Thursday, March 29, 2007

The House Between Episode # 4 ("Visited") Director's Notes

This week, I want to share my thoughts on The House Between, episode #4, titled "Visited."

In short: this is our cursed show. Although we had an amazingly smooth shoot, on the day we shot "Visited" our lights kept blowing out. One bulb after the other, after the other, after the other. Finally, production ground to a halt as we ran out of the entire back-up supply of bulbs in short order, and I had to send poor pregnant Kathryn 35 miles away to Uptown Charlotte to find a vendor with more of them. So that wasn't good. I began searching around my shed for a light bar I once utilized on my old movies. It's a device that I kiddingly referred to as "the artificial sun" because it generates so much light (and heat). Amazingly, my resourceful lighting directors Bobby and Kevin were able to make do with this substitute in the short term...and still deliver great work.

So we got through the shoot and put the lighting issue behind us. Then I went to dailies and saw that for some odd reason, the sound was absolutely sub-par for this episode. We used the same mic, the same actors, and the same location as we did every other day, but for some damn reason...the sound was rotten this day. I've restored it the best I possibly could.

Then I got to editing and - lo and behold - the episode started to vex me yet again. Why? Well, it's the most complex, special and sound effects heavy episode so far, and it has been kicking my ass for two weeks. More significantly, it's been kicking the ass of my editing program, Sony Vegas Platinum. I have not been able to get a decent render on the final version of the show yet...the editing program just keeps crashing and crashing. I keep getting an "Exception Error" that said there's an "access violation." Whatever! I've been at this night and day, day and night for over a week now, trying desperately to get a usable episode render. I'm not a happy camper. At this point, I still don't have a decent render, and it's getting perilously close to upload time. Boogers!

"Visited" is our scary and atmospheric episode. And I don't mean just because it's been scaring me this week, either. Part of my task in creating The House Between was to demonstrate how a seemingly basic and limited formula (five people in a house, no way out...) could actually afford the clever scenarist dozens if not hundreds of different and fascinating plots. So we've had our introductory episode ("Arrived"), we had our moody, metaphysical episode ("Settled"), we had our action episode ("Positioned") and now we come to the atmospheric, creepy "Visited." I hope you like what you see. Be sure to watch it with the lights down

Now, storywise, I can't point to any direct series or episode antecedents in "Visited." I will state that this episode introduces the series' recurring enemy, like the Klingon or Borg, the creepy "Outdwellers." Interestingly, if you've watched the series closely, you've already glimpsed these ghouls. Don't know what I'm talking about? Go back to "Arrived" and watch the first ten minutes again. Very closely. Keep a good eye out. There's an Outdweller there...just keep looking. They were always a part of my vision for the show, and a crucial piece of the puzzle.

Anyway, I did name the "Outdwellers" after the mutant "Underdwellers" in the animated 1970s series Return to the Planet of the Apes. Rob Floyd, our special effects guy, designed the creatures and did a hell of a job making them spooky. In garb and style, they are also reminiscent of the mutants from one of my favorite 1970s flicks, The Omega Man.

Ironically, I don't really have too many distinct memories of shooting this episode besides the bulb incident. I think the photography and compositions in this episode are amongst the best of the series. And there was a dramatic scene set in the Parlor from Hell that took forever. Other than that, I was happy with the performances, enthused by the creepy lighting design, excited by the look of our monsters and so forth.

We'll see what you have to say after you watch. If the bloody thing ever renders...


  1. joey_bishop_jr.10:36 AM

    Well, I'll be dipped...

    I did go back and watch, and lo and behold!

    Either my keen detection skills aren't as good as I think, (impossible), or you've engaged in some Lucas-like witchery here!

    I think maybe this episode is cursed because you have those things that move all fast and jerky...nothing good EVER happens when they're around. I hate those guys.

    Seriously, I hope to the gods that it renders in time... the teeming masses need their next fix!

    Good luck pally..

  2. astrid4:12 PM

    That cursed, cursed Parlour! Bah! It's reaching over to you from across the street to mess up your render! We will have to do a cleansing on that room before shooting begins for Season 2. I have a small sage wand...

  3. Lee Hansen1:52 AM

    Forget it...nuke it from orbit. Only way to be sure.