C2E2

After an epic road trip, Zsombor and I finally made it to Chicago for C2E2. We stayed right on the lake, at Michigan and Harrison, so we had the pleasure of seeing a bit of Chicago at night. And, other than the let down of deep dish pizza, I have to say that I was very impressed with the entire show and the city. Because of the space of the hall, I think I would have to give it the nod over NYCC as my favorite con. The people are great at both, interested and knowledgeable about comics (not just pop culture – which is what a lot of these cons have become). NYCC will always take a hit because the main hall is divided in two and artist alley is in a completely separate corridor. C2E2 doesn’t have this problem, at all.  The layout is almost perfect. And Zsombor and I got a great table in Artist Alley… across from Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmioti (great and talented people), the SpeciMen guys (awesome guys) and the folks at Yeti Press (another good group of dudes) – all of whom actually do comics, not nonsensical pop culture art.

We even got to meet a bunch of Kickstarter backers for R.E.M. as well as more than a handful of new faces.  It was a fun show and I can’t wait to go back.

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Zsombor with BumbleBee

Zsombor with BumbleBee

Ryan with Jigsaw

Ryan with Jigsaw

with Decapitated Dan, the most prolific comics journalist out there.

with Decapitated Dan, the most prolific comics journalist out there.

Utah - make it two.

Utah – make it two.

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Zsombor with the lamest quote ever

Zsombor with the lamest quote ever

 

 

AwesomeCon – Photos

After a few months on the road, to Los Angeles to produce a film, then to AwesomeCon in D.C., C2E2 in Chicago and a bachelor party in Vegas – I am finally back on my home turf of New York.  Since I was actually working most of the time, I don’t have a tremendous amount of photos from the conventions… but I do have some.

Below are a few from AwesomeCon, which was held in Washington, D.C.  It was fun, but ultimately this convention was more of a pop culture thing than a comics convention. And we didn’t have the best table – stuck right next to a guy selling grumpy cat artwork. If you weren’t familiar with the type of books I create, they couldn’t be further from pop culture humor and anyone that would walk past a grumpy cat booth and cackle.

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This guy had a simple, but great costume.

This guy had a simple, but great costume.

The saddest con pic ever taken?

The saddest con pic ever taken?

Comic-con Banner

Taking a break from some ‘R.E.M.’ artwork to bring you… more ‘R.E.M.’ artwork.  That’s not totally true – it includes a few projects.  It is the sketch of the banner we are putting together for NY Comic-con.

This will be 80″ tall and 24″ or 31″ wide.  And it is going to be pretty awesome.

The idea was a group effort.  Dmitry ‘Lemon5ky’ Dubrovin had done a pretty awesome piece of promo artwork for Orange Lif3 (which is looking good and I can’t wait to share with all of you – just translating all the chapters).  I pitched Zsombor on doing something similar.  He had two ideas in return – but I pushed him to do this version and he even told me today that he made the right choice.  I cannot wait to see this thing inked/colored.

spokelane_banner_pencil

Updates galore…

The last month or two has been extremely busy – but I sacrifice for your gain.

Seriously though, things on both the publishing and feature film fronts are moving along very well. I’ve been dealing with some strife (not personal, more like work related) that is starting to sort itself out. But it has forced me to focus on my slate, and really narrow down my focus – at a time when I may have been hoping to expand. Rather than bore you with my prose, I will just list some of the projects that I’m working on, along with some updates.

Lunatic. I will write another post about AFM, but it went really well.  After the first day I wasn’t so sure it was the best place for me to be (without a project to shop and with a film that maybe wasn’t fully cast)… but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The response to this project was overwhelmingly positive. I may have left with a handful of opportunities and we will see which ones rise to the top and are the most attractive for me to pursue. With any luck, this will get off the ground in late March of 2013.

Harbor Moon. We continue to sell books. The fan base continues to grow ever so slowly… and after visiting AFM the prospects of me putting this together for a feature are pretty high. It just seems like a no brainer under my current model.

R.E.M. It is a good thing the fan base continues to grow, because Zsombor inked the final pages of the book the other day. We have some minor tweaks here and there, but this thing is pretty much done.  I’m not sure it has sunk in yet.  I couldn’t be more proud of how this thing came out. If my script lives up to what I think it can – Zsombor’s artwork is going to make this thing a must read. There are a few question marks in terms of how I want to proceed, but with Karol’s help I think we figured out our best game plan. We don’t want to rush the release – so look for this in early 2013.  In somewhat related news, the prequel comic (based on the short), 4.2.3., should be finished any day.  Karol is working hard on the lettering (along with the REM lettering)…

Bulderlyns. Igor has really picked up the pace and is hitting a serious stride in terms of the artwork.  The details are amazing.  Part of me feels bad for Pawel and Dmitry – because they have to ink and color this thing.  And Dmitry has been side-lined with Orange Life, but he’s back on track and the colors are so vibrant, but not comic booky at all – they fit perfectly.

Orange Lif3. Dmitry’s personal book. I can only describe this as Eastern European manga, because he has his own unique style. He just turned in Season 0 and Season 1 (out of a lot of seasons he is planning and has already drawn a lot of)… I have to tell you, this thing is bad-ass and unique.

Chasing Rabbits. Due to outside circumstances in Indonesia, Sigit had to stop working on the book. But the happy accident in this is that Zsombor is taking over – something I wished I could do when he came on R.E.M.  I loved Sigit’s work (it truly is amazing), but immediately thought that Zsombor would have been almost too perfect for it.  And when this situation came up, I tried to bring it up to Zsombor in a gentle way – and he didn’t even let me try to beg him, he was right on board.  I personally believe this is the best script I have ever written. So I don’t say it lightly that it has found the ideal artist. He has this uncanny ability to be gritty and realistic, but with a slight tinge of fantastical. We talked about certain color styles, he did some tests – and I think we nailed it (well, he nailed it). This one is going to be a lot of fun. And I think Zsombor and I are starting to get more of a short-hand (for his sake). I almost don’t want to tell anyone about him, because I don’t ever want to do a book without him again.

Fuzzies. The children’s book is at the printers and we are just waiting on the final product. Rob has already written the second manuscript and we are sorting through children’s illustrators right now, something Karol has been an invaluable help on. Expect this before Christmas possibly.  Although, time is short and you never know when you have shipments coming from China.

These pursuits are based on projects that need my attention, but are already written. And I am usually writing more than one thing at a time.  However, as I already wrote, I have had to reign in what I am focusing on and what is on my slate. That said, I am working on a script for a micro-budget, trying to keep it under wraps until it is done. I’m about 75% completed and the first draft should be finished by next weekend. Not that it is mind-blowing, I just don’t want to jinx it. It looks like I have the cash for it, and every time I try to write a micro-budget they get bigger and bigger and bigger (like Penny Black). It will be a down-and-dirty, LI/NY based crime project.  That’s actually the first of two micro-budgets I am working on – the second being about MMA – more character based, like Rocky. But I will not touch that until this is done and in pre-production.

I haven’t forgotten about White Space. I have one thought on that – this thing is going to kick all sorts of ass.

Life Assessment at 34

So… another year in the books. And what do I have to show for it?  Well, a lot actually.  If you’re keeping track, a pretty rockin’ girlfriend and best bud.  An awesome family (including my little best bud).  And enough projects to keep me busy for a few years.

Here’s a run down of just about everything in the works or that I have…

My two favorites.

Battle for Terra: 3D

I was a producer on the 3D animated film that came out in 2009 from Lionsgate.  It was short-listed for Best Animated Feature by the Academy that same year.

I co-wrote, edited, and financed the graphic novel.  If you are into westerns or monsters – check this out.  Artwork is by Spoke Lane mainstay Pawel Sambor.
I came up with the story, sort of co-wrote it (Clay McCleod Chapman is the writer), produced and did some Second Unit directing on the feature.  We’re in post now, and I should have some big news about the film in Sept/October.  Stay tuned!
This exists on a few planes.  It will be my second graphic novel, I’m putting the pieces together for the feature film with myself directing and I directed a short film prequel to this story (4.2.3.).  The graphic novel has a chance to be done and ready by Christmas. Zsombor is just killing this thing.  Can’t wait…
Bulderlyns
This will be my third graphic novel. The only reason that R.E.M. will be finished first is because this has a lot of different parts.  Igor is doing layouts/pencils, Pawel is doing inks and Dmitry is coloring.  Each of them is turning out some pretty amazing work.  If you’ve seen samples I’ve posted, then you get a feel for what it’ll be.  It’s a young adult book with a story along the lines of E.T., Iron Giant or Gremlins.  Igor is starting to hit a serious stride and the stuff he’s turning in is amazing.
Chasing Rabbits
This will be my fourth graphic novel and is most likely my favorite script.  No, it is.  I just had so much fun writing this thing and putting the puzzle pieces together.  It is a murder mystery-thriller, but everything is based entirely on Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.  However, in this version, Alice is a hard-boiled female detective in the crime ridden city of Wonderland.  It is being drawn and inked by Sigit Nugroho.  He’s got some serious skills.  His cousin, Budi Setiawan, passed away recently after a long battle with cancer.  The book will be in memory to Budi – who was originally supposed to draw it.   Fighting through the hardship, Sigit has penciled up to 51 and inked up to 23.  This book will be a monster.
Lunatic
After many attempts at writing projects that I can direct on independently (I start off with good intentions and then it keeps growing and growing)… came Lunatic.  This started off as a discussion with Karol Wisniewski about a Harbor Moon spin-off, featuring the Brotherhood of the Moon.  I thought – can we do something with that but do it found footage style.  I came up with the story and then approached Dikran (who co-wrote Harbor Moon).  I caught him at the right time and away he went.  This script is rocking and is hard to summarize quickly here.  I’ve already been putting some serious pieces in place and this will be happening – just a matter of timing right now on when.  I’ll be in LA in September to shoot a short teaser (2 actually) for AFM, as well as poster artwork.
Based on the award-winning novella by NY Times best-selling author George R.R. Martin, this thing is a beast.  Quite literally.  I am producing and writing the script.  I finished an outline two weeks ago and submitted it – just got notes back today.  With any luck we’ll have it wrapped up within the next week or two.  Outlining, for me, is the hardest part of any project.  I also find it to be the most fun.  It’s like a giant puzzle you need to strip down and build.  We hope to have a script ready and out to talent (directors/actors) by September… so the clock is ticking.
The Beast
This is probably my second favorite script.  It’s about high school football, but it much more akin to Lord of the Flies than anything else.  It is something I’ve had in my head since high school and I was finally able to get it out… and now I’m working on turning it into a novella.  I’ve had some artwork done for it and just recently we finished a pretty awesome piece that I believe will be the cover of the book.
I was going through my projects and almost forgot about my podcast.  I produce and co-host a podcast on Hollywood news and film discussions.  September will mark a year that we’ve been on the air.  Our audience grows every week and I am grateful to have an outlet to discuss the thing I love – movies.
NY Sports Chick
If the Sports Chick ever dedicated herself to sports (she’s also a kick-ass biology teacher with 100% passing rate on the NY regents), then she would be as big as Erin Andrews (except Sports Chick actually knows what she’s talking about and can dissect games, particularly baseball).  She’s a perfect mix of Hannah Storm and Andrews.  Most of her work is done over twitter, but the goal is to have this podcast up and running on a constant basis sometime in the next few months.
This is a children’s property created by Rob Codling.  It is genius, about the fuzzies who live on a blanket.  We are nearing the initial print run of the first book (very, very shortly) and are hard at work on the second book.  Rob is also grinding away on the screenplay and with any luck this will be my animation follow-up.  How can you see this guy and just not be happy and want to ‘Spread the fuzz’?
King of the Night
This is something that Jim Devoti and I have been working on for years now.  It has almost come to be a few times – a few heart-breaking times.  It’s a modern day Saturday Night Fever set in the house music world.  We’ve got some of the top DJ’s in the world lined up for this one.  I co-wrote and will direct/produce.
This is a book series by Dmitry Dubrovin aka Lemon5ky (colorist on Bulderlyns), that will be published by Spoke Lane.  It is really unique looking and he has some massive plans for it.  He’s penciled the first 270 pages and is now inking them (that’s right – first 270).  Really glad to a be a part of this in any way.
Penny Black
Something that took me over two years to outline and about three weeks to actually write once I figured out the story.  The intention with this was to just make it for nothing – but as I wrote it, I fell in love with it and have grand ideas for it.  Grand ideas are expensive ideas.  This one ties in closely to Chasing Rabbits in a really cool way.
PuertoRican Villains
This is a project I’m set to direct, based on an awesome coming of age book set in the Bronx by Mark Anthony Gonzalez.  We are putting together the pieces now… and we hope to have a teaser in the next few weeks.
Smoker
This is a drama in the world of Mixed Martial Arts.  It is more character based than action though.  The concept behind this was to actually do a micro-budget film.  The things I have access to are fighters and gyms.  I get punched in the face everyday, might as well film it.  I just finished the outline today (happy birthday me)… and now it is time to write the script.  I’ve got no art for this one, except this thing I drew on my iPad as I was making notes.
There are some other projects you should be hearing a lot about in the next few months that (I believe) I am producing.  So look for titles such as HellHounds and Retrovirus to pop up soon enough…  you may even get a teaser for one (if not both) of them before AFM in the fall.
There are a few other projects in the outline stage, such as a Murder Mystery (something that is probably a bit further than an outline that we’re looking to just go make immediately), Lemon Heads (a drama), Overtaken (a zombie action project) and Revelations (working on with a band based around an album).  Some are just in the idea stage, such as a television series that is a cross between Donnie Brasco and Twin Peaks (an undercover cop story that revolves around a whodunnit) and a follow-up to Chasing Rabbits that is a dark-action thriller based entirely on nursery rhymes and fairy tales.  There are a few books and graphic novels I’m chasing the rights to – but I rather not say (don’t want to jinx it).  I may have left off the Shannara series by Terry Brooks.  Warner Bros. paid seven figures for the rights to that series and really helped launch all of this.
I’m in the very beginning stages of putting together an internet portal (called Gertie), which sort of acts like a Roku – but without the box top and is more of a landing page for users.  Eventually, we won’t need a box to connect to the internet (they already have wi-fi tv’s, but I don’t have one)… and it is my belief that if you can create the landing page for users then you will dominate this landscape.  It will be able ease of use and curation.  Filtering out the nonsense and giving people the options/titles they want.
On top of all that, I train everyday in MMA.  The love of my life used to be lacrosse.  However, a string of bad injuries (ruptured kidney, separated shoulders, torn hamstrings, torn achilles) led me away from the field.  I miss it.  I really miss it.  But I find peace of mind fighting. Both striking and BJJ.  My personal goal was to have a fight this fall.  A few business matters have probably prevented me from making that happen, but once September comes I should have a better grasp on the next few months.  I would like to get into the ring and step it up though.  Scratch that – I will step into the ring.  It is just a matter of when.
I’m sure there are some projects I missed.  If you do read this blog (and I’m guessing if you’re still reading that you do) and follow the work I am doing – I can’t begin to thank you.  It really is the only reason I’m able to do this stuff.  I respect and cherish every single person that has ever seen Battle for Terra, read Harbor Moon, watched 4.2.3., etc…

We May Pause… But We Don’t Stop

I’ve been slacking here, but for good reason.  Last night (or I guess this morning) around 4am I finished a rewrite of my latest script Penny Black.  It’s a quirky thriller.  Someone already compared it to Lost Highway, which is actually very flattering. David Lynch is a big inspiration for me. And when I set out to write the project the two movies I had in my head were Mulholland Drive and Amelie.  I know, I know… they don’t add up.  But if you read this you’d understand.  I guess a lot of Brad Anderson’s The Machinist creeps through the cracks as well – and that same person brought it up in reference to the script.  All very positive for me.

I’ve been outlining this project for about two and a half years.  It went through three complete and total overhauls. As in, it would be unrecognizable. I’m glad I never rushed it, because this version is so much better. In an odd way it is a mash-up of a few of my other projects (in some ways quite literally). Chasing Rabbits and R.E.M. to be exact.

The goal was always to write something that I could do for nothing.  (Nothing in the film world being a lot in the real world). Of course, as I fall more in love with the story and characters the more I want it to be perfect.  I just need to keep my focus and figure out how to do it with the least amount of money possible.  Right now my budget is $200,000 ($25,000 for about 10 minutes of animated sequences a la Kill Bill) and my ‘get it in the can’ number is $125,000.  I’m trying to get that into the 5 digit range. The biggest factors in that are going to be:

  • Location (city/state that I shoot in)
  • Camera (which digital camera I use)

I’ll be writing a post about locations at some point this week. My choices and why they are my choices. And where each one stands right now. I’ll also be writing more about camera choices as I figure it out.

Penny Black – Artwork

Penny Black is a script I’m currently writing with the purpose of just going out and shooting it.  The thought was to shoot on an iphone 4S, but we’ll see how it all shakes out.  We’ll how the RED Scarlet works out… and I really like the Sony FS100.

The idea is based around the conceit that this girl moves into an apartment with an oddly placed mail slot – attached to a wall.  When mail actually starts showing up it sends her world into chaos, bringing her out of her shell.

The Penny Black was the world’s first adhesive postage stamp used in a public postal system and is also the name of the main character. It was issued by the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland on 1 May, 1840, for use from 6 May of that year. All London post offices received official issues of the new stamps but other offices throughout the United Kingdom did not, continuing to accept postage payments in cash only for a period.

Script Progress Report

Finally making some headway after being derailed the last two or three weeks.  The first draft of this found footage script I’m working on, right now named Untitled Werewolf Hunter, came in this morning.  And I hit the 50 page mark on Penny Black late last night (script will only be about 80-85 pages).

Itching to get both of these done as soon as possible so I can dive into the adaptation of George R.R. Martin’s The Skin Trade.   I’ve read it a few times already and after the next read I’ll start breaking it down for an outline.  Going to be a lot of fun…

Script Progress Report

I’ve got 50-something pages of Penny Black down.  But I’m truly only up to page 20.  Not bad though.  It’s really coming along and I’m starting to figure out exactly who Penny is.

Untitled Werewolf Hunter is up to page 32.  It’s bitchin’ and I just spent the day upstate (NY) doing a location scout. My buddy, who was also an Executive Producer on White Space and will be a producer on this film, has a cabin I can blow up/destroy and it sits on 35 acres.  I’ll post some pics and videos after I upload them to my computer.  Dikran’s also working on a revision of his latest spec with his writing partner, Rylend… so he’s splitting his time.  If I was a real scumbag I would have given him notes on that script after he finished this one.  But I’m such a swell guy.  And it all comes back around…

 

Dueling New Film Projects and the iPhone 4S for a Feature Film

I posted a few days ago about a new film project I’m working on.  You can read about that here.

I’m working on that with Dikran Ornekian and his involvement has freed me up to turn some attention towards a project I started in 2010, but was never able to find the voice for.  An off-beat little thriller called Penny Black.  The problem was the lead character, a female.  She just wasn’t interesting to me and it posed problems not only when sitting down to write, but in the outline.  So I went back to the drawing board and once I re-crafted her, it all sort of flowed.  I’ve found that a lot of times on projects I have trouble getting into, if I take some time off – whether it is weeks, months or sometimes years – it opens up a lot of doors and removes some roadblocks.

This is a project I started with the intention of doing ulta-low-budget.  But the way I want to do it now is even more so… I want to shoot it on the iPhone 4S with a seriously small crew. The 4S ships with an 8 megapixel backlit CMOS sensor that records 1080p video at 30 FPS, with an f/2.4 aperture and a gyro for video stabilization.  Word is that the automatic stabilization seems to work wonders, and gets rid of most the jello. 1080p resolution doesn’t mean 1080p quality, but if the sensor supports it, there’s no reason not to enable it.

I don’t think the image from the iPhone is ready for a film blow-up yet (it gets a bit muddy in low-light and the blacks aren’t that sharp), but the image is somewhat stunning and you can definitely shoot something you have smaller screen aspirations for.  There are more than a few apps that override the autofocus and controls on the camera, like Filmic Pro… as well as lens attachments (I’ll do a post on those in the future when I’ve sorted through them all).

Here are a few 5D and 7D comparisons with the iPhone 4S.