Saturday, October 31, 2009

Black Canary Fan Film Project - Blog 005: The Titanic story and how it relates-

Years ago, I attended a CGI seminar, where Rob Legatto was the keynote speaker, and talked (if memory serves right) about how legendary filmmaker James Cameron asked Digital Domain if they could create digital water, so that the "Titanic" movie could actually be made the way that he intended.

Without knowing for sure, DD said "Yes, we can!"--- even though they had never been able (nor had anyone at that point) to create computer generated water at that stage. They essentially committed to figuring it out by a deadline, while the picture began shooting and the movie had already been set to be booked in theatres by a set date. If they couldn't make it work, then the movie would probably have been toast without that key bit, and it's probably not impossible to say that it might have sunk a studio as well.


I was shocked when I heard this story, and wondered: "Is this how all movies are made? You don't know if you can jump across the bridge, but do it anyways?"

Similiarly, cut to now.
The sucky thing of course is that, unlike working on a Hollywood project, a fan film usually is done whilst juggling the day job, so to speak, which has no sympathy for the ideal way in which you would like to work.

The outline for the three part Black Canary story is set, (finally), but the main thing (besides Black Canary's look and ability)- is whether or not we can deliver a kickarse action sequence worthy of the gigantic standards put out by both professionals and fan films nowadays. Like special effects, the audience is probably more picky than any other time in history with its creative demands. Time is (potential) money, so if an audience gives up their attention to watch a fan film, they damn well be entertained, and I certainly understand that unspoken contract between filmmaker and viewer.

"Vangelis", (the last film done prior to this current one), suprisingly was able to have its action sequences unscathed by nasty fan critics, a large part of that credit goes to Tom Miller and Boran Vukajlovic.

This time around, there are a number of options in regards to the action sequence. and very little time to enact it. Can we do it?
Not much choice.
"Yes, we can".
((Or else it'll suck and I'll have wasted a lot of time on these blogs. So, we can't afford to suck. ;p ))

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Black Canary Fan Film Project - Blog 004: A Canary and her Hog

BC on her hog---

And...Black Canary and her bike in the silver (or bronze?) age DC comics. (Art copyright DC comics, of course.)

Anyhow, shooting hopefully will begin in a few weeks.
The odd thing is how much of short (or long) filmmaking deals with having to do so many TEDIOUS things to even get to start filmming. But that's the way it goes, for million dollar films and one dollar films. (We're somewhere in between those two categories)

In an ideal world, we'd be having Black Canary doing amazing stuff on the motorcycle- but given that our playground is limited, and my ability to pay actors' hospital bills is next to nil--- we're not going to be having any realistic Jackie Chan-like stunts in the BC short(s).

But---to not have ANY appearance of a Harley Davison... well...

Not having BC's bike, is like having the Lone Ranger without his horse, Batman without his Batmobile, or Speed Racer without his Mach 5.

BC can do her kickarse martial arts without a motorcycle, but there are a few touchstones that, to me, scream out 'Black Canary', and the Harley-Davison is one of them.

So, BC's bike has to be in there somehow. We'll figure something out. Stay tuned...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Black Canary Fan Film Project - Blog 003: conceiving parimeters

((Black Canary and art is copyright DC comics.))


I've done a number of short films over the years--- which doesn't mean that you should automatically like what I can put together- but... it means that I've actually completed projects and have some actual experience. Does it mean I'm a pro?
No. But-- it means that hopefully I'm getting better, as I see each short I've done as being a great lesson over the one previous.

Now, I'm not crazy about filmmakers that try to pretend to be bigger than they are, because...well, who's fooling who? On one hand, it could be argued that the final product is all that counts.... or it could be argued: sometimes the battle for the film is part of the whole story. I certainly know that I tend to learn more from others who have similiar budgets and somehow miss the mark, but are willing to share what might have gone wrong---

And in that spirit.... I humbly hope that the WHOLE experience- the final product and what it took to try to get there- turns out to be a worthwhile one for others, and not just for those directly involved.

So, this blog is to share the journey, and hope the destination turns out as great as it seems in my head.
If it doesn't, then maybe- just maybe- the gist of what was in my head can still come out to be enjoyed, in the bts stuff.

Hopefully. In any case, hope you enjoy. ;)
So, with that very long intro.... here I go:

Things I thought/think about in tackling BLACK CANARY:

In tackling Black Canary, there were/are concerns right away, that at least I knew we should be conscious of:
#1: Who would/should play Black Canary?
#2: What is the story we want to tell/ experience we want to create?
#3: What are the best things about the character that should be shown/attempted in a fan film?

History of the Black Canary can be best found here:

With multiple versions of the Black Canary in existence---the question came up: which one to pick to adapt?
The Silver Age one with the mask? The Bronze Age one where Black Canary came from "Earth Two" to join the Justice League?
The reboot Age where Black Canary has a daughter named Dinah Lance and wears a leather leotard?

Just like the "Spiderman" and "Superman" films had to choose an amalgam of the different versions, choosing a particular view was important. I get more now what they were talking about in first needing a singular creative view of a character, from many interpretations.

Also--- I didn't want to do this:

((This is Black Canary. According to CW's "Smallville", which has moments of brilliance- but unfortunately many more moments of creative laziness))

(photo by the cw)
I guess I can only say: uhh.... this is NOT what I see in my mind when I think of the comic character "Black Canary".
Is this what you see? I honestly don't know what the hell this is supposed to be, but it doesn't look like Black Canary to me.

Now- if this was part of a fan film, I'd give it some creative latitude, because most of us fans don't have... uh... money, and I'm sure that the catering bill for a CW show is probably more than what any of us makes in years. So.

Besides--- fan films to me are in a different category.
It may be self-serving to say so, but to me, anyone who at least tries to create/finish a project with no money and all heart deserves to at least not be picked on for putting themselves out there. So, you won't ever hear me bash another fan film (unless the star or director is a complete ass, but that's somewhat rare...) ;p

Having said that--- On the flip side, if we're not learning from one another to improve projects, and just kiss each others' butts, that's a mistake in the other direction.

So, going in, I can say I made a list going in on what I DON'T care for in projects that are based on comics (pro or not) that don't quite pass the mark (creatively) for me:

#1: THE COSTUME (Lack of, or too different from the comics).

The look/costume is far too important imo when it's comics.
Why? Because the image and the symbolism is what makes the particular medium memorable.

Believe me when I say that me and Ashley went through great discussions on hair, that still aren't over yet.
I had no idea before starting how important hair is to generating a look of a character. As you can see from the photos, we didn't go with the Silver Age look of BC's Farrah Fawcett hair, though not for lack of trying. Anyways--- maybe more on the hair issue later on. (Or not. Just know we paid a lot of attention to it)

#2: THE ACTION (Too cheesy when it's not supposed to be cheesy)

Having grown up on Hong Kong kung fu films, it's hard to look at any tv or film projects that aren't on the same level.
"Buffy the Vampire Slayer" did a smart job in mixing/matching real martial artists in sequences with wire-fu and/or often, there was more going on than just the martial arts showcase.

Even in "The Matrix", the kungfu looked...ok. But that's with professionals and months of training.

So.... the challenge is: how to make the action in a BC fan film look good without martial artists who've trained since birth nor
the money and time of those who do films for a living. So....yeah.... the work is cut out for us, for sure. Check back on this blog for more later on that...


This goes hand in hand with the writing. A lot of my short films were campy on purpose, for many reasons I won't go into right here. But.... the acting and the writing will definitely go in hand. I've seen projects where the actor seems fine- but there's no way to tell because there's not much of a story. Which leads to the next issue...


This is/was tricky. There's not a lot of money available for this project, so the key thing is: For no money, can enough be produced to make the end result something that I would think is worth taking the time to see and enjoy? Ideally, we'd have crazy motorcycle stunts/etc.- but choosing what scale the production will be on will help determine the story. Kind of the size of the chicken affecting the size of the egg.

Been paying to all these all along.
Wish us luck as we go forward. Until next time...

Monday, October 19, 2009

Black Canary Fan Film Project - Blog 002: I'll tell you why

"Why Black Canary?" (and...why a fan film after "Vangelis"?)

A student filmmaker once asked me, "What's the point of doing a fan film?"

"I mean," he continued, "It's not like a real film. Don't you have any original ideas?"

As per usual, when someone makes a pretty rude statement to me, I either respond by tossing them across the room in slow-motion or I get extremely flustered and shut the hell up, to give the person the benefit of the doubt that maybe they didn't mean the offense and shouldn't answer until I'm sure if the rudeness came out of intent or ignorance. I've rarely tossed anyone across the room in slow-motion, so usually it's the second response.

If I was smarter and less flustered, I think I would answer:
"Because what I see in my head is worth aiming for, even if turns out not to be real when I get there."

Pretty delusional, eh?
But then again, it could be argued that the world is split up into four types of people:
#1: Those who always try and succeed in hitting their targets.
#2: Those who always try, but don't always succeed.
#3: Those who never try (but love to tear others down who do)
#4: Those who give up and die.

Of course everyone wishes they were in the first category, but more often than not, I think it's fair to say most of us fall into the second category.

Why do a fan film? Why try if you don't have the resources to be the next "Batman Begins"?

Because I (a) want to see a great Black Canary film, and think it's possible.
And (b) I don't want to ever be in Category #3 or Category #4.

That's why.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Black Canary Fan Film Project....1st blog

Been trying to wrap up a few projects before the end of this year-
One, being "Faith"---
The other, being...

...Black Canary.

This is a sample of a photo shoot I did with Ashley Burma as Black Canary. Creating a film (or video) project is always challenging for a multitude of reasons. When you have limited resources, it's even more challenging.

We've been actually doing prep work on the side for this project for awhile, and coming up with interesting challenges along the way, which I'll share in this blog later on. But, hopefully these images will picque your interest for the moment.