Saturday, June 17, 2006

The New Captain Scarlet: "Instrument of Destruction" (Parts I & II)

Dateline: "The Day after tomorrow..." S.I.G.! (Spectrum is Green!)

Now animated in impressive and dramatic CGI (or what the series nostalgically terms "Hypermarionation,") Gerry Anderson's classic supermarionation program Captain Scarlet (1967) has received a glossy, high-tech twenty-first century re-boot.

As in the original series, this 2005 effort revolves around an top-secret organization called SPECTRUM and the continuing efforts to defeat an extra-terrestrial menace, the Mysterons..."a deadly threat to Earth's security" that in today's world seems highly reminiscent of the "terror" threat from sleeper cells and the like. In this sense, the new series feels more timely than the 1967 one, which came during the James Bond craze and was an unofficial sequel of shorts to the submarine program, Stingray.

Captain Scarlet
focuses particularly on the adventures of stolid Captain Paul Scarlet (yes, each SPECTRUM agent is assigned a color as a kind of "code name"...), the only survivor of an ill-fated trip to Mars. After detecting a strange signal on the surface of the red planet, Paul and his fellow officer, Conrad Leekon (Captain Black) end up inadvertently destroying a super-advanced Mysteron metropolis.

Oopsy...

"This is the voice of the Mysterons," the aliens tell the duo soon after the incident. "We have watched you for centuries. Your violence disgusts us and now you visit it upon us...We will crush your world."

And so the next long war involving mankind begins, with SPECTRUM HQ housed aboard a hovering aircraft carrier of sorts called Skybase and protected by fighter pilots termed "Angels." At first, Scarlet is sent back to Earth as an indestructible Mysteron agent ("You will be our instrument of destruction," the Mysterons tell him...) , but after a sabotage attempt in Sky Base's engineering section, Paul shakes the influence. Later, Dr. Gold tells Scarlet that his DNA has been altered at a subatomic level. He's not a clone, but Scarlet has been "genetically retrometabolizing."

Black is not so lucky; and he becomes the perpetual nemesis on the series....hatching one plan of destruction after the other. In the first two-parter, we see him teaming up with another Mysteron agent, a captain of industry from Trans Global, a corporation with Halliburton-like breadth.

In so many ways, the new Captain Scarlet feels like a holdover from the optimistic late 1960s and early 1970s. Inherent in the series' central story arc is the steadfast belief that we can not only compete technologically with the formless Martian enemies, but actually prevail in that battle. Edited with a sense of hyperactivity, the series - like many Gerry Anderson classics - boasts amazing vehicle designs and plenty of effects shots of vehicles launching, racing and landing. All this material is incredibly impressive.

The new Captain Scarlet, at least in its first two part episode, is so energetic that it iactually proves exhausting at times. There are more techie treats here than the viewer can shake a stick at: transforming space craft, escape pods crash landings, a sky-diving chase replete with a flying motorcycle, vehicles spinning on ice in Siberia, under fire from giant tanks, and the inevitable ticking clock finale, which finds Captain Black threatening to destroy the world with stolen fuel rods that could "blow the planet in half."

All this, and there's time for fetching squadron leader Destiny Angel to experience a crisis of faith too. If only the writers found time for her to reprise the famous UFO astronaut striptease from "Identified." Yes, Destiny is one hot CGI babe...

Also - again like many Gerry Anderson series - there's a shortage of realistic character development in this action-packed opener, but ultimately that's okay. Future episodes get the balance right, and this two-parter serves as a James-Bondian-type re-introduction to the world of SPECTRUM. Some people will miss the puppets, no doubt, but David Lane's direction is so fast-paced, nostalgia is an afterthought, I think. If I were twelve-years old today, and I switched the channel to Captain Scarlet, I would be absolutely spellbound. The series is faithful but not slavish to the source material, and very well-done.

The next episode...."Swarm."

SATURDAY MORNING CULT TV BLOGGING: Land of the Lost: "The Possession"

It's the "dormant season" for the Sleestak during "The Possession" (by David Gerrold and directed by Dennis Steinmetz), but that doesn't mean it's safe for the Marshalls in the land of the lost...

"The Possession" opens with a scene inspired, apparently, by Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Paku (Tah, Sah and Cha-Ka) go about their monkey-man business (eating grapes) when suddenly a pylon appears nearby, and beckons them with a mechanical hum; not unlike the curious apes in 2001 and the strange Monolith ("The Dawn of Man")

The similarities soon end, however, as Cha-Ka enters the pylon and becomes possessed by the "Great and Powerful" One, the "sleeper who has awakened" (no, not Paul Atreides...), "the watcher of the pylons." This entity takes control of Cha Ka and gifts him with a power wand or baton that sucks the power from crystal matrices and such.

Before long, Holly also becomes possessed by the Great and Powerful One too, and after zapping Will with her *ahem* rod, heads to the Lost City to drain more crystals. Rick Marshall intervenes at the last possible moment, and learns that the watcher of the Pylons appears to be an Altrusian, one of Enik's people. Furthermore, this entity believes it is his destiny to "rule all."

"No one has the right to rule all," Rick Marshall counters in true Captain Kirk fashion, before cutting the Watcher off from his crystals and stopping him once and for all...

"The Possession" is a kind of ho-hum episode from Land of the Lost's first season. Besides the early, obvious nod to 2001: A Space Odyssey, not much of interest really happens, and the final battle is kinda dull too. Everyone seems to be having a bad week here, and I'm not sure how this episode "jibes" with others about the pylons and their nature and power.

Still, next week's episode is one of my favorites, and a series high point. "Follow that Dinosaur..."

Friday, June 16, 2006

Production Diary # 4: The House Between: Special Effects

I've made no-budget films before, but my independently produced new TV series (now in post-production), The House Between is different because - wow - I actually had a real special effects artist making my crazy imaginings come true.

In this case, that special effects man is the versatile Rob Floyd (ably assisted by his sweet and helpful wife, Phyllis). My hat is off to Rob, because he came to the shoot completely and totally prepared not only for the special effects we had discussed on the phone in pre-production, but for every other possibility too. This means that in the middle of a hectic and intense shoot, he was able to conjure miraculous effects for us on the spot. This is good, because I'm a fickle director, and occasionally I want things on the spot. Yep...I'm a pain in the ass. Ask the cast...

For instance, there was a scene wherein we had to burn...*ahem*... something, and it just wouldn't catch fire satisfactorily. Let's just say that with Rob's help, that item burned up real well, and I didn't have to resort to 65 takes. (Though, in true Kubrickian fashion, I was ready to do that...)

Throughout the seven episode shoot, Rob accomplished some amazing effects for us, including the make-up for the "Out Dwellers" in episode # 4, "Visited" (which I don't want to reveal in close-up yet...), and boiling skin for a villainous character (played by Florent Christol) in episode # 6, "Trashed," some of which you do see here (below).

Rob also served as our regular make-up artist and our stunt coordinator too, so I'm really, really happy he was present and engaged for the entire shoot. Whenever I look at the footage, I'm amazed at the quality of effects he conjured.

So today I'm featuring a few effects shot on the blog, so you can check out Rob's (occasionally gory...) handiwork.



















RETRO TOY FLASHBACK # 39: Iron-On Transfer Books!

So, you're in the fourth grade, it's 1979, and you want to look stylin'. What do you wear? Well - of course - you don your iron-on Battlestar Galactica T-shirt! You have twelve images to choose from, including a Cylon Basestar, a fleet of vipers, a Cylon raider, Apollo, Adama, Boomer, Starbuck and more.

So you get your Mom to iron on the image you want and you head proudly to school...

And then you get beat up for being a geek...

No, just kidding.

When I was a kid, way back in the bygone disco-decade, I remember lots of school kids wearing these "iron-on" shirts, meaning regular T-shirts emblazoned with the imagery of popular TV shows. It wasn't just Battlestar Galactica, either. I seem to remember a lot of kids wearing Welcome Back Kotter ("up your nose with a rubber hose!") and Fonzie ("sit on it!") iron-on shirts too.

If I were in the fourth grade today, I'd want a Veronica Mars iron-on T shirt with Kristen Bell on it. Heck, I'm thirty six and I want a Veronica Mars iron-on T shirt with Kristen Bell on it. Oops, did I say that out loud?

Anyway...

This is how iron-on T shirts work:

"It's easy to do and lots of fun to transfer these souvenirs to T-shirts, jackets curtains (Mom will love that!), bedspreads, pillow cases..."/etc., read the instructions from Windmill Books/E.P. Dutton in New York. With just $4.95 (or 6.25, Canadian), you were on your way to iron-on bliss.

Why? Because "Colors come alive when ironed on!" Here are the specific directions:


1.) Use a clean, presssed shirt. For best results, apply to material made of 100% polyester , or at least 65% polyester blend, or 100% nylon. Cotton is not guaranteed to hold colors when washed.

2.) Put a piece of paper on the ironing board so colors from transfer will not come off on ironing board.

3.) Set iron between wool and cotton settings. Do not use steam.

4.) Place shirt on ironing board and place iron-on transfer face down on shirt. Fasten transfer in place at the corners with small pieces of masking tape or pins. Do not use cellophane tape. Place tape on white edges of transfer only.

5.) Cover transfer with a piece of thin paper to protect iron from being stained with color.

6.) Press down hard on iron and move it back and forth across the entire printed area for 30 seconds. Keep the iron moving. Be sure to iron over the entire transfer area.

7.) Allow to cool one minute. Carefully remove the transfer and paper.

Ah, the 1970s. There was no better time to be a kid...

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Production Diary # 3: The House Between

Episode Two ("Settled") of my upcoming, independently-shot TV series, The House Between, focuses on two characters primarily, Astrid and Bill. In particular, Astrid is confronted with (and haunted by...) an old musical composition (and tape recording...) from her traumatic past.

For this scene, we needed an original song ("The House Between") and Kim Breeding (who plays Astrid) devised a very haunting and disturbing tune. You'll know more precisely what I'm talking about when you see the episode...

Anyway, I thought that for today's production diary entry, I might transcribe the lyrics of Astrid's song. In the show, Kim (lead singer for Cured by Porno...) sings the tune too (even while her character reacts to it.) Kim also performs another tune for episode # 5, "Mirrored."

The House Between
Composed and Performed by Kim Breeding (as Astrid)...

Your good intentions paved the way/for me to learn to hate.

Your rules and restrictions and contradictions led me to my fate.

The chill between us broke me down/more than I care to say.

I'll sacrifice/if that's the price of your love then I will pay.

Chorus:

You left me unclean/Now I wander from room to room
in the House Between.

You may see Heaven or Hell /According to your doom
but I'll eternally dwell in the House Between

These walls will hold me away from Grace...until the End of time.
No Mercy Shown/I'm own my own, just like I was in life...

Another Star Trek XI Tidbit

This little clip about the upcoming Star Trek 11 landed in my e-mail inbox last week, courtesy of my good friend, Chris (a sometimes commenter on the blog here).

The context for the info was an interview with screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci for Creative Screenwriting Magazine. The interview was conducted and written by senior editor, Jeff Goldsmith.

Anyway, Mr. Goldsmith asked if the new Star Trek project was going to be a re-imagination (a la BSG) or something that could be viewed as consistent with the established mythos.

Here's a clip of the response. Be sure to pick up Creative Screenwriting Magazine to read the rest of the article (which also covers M:I:3.):

"There are pockets within the universe, and we know the mythology well, and we are fans of the novels that happen between the movies and all that kind of stuff, which aren't even counted as part of the mythology sometimes and we do know that there is a space to begin to see a lot of the origins of a lot of the things we know and we're going to start there. We're very mindful of being totally true to the mythology and totally true to what's come there, and in a way try to embrace the fact there's such a rich history to it that this is not a case of trying to come in and be so clever that you're going to reinvent everything. It's a case of coming in and using the stuff you know is great and you know really works and not violating anything that's come before it."

You ask me, that sounds good. I don't want to see forty years of Star Trek undercut by a would-be auteur who thinks he's more clever than Roddenberry, Coon, Nimoy, Bennett, or Meyer. Of course, on the other hand, how hard would it be to prove cleverer than Brannon Braga? Perhaps that sounds snarky, but I'm still bristling (12...years...later...) over the way Braga and Moore handled Captain Kirk's death in Generations. (And still asking why Captain Picard didn't pick a better time to exit the Nexus...). But that, my friends, is a post for another day...

Mercy in Her Eyes: The Films of Mira Nair -- Now Available!

One more bit of JKM book news this morning: my latest enterprise from Applause Theatre and Cinema Books, Mercy in Her Eyes: The Films of Mira Nair, has just been officially published (and you can get copies from Amazon.com).

This book covers the entire career of Indian-born, Harvard-educated Nair, an auteur and heir to Satyajit Ray. My study gazes at all of her films, from the Academy Award-nominated Salaam Bombay! (1988) to the popular hit, Monsoon Wedding (2002), to her recent adaptation of Vanity Fair (2004). There's also a sneak peek at the upcoming The Namesake (2006), based on Jhumpa Lahiri's best seller. The book features interviews with Naveen Andrews (of Lost), who starred in Kama Sutra (1996), Gena Rowlands (who starred in 2002's Hysterical Blindness), screenwriters Sooni Taraporevala and Julian Fellowes, and many more.

Mercy in Her Eyes just got reviewed by Library Journal, and here's what the magazine had to say about it:

"During the 1950s, India became a forerunner in feature film output, and it was in that decade and country that filmmaker Mira Nair (Monsoon Wedding) was born. Muir (Best in Show: The Films of Christopher Guest and Company) presents an engrossing, superbly researched study of Nair's career that incorporates material from numerous interviews. He discusses the eclectic components and production of her films as well as delves into the heart of Nair's philosophy and stunning cinematic approach. He further considers her subject matter, which includes social issues, globalization vs. national identity, and the struggle of individuals to find meaning while bridging Eastern and Western cultures. This book -the first to concentrate on Nair's fine achievements - will significantly interest those familiar with her work and should inspire others to further study. It will be especially valuable for university cinema studies programs as well as for academic and circulating libraries. [Nair's The Namesake, based on Jhumpa Lahiri's best-selling debut novel, will be released by Fox Searchlight Pictures in the fall.-Ed]

One Step Beyond Book lands in softcover!

Hey everybody, my 2001 study and analysis of the 1959-1961 paranormal TV series, One Step Beyond (and its 1978 sequel, The Next Step Beyond) has just been re-published in soft-back by McFarland.

The book actually boasts an illustration on the cover this time (and it's creepy too...). The book features the last interview with director John Newland, who crafted all 96 half-hour segments of OSB, as well as an episode guide of all the episodes. Special focus is granted to "The Sacred Mushroom," the notorious documentary episode which found Newland sampling hallucinogenic mushrooms to see if they could enhance psychic powers. Remember, this was 1960, well before the hippie movement...

What makes this book different than some I've written is that I analyze the series not only in terms of television production and themes, but also how closely the series adheres to established, academic paranormal lore (about subjects like automatic writing, rapping, poltergeists, bilocation, alien abduction and the like).

Anyway, the book gets a price reduction along with it's new format, so hopefully a new audience will find it. Dig that cover...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Production Diary # 2: The House Between -- Location/Sets

Yesterday, I wrote here about my new independent production, The House Between, a science-fiction/horror, seven installment TV show, bound direct for the Internet (and DVD sales). I'm cataloging footage, preparing a trailer, and editing the project now.

The series concerns a "house at the end of the universe," as one character terms it, a dwelling of mysteries, mind-states and inner-space. Here are a few views of the home in question. The series was shot in stark black-and-white, and hence these photos are in black and white too.


Left: The main hall. In episode #4, "Visited," this staircase turns into a battlefield between those trapped inside the house, and a force from outside that wants to get in.









Left: The upstairs hallway. This tight space is the location where Astrid first meets Bill, the house's "man of science," also trapped there.

















Left: This is Astrid's room. In episode # 1, "Arrived," Astrid (Kim Breeding) awakens in this room...naked. She finds all her clothes hanging neatly in the closet....










Left: The foyer downstairs. Throughout the series, all the windows are "blacked out" because of a strange "null space" surrounding the house.

Left: Arlo's kitchen. This room proves to be the "heart" of the house, in more ways than one. It's where Arlo (Jim Blanton) lives, and it's also where many core scenes occur. Sometimes the kitchen is a court room, sometimes it's a place to bond, and - occasionally (as in episode # 6, "Trashed") - it's a place for discovery.
Left: Bill's room and sanctuary. Bill (Anthony Mercer) can be a solitary guy, especially when he becomes convinced that the entire house is a prison designed to make him spill his secrets. Bill gets an...unusual visit from Astrid here in episode # 5, "Mirrored."

CATNAP # 38: Lily on the Ledge


I worry about Lily.

This little black burst of lightning is my youngest cat (still a kitten, technically...).

She's the cat who we adopted last year after she was rescued in a Food Lion parking lot near our vet's office. Her tail had been mangled in the fan belt of a car and had to be amputated.

So her balance ain't exactly great...(and without a tail, she looks like a little black bunny...)

Despite this, Lily makes a habit of playing daredevil, and walking the high ledge over our second story foyer and staircase.

She also likes to sleep by the window, and I worry she's going to nod off and fall.

Here are a few pictures of her in action. In the middle two, she's navigating the perimeter of the railing.

In the others, she's perched in the window.

I get vertigo just thinking about her up there...

McFarland June '06 Book Release Schedule

So, what's new with McFarland for June '06? Here's a quick look at their cinema and television releases for the month. Looks like some more good stuff from the N.C. reference book publisher...


Elvis Cinema and Popular Culture-

Though Elvis Presley’s music is widely credited as starting a sea change in American popular culture, his films are often dismissed as superficial. Beyond the formulaic plotlines and the increasingly weaker songs, however, the films are rich with resonance to the changing times in which they were produced (roughly 1955–1970). They were also a means by which Elvis communicated deeply felt autobiographical material to his fan base, although in the guise of lighthearted escapist fare.

This work takes a new stand, maintaining that Elvis’s 31 Hollywood features and two documentaries reveal a profound statement from the star and auteur. Analyzing each film in detail and exploring the body of work as a whole, Brode reveals the Elvis persona as a contemporary Candide, attempting to navigate an ever changing social and political landscape.


Yul Brynner-
Known as the bald cowboy in The Magnificent Seven and the sexy, charismatic male lead in The King and I, Yul Brynner was a Hollywood paragon of masculinity. Beyond his distinctive appearance and distinguished acting career was a life of intrigue and concocted tales surrounding his youth. Born Youl Bryner in Russia, he played gypsy guitar and worked as a trapeze clown until a severe injury motivated him to pursue his interest in theater.

This biography takes readers through Brynner’s formative years in Russia, France and China and describes his journey from sweeping stages in Parisian theaters to a versatile career in theater, television and film, reaching a stardom that began and ended with the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein musical The King and I. With accounts of his personal and professional successes and failures, the book includes his four marriages, his numerous and notorious affairs with such stars as Judy Garland, Joan Crawford and Ingrid Bergman, and his 1985 death from lung cancer. A filmography details his movies and plays, and appendices outline his work in documentaries, music and soundtracks, radio programs and television.



The Daytime Serials of Television, 1946–1960-

The popularity of soap operas on radio made them a natural for the new medium of television, where soaps quickly became an audience favorite. As television soap operas developed, so did the level of sophistication in delivery, writing and production. Even with technical difficulties, clashing actor egos, and hurried production schedules, television managed to corral a massive audience for the continuing narrative, which combined the excitement of the new visual medium with the old-fashioned pleasures of a story well told.

This history of television’s “golden age” soaps begins with an overview of earlier serialized entertainments that set the stage for the televised daytime soap. A detailed analysis of early TV soap stars, personnel and production follows, taking 40 programs into account. Ensuing chapters offer in-depth treatments of the serials Search for Tomorrow, Love of Life, The Guiding Light, The Secret Storm, As the World Turns and The Edge of Night. Appendices include chronological and alphabetical directories of period daytime serials and rankings of the durability of programs, actors and actresses, announcers and sponsors.


James Bernard, Composer to Count Dracula-

Composers give a unique and powerful voice to the stories we see on the big screen. Those who work principally with one type of film may leave a unique imprint on an entire genre. James Bernard was one such composer. From 1952 to the late 1990s he was one of horror’s definitive and distinctive voices, scoring many of Hammer’s best-known films, including Dracula.

This critical biography details Bernard’s life from struggle to success. More than just a biography, however, it is also a meticulous examination of his music, including its intricate mechanisms and the many sources of Bernard’s inspiration. Movie scores examined include The Quatermass Experiment, The Curse of Frankenstein, Dracula and The Hound of the Baskervilles. Reviews of Bernard’s work and reminiscences of the composer himself add depth and personal feeling to the biography. A music glossary and a filmography complete the work.


Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2005-

The entertainment world lost several legendary stars and a host of other men and women in 2005. Notables who died include Tonight Show host Johnny Carson, Dallas matriarch Barbara Bel Geddes, Little Rascals Tommy “Butch” Bond and Gordon “Porky” Lee, Star Trek stalwart James “Scotty” Doohan, and John Paul II (who acted on stage and wrote several plays before becoming pope).

The obituaries of these and other performers and filmmakers, musicians and producers, dancers and composers, writers and others associated with the performing arts who died in 2005 can be found in this comprehensive reference work. Each entry provides the date, place and cause of death, along with a brief recap of the person’s career and citations from major newspaper and periodical stories reporting the death. Filmographies are given for film and television performers, and many photographs are included. Volumes in this annual series are available dating back to 1994. A subscription plan is available for future issues.


Police on Screen

From the Roman Praetorian Guard to the English shire-reeve to the U.S. marshals, lawmen have a long and varied history. At first, such groups were often corrupt, guilty of advancing a political agenda rather than protecting citizens. It was about the turn of the twentieth century that police officers as we know them came into being. At this time, a number of police reforms such as civil service and police unions were developed. Citizen committees were formed to oversee police function. About this same time, the technology of motion pictures was being advanced. Movies evolved from silent films with a limited budget and short running time to films with sound whose budget was ever rising and whose audience demanded longer, more complex story lines. From the infancy of moviemaking, lawmen of various types were popular subjects. Bounty hunters, sheriffs, private eyes, detectives and street officers—often portrayed by some of Hollywood’s biggest names—have been depicted in every conceivable way.Compiled from a comprehensive examination of the material in question, this volume provides a critical-historical analysis of law enforcement in American cinema. From High Noon to The Empire Strikes Back, it examines the police in their many incarnations with emphasis on the ways in which lawmen are portrayed and how this portrayal changes over time. Each film discussed reveals something about society, subtly commenting on social conditions, racial issues and government interventions. Major historical events such as the Great Depression, World War II and the McCarthy trials find their way into many of these films. Significant film genres from science fiction to spaghetti western are represented. Films examined include Easy Street (1917), a nominal comedy starring Charlie Chaplin; Star Packer, a 1934 John Wayne film; The Maltese Falcon (1941) with Humphrey Bogart; Dirty Harry, a 1971 Clint Eastwood classic; Leslie Nielsen’s spoof Naked Gun (1988); and 1993’s Tombstone featuring Kurt Russell. The filmography contains a synopsis along with information on director, screenplay, starring actors and year of production. Photographs and an index are also included.


The Republic Pictures Checklist-


Republic Pictures Corporation, began as a motion picture laboratory in 1915. By 1935, Republic had become a studio and released its first movie, Westward Ho! starring a young John Wayne, who would stay with Republic for the next 17 years. Republic would go on to produce highly successful Westerns starring singing cowboys Gene Autry and Roy Rogers as well as serial adventure series. The studio cranked out so many exciting (not to mention money-making) serials that it became known as “The Thrill Factory.” Occasionally, Republic would produce and distribute “A” features, such as Macbeth and The Quiet Man, but it was the “B” Westerns and adventure serials that they knew best how to produce and market. Until its demise in 1959, Republic fed hungry moviegoers with a steady diet of “B” Westerns, serials, dramas, series pictures and musicals.

The Republic Pictures Checklist provides a full listing of Republic releases, with plot synopses, release dates, alternate titles, chapter titles and awards. All of Republic’s output, including documentaries and training films, is included.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Production Diary # 1: The House Between

Seven days and no posts here? What's going on? Where have I been, dammit?

Well, I am thrilled to report that there was no personal medical emergency this time; and no looming book deadline either.

Instead, I spent eight glorious and utterly transformative days "on the set" with a committed cast and crew. Our mission? To shoot seven black-and-white episodes of an original live-action genre series entitled The House Between.

This is a genre enterprise (sci-fi/horror) that I wrote and directed. My producer is Joseph Maddrey, one of the producers on The Discovery Channel series A Haunting, and also the author of Nightmares in Red, White and Blue.

Together, we worked with a committed cast & crew of a dozen or so folks -- all of whom bunked at my house and worked for grueling, sixteen hour days to bring this new vision to life. I am forever in their debt for what they accomplished in this time period. I've never been with a more selfless or driven group of talents. Everyone "rowed in the same direction," from my DP and lighting crew to the stunt coordinator and cast members. I've likened the experience to "boot camp," but even that doesn't describe the commitment of The House Between team.

Why did we spend our time, money and energy on this enterprise now? Well, more than ten years ago, the independent film movement blossomed in America. Thanks to advances in technology that made film production affordable to the average joe, we saw a new direction in cinema (and practitioners like Kevin Smith and Quentin Tarantino).

Today is the time, I believe, when we will begin to see a similar movement exploding in TV production and that's what The House Between is. It's an original TV series that will be made available for streaming Online as soon as editing is complete.

The House Between
is the creepy story of five strangers who awake to find themselves in a stark, lonely Victorian house...with no furniture. They don't know where they are; they can't escape; and they don't know who to trust. Is the house actually Heaven or Hell? Or something all together different? It's a mystery and more, and one that gets resolved a piece at a time.

The House Between story is partially inspired by Jean-Paul Sarte's existentialist play, No Exit, but there's also a lot of genre inspiration here, given my proclivities and history. There are resonances in The House Between of everything from Land of the Lost and Sapphire and Steel to Star Trek, The Prisoner and Space:1999. And yet hopefully - as you will see - it bears a distinctive and original voice all its own.

In the days ahead, as editing begins in earnest, I will feature more behind-the-scenes details of The House Between here on the blog, but I thought I would begin today with a few photographs from the last, intense week.

Left: Our first cast/crew reading of the debut episode, "Arrived."

Around the circle, we're looking at the back of Lighting Co-Director Bobby Schweizer's head, producer Joseph Maddrey (with the green binder), director of photography Rick Coulter (in tan shirt), and in blue, Lighting Co-Director Kevin Flanagan.
Left: Kim Breeding, the lead singer for Cured by Porno plays "Astrid," our tough-as-nails "lead" in The House Between. Astrid is the character we follow from the start of the series.
Left: Jim Blanton (who plays a character named Arlo), rehearses a fight scene with Kim Breeding (Astrid) while our stunt coordinator, Rob Floyd (back to us), puts them through their paces.
Left: Alicia A. Wood joins the series for the second episode, "Settled." She portrays the enigmatic woman named Theresa. Here she's preparing to shoot a scene with Jim Blanton, now in costume as Arlo.
Left: Anthony Mercer (left) plays Bill T. Clark, The House Between's stalwart "man of science." Beside him (right), is Lee Hansen, who plays Clark's loud-mouthed foil, the fly-in-the-ointment named Travis Crabtree.