Trygve.Com > Diary > JournalWeblogDiaryWhatsis - November, 2004
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World Conquest
November, 2004
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at the 25th american film market

because ... well ... why the hell not ...?

it's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.

Sunday, November 28th


Snow Doubt:
snowy morning

The snow they've been predicting for the last few days is just starting to fall. The weather report is predicting six inches by the end of the day. It's one of those mornings when it's nice to be toasty and not have to go anywhere. The snow always makes it seem so peaceful and quiet out here. It's almost enough to make me feel like putting up decorations or make gingerbread houses.

But I should get some computers fixed up and ready first and get DVDs and other promotional material to get ready to go out tomorrow.

First and last and always, there's something else that needs to be done.

Saturday, November 27th


I've become impossible...holding on to when...when everything seemed to matter more:

Urf. Grunt. Urf (again.)

So I was talking to the scriptwriter on this upcoming movie and he really wants me to be ripped for the part. Nothing wrong with that, and it's a good motivator, but it'll take a bit of determined effort to get to that point in the next few months.

Fortunately, this is shaping up to be a fairly quiet holiday season. This year, I thought I'd give in to the urge to spend the holiday cleaning. The only interruption was that one of my brothers decided he wanted to assemble a home theater, so he dropped by just long enough to pick up a projector and some stereo equipment.

With nobody but me and the dustrag to worry about, there was no one to complain if I didn't do any cooking...or at least didn't cook anything interesting, so for my Thanksgiving dinner, I figured I'd have egg whites and Wasa Fiber Rye crackers. (Which was what I was in the mood for anyway.)

wasa fiber rye cracker and egg

Sure, the dustrag is pretty high in fibre and low in calories, too, but if I'd eaten it, that would have messed up my plans for the weekend.

killer dust

...and speaking of dust, on Friday, Mark came by with a couple of ailing computers he wanted me to fix. The hard drive of one was in the process of eating itself (no doubt another fine diet technique, but this hard drive wasn't fat to begin with--it's NTFS), and that had more un-backed-up files that he wanted to salvage, so I started working on that one first.

But it was this one, the little Compaq Ipaq, that got my attention. Perhaps you, the gentle reader, can imagine what might cause a machine like this to lock up after a while.

I think this'll call for more that just my long-suffering dustrag. Fortunately, my vacuum cleaner is built into the house, so it's never far away. (Though sometimes I have to go hunting for the right attachment.)

dust in the wind

I'll deal with that after I'm done fixing computer number one (and then I can get back to my regularly scheduled housecleaning)...but, for the moment, I think it's back to the gym, and the computers will just have to hold on a little longer.

Urf. Grunt. Urf (again, again.)

Tuesday, November 23rd


Singe and a Haircut, Two Bits:

A cold, light snow is falling out here at the treehouse, and the air inside has cooled off too.

But before all that started, I was talking to a filmmaker about an upcoming project (modified low-budget SAG, but they do have their funding in place, or so I'm told). I don't know a lot about the project, but I trust the guy, so I'm happy to be attached to it. At this point, most of what I know about it are the naked sex scenes the writer/hero is putting in there and whom he's written himself into the bedroom with.

As for me, "you get killed...repeatedly." "Repeatedly?" "Yes, you're very tough to kill and just keep coming back."

From a method acting standpoint, this could be an easy role to play, since it sounds an awful lot like my real life: someone else gets written into the sex scenes while all sorts of people try to kill me off.

One way that nobody's managed to kill me off yet with is by fire. Getting set on fire has been on my "to do" list for years, but every time it looked like it was going to happen, some kind of technical or logistical issue arose that resulted in that effect being cut from the script. Darn.

Which brings us back to the "cold, snowy night" part. I have hot water heat in my house with a great big ten-zone gas-fired boiler and valve system in the garage. It's been a little persnickety ever since I accidentally drilled a hole through one of the hot water pipes while building a floor in one of the secret passageways out here, and the plumber I called fixed the leak, but used his torch on the thermostat wiring while he was at it. Still, it works, you just have to know the right persnicks to use.

Last spring I'd shut off the gas , including the gas for the pilot light, to save on fuel costs, something I hadn't done before, but probably should have.

 ..."you get killed...repeatedly"... 

Which led to the inevitable problem that the boiler had to be started up again, which I'd also never done before. I headed out to the garage to get the pilot lights going. It didn't work. I tried some more, but it still didn't work. I tried adjusting the various knobs and switches to see whether any of them would help, and finally, after turning various valves and pressing various buttons, it started up.

More or less. Mostly "more." Actually, quite a lot more. What "started" was a fireball of natural gas erupting from the boiler and doing a remarkable job of surrounding me. The hair on my arms, my eyebrows, and a decent amount of the hair on my head turned into black ash and soot, which made me more of an ash blonde than usual.

It was pretty funny, and I'll probably smell like burnt hair for a few days, but the worst of it was that the pilots didn't even stay lit after all that sound and fury.

I decided that the better part of valor was to locate and read the instructions before continuing.

Part of my problem is that I'm all too used to computer hardware and software and, as I have now learned, furnace boilers are different. For starters, if you follow the instructions, it actually does work, which is quite unlike most of the computer software and hardware I've worked with lately where following the instructions does not work and discovering the secret to installing it correctly has been left as a challenge for the student.

You know, I should have asked for a list of the ways I'm supposed to be killed off, just so I can be ready. The only way I know about involves being stabbed from behind with some large swordlike weapon long enough to come out through my which point, I'm supposed to be pissed off by this, pick up one of the minor protagonists, and impale him on the point that's sticking out of my chest. In real life you wouldn't want to do that because it would be unsanitary, but in the movies it's okay.

No problem. It's all in a day's work. Gotta do something while the rest of the cast is rehearsing those sex scenes.

Sunday, November 21st


Assemble Editing:

A few months back, Christopher Atkins asked if I'd put together a video editing computer for him. Since then, I'd been pretty busy out here with server upgrades and replacements and, of course, with getting ready for the American Film Market (which involved quite a bit of video work in itself).

video editing computer

Since life has calmed down a little--at least for the moment--I figured I'd see what I could throw together from my collection of spare parts.

If you wanted, say, fifty or sixty mildly obsolete servers, I could get you fixed up straight away, but I don't keep quite as many extra components on hand that are ideal for video editing.

The fasted CPU I had that wasn't already in use was an AMD Athlon XP 2600+, but I figured, taking that and wrapping an Asus A7N8-X nForce2-based motherboard around it would suffice. With ethernet, USB 2.0, SPDIF input and output, and sound--built in, the only cards it needed was a firewire card and a video card.

I stuck in an ATI 9800SE video card, a no-name firewire card, a 160-Gig hard drive, and a Pioneer A06 CD/DVD burner.

Obviously, the biggest deficiency is the hard drive capacity, but I figure he can always add more. Nobody ever has enough hard drive space anyway, no matter how much you install--at least if you're doing video editing. I've got two terabytes on one machine and it's almost full, too.

To keep things cool and quiet, I used a Zalman 7000A CPU cooler (which I've had good results with in lots of other computers) and a few extra Enermax adjustable-speed fans.

Athlon-based computer
Christopher Atkins
Christopher Atkins

I didn't have any great extra monitors lying around, so Chris ended up with one of the Sun GDM-20E20 displays. (Which are okay, but definitely dated and not as high resolution as I'd like.) After installing one of the extra copies of Adobe Premiere I'd gotten bundled with hardware, we were ready to go.

It may not be state-of-the-art, but I figure it's a reasonable setup for someone doing video editing who's just going to be working with DV and DVD.

Normally, I'd regale you with tales of challenges and incompatibilities and all the unexpected things that went wrong while trying to get the system set up, but there weren't any.

It just doesn't seem fair somehow, considering how much I've had to fight with for my own video editing machines--and that's despite my using the one (1) Firewire card that Avid has certified for my system and one of the two (2) video cards similarly certified by Avid--whereas, when I throw together some cheap stuff that I happened to have lying around, it worked perfectly right off the bat.

No doubt there's a lesson there somewhere.

Monday, November 15th


A Game Controller that's a Cut Above the Rest:

CAPCOM has announced the upcoming release of a innovative game controller for the Xbox that looks like a chainsaw, complete with realistic simulated blood spatters.

chainsaw Xbox controller

I'm sure this would be a coveted addition to any game-player's Christmas stocking. No doubt it'd be a great way to start the year's gaming off on the right foot...or cut off the right foot, as the case may be.

Sunday, November 14th


Don't Have Time to Cook?

Having a busy holiday season and don't have time to cook? Now you can whip up a complete holiday dinner as fast as you can whip out a straw with the Jones Soda Holiday Pack

Jones Turkey Soda Holiday Pack

Includes five delicious holiday soda flavors:

  • Turkey and Gravy
  • Cranberry
  • Mashed Potato and Butter
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Fruitcake

Mmm-mmmmm! Not only does it sound incredibly convenient to prepare and serve, just imagine the other advantages: no dirty plates or baking pans afterwards, and think of how easy it'll be to put away the leftovers.

Saturday, November 13th


The Shoot Sold 'Round the World:

When the Independent Film & Television Alliance moved the 25th American Film Market from its traditional late February/early March date to the beginning of November, I'd been concerned about how that would affect the turnout. No doubt the IFTA (formerly AFMA) was too. Besides throwing a monkey wrench into everybody's annual schedule of intenational markets and events, it put two American Film Markets into the same calendar year...which, for a lot of us, means the same fiscal year, too.

american film market

But those fears proved unfounded, as the newly rescheduled AFM set records for exhibitors attending, so much so that they expanded the exhibitor space into a neighboring hotel. I never actually made it over there myself to check it out. Unfortunately for the exhibitors over there, I suspect more than a few buyers would say the same. It takes quite a while just to go through the eight levels of exhibitors in the Loews. (Theoretically, they're on seven "floors," but the fourth "floor" is on two levels, one on top of the other. Go figure.)

As usual, the Inferno Film Productions office is in suite 525, just up from the main lobby in the corner office across from the registration area. (Got all that? Whew! But it's a good place to be, in my opinion.)

I couldn't tell you yet how the total attendance compared to previous years, but it certainly didn't seem lighter. I'm happy to have been kept busy for the duration and I'm sure the IFTA is as well.

american film market

One of the stated reasons for the move was to make the AFM coincide with the AFI Los Angeles International Film Festival. I'm not sure that really added anything to the experience--film festivals and film markets have about as much in common as blue jays and blue whales. The AFI Fest was located about an hour's drive away from the market (with bad traffic, recalculate that in dog hours) and it started after the market began and ended several days after the market was over. If they did expect some synergism, that seems like poor planning: it would make more sense to start the festival *first*, in hopes that the buyers would be interested in the ones that had just done well in the festival. By starting the festival second, if there is any effect at all, I'd think it would be to lure some of the buyers away from the market during the overlap...and you can imagine just how thrilled the sellers would be with that.

Tane McClure
Tane' McClure

There were more things different about the market this time than just the date. For the last few film markets, it had really seemed like all the buyers were interested in was horror. My back-of-the-evelope breakdown was that 60% of the buyers would *only* look at horror, 30% were mainly interested in horror, but would still consider other genres, and 10% were primarily interested in one or more genres other than horror.

Not so this time. Horror is still a strong seller (and an easy sell), but for the first time I had buyers tell me they were tired of horror, especially mindless splash-and-splatter horror. Interest in Action and SF was running as strong as ever, if not stronger, and interest in Family features was up again this time. The big loser was our Drama catalog; by and large, I couldn't even get anyone to take a look at anything once the word "drama" had passed my lips. I think I only managed to get people to look at one trailer out of our Drama catalog, and even that took a bit of arm-twisting.

The big surprise was the number of buyers asking for Romantic Comedies, which was particularly good for us, since we'd just gotten in a couple of strong films in that genre. The other pleasant surprise is the ongoing interest in our own training videos, which you wouldn't expect to be hot sellers at a market that's very much centered around feature films, but we've just sold another six territories this week.

James Lew
James Lew

I'm also very happy to have signed international deals for theatrical distribution. Most of what's available at the market (from Inferno and other sellers) is intended for straight-to-video sales: a lot of features are shot on film, but the production company never conformed the negative to the edit or created prints, so the edited version only exists in digital form. To go theatrical, you have to offer a product they feel will do well in theaters, *and* it has to be a product that they can have prints made from. Fortunately, we have a few films in our catalog that fit the bill and should be on their way to the big screens elsewhere in the world.

Gary Daniels
Mark Grove and Gary Daniels

Except for the lack of interest in anything labeled "drama," it was a good market--we signed more contracts this time at the market itself than ever before (usually at least 90% of deals get finalized after the market itself, once the buyers have had time to review the screening copies) and I could have sold some of the Action/SF films we have four times over in some territories (except that they'd already been sold). Definitely a motivator to do some more Action/SF films.

For that matter, I'd be happy to do a romantic comedy: I might not even have to get blown up, stabbed, shot, struck repeatedly with an axe, covered in fake blood, or jump off a bridge or buiding to do that. The tough part would probably be getting someone to want me in a romantic role. :-)

I mean, really. Could you imagine wanting a romance with that weird guy on the right there?

Bernard Madrid
Bernard Madrid

But that's okay. I've gotten used to washing dried corn syrup with red food coloring off of my skin, hair, and clothing. And the funny thing is that I've never had the dry cleaners comment when bringing in a pile of what look like blood-stained apparel. I could understand being used to that in L.A.--or even Aurora--but I'd think it would be less common here southwest of Denver.

Now we start the follow-up work: shipping screeners, negotiating over the rights, terms, and prices, and closing some deals. (Which is followed by the follow-up-to-the-follow-up work, where we assemble all the deliverable components that make it possible for the buyers around the world to create film prints, manufacture DVDs, and broadcast appropriately edited and dubbed versions, as well as advertising and promoting them. Whee!)

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