Thursday, November 04, 2010

Hot Tub Time Machine

Hello Ladies! Welcome to my hot tub...

hot tub by MikeCrooker

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween week... "Martha's Secret Recipe"

Over the years I've done many Halloween themed projects. This short horror/comedy film set in the sitcom world of the late 1950's definitely falls into that category.


Martha's Secret Recipe from Mike Crooker on Vimeo.

Neighbors at a dinner party discuss Martha's meatloaf recipe in this short film set in the sitcom world of the late 1950's. Written by Laura Matis, Directed by Mike Crooker. Starring: Laura Matis, John Coleman, Andrew Lent, Lori Rogers Lent.

The idea to make the film was hatched one evening after having Laura & John over for dinner. After showing them some of the small films that I had shot over the years (sort of the modern version of vacation slides), we started riffing on Halloween concepts that we could shoot without any budget, special effects and a small cast.

Laura went home and e-mailed me a script the next day. We shot it about two weeks later in my dining room and garage. My wife's parents house stood in for the 1950's ranch style home in the title sequence, but that's my front door Laura emerges from and gives that quintessential Barbara Billingsley (RIP) wave. We shot the whole thing in less than three hours, then opened a couple bottles of wine, went out on the patio and ate the rest of the meatloaf that my wife had made for the shoot.

The only thing that we had to go back and shoot a couple of days later was the close-up of the plate meatloaf which we missed the first time -- there's something about meatloaf (and food pictures in general) when shot in black and white that makes it even less appealing than normal. ;)

Here's a better picture of the meatloaf in color...

Tech stuff: The project was shot on a Nikon D90, and the audio was recorded (on a boom mounted SM-58) straight to my laptop -- the original audio from the built in mic was not very good.

I wrote the music cues in a about a week and did four different versions of the dinner music theme, but this one worked the best.


Dinner Music by MikeCrooker

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Quirk And The Dead

Over at Frank Glencairn's blog comes this...
Okay, this is it. VDSLR is dead. It was cool, it was fun, it was great but it was also a major pain in the ass. It´s over. Panasonic came out with the AF100 at IBC and then there is Sony and the Scarlet soon. We finally come back to real camcorders, without moire and all the other problems to deal with. Sorry Zacuto.
Of course, I disagree with that 1000% -- DSLR's are still in their infancy and the next gen of Canon's & Nikon's are looking like a step forward. Although I wish Nikon would have moved a little faster -- the D3100 (1920 x 1080 / 24fps / HDMI interface) is on my Christmas list.

I have no problems working around the quirks. In fact, I welcome the quirks. That's part of their charm (along with the obvious lower price point). If anything, the quirks force creativity to happen -- not an easy task ;)

Saturday, August 21, 2010

This track is brought to you by the number five (ah! ah! ah!)

Creative ruts are a drag. One of the things I like to do to shake myself out of it is by writing in different time signatures. What often happens is that I try write something one way, but it ends up as something completely different. Thankfully, it's usually better than the original concept, and much like an Afterschool special, we all learn something in the process. ;)

In the tracks that follow, I'll try to illustrate which of my personal "oblique strategies" was used to get the ol' synapses firing.

Count is in 5/8 and rocks the harpsichord, piano, viola, violin, cello, tympani, and cymbals.

Count by MikeCrooker

Monday, August 16, 2010

For A Few Dollars More

In the recent piece on the Sunspot Pictures blog ("Scoring Your Film"), there is a great discussion on why music is as fundamental to your film as the writers, actors and directors...

So my question is, with such a meaty chunk of the film experience balanced on score, why do so many aspiring directors overlook this irrefutably integral piece of the pie?

From my experience it's because it's the aspect of film making that directors understand the least. They may know exactly what the shot composition should look like, how the line should be delivered by the actor and even where the music needs to be placed -- but getting the music from point A to point B and hitting all the emotional cues in between? Not so much.

This part resonated with me (and many other composers, I suspect), with regard to directors...

Some of you will go the extra mile and have a little money for post effects, but most shorts out there are either illegally co-opting copy written material, or using a synth score that your brother in-law cooked up in his basement.

Not that there's anything wrong with a synth score... but that hits the nail squarely upon the head. Composers are often the last in the small film food chain (if at all). I can recall early on, being asked to score a short film and politely asked for $150 (the going rate had been established at $500, but I liked the project and wanted to throw them a bone). However, as a first time director/producer team, they acted like I was asking for their first born.

It wasn't an isolated experience...

Sunday, August 15, 2010


We drove down to Columbus on Friday to check out MatsuriCon. This is the third Anime Con we've been to this summer (GarasuNoShiCon 2 & ColossalCon 9), so we've got some observations to share.

I'm not sure if it's a Con thing in general, but the registration line was a complete disaster -- I stood in the hot, crowded line for 90+ minutes. Pro Tip: you need more than two people running the reg table on the first day of a show this size. Alienation of your core audience to harvest e-mail & home addresses is a bad thing. Way too much friction.

Yes, I know, there's always Pre-Reg, but we didn't want to commit until we saw the schedule, which went up about a week ahead of time. We ended up coming a day earlier than we had planned because of that. So pre-reg wasn't an option.

I've been on both ends of this equation, having organized an all-day music workshop/festival and we tried to make entry as quick and painless as possible. Show ID, pay, get your Badge & Goodie Bag, and you were on your way. 30-40 seconds max. We had multiple people running the reg table and the line was always moving. It shouldn't be that difficult.

Anyway -- we had a nice time once the registration was over, visiting the dealer's room, artist alley & game room (although the video room was down, so no anime at the anime con?) and at the Hetalia voice actor panel with Eric Vale, Brina Palencia & Scott Freeman. I await the "pizza delivery horror stories involving thongs" panel next time. ;)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Miss Masque

A jazzy :30 superhero title sequence in the comic book style of the 1940's.

here's the audio only version:

Masque by MikeCrooker

let's get this party started...

Here is a short HD film that I shot recently. It either:

A) Shows the juxtaposition between nature/animals and the intrusion of man everywhere -- no matter how intimate the setting, you can always hear the sound of a car, train or factory somewhere in the background...


B) Shows pretty pictures of animals in and around my backyard and downtown Kent.

You Decide.