Posts tagged Teague Chrystie
Sometimes we here at NiB get to be some of the first people to see something very awesome. Naturally, we like to take that something awesome and share it with the world. In this particular case, one of our friends over at Down in Front, Teague Chrystie, teamed up with Jim Frommeyer to create a fantastic homage to Calvin & Hobbes…. Christmas-style. They were also nice enough to sit down and tell us more about the project.
Video and interview:
Did you guys read Calvin and Hobbes growing up? Tell us about your relationship with the comic.
Jim: Yes, I was a regular reader. Waiting on my parents to sort the Sunday paper and hand me the comics page was a source of constant frustration. They took forever. I never identified with Calvin as a kid, but as I’ve grown older, I certainly see some similarities. Or maybe the comic just informed me. It’s so ingrained in me that it’s hard to separate.
Teague: I’m a huge fan of Calvin and Hobbes, are you nuts? I have the Essential book in my bathroom, it’s my go-to. I’ve been reading them childhood. I think everyone feels a little like Calvin at some point, but dude, I swear to god, I was Calvin. I even looked like him. My dad even looked like his dad. Total fan.
How did you do this? What were the challenges?
Jim: The biggest challenge was staying true to the source material. We had discussions early on as to whether we should sprinkle in our own snowman interpretations, but ruled it out. Speaking for myself, I couldn’t hold a candle to Watterson’s creativity anyway. So trying to both recreate the scenes while also justifying their existence in motion was the challenge.
So the trick was to find snowmen that had implied movement. Like the sharks. That was an easy visual punchline. And then the obvious task of physically creating them by hand. I haven’t played with clay in 15 years. So figuring out how to do that, while staying visually true… required patience.
Teague: There was a lot of wasted sugar. The work done in post was pretty straightforward, from a visual effects standpoint. There’s three layers of snow going off into the distance, the color correction brings in some contrast and chilly mid-level coldness. The color scheme of the sky was inspired by those polar bear Coke commercials from the ’90s. The tricky stuff was things like changing the colors of the snowmen’s arms, because if they were black against a black background, I wouldn’t be able to bring them back in over the newly blue background. Stuff like that. Jim worked with me throughout shooting to make sure I had what I needed, so there really wasn’t a struggle anywhere in the pipeline.
Where did the idea come from?
Jim: The idea is obviously Watterson’s. But I was listening to a Howard the Duck commentary Teague was hosting on DiF, and at some point those guys sidetracked to talk about C&H. That got me thinking. So when I suggested maybe trying something, Teague was all in. It was great, since he was on the same wavelength. I think the only real disagreement we had was over the music choice.
Teague: On the show, I had said “you know what would be a great way to piss off the internet? Make an extremely plausible trailer for a fake Calvin and Hobbes movie, but get Calvin and Hobbes totally wrong. Oooooooh, they’d be pissed.” And at some point later, after Jim had directed a really awesome video for the home page of downinfront.net, he said something about Calvin’s snowmen and I was like “I like those!” I was kidding about the troll-the-world idea, but a Calvin and Hobbes video ended up happening anyway. The secret, kids, is never show Calvin or Hobbes. That’s when you’ve officially gotten it wrong. You can’t do them right. Period.
What was the disagreement about music?
Teague: Oh man.
Jim: I wanted a really haunting version of Carol of the Bells. He wanted anything else. He was right. Even if he wasn’t, he was going to win. He wanted it more.
Teague: No, seriously, we went through like fifty songs. We were hoping to find some magical sweet spot between Christmassy, and sweet, and sentimental, and mischevious, and kind of goofy. A particularly Carol of the Bellsy Carol of the Bells was the one Jim liked, because he loves ostinatos in minor keys that make his black heart giggle with suffering. I said we could just as well use the Requiem for a Dream thing. What you need to know about Jim is he’s an awful person.
We seriously tried everything. Pat Boone was the thing we both liked the most equally, as opposed to one or the other of us loving a song while the other hated it. (For instance, my Carol of the Bells was a version of O Holy Night that was camptacular.) Compromise, kids!
What is your favorite Calvin & Hobbes moment? Have you have created any snowman deaths yourself?
[Hey! You! RSVP on Facebook!] It’s been two crazy years since we started this little Down in Front thing, with no idea of how many people would get into it. I mean, it’s a hard sell, on paper.
“A two hour podcast where four industry guys have a beer and figure out exactly what’s wrong with Terminator 4? Um, it’s a bad movie, it made Christian Bale mad, nothing happened. Duh. What’s right with Die Hard? Everything, of course. Let’s leave it at that.”
But it turns out, folks really like smart conversations about movies. Or we’re charming. Or funny. Or seductive. Or good at this.
Eh, probably seductive. And we provide alcohol.
Anyway, the show has been a big damned success, and – despite our confusion – we’re excited about it. So we’re really, really, really excited to announce that for our 100th episode and the first episode of year three, we’re doing a GIANT LIVE SHOW AT MELTDOWN COMICS.
And we’re doing the most-requested movie we’ve had: RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.
Meltdown is the premier nerd destination on the west side of the North American continent, and it’s situated square in the center of downtown Hollywood. The short version is, it’s the biggest comic book and pop culture shop you’ve ever seen. It’s Comic-Con with an address. (And no Twilight panels.) The even shorter version is: it’s the best place on Earth. Not to put too fine a point on it, but Meltdown is mecca for a Down in Front listener. (It works the other way, too: if you like Meltdown, you’ll love Down in Front.) And that’s exactly where we’re going.
Mark your calendars, and fill your gas-tanks, because if you’re within a day’s drive of Los Angeles you’re going to want to join the party: Friday, March 4th, at 8 p.m. $8 at the door buys you a seat and free booze. (I said free booze just then.) (I did it on purpose.) (Free booze. I did it again.) You can expect a seriously fun time spent with the four of us, Indiana Jones, and a big damned excitable crowd of people who love Raiders of the Lost Ark as much as you do. It will be the only place to be for a filmy geek that weekend.
Show up a bit before 8:00 p.m. and browse around the store, buy things, do what you usually do when you find yourself in the coolest nerd store on the planet. (Except for that one thing you do. There’s security cameras, people.) At 8:00, we’ll head back to the gallery and start filling you up with DIF juice – literally and figuratively – as we discuss the mind-bendingly awesome RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK.
Afterwards there will be a QnA with the panel: Teague Chrystie, Brian Finifter, Michael “Dorkman” Scott, and Trey “The Amazing” Stokes. Never heard an episode of the show before? Well, you could start now, or just trust us: it’s a good time. Bring your friends, bring your enemies, bring your mom. It’s on.
You know how all of the apocalypse talk nowadays is about Zombies and Vampires? Well, this film is going back to old-school, 1990s apocalypse fears and it’s awesomesauce.
In their own words: Wry, cynical and full of off-beat humor, APOCALYPSE, CA is the story of John Parsons and his ill-fated friends as they prepare for certain death at the hands of a massive asteroid, sex-inducing drugs, a three-hundred foot giant, and a horde of other unfortunate problems. APOCALYPSE, CA is an indie cult film of catastrophic proportions, featuring outstanding visual effects from artists Ryan Wieber (Ryan vs. Dorkman) and Teague Chrystie (The Pacific) in this feature film directorial debut by Chad Peter (behind the popular Internet short films, Sex, Drugs & Natalie Portman & Roleplayed).
Chad Peter, Ryan Wieber, and Teague Chrystie were awesome enough to let us ask them some questions about their upcoming film. Before you check out their answers, make sure to watch this:
How long did this film take (from pre-production to now)?
Chad: Wow, well it has been an interesting three years from start to finish. Originally “Apocalypse, CA” was going to be a short film, but the idea behind it quickly blossomed into what it is now – a full-on feature length project. It’s been a rough and tough process, but I think we’re all very proud of how it all turned out, despite whatever ups and downs were presented along the way.
It’s independently produced, so where/how did you get the funding?
Chad: *laughs* That’s a good question! Sometimes I wonder(ed) that myself. But honestly, it all began with asking one person (an ex-girlfriend, no less) for $5,000, and that got the ball rolling. Once friends and family saw that we weren’t out fucking around, suddenly it seemed like people were *offering* their money to the project far more than I had to ask for it. That didn’t last too long, though, because I think the general perception is that a feature length movie shouldn’t take more than a year to make. So, you know, after two years I’m still working on the movie, essentially by myself, worn thin and struggling to pay bills and there’s no more investor money to be had. Fortunately when it came time to work on the VFX and audio, I had a pretty solid foundation of friends to go to and say, “okay guys, I’m worn out… Help me get this thing finished,” and they came through in a big way.
Who wrote it?
Chad: I wrote the script over the course of a month, basing it on a pair of student films I had made back in college, “Sex” & “Drugs” (or “Sex, Drugs & Natalie Portman” as the series was called). Again, it started as a short film, but I quickly became attached to the large scope of the project and decided to write it as a feature instead. Ultimately when shooting began, the script was quite different than it turned out in the final movie, and we ended up rewriting a bit – as we were shooting. We shot probably 90% of the first script, then I went back and threw out several scenes, rewrote, reshot and eventually ended up with a much better script than what we started with.
Where/how did you guys find your actors/actresses?
Chad: Nick Mathis is the lead actor in the movie and I was living with him when I wrote the first draft in North Hollywood. Nick might be the most raw talented person I know, and easily one of the most charismatic. He had moved to LA a few years before and done “the actor thing”, but ultimately – and I still don’t understand it – he wasn’t getting any roles. The TNT cable network thought he was good enough to award him their top “Dramatic Auditions” contest prize, but “Apocalypse, CA” ended up being his first real LEAD role in a feature. From there I went through Actors Access and Breakdown Services to put out a casting call in LA, as well as cast a few actor friends here and there throughout the movie.
Let’s see, asteroid headed to earth – check, ‘love’ story – check, giant woman stomping on people – wha? What made you decide to add that little element to a story that is already ‘apocalyptic’? Obviously without giving too much away ; )
Chad: *laughs* To be honest, I can’t remember the instance where I thought “oh hey, lets add a giant!” There’s so much going on in the movie – crazy stuff – that it just seemed to be another notch on the ol’ belt. Like, if we’re gonna go balls-out, lets add a fucking giant to the mix.
Teague & Ryan, when did you two get involved?
Teague: In a weird way, I’ve always been involved – sorta. Chad and I met online years ago when he released a short film called “Drugs” – which is cooler than it sounds, it’s not a film-school public service announcement or something, my god – and eventually moved to LA and started hanging out. At the time Apocalypse, CA got started, we were roommates living in the San Fernando Valley – being poor, sleeping with greenscreens for bedsheets (this happened) – and I ended up reading drafts, being at shoots, being an extra, every damned thing. By the time the film was shot and edited, it kind of made sense for me to be a part of the visual effects team, and it would have been ridiculous not to blackmail Ryan into doing it – I’m a visual effects artist by trade, but Ryan is a really good visual effects artist by trade.
What were your different responsibilities? What VFX did each of you focus on personally the most?
Teague: Ryan and I did most of the big visual effects in the movie, some of which are spoilers and I can’t go into them, but stuff that you already know about – like the asteroid shots – those were mine. There’s several asteroid shots, and a very large (non-asteroid) sequence at the end I’m not going to go into. (It sucks that it can’t be in the trailer, because it’s really awesome and well done. You’ll have to see the movie, I guess, oh darn. ; )) Our buddy Matt Vayda was a huge help, he spent a lot of time with us, mostly doing motion tracking for the handheld shots that required visual effects. We had garage FX marathons, where everyone would bring their computer over to my apartment and we’d sweat it out over the weekend churning out shots one after the other.
Ryan: I took on the shots of the 300 foot woman, and a hand full of other smaller, miscellaneous shots. I thought it was going to be pretty easy, but it turned out that for such a “simple” gag (glorified forced-perspective) it ended up being a lot of pretty complex shots, ended up spending several weeks where all my free time was spent getting those shots where they needed to be.
Also, worth noting that Chad himself did a lot of VFX work in the film. He was very aware of the legal ramifications of things like logos and brand-names in the film, as well as stuff like paintings and pictures on walls. He ended up removing and changing almost everything in a picture frame in the movie. He also did a lot of dust-on-lens cleanup as well as other straightforward fix-its. The guy knows his way around After Effects and did, by far, the bulk of the visual effects shots from a numbers standpoint. If you incluse all the “invisible” effects and clean-ups, there were, i think, over 300 VFX shots in Apocalypse, CA.
Also, in the trailer, you can see that in some of the shots, there are smaller meteors burning through the atmosphere, leaving trails behind them. I originally created elements to use for my shots of distant meteors, and Chad ended up taking those elements and tracking/compositing them into many other shots where I wasn’t doing any ‘giant’ effects. He had very specific ideas on where they should be falling, how many, the angles of them, etc, and it was great that he was able to actually do those shots himself, rather than dictate to me or Teague where to put them. He did a great job.
What were the most difficult VFX to perfect?
Teague: You know what’s difficult? Modeling an asteroid. We went through a lot of revisions. “This one looks too much like a potato.” “This one looks exactly like Dick Cheney.” Finally settled on one that wasn’t too Armageddon, but wasn’t too moon-y. The spoiler-heavy sequence at the end was also a very tricky thing to get right, I think it turned out well.
Ryan: As I mentioned earlier, all the ‘giant’ shots ended up being more complex than I anticipated. The whole gag is to sell scale. The shots are successful when I can make a human being look big, and the shots fail when I can’t. Which is challenging, because we all know how big a person is, so it’s easy to get it wrong and have it look hokey movie from the ’50s. Shooting the giant elements with Chad to ensure the right perspective, lighting, and lensing was critical, but even so, it was pretty challenging. It’s all the little things. I ended up doing a lot of additional work to add dust and stuff in front of her, and slow down her motion because big things look big when they’re slow. I think the “hardest” shot was one that’s actually in the trailer, toward the end. The three characters turn and run with the giant in the distance. The shot, in the film, is actually quite a bit longer. As I worked on it and showed the progress to Chad, I ended up completely restarting that shot at least 3 times, using different footage of her, trying to get it work technically, and stylistically. It ends up looking very simple, of course… but only because of many small but important decisions Chad and I made that help it to just work.
What are the plans with this movie? Where are you going to screen it? Are you sending it out to agents?
Chad: Well we’ve applied to twelve or so film festivals so far, and we won’t start to hear back from them until the first week of December. In any case, the movie won’t premiere before January 2011 – unless we secure foreign distribution and they decide to release it before January ’11. The odds of a distributor turning the movie around that quickly, however are pretty slim, so we’re probably looking at a first or second quarter release next year. I’m currently working with a rep to secure a foreign sales agent and we’ll go from there. As far as domestic rights (north america), I’ll probably be holding onto those until after we’ve built some buzz on the movie, either online or via film festivals. The whole process is confusing, awesome and after years of editing at a computer I’m excited for the change of pace.
Fun question – Asteroid is heading to earth. What do you do to enjoy your last few days?
Teague: Start smoking again, probably. Buy a couple cartons of cigarettes and champagne, head north, be naked a lot.
Ryan: Try to score with Anne McDaniels.
Chad: *laughs* No comment. Probably something involving Gretchen Mol and a circus midget.
Another fun question – why no zombies? All apocalypse movies nowadays have zombies! Have you learned nothing from modern cinema?
Chad: Maybe in my future! There’s this band out there that I absolutely love called Schoolyard Heroes. Anyway, their music is totally B-movie inspired and bizarre, but they broke up last year. I totally want to do a crazy fun zombie movie with them somewhere down the line, so who knows. It’s something I’d love to try.
The music in the trailer is awesome. Licensed or friends?
Chad: Yes! The trailer music was done by “Apocalypse, CA’s” composer, Avi Ghosh – but not specifically for our trailer. Avi’s been playing in bands since before he was conceived – all awesome very NIN-ish stuff. He’s got an incredible group together right now in Austin called Art Versus Industry. I highly recommend anyone and everyone checking them out – Avi’s going to be a star.
“Apocalypse, California” is coming, 2011. Please visit http://www.apocalypseca.com or Facebook search “Apocalypse, CA” for more info!
We have an upcoming interview with the boys from Down in Front: Teague Chrystie, Brian Finifter, Michael ‘Dorkman’ Scott, and Trey Stokes. We’ll be posting that soon but in the meantime, check out their movie commentaries. They aren’t really your traditional MST3K commentaries or the ones you would typically hear on DVDs. They dissect movies and give their praise or their own nerdy suggestions as to how they might have fixed certain plot problems. Seriously, they’re awesome. Check ’em out. Down in Front.
Three of the boys from Down in Front have films on Our Favorite Star Wars Fan Films – Movies Feature at IGN. They are “Injured Stormtrooper” by Brian Finifter (#6), Ryan vs. Dorkman (#5), and The Pink Five Saga by Trey Stokes (#4). Check out their work below (I linked RvD2 instead of the first one just b/c it’s my personal favorite of the two :))
This won’t embed but you can click on it to go to youtube OR the whole saga can be found on Atom films (pinkfive.com) so go check them all out there 🙂