2013 - redux

2012 wasn’t the Year of the Mosquito like I thought - it is 2013. We got a lot done in the last year but not as much as I expected. Things are still going great however, the footage is awesome and we are around 90% complete. I’m hoping for an announcement in the near future of a well known star to join us in the last remaining role so keep your fingers crossed. I’m envisioning completing Insectula! in the spring and good things after a long and painful birth!

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from Dr. Kempler. He is inviting everyone over for Yuletide cheer - and if you make it till Boxing Day, a special present in your stocking

"Digital Revolution"

The great thing about the Digital Revolution is that it allows anyone to make a movie.
The horrible thing about the Digital Revolution is that it allows anyone to make a movie.

Dr. Kempler's new diggs

I was unhappy with Dr. Kempler's last house made of brick as it didn't match the entrance of the mansion we shot in. I took a photo today of the door of that mansion and added it to this model and am much happier. I changed the color, weathered a few items and am animating this sequence now. I like this house better as it is simular to the Bate's house in Psycho. Plus now it has the door we shot with in the close up exteriors.

It's really fun that for $15 and a few hours work and a couple days rendering I have great tracking exteriors exactly how I want them. God I love CGI!

Insectula! score

Insectula's composer Dominic Irving has be hard at work on the score. We are all very excited to hear the results!
The Jerome Foundation recently helped Insectula! out with a production grant, and we are very pleased with their assistance. They also had some very nice things to say about the samples of what they saw:

The panel that reviewed Michael Peterson's application requesting support of Insectula was very impressed by what they saw. They were all rather incredulous that they were seriously discussing a grant to a Sci-Fi comedy, since none of them had been attracted to supporting such a film before. But the very unique nature of this work, coupled with its wry sense of humor, really resonated with them. They found the work fresh and exciting. One panelist commented, "I really love this. He did exactly what he said he would do-it shows in the footage. He also has a lot of good people attached, which is comforting. But more than anything else, I like his very idiosyncratic approach to telling the story, which elevates this work to a whole different level of Sci-Fi filmmaking." The second panelist agreed and added, "This is a filmmaker to keep an eye on." The third panelist said, "I was a little doubtful of this at first, until I saw the work sample. I think it will be a very well done, tongue-in-cheek genre piece."

This funding came just in time to help out with the complex hive scene and other intensive shoots that would have taken far longer to accomplish without. Thanks again to the foundation and I’m certain the end product will exceed expectations.

The reviews keep pouring in...

We gave the trailer to Horrornymphs a couple months ago and now got over 300K hits...not bad. The trailer was really for funding purposes when we had only about a third of it shot and made in a few hours, but we do get reactions which are fun to read. Here is a sampling...

Jayus is all I can say about this film. It's Indonesian for a joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh.
Da Faq? I wanna watch this. Is that Adam West Narrating?
OMG, this looks really funny. I hope this film rock´s my party. I love trash.
are we going back 1995 were the name graphics isn't invented yet
damn my grandma can make better graphics
3:21 that's disturbing o_o
Omfg.. Just wow lol
I just had a heart attack when I saw that girls face scrolling up
is this a comedy? because it made me laugh really hard
ehm is that a joke ?
Laughed so hard
*looks at thumbnail* no blowjob for me thanks for offering tho :P
SkyFy channel ?
The thumbnail is FUCKING SCARY
I refuse to get a flowjob from her in the thumbnail @.o..
Is this a joke?
This shit is look like an Asylum production
what the fuck
tha fuck did i just watch?
that trailer is fucking priceless.
Seems like one of those movies back in '60 :D.
Wow. That was wierd AND unexplainable
Hey, they at least could afford CGI! ;)
I'd watch this only for the comedy :D
It seemed so stupid at first, but now I think it could be fucking awesome!
Even his mustache was fake!
Bitch! That old man warned you! He said "please don't go in the water" he even said please! Look at you now, all dead and stuff..
It's... the scary door.
is this movie made of papercraft of something ?
even the mustache on the guys face looks fake !
i wouldn't mind seeing this, a nice change up from another stupid as "silent night" movie would be good.
WOW! I dont know its its the worst trailer now to existence or Funniest b-Movie pardoy ever made!
Hahahahahaha...well, at least the photography is awesome!!! :D
you guys laugh at the budget, but someone will be laughing all the way to the bank
he style is so nostalgically fun XD...
This looks Awsome! Can't wait to see it. :)
so what night will this be on the SyFy network?
You guys just don't appreciate odd or weird. I think this looks interesting. It won't be a rehash of a million things already seen.
Looks like an old movie from the 50's. Am I right?
Looking forward to see it & yes it's very cheesy, but guys this is described in IMDB as a comedy & horror movie. So maybe it doesn't scary you, but it could probably make you laugh.

And so on... :D
At some point we will make a real trailer that WILL rock your world!


Most of the FX on Insectula! are a combination of both CGI and practical (and there are TONS of FX). This allows me to do an effect for hundreds as opposed to thousands of dollars if I did it strictly one way or the other, plus I think it’s more convincing. It’s clear to me this is the future of FX and why we will defy our budget.

It also allows me to do something in a fraction of the time. For one recent shot I had a cutaway shot of a brain. Since this was just a cutaway used to establish mood, I didn't want to spend thousands on it, but I wanted the brain to pulse like blood was flowing to it. Using a combination of CGI and practical I was able to grab a brain from a Halloween store, paint it better and then create the pulsing in post. Doing this practically would involve many hours mounting bladders and the CGI only rout would have involved modeling and animating it in a realistic manner and then rendering, again many hours. In the end I was able to accomplish the effect in about ten minutes and it is very convincing, looking very practical and cost about ten dollars.


One thing I admire as much as creativity is resourcefulness. Actually it is just a different branch of creativity. That’s why I admire Robert Rodriguez even though I might not like his films that much. Gareth Edwards, Sam Raimi, Roger Corman and others also fall into this category, not just because they’re low budget, but because they were resourceful and were able to work around budget problems and come up with end products that rivaled their big studio counterparts.

The people I work with on Insectula! all have these qualities. Hopefully this will shine through as our budget is smaller than any of theirs but so far things are looking amazing for what we’ve had to work with.


Love and Hate

The fun thing about the trailer is reading the comments. There are two types of responses that we get…they either love it or they hate it. This is exactly what I’m looking for. I don’t want “eh” or “it’s ok, but...” , I want extreme emotions. Even though I’m borrowing heavily from all kinds of movies, there has never been anything like Insectula, this I guarantee. The story has a very unorthodox structure using very common themes. Some people warn me that I’m giving away too many spoilers, however nothing could be further from the truth. There is no possible way to spoil the story even if I gave away all the elements. The structure is the story.

I think the reactions will be the most fulfilling aspect of this whole project.

Moire and Aliasing

I like my Canon 60D and have shot the majority of Insectula! with it (the first third was shot with a Canon 7D, but I traded that for a 60D when that came out). I have been considering changing to a Panasonic GH2 because the Canon’s are notorious for their moire and aliasing at 1080 even with digital sharpening off, and are almost unusable at 720. It’s too bad because I have a lot of Canon glass and I like just about everything else about the camera. Shooting has been problematic though as my main character wears a suit which makes the sensor go batty and if there is anything like a screen door, tightly woven fabric or a brick building, colors and lines dance around causing me to tear my hair out in post.

The new anti-aliasing filter from Mosaic has saved my Canons’ life and pretty much solved the issue. I tested one on a 7D and am just waiting for the 60D version which will be released in a couple days. The filter is a huge step in usability for Canon cameras and for $325 it is a no brainer for me.


Finally got the look I was aiming for

It took a long time but I finally got the look I’m aiming for in Insectula. I found a new tool called FilmConvert which is awesome. It emulates film stocks which was possible before but much harder to achieve. This combined with the Three-Strip Technicolor and a couple other color grading tools gives me the unique and very satisfying color I had in my head. Very Nice!

Bathroom shoot

Finished the bathroom shoot which again involved practical FX. Besides some pickup shots this will be the last shoot in our warehouse. Now we have to find a place to put all our equipment :(

Films or media Insectula! references or duplicates shots from

Apocalypse Now
Taxi Driver
Plan 9 from Outer Space
The Incredible Melting Man
Dragon Wars (D-Wars)
Dr. Tongue’s 3D House of Stewardesses (SCTV)
Bride of the Monster
The Deadly Mantis
Hentai Manga
Piranha (2010)
Terror at 20,000 Feet (Twilight Zone)
Peeping Tom
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn
Barry Lyndon
The Ring
The Abominable Dr. Phibes
The Phantom of the Opera (1925)
Curse of Frankenstein
Asylum Pictures
The Matrix
King Kong
Reign of Fire
To Catch a Thief
Casino Royale (1967)


Things are really coming along nicely with Insectula! so far.  A good balance of scares, humor, gore and art gives Insectula! the edge on competition many times the budget.  I’m very happy with all the footage and the scenes edited are great, they get exactly the desired reactions I wanted. We know what territories (countries) we want to target and have good projections that I think are going to be exceeded. Now all that remains is to finish the film! We have been cranking away like mad shooting and are starting the big practical effects scenes. The light at the end of the tunnel is visible so wish us luck!

I know you will be pleasantly surprised!

The wonders of gelatin: redux

I know I’ve been on this subject before but I really don’t understand. Why isn’t this used on 90% of FX prosthetics? I foam it to act like a cross between silicone and foam latex, or use straight as an excellent silicone replacement and you can throw literally anything into it and it won’t impede its properties. It can be transparent, translucent or opaque. Gelatin is painted with anything unlike silicone. It’s the cheapest material around and best of all reusable. The only downsides are it’s a bit heavier than foam latex, water soluble (although with enough zinc oxide that isn’t an issue) and will melt in extreme heat. What gives?

The Asylum

It’s easy to bash The Asylum (Syfy channel) movies because, well they suck. I don’t think I’ve been able to sit through one all the way. But I like what they are doing, cranking out horror and science fiction movies for about 100k and making money on every one. I just wish the movies were a bit smarter and more self-aware. I’m very conscious of The Asylum model and comparisons are inevitably being made, and there are a few nods to them in Insectula. I’m trying to make a movie of what The Asylum could be, a bit more like American International was…taking more of a chance on originality now and then. We’ll see what happens.

Release Date

To those asking about release date: We are still shooting Insectula! and expect to be finished with principal photography in Nov. We then have a lot of CGI, a bunch of practical effects to shoot and other post work so we are guessing around the end of the year.

Something's in the trees...

How to make a shot at 12ft look like it was at 30ft...
Since my crane only goes up to 12ft and I needed a 30ft shot here's what I did. I took the original shot and put a framegrab in Photoshop. I reduced the size and used the clone tool to create a matte frame around it. Back to AE, reduce the original and add the frame and now it's 30ft (Luckily there was no wind otherwise I would have had to render all the additional foliage in CGI). However now they are standing in a field (no trees) so I went to my CGI program and added the tree tops. Another pass and I added Insectula. It really is much cooler than the framegrabs show and is kind of scary!

original frame


Gangster Squad

Just saw the trailer for Gangster Squad and am really impressed by the color grading. Very Nice!
Dell's gelatin face.

Gratuitous, super slow motion (1000 fps) feather pillow fight in soft, dreamy pastels…check!

Surfin' bird

Insectula attacks a jet liner in my latest renders. Starting to ramp up production again after the latest hiatus. Some of the real fun stuff (but expensive) should begin shortly. Expect some awesome visuals.

The Evil Dr. Banning

Introduced the evil Dr. Banning in our shoot yesterday. Dr. Banning is Kempler's nemisis and plays an important role at the end. Christian Hanson played the part wonderfully as well as the rest of the cast and crew, thanks!

New Poster!

I finally got frustrated enough and sat down on my own and did it. It took me all of eight hours and I have an very nice poster. Since Insectula was very angular I made the poster almost all lines in a real 50’s B-movie flavor. I must say I don’t think anyone else’s would have been much better. Well that’s $200 - $500 I saved plus I can say I did it myself.

Sometimes I forget I'm also an artist.

Claustropendent Filmmaking

One thing I do hate about low budget indie films is that they are usually claustrophobic. In an effort to keep the costs down the film is usually limited to under 10 locations. The viewer can sense this even if they aren’t conscious of it and it gives a real limiting sense of the film’s world. Sure there are big budget films that are limited to few locations but in general you don’t feel the sense of restriction from most. The indies love to do this because you can shoot the bulk of your material in fewer days.

I’m trying very hard to avoid this. I have so many locations it’s hard to keep track. If I do use a location more than once I try to light it different (light for the mood not the location) or shoot at night when I last shot at day etc. I don’t think we will get that boxed in feeling from Insectula!

The other thing that bothers me is using uninteresting locations. I see many indies using people's living rooms and newer style houses and it just reeks of cheapness…why wouldn’t you go out of your way and find some interesting location? Instead of making Kempler’s house dull and boring I decided he would live in something like a museum like the Addams Family. Likewise whenever I have a scene in the script I think of what would be the most interesting location possible, where would I dream of doing it?

The End

Something that seems to be overlooked in film courses, books, reviews and just about anything that analyzes film is one of the most important aspects cinema...the last scene. I don’t think a lot people including many writers and directors understand how important it is. The last scene has more influence on how someone judges a film than most other aspects. It is the final thing a viewer sees before they make their initial judgment of the film as a whole. I believe this can make or break a film. Ask a lawyer how important the closing arguments are to a case.

The Rum Diaries is a recent example of a weak end - events wrapped up in text on a black screen. Interest that we have invested in characters and plots weakly concluded or worse, unresolved. Contrast this to a great ending like The Matrix. The Matrix’s last scene showed us with a punch that there is even more to the story and we are left with anticipation. The ending slams to a close and one can’t help but smile. Iron Man was another good ending.

It isn’t even what all was delivered, but more importantly how. As I think of the movies I like almost all had great endings that leave a nice taste in your mouth.

I have a really nice ending to Insectula! planned and even though on the script it doesn’t read that all that dramatic, I plan to deliver it with a punch. I’m excited to get to work on it as I think it’s real solid.

Warp Stabilizer

I had some very shaky footage that I had tried several plugins on to help stabilize. Some of these plugins were very expensive and I did eventually get satisfactory results. I decided to try it again after I upgraded to After Effects CS 5.5 as it includes a stabilizer called Warp Stabilizer. I am amazed. This is far ahead of the best stabilization tools out there...nothing comes close. The rolling shutter fix in it is perfect. This really frees me up to do more tracking shots and more handheld work. It makes shaky footage butter smooth like a steadicam. In my next shoot I plan to do alot of camera work to see how free I really am.

EDIT: After shooting more and further inspection it turns out I'm not that free. It's still a great stabilizer but it isn't quite the magical tool I first saw.

New Cast Member

We would like to welcome H Thomas Altman as Insectula's newest cast member!

Editing programs

So far I have edited Insectula! in Sony Vegas. I knew I couldn't continue in that as I may need to hand off the editing tasks to others and virtually no one uses Vegas. I decided I was going to switch to Final Cut Pro which is an Apple program that is pretty standard. Because of this I was going to have to purchase a Mac too. Turns out though that Apple is slowly but surely dropping their pro programs...their latest iteration of FCP is a disaster in that it isn't backwards compatible and has numerous other issues including a dumbed down interface...gearing up for the eventual dropping of the "pro" moniker. Apple is also rumored to be stopping their Mac Pro line of computers (they haven't updated it in two years) leaving only the laptops, something the "pro's" wouldn't stand for. So this tells me FCP isn't the way to go.

The two other choices I have are Avid and Adobe Premiere. I'm settling on Premiere and just installed it as it's supposed to work very well with their After Effects program that is the basis for everything I do in Insectula. Here's hoping the switch isn't too painful.

Helicopter blowed up

I made a model of an AH-64 for the guys at Detonation Films to blow up. They did a fantastic job!

Movie Pilots

We were shooting the 747 cockpit interior and I had a person there who trains the pilots. I had her read my best-guess attempt at pilot jargon in the script and she laughed. I asked her if she would correct it and she said sure. But then I thought about it, the pilots in the movie are movie pilots – they should talk like we think they would talk, not how they actually would talk. The script stays as written!

New camera...

While I’ve shot the first half of Insectula! with a DSLR, first the Canon 7D then the Canon 60D, I’m nearing the point where I need to move up. The DSLR’s are great and I’m very proud of the images I’ve gotten but they do have limitations. MoirĂ©, aliasing and skew are the big drawbacks. Most of the time these aren’t issues but once in a while, shooting a herringbone suit for example, everything goes to hell. There is no good way to shoot someone in a suit with a fine pattern in a MCU without colors from the moirĂ© pattern dancing all over the place. The Panasonic GH2 deals technically with this much better (no line skipping) but it has a cropped sensor.

The other trouble with the Canon is trying to green screen – it is terribly difficult. I have shot the same footage with several different cameras and the clear winner in this category is the Sony NEX FS100. Plus this camera’s low light absolutely blows the Canon’s out of the water, including the 5D with a much larger sensor. Not as expensive as a RED but with images clearly superior to the Canon’s, the Sony will be the next camera I get. It also does slow mo at 1080 instead of Canon's 720 (I've never shot in slow mo with the Canon's for this very reason).

 The last half of Insectula! has a crapload of green screen and I need to have the best image I can afford. I’m hoping the movie company will buy it for me. Fingers crossed!

Woods Edit

Finally editing some of the woods scenes. I was a little scared to look at the footage as it was really a tough shoot. I had only two main lights (LED's) on batteries and a couple little camera LED's. The crew was my wife Danielle and I, and she got sick and had to leave...so that left me as the crew in the woods frantically shooting. But now that I look at it things looks great. I don't think I could have done much better with a crew of ten, so now I'm excited to look at some of the other woods shoots.

Happy New Year!

2012 is of course the year of the mosquito so I’m very excited.
I’ll try to update more often as there are some fun things in the works. Right now I’m working on the title sequence which is turning out extremely cool! We are planning on resuming filming in April and we should have a real budget! I’ve got some cool effects people lined up and may actually have a crew when I film so things should be a lot easier. We are 50% done with the picture but the second half has an extreme amount of effect shots so it’s a bit too hard to do on my own.

There seems to be a bit of confusion on what Insectula! is...Insectula! is a full featured, 90 minute horror movie that I’m told may have a theatrical release instead of straight to video if I pull everything together good enough. I’m looking at midsummer 2012 as a release timeframe. As I said I will update with announcements as soon as I can.