TETHER, Awesome new series.

Corridor Digital has to be one of my favorite Youtube teams.  From Frozen Crossing, to their silly smaller videos, these guys have been a huge inspiration into my production and writing of City 7.

That being said, they have this new project, and I think it is worth sharing.


These guys are pretty damn cool, and on my list of Tubers I would love to work with in the future, please like and share their stuff 🙂



I make Action/Horror movies, where’s my genre?

As a writer, and specifically a screenwriter, I watch lots of movies.  I like to see how a scene is designed, watch it play out and take from it what I am looking for. As I wrote the screenplay for City 7, I focused on a tight enclosed places for most of the action to take place.  Some of my inspiration, specifically where the head zombie toys with our soldiers and begin whittling their numbers down, I looked to the Hospital Shootout in the John Woo’s action movie Hard Boiled.

Zombies are hot right now, and its probably because they where the scary monster in the dark that frightened my generation when we were kids.  I am sure there are entire books worth of anthropological and philosophical reasons why we as a culture are obsessed with movie monsters.  For me it is the idea of rebuilding after a catastrophe, pulling ourselves out of the ashes, and starting again.

However the idea that the good guys know what their up against and are ready to fight back is pretty much limited to the Resident Evil films, Sci-Fi Movies, a few foreign films and video games.

That makes it hard to forge a path in the Action/Horror Genre, because there really isn’t one.  Sure there are several movies that fall into the category, Resident Evil(as mentioned above), Doomsday, Book of Eli, Ghosts of Mars, The Alien trilogy ( I refuse to admit that fourth one even exists), The AVP movies, and maybe a handful of others.  But do a quick look at a Blockbuster, or a Redbox, or even Netflix.  There is no Action/Horror Genre.

The above mentioned films get placed in other genres, and sometimes don’t even cross over into Horror.  The question is why?  It’s pretty simple, the Forefathers of Horror had simple tools, and had to use tricks to create suspense, and mood.  Just look at some of the old films to see what I mean:

In this clip from The Birds, people are confused and almost helpless, a state that makes most of us uncomfortable, irritated and prone to make bad choices.  It’s scary to not be in control.  Hitchcock also used what you couldn’t see to make a situation tense and scary, as in the infamous Shower Scene from Psycho:

Even Night of the Living Dead, regardless of the reason, is filmed in Black and White which gives it an extra creepy edge.

As Horror evolved, it still continued to use a lot of these concepts.  In the movie Alien, we here and “almost see” the Alien for most of the movie, lighting quick attacks and mystery surround the vanishing crew members.

In this scene we see Dallas hunt for the Alien, while Ripley and the rest of the crew freak out.  This is a trick the extended into what is probably my favorite Action/Horror film, Aliens.

(Sorry this was the best clip I could find of this scene….)  The Aliens once again use some other means to outsmart the survivors and get way to close way to fast.

Something else happened, well something was happening the entire time.  Other Horror movies where folding the market, particularly “Slasher” films, and what could have become Action/Horror became: Sci-fi, Suspense and even plain old vanilla Action at times.  The B-Grade Slasher Film took over the Horror movie genre, and sometimes using the same tricks as the old masters, changed what most people think of when you say “Horror”.

The “Trinity” of Horror used to be: Dracula, The Mummy and The Wolf man.  And I am not talking about the newer versions, I mean Bela LugosiBoris Karloff and Lon Chaney Jr..  Fantastic movies, which prayed upon our fears of what is out and unseen in the night.  Of course now we have movies like Twilight, and TV shows like: the BBC Being Human and MTVs Teen Wolf, which pull the fangs out of our monsters.  Making them soft, lovable, relate-able.

Its what Disney did to most of our old Fables and Folk Stories.  Take something dark, with a hidden message and meaning.  The polish it, market some pastel and neon colored toys.  Make sure to give it a happy ending.  Remove the possibility any of the characters might have to face any real world consequences, and ship it out into the minds of kids everywhere.

These stories had points, and even morals to teach.  Concepts like: “The Medieval Forest is a dangerous place, DON’T GO INTO IT! ALONE!” or “Don’t take anything from any stranger, anytime, ever, NO NOT EVEN THIS TIME!”.  Put a Disney Spin on it, and its okay for kids to do that stuff because “Prince Charming” or some random Vigilante Woodsmen, is just wandering around the country side looking for people to save.

Now days go up to any Horror buff and you get a very different “Trinity” of movie monsters:  Jason VoorheesFreddy Krueger, and either Michael Myers or Leatherface (depending on who you ask).  These “monsters” have replaced our traditional monsters, and the movies center around about dumb, often naked and sex driven, teenagers.

I write Action/Horror, it’s not Classic Horror, and its not Action.  My screenplays and ideas, and planned films, are not filled with half naked teen starlets, screaming their heads off while running upstairs.

As we continue to make films through Digital Raven, I feel that we are taking Horror Movie Concepts, Tossing in a dose of John Woo, and hitting blend.

So I challenge the norm, I want to see all the Action/Horror films find their own genre, I want a label that makes sense, and lets me look at those that came before us, and those that will come behind us.  Let’s change the way we look at Horror movies.


TheGrav!?!? Where have you been!!

The last few weeks have been a little crazy… I have experienced being laid off, experienced crunch time in City 7s timeline, and I have started to try and gather everything I do together to see if I can’t make it as a freelance artist again…

Long story short, I have been pretty busy, and really bad and posting…

The largest task I have undertaken is in the composting the first 25 seconds of our short Zombie Movie, City 7.  As an artist and graphic designer I have had some experience with matte painting, which is basically the term used to describe how an artist might help a director create a scene that just can’t be filmed.  Some of the greatest examples of matte paintings in film, are in the Original Star Wars films.

Matte Painting at ILM

When I was in middle school and lived in San Francisco, my Dad and Step-Mom took me to see an exhibit of the largest single collection of Star Wars props, it was pretty damn cool, and I think it was there that I really started down the path towards art and graphic design as a possible career path.  I saw a handful of these paintings in person and going back to watch the films was just impressed with how they did it.

There are several good examples of digital matte painting in this little clip from ILMVisualFX.


Of course with a budget somewhere in the neighborhood of only $2500 we did not have quite the number of resources these guys did!  But we do have a cool little intro!

Our movie is set to release in full in the next few weeks on our YouTube Channel Digital Raven.

More to come!



Please make sure to follow me, send me any questions you have, or just in general keep and eye out!

Divide by zero…

My free time has become a black hole, sucking in an ever growing job list of personal and professional projects.  This is part of what has led me to slack a bit on my blog, but since almost everything I do has some connection to the art and design world, I figured it is probably a good idea to show case what goes on all around me, that I don’t consider “personal” work.

I regret that my #sketchaday and Lain projects have fallen to the wayside, but they are still there and when I can snatch a rare hour or two to work I am.

City 7 has developed a bit of a following, and at present that following is almost strictly confined to Facebook and YouTube, but not for long.  Last week I began working on http://www.city7themovie.com, and pretty quickly discovered that I needed to pick a direction.

City 7, Web-designI decided, based on the slowly growing fan-base on FB, to go with more of a community based design vs. the typical Marvel new movie design that has a few trailers and not much else.

This is the skeleton of the site so far, and even though there is not mush there, I have already started to build upon some major foundations.  First off, even if I don’t end up utilizing it, I laid most of the site out with .php.  I find that this always me a bit more ease when it comes time to change, move, or modify an aspect.  Also if I ever get a heavy enough fan-base or lots of traffic.. well I don’t have to redo the plumbing. 🙂

Deciding on elements and pages was important too, what are some of the things are fan going to want to know?  One of the things I learned from the actors, as well as from our pre-production indiegogo campaign, is that a lot of people want to know more about this world.  How does it work?  Who lives it in?  Is there more to the story?

We also had a huge turn-out of amazing actors and extras, a lot of which are interested in seeing what is coming next, working with us, and getting more involved with promoting the movie.  (In fact Pia Thrasher, the actress that played Scout, has already blogged about us on her own wordpress.)  We also allowed our extras and actors to snap photos, as long as it didn’t interfere with filming or get in the way, and we know there are hundreds of great shots floating around.

With all this in hand, the site began to structure itself.  We need a home page, for breaking news(although in the future News may have it’s own page) and trailers.  Background and Character guides, to help people that didn’t read the script or pick my brain on set.  And a Forum for our Actors, Extras, Crews, and fans to connect on, share stories, ask questions, and swap pictures.

Sometimes that is the hard stuff, other times it is the easy stuff as in this case, and the hard part is getting to flow.  I don’t mean work, I can make it work, pretty easily too.  But how do I build up a site that is easy to use, informative, and fun to look at?  Well Art and Design is my answer.

City 7 Movie Still, GhostNext step I took was to look through some of our movie stills and see if there was a good, gritty, dark feeling, still I could snag to use as a background.  Now we shot everything with good lights, and at the highest quality, the gritty and dark bit is a lot easier to do in post production.

Just like with normal art work stuff it is possible to mess most things up, it is very hard to make them better without redoing them completely.  So what I need to do now is get it tweaked just the way I like it and then make it a nice background for the trailer window to sit in.

For now this is as far as I have made it!  However our trailer is out.. so I have a very real deadline!


City 7: Our Posters so far…

I have been splitting my time between all 3 posters, and my normal freelance workload.   It has really shown me one thing… I need a Patron!   Any takers?  🙂

Anyway on to my progress so far.

Zombies, City 7, Action/horror

As you can see in this screenshot, I am primarily just laying down my colors and tones as well as my design and themes.   I also tracked down the fonts I wanted to use.

Our City 7 logo uses Boston Traffic, I tracked down the Friday the 13th font to use for the tagline.  And a quick jump over to Google helped me track down a font called Steeltongs, that looks pretty good for all the promotional information!

This is as much as I have done for Poster 1!  Poster 3 will probably be the first I finish.

Keep an Eye out for more!


City 7 Posters, Thumbnails

Most art projects start with thumbnail sketches.  This is true of my work, I like too work quick and dirty and small laying out the idea rather than focusing on the details.  This really helps to get the basic theme of what I am designing and I find it to be the one of the best starting places.

Illustration, Zombies, ThumbnailsIllustration, Zombiesillustration, zombies

Here we have the 3 thumbnails I choose form all the quick ones I did while trying to come up with the City 7 Movie poster.  I am trying to stick with a classic painted movie poster look, along with the classic 27″ x 41″ layout.   So as I drew these I tried to smash them into what I thought that box might look like.

Once I had decided on these three I took the first two and did a bit more detail work on them.  The third one will be done mostly in photoshop, with just some finishing work to make it look like a painting, as where the others will actually need a bit of painting and finishing.

Zombie, Movie Poster, City 7Here is poster number one in more detail.  The Scanner I am using is not the best, but still this should show a bit more of what I am trying to get towards.  I added room at the bottom for the movie bits, I have two fonts used, and I have more detail on the central and later to be painted figure.

My copy is very light so I can start to outline it and lay color down with Painter or Photoshop without having to compete with myself.  🙂  Realistically I will use my actual hand sketch as a constant reference as I work, making sure that the details I want on this Zombie come out just right.

Zombies, Illustration, City 7 This is the second poster done with a bit more detail.  This one is personally my favorite, because of the dynamic of having three zombies, as well as how I have gone a little over the top to really show off some of what So Cal residents know is San Diego.

All three posters will take a mix of work in Painter, Photoshop and possibly some 3d.  However I am going to try to stick with mainly just Painter and Photoshop.

All my elements are decided on and basically in place, so I will move onto the next step which is basically collecting some resource materials and setting up the “standard” poster elements.  Such as: size, credits, background color.

More to come as I move forward.  Also I am still doing #sketchaday work but I am not taking the time to scan it in!  Once City 7 work has calmed down just a bit more, I will begin to post those again!