On Thursday August 17th 2017, Writer/Director George Brianka shared his film “Don’t Say These Words” with Editor Kris Ramsey so that his film could be placed within the feature film DEVIL’S FIVE. The only film left to turn deliver to Ramsey is “Abandoned”.
On Friday August 18, 2017 Sound Designer Bryan Lopes continued his thorough work on what was the 7th sound design pass of the film. After viewing the latest update, Writer/Director Terry R. Wickham decided to make a couple more adjustments and Music Composer David Helpling had some excellent suggestions as well.
Speaking of Music Composer David Helpling, he turned his score for the “Abandoned” Trailer on Friday August 18, 2017 and to put it bluntly it utterly ROCKS! To really appreciate the incredible composition Helpling created you need a good sub-system (phones, ear buds and weak laptop speakers cannot possibly do it justice). David poured his creative talents into making something that sounds absolutely huge and terrifying at the same time. Look for the Trailer for “Abandoned” to make it’s World Premiere this week.
On Monday July 10th, 2017, the slow-burn atmospheric “Stash” finally reached completion. Stash is the second of five segments that make up the feature film Devil’s Five to be finished.
Producer-Director Terry R. Wickham talks about it, “I am extremely proud to have finished this movie, because in more one day it will be 3 years since we shot our first shooting day (July 12, 2014). But more than surviving that long time frame, it is deeply gratifying overcoming all of problems we had to face. As the Director of the film, I had to have not only the ultimate vision of what the film could be, but the endurance of a marathon runner and the inhuman patience of Michael Myers. But you know what, against the odds and disbelief of some people who doubted me, I accomplished my goal and fulfilled my vision of the film and I didn’t do it alone.
First off, we didn’t raise enough money on our Indiegogo campaign to make the movie . Then Executive Producer-Actor Richard Kern stepped in the last hour of the campaign to donate a significant amount of money that enabled us to go forward and shoot the film. Not only did Rick support the movie with funds, but he also generously gave us his commercial van to transport all the equipment to and from shoots. This was gigantic after we spent $500 a weekend the first shooting weekend renting a U-Haul van. Without his van, we could not have afforded to haul the equipment needed for the rest of the shooting weekends. Plus Rick chipped in more money, so that we could afford insurance on the movie. He was unbelievably supportive.
Then we had to shoot at totally different locations than what was in the script, because we couldn’t secure those original locations. The Salvetti family ended up allowing us to shoot on their 17 acres of wooded property in Califon, NJ, which was another huge help towards making Stash reality. Many thanks to G. Paul Salvetti for playing such a big role in this happening.
Since we were severely under the budget needed, we had no choice to hire a sound recordist/sound designer who wasn’t really up to snuff. This ended up becoming a nightmare. This sound recordist/designer only showed up for half the time (which meant half the movie was silent) and when he did, the sound was so poorly recorded we had almost no usable dialogue. Six months later, after replacing him with another sound designer, I had the cast re-record all of their dialogue (ADR) for the movie. Afterwards, I thought this second sound designer was working on the sound over the summer of 2015, only to find out he lost his Visa and was shipped back to Europe. Then in the fall of 2015, I got a third sound designer, who after starting working on it, resigned saying it was just going to be too much work to do.
So I had to find a fourth sound designer, whose name was Thomas Jackson. Thomas determined the ADR that was recorded with second guy was not good enough and I was forced to bring back the entire cast to perform all the dialogue a third time! I give all the actors a ton of credit for doing this.
Thankfully Thomas was a up & coming pro and had use of professional audio recording rooms, at an audio school he was attending in Manhattan. This proved to be pivotal because we didn’t have the money to rent out those types of sound recording rooms.
You would think that was the end of the sound problems. But after Thomas worked on the movie from January 2016 to first week of December 2016 (finishing about 80 percent of the sound work needed) without warning he totally stopped communicating and I never heard from him again. I had no choice but to find a fifth sound designer and that’s where Bryan Lopes stepped in. I can’t thank Bryan enough for being the sound closer for Stash. I had all sorts of ideas on how to improve the film and together with his talent & an ear for finding just the right sounds, the work he did made Stash a heck of a lot more creepy and genuinely atmospheric.
The other major problem was that “Stash” is a movie that’s about a smart phone applicated scavenger hunt. Every time we photographed the phone, we set it up with a green screen with black XXs, so that later in post, we could add our own motion graphic App. The original editor was going to handle this issue, but after a year and a half he still hadn’t tackled it. So I replaced the editor and had to find someone who would (with no money). After searching, I thought I found a VFX artist from School of Visual Arts, but ultimately she backed out and I really didn’t know if we were ever going to be able to pull it off. Somehow a VFX Artist from Los Angeles named Martin Bresino contacted me and ended up doing all the smart phone VFX needed and he even created a onscreen demon for the movie. To this day, I’ve never even seen a picture of Martin, but he really saved our film. Without his amazing flawless VFX, we wouldn’t have a finished film.
I can’t leave out Editor Jason Paluck. A year and a half into the films making, Jason took over for the original editor. He immediately went to work making trims, doctoring footage, color correcting the movie and even doing some of the visual effects Martin Bresino didn’t have time to do. Jason has become not only a good friend, but an invaluable member of the Devil’s Five team and really cares about the outcome, since he edited both Stash and Abandoned.
Those who know me, know I’m incredibly motivated individual. But there was something that really drove me to finish Stash and make it the best it could be. It was my former friend’s (a friend since 1987) response to seeing a rough cut of the movie. In his own words ( I’m copying & pasting a portion of his last email), “There’s also a huge issue with Stash. In my opinion, it would be impossible to make a releasable version of Stash. If you insist on trying to release Stash, I’m telling you it will only hurt your reputation and everyone else’s in it. Stash simply does not work anyway.”
His words and the lack of faith from a few other friends lit a fire under me. I was determined to do everything I could, with the assistance of the talented post-production people mentioned above, to prove him/them wrong and to show the world the film’s numerous qualities.
In the end, including all cast & crew, 56 People worked on “Stash.” It was a gigantic effort for such a challenging 31-minute low-budget film like ours, to overcome everything mentioned in this blog and even more that I didn’t say. The finished film is a real testament to everyone involved. I can’t thank the cast and crew enough for all they did to make it happen.”
On Sunday January 19, 2017 filmmaker Terry R. Wickham and his production team shot the wraparound segment for Gruesome Threesome. This is the 7-minute storyline that hosts three of Wickham’s other films; “The Downfall of Johnny Garrett”, “Stalk” and “Hair of the Dog.”
Wickham talks about the shoot, “It was the best experience I’ve had so far on a set in 2017 because it gave me a chance to direct another script written by my long-time friend Timothy David Clark (Hair of the Dog, Stash). What I love about making films from Tim’s scripts are the qualities he always brings. There’s no doubt that Tim loves to make things horrific, but it’s his wittiness and humor that separates him from other writers (like myself.).
Tim was smart to design Gruesome Threesome so it could made with very little resources, yet make lots of sense and ultimately be fun for the viewer. He also quickly figured out a way to integrate the other films seamlessly. My hat is off to him for doing that.
Plus I got to work with a cast & crew that I hand-selected myself, which is always best for a film director, because these were all my people.
Speaking of which, it was my third consecutive film with Director of Photography Adrian Popescu. Adrian and I have developed a chemistry that is undeniable. It doesn’t matter what outside factors are at play, our trust & communication between each other is special and something I value greatly.
What was so cool on this production was aiming at getting quality rather than quantity. I’m not saying we didn’t try making beautiful cinematic shots on our previous projects, it’s just we had so many more shots/setups to get on those, that having only 10 total shots, allowed us to really focus in on these ten shots.
I like to take each project as an individual entity and visualize them based on what’s written. I think it’s a mark of a good director to be able to adapt to each unique tale according to it’s tone, rather than force some kind personal style on a story that may not need it. To approach each project this way is more fun and leaves more creative opportunity for the filmmaker-cinematographer.
Before the shoot, I did my homework and watched a couple other webcam horror films. I was strictly watching them to see what I didn’t like about them. What I came away with was not wanting to waste precious screen time looking at anything that was not important (specifically not seeing characters). I also totally disliked seeing snowy video screens, Internet delays and other technical glitches. Is that stuff real, absolutely, but does it make for good viewing entertainment? I would have to say no, so I wanted to avoid doing anything like that altogether.
Adrian and 1st Assistant Camera Giorgio Savona (who was making his third consecutive film with us) were both tremendous in getting beautiful lit, composed shots that maximized the mood and atmosphere we were going for.
The film takes place at night, but we shot the entire picture from 9:00am until 7:45pm, so it was done completely during the day. But with the use of some long black garbage bags and painter’s tape, we had no problem concealing the daylight.
There’s no doubt that Adrian and Giorgio work together wonderfully. It’s obvious when you see the stellar shots they get, but I also observed it behind the scenes with their working style. They show a lot of respect for each other and that means a lot to me. Making movies is hard work. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be as pleasant as possible. Working with these two gentlemen is not only an honor but a privilege.
I had worked with actress Chanise Renae before on The Devil’s Five segment, and that was the reason I asked her to audition for the role of “Sarah Peters.” I knew she had the ability to play all sorts of emotions and her fearlessness was why she ultimately won this role.
Chanise came totally prepared and she looked dazzling as “Sarah.” I loved how nothing seemed too daunting to tackle and she gave me multiple choices in her performance, which is a testament to her acting ability.
Plus the emotional and psychological interaction between Chanise and actor John Logan was noticeable. I don’t mean that in an off-set way, but rather how their worked while shooting the movie and what’s detectable on camera. The fact is these two were having a blast together doing their scenes and this made it believable that they could be “dating” in the movie.
This was my first time working with John Logan and I’m so glad I choose the talented young actor to play “Ray Burns.” John has a real professional attitude and approach any filmmaker would welcome. Part of this might be because he’s produced films himself.
What I most admired about John was his ability to do what Tim had written. The moments where “Ray” was supposed to be scared and frightened, would deflate some actors’ egos. But John was smart enough that doing those things showed more of his acting range and I pointed out to him will probably garner more fans, especially of the female kind.
Actress Linda Collins was perfect as “Ray’s Mom.” The blonde is sort of a southern belle, which really worked for the character. Linda’s slightly southern accented voice really worked in her favor and totally sounded like a legitimate mother.
Linda also looked similar to the “Bloody Mary”actress in Hair of the Dog, which was intentional by Writer Tim Clark. I also give her credit for the handling of the real-life sharp chainsaw used in the movie. The chainsaw was not dulled and could have easily carved through the floor, destroyed any nearby prop or person. I was very adamant about her safety and of the location. I made sure Linda knew to stop the scene if there was any problem at all, but things went incredibly smoothly and nobody got hurt (including the location).
Speaking of the chainsaw I have to thank Essco Service Co. Inc (584 W. Hoffman Avenue, Lindenhurst, NY 11757 Phone 631-226-7304 www.treeservicesupplies.com) in Lindenhurst, New York for allowing us to use one of their saws in the movie. Natalie Raso and the other nice folks @ Essco were incredibly helpful in not only allowing use of the saw, but teaching me how to use it safely for the film. I’m indebted by helping us out. Essco is the best company on Long Island to contact for not just chainsaws, but Stump Grinders & Chippers, Timberwolf and Log Splitters.
I’ve always appreciated strong female characters (Jim Cameron is one of my favorite directors) and I have to say both “Sarah” and “Ray’s Mom” both fit that character description. Kudos to Tim for creating them.
Make-Up Artist Regina Tune returned for her third consecutive production (Abandoned, Whatever It Takes Trailer) and did another stellar job on the actors looking great. She’s a real sweetie and I know the cast and crew feel the same about her way of working. She’s there doing what needs to get done on each actor in almost an invisible way. I couldn’t ask for more from the person handling the look of my actors.
Sound Recordist Bryan Lopes was a real find. He fits perfectly together with Adrian, Giorgio and Regina as highly trained professionals that go about their business the right way. I like how Bryan doesn’t need to shout to get his point across. Instead he is respectful on how he expresses himself and that comes across much more impactful.
When I’m directing a movie, lots of things are running through my mind. If things are just blurted out by crew members, it’s not only distracting but unnecessary. I’m usually juggling the shot that came before, the shot that will follow combined with the actors performances, the look of the shot, lighting in the shot, camera movement (if any), focus, flow of the scene, if the scene comes across as real, good enough or needs to be redone. If it does need to be redone, what’s wrong with it if it doesn’t work, etc.?
For these reasons I like crew that respect the process and each other by communicating their problems/concerns in a more subdued professional way and Bryan does that to a “T.”
Production Assistant Nicholas Girimonte was incredibly helpful as our PA. He not only operated the slate for most of the shoot but ran to pick up painters tape for covering the windows and later drove to pick up all important lunch from Chipotle. Nick was another positive person to have onset and he certainly lent a hand at what needed to get done.
Last but certainly not least is Location Manager/Still Photographer Mark Goldberg. Mark was kind enough to volunteer use of his new apartment for all the locations seen in Gruesome Threesome.
His apartment worked beautifully, as it was central located and a super comfortable place to film. I really appreciated Mark being flexible enough for us to move around his furniture and to allow us the best use of his space.
Mark is a professional photographer by trade and as you can see in his many photos that accompany this blog, his work speaks for itself.
I can’t thank Mark enough for all that he did towards making Gruesome Threesome.
Finally Producer David Melanson must be acknowledged. David helped give the movie enough financial support to get the behind the scenes things needed for the movie and cast & crew. I can’t thank David enough for consistently coming through and being a true force behind creative endeavors like Gruesome Threesome.