork and narration. The blue areas are the photos and the 2 green lines are the audio. Excuse the sunlight reflecting on the screen.

My editing experience started back in 1970 at a local TV station in Windsor, across the river from Detroit. Back then everything was 16mm film for the station; movies, commercials and some TV shows were all used and reused until they were either out of date or had so many scratches from being run in the projectors that they  had to be replaced.

There was video but it was limited to local TV shows we produced. News stories were all filmed on 16mm black and white film.

Going back to the first edit jobs, I would take 16mm commercials and insert them into a TV show or movie by hot splicing. That involved cutting the film and gluing the commercials, sometimes as many as 4, into the movie.

Editing, like filming and writing and probably acting, is a creative process. Splicing commercials was hardly that, but I learned how to find the places in a movie, for example, to best put the commercials.

In later years, I was more of a writer/producer/director at all the TV stations I worked at and didn't really edit myself, rather a technician would make all the cuts on video, sometimes actually cutting the tape to join to another piece of tape.

It wasn't until 2002 that I started to edit again, with FCP, which was slightly higher than consumer video editing softwares, it cost $1200 and I needed to buy a Mac besides having a PC laptop.

My first experiences were revolutionary to me, I could actually cut and edit and add music and effects. Really amazing stuff. But the hardest part was learning it, and it took a good 2 years to figure out the software to my liking.

One of the biggest problems with digital editing is that there are many ways to do it and many ways to mess it up. That's where I came into conflict with technology again. I came from film editing which, technologically was simple; you had an editing machine that had 4 functions; forward/fast forward and reverse/fast reverse.

With FCP you have dozens, maybe hundreds of different functions and dozens of ways to screw it up. Today, to edit features or just family movies, you have to know how digital works. To my credit, I'm okay on the tech side, but much more creative on the artistic side.

And those don't always get along with each other.

I remember working with a tech video guy at a TV station; he was editing, I was telling him what to add or cut. Kind of like my dad teaching me to drive. Lots of arguing.

At one point, I was looking at the color on one monitor and the tech was looking  at his tech screens filled with scales and lines. I said the color on my picture monitor was off, he said, looking at his screens, that it was perfect.

I was looking at people, he was looking at lines.

What's the point? Well, I have found that creativity and technology don't always go together. 

Example; I recently edited a demo reel for my director friend Paul. It consisted of TV shows he had directed when copies were made from 1" video tape. Now I was putting them on digital. And that meant having to translate the old video to digital video. Not an easy thing to do and I had to enlist the many FCP forums to help me.

That's another thing about digital editing; it always has problems. There are 125,000 people using FCP (probably more but that's the number on the official Mac site) who are having problems. Every day. And there are at least a dozen different help sites including Youtube.

When we edited film, there were only those 4 functions I described above. And sometimes you had to change the light bulb in the screen.

Now you have to be the editor, the engineer and at least a dozen functions that were done by other individuals. If you wanted an optical effect, say a fade to black, you had to get the lab printer to do that and it cost money.

Now I just make a single click and there's the fade to black. All of 2 seconds. 

And that brings into question this; if I can do almost any kind of optical visual by myself then what is happening to the people who used to do this?

For on example, I sometimes go to a dubbing company that makes copies of dvds, etc. They had 3 different offices in LA. A month ago I called for a pricing on a video and they now have 1 office. What happened? 

Guys like me happened, people who can do practically everything by themselves.

It's an odd situation, knowing that I and thousands of others are taking away jobs from people. FCP now costs $299 as compared to the $1200 it used to cost.

As the saying goes, "good news is that everyone can now make a movie--- bad news is that everyone can now make a movie. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Ghostkeeper and more...

Had some nice email over the wk-end about Ghostkeeper, seems that it's doing very well for Code Red so far.

One of the reasons Bill at Code Red decided to sell direct rather than through a distributor is basically because distributors can really rip you off. My initial experience was with a company called International Cinema Marketing, out of NYC.

That's when I learned one single thing; they will take your money. In fact you don't look for a company that will be be dishonest, you look for one that will be the least dishonest.

But a distributor will always say "we're selling your movie".

And they're right. But what they don't say is how they decided on the "expenses" necessary to sell the movie. That might mean taking a buyer for an expensive dinner, or flying their partner/wife/husband or friend to Cannes along with them.

And you pay for it.

So why do you allow it?

You have no choice. Their expenses are so complicated on paper that it's almost impossible to find the real cost. This is why you often see bigtime producers and directors sue the major studios for money owed to them.

And it becomes a matter as to who can stretch it out longer in the courts.

Having said that, while Code Red gave me a good deal, it remains to be seen how much that deal will cost me. To their credit, they did find the 35mm prints and they were very helpful in helping to put the commentary together.

But distribution is changing and for the better, what with streaming video ready to take over from DVDs just as quickly as DVDs took over from VHS. It's getting harder for studios and sales agents to hide their expenses. The greater problem is the rampant copying of movies that is killing the studios.

I know I have written about how surprised I was with Ghostkeeper's sudden revival but it continues to amaze me. It was the last thing I ever expected.

And I have written a sequel of sorts as most of you know, but getting it financed is a tough one. John Holbrook, the DP from the original GKPR came up with a crew budget that's pretty good, and for under $1 million.

The original GKPR was filmed for around $650,000, which is the equivalent of $1.4 million today. But with new DV cameras it can be made quite well for a lower budget.

Got some nice comments in the previous blog, which always makes the day a little brighter.

And what else today?

A company is interested in Deadhead, a story about 8 people flying on a jetliner destined for the bone yard when strange, ghostly things begin to happen.

This from a guy who writes Hallmark movies?

But there's nothing like a good ghost story at 32,000  feet.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Melbourne | 2 of 3

Today we have more photos to share around Melbourne.

On Sunday, we headed to St. Kilda, a suburb of Melbourne, to check out the weekly street market. It wasn't really our style (more touristy, less stylish) and definitely didn't compare to Glebe Market in Sydney. But, we were happy to be by the beach and to check out the endless pastry shops in St. Kilda!

- Julia

We went to the top floor of the mall to get a free view of the city (this photo was taken through the windows of the Apple store). 
On the tram, headed to St. Kilda. 
Luna Park.... St. Kilda's iconic amusement park. 
The pastry shops were endless... and they were all along one street. Who eats all this cake?!
One pastry would have been big enough to share, but we couldn't narrow it down so we ordered three!
Coffee rum roula. 
We fell in love with Grill'd burgers in Sydney, and couldn't resist having it once more in Melbourne.
I absolutely love the fun painting and writing on the walls of the restaurant.