Saturday, April 25, 2009

Tonight's the Night!

We're completely done, and not a moment too soon. Tonight's our premiere screening, and we hope you can all make it....

The City of Lights
Premiere Screening
7:00 PM

Folino Theater
Dodge College of Film and Media Arts
Chapman University

323 N. Cypress Street
Orange, CA 92866

Can't make it? Follow the link below to watch the live webcast...

See you there!


Friday, April 24, 2009

Live from the Screening of The City of Lights...

As promised, here is the link to our live event feed...

If you can't watch it live, it will be archived and available to watch online later as well...



Tuesday, April 21, 2009

VFX, Sound Design, Credits, and Conform... [4 Days Until Screening]

Only 4 days left until we screen, and in the final hours, here's what we've accomplished [and what we still have left!]...

Mike, our VFX guy, has finished all of the visual effects shots. I've posted a little preview of his work below. Believe it or not, this image is a complete composite - the only thing we actually filmed was the back of Alex. The rest of it was created - piece by piece - in post-production by mike. Looks pretty good, eh?

Brianne is still working like crazy on the final sound design, mixing the music, dialogue, and effects to the perfect levels. Tomorrow we get to mix our final audio in Folino Theater, the same theater we are screening in, to make sure everything sounds PERFECT.

Credits are almost done, just waiting on the last few names that need to be added to the "special thanks to" section.

And finally, tomorrow we do the conform in Nitris. This is probably the most exciting part of post-production, because it is when every element of the film - the final picture, final sound, VFX, credits, etc. - all come together for the first time. We're excited to see it, and we'll keep you updated as to how it goes...

See you at the screening!


Monday, April 20, 2009

4 More Days to Work, 5 Days Until the Screening...

We screen this Saturday, as you all surely know by now...

Here's what we're working on in the final hours:

Right now I am rendering out of Lustre, which is the program used to color grade the film. It's what gives the film the professional look. Lustre renders out the film by exporting each frame individually. At almost 24 minutes, The City of Lights has more than 34,500 frames. As you can imagine, it's going to take a while... [thus giving me plenty of time to blog while I sit here and watch it go...]

Brianne, our sound designer, is busy mixing the soundtrack. Yesterday, we received our final score from our compser - Karlston Yago. Now Brianne is busy incorporating it with all the other sounds she's been busy creating over the past week. Candace has been working with Bri in order to get the soundtrack to match the one she has playing in her head. Candace wants The City of Lights to feel empty, almost haunting at times. Other moments will feel warm and hopeful. It's truly amazing how much you can do with sound.

I've also been working on the opening title and closing credits using an application called Motion. Motion allows you to build visual effects [including titles] in a real-time format, making it relatively easy to assemble our long list of scrolling credits [this film had a lot of help, and therefore lots of folks to credit]. Those will get added to the project later on this week when we finalize.

So, 5 days until our screening and still lots to do... But don't be worried - we're not. After all, we learned to work well under pressure.

We hope to see you all at the screening. As if the film itself isn't reason enough to come, there will be a reception held afterward with light drinks and desserts. I hope you can all hang around after the screening to talk with the cast and crew.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

Allow Me to Introduce Madison Leisle...

Madison Leisle plays the role of Jade in The City of Lights...

Check out Maddie's filmography at IMDB. You might recognize her from episodes of Grey's Anatomy or Nickelodeon's Kid's Choice Awards.

Maddie's performance in The City of Lights is truly stunning. She's an absolute dream kid for filmmakers - always eager, and instantly best friends with the cast and crew. Check out her independent website here to view some of her other works!

The City of Lights premieres this Saturday, April 25th at 7:00PM in Folino Theater at Dodge College of Film and Media Arts in Orange, California.

View Larger Map

The screening is open to all, free of charge. If you plan on attending, please let us know by commenting in the comments section of this post! We look forward to seeing you there!

For those of you who can't make it, stay tuned for information about our live feed from the event, allowing you to view the screening via internet connection from anywhere in the world.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Allow Me to Introduce Alex McKenna...

Alex McKenna is the lead in The City of Lights, playing the role of Megs.

Alex's impressive resume is on IMDB, having worked on shows like Crossing Jordan, Malcom in the Middle, and Boston Public.

We're all really happy to have had the privilege of working with Alex. She gave so much to the film, and was always so easy going [even when we asked her to journey to Bombay Beach for a second time].

Our screening is in 7 days, and we hope everyone can come to see Alex's incredible performance. We're excited, and you should be too...

Locked Picture and 8 days to SCREENING!

We've officially locked picture, which means we're just days away from having the final product. Our sound artist, Brianne Hunt, is currently in the process of perfecting the audio. Our wonderful talent was in studio this past Wednesday recording ADR [Automated Dialogue Replacement], ensuring that every line of the film is delivered to you - the audience - in perfect quality.

Today Brianne and I will be doing some Foley work, one of my FAVORITE post-production activities. Foley is the art of replacing and enhancing sounds during post production. I've put a YouTube video explaining foley below, and I'll try and post a video of our Foley Session later on...

Yesterday the locked, color-corrected frames were delivered to our Visual FX artist - Mike Cusic. He is busy working on our various VFX shots, including some green screen and masked shots. While most of the film was created using "in-camera effects", a few of the shots needed some modern-day VFX assistance.

Well, that's all for now! We screen in 8 days and we hope you can all make it. It's going to be great!

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Design...

When Candace approached me about designing her film, then titled "Units", I didn't flinch and without hesitation, accepted without seeing a script or hearing any ideas. I know Candace well enough by now that pretty much any idea that pops into her head is brilliant so, duh, yeah I want to be a part of that!

Also, her film dealt with a kind of fantasy world in the post-apocalyptic era: a designer's dream! I can make up what I think this world should be like! With cooperation and collaboration of course, but it wasn't another Orange County living room set, ya know? Wonderful! I was imagining aging concrete walls with black who-knows-what in the cracks and lots of dripping pipes, metal, old technology that burnt out, and lots of light bulbs hanging by themselves. After lots of meetings, I think Candace understood that I was inside her head and was definitely going to take care of her idea so she pretty much let me have free reign; again, another designer's dream!

Ultimately, The City of Lights is all those things I mentioned; lost or leftover technology, lots of junk, metal, light bulbs, things rotting, etc. I didn't want the film to feel comfortable. Almost everything has a hard edge or a sharp edge except for Megs's bed (which still looks questionable), Megs's curly curvy hair (because she is our main character!), and the light bulbs which represent a variety of things from ideas to hope to the remainders of the past generation. Honestly, we really just liked how cool they looked, but there is subtext behind them, too! To contrast this hard environment, I laid down warm colors for the walls. This kind of terracotta color doesn't make the environment feel warm, but it does make it feel locked down and safe: hidden away.

I opted for cool metal colors with bits of rust (a warm tone) to contrast those should make you feel (subconsciously) uncomfortable or on edge viewing warm and cool hard surfaces next to one another. This is the reason why I made the front door copper. It's still a hard metal but the copper tone gives it a warm color temperature and also makes it stand out from the rest of the doors. Sometimes, there's also that voice in my head that just says, "yeah that looks right" and that door definitely looked right when it was done.

-Katie, Production Designer

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

It's Time to Talk Story...

I've been avoiding this post for a while... It's a difficult one, becuase I want you all to know about the story of The City of Ligthts, but at the same time, I don't want to give it away. After all, words can only do so much. It's the visuals of this film that make it what it is.

Let me start with this. It's our 'Concept Capsule'. The single sentence that tells the story of our film.

The City of Lights is the story of an unlikely companionship in a post-apocalyptic world of isolation and cutthroat survival.

I also want to tell you about the film's characters, and the best way to do that is with their original, short descriptions.

Megs…A rugged, rebellious girl who has lost all hope in humanity and wants to escape the desolate world around her. She finds safe refuge in the storage unit, creating a home within its tight walls.

Jade…An orphaned girl who believes shadows are out to get her within the storage unit (her only perception of the world) and desires to escape to the outside world but is afraid to venture alone.

Intruders…A mob mentality group that takes advantage of the fortune of others in order to survive in the post-apocalyptic era.

That's all I'm going to give you for now... After all, you don't want to know everything about the movie, right?

Stay tuned for more story updates, I'll be giving you more later on down the road.


Friday, March 6, 2009

My Vision Changed for the Better...

When Candace first approached me about producing The City of Lights, I accepted because of the vision I had as to what it would look like. I imagined a dark, dank, dripping storage unit; the final resting place of humanity locked away from the wasteland outside. Put simply, an unilluminated and frightening world.

After talking with her more and throughout the construction of the set, I was constantly surprised at the world that was being created. It was a world of hope and beauty. Humanity - in this dire and desolate time - portrayed as vibrant.

Although this was significantly different to what had originally excited me about the film, I found this vision to be something much more unique. It was not a place I had been before; we were not in the standard cliché of a post-apocalyptic world. It was Candace's imagination - her perception of this story - that made this new world so special.

As I walked through Katie's finished set for the first time, I was shocked to see the mass of colors that surrounded me. They were not the dark, frightening walls of a cage that I had imagined. The main storage unit - though still visually the result of an apocalypse - somehow felt safe. It was in no way what I had expected to see, and I truly couldn't have been happier.

This is what makes this project special to me. It is The City of Lights. It's something different, something never before seen. And I am so happy that I am a part of it. I just can't wait to show it to you...

I realize parts of this post may be confusing to some of you... After all, many of you have probably never read the script or even a logline for the film. So when I say something like "the main storage unit", I realize now that that might not mean anything to you. But don't worry! Zach's going to be filling you in on all the details when he posts later this week. What's the Story and who are the Characters? You'll know soon enough...


Sunday, March 1, 2009

Let's Talk About the RED...

Have you seen something filmed on RED yet? In all likeliness you have, and if not, you can look forward to having The City of Lights be your first...

The RED ONE Camera was released in 2007, and is quickly becoming a rock star within the film and television industry. With a 12 megapixel sensor, the RED's image quality is far superior to that of 1080P high definition [HDTV and Blu-Ray disk]. And with the large size of the RED's sensor, images are comparable to those of 35mm films.

What's the easiest explanation for all this? Quite simply, RED films are gorgeous. The images are crisp and burst with life. I can't tell you how excited we all were to have the RED Camera for our shoot, and when you see our film, I know you'll think the same.

Here's a little preview, for your enjoyment [and seriously, click to enlarge]...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Production Designer...

Katie Shattuck has dreamed of moving to Los Angeles since childhood, forever hoping to work in the film industry. As a kid, Katie filled her life with dance and theater, always devoting her free time to the arts. At Chapman University, Katie studied film production, and is still committed in her desire to make movies, music videos, and anything else through the medium of film. With an emphasis in production design, Katie realizes the huge role she has in creating the mood and tone for a film. Using her artistic sense, never-ending work ethic, and strong passion for film, Katie hopes to continue doing what she loves, and someday become a production designer for feature-length films.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Producer...

Mike Cox entered Chapman University knowing only one thing - he wanted to be involved in filmmaking. What aspect of filmmaking, however, remained an uncertainty throughout the majority of his education. Mike dabbled in almost every emphasis offered by Chapman, including Directing, Editing, Cinematography, and Sound Design. Still, the choice of his emphasis remained a mystery until senior year, when Mike finally declared himself as a producer. Mike realized that as a producer, he could be involved in the filmmaking process from beginning to end - something that many other positions lack. Mike’s history in all aspects of filmmaking allowed for him to bring a great knowledge to the production of The City of Lights.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Director...

Candace Jade Lewis has had a profound interest in film since a very young age. Constantly dwelling inside her imagination, she found inspiration through film, using it as a gateway to express the worlds she could only otherwise view with closed eyes. But growing up in a family with very little income, she found herself using any medium she could to create her stories. Spending endless hours drawing comics and writing stories, the worlds within her head never stopped turning. It wasn’t until Candace was accepted into Dodge College of Film that her creative ambition met available resources. Her desire to share these worlds grew with her experience in film, and wanting others to understand her perception introduced her to the world of directing. Candace hopes that her film, The City of Lights, will bring inspiration to others, and provide a chance for many to get a glimpse of what she dreams.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Allow Me to Introduce Myself...

Before we get too far in to this blog, I figured it best to introduce myself... After all, I'm going to be writing to you a lot over the next few months [Don't worry, you'll get to hear from other people as well!]

My name is Zach Reusing, and I am a Senior at Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Media Arts in Orange, California. I have had the great pleasure of playing many roles on Candace's film The City of Lights. During the months of pre-production and shooting, I was Candace's First Assistant Director. Now that the film has wrapped, my title has changed to Editor. But I'm also taking on another role during the next few months - Director of Marketing. After all, someone's got to be in charge of getting this film through to festivals. 'Cause trust me - people are gonna wanna see this...

Monday, February 16, 2009

That's a Wrap!

It's officially over! Well, production that is...

Yesterday we wrapped our two-week shoot, and now we begin post-production. With just over two months until the film's premiere, there's a lot to be done. I hope you'll use this blog as a way to follow us as we work towards completing the film, and eventually towards entering festivals.

Over the next few months, you'll be hearing from us all. Cast and crew, production team and post-production team. We'll all be blogging about our journey. Stay tuned for more, there's lots to come...

Close Your Eyes. Escape the Shadows.

The City of Lights is coming on April 24, 2009.