Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Developing Monsters in the Woods: 1st Outline

I was still searching out my storyline and characters at this stage. I typically do more character research before jumping into any kind of outline, however this time I was having some difficulties deciding who’s story I wanted to tell and how I would tell it, so I tried out one possibility in this outline. I had yet to decide to do the 1st act as found footage and was still pursuing the “mad scientist” mythos as opposed to the biblical one I ended up going with. Also, there were only 2 monsters at this point. One was going to be a sexy-naked reptile chick. Also, I think they were going to be intelligent and capable of speech.


  1. Open with tent scene.
  2. Transition to and intro Jason, Betty James, Guy, Bravo (movie crew)
  3. Kill James. End teaser.
  4. Intro rest of crew at camp. Set up Annemarie/Ashton rivalry. Only person they hate more than each other is Betty (naked actress). Neil/Bob  = major egos. Jayson cracks up. One girl leaves and is killed.
  5. Crew sets up to shoot the major massacre scene. All goes wrong (movie-wise)
  6. Bravo sent back to car for something and is killed.
  7. Betty and Guy get closer.
  8. Betty is killed while filming massacre scene. Ashton takes Betty’s place as survivor girl.
  9. Jayson gets ready to shoot. Actors in place.  Action. Montage of shoot. Monster watches from the tree line.
  10. Lab scene with captured James.
  11. End act 1 with Massacre which happens while filming the movie massacre


  1. All dead but Jayson, Guy and Annemarie- saved by Dutch. (I have no idea who Dutch is. I think one of the hunters.)
  2. Cave/lab – James regaining movement,
  3. Heart to heat between Jayson and Guy. Artist to wannabe artist.
  4. Dutch hunt monster? With James?
  5. Back to Jayson and Guy,.
  6. Guy and Annemarie get it on. Guy is wounded by reptile chick/monster. Dutch is killed. Jayson is killed.
  7. Survivors move on.
  8. Other monster finds reptile chick. Not happy.

Act 3

SURVIVORS make final stand.

Ok. Yeah, this was a lot different. But the basic structure from the final movie is visible. Its kind of fun for me to look back at some of the narrative roads not taken.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Developing Monsters in the Woods: Pre-Scripting

I do pre-scripting with every script I write. I spend anywhere from 1 to 3 weeks. I write every day, but never open a screenwriting program. I use a spiral notebook and scribble down character descriptions (sometimes short, sometimes 10 pages) script outlines, sample scenes. Anything that strikes me. It’s during this process that my story really begins to take shape.

Upon re-reading this stuff, I remember now that I had originally imagined a more “mad scientist angle” on the story. It was a sub-plot that was completely abandoned in later drafts, favoring a more biblical mythos.

Here’s a little bit from my development notes on Monsters in the Woods.

JAMES_Black, 1st to get killed.
BETTY_blonde bombshell
Director/Jayson – 30 – Made his “masterpiece and now has to hack it up into a monster movie.
Producer/Bravo – inexperienced. Financed movie with money borrowed from his leg-breaker godfather. Has to make the money back. Also does special fx make-up.
Sound guy – Guy: true artist. Good ideas. Real talent.

Monster = Bravo “what did you say.

ALAIN = Hunters

ASHSTON = Fighting actress.

BOB = Fighting actors

JAMES = Star

SR. HUNTER = Glen P.

James eyes snap open. He’s in a lab (possibly cave.)
A haggard scientist paces with a double barrel.

What the fu#$!

He can’t move.

No, no. you, why would you? Neurotoxins don’t work like that. You will though, time, time. It’s a mater of time, time, time.

The wind howls.

My fault. My fault.

He cracks the double barrel and exits the room.


Shh! They’ll hear.


No, what.

He leaves James behind.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Developing Monsters in the Woods: The 1st Scene

This is the 1st thing I ever wrote for Monsters in the Woods. I’m pretty sure this was before doing any character sketches or outlines. I knew I was going to start out in the fake movie and transition into reality. This scene was just the 1st thing that popped into my mind. A total cliché low budget horror sex/kill scene. I’ve kept the prose exactly how I originally jotted it down. You’ll notice it’s rough and choppy. This is pure id. No intellectual tampering. 

Int. Tent – Day

Two teens have sex, missionary in tent.


The boy complies. Girl SCREAMS out.
Boy slows, swivels hips.

Oh, oh yeah.

You like that?

Oh yeah. I can really feel it. My boyfriend has only one speed. Fast. It’s ok when you just want to get off, but-

The boy reaches around.

Oh James, you really open me up. Play with me.

She gasps in ecstasy.

Flip me over.

James flips her over, they continue. The girl is about to climax.
James is ripped out of the tent. Girl looks out the open flap. Burst of blood hits her in the face. Screams.
Boy screams as he’s torn limb from limb.
Silence. The girl braces for an attack. Nothing.
She creeps out of the tent.
James’ body.
Run. Chase. Trip. Girl impaled by branch.
Monster sighs and leaves, sad it didn’t get to kill her.

 The sex scene through the chase is pretty standard with a few unusual touches. But,  yt's how the girl actually dies that got me excited (creatively, not in any kind of sexual way) about the project. She trips while running from the creature and is impaled by a branch. Then the creature heaves a huge disappointed sigh and leaves. Even though it was always intended to be the fake movie within a movie, it was the same way I intended to subvert expectations throughout.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Developing Monsters in the Woods 1

I was going through my things today, getting rid of any extraneous paperwork left over from Monsters in the Woods, and I came across my development notes. Whenever I start a new project, I buy a 500-page spiral notebook to jot down ideas, character sketches, outlines and early scene ideas. Later I use the same notebook for production schedules, budgets, ect… I thought it might be fun to jot down some of my scribbling, at least the ones I can decipher. (my mom says I got a dr’s handwriting).

Monsters in the Woods started out as a way to help sale Trap. I’ve told the story many times about how we were going to cut monster footage into Trap in order to sell it. Those ideas later blossomed into what was to become Monsters in the Woods.

Trap was about 2 kidnappers who take a teenage girl. They hold her for ransom in a cabin in the wilderness. Most of the movie takes place there. Below is a short outline briefly describing the scenes that we would have cut into trap.

  1. OPEN_ KILL SCENE: A young couple having sex.  (this would later be the opening scene of Monsters in the Woods)
  2. FRANKLIN GOES TO CAR_MONSTER POV. Franklin went out to the car several times in Trap. This was to establish something was watching them.

Franklin works for pharmaceutical company. Test drug on Suzy, turned her into the monster.

That’s how things start. From that I worked up a more complete outline and fleshed out the good ideas (or what I thought were good ideas) and jettisoned the bad. I spent about a week working up the new scenes for Trap. At the time, my rationale was; “It’s so freaking weird and out of left field, that it just could work.” I of course came to my senses and decided to develop a whole new project that had the sellable elements that the distributors found lacking in Trap. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Delivering Monsters in the Woods: That’s All Folks

The HD and DigiBeta dubs are done. I’m copying all the digital files onto an external hard drive now. Monday morning we’ll turn over the dubs and the hard drive to Osiris Entertainment.

This concludes my delivery responsibly on Monsters in the Woods. I’m pretty much done with the movie now, at least until Osiris starts selling territories. Then all the promotion fun starts. The next major film market is AFM, which is several weeks away. Hopefully, we’ll have some US release date news then.

In the meantime get out there and support indie-cinema, buy or rent my last two flicks.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Delivering Monsters in the Woods Day 5: Music Cue Sheet

Today I’m finishing up the music cue sheet. I need to list time code and duration of every single music cue in the movie. I finished the 1st reel sometime ago. Now that I have the reels combined, I need to finish up the 2nd and 3rd reels. After that, the only item left on our list is the dialog list. Every bit of dialog from the movie needs to be typed out as it’s spoken in the movie (not the script) and time code needs to be listed for every line. This is to aid with foreign dubbing/subtitles. One of the producers is taking care of that now.

After that, we’re done.  We’ll get word on the QC by Friday. Then we’ll deliver the dubs.

This as been the easiest delivery I’ve ever dealt with. I attribute the majority of that to the preparations of Al Gomez who was the main producer on the flick.

I can only hope all my future projects go this easy.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Delivering Monsters in the Woods Day 4: Exporting Movie and Trailer

I finished with my final sound and video sweep yesterday. I now have to ready the movie for QC at a post-production facility. They’ll want the movie as a single uncompressed file, preferably pro rez hq. Now for the 1st time, I’ll lay out all three reels of the movie on a single time line and export it has pro rez. The file should be between 700 and 800 gigs. I’ll then transfer that file onto an external hard drive for transport to the post house.

Also, at the end of the movie, I’ve placed the opening credit sequence (minus the actual titles). This is for foreign versions. I’ve also placed my final trailer.

The movie will take somewhere between 6 and 12 hrs to export. Once done I’ll place through the entire file on my QuickTime player. If all is well, that will be that. If I find any errors, I’ll go back into Final Cut Pro, correct the errors and re-export. I have until Tuesday Morning to get out the best file I can.

Then it’s off to the post house. We’ll get our results on Friday. If the movie passes, I’ll export a PAL version and then we’ll have that QC’d. Once both versions pass, its on to the dupe house.

In the meantime, I’ll move on to some of the smaller items on my deliverable list.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Delivering Monsters in the Woods Day 3: Final Mix and Color

Looks like we’re going to start QC early next week. It takes about 24 hrs to spit out the uncompressed QuickTime’s that I need, plus I want to give myself an additional 24 just in case of any errors. Therefore, I’ll need to finish up my final checks on the movie by Saturday night. I’ve already quadruple checked both video and audio, but I want to go over everything one last time.

Today, I’m checking my final sound mix. Early this morning I finished checking my M&E (music and effects) sans dialog, just to make sure everything was fully formed. Now I’m going to go over the entire mix, dialog and music together to make sure everything jives together. I’ll fix any off levels and add any last minute sound FX or Foley I may have missed. Once all is good there, I’ll adjust my overall mix by -5db’s. Some of the louder jumps and music cues are dangerously close to peaking. This will insure that nothing is peaking, while keeping my over all mix relatively uniform.

Time permitting, I’ll then add a slate at the beginning of the movie, combine my reels and add text less titles and trailer for export.
Friday and Saturday morning, I’ll double check my color correction one last time, looking for any areas that are broadcast unsafe or that are mismatched. I’ll render Saturday night and start my export Sunday morning.

Once exported to Pro Rez 422 HQ, I’ll double check the file, stick it on on a hard drive for QC and deliver. Once the NTSC file has passed QC, I’ll export a PAL version for QC as well.  Then we’re off to make dupes. One NTSC DIGIBETA, one PAL DIGIBETA and a D5-HD tape. That along with the original QuickTime file will make up the main movie delivery items.