The Saint and the Sinner

The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a heav’n of hell, a hell of heav’n. – John Milton, Paradise Lost

The world of demonology has been a fascinating one to explore. Fallen angels. Grace. Redemption. Madness. Despair.

When angels fall from grace, they become demons. Not only in Judeo-Christian mythos, but ancient Babylonian, Sumerian, Assyrian, Greco-Roman, Hindu and even ancient Arabic tales all embrace the concept of the fallen one as demon. It is universal.

One of the elements that led to the birth of TLAU was the desire to explore the aftermath of a fall from grace. This concept led to the creation of two characters: Father Buer – and Caim.

Father Buer  spends his days tending to the homeless in the streets of Los Angeles. In this world, however, his flock is cut, shall we say, from another cloth. Father Buer ministers to those who have fallen. He gives comfort and aid to demons.

…and this is where Caim, the fallen angel, comes in.

Falling from grace is both tragic and traumatic. Imagine the suffering of the fallen one, when s/he realizes what they have done – and at what cost. Life as an immortal, but on earth instead of heaven. Surrounded by mortals. Outliving them all one by one.

Surviving those you love is a particular form of torment, and for Caim, life as he now knows it is an eternity of anguish. It is enough to drive even the most stoic being mad – and that is precisely what happened to Caim. He wandered the streets, living in the hellish abyss that is Skid Row, amongst the socially untouchables, the insane. Until Father Buer found him.

For hundreds of years, the Church has had one in their midst who gives of self to tend to the fallen ones. A priest who helps to ease their suffering, and, for a few, helps them find their way back to grace. In the City of Angels, this priest is Father Buer. His mission is to restore Caim to grace. For, as he says, “We are all of us God’s creatures. All of us. Even you.”

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© 2011 They Live Among Us Movie

Poverty and Creative Thinking

Poverty can be a good thing.

I have been reviewing the episodes. Placing them under various microscopes. Story. Character. Dialogue. Budget.

The last word has had my stomach turning cartwheels. Budget. Night shoots. VFX. SPFX. Can I do this – and do it well – for five grand?

In a word – no.

Granted, I will have some nifty effects… however, I realized that I needed to tone things down. Pull it back. Write it with what resources I have.

This decision has been a good one. Why? It’s forced me to write for character.

Character is what drives They Live Among Us. You’ve met Beth (now Lillith, her name, like her story, evolved), and, you’ll begin to meet the others. An angel in love with a prostitute. A youthful pop icon, who is thousands of years old. A park ranger in love with a ghost. A writer who yearns for adventure. A priest who tends to demons.

When you return to character, you return to what is essential. You cut out the fat that having money can bring. You can’t hide poor storytelling with eye-popping visuals, because you cannot afford them.

I’ve had to limit locations, because each set-up costs. By doing so, I’ve created a common ground for my characters – a shared space between them. They are strangers to one another, as are many in L.A., the countless tapestry of people weaving in and out of each others lives… connected yet apart.

These budget imposed limitations have opened up yet another portal into my gothic urban tale of the dark side of the City of Angels. I’ve been able to tap into the vast and rich history of Los Angeles. Present and past collide in startling twists and turns… and the result (I hope) is rich.

If I had ten or twenty or thirty thousand dollars to spend, I am not certain that these discoveries would have been made. For that I am most grateful

We are just over 20% of our funding for They Live Among Us. I am thrilled and eternally grateful to my beautiful backers… and am still seeking more. Consider joining our Kickstarter campaign. It will be the journey of a lifetime. I promise you.

 

Day Two – It’s All in the Details

I had a fitful night of sleep last night; my brain was consumed with images of Los Angeles, and wondering how on earth I would be able to pull off my urban gothic vision for $5k? Am I delusional? Do I have a fever?

And then, I realized… it’s all in the details.

Episode One is two exteriors; however, they are in the day. There is some VFX involved, but I believe that under-cranking can readily take care of that.

Episode Three is three-four interiors and one exterior. The exterior is in the day.

It was Episode Two that had me stymied. It’s the most ambitious of the three – and most of it takes place at night. There lies the rub. Night shoots are not cheap, even with digital. I also had this vision of these sweeping shots of L.A. at night, from above and below, a Gotham  like look at Hollywood. Most of it occurring in alleys and streets; definitely not a running and gunning type of setup.

I was worried, truly worried. I am striving for high quality at low-cost. Like everyone else, I want for my work to excel.

Then, I realized that I could move most of Episode Two indoors. Two – three brief night exteriors. Perhaps fill in with great stock footage of L.A. at night… and keep the majority of the story inside. By doing so, I can lower the cost of the episode. I then realized that this choice also opened up a door within the story that was a little stuck. It solved a problem. It’s making the story better. More layered. More conflicted… and more tragic.

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I’ve added the option for digital downloads of “They Live Among Us” for my Kickstarter supporters; green is always better. I’ve also had a request for a one-page of the series from one of my contributors. How silly of me to not have created that. So, I’ll tweak Episode 2 to move it inside, and get to work on my one-sheet.

In the meantime, I’m meeting with some D.P.’s and looking for a designer for the logo/title. I know what I want… I’m just not as crafty with Photoshop as I am with Final Draft.

To all of you following this adventure, thank you for your support. If you wish, please contribute to my Kickstarter Campaign. Twenty-eight days to secure funding! I’m certain that they will go by in a flash.

My next few posts will be about the creation of the script. We’ll start with Episode One – “Beth.”