The lo-fi sci-fi movie I wrote and co-produced last year is now coming out as a DVD, complete with commentary from all seven directors with DIY no-budget filmmaking tips and tricks. To launch it we’re having a screening at the Royal Cinema, one of the last grand independent theatres in the city, Thurs. May 15th at 9pm (608 College, $10). This’ll be the first time it’s screened in Toronto since the amazing advance screening we did at Innis. There’ll be a q & a with the directors afterwards and as a bonus we’re also showing the premiere of “Luggage”, Craig Macnaughton’s new short. Craig did a great job with the design of the DVD and revamped the Infest Wisely trailer with all the great quotes we got from the media. Check out the official press release and the cover art below.
There’s a new, chewable nanotechnology that lets you take photos with your eyes, cures cancer and eliminates body odour. But the early adopters are realizing they got extra “features” they didn’t count on. And no one told them once they spread through the bloodstream, it’s harder to uninstall than your average computer virus.
INFEST WISELY is a lo-fi sci-fi no-budget feature in seven episodes, each with a different director and intertwining characters. Click for a closeup of the front and back covers
Includes a commentary track from all seven directors who reveal do-it-yourself tips and tricks on how they shot the movie for $700.
Acclaim for Infest Wisely
“Infest Wisely is a great lo-fi sci-fi nanopunk flick” -Wired.com
“The film is chock full of interesting ideas and images.” -The Toronto Star
“If only there were more people like Jim Munroe making movies like Infest Wisely.” -The Globe and Mail
“The production values are inevitably scrappy but Infest Wisely gets by on the cheeky vitality of its ideas.” -eye weekly
“killer” -Cory Doctorow, boingboing.net
“One millionth the budget of Spiderman 3. One thousand times the smarts.” -Peter Watts, Hugo-award nominee
The Vancouver International Digital Festival, with the intriguing catchline of “reminiscing about the future,” is hosting the Canadian premiere of Infest Wisely at Vancity Theatre (1181 Seymour, 4pm, $10) on Sunday, September 23rd. I’ll be presenting it and also participating in a Vidfest panel on Monday called “The Wisdom of Crowds: Web 2.0 Democracy or Mob Mentality?” that should be pretty spirited: I already know I completely disagree with one of the panelists.
I’ve also just confirmed that there’ll be a free sneak preview screening as well in Montreal on Friday, Sept 21 8-11pm in Dare-Dare, a gallery situated in a park with no name. Myself and Craig will be there to present it and there’ll also be vids by two other excellent community moviemaking projects, The Assembly and VideoHymn. Click through to see Rickie’s sweet bilingual trippple films flyer. Update: Warren Frey did a videoblog interview of me in Vancouver.
One of the things I thought would be easy — as I know a fair amount of musicians — was getting Infest Wisely scored. What I discovered was that people who write and perform songs aren’t necessarily able or inclined to compose music to order. I’ve seen this before with illustrators that aren’t good designers, even though both are visually-based skills. (Though Marc Ngui, whose hilariously dead-on fake ad was used in this week’s ep, can do both. He also did this anti-milking public service announcement for ep 2 that ended up being cut.)
General Chaos, the penultimate episode of Infest Wisely, was posted yesterday. A lot of people have cited the talking cat scene in it as their favourite part — which wasn’t hugely surprising, I mean, talking cats are quantifiably awesome. What did surprise me was that Shannon wrote me that her six year old son Willy now suspects their cats Boo and Lucy of talking to each other in British accents when they’re not home. I’ve never written anything that both six and sixty year olds can enjoy on some level, so it kind of blew my mind.
We posted the fifth episode of Infest Wisely, Sublime Algorithm, yesterday. (It’s the one I directed.) I liked the idea of Digger becoming legendary and people spraypainting his image over the city, and after I saw posterchild’s stencil of Alan Turing I knew I wanted him to make it. This led me to the one ethical conundrum of the whole shoot — using public or quasi-public spaces for shooting didn’t bother me at all, but I didn’t want to use real spraypaint to put up the stencil. If the content of the stencil was somehow political, I would have felt fine about it, but I felt that it wasn’t really meaningful outside of the movie context.
So I looked for another way to get it up there. I thought I was onto something with fake hair colour (and Exile stayed open late so I could buy a few cans) but it was way too watery and completely unusable. Then in a last hour save, Susan suggested the fake snow in a can we had from another project. It worked perfectly.
One of the funnest moments for me on the Infest Wisely movie was getting to see a song I wrote the lyrics for get performed on stage. It was nothing like I imagined it — it was so much better. At the time I was writing the script I had a half-assed idea my pal Maggie and The Republic of Safety might do it. Maggie was on tour, however, but Chris and Anthony stepped up to the challenge: they put together a band from scratch, got them to practise the music Chris’d composed, got them glam-punk wardrobe and tattoos, and then booked the Cameron back room for us to rock out in!
It’s hard to communicate how surreal and fucking awesome it was to see this stranger belting out the words I’d written just two months before:
Get out of our bodies/ you sneaky parasite / if you think we’re your new home/ you’re in for a fight!
Our leaders and rulers our rights have traded/ but I’m fuckin human and I won’t be upgraded!
Just try not to sing along! (Though if you haven’t watched it yet, it’s better to see it in context in episode four of Infest Wisely, “Spawning Rebellion“.)
It’d be pretty cool, wouldn’t it? Nanotech is going to be able to do all that and more according to the latest ep of Infest Wisely, the lo-fi sci-fi movie I wrote. Early Adopter, directed by my co-producer Craig Macnaughton, follows the story of the voice actress after she ingests a beta version of the new technology. Is it just the stress of her disintegrating relationship or is the EyeSee application a little… buggy?
For the screening I’d offered “nanite-enhanced treats” for attendees, planning something like popcorn with suspicious looking powder, but Susan immediately suggested gum instead — Christina installs EyeSee with a stick of chewing gum. At the time of the shooting we didn’t have any packaging for it but Craig whipped some up and then I hand-rolled 250 of them a few hours before the screening. When people got them at the door they were advised to wait until after the movie to eat them. Click through to see the hilarious package.
The second episode of Infest Wisely went up today — Orientated features the infamous bathroom hijacking scene as well as a sales presentation introducing the “little biological helpers” destined to change the world from the inside out. The nanites were too darn cute NOT to put on 1″ buttons, so we made four designs to give to the attendees of the advance screening: click the Lil’ Red button to see Nursey, Muscles, & Officer Friendly.
Kirby Ferguson directed this one and Craig Macnaughton did all the SFX. Having to design a futuristic PowerPoint presentation wasn’t exactly a stretch for him — he’s done it for years at his day job. And I know it’s just a function of the way the animation works, but the way the nanites move exactly in tandem freaks me out in just the right way.
In a nutshell: one of the best nights ever. The advance screening for Infest Wisely on Friday drew about 250 people, people who laughed at the right spots and didn’t laugh at the rough spots. Quite unique for me — at my book launches people buy the book, go away and read it, and then I find out how they enjoyed it months later. With this, at the end of the event a roomful of people had seen the whole thing from beginning to end.
Today, we’re releasing the first of the seven Infest Wisely episodes, Obsolete — we’ll be posting one a week until all seven are online. This ep was directed by Jon Sasaki, who years ago helped articulate the work-with-what-ya-got approach of the Novel Amusements project. It was an approach that served us well on the set of Obsolete — when the batteries for the shotgun mic died we used a MP3 player and a lapel mic to get secondary sound.
Click through for some pictures of the screening and the q&a afterwards.
The advance preview screening of my first feature is happening two weeks today! INFEST WISELY is about a new, chewable nanotechnology that lets people take pictures with their eyes and cures cancer. But the early adopters find out it’s hard to uninstall something after it’s spread through their bloodstream…
I wrote it as seven 12 minute episodes directed by seven different directors (pictured here) to stand on their own, but with an ongoing narrative and interconnecting characters that allow it to combine to form a feature length movie. Check out our brand new site and watch the trailer, and if you’re in Toronto check out the advance preview screening (AKA the Infestor’s Meeting) on Friday May 18th. If you’re not in town, we’ll be releasing it as Creative Commons licenced weekly episodes soon after, so stay tuned!
Our lo-fi sci-fi movie Infest Wisely is in the last stages of post-production and we’re looking at May for the special advance screening here in Toronto, or as I’m calling it, the Infestor’s Meeting. Now we’re gearing up to get it out in the world, and what’s a movie without a wicked movie poster? And as you can see, there’s a spot at the bottom for sponsors — while we made the movie for free, I’d like to have a budget for a DVD pressing and festival fees. I’ve got one on board and am meeting with another on Thursday, but there’s still some room left — drop me a line and I can get you more details.
We wrapped the shoot over a week ago and I’m still reeling with how much fun it was. I’ve been dipping my toe in with making little vids over the past five years, but this gave me the full immersive movie experience. I found it really interesting work that I’m pretty well suited to — it engages my social, logistical and creative nodes and was actually less stressful than I expected.
Mostly I was coordinating, but I was on set as an extra pair of hands on about 75% of the shoots. We shot it over six weeks (pretty great considering our seven directors’ busy schedules) and we should have it edited in the next few months. (UPDATE: Check it out here!)
Benny had told me we could use a paint-roller extension as a boom pole, but I figured I was going to have to tape on my shotgun mike somehow. Much to my delight this was not the case. The day before the third Infest Wisely shoot, when I got my $15 Home Hardware Extension Pole (8′, #4538-682) back home I noticed there was a small hole in the removable black tapered tip. My Rode VideoMic has a shock mount that connects to a shoe mount for use on a camera, but I saw that the shoe mount was screwed in. I removed the screw and threaded it through the tapered tip of the paint roller and it actually fit!
The next day, we did an eight hour shoot and it was rock solid and sounded sweet — when I was perched on a rusted-out catwalk high above an abandoned factory floor, I was glad I didn’t also have to worry about the mike falling off.
Of course this is almost ridiculously specific to Rode VideoMic owners living in Canada, but it’s too neat a trick to keep to myself. For some more generally useful DIY Sound tips from my sound guru Carma, keep reading!
I’ve finished a first draft for our lo-fi sci-fi movie script Infest Wisely (UPDATE: Check it out!). It’s got a Voltron-inspired story structure, with seven segments that stand alone but come together to form a feature length piece. Since we’re planning to shoot it next month, I’d rather just release it than talk a bunch about it, but if you’re curious you can peek behind-the-scenes — it’s our unofficial “whiteboard” website where we’ve been amassing ideas/considerations.
Talking about unusual shorts, McSweeney’s has put out a “DVD magazine of unseen films”, Wholphin, and were nice enough to trade it for my DVDzine Novel Amusements. I did a phone interview with the editor Brent Hoff where we discuss subtitling foreign sitcoms, trailblazing with distributors, cepholopods, films about beards, not wasting people’s time, and the world’s most illegal game of volleyball — press play to hear it.
No Flash? Get the MP3 here.