Back to the bay

The festival over, the parties past, fuego and I took refuge up in Los Alamos for a few days. fuego took care of some personal stuff and we didn’t start fretting about getting back to the editing bay for several hours.

We were caught in the space-warping effects of the Black Hole – days slipped by, but there was no word when we would be able to start editing Pirates. I got some writing done (mostly editing existing works in progress) and fuego started a draft of the pilot/feature version of our movie. I found it difficult to collaborate, though, for two reasons: I had other stories on my mind and we needed a place we could drop into an insulated cocoon and just throw ideas around. Towards the end I was getting back into the mood, and started being more helpful.

Friday we finally got word. There would be facilities available off and on, and we could get started on Saturday. There is one editing station, shared by all the teams, so access may be sporadic. Honestly, though, most of the other films don’t need it as much as we do. Simpler ideas, simpler shots, no disasters in editing, the other movies were closer to being presentable. fuego and I hopped in the car and swept back in the Duke City Saturday morning.

Somewhere along the Santa Fe bypass, about halfway to the big city, fuego said, “I forgot the keys to the Hotelsmobile.” That meant until we got back to Los Alamos we would only have one car, and the giant Olds would remain stationed outside the the Byrne’s house, props we need to return securely locked within. Oh, well.

The editing facilities we found were really nice. Charles the First and fuego set to work, making sure all the bits were there and getting a general feel for what needed to be done. I was simply there to provide an occasional opinion: “We need the sound of the engine roaring there.” “The timing feels a little off.” That kind of thing.

In only a few minutes they had gone over the first part and were busily making changes. I watched as the things gradually improved, from more consistent background sound, better balance of exposure and color between shots, to improved timing of lines. (Note to self – there’s still one pause that bothers me.) Still not perfect, but much better. As the intro improved, so did my spirits. We were going to have something to show people. Eventually.

Next came the opening credits. They needed work for a variety of reasons, from confusing cuts in the map sequence to misspelled names. Misspelled names. My hair stood up when I found out about those. I had created a list of names, and every cast member had checked off on the spelling of their name. I had delivered that list to the guys doing the credits. “Do NOT use the spreadsheet. Use this list.” I said. “The spreadsheet has errors and is not complete.” I said this more than once, to more than one person. They had used the spreadsheet initially because the list was not available yet, but then they never went back and checked their work.

While C-1 and fuego tackled the animated sequence (with lots of more-or-less welcome input from me), I set to work trying to repair the credit graphics. The only catch: I don’t have the list anymore. I had given it to those guys. I hope I can track it down, or people may be left out. Also, I don’t have the original layered file they used to create the credit graphics, so I spent much of the afternoon trying to reconstruct the original background graphic using bits and pieces of various credit screens. So, I was a bit grumpy as I worked away trying to fix mistakes I felt were unnecessary. Also, I was getting hungry.

The good news for the credits is, now that we are not so strictly bound to the 1-minutes for credits rule, names will stay on the screen long enough for people to read them.

Progress on the credits was slow. We were trying to put all the transitions to the beats of the drum, and use the music as a guide. For one drum roll we created a stop-action animation feel, zooming in and sweeping north along the treasure path. (Note to self – I think we tried to travel too far on those beats). We were not done with the credits when the guys who own the place said they had to go. They had given up a large chunk of their Saturday to be there. They made sure all our stuff was squared away so they could transfer the project to another machine, then gently kicked us out. That was fine with me, I was starving by then.

The first step now is to make the slightly longer, more polished version of the flick that showed at the shootout. The next step, which may take weeks, is to beg, borrow, and steal time to recut the movie the way it should be. Big Byte, a data storage company here in town that hosted the original editing for the shootout, will have one station available for crews to use. They are very generous to make that available, but we had wanted to edit on our own gear on our own schedule. Unfortunately this is impossible as we are not allowed to copy any media from the original shoot. (Not to self: I bet Coppola has copies of his original footage.)

I will probably not wait here for the full version to be completed. I have places to go, people to see, and a language to unforget. It’s summer in Prague. I need an agent. I need a bar with cheap beer within walking distance of the place I’m sleeping. I need to write something.


42 thoughts on “Back to the bay

  1. One thing that was drilled into me in journalism classes at UNM was that names are sacred. Any paper, for any journalism class, that contains so much as a single misspelled name gets an automatic F. The importance of properly spelled names was reinforced when I worked at the Journal, where every name is triple-checked for accuracy.

    This may have something to do with an actual incident. A low-life was arrested on charges of many crimes, some violent, some not. When the Journal printed the story about his arrest, his name was misspelled. Unfortunately, the spelling the Journal used was the spelling used by a prominent citizen, upstanding and honest, squeaky-clean — or at least as squeaky-clean as a lawyer can get. The resulting lawsuit was not pretty.

  2. I tried to take the bullet for John and rescue him from the criticisms of Bob (aka Mr7k_of_complaints), but alas I could only move the meter of site 3 places, being visitor 20992-4.

  3. Boy, that sitemeter really does spin! When I was on at this time last night, the count was so far away from rolling over that I thought I’d have a chance tonight, but not so. I guess I’ll just have to be satisfied with being MOH at both fuego’s place and Beer and Trucks.

  4. Sorry Bob, but I’ve been off-line at a family reunion. Did check in last night, but the counter was too far from the Next Big Number to tempt me to sit around and refresh.

    I await the results of the Florida recount…

    And I know a Chad we can hang if we get too frustrated!

  5. Not Florida this time, but Michigan. A Piker thought she had it, but alas, had not read the fine print. She was only 21000.

  6. Hi Jer,

    How long does the Michigander (or Michigoose if the PC police are reading) have to claim the throne? 100 visitors? 200?.

    In any case, the Next Big Number s/b 22003.

    Hi John,

    How was the family reunion? Was it in La Junta?

    Hi Keith,

    I prefer to think of them as constructive criticisms rather than complaints. Its all for the betterment of MR&HBI, Beer, Bars, Bartenders and the Beers they serve.

  7. How goes the re-editing? Of course, we are all beyond eager to see it.

    You know its a race against the bootleggers. It’s only a matter of time before “Pirates of the White Sands” DVDs will be hawked from every street corner in Calcutta. I googled “Fabulous Seeger Boys”, but hit nothing … yet.

  8. Is that truth?

    If this is a summer, so it’s quite strange summer this year… a full season of weather in one week… foolish fact. It’s a hard to say how that’s hurt… it’s a madness…

    But you should to bring a real summer time across the huge puddle to Prague… A sparkly sunshines of White Sands…

    By the way, your Landlord’s Names Day is Saturday, August 27th. Will you get it?

  9. Funny you should mention it. I just put Otakar’s Names Day in the holiday ticker. On a related subject, August 2th went unnamed, and I have no inspiration for September 2th, either. Any suggestions?

  10. Jerry,

    Will the gala West Coast Premier of Pirates take place in San Diego or the Bay Area? (I know you’re not even considering the culturally-backwards Pacific Northwest.)

  11. It could be “Back to Work” Day (9-2-05) given that it arrives at the end of summer and a couple months after Quit Your Job Day.

    We would need to distinguish is from Labor Day (the tribute to unions who gave us the allegedly 40 hour work week) and instead highlight the beer-money-running-low aspect.

  12. 9/2/05: “Zakopane Lounge Day” — Polkacide will be playing at the legendary (you have heard of the Zakopane, right? Right? Anybody?) polka hot-spot in Chicago that night.

  13. I’m heading for San Diego tomorrow, hopefully with the Duke City DVD cut in hand. fuego and Charles the First will remain continue to plug away at the official director’s cut.

  14. Hey Mr. Wannabe Pirate,

    Watch yourself. Doug Aarne’s piece is done. Your problem is that your not a director, but a decent writer. You have no concept of comic timing. If you’d care to take a break from your bogus pirate chit-chat for a moment and a break from the brew, you could have done some decent work. I’m open to helping people, but not when they feel the need to insult me in the process. In the film business you need friends, not enemies. SO BECAREFUL.

  15. CRC – Not a director, never will be a director. Did not mean to insult any of the other films – there were plenty of the other movies that came out better than ours, and I think I make that clear in my blog episodes. I was not in the editing bay and I was pretty pissed off when I saw the result.

    I also want to make sure you haven’t gotten pissed off at the wrong guy – my brother is the one in the film biz and I wouldn’t want my opinions to reflect badly on him.

    Honestly, I am grateful for the opportunity you helped provide, and I had an amazing time to the past month. As I complete my chronicle of the events, I intend to make it clear that we all owe you and the other movers behind the festival a big thank-you.


  16. Thank you. I don’t mind direct confrontation between two people with a voice. We all see things differently and that’s a good thing. But, when voices become corporatized and dishonest that’s a bad thing. Hence, why I get annoyed at being described as a “Coppola”. When you make your fixes don’t hesitate to get it to EarsXXI and will put it on our Digiplex. A lot of people want to see your work, including my father.

  17. My guess — and my disclaimer is that I was somewhere between marginally involved and not involved at all and was only a privileged, marginal, occasional spectator and I don’t know beans about the biz — is that most complaints were about the process, about surprises in how things did or didn’t work out, and about a lack of advance knowledge about the limits of the process, resources, etc.

    Stuff like really marvelous crew talent in some crew slots but really raw folks in other slots who didn’t get enough guidance to do their best, or the difficulty in filling some crew slots until the last minute. Stuff like this happens, but maybe the writers and first-time participants didn’t know to expect it or appreciate its potential impact to their shoots.

    Perhaps if the writers and other folks who were new to the Shoot Out had been given a little more of an orientation as to what to expect in terms of resources, process, etc., then they would have been less nettled and better able to just go with the flow.

    What do you think? Is this completely off the mark or do you think more orientation from Shoot Out veterans might help?


    (Commodore of Vice)

    P.S. Come visit Heron Lake in far northern New Mexico sometime if you want to get away from it all. Quiet, peaceful, great riding country.

  18. To -j- and CRC:

    Not sure from whence this has arisen, but, as we say where I come from, “To bude dobry!”

    Yes, we now have a finished Duke City Cut that is worth showing – it was finished yesterday. We always knew our project was very ambitious for the DCS, but that’s part of why so many people pulled together and did their best to make it happen. For some, their best was not very good, but they came, and tried, and, I have to say, helped. It just meant we had extra issues to deal with in the cutting room – that doesn’t help when you have only 4 days to edit. This was expected and, with different editing policies at the beginning of the shoot, could have been found, and fixed much earlier.

    I always knew that the film shown at the festival would be far from perfect, I didn’t imagine it was going to be that far however (it was still a far cry better than what the judges saw. Please note: resisting the urge to complain about digital media here aka: we had to re-capture all our clips and redo all our sound and color correcting in 4 hours).

    And, what we now have, the 13min DCS version is still a far cry from what the finished movie will be. Now that we can get away from the 13min format, we will have time to worry about things like “comic timing,” not to mention pace, a bit of suspense, some brilliant moments by our cast, and the camera moves John G pulled off. Oh, and of course the helicopters, every body loves helicopters (actually, I quite liked that the DCS version has so little of them, during the festival, the press ate that stuff up!)

    As for the other films, I have to say my favorite was “Cowboys and Indians,” but I am looking forward to being able to watch the other films again – after close to 40 hrs. of straight editing it was difficult to take in, well, anything.

    CRC – I wouldn’t worry about the friends thing, in my 6 plus years working in the “industry,” I’ve made a couple. Not sure what you mean about the “bogus pirate chit-chat,” or to whom it was directed. Hopefully, thanks to the Duke City Shootout, I can now escape the “industry” part of it, and get to making movies, so thanks for that.

    –j- – As for the brew…well, welcome back to the US of A, land of the “free!”


  19. CRC – I will be careful in the future to make sure I give your full identity and not make you into part of some bigger anonymous bunch. Your actions speak louder than your last name, and you deserve recognition for that.

  20. Just posted this Here:

    On the subject of sleep…

    It is a place I have failed to find this evening. You see, I recently read a post in another blog that has gottem me all riled up. Let me paraphrase:

    Hey Mr. Wannabe Pirate,

    Watch yourself…. Your problem is that you are not a director, but a decent writer…

    it gets worse from there, and I don’t think it will help to print the rest here.

    This post has ruined the Duke City Shootout for me. Not because I fancy myself a director. If I were, why the fuck would I be at the DCS? Do you want professional directors “competing” at the shootout? OK, Ruiened is too strong a word. This is, and was, an amazing experience and opportunity. I had some of the best days of my life on set while shooting! It was an amazing opportunity, and unforgettable. The post ruined the Shootout because I feel like I, as the director, did a good job getting Pirates made, and suddenly one of the festival organizers is telling me I am no good as a director. The challenges in the scrip (we were surprised we were chosen, mostly because we figured someone would say “this can’t be done at Duke City!”) and the challenges of the shootout were pretty big for a first time director. All in all, even the crap we screened, with its color and sound problems, was pretty good (and won the Audience Award to boot). I feel like I did a pretty good job at the Pirate’s helm. I feel like my cast and crew respected me, did their best, and enjoyed creating something memorable. I feel like we did a dang good job of using what we had to turn the script into a movie.

    At then end of it all, I read this post. I know it wasn’t aimed at me, but it hit me.

    And now I can’t sleep.

    Perhaps you are just trying to take us to the top! Well, no problem there. I’ll pretend to be an enemy if it helps. I will have trouble actually being an enemy, tho. It’s just not in my nature. It takes up too much energy to hate. Just consider me someone with a voice, but a voice that listens and feels as well.

    On another note, perhaps Estrada might just be an asshole, and not trying to be friendly at all. We all know the power of a friend, especially in the film business, where it seems, at least in the US, they are few.


  21. So…the ugly side of blogging rears its ugly head. You are now experiencing probably the same emotions as CRC when he felt Jerry was not completely supportive. My (over-simplistic) advice to both of you is: blogs are mouth pieces to be sure, but they are after all just opinions. And opinions most often expressed in a way that tells us more about the writer than the subject. If the other blog was written in such a way as to be patently insulting and offensive (something which our dear host always assiduously avoids), then I am very sorry for you, but more sorry for the writer than the reader. A couple days perspective on the matter and I’m sure you’ll agree that you cannot let another person’s opinion, expressed in whatever medium, destroy your fondness of something that you enjoyed until learning their opinion. To do so is to grant too much power to others over us, and dooms us to either unhappy lives or a very small circle of people we talk to!

  22. It’s always best to move forward. And stick to one’s path. No one path is more important or more valuable than another. The past is gone. It is what we do now that counts.

  23. Agreed. With a few caveats that the path try to be one of growth, exploration, and a search for some common good and ground. Better yet, if the wanderer on the path can do a little something to help those who might follow.

    One could, for example, have suggested a few minor improvements to the path followed by Herr A. Hitler, even if the conflict he unleashed did inspire some decent films, and a few other “negative examples”.

  24. The other thing to remember about blogs is that they inspire people to post without thinking too terribly much about what they’re posting, until it is too late and the “Publish” button has been clicked. I suspect we have all, at one time or another, posted something we later regretted. Let’s have the same clemency toward others that we’d hope others have toward us.

  25. Crikey! What’s with all the fucking handwringing and backpedaling by Jer and pL? A writer is to a critic what a humorist is to a comedian. One is bam – get in – get out – make a point – wait for the applause. The other is slower, measured, balanced, looking for the pain and joy on both sides of the fence. It’s reasonable to get sore with a critic, not so with a writer. In my view, Jer, you had critical comments, but you were analyzing not panning. You criticized yourself as much as anybody, an important distinction! You’re a writer, and if you have to backpedal to someone, then you should also apologize to your readers because it means you put less honesty into your offerings to us.

    Unless I’m missing something, the possible sore points are 1.) DukeCSO organization and management, 2.) your poor review of Coppola’s movie, and 3.) that you don’t get to keep you media, and maybe select others do. Point 1.) Organizers of anything in our fair land are never above critical analysis and possible reproach. If your an ass, they are free (should) to ignore; if you are thoughtful and measured – then it behooves them to ponder the ideas. Point 2.) Totally not valid. If I want to fucking hate Citizen Kane I can. Nobody gets a free pass. Especially not in blog land. Point 3.) Was a low blow without evidence, maybe you should backpedal a bit on that one. ;)

    Jeez that first CRC comment was like Sam Goldwyn and the 19-fucking-50s. “You’ll never work in this town again!” And the third comment was, whacked-out-new-age-“Miss McClaine, please pick up line three”

  26. word. j-to the m.f.-esse T. I was keeping quite all this time because of the whole “do not talk to Smithers,” episode. But now it actually feels like somewhere a goat’s throat is being slit otherworldly incantations cited, and Sony MiniDV tapes entrusted to the black arts. That and I’m pretty sure I will never work in this town again, that one neither.

    The thing of it is looking back over the postings I can’t understand how this thing has grown to such proportion. I can’t really see where Jerry or PL were really being mean or anything. Seemed to me like Holmes fired the first shot, that or Carlo Ann(somehow though I’m going with her thoughts on something the “common man” might savy.) But then when I hop in my Way Back Machine I see that most likely, it was MOM on opening night there when she had the cojones to ask CRC if he was a pirate in her sons’ film. Way to set the tone there Barbara.

    But it sucks to see you guys trying to roll over for the big fella and he keeps feeling all hurt inside. Man it’s a crazy mixed up world and I have no idea what’s goin’ on.

    Seriously though, you run a search engine using the words hurt feelings and unjustly slammed, Charles the First tops the charts. I’m speaking metaphorically here tho mind you. You don’t actually have to run a search engine…

    “It’s society’s fault. I blame it on society.”

    “That’s bullshit Archie, you’re just another white suburban punk, just like me.”

    (And here’s, yet again, another valuable (FREE)lesson from Repo Man)

    “Yeah, but it still hurtsssss ggrraaahhhhggggppphhttffffftttttt.”

    …(And then some other words and stuff)

  27. I just want to make sure that when I piss someone off, I do it on purpose. C-1 does take some heat, but will get more cred when further editing miracles at his hands make the movie what it should have been.

  28. And now, a word from our sponsor:

    “…My Duke City Shoot-Out Film, Lady Liberty, swept all the technical awards, including best picture and “putting up with the most bullshit” for our producer. Nice. Although I felt the film “Cowboys and Indians” was robbed of the audience award.

    Only “Cowboys and Indians,” “Confessions of a Bra-Buyer” and “Lady Liberty” were worth watching. “Sympathy for the Devil” was stupid, “I am” was incomprehensible, “Pirates of the White Sand” was poorly executed, and “Tip of a Lifetime” was completely predictable and forgettable…”

  29. Not much I disagree with there, except I think “I am” got the award for cinematography. I could be wrong about that, though.

  30. Jerry thank you for the correction pertaining to the award ceremony.

    “Charles the 2nd” let me re-critique that. Everyone did an excellent Job and tried their hardest. I do agree with you “Cowboys and Indians” was deserving of the audience award. It was an excellent movie and in my opinion was deserving 1st place. NEXT some of these people have had no big time experience as film makers so before one gets overly critical of anothers work, one should look at their own.

  31. Pirates was well executed – as in “Off with its head!” – thanks to the computer that is. We have a decent version now, and are looking forward to getting to work on actual movie.

  32. let me just clarify for everyone, that the above critique that i posted was from a livejournal blog of the director of “lady liberty”—NOT me. i think the link to his blog follows the post.

    to me i was most amused by the smug attitude of the director of “lady”, and wanted to share the audacity. i can only imagine what he would say about the other films had he not ” swept up ” at DCS.

    truth be told, i wasn’t at the screening…i was basking in the long drive back home and the glory of working on one of the best, most well organized, fun films i have worked on in a long time. mmmmm….cynthia.

    and, yeah, congrats to you for winning with your film “lady liberty”…i’m sure it was a decent film. it’s your attitude towards the other people you screened with that ruins wanting to work with ungrateful guys like you. don’t forget—you ALL won the DCS.

    thanks for the green chilies.

  33. Yeah C2, I hooked up with a google to the blog site entry that you reffed us MR&HBIers to. I saw a pile of sour grapes in that site that could have been better used for pressing some vino.

    /mmmm green-chilicheeseburgazzzzz…drooooollllll!!!! oneeleventyeleven!!!!!!11111111onety!

  34. SJ, those grapes were too sour to press into any sort of decent vino.

    While I am not any sort of trained or credentialed critic, I would say that “Lady Liberty” definitely did deserve the music award — that soundtrack was compelling. As for the rest, the film did have shortcomings. The dialogue was flat, and the plot was not as exciting as it could have been. The “best film” award, in my opinion, should definitely have gone to “Cowboys and Indians,” but that was a comedy, and for some reason, comedies don’t get taken seriously in the major competitions.

    As for “Cowboys and Indians” getting robbed of the audience award, maybe so. Since the award was based on the volume of cheering, as measured at the center of the presentation stage, it wasn’t exactly scientific. I was seated in the audience just behind the “Bra Buyer” cast, and to me, all of those shreiking preeteens and teenagers overwhelmed my eardrums and led me to think that film would get the award. On the other hand, “Pirates” had a whole lot of lusty cast members bellowing out over the crowd. For the audience award to be truly democratic, some arrangement would have to be made to get a single vote from each member of the audience. But then, with a format as seat-of-the-pants as the Duke City Shoot-Out, that would be nearly impossible. So, even though it isn’t a scientific poll, I would say that the method of selecting the audience favorite is the best method available, and so I will support “Pirates” as the audience favorite.

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