Color: 98% – Finish on Friday.
Sound: 95% – Finish next week.
Music: Done.

Behind the scenes featurette: 40%. Finish by June 13th. This is taking the bulk of my time right now.
DVD and BD authoring: 10% (art only). Finish by June 15th.
Commentary: 0%, but will only take a total of 4 hours. I’d like to do a more technical track with Rebecca while Drew is in town, and the track with my mom should be done in 10 days or so. I promise it will be hilarious.
Other special features: 90%. Just need to tweak the outtakes and export some deleted scenes. Original compound scene should be a nice feature, since it’s a big action scene that’s completely different from the final version. Plus there’s the extra fight with Johnny Yong Bosch that’s not in the final film.

There’s a chance the Blu-Ray version will have fewer features since it’s going to be single-layer, with the upside being it’ll have a gorgeous print of Death Grip. I’ll favor image quality over special features for that version. If you’re a special features junkie, the dual-layer DVD will be a good option. Or you can buy both!

I’ve been knee-deep in editing the Death Grip making-of video. Like the Tour of Contour video, I opted for talking heads-style interviews with cutaways to behind-the-scenes video and film footage.

While shooting Death Grip I had at least one extra video camera on hand, one that was easy to use. We used a Flip Video camera, Flip HD, whoever’s DSLR we had that day, even crappy cell phone cameras. Some days Alex Ng would do very intense behind-the-scenes shooting, but when he wasn’t there I would just entrust someone with the extra camera to shoot stuff. We’ve done all the talking heads interviews, including one with J.J. Perry, so what I’ve got is something like 40 hours of footage. So I’m basically editing another feature-length film!

The first edit is going to be long, probably on the order of 3 hours in length, and I’ll pare it down to an hour or so. Then I’ll do some pop-up-video-style titles, overlay tons of behind the scenes and film footage, and package the thing up in time to get the DVD and BD authored, sent to press, and ready to sell by the June 30th premiere. The next month is going to be insane. Maybe I’ll take an actual vacation after that.

Here are a couple BTS videos I exported last night while taking a break from editing. That’s right, I consider exporting and uploading videos a “break”.

Painting the “Lair”, Benny Hill-style.

A stuntman is always a stuntman, even in his sleep.

Death Grip‘s almost done and we’re hoping to have DVDs available at the theatrical premiere on June 30th. Our plan is to have DVDs and Blu-Rays available at the showing, with the following special features (none of these are guaranteed, but they’re planned):

  • Death Grip Feature Film (in 1080p on Blu Ray)
  • Cast & Crew Commentary, plus a commentary track with me and my mom
  • Making of Death Grip – A behind-the-scenes look at how the film was made, including interviews with cast and crew, plus comments from Haywire‘s fight choreographer, J. J. Perry, and Shahar Sorek from Bunraku. (Roughly 60 minutes in length)
  • Original, Action-Packed Compound Scene including an unused fight with Johnny Yong Bosch
  • Outtakes
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Stunt People Sizzle Reel
  • SP Shorts in 1080p like Paper Pushers, Ness, Hand Over Fist, Informant, etc.
  • Trailers
  • whatever else I can fit on there

If I run out of space, I’ll start from the top and work my way down until I run out of room on the disc.

Right now the film’s progress is:

  • Editing: Done
  • Visual Effects: Done
  • Color Correction: 95%
  • Music: 95%
  • Key Art: 80%
  • Titling: 80%
  • Sound design: 50%
  • Behind the Scenes Editing: 20% (most of the work is just cataloging)

Meanwhile, we’re brewing the next film. Excited as I am, I can’t give anything away, but soon I will! You’ll hear it here first.

The past three weeks of Death Grip post-production have involved locking the picture, meaning after this, no more edits will be made. When the first 13 minutes were locked, I sent it off to Brett Perry, who is composing an orchestrated soundtrack, and Matteo Grilli, who is doing sound design and mixing. Matteo worked with us previously on Hand Over Fist. The composer and sound designer work together on the overall sound of the film, and even though the two are separated by a continent and an entire ocean (Matteo’s in Italy, Brett’s in Southern California), Skype and other snazzy technology allow them to still collaborate, all while I keep oversight.

As the sound is being worked on, the image has its own process. Visual effects such as muzzle flashes and other overlays will be applied by Shaun Finney, who also did the vfx in Contour, titles by Joe Golling, who did the cover art, and not least of all the color toning and correction, which will be handled by Drew Daniels, the film’s cinematographer.

All the while, I continue locking picture, sending off finished chunks to the parties involved, in an attempt to finish everything by the end of April. I’ll keep you all up to speed on further updates as the film winds down… and as we start the next one.

I’m getting titles done for Death Grip among other things. I hate doing titles because I have no real fashion sense, yet I still want simple words to look good. So it’s always best to seek help, in my case it’s Joe Golling again, the man who’s doing our key art.

He pointed me to the Watch the Titles site. I forget how important these little things are.

I’ve been trying to improve my screening technique. There’s definitely something to it. On the one hand, I like hearing criticism because it often makes a better product. On the other, sometimes the criticism is biased just because it’s a screening. Here are some biases to watch out for:

  1. Selection bias – The people you’re screening to may be people who never would have seen your movie anyway. Pushing someone into watching a film because it’s personal to you will produce different results than screening to your actual audience.
  2. Negativity bias – If you frame your screening as one where you’re looking for feedback to help you improve the film, then you’re inadvertently asking for negative feedback. Viewers may be inclined to see the bad and skip over the good.
  3. Consciousness Causes Collapse – If you’re in the screening room with the viewers, they may see the film differently than if they didn’t expect the film’s director to be in the room. Expect at least a few of these:
    • The manipulator – “Maybe I can influence the final product.”
    • The mother – “I don’t want to hurt his feelings.”
    • The hater – “I know how to push his buttons.”
    • The actor – “My part sucked, which means the movie sucked.” To make an omelet…

Arguably the most important thing, though, is that something in the film doesn’t remove the viewers from the experience. Whether there’s bias or not, the better you keep your audience engaged, the… better.

  1. Have everyone take bathroom breaks before the screening.
  2. Mix the sound as best as possible so the levels are constant. Keep everything between -3db and -12db or so on the mixer. You don’t want to get up and change the volume scene to scene, but the worst is when important plot elements are lost because a dialog was too quiet.
  3. Make sure your environment is controlled. Automatic fans could ruin a key scene, thus a whole section of the film (speaking from experience here). Dogs, kids, phones, late-comers, all these are distractions that will diminish the returns you seek from the screening.
  4. A film heavily reliant on computer effects is best served with at least rough renders. Explaining the scene without any of the important CG will be pretty awkward.
  5. They’ll still hate bad temp music. Pick good temp music, and preface the film with one “Music is temporary” disclaimer and they’ll be fine.

Carefully reconsider screening the film to anyone except financially interested parties, producers, cast/crew, and other key personnel. The rewards can be fruitful with all the unique insight to be earned from different viewers, but sometimes a narrow sample can be better.

We’re in the editing stages of Rise And Fail, and we’re just $10,000 shy of the budget that we need to complete the film. This includes stuff like music, coloring, and sound design. So if you’re able to give anything this holiday season, we’d love to make it worth your while. $30 gets you a DVD, so it’s like pre-ordering the film! Please click here to donate to our campaign and see Rise And Fail through to its completion.

Those interested in investing can still contact me at stuntpeople@gmail.com.