Friday, September 15, 2006

The Monkey Rodeo: In The Beginning...

After a year has past, I finally decided to try and keep track of this movie I've been working on, The Monkey Rodeo: Malice.

It's a feature film (hopefully), should be about 70 to 80 minutes long if all goes well. Even if it's only an hour I guess I can live with it. It's sort of a mix of Hellboy, Constantine and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The story is pretty simple - at least I think it is - it involves an ancient secret society called The Brotherhood, that was formed to fight evil, a demon king they banished hundreds of years ago and a malcontent "champion" (a half human, half demon girl who was recruited by The Brotherhood in their fight against evil) called Malice.

Some (very exciting) history. The Monkey Rodeo started out as a short film. Just a demon hunter and some big CG demons, 5 - 10 minutes long maybe. It never got done, it changed lead actors a couple of times as well, until I finally settled on having a female lead (it was a male at first). After the short version never got done I decided to put it off one last time and make it a feature, which at first was closer to Resident Evil/The Matrix kind of deal. I couldn't make it work no matter how hard I tried, it was a much more sci-fi kind of movie at first. Then eventuallly it became a little more of a "ancient prophecy" kind of movie and that seemed to stick.

It ended up being my "Joss Whedon" movie, if you know who he is, then you get what I mean, otherwise you're on your own. I spent several months trying to get a story to work, it went from a very twisted, hard to follow thing to another very twisted, hard to follow thing - but at least the last one worked pretty well.

A friend of mine, Derek Martin, helped me hammer out all the annoying little wrinkles in the script. And there were a lot...several hundred maybe. Once the script was done came the task of trying to figure out if it was actually possible to do this. It required not a massive amount of computer animation, but a decent amount. The 2nd character you see in the movie is a 200 foot stone titan, that gives you an idea.

The other 2 main things were; weapons - you can't have a supernatural adventure type movie without some cool weapons. And makeup - again, can't have this kind of movie without monsters. Both problems turned out to be pretty easily solved. Not cheaply solved, but solved nonetheless.

Casting went pretty easily, before it was written the main character of Malice was already cast, my friend Heather Panton - she'd been in a few short films I'd done and figured she'd be pretty cool as a angry demon hunter.

We shot for a few months late last summer, everything went pretty well I think. We did all our exterior stuff as soon as we could so we could move inside for the fall and winter. And ended up not shooting anything until the next February and then not again until just a couple weeks ago. Everything's back on track now and seems to be running fine. The plus side to all the delays (technical, financial and personal) actually gave me time to seriously rethink some parts of the script and the ways I intended to shoot them. This kinda came to me after one scene that should have looked really cool came out looking really boring and I realized right there if this was going to be one of those "eye candy" kind of movies it actually needed some.

The rethinking ended up creating only 1 new scene, bringing in a whole buttload of new prosthetics (more monsters) and more weapons (in total around 17 different pieces). We also have to reshoot 2 scenes already done - to fix the "looking really boring" problem. One of which is being done this coming Monday at City Cinema.

It just involves Malice walking down a corridor in an abandoned cinema and encountering a ghoul gnawing on a corpse, seems pretty simple and it is, also pretty easy to make boring if you're not careful. One of the main reasons for this reshoot is the actor playing the ghoul, Graham Putnam, while he's a great actor and all, he's a little too associated with doing funny stuff (recognized locally at least) and I just didn't want to get that reaction of "oh looking it's funny Graham" and ruining a potentially creepy scene. So, some prosthetic makeup, contact lenses and false teeth and I'll a little more confident it should play out properly.

As far as what was shot already, not too many really great or interesting stories. There was one incident involving a rather nervous security guard who must've thought Heather was throttling a homeless person - he left pretty quickly when I said it was just a movie. And then there was another actress in makeup and having to walk to the location across a busy street and into a bookstore that was open to the public while we were shooting. Other then that, just a couple months of decent, incident free shooting.

So now I'm all caught up. Back into shooting and I should hopefully have this badboy wrapped in 2 or 3 months - and then about another 4 or 5 for post.

I'm going to also be posting pictures while shooting. That's the main reason for all this really. That's it for now. I'm going to post a separate blog after this with some stills from stuff that's been shot already.

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