Legendary Special Effects Guru.
Well as I hinted yesterday, I’ve been trying to line up an interview with special effects veteran Kevin Pike who started his career on Jaws. Well tonight after a couple of emails to and fro, my phone rang and it was Mr Pike himself. I was rather taken aback to receive a call from a genuine special effects hero whilst I was serving up dinner for my kids.
If you don’t know who Kevin is, just check out his credits list on IMDB!
After chatting for 15 minutes or so, he said he’d happily contribute to my project despite having a very busy schedule. I must say that I am very excited about this. I might even ask him about his legendary involvement in Back to the Future. You never know, Going Back, A Filmumentary might be a reality one day!
Jim Beller, Jaws expert and all round nice guy recently watched my first cut of Inside Jaws. He loved it. Phew! He also made some great suggestions and pointed me in the right direction to rectify some of the scenes that were a bit lacking.
One of his ideas was to talk to some people who had previously been interviewed for the fabulous Jaws: Memories from Martha’s Vineyard, a book that Jim himself was heavily involved in. So, armed with some contact details I got in touch with members of the crew as well as extras to get a handle on their unique experiences shooting JAWS! Telephone interviews are often criticised for their low quality, but for me it’s all about content, in whatever form it comes.
Tonight I called and interviewed my first victim. All I’ll say is that she was a very willing participant indeed with great stories for me to include in the commentary track. I love hearing these tales from the unsung heroes, even if they only played a small part in the films’ creation. I really think you’ll enjoy her enthusiasm and insights. It’s so great that people are still happy to talk about the film after all this time. I got a real buzz chatting. It’s always so difficult not to laugh along with the interviewee. But as I need the interviewees voice for commentary, I have to stay quiet!
With any luck, I’ll soon be speaking to a veteran of film making. He was also involved in a little film set in 1985. Or was it 1955? More on that later.
I have been away from home working in Australia and Malaysia for the last week and a half. Whilst Melbourne always keeps me busy with it’s amazing array of cool bars, friendly people and other wallet emptying attributes, Kuala Lumpur has offered up three days off. So during the scorching heat I decided to dip my toe into Inside Jaws again. My colleague and friend Ben was on hand to help with some additional motion graphics whilst I beavered away at editing. I’ve actually got through rather a lot of work and it feels like the end may finally be in sight. In the distance mind you. But the point is, I can actually see it now.
I was also boosted by feedback from my Jaws expert buddy Jim, who has now watched my first cut and has returned to me with some great notes. Further motivation has been drawn from contact with a large publication in the U.S. They want to run an article about me and my filmumentaries to coincide with the release of Inside Jaws. Well, suffice to say that it has helped push me along some more.
Real work has begun in Malaysia now but my evenings are free and staying into edit is probably better for my health and my wallet. On second thoughts, maybe I’ll edit half of the time…
Well the downtime over the winter wasn’t as productive as I’d hoped with regards to my little projects. What with multiple HDD failures etc. Real life obviously takes precedence. But the good news is, for those of you waiting to see Inside Jaws, I am back on the road next week for my thirteenth F1 season. This means a lot of time sat on planes, in hotels and on coaches. More time to tinker with my soon to be released filmumentary.
Just last night, Jaws expert Jim Beller who kickstarted this project, had a look over the first hour of so of my rough cut. We then had a lengthy Skype chat, going through notes that we had both made. Jim is my Jaws brain and is great at saying, ‘Wait, I have a piece of material you could use there”. So I came away from our chat with lots to do. All great suggestions from Jim and a couple of good ideas from me just because I was able to sound Jim out about them first.
If my new Lacie drive arrives in time, thanks to some kind donations, I will be taking it to Australia with me and spending some strange hours in my hotel room editing away. This year I have to make some savings as recent circumstances at home have meant our income has effectively been cut in half. For now anyway. So hopefully Inside Jaws will keep me away from expensive bars, clubs and restaurants and on the way to getting the project finished before summer.
Thanks for your continued support.
To keep within the low budget during the production of Raiding the Lost Ark, I purchased a £100, 500GB Western Digital hard disk. Whilst it was only USB , it worked with my Macbook (not pro) and the upscaled 720p footage rather well. It was quick enough, portable and travelled the world with me through to the films release in February 2012.
I had enough room to begin Inside Jaws on the same drive, so after making a backup on a Lacie Big Disk Extreme (1TB) along with all my previously filmumentary work, I got to editing!
All was fine until about a month ago when I dropped the Western Digital drive on the kitchen floor. I immediately plugged it back in and all seemed fine until a couple of days later when the beachball of doom appeared whilst I was editing in FCP. Immediately I knew that I’d lost a few days work.
The annoying thing is that I don’t keep a log, so I’m not sure what all that work was. Little things occur to me here and there as I am editing. There was no way of retracing my steps. After some moaning about HDDs on Twitter, I started editing from the big Lacie Extreme backup drive. A few hours in, during a render of the final project, I was getting paranoid now, the power supply blew and the drive sounded broken! I was right to be paranoid. The god of hard disks had struck again.
I quickly ordered a new power supply from eBay. These projects are all about keeping up momentum and motivation. It seemed the cheapest way to potentially resurrect the project. After a week or so the power supply came back to life and so the editing recommenced. Only a matter of hours in the drive sounded like it was copying files whilst I was doing nothing. In fact it sounded like that busy sound you get when empting the trash. Finder promptly crashed and the HDD wouldn’t mount.
I had made a second (just in case) back up on and older and apparently less robust drive enclosure. The only problem was there were some media files missing from this previous backup. So I’ve spent today re-importing media from DVDs, CD and online, desperately trying to match it so that it can be reconnected in the FCP timeline.
I am back up to speed but it’s another day “wasted”. Thanks to a kind donation, I’ve ordered a new Lacie Rugid and I’ve copied all the project and media files to my iMac system disk. When will this faffing with drives end?!
Well, it’s almost a year since I started this blog and released Raiding the Lost Ark, so to mark the occasion, I checked out my domain stats for the first time.
To be honest, I am blown away.
Thanks to all of you for your faithful support and encouragement. Doing these projects takes a lot of time and effort outside of my work and real life, so it’s really great to see that so many of you visit this site. Even if you ignore what I’ve written and go straight to the videos, thats fine by me!
In this past 12 months I’ve been invited to write for Empire Online. I’ve been interviewed on radio and numerous podcasts. Part of Inside Jaws was shown in Sydney, Australia thanks to the wonderful PopcornTaxi. Ain’t is Cool News ran a story and Movies.com showed an exclusive clip of my forthcoming project.
Furthermore (and most importantly to my bank balance), I’ve also finally managed to convert the skills I’ve learned on making these filmumentaries to get a one day job editing a Force India F1 car launch, which I enjoyed immensely.
The next big news is that Inside Jaws is almost complete. Just a few more weeks so go (I hope).
So what ever you are doing, keep at it, you never know what might happen!
Today, I starting adding credits to the end of Inside Jaws.
It soon became apparent that I should have been doing this since I began the project. I thought I had compiled a list somewhere (on my phone maybe). But no. So today, I made it my aim to trawl through my emails, facebook messages and tweets, as far as they would allow to find the names of the individuals who have helped me along the way.
If you have helped me and feel you deserve a credit. Please do get in touch. Its been a while since I began this project and without my notes, its easy to let one of two slip through the net.
Following the loss of about 70% of my files during the creation of Star Wars Begins, I clearly understand the importance of backing up. So, for both Raiding the Lost Ark and Inside Jaws, I’ve had a fairly regular regime backing up not just the FCP project file, but also the media files. I remember the hours of relinking media to a semi corrupt project file quite well. Something I didn’t want to repeat.
Earlier this week, I was happily editing away on Inside Jaws when the Mac OSX beach ball remained on screen for a little too long. It soon became apparent that dropping the drive on the kitchen floor the week before had in fact been more damaging than I had originally thought. After trying to remount the drive a dozen times, it was clear that I was in trouble.
I had made a backup a fortnight before, meaning that about 10-20 hours of work would be lost. However, fortunately and after 6 hours of tinkering, the drive came back to life in fits and starts and long enough for me to copy the smaller files across to my system disc. Voila, the media files, apart from two which only took a few hours to re-rip, were all back!
The only problem I have now, is that I don’t have a fast drive to actually do the editing on anymore. The system disc is no place for video editing. So, along with the wedding, my fiance leaving work due to ill health and my lack of work at this end of the year, I have to find the funds to by a new RAID. Two very kind individuals donated some money that has gone straight in that pot! THANK YOU! So, by the end of March, when the F1 season is back in full flow, I should have enough money to keep this project swimming along nicely.
As you know, or should know by now, goodness me I’ve been banging on about it for long enough… I do not make any money on these filmumentaries. That was never my intention and never will be. ”What about the site donation button?” I hear you ask. Ok, I have accepted a few donations over the years totalling enough to run this blog domain for just under one year, but never any more than that. I also turn down every single request to buy copies of my filmumentaries. In fact I go further and report anyone trying to sell them on ebay.
What I am here to say, or more to the point, ask of you, is that I’d be very grateful if you consider donating to one of my chosen charities. Particularly if you have enjoyed my work and feel compelled to show your love.
Yesterday, I added a donation button to a charity that I think does really great work for those with autism. ”Ambitious about Autism works to improve the services available for children and young people with autism and increase awareness and understanding of the condition”. Now who can argue with that?
So, again, if you have a sudden need to be grateful for the work I do (remember its for fans like you), then please do think about a donation.
Thank you for your time.
One of the great things about creating these filmumentaries is making contact with the very people that starred in the films or helped to put them on film as a member of the crew. I’ve been fortunate enough to be in contact with the likes of Carl Gottlieb, Robert Watts, Wolf Kahler and Howard Kazanjian to name a few. What I love is being able to have an ongoing relationship with these people, even if it is only via email.
This week I was thrilled to hear back from Colonel Dietrich himself, Wolf Kahler in a warm message of new year wishes. He went on to tell me that he’s recently worked on a film (I won’t give it away just yet), using his wonderful voice doing lots of ADR for multiple characters. It’s a film I’ve been waiting to see for some time and actually has a connection to another part of my life. Now of course I am looking forward to it even more.
Two nights ago I watched the first third of Inside Jaws (so far). It is clear that this is once again a different kind of filmumentary. Whilst I’ll be using all the available material in a constructive way, there just isn’t the amount behind the scenes footage available.
I reckon I am at about 60% or so complete at this point. Perhaps the end of February 2013 deadline is a little over optimistic. I am still to make a trailer actually so there is nothing firm about that release date.
Last night I edited for an hour or so and promised myself I would do another five or six hours this week. I’ll keep you posted.
UPDATE: I’ve started working on a Storyboard Comparison sequence much like the ones in Building Empire (asteroid scene) and Raiding the Lost Ark (in the map room). This is all thanks to the very generous Joe Alves, who has kindly sent me great scans for use in Inside Jaws.
You can buy a limited print of Joe’s incredible storyboards at his site.
Many of my fellow fan editors feel an absolute imperative to preserve. Whether it’s Garrett Gilchrists restorative edits of Star Wars or Puggo’s 16mm and 8mm restorations or Adywan’s brave and successful efforts to preserve the feel of the original Star Wars films, there seems to be a real feeling amongst the community, that if the studio aren’t delivering, its up to us to do it. Many are turning to OriginalTrilogy.com and FanEdit.org.
Indeed after making Star Wars Begins and particularly Raiding the Lost Ark, in which I interviewed Wolf Kahler, now 72 years old, I felt almost an obligation to start interviewing more of these unsung heroes of the movies. Whilst my contact with Michael Ford, the Academy Award winning set director didn’t lead to an interview, it did lead to many chats with him over email and in person. The stories him and his colleagues told me over lunch, the names they dropped, were all absolutely fascinating and I am sure, would be to many others. Unless we start preserving these tales of movie making, many of them will just disappear, forever.
Whilst making my current filmumentary, Inside Jaws, I was fortunate enough to make contact with a fellow film maker who had interviewed many of the local actors and extras for a documentary that was never finished. He was very gracious in letting me use this interview material for my commentary track. Whilst I was editing several into my timeline, it occurred to me that at least two of these were probably the last time these people were interviewed about their experience of working on Jaws.
With this imperative to preserve comes a certain obligation. Not a begrudging one of course, but a certain self imposed contract to get the job done and to do it well. Jaws has been a difficult one to tackle and for that reason its taking longer than I had intended. Having said that, I’ve made a promise to myself that it will be finished by the end of February 2013.