Thursday, October 28, 2010

3Questions: Bill Brown - Composer

As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Bill Brown, composer on the hit show CSI:NY and Dark Prophecy: A Level 26 Thriller.

HBAD: So, tell us, how did you get your start?

BB: I've always had music in my life in some form as a focus. I was fortunate enough to attend Berklee College of Music with my parent's support (they also helped support my song writing and recording habit in high school, and every penny I earned washing dishes and waiting tables went into my synth rigs back in the 80's). I think that support went a long way in giving me the space I needed to grow as a musician.

After Berklee, I had even more time in NYC to learn about building studios and doing commercial work as an intern. After working in the Big Apple for a few years I visited a friend in LA in 1994, and while I was there got a job offer to do sound effects editing for the Xena and Hercules series. I took the job and moved out to LA. I set up my very modest home studio in a one bedroom apartment and continued writing and creating demos. After a couple years as an editor on those series, and a number of feature films, a friend brought me over to Soundelux where they heard one of those demos I shared with a friend that worked there. They happened to be interested in starting a music division, and after a few months and a number of project demos, I had started work on both Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six and DreamWorks Interactive's The Lost World: Trespasser video game scores. Those early game scores are what I cut my teeth on as a composer.

Eventually I would become the director of music at Soundelux, and was recording game scores with live orchestras year-round. Fortunately for me, Soundelux was also involved in the commercial and film businesses, and I had an opportunity to meet a director named Deran Sarafian doing a spec commercial spot. He gave me a call a couple years later to do a television film called Trapped, and then a few years after that to meet with he and Anthony Zuiker about a TV show called CSI:NY. I've essentially been writing music my entire life in one form or another. It just keeps evolving.

HBAD: What are the most difficult challenges you've encountered on your career path?

BB: Looking back, I feel like I've always been exactly where I needed to be at any given point, with each challenge I've been given. There have been times where I felt I wasn't "supposed" to be stuck working on a commercial spot, or several games at once, or whatever the challenge of the month was. But I have to say, looking back, if I hadn't done that spec commercial spot, I never would have met Deran, and I never would have scored his film, and I wouldn't be scoring my 148th episode of
CSI:NY today, and whatever all of this is leading me to tomorrow. It's pretty wild if you think about it.

I've learned to work knowing that there is order to everything happening, even if I don't understand what that order is at the moment and to breathe deeply and sleep on it if I feel there is something insurmountable. Things have a way of working out. I'm fortunate in that music is like a hobby, even though sometimes with deadlines and all it can be a lot of work but even then I try to remember how blessed I am to be doing what I love to do. And it has always been gratifying for me.

HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to get into the position you're in?

Keep writing and recording your music, whatever that is. Study what you love about music, and then study everything else as well. Keep listening and learning every day, never stop. Also, if you know you are interested in scoring for media, then make friends who are interested in creating that media as early on in your career as possible. The more real and grounded the friendships, the better. Don't just make friends with a bunch of composers, make friends of the producers, directors and game developers that will grow and evolve in their careers with you, and hold a vision that you will create something great together some day. Outer experience is a direct reflection of inner reality. Food for thought.

The soundtrack for Dark Prophecy: A Level 26 Thriller is available for purchase on iTunes. To purchase, click here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Raising Funds for Dig

You may have noticed the addition of this widget off to the right side of the blog. If you've read the post from yesterday you know that we're in the processing of prepping for my short film 'Dig.' Well, we're still a little short on our budget needs and we're looking to use this great website,, to help us raise the additional funds necessary to shoot the film. Our goal is to collect $6000 in the next 30 days and I could really use your help.

Check out the video below and go to our 'Dig' Kickstart Project Page to see more information on 'Dig,' how to donate and to be a part of helping this film get made! Thanks!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dig: Pre-Production - Part 3

No, that's not a still frame from the shoot (we're still 3 1/2 weeks away) but it is the (hopeful) one of two locations of the film. A lot has changed since I last did an update. I've been so busy that I haven't really had time to sit down and write it all out but I finally found a free moment, as I've been meaning to bring you up to speed on the film.

Perhaps one of the biggest pieces of news is that we locked our two leads for the film!Obviously, I haven't revealed what the film is about yet but will soon. However, I'm happy to report that both Mark Margolis and Aaron Himelstein will be playing the lead roles in the film.

You may recognize Mark. He's a very well-known actor whose been in Breaking Bad, The Wrestler, Pi and much, much more. Funny enough, when we were just starting to think about casting for Dig I randomly decided to watch The Thomas Crown Affair. And about half through, up pops Mark as Heinrich Knutzhorn, the jailed German forger. Hearing do the accent (our character is German and also, coincidentally, named Heinrich) and seeing his look made me think this could be the guy. And here we are, a month later, and Mark has graciously accepted the role of Heinrich in our little short film.

About two years ago, when I was working at production company, Aaron along with several friends, came in to develop a television show. We shook hands, said hello, but since I was fairly low rung I never participated much and only saw Aaron in passing. Around that same, however, my wife and I were going through a pretty severe House addiction and were watching marathons of the show. Aaron was in an episode called "The Socratic Method." I thought it was fun to see him on the show, since I had met the guy, but was also very impressed with the range and depth his displayed. When it came time to cast the character of David, I remember Aaron, we approached him and he very graciously accepted the role. Also a veteran actor, Aaron can be seen as Young Austin Powers in Austin Powers in Goldmember, he had a reoccurring role on Joan of Arcadia, and was most recently in The Informers and Assassination3 of a High School President.

In other big news we have begin filling out crew positions: Orlin Dobreff, VP of Anthony Zuiker's production company has come on board as a producer. Paul Niccolls will be the director of photography. And John Goodwin, Emmy award-winning make up artist for CSI: has come on board to handle all of our make up needs.

We received word today that our film has been accepted by SAG under the Short Film Agreement, a huge sigh of relief. Not that we doubted it would happen but it's a nice thing to have locked down. One of my biggest worries heading into this was the cast and yet here we are. That's one of the main things we're solid on.

The next biggest things we're dealing with is locking down our locations, both the sites themselves and the permits. One of the most frustrating parts of this project is the cost of permits in Los Angeles. The coffeeshop location is in West Hollywood. It is one of the few, if only places that looks like its from the 1960s and closes on the weekend, which means we don't have to pay them to close down their business. Plus, they're not charging us to use the location. I mean, it's a ridiculous deal. Only problem is: it's in West Hollywood.

To get a permit in West Hollywood, you have to pay a $1250 application/permit fee. This is regardless of whether or not you're shooting on private property. Then, if you're planning to use public land, such as a sidewalk, for say, lights or a genny, you're required to pay $770 PER DAY. ($650 or so if you're in a residential area.)

To get a permit in Los Angeles, it costs about $650 plus a fee to the fire department so they can look over your production and make sure there are no fire threats.

This city is so unfriendly to non-studio filmmakers that it's surprising any movies get shot here at all. BUT, what's the alternative? I can't be in a situation where we're filming and somebody calls or the police drive by and we don't have a permit. That is a great loss than the $4000 I'm spending to get said permits. It's literally 1/5 or 1/6 of our budget, location fees alone.

We've got the coffeeshop location squared away. Just need to get a location agreement signed and apply for the permits. We're still working on the desert location. While up in Palmdale scouting I came across a perfect plot of land (see picture at the top of this post). After looking into it, I found the land to be (unfortunately) privately owned, which isn't a big deal, except I had to track down the owners to get their permission. Thanks to the Tax Accessor, I was able to find out who owned it but since they don't record phone numbers (which seems strange) I only had an address. On Saturday, Travis and I went up there to track down the owner. When we saw the house, with what looked to be boarded up windows and a For Sale sign on the front lawn, I started freaking out because, of course, how do you find these people if no one is here. We decided to knock anyway and fortunately, the wife half of the owners, came to the window. We discussed our plan with her, she took our forms and said she'd speak to her husband, but it seemed like everything would work out. As of this writing (Sunday night) we're still waiting to hear back.

The next biggest To Do on my list is nail down a Costume Designer. Since it's period, we really need someone who knows what they're doing, has relationships with costume rental houses and can help us make this look amazing.

This next week is a big week for us. We're about 3 1/2 weeks out and we're going to be locking up a lot of stuff (flights, rentals, crew, picture cars, etc) and I will hopefully feel better about this whole thing by the end of the week. I'm feeling a bit stressed right now because it feels very close to production and I don't feel like we have a lot locked down. I don't know. This is why I'm not the best producer, it stresses me out too much. I'd much rather be focusing prepping as a director, not the nuts and bolts of directing.

Big check offs this week: production insurance, permits, Palmdale location, costume designer, lens rentals, RED camera rentals.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday Wrap Up

Here's the Friday wrap-up with interesting and relevant articles from the past week. Admittedly, most of them are from the

by Meg James

by Patrick Goldstein

by Patrick Goldstein

by John Lopez

Thursday, October 21, 2010

3Questions: Nick Fuller - Commercial Coordinator

As part of our continuing 3Questions series, I present Nick Fuller, a coordinator in both commercial and integrated production for Anonymous Content.

"We produce content across media platforms for leading brands and agencies in collaboration with an A-list roster of directors. My involvement is to help coordinate all of the nuts and bolts of the process from the initial bidding stage all the way through post-production."

HBAD: So, tell us, how did you get your start?

NF: I knew from a very young age that I wanted to work in the film business. Aside from having a talent in art and acting in various plays/commercials throughout my youth I really did not know where I would fit. Growing up in Boston and Arizona, the entertainment business was a million miles away, so for a while I viewed it more as a pipe dream, just hoping that one day I would have the guts to make a move.

After attending art school for design/advertising I began working as a graphic designer. Although I was artistically stimulated and loved the ad world, something was missing. I decided that there was no way for me to know if Hollywood was for me, unless I just dropped everything and jumped right in. I managed to get an intern position for producer Stephen L'Heureux, who I credit for giving me a start in the business. I then moved on to work for Paul Hook, who is the father of below the line representation. It was there that I found my love for the world of physical production. These are the guys who take an idea on paper and turn it into something truly remarkable and beautiful. I was able to work with the top cinematographers, line producers, costume designers, editors and vfx producers. Just to brag, I believe we had 10 Oscar nominated clients during my term with Paul and sitting in a room with shapers who are the best at their craft like Roger Deakins, Anthony Dod Mantle, Wally Pfister among several others, before the big night was something this young assistant would never forget.

Having little experience with directors I decided to expand my knowlege and moved on to Brillstein Entertainment Partners working for Lit manager Margaret Riley. It was there that I receieved a first hand look at the development world, working with her incredible roster of filmakers, writers and showrunners. I began to notice the difference between the people in the business who talk about creating something and the ones who actually do it! I would much rather fall into the second category. Trying to make your mark as a Hollywood assistant is difficult, and it's easy to find obstacles to use as excuses, however, the main thing to remember, no mater what state of the business or what you currently do, is that everyone has to start somewhere. I knew it was time to really find a place to build my business and, not feeling that representation was best suited for me, I moved on to my current position at Anonymous Content. It's here that I finally feel I can fully apply all of my past experience and talents while still remaining equally involved in all aspects of the business. It's truly rewarding to walk into work everyday knowing that it is exactly where you belong.

HBAD: What are the most difficult challenges you've encountered on your career path?

NF: The most difficult thing for me was to find the right path to follow, working in such a chaotic environment. I found the people who make it furthest in their careers are the ones who are honest with themselves and their peers with exactly what they REALLY want to do. If you want to be a writer, you need to write. If you want to direct or produce then create something. Nothing gets done by keeping your wants and desires to yourself. At the point that I was finally able to put it all together and establish where exactly I wanted to be is when things really went into motion and there is no doubt that it will be in high gear from here.

HBAD: What advice would you have for someone just starting out in this business, looking to get into the position you're in?

NF: For people out there who would like to do what I do but are still on the outside looking in, I would say do not waste any time. If school is an obstacle, try to involve yourself in relevant studies. Find people who share your passions and create something. Write every idea down and be honest with yourself (and everyone else) with what you really want to do and you will be amazed with the help and support you will receive to get there.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Universal Studios Sound Department Tour has posted this behind-the-scenes tour of the Universal Studios sound department from Soundworks. The tour is hosted by Chris Jenkins, Senior Vice President of Sound Services.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Watch the 'Level 26: Dark Prophecy' Cyber-Bridges

As I've mentioned before, I've spent the last couple months co-producing and editing the video portions of Anthony E. Zuiker's new Digi-novel Dark Prophecy: A Level 26 Thriller. In an effort to help promote the book, we've been releasing a new bridge (one of ten total) every day leading up to the 14th of October, when the book is launches nationwide.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Behind the Scenes: The Walking Dead

I read this series two years ago when I was working at a production company and always thought it would be an awesome way to bring zombies to television. So happy that not only is Frank Darabont exec producing but that its on AMC. Can't wait for the series premiere. Meantime, check out this behind-the-scenes:

Monday, October 11, 2010

Glory Days Gets Blitzed!

In October of 2006, shortly after moving down to Los Angeles, Travis and I sat down and wrote the first draft of the script then titled Glory Days: The Saga of Chet Steele. Four years and roughly 32 rewrites later the time has finally come to send the script out to the town.

This past weekend the script, now titled Blitzed, went out wide to thirteen major studios and production companies with Guy Walks Into A Bar (Elf) producing.

What does that mean? Well, for a while now, in conjunction with Guy Walks, we've been approaching agents and talent to try and get someone interested and on board. Unfortunately, attachments in this town have gone into hiding and it's become incredibly difficult to get any one to read a script without an offer. From even good friends at the studio we're told that while they love the script, they can't do anything unless we have a star attached. And likewise, to any talent we go to, the response is that unless there's money behind it, there's nothing they can do. Welcome to Hollywood's catch-22.

Ultimately we came to the point of either 1) giving up or 2) going out wide with the script. None of us wanted to give up. So, while Travis and I did a polish on the script, our producer prepped the script to go out wide. That involves contacting specific people at production companies and studios, letting them know about the project and then on a specific day, send it out to all of them for consideration.

And so, in a big step for Travis and I's writing careers, our script Blitzed has now been sent all over town and may (and very realistically may not) get bought. We obviously hope it does and at the least, hope it leads to meetings and getting our names out there as writers. While it's extremely difficult to sell a screenplay, it's also not very easy to get your script to the point of going out wide, with producers attached, so we did this as a big accomplishment, whether the script sells or not.

Fingers crossed. I'll keep you updated.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dig: Pre-Production - Part 2

Wow. A lot has been going on these last couple weeks despite my lack of posting. Honestly, that's the best way to know if good things are happening: I stop posting. Not because I don't have anything to say but because I'm usually give my all to something and, as explained before, recapping it seems exhausting and all I want to do is put my feet up and fall asleep.

That's kind of how I've been feeling these last few weeks because I've been devoting all of my time to Dark Prophecy or Dig. Well, you guys saw the trailer (just below this entry) and yesterday we released the first cyber-bridge. We'll be releasing one a day for the next two weeks, leading up to the book launch and I would really love for you to take a look at them. It's been quite a project for me these last few months as I essentially supervised the post-production process, including color correction with James Cohan, the score with the amazing Bill Brown (CSI:NY), and sound mixing and mastering at Todd A.O. Not to mention dealing with all of the encoding and distribution details.

Any time I've had left, I spent working on Dig. Regardless, I've managed to accomplish a lot these past few weeks and I'll tell you that we are planning on shooting in November, that we'll be attaching name talent, and everything is lining up very nicely. I'll try and provide a weekly report on the status of Dig which keeps you, my readers, in the loop and let's me not feel like I'm not updating the blog.

To make it easier, I'll do it by category.


The script is really getting there. I've done a couple rewrites on it since the 8/10/10 draft, mostly having received notes from people who have read it (that I trust to give good notes) and my own revisions based on reading it over and over. I'll probably be fine tuning it up to and during shooting. Hopefully I can get Travis to come out, huddle up on his computer and do revisions as we go.

I'm liking this whole project more and more the closer I get to it.


We've had our first official attachment! Michaela McManus, star of One Tree Hill, Law & Order: SVU and, of course, my film The Beautiful Lie has signed on to play the role of Marie.

Katie Piel, of Piel/Shoai Casting, has come on board as our casting director. We've put together our list of amazingly talent actors to go after for the role of Heinrich and David and we're in the process of approaching them with offers.


Dan Figur has come on board to produce and has begun work on budgeting and crewing up. Dan produced the W&CK 'Get Your Drink On' music video for Universal Records.

Director of Photography Paul Niccolls will be joining me once again.

Having now laid it all out, I realize it doesn't look like I've done a whole lot. Personally, I don't want to go into every little detail, at least not now, but there have been some significant advancements made that had previously worried me.

One of the big things we need to nail down soon are our two locations. The short takes place in 1962 and we're in need of a coffee shop that matches the era. The desert location is a desert location, doesn't need to match anything but we need to find it regardless. These are two big to dos. If we can nail these down and attach some great talent. We're going to be in really good shape.

And the one thing I'll be doing everything night, whenever I can, is my script analysis. The process of really digging deep down into the script, the subtext, the playable objectives, the beats, all of this stuff that helps me, as a director, do my job. The point of it is not so much to have a list of things you can do on set, but to just mentally prepare me for directing. To give myself things to think about, discuss, ways of making this script come to life.

It's one of my favorite parts of directing because there's no pressure. There's just your imagination.

Of course, it's easy to procrastinate things like this, and with my wife being gone the last two weeks and a dog to take care of, I've been forced to try and work at home -- which is impossible. But now she's back and I can take the evenings to get out, sign off, and get my work done.

I look forward to bring you guys along on this journey. I'll post as much as I can but as I'm full throttle for the next five weeks prepping Dig and seeing Dark Prophecy off, I may not have a lot of time.

But I will try....

At the very least you'll have an abundance of postings following the shoot.