Saturday, July 30, 2016

How to Compose and Deliver an Effective Score to Your Director

Our very own Barbara J Weber, composer and sound designer of Alienated, wrote a great article in the widely popular Jamsphere Magazine. Check it out after the jump:

I was the composer and sound designer for ALIENATED, a film about a man who sees a UFO and has trouble telling his skeptical wife. Their relationship erupts into a spiral of problems – all against the backdrop of a possible nationwide alien abduction. The film won 13 festival awards including one for Best Score, and ended up being picked up for distribution by Gravitas Ventures, and is currently in select theaters and on VOD.

Both new and experienced composers will find that times have changed since the old days of scoring and delivering film scores.  Previous film scoring relied heavily on using conventional orchestral instruments and they were largely thematic.   Today’s film music enhances more the overall environment and emotion of the scene rather than creating a symphonic version of the dialogue and actions.  Modern composers need to be able to create music that can stand on its own independently and also music that only makes sense within the context of the film.

Here are some pointers for new composers on creating an effective score and how to deliver it:

1) Spotting Session- If it is not possible to meet with either the director or the producer in person it may be good to suggest a Skype session if you are located at a distance. However, I have worked successfully with directors whom I have never met before.  As long as the director’s notes are clear and/or a temp track is supplied, an experienced composer should be able to take off from there. I have found that the stronger the director, the better the entire film is and Alienated was a great example of strength in leadership via Brian Ackley our director whose vision was extremely clear on what he wanted.

2) Having the proper equipment & knowledge to create unconventional sounds- In addition to being a sound musician the composer must be proficient in using his or her studio equipment, software, etc. Additionally, whatever software program they work in (Pro tools, Logic,DP) they must know how to convert these files into various formats and to adapt to a list of software programs.  An experienced composer will be able to create unconventional and convincingly captivating sounds by combining the oddest of foley with other foley and/or instrumental ingredients thereby creating almost a new instrument of sound.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Alienated is available on VOD now.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Brian Ackley Interviewed by Talent Monthly

Our own Brian Ackley is interviewed by Talent Monthly. Check it out after the jump:

Alienated, the award-winning festival favourite that features the final screen performance from the late Taylor Negron, will screen May 1st in Aberdeen, South Dakota (it’s also available on VOD for those not in the area).

An intoxicating, edge-of-the-seat science-fiction chiller tells the story of a married couple that is forced to confront their fatal relationship issues while on the brink of a possible alien abduction, Alienated has won 12 awards, including three for Best Feature, several Best Actor awards (including honours for the late Negron), and Best Director for Brian Ackley.

Ahead of the screening in Aberdeen, we chatted to Ackley about his unique and very well-received sci-fi drama.

Brian, first things first : the name of your production company, was it inspired by a classic Blondie song?

‘’No, but that song could be our theme! Our company name, One Way Or Another Productions, comes from the simple but stubborn idea of getting something done regardless of the obstacles. Making a movie can be impossible. Getting it seen by people can be impossible. And making money from such an investment can be impossible. What’s kept us moving forward has been this idea of looking at different ways to solve each of these problems. ‘’

How did the company come together?

‘’By our founding partner and CEO, Princeton Holt. Over the course of several years, Princeton assembled our team by practicing one particular idiom: if you work well with someone, hold onto them. ‘’

Do you all bring different things to the table?

‘’You bet. Each of us partners has experience and strengths in different fields. Personally, I’m honoured to be on a team with such focused and committed people. My partners are incredible. ‘’

Had you been trying to get projects off the ground long before this movie came to fruition?

‘’I don’t know what you mean by “off the ground” but I can say that with each film we make, we raise the stakes for ourselves, and with each release our profile goes up. We’ve learned that this industry is about relationships. Even when a project does not get “off the ground”, there’re still great opportunities to develop relationships and build new ones. ‘’

When did you begin writing Alienated?

‘’In the fall of 2013. Princeton pitched the concept to me and after thinking about it for a few weeks, I wrote it in 3 or 4 days. ‘’

Did the script change much before it went before the cameras?

Read the rest of Brian's answers in the full interview here.

See Alienated now on VOD!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Brian Ackley Interviewed on Wolf Spirit Radio Podcast

Our own Brian Ackley was recently interviewed on Wolf Spirit Radio's podcast by Yvonne Palermo and Jim Nichols. Check it out after the jump:

See ALIENATED on VOD here.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Princeton Holt interview

We Came From the Basement interviews producer Princeton Holt about ALIENATED. Check it out after the jump!

We've written about actor Taylor Negron's final film, Alienated, before. The flick just wrapped up a limited theatrical run and is now available for viewing on VOD via Gravitas Ventures.
The Basement recently sat down with Alienated producer, Princeton Holt, to talk about the movie, which tells the story of a married couple on the verge of an alien abduction, and his other projects.

We’re all looking forward to Alienated. How did you get involved in this? On it from the ground-up?

Thanks very much! You don’t have to look forward to it anymore, because its available NOW pretty much everywhere on VOD! It started from the beginning for me. I pitched the story to Brian, who wrote it and directed it. 
We’ve heard it’s not so much a science-fiction movie as it is a drama. Was it a hard one to pitch investors, being that it doesn’t fit exactly into a box?
We invested in it ourselves, so there was no outside interference. Its more about the characters, and Brian pushed the possible alien abduction to the background. He basically switched around the format that every other Hollywood sci fi uses. It pissed off some Hollywood trade publications but we don’t care because this movie was only built for certain kinds of people.
Who was responsible for the casting? Is that something that fell to you?
Brian and I both were involved in the casting. We took a list of our favourite actors and Brian thought that George Katt, Jen Burry, and Taylor Negron were perfect. 
What were you looking for in the leads? 
See Princeton's answer by reading the full interview here.
- Lena

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Monday, April 25, 2016

How Actors Help Make Your Script Better

The prestigious Screencraft Magazine posted this great piece from our own Brian Ackley. Check it out after the jump:

Brian Ackley is the Head of Development at One Way or Another Productions. His second feature film ALIENATED won 13 film festival awards and was picked up for distribution by Gravitas Ventures for release in select theaters and is available now on VOD.

There’s a lot that goes into a screenplay, certainly much more than a novice may consider. You have all the things that go into building your story and what kind of story that may be — romance, thriller, action-comedy, soap opera melodrama, etc. You have characters to think about, especially the one that leads your story, and those that support or go against him or her. Then you have elements like structure, tone, pace, and style. All of these are significant in shaping your screenplay, and I would argue that they should all be well thought-out as part of one’s outlining process.

With these elements decided upon, they’re ready to be translated into the language of screenwriting. This is where action, dialogue and description come in. Up until this point you should know what you want to say and how to say it best so that it’s most relatable and engaging. The challenge, however, is in sticking with your plan as you formally write out your script, one word at a time.

Description is used to relay any necessary physical details about your settings and characters, much of which works into your tone and style.

Action relays how your characters behave, particularly in contrast to what they say. Action can communicate a character’s inner conflict or shed light on a relationship they have with another character, setting or object.

Dialogue is the forced means by which your characters attempt to communicate. Sometimes dialogue succeeds in translating emotion or intuition or thought; but many times it gets in the way, or is used cryptically.

These elements combined and scrutinized and reworked will lay the groundwork for your own means of communicating, whatever that message may be. If your screenplay has come far enough to be produced, then you’ve done a decent enough job of relaying your intentions. But even if you’ve gotten this far, don’t assume you’re material has piqued.

Instead, realize that you now have at your disposal one of the greatest tools a screenwriter could have — someone to personify your creation. An actor can mean everything to the flat world you finger-punched onto a virtual pad — the difference between an idea and an achievement. The difference between living in a fantasy and creating your own reality.

An invested actor will dream of the world you’ve created for their character. Their sole purpose will be to become your character. The power of an invested actor will strip away any superfluous attitudes and pave the way for an open line of communication between your intentions and their understanding. Well, in all fairness, that will be the way of a properly invested actor. If you have any influence over casting, be sure to meet the top contenders and spend a little time with them.

Read Brian's full piece here.

Alienated is now available on VOD1

Saturday, April 23, 2016

How Should a Director Overcome Big-Name Actor Intimidation?

Brian Ackley wrote this great article in MovieMaker Magazine about working with Taylor Negron. Check it out after the jump:

When you’re working your way into the heart of our industry, climbing that ladder to success, certain names and titles may elicit both pride and anxiety.

Curb Your Enthusiasm, Seinfeld, Friends, ER, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air and Hill Street Blues are beloved television titans. So what if, on your next indie project, you were working with an actor who had appeared on all of these shows? What if, additionally, this actor had worked beside his share of film titans, too—John Candy, Billy Crystal, Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase and Bruce Willis? Do you think you might be intimidated?

I haven’t directed many movies—two, and they were six years apart. When I wrote and directed my first, one of my main advantages was knowing the people with whom I was working. If I didn’t know a cast or crew member well, I had time to change that. I did my best to build strong lines of communication between myself and the others involved. It was relatively easy, given the intimate nature of our production—a skeleton crew filming for a nine-day stretch—and the highly personal nature of the subject matter: me, during an ill-fated romantic period of my life.  

Things would be different for my second feature, Alienated, about a conspiracy theorist who witnesses a UFO but doesn’t know how to tell his wife. I had moved out of state, which meant I needed to cast our microbudget movie remotely, as our company had decided it’d be best to film in the N.Y.C. area. Even more significantly, we would be hiring our first “name” actor, the late, gifted Taylor Negron. 

Suffice it to say, I was nervous to meet him. Even more nervous to direct him. How do you direct a man who has well over 100 acting credits to his name? How do you direct a man whose face you’ve seen 100 times in a handful of movies you’ve seen over and over again? How do you direct a man whose fee is usually well above your film’s entire budget?  

Read Brian's full piece here.

Alienated is now available everywhere on VOD

Friday, April 22, 2016

JB Spins Reviews Alienated

Publisher JB Spins recently reviewed Alienated. Check it out after the jump:

Alienated: a Trufer Learns the Truth is Out There

Ever wondered what it would be like if Edward Albee wrote an episode of The X-Files? Maybe something like this. Nate’s wife does not want to hear his crazy UFO talk. Frankly, she is mostly done listening to him altogether. Unfortunately, he just might be right this time. Communication is a challenge and intimacy breeds contempt in Brian Ackley’s Alienated (trailer here), which opens this Saturday in Los Angeles.

As a 9/11 conspiracy theory nut, Nate is so unappealing, even the aliens probably won’t want to abduct him. Eventually, we will learn why Paige is so justly exasperated with Nate, but during the early going, we can just assume it is because he is a lazy, immature man-child. Evidently, Nate is easily distracted by things, like specious engineering claims and the UFO he thinks he filmed on his camcorder. Paige is not inclined to take whatever has his so fired up seriously, which leads to a “fine, I won’t show you,” passive aggressive snit. Yet, somehow their blind neighbor Griffin understands exactly what is going on in the skies and in their bedroom. Just when sighting reports start to creep into the local newscast, Nate and Paige finally start to really have it out—and it will be more brutal than an alien probing.

Read the full review here!

Rent/Purchase Alienated HERE!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Alienated Invades Theaters in LA on April 19th

As reported by several news outlets including ABC News 7, Alienated is headed to the big screen in LA! Check out the announcement, below:

After successful theatrical runs in New York City and Boston last month, “ALIENATED,” the sci fi drama written and directed by Brian Ackley, opens April 16th for a week at the ACME Theater in Hollywood.
“Alienated” tells the story of a married couple that is forced to confront their fatal relationship issues while on the brink of a possible alien abduction. The film stars veteran actors George Katt and Jen Burry, and features the last onscreen performance by prolific character actor and comedian Taylor Negron, who unfortunately passed early this year to cancer. He was 57 years old.

Alienated, after winning 13 film festival awards including 3 for Best Feature, a Best Director Award for writer/director Brian Ackley and multiple Best Actor awards, was acquired for distribution by Gravitas Ventures and now available on Cable VOD/VOD.

Independent films, which often feature more challenging, complex characters, have always been restrained to the same expectations that larger-than-life Hollywood tent-poles have. Superhero franchises like Batman vs Superman have budgets so massive, that featuring audience-friendly, often nearly perfect characters is mandatory. The characters in Alienated naturally irritated Hollywood trades like Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, who were apparently made uncomfortable by being confronted with characters they found “unlikable.” Despite this, the film has remained on the best sellers list on iTunes for over 2 weeks.

The film is produced by David Vaughn and his partners at One Way or Another Productions (in association with Fades 2 Black Media Group). Vaughn is a LA-based actor and producer who has produced, written, directed, and starred in several feature films and web series in the southern California and surrounding areas.

Rent or Download ALIENATED HERE!

- Lena

Monday, April 11, 2016

Taylor Negron: Getting to Know a Familiar Face

Brian Ackley wrote a touching article in Film Courage about the life and work of our Alienated supporting actor, the late, great Taylor Negron. Check it out after the jump! 

Taylor Negron: Getting To Know A Familiar Face

You know his face. If you’ve ingested any pop culture media in the last 30 years, then you’ve likely been vaguely introduced to a hidden artistic Hollywood gem. Not a shape-shifter, but an inconspicuous talent who has always been smiling in plain sight. Taylor Negron is best known for his roles in The Last Boy Scout, Stuart Little, So Little Time and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, but it’s equally possible that you’ve seen him in any number of other television and film appearances. He’s even been on mega-hits ER, Friends and Seinfeld.

I’ve had the great honor of working with Taylor on a sci-fi drama we did together called Alienated. It’s about a man who witnesses a UFO but battles with the decision to tell his wife, fearing she may either freak out or not believe him. Taylor plays their neighbor, a seemingly outer worldly spirit—possible friend, possible foe—to the husband, Nate, who finds him staring at the sky.

Taylor passed away in early 2015 to cancer. I’d like to claim that when I heard the news I was terribly sad for him, his family and those that knew him best. But I wasn’t. I was selfishly sad on my own behalf. For I had had the briefest of encounters with this man’s spirit, that he left me craving for more. More of his personality; more of his philosophy; more of his stories; more of his talent; just more. As people do, I had so proudly assumed that I would get plenty more. I would get to learn more about him as we did publicity for our film, perhaps schmooze it up with C-list celebrities at NY or LA screenings. I would get to know him better by exchanging emails and personal essays—I was surprised to learn that he was a writer, too. I would befriend him, no doubt, as future collaborations would arise; perhaps a play was in our future, if not another film.

My sadness was tied to my lasting impression of him, which, in a short period of time—two days—encapsulated so much of his personality: the vulnerable, the impassioned, the bitter, the brave, the comical and the spiritual. It was remarkable: The experience of meeting him and knowing him for only two days. It was otherworldly.

See Brian's full piece here. Alienated is available now on VOD.

- Lena

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Variety Reviews Alienated

Variety recently reviewed Alienated. It is clear that Hollywood trades do not like challenging characters very much. But based on bad reviews for Batman vs Superman, Alienated, and now The Boss, the trades don't seem to like much of anything these days. Maybe its time their bosses give them all some time off? What do you think?

Check it out after the jump:

Even a possible UFO invasion can't stop a married couple from bickering as usual in this irksome relationship drama.

Disgruntled fantasy fans who found “The Witch” or “It Follows” too slow, talky and slim on conventional payoff will be apoplectic over the purported sci-fier “Alienated,” which advertises itself as being an alien-invasion tale. Imagine their emotions upon discovering they’ve actually signed on for 80 minutes of sniping between two ill-matched spouses, with just a blip of bookending genre material. The bait-and-switch might be excusable if Brian Ackley’s feature were a good marital relationship drama, but the divorce-ready characters prove as irksome for viewers as they are for each other. The movie is bravely playing a few U.S. theaters (it opened March 19 in New York, then added Boston, with Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles to come), but will likely make less noise than its argumentative protags. More entertaining than anything on screen will be the eventual responses of average VOD renters lured by the promised theme — particularly in contrast to the dozen or more early IMBd “user comment” raves, all suspiciously from first-time posters.

The sole f/x shot is sprung right at the start here, as Nate (George Katt) stands outside his rural New Jersey home staring at an apparent UFO that hovers briefly above him in the sky, then vanishes. When his wife, Paige (Jen Burry), gets home, he takes his time mentioning he has something to show her — videotape of that sighting — and is vague about just what it is, then angry when she says she’ll look at it after her bath. But then Nate, a painter who apparently only does self-portraits (which we never see) that he insists “aren’t about me,” is the kind of guy who snaps, “I don’t like you to get inside my head” when asked questions, then fumes over his wife’s supposed disinterest when she doesn’t ask. Perhaps he’s meant to be a tortured artist. But mostly, he just seems like torture to be around: petty, sulky and secretive, not to mention obsessed with 9/11 conspiracy theories and other fringe errata.

Read the full review here. Alienated is now available on VOD!

- Lena

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Brian Ackley Interviewed

Brian Ackley is reviewed by Skewed and Reviewed about ALIENATED! Check it out after the jump!

Pleasure to speak to you – and about a very cool movie.

Thank you for your interest!

Was this one shot a while ago? Has it been a long time coming?

Yes, we shot in the spring of 2014, I think.  It’s been awhile, but it’s been a great ride.  It always takes awhile for a film to move through the festival circuit, and we’re glad we were patient, because it allowed us to research every move we would make leading up to our VOD release.  Which recently happened.  We’re currently available on VOD in North America!  Check Amazon, iTunes, Youtube, Google Play, etc.

Take us back. How did you get involved in the project?

See the full interview here.

- Lena

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Jen Burry Speaks to Nerdly

Jen Burry sat down with Nerdly for an interview about ALIENATED. Check it out after the jump!

Do you remember how you got involved in Alienated?

I had taken a workshop with Princeton Holt several years prior and we kept in touch over the years. Then one day he emailed me and told me he had a script he wanted me to read. That was it!

Is it rewarding to see it now coming out – and with such great reviews? 

I’m always a little sad after a project ends. It’s easy to create friendships with people fairly quickly when you’re working with a limited amount of time and with intense material, it kind of naturally happens. After the last day of shooting I had only known George Katt about three weeks, though it felt like three years. Seeing the film now feels like seeing great friends you’ve not see in awhile. It’s been really wonderful. It’s always rewarding to see that people are responding to the story you wanted to share.

Can you talk a little about working with the late Taylor Negron?

Unfortunately, I never met Taylor. We didn’t have any scenes together and he shot his several weeks after George and I shot ours. I wish I had the opportunity to meet him. Everyone spoke so highly of him.

I imagine most of your work was with George Katt though. Did you have to fake that onscreen connection or did you already know each other?

Once Princeton gave me his contact information I immediately texted him since we only had about two weeks before we started shooting. We met almost every day till we started shooting. We’d grab coffee, read through the script and discuss our characters and their relationship. It was extremely beneficial since we had only 5 days of actual shooting. So we were lucky to establish a connection prior to shooting.

How did you go working with writer-director Brian Ackley on the film?

Brian was really wonderful to work with. He allowed us a ton of freedom to explore, improvise, and work through scenes. He also met with us each individually at the end of each day to see how we felt about that day and if there was anything we wanted to discuss regarding the material we were going to shoot the following day. It was a really great trusting relationship where we both relied on each other for creativity and grounding.

What’s the message within the movie?

Alienated is a film about a couple being forced to confront their relationship issues while an alien abduction is lurking in the background. It’s the science fiction element that initiates the need for Nate and Paige to deal with those issues. Most people that have been in a long-term relationship will be able to identify with a lot of the problems Nate and Paige are dealing with, which is why the film is relevant and can even a bit uncomfortable at moments.

Will we see you in anything else this year?

I just finished working on a short film a couple weeks ago and will be doing another feature film later this summer but the past few months have been busy promoting Alienated which has been wonderful. The official release is the 31st of March, which is exciting and something we’ve all been working forward to.
ALIENATED is available now on VOD!

- Lena

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Alienated 30 second teaser

Check out the 30 second accolades teaser for ALIENATED, which premiered exclusively on Fangoria Magazine!

ALIENATED is available NOW on VOD! Get your copy here!

- Lena

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The Hollywood Reporter Reviews Alienated

The Hollywood Reporter reviews Alienated! Check it out after the jump:

Viewers are likely to be confused by writer-director Brian Ackley's (Uptown) sophomore feature being billed as a science-fiction pic but which rather plays like an American millennial version of Scenes From a Marriage. While this film marking the last screen appearance by veteran character actor Taylor Negron (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, The Last Boy Scout) delivers an incisive portrait of a marital relationship that has descended into quiet mutual loathing, its lengthy scenes of domestic arguments are unlikely to play well to genre fans. Its title, Alienated, may prove all too accurate.

That this is not your typical sci-fi effort is indicated by the opening scene depicting a drawn-out argument between married couple Nate (George Katt) and Paige (Jen Burry) over whether it's better to use hot or cold water to wash dishes. It's the first of many volatile squabbles in the film, including Paige expressing resentment over Nate's gifting one of his own paintings to the widow of his best friend and, more crucially to the plot, his bitterly complaining when she tells him that she'd prefer to take a bath before watching a video he's shot.

Read the full review here.

- Lena