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Aug. 27th, 2007

Some time ago, back in the early 21st century when I was working on a TV show called Horror Incorporated, a joke was made in the credits of one of the shows about our upcoming movie, "Zombie Strippers". This was branched off of an inside joke that we had on the set, but took on something of a life of its own, and when the show ceased to be, I started putting together story concepts. It quickly evolved into "Zombies vs. Strippers", mostly because my vision of zombies (AKA the risen dead) is a bit more decayed than would be aesthetically acceptable in Hot Nekkid Movie Babes™, but it quickly became apparent that the "versus" part led into conflict, and from conflict comes story. It was a good change, and I wrote up a treatment and started on a script.

As it turns out, the script and treatment were actually pretty good. It had morphed from a joke into a project, and we were well on the way to putting it together as the first Magic Marmot Studios feature film. The concept is campy, sort of along the lines of Return of the Living Dead or Slither, and I think it's pretty good.

Not wanting to shoot into it anything less than fully-assed, we started researching. Then we started budgeting. This is when the heartbreak came in, as the numbers started adding up quickly, and as they mounted into the tens of thousands of dollars, I knew this wasn't something that was gonna happen without the bane of filmmakers everywhere: Somebody Else's Money. Along with Somebody Else's Money comes the baggage of Creative Control, and the loss of it.

As it turns out, the Horror Incorporated guys had contact with someone who was looking to fund a feature film, and I shopped Zombies vs. Strippers as a concept. There was love, and we started looking seriously for places to start shooting.

Long story short, the funding fell through. Pay attention to those words, as they are ones you will hear often in the world of filmmaking. The project died, and was relegated to a folder on my file server.

Fast forward some years. I was finishing up the contract in The Gulag, and looking very seriously at getting out of the software engineering industry completely when I heard from the same old crew. Different source of funding, some deep pockets, looking to start a production company. Me being skeptical but hopeful tagged along. It got serious enough that a business plan had been obtained, budgets requested, and a lease signed on a warehouse building. It was looking very very real that not only would this come to fruition, but that there would actually be a budget to hire some full-time people.

And at the last minute, the funding fell through. Deep Pockets had a sudden change of heart and decided that the film production industry wasn't a good long-term investment. Can't say that I blame Deep Pockets; there are other investments that are certainly less volatile. Filmmaking is something that you have to have a passion for, along with a touch of insanity, and it doesn't lend itself well to the investment mindset. At the same time, it was disappointing.

So the script sits. After coming back to it, the ending seems kind of flat, and I need to find something better. It's not exactly a priority, as I don't know when I will have a chance to consider making it, but it's not too far in the back of my mind. I'm a better writer now too, and that can't hurt

Flash forward to earlier this year. Both Zombie Strippers and Zombies Zombies Zombies are being released. Look closely at the tagline at the top of the DVD cover for the latter one: Strippers vs. Zombies.

I feel like I missed the opportunity. Even if magic happened and I was able to start shooting tomorrow, it would still look derivative. That hurts, because Zombies vs. Strippers was to be the pilot feature, the one designed to get notice and potential investors for the future film projects.

The path to this is supposed to be like this:

1.) Shoot some short films, release them on YouTube.
2.) Shoot a short serial, episodic. Release on YouTube. Gain attention.
3.) Shoot "Six Days", a longer short thriller. Show off a bit.
4.) Shoot "Zombies vs. Strippers", the first feature, gain acclaim
5.) Shoot more movies
6.) Profit!

Okay, it's a plan inspired by the Underpants Gnomes, but it's still a direction.

The problem is that of these, I'm still sitting at step zero. Yes, I have worked on movies, but they've been other people's movies.

On the practical side, I'm working a full-time job and trying to fix the Big Broken Box™ at the same time, so I don't exactly have scads of time to put toward filmmaking pursuits. But I've had this plan for a while now, and I haven't really made any inroads into it. And that's not even really true, as I've done quite a bit of stuff that's related, just not at the level that I'd like.

I'm making progress on the Big Broken Box™. I'm planning/hoping to have it in socially acceptable shape within a year. That's something of a tall order, but it's not out of scope, and I'd really like to have it not be the thing that absorbs all of my time anymore.

So the tentative plan is to not do any film projects for the next year or so, to get the Big Broken Box™ into shipshape, and then re-assess the availability for projects.

It hurts to throw that out there. It's like choosing to stay out of relationships for a year, feels like the same kind of pain. AT the same time, I know that at the end, I'll be in a better place, in every sense of the word.

It still feels like dying a little, inside.

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