Thursday, January 1, 2009

Exciting Times ahead for KERBEROS film maker

First day of the New Year, and I am thrilled to get to work on the movie! What a blessing!

As life working on films blends from one day to the next, the upcoming year will be really exciting. So, putting it out there into the cosmos some of the work for my coming months.

Finish KERBEROS. Though of course there are compromises in all film making, especially with a lower budget masquerading as a big budget action film, everything tells me we are onto something really good.

Filming starts again in 10 days, and will be pushing hard to have our first screening by the end of April.

Sell BLOOD TIES. With a dozen offers on the table and contracts in hand, we are actually working out the details now. I think it could finally get out there within the next couple months.

Of course, besides the full post on KERBEROS, I am doing the trailers, the posters, the box covers, and the websites for both films.

Even before KERBEROS is done, I will shoot a short film that I am excited about - DUST TO HEAVEN. Like my film AM SESSION, it is in part to enjoy the creative process, partly to learn and push my boundaries, and also to let people know that low budget action films are not where I am going in the future.

Then, people will laugh but I can't wait to do it, I have another feature film I will take on that if remotely successful, will have some people's mouths dropping open. (all to be shot in one weekend!)

I have another short film - (I've wanted to do for a year now) - I hope to shoot over the summer, TEARS, dealing with conflict deaths around the world and with both our apathy and unawareness of them.

Having just co-directed and shot a music video for SPEECH (Arrested Development), I have the bug to shoot at a couple music videos early this year. At least one will be for KATY J, the singer songwriter from LA who will showcase some of her songs and voice in KERBEROS.

If the opportunity arises, I have another music video written out for my friend ADRIANA MEZZADRI. If I can make it happen, I will shoot it in her country of Brazil.

If I can help direct the writing talents of AMANDA McCARTHY, (THE DARK PLACES) and some of the artists I've met over the past couple years, I'll lend my eye and direction to at least one animated short this year as well. Like the other projects, it will push my abilites, bring some new knowledge and technical skills, and be FUN! Amanda's too talented to sit around waiting for me so I need to get on it...

And then there is BLACK HEART, my next action flick. If I am remotely on schedule, I will begin scouting Thailand, Australia, and the Canadian Rockies in mid summer to begin filming by early fall. With a bigger and better budget, and a couple name actors, even more opportunities should open up and reflect back on these.

Factor the first 6 months work, and I will finally be able to present my director's reel to Hollywood - agents and studios - and see where that takes me while pushing ahead on BLACK HEART and the marketing and sales of BT and K*. The graphics, the music, and the layout are now done and ready for me to populate it with the strong, evocative images I am becoming known for.

So by this time next year?

If I can stay on schedule, with a bit of luck, I'll finally tackle ALTERED, the film I have known for several years that will put me on the map. I feel I will have the resources and experience to do it justice.

It is all a lot to do - but as I do more - I find myself more and more excited about creating even more work; not just for myself but for growing network of talented people who I've been able to involve on these past few projects. The joy of creating and working and sharing with these people feeds my desire for us all to do even more.

I've received lots of requests over the past couple years, and especially since I have hit the festival circuit and started being active on many film forums and film making websites, and I have promised to put up some of the basic steps in my tackling the color grading for my work, so I need to get to that today, edit a scene I shot a couple weeks ago for ROB PRALGO's ZOMBIE INVASION, so I can get back to KERBEROS by the weekend.

luck to all

Kely McClung

"talking people and doing people - for myself, I hope to do"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Creative Dialog - reposted from KERBEROSBITES.COM

Downtime from movie making usually involves discussions and planning for moviemaking, which is maybe why I have so little life and few friends outside my artistic endeavors. That still leaves me with a lot of amazing experiences and a lot of friends. None of my family is involved, which is why I think they seem interested in the process those rare times I see them. I was recently able to take an afternoon off from editing to visit with my cousin Brent Clark and his wife Lisa, in town in part to raise money for a two year trip to Hyderabad, India as The Directors of India Ministries for an organization named Back2Back. I was struck with their commitment and practicality, and the ideals of their 'mission': to better the lives of 900 children in the Hyerabad orphanages. They of course wanted to see what I am working on in my life, which at this time is consumed with the movie KERBEROS. The scene I had just finished putting together is almost 4 minutes long: two corrupt cops torturing and questioning a drug dealer and realizing they have been missing the bigger picture and payday by looking at the wrong guys. I am very proud of the scene; good filming, really strong acting, and what I think is very strong writing. Now what makes this scene a bit unique is the scripted f#%$'s and f#%$-you's and assorted variations. I don't know that the movie will set any records (I believe the honor goes to Gary Oldman's NIL BY MOUTH at 428 - unless you look at the documentary F#%$ with over 800), but still there are 54 in this one scene! And then Stan Harrington added to them with his frustration on remembering them, so that "I told you what's what, so f#%$ the f#%$ off if you don't believe me" became "I told you what the f#%$ is f#%$, so f#%$ the f#%$ off if you don't believe me!". In relaying this to my cousins before they watched it, they sarcastically said "must be some really creative dialog, huh?". And it is! Most of it a cross between prison slang, gangland slang, street slang, and 'cop-speak'. And even my conservative family agreed! Of course my mother will be a different story... The scene is indicative of many other scenes in this particular movie in that is ostensibly about one thing and then turns on its head toward another but ends up somewhere else again. As the writer, it was fun and exciting to put these scenes on paper with the shades of black and white blurring them gray. As the director and the editor, it's a challenge to tease and inform while creating a pace and structure that shows off the story and the acting. As the primary actors, Rob, Stan, and myself get the joy of translating the colorful language with action and intent into something comprehensible for the audience. The emotion and intent are clear within the action of the film, yet much of it had to be explained word by word and line by line to the three actors in this scene, and the actors of almost every other scene, so maybe I should supply a glossary when the movie comes out. As Harris (Ted Huckabee), says to Darius (Haji Golightly), "Would you mind speaking English motherf#%$er!" Kely McClung f#%$ing wordsmith

Another Violent story - KERBEROS

People who have seen or know about my first film are asking me about Kerberos; how do you say the name? What's it about? Didn't you get the violence out of your system on Blood Ties? And why do you like violence so much anyway? So a couple brief answers, without trying to analyze them too much or adding too much psychological mumbo jumbo. We would need more than a few pages for that! Kerberos comes from the Greek spelling of the three headed dog in their mythology, a fierce beast of various descriptions that guarded the Gates of Hades. Kerberos was subdued by Hercules as one of his twelve trials, shown to the fearful King of Tiryns, Eurystheus and then returned. That idea of allowing access to Hades, glossed over and thought of as Hell by most in the modern world, but never allowing the souls to escape, guided the creation of this story. Eventually written in Latin and later Anglicized into the more common spelling of Cerberus, the idea of getting in but not getting out remained the same. Kerberos, the movie, navigates through the underbelly of the city and the deep shadows of the human soul, and the three main characters are definitely trapped in their own hell. And though human nature tends to gravitate toward the softer "C" sound, the harder "K" sound seems to better fit the nature of this story. So... Kerberos. Violent? Yeah, pretty much. A dark tale from the dark side of human nature with a lot of pain. And I tend to want to show it, finding ways in both the script and the filming to make the audience feel it. That there are consequences to actions, even one as simple as hitting someone. They feel it. They bleed. And then hopefully the rippling waves of Karma within a small kindness, a gentle voice, a quiet touch. Hopefully as the director, I can let the audience feel both extremes. After all, I'll only have them for a couple hours, and at the rate I am going, a few times in my life. I actually don't like violence, though I recognize I am good at it, in real life and on the page, and hopefully on the screen. I do like the heroics of rising above it. I like thinking that most people wish they could and knowing that there are some people that do. And I like the idea of creating a story and movie that in just a couple hours may in some small way inspire someone to do just that.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Making your second no budget film...

So you proved you can make a movie - whatever the perceived quality or financial result. You have some accolades and some industry 'well wishes' for both the movie and your success as a filmmaker. And you have lots of ideas for the next project. Bigger. Better. Hoping that inspiration and the luck that came as you filmed before strikes again, and that you can utilize some of the lessons from the first to insure an even better outcome for the second.

You have gone from being that person who wishes they could make a movie, or talks about it, or silently dreams about it. to being that rarefied person who has actually done it. So if you are a bit insane, you start planning the next.

Oh yeah... and you have no money.

So do you spend then next year trying to raise the money, trying to justify to everyone that you talk to why your first effort isn't in a position to finance the second, or do you impose on your friends and beg those who helped before to pitch in again?

I guess a bit of both. I do know that this next story is better. That I know more now. Things that can and will make it better. That the script and the finished movie can be good for all who get involved. But not only do you have to suck up the small bit of pride you've worked so hard to earn, you have to tackle the next years work with the foreknowledge that it could even be better with a few more resources. Resources that money could bring.

And yet time goes by and you are either talking about it or you're doing it.

Amazing that Billy had it right so long ago.

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of despised love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? who would fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry,
And lose the name of action. - Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.

And so before the dream is poisoned or murdered by fear and doubt and reason - it's time to give it life -

- nothing contributes so much to tranquillize the mind as a steady purpose -

"Talking people and doing people, for myself, I hope to do"

Kely McClung

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

There are NO friends in the entertainment industry...

I was told recently by someone I had considered a friend, that there are no friendships in the movie industry. This by someone who has substantial standing in the industry, the same film business I am getting deeper into.

Pretty sure they are wrong, but since I haven't made it big yet, I can only examine my own circumstances and those I surround myself with.

I started investigating film and video as a way to document the massive amount of training techniques and discoveries made while teaching martial arts over the years. Writing and sketching out techniques and angles and body mechanics became way too cumbersome. While doing research on video cameras and what was involved in filming something that hopefully would be intelligible 20 years later, I met Jim Benton. He became not only my first acting teacher, but a friend, and has been for nearly twenty years.

Though I might not have been a great student, through his class I was introduced to two other students, Ray Lloyd and Robert Pralgo. Ray jumped into the professional wrestling world and is better known to his fans as Glacier. He became a part time student of my martial arts, and is now more and more involved in the world of film and acting, and for these 18 years has been someone I consider a good friend.

Robert Pralgo became an instant friend, and we discovered later that I already knew his father from other mutual friends in martial arts. I had previously traveled to Los Angeles to teach at his martial arts school, have dinner, be shown the sights, and find out that his son lived in my home town of Atlanta. "Have to meet him sometime" - not realizing until sometime later that I already had. Small world, then and more so now, and both our mutual friends, Chuck Young, and Rob's father Mel, remain friends with me and each other.

Rob and I shared a mutual love of films and found we both had ambitions behind the camera as well. Rob to push his acting, and me to take creative control and become a director. We remained close friends while I moved to LA, Rob to New York, then me to Miami as Rob transitioned to Los Angeles.

I helped create product for Pan Am Pictures in Miami while Rob pursued his acting in LA, and only years later after a couple of false starts, we found ourselves in the same city with the same passion for films and movies, and then partnered on producing and delivering BLOOD TIES. Though the film stretched our finances, stretched our collective talents, and stretched me physically, it never stretched our friendship.

My circle of friends are basically in the business of movies, tv, and films. Actors, writers, cameraman, and editors. The success of BLOOD TIES on the festival circuit has introduced me to many people, a few of which I can now call, and hope they do, my friends.

One of the friends made on BLOOD TIES, brought me in as the director and editor of another project, AM SESSION, which can now be found playing on HBO. Mark Wilson and I are talking about future projects now.

Rob was with me, to hang out with other friends from our circle of filmmakers, when I met my girlfriend nearly 2 years ago. Besides a host of other things, she has a passion for dark, thought provoking stories, and an exhaustive knowledge of films, anime, comics, and graphic novels. Turns out that Amanda McCarthy is an amazing writer, and as she pursues her writing, we are now investigating options for animations and short films under her label THE DARK PLACES.

We thought it would be fun for people if we included the first scene I ever directed on our behind the scenes extras on the BLOOD TIES DVD. Shot in 1992 on a single Super8 camera , it incorporated lessons I learned playing a major role in AMERCAN NINJA IV (can there actually be major role in there?), and getting to double both Michael Dudikoff and David Bradley. (David later helped bring me in on TOTAL REALITY)

What's pretty cool about watching the video of our Super8 scene - shot 16 years ago - besides the laughing at the huge hair and patting myself on the back for some meager exhibition of a talent for orchestrating film violence, is that my main fight was with another friend and sometimes martial arts student/sometimes teacher Scott Sullivan.

Not only was I able to bring him back in on my first starring picture, he later became the U.S. Heavyweight Champion in Shootfighting - a huge part of the lineage of the UFC. He was and remains my friend.

And there in the beginning of the clip, for just about 5 seconds of screen time, filling in as a stuntman and lending me his arm to break (no one was actually hurt - okay okay - no one was actually broken) is my friend Rob Pralgo.

I know I haven't made it big yet, but... I still have all my friends.

For the high rez Windows Media clip of the Kely McClung and Scott Sullivan fight: CLICK HERE

To watch this Kely McClung scene and others from the movie BLOOD TIES on YouTube: CLICK HERE

Kely McClung

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Making your first movie is a piece of cake, look at BLOOD TIES...

Making your first film is all about convincing yourself you can do it. And you can. Anybody can.

We've grown up on watching TV and movies. Subconsciously we know - more or less - how to construct a scene. A bunch of scenes strung together and suddenly we have a movie. Might be a short. Maybe a feature. Might be fantastic, hinting at abilities previously unknown, certainly unproven before now, or it maybe we grew up watching a lot of really bad movies and worse TV and we get nominated for the worst excuse of a film ever made - and that would be pretty cool too.

Those we recruit and entrap on that first movie project also know how movies work - so they bring a lot to the table. Our enlisted cameramen and our actors, our best attempt at make up and special effects, the music and the sound and the artwork - they are all done by those who at best case have done it before and so know even more than we do, and at worst case have also watched a million shows of every sort. The collective knowledge/skill pool is well on its way, unencumbered by realistic expectations and the dreaded 'in retrospect'. Probably the single hardest thing of all is convincing yourself to just do it. Not a NIKE plug I swear... But the fear of failure stops us time and again.

Just the same - for some of us - delusions of grandeur overwhelm and squash our fears and before you really understand what's going on - you've done it. Made your first film! And when you look back, with all the struggles and the obstacles that stood in your way defeated, the now empty pockets and empty bank accounts and empty friends' favors account, the deep circles under your eyes and the few extra gray hairs - it turns out it really was a piece of cake.

But now... a few pats on the back. A greater standing in the community. A few accolades from the industry. And we either go back to our pre-completion existence or... we're faced with our Second Movie. Fear rears its many faces and the mythic struggle with our personal Hydra starts all over again.

In my own case, even while finishing post on BLOOD TIES, the quirky, international action epic that stretched me in ways sadistic medieval torture masters could not have envisioned, I was able to find brief respite in tackling the short film AM SESSION. Even that delivered 11 minute interlude of digital celluloid took nearly 8 months from start to completion. It can be found playing now on HBO.

It benefited from lesson learned, equipment purchased, and skills honed on BLOOD TIES, and I was able to confidently approach and conquer the directing, the editing, and the musical score.

After all, I had 100 minutes of feature film finished, this would be a piece of cake. And in retrospect it was.

But now... looming over my every conscience thought, the many-headed serpent's poisonous breath warm and fetid across the back of my neck... The Second Movie.

More coming soon...

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Making a low budget movie takes a lack of vision!

A lack of vision?

Crack! Slam! Ka-Pow! The hits are coming in 'fast and furious'. A director with no vision? What kind of schlock are you? Blind?

Well, sure. If I had vision I could see the rent is due, utilities are coming up, tax season is looming, the country's fate over the next four years is shaping up, and yet all I can think about it how to pull off my next movie. Seems willfully blind to me - entering the exotic, welcomed by me world between reality and fantasy that allows one to create. A chosen, delusional world embraced.

And which will make a damn good movie by the way.

Quick paced and edgy, clever dialog that sounds and feels real off the tongue. A cast no one has heard of yet are so strong they'll chew the story up, and are always willing to go that extra mile take after take. As the director, and one that probably won't get paid until somewhere on the far side of a 'near future', that's the paycheck and pat on the back that lets me go the extra 10 miles [10 : 1] seems like a good ratio of effort to me [director : actor\crew] - and that translates to visible energy on the screen which translates to palpable energy in the audience - even if it's only an audience of one - which it will be through its long gestation period. Movies are not born overnight...

An unconventional story with unconventional characters... hard to call any of them heroes... but I think it will be pretty easy to call them human. Easy to love and easy to hate. The best of us and the worst... yet its a movie so I'll make them a little better and a little worse than what we could ever admit in ourselves.

A fast pace -- a twisted tale. I feel it. I can feel the emotions, the pain from dreams each character failed to realize, and the excitement that wells up in them as the story presents its opportunities. Their hurt and disappointment when the plot twists it all back on itself. I know intimately the heartaches that shaped their lives; the joys and pleasures they reached and struggled for. I can feel their hopes for a future without pain, without struggle. And their resignation that as story master, I alone have the power to keep that resolution close enough they can taste it, chew on it, even swallow, only to make them regurgitate on command and give up their prize to the greater good of my tale.

I can feel the cold in the shadows and the meager warmth from dim pools of light. Warm blood running down the side of frozen cheeks, the sting of sweat in the eyes, and the lack of oxygen in labored breaths. How leather shoes worn on one side from an old football injury rub into one's feet as he runs the sprint of his life on hard alley pavement. How blood warms the pavement as he lays on the cold, oily street. The agonies from the tortures, pain from the broken fingers, the flesh rent as bullets savage muscle and bone alike, the humiliation and degradation of the rape, the swell of pride in a moment of sacrifice, the resignation of fate.

The locations themselves are raw and angry, screaming their pain onto my canvas. I can smell the dirt and the mold and the urine wafting with the miasma of sweet/bitter rot. I hear the wind and the traffic, and the birds just out of sight of camera but intruding gently into my shot. Is that a leaf blower in the middle of the city from some bastard who is ruining my sound with the auditory proof of his lack of responsiblity in that he not push his own garbage onto others?

Filmed with the urgency of lessons learned shooting Blood Ties in alien cities on foreign lands with the demonstrable threat of the authorities in our faces, the lack of time on our side, and unavailable resources to stand against either.

Hang on --- the phone's ringing. A now broken phone by the way. More bills. Great. Let me write that down... at least I've learned that unopened offers of '0% now pay the rest of your life starting tomorrow' credit cards make great scratch pads.

In my apartment, they are covered with ideas, thoughts and glimmers of thoughts. Links to that other world.

Yep, I can almost see it.

Kely McClung