Sunday, December 21, 2008

"Corner Store" and "Silver Lincoln" up in Hi Res!

My two latest films are now up online, very large, on their respective pages. Check them out!



Eventually I hope to have the rest of my shorts up as large as these.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

"Corner Store" Page Up, Video Conference, and "Nina" Updates

Corner Store is finally 97% complete, meaning it's missing one music cue and a few of the shots are still HVX digital shots instead of 35mm like the rest, but it's complete enough to show. Check out the new page:


On the page you'll find more information about the short and a bunch of hi-res frames from the film itself, which looks gorgeous in HD. I'm looking into finding the best way to upload the film online - I want the quality to be as good as it can be for a streaming film.

Just last week we had a video conference with Korea in Chapman's giant theater, where we premiered Corner Store and the film that we helped crew on in Korea, Children's Games, as well as a documentary about the whole exchange experience.

As luck would have it, the entire hour-and-a-half video conference is available online. You can watch, as separate chapters, the Intro, which explains the program and introduces all the main players, and the Conclusion, in which Stephanie Altishin, Corner Store's producer, and myself hold a Q&A with our Korean counterparts.

I've also been working hard on La Nina del Desierto. I met with Joaquin Garrido, a potential to play Javier, and he seemed eager to take the part providing his schedule allows for it. Daisy Robinson, the production designer, has been digging up wonderful props for the film, and a week ago I went out with some of the crew and tech scouted our locations. Boa Simon, the DP, and I started designing our shots based on my storyboards and shot a few tests:



The 2.35:1 aspect ratio is intentional - that's what the final ratio will be. When all is said and done it will be really interesting to compare the storyboard, the test shot, and the final frame to see how certain shots evolved.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Picture Lock for "Corner Store" and the Results of Fermentation

I just got back from a meeting with Robin Hartwig, the editor on The Corner Store, and we finally locked picture. That means there is to be no more messing with the video. The audio, both sound effects and music, however, will require ample messing-with in the days and weeks to come.

My good friend Dom Ricco has resurrected an old project of his, tentatively titled Visions of Life, and asked me to take a crack at his year-old script. I really love the premise. A wounded and bitter young soldier, confined to a restrictive neck brace, is stuck in a hospital room next to a friendly older Arab man, who describes in engaging detail what's outside their window. Though he hates the Arab man at first, he eventually has a change of heart, only to discover that the Arab man has passed on, and that he was blind - basically making up the scene outside the window.


I'm having fun with doing rewrites, and I'm really hoping that Dom can put this into production in the Spring. He was basically ready to go last year (some of the impressive storyboards are above) before he decided to pull the plug, probably because the script wasn't quite there yet.

Sometimes there's no cure for writer's block than letting it ferment. There's almost always a solution after you've put it out of your mind for a while.

Monday, November 10, 2008

"La Nina" Pushing Forward

With a mere two and a half months left until cameras roll on my ultimate passion project, La Nina del Desierto, the pre-production materials are flowing. We've gotten our schedule and budget approved by the school, and subsequently our Green Light.

Furthermore, storyboards have been finished (see top and bottom), and, perhaps most exciting of all, our production has been selected to receive a grant from Fotokem. They will develop, for free, up to 10,000 feet of 16mm or 20,000 feet of 35mm film. This means we can essentially shoot as much as we want. Thank you, Fotokem!

Now all we need is a grant from Kodak for the film and a grant from Panavision for the cameras...

In casting news, I suppose I can reveal who we were romancing to play the lead role of Javier, since we never got through to him personally, and his agent very politely rejected us.

Danny Trejo is NOT Javier Martinez!

Oh well. The good news is, I scoured IMDB for other similarly-aged, grizzled-looking, Mexican-American bilingual actors who've had a decent amount of acting experience (I'm suprised I found any at all), and I came across Joaquin Garrido.

Joaquin Garrido MIGHT be Javier Martinez!

He'd be perfect. I contacted his agent and she said that he's in Mexico currently, but should be very interested in the role. Fingers crossed!

That's it for now. I leave you haunted by the pint-sized spectre that is ... La Nina del Desierto.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

M. M. No More?

I've decided to stop using "M. M. Rempen" as my pen/screen name. It's such a mouthful. And people don't know what to call me. Em Em? Mmmm? Eminem?

So now I'm just going to go by most of my full name - Michael Malachi Rempen. That way, those who know me as Michael or Mikey can call me that, and those that know me as Malachi can call me that too. End of story.

No movie news! But I did meet Sean Penn the other day.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Back to Booming

I've decided that this part of my site should be more than just a plug for myself. I was watching an interview with Jason Reitman, director of Juno and Thank You For Smoking, two of my favorite movies, and he said that when he was at film school, he would have like to know about what other big filmmakers were thinking and doing in film school to get to where they were. Other stories that might motivate him to keep going.

That led me to think that maybe it would be interesting if I talked in a little more detail about what day-to-day life is like for me at film school. Not that I expect to be some big director some day, and that these blog posts will be feverishly pored over by film students clamoring to follow in my cavernous footsteps, but at the very least, I'll be able to look back on this later in life and remember what was going on senior year. Dear diary...

This last weekend I was the all-important boom operator on my classmate Scott Sullivan's senior thesis shoot, The Gory Details. Though I was doing it for class credit, I felt like it would be fun to be back on set. I like being on set, and the boom operator is a great position. You get to be right there in the middle of the action, but you're not responsible for all the heavy lighting and grippage. You can chat with the actors and you get to do a lot of sitting down. When it is time to hold the boom pole, you build arm muscle. I remember reading somewhere that boom operators make a lot of money. I can see why.

I'm working on the script for a feature film, and it's incredibly difficult. After having spent so much time working on short films, I feel comfortable with short form storytelling. There's a clear beginning, middle, and end, with little room for tangents. But the feature is a whole other beast. I have characters and a basic plot, but I know that if I start writing, I'll crap out at page ten, out of ideas. I need to have it totally outlined on note cards or something similar before I can really buckle down and start writing. That's difficult to do.

The other hard part is that you can't force ideas. Ideas come to me when and where they feel like it, and not before. It's usually before falling asleep at night, when my mind is shutting down. So that means that writing a feature takes as long as it takes my ideas to settle into coherent forms that fit with what I've currently got. It'll happen, I'm sure.

And now for the plug. The Awards page has been updated to look shnazzier. I think it's pretty sweet.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Silver Lincoln" Screens in Santa Fe!

I just got word that The Silver Lincoln was accepted to screen at the New Mexico Film Expo in Santa Fe this week! Now I have to find a way to get a copy from Orange, California to Santa Fe, New Mexico by the day after tomorrow...

In celebration, I revamped the Awards page. I'm not sure I like the new look.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

"La Nina" Location Scout

My DP, Boa Simon, and I recently went on a camping trip to scout some locations for La Nina del Desierto. We found some incredible places.

Click on the pictures to see bigger ones!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Korea Times and the Corner Store

A few weeks back, a lady from the Korea Times emails me for an interview, concerning the whole Korean exchange trip we did over the summer. I answer her questions, and she tells me where I can pick up a copy a few days later. Funny thing is, it's all in hangul, or written Korean. Still, it's worth putting online!

I've seen a few cuts of The Corner Store now, and it's looking like we're going to shoot some pickups. We never actually see the exterior of the store, and it might be good to get those shots to split up the film's scenes, which have trouble transitioning from one to another.

Other than that, I'm surprised how well it turned out. We were so stressed and unprepared when shooting it, due to the single week of pre-production we had available (the DP, Joel Remke, and I were making up shot lists an hour before the shoot each day), that I was worried it would turn out to be cinematic trash. But we got lucky! It's not half bad. Everyone else involved agreed, with equal surprise.

As for La Nina del Desierto, I'm working on procuring a certain Hollywood actor to play Javier in this reincarnation of my first short film. I won't say who until he says yes or no. Suffice it to say that you've definitely seen him before - this guy works like mad.

And I'm off.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

More Press and More

I've put up two more articles in the Press section. The first is an old one from high school graduation that I'd forgotten about. The second is more recent - it's in the Chapman University film school's magazine "In Production," and the article involves my trip to South Korea and the movies we made there and here in California.

Speaking of South Korea, I had a chance to watch dailies from The Corner Store, which is the movie that we made here after our trip to Korea. We made this when it was the Koreans' turn to have a cultural experience, and they crewed on our set. One of them even had a role.

Anyway, the footage looks decent enough (it was shot 35mm, it should look good), but it was hard to tell because we were watching it on this tiny screen, SD. I'm sure it looks great HD. It didn't look like there were many options, however, as far as coverage goes. Our editor, Robin Hartwig, certainly has her work cut out. It's hard to say at this point if it's going to be any good. I really hope it is! We all worked our hardest on it.

Pre-production on La Nina del Desierto is now in full swing. Producer Matt Sullivan and I have been working hard on casting and crewing up. Next weekend, cinematographer Boa Simon and I will go camping in the desert north of Los Angeles to try and find a few good locations. Should be fun.

In other news, I've had the wonderful luck of getting what is called the Hayde Scholarship here at Chapman University. It's not a financial scholarship. Basically, I meet once every two weeks with Chapman's filmmaker-in-residence, who this year happens to be Jocelyn Moorhouse. She directed Proof and a number of other films I haven't seen but definitely will! I'm hoping to talk with her about my forthcoming Albuquerque-related feature script, which I hope to have complete by the time La Nina is done.

Finally, The Silver Lincoln is 100% complete! I have a trailer up on its page explaining that I'm not putting it online because I want to submit it to festivals, and a lot of festivals won't accept a film that's available online. I also say on that page that a DVD of Lincoln (which is awesome, comes with sweet features) costs $5 plus shipping, but all I really want is money for the shipping, which should be around $5 anyway. In any case, contact me if you're interested in getting a copy and we'll figure something out.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"The Silver Lincoln" Trailer Online!

Brian Andrews, on the eve of his departure to New York for the rest of the year, completed The Silver Lincoln score. With that done, the film is officially complete!

I have put up a trailer on the Lincoln page, instead of the full film. Why just the trailer?

Well, I'm right now knee-deep in pre-production for the remake of La Nina del Desierto, which will be my senior thesis at Chapman University. This film will cost me a lot of money to make.

I'm therefore putting together a Silver Lincoln DVD, complete with storyboards, behind-the-scenes photos, and other features, which I'm selling for a modest $5.oo, plus shipping. Every dollar will go toward La Nina, which I am aiming to make the best short film of mine yet.

Most film festivals won't accept a short film that's available in full online anyway, so until runs its festival circuit or the funding for La Nina is secured, whichever comes first,

If you'd like to see the trailer, click below!

If you'd like to support independent/student short filmmaking, click the DVD below to contact me about receiving a DVD of The Silver Lincoln in all its glory!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Vault: Updated and Expanded

I finally got around to uploading some of my really old, worthy-of-the-Vault material. The Vault is now 7 short films mightier. Some are action, some are animated, some are comedy. Some are good, some are bad. All but one are less than 3 minutes long, some as short as 43 seconds.

They're old, they're short, they're fun, they're in:

Enjoy.

Friday, August 15, 2008

New Photos, Storyboards, "Ragtime," and Press

I finally got the last three rolls of film from my trip to South Korea developed. They were black and white, but not C-41 process, so it had to be sent out to a special facility. To think that at one time, black and white film was cheaper than color...

Anyway, I've added a few of my favorites to the photography section. Click on the crab to go there!

I've also dug up storyboards from Ragtime Ballad and Baggage. You can click below to see those as well:

And speaking of Ragtime Ballad, I just put up a MUCH BIGGER version on the site! It's very big! It's bigger than the small one! Now you can see all the digital "dust" and "scratches" in glorious almost-full-screen. Enjoy.

Finally, the "Links" section is gone. It was never doing any good anyway. In its place is a new "Press" section. I've only been in the newspaper twice, but you never know when it'll happen again! I've been looking for a place to put those articles online anyway.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Introducing The Vault

I recently decided to showcase only the best and most recent of my shorts on the Archive page, rather than all of them. So for that reason I created:

I've already pushed a few films back there, but what I'm hoping is to be able to put up much older stuff in the Vault, like my old animations and the shorts made as class exercises.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

"Lincoln" Storyboards Up!

I just uploaded the storyboards from The Silver Lincoln, which include some comparisons with some of the final shots. I'll put up some more comparisons soon. Click on Chester below to check them out!

I know The Silver Lincoln itself isn't up yet, but that's just because it isn't done yet. Brian Andrews, composer extraordinaire, is still finishing up the score. It'll definitely be up as soon as that's done!

Friday, July 18, 2008

"Ragtime" Now in Glorious Flash!

Thank God for Flash. Before now, Ragtime Ballad, in its Quicktime incarnation, would skip and jump erratically when played for no discernible reason. Now, I've got it up on a nifty Flash player with bells and whistles to boot. Check it out!

In a few weeks, when I get the chance to do a recompression, I'll replace that one with a bigger, crisper one.

I've also put up Flash pages for the behind-the-scenes videos from Variations on the Death of Gerald and Irretention. Be sure to give those a whirl. And check out the post just below this one for info on the recent revamp I did on the site!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Website Revamp!

For a while I've been noodling ways that this site could be improved, and today I finally sat down and implemented all the changes I'd been working on. Sure, nothing looks different yet, but check out the Archive and any of the individual films' pages. It's more streamlined, more informative, and, I think, snazzier. But I'm just one man - let me know what you think!

The Links page has also been stripped down, mostly thanks to the news that Zia Films, as a production company name, has already been taken, and Take 24:7 is going through an overhaul. Even so, only Boa, of my friends, has a functioning website, and so it's basically the Link to Boa's Page right now. Eventually I'll be replacing Links with Press, after I scan the newspaper articles.

But most exciting of all is the fact that I just dug up an old CD that had behind-the-scenes pictures and storyboards from old films of mine! So check them out below!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Wrap on "Corner Store!"

On Sunday morning, July 6th, we wrapped production on The Corner Store, after four long night shoots.

This film was part of the Korean exchange program in which I participated. The experience was very rewarding - it allowed me to work on 35mm film, to build characters and scenes with the actors and DP on a much more fluid level than ever before, and of course, I got to go to South Korea. Tonight the Koreans, many of which are now good friends of ours, depart for Seoul, and the long post-production process will begin.

I hope to have photos and a new page up soon!

And, of course, The Silver Lincoln is still in the twilight hours of post-production. Brian Andrews, the composer, has been working diligently on perfecting the score for the film. When that's complete, we'll see it up here.

There is some bad news. Turns out that Zia Films is already a functioning movie production company in Los Angeles. This means that I will have to dream up some other production company to work under. I suppose that's just as well, though I'm not sure why.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Back From South Korea

Earlier this week I returned from my two-week voyage to South Korea, courtesy of Chapman University. I took dozens of photos, and the best have been added to the photography page. Just click on the image below to go there.


The script for the film that we will be making with the Korean students is almost done. We'll be shooting in just over a week, and there's a lot of pre-production to do. Luckily for me, Chapman is footing the bill for the whole production, so for once I don't have financial worries on top of logistical ones. Now all I have to do is put a film together.

Good thing that's what I love to do!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Lincoln Screens, Korea Drafts

Tomorrow night at 7:00pm, The Silver Lincoln is screening at Chapman University's Knott Studios. Just this morning, Daniel McLellan (the editor) and I finished some last-minute music and sound effect tweaks. It's look and sounding fantastic, and it should be a great premiere.

I've been working with the writer, Darryl Wharton-Rigby, on the working-titled "Corner Store," which is the script that is being produced as part of the Korean exchange program this summer. It's still in its very early stages, so we'll be working on restructuring and resizing it to a level that's more manageable for the limitations we have. I'm confident that it will be a good film, and a great experience all around.

Since this post is lacking in colorful pictures, I will direct you to Zia Films, where I've recently overhauled the design to something I feel is more in tune with the themes and ideas that I'm interested in.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Lincoln and Korea

I've just put up a new page for The Silver Lincoln, where you can see behind-the-scenes photos and the list of credits:



For now, there's not much else up, but stay tuned!

In other, much more exciting news, I've been selected by Chapman University to direct a short film as part of a fully-funded scholarship / travel course in June. The travel course is also an exchange program with students at a film school just outside Seoul, in South Korea.

Over the next couple months we'll be developing a script for the shoot. Then, for two weeks in June, the seven people involved in the short will be going to South Korea, to visit and learn from the students there. We help them and crew on their set, and then they come back here to California with us, to crew on our set. The whole thing - the travel and the production - is paid for by Chapman, which is very exciting. I'm really thankful to have been chosen for such an extraordinary opportunity.

More on that in the coming weeks!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Looking Good ...


Last Friday I went into telecine with The Silver Lincoln, and we watched dailies. It looks awesome - the above pic is a frame from one of my favorite scenes. I'm very excited to see the post-production process rolling.

Dan McLellan has been hard at work editing Lincoln, and so far the rough cut has gotten a great reception. I'll be putting up a page for the movie soon, but for now, I've put up the best of the behind-the-scenes photos, which you can view here:


In other news, Matt Sullivan, a friend of mine and peer at Chapman University, has come aboard La Nina as producer. Matt is a very talented and accomplished producer, and his help means a lot to me and the production. The script is still being drafted, but already the pieces are falling into place for a great short film.

Also, I've gone through my old photo albums and scanned in some of my favorite photos from old trips. Click on the photo below to see my updated photography gallery, including new pictures from India, Switzerland, and China.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

That's a Wrap!


The Silver Lincoln wrapped this weekend. We had three full days of shooting, and while we started late almost every day, we finished at least an hour early each day.

The cast was fantastic, the crew was great, and the whole experience was by far the best one I've ever had making a movie. A huge thanks to everyone who helped out.

Coming soon is a new page on the site for Lincoln, as well as many behind-the-scenes photos, storyboards, and more.

I'll be overseeing the film's telecine this Friday, and over the weekend, Dan McLellan will start editing. When he has a rough cut, Brian Andrews will start to build the score for the film. And in May, the film will be complete! Stay tuned for more updates.

In other news, I've started pulling my thoughts together on paper for my remake of La Niña del Desierto. Despite going through many changes, some extremely drastic, I think the final project will probably resemble the original pretty closely. We'll see how that turns out in the coming months.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Updates

I've changed the individual films' pages a bit, by trying to sidestep the boring single-column style with something a little more creative. It's particularly evident on the Varations page, a movie that boasts a bunch of great extras.

The Silver Lincoln is coming along nicely. We're two weekends away from production, I've cast my actors, and in fact just yesterday we held rehearsals. Locations are locked, the crew is coming together, and excitement is in the air! I'm looking foreword to a great production.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

"The Silver Lincoln" In Full Swing!

The Silver Lincoln, previously titled Mint, the eleventh and by far most ambitious short film of mine, is in full pre-production. Locations are being scouted and secured, auditions are being held Saturday, March 8th in Los Angeles, props and costumes are being designed and purchased, storyboards are being drawn up, and so on. There's a lot of work, but this time I've got a load of funding and, more importantly, a dedicated team of both old and new friends.

Producing Lincoln is Dennis Yeap, a focused and hard-working guy who transferred last Fall from Malaysia. The director of photography is Boa Simon, who I've worked with before on Variations on the Death of Gerald, Baggage, and Ragtime Ballad. He's a close friend and is crazy passionate about lighting and cinematography.

Coming on as assistant director is Dom Ricco, my longtime friend, who I could not have made it to this point without. We've been looking for another opportunity to work together since The Last Piece, and now we have it.

Editing Lincoln will be Daniel McLellan, another close friend who has worked in some way on every short of mine since I arrived at Chapman University, as well as editing Baggage. Composing the score for the film is, of course, Brian Andrews, who has scored Variations, The Last Piece, and Ragtime Ballad, and whose work never fails to amaze me. Finally, Christopher Manus, "Gerald" from Variations, will be joining the production in a small cameo role.

So as is evident, I'm going to have the pleasure of working with several old friends and trusted collaborators, as well as some new faces here and there. I'm very, very excited to begin production on Lincoln, as I think it will be my best to date, and I hope it will make a great short film on its own.

To movies!

Sunday, February 3, 2008

"Ragtime Ballad" Online!


The wait is over! Ragtime Ballad, my tenth short film, is online.

Composer Brian Andrews polished the score off last week, and the premiere was yesterday. It's one of my favorites, because it pulls together a lot of what I've learned in film school while still throwing back to my high school glory days of filmmaking. It's also refreshing for everyone involved - me as a director, the actors, the composer, the cinematographer - to go completely over-the-top.

What are you waiting for? Watch it now!

Monday, January 21, 2008

New Photos

Happy 2008!

I just spent the first two and a half weeks of the new year in Argentina and Chile, and I have a few new photos to show for it. They're both beautiful countries, and I got some great shots of La Boca, the colorful port neighborhood of Buenos Aires, a winery in Mendoza, the Pacific coast city of Valparaiso, and the mighty Iguazu Falls.

Click the below photo to browse my photography gallery:


In movie-related news, Mint has a possible new title, The Wheat Lincoln. We'll see how that flies as we start the final drafts of my eleventh short film. Also, Brian Andrews, my good friend and film score composer, is wrapping up the score for Ragtime Ballad, so we should see that up on the site soon.