Eibon Films Horror, Fantasy and SciFi writer / filmmaker and friend of the weird

27Sep/180

MR CLEAN

So... I've been neglecting you. Sorry. Will it happen again? Probably, if past behaviour is anything to go by....

So quite some time has passed. And during that time I've been through the ringer, health-wise. Let me fill you in on what you've missed:

  • Worked a lot. And was exhausted by the end of it. This including making a short promotional film for a friend, to promote the release of his computer game.
  • Went to Japan in March and April for the trip of a lifetime. Had an amazing time, 17 days travelling across Japan and came back exhausted through lack of sleep.
  • Got a stomach bug, while still exhausted from Japan. This weakened my system so that I then got Shingles. It took months to recover from and I am still daily suffering from random attacks of chronic pain from it.
  • Had a lot more work to do and had to do it while battling the pain and the heat of the hottest summer on record - while sweltering in my pants (there's an image you didn't want in your head). Cue a lack of sleep and a complete neglect of all creative activities until the worst of it subsided.
  • I managed to edit the photos from that trip to Japan, but haven't finished editing the 4hrs of footage down to something more palatable. Essentially the VLOGs are dead for now.
  • I also finished writing a new short, called MR CLEAN, at the start of August.
  • I went to the Lake District and to visit friends, and then to Skiathos, where upon my return my cat got himself lost for a week.
  • During that whole period, from April to September, I had been suffering a massive depression. I had become burnt out through the demands of work and my ill health, and I had also seriously considered ditching all social media; this poor neglected blog included. I tried not to wallow, to turn things around and get my shit together. As a result of a new regime of behaviours I've tried to cultivate, I've lost some weight, I am more productive and marginally happier. Will it last? Who knows... but I'm not giving in easily!

What is Mr Clean?

So, now that you're up to speed, what is MR CLEAN? Wasn't this post supposed to be about that? - Yes. Right you are then...

I had written a darkly fun short about a nice guy who breaks into people's homes and cleans them up, to explore why he might be doing such things. It's a variation of an old idea, fused with a bit of inspiration for adding something new and also seeing if it could be done for a very low budget, perhaps even shot at home.

After spending some time over the holiday to do a few storyboards for the film - actually part of an exercise from the Martin Scorsese Masterclass - and yes I am crazy enough to want to do this while on a beach, with a beer in hand. So it was homework essentially. But made fun. - I then shared the storyboards with my good friend Darwin Reina, to see what he thought.

Darwin and I were both in a creative rut of kinds. I went around to view the rough edit for DON'T FORGET TO BREATHE and showed him the storyboards and let him re-read the script. He was immediately enthusiastic about it and asked a very poignant question: "Why aren't we making this?" To which, I had no answer. I had wanted to do it earlier in the year before I got sick...

So we talked it through.... Could it be done? If so, how? Where? When? With who?

And that my friends brings you fully up to speed. At the end of October, we are shooting MR CLEAN. We're going to shoot it mostly at my place, shoot it with the GH5, in 4K, and we're going to try and make it as great as possible.

Here's a quick and dirty test shot - where we just looked to take the storyboard frame and plan which lenses to use and where to put the camera, to get the shot on the day - because we're crazily going to try and get it all done in 4 days...

Here's a screen grab from a test shot of Darwin as MR CLEANHere's the cruddy storyboard of mine, below (top left) that we've recreated above.

We've broken down the script and done a test shoot - so we can perfect our workflow for the edit as well as not dick around too much on the day of the shoot. We still need to sort our lighting. Special FX are being prepared. We've sorted vehicles. We may have a composer and we're searching for an actress. It may just happen... but still so much to do and to fall in place for the shoot.

Wish us luck!

And if we pull it off. There are already two planned sequels. Yes, this might just end up being a small short film web series.

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28Dec/170

new iMac Pro – it arrived!

thumbnail for youtube video

New iMac Pro box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I got the new iMac Pro - it arrived a week earlier than expected and I had to unbox it immediately.

Here's the rushed video of the unboxing: https://youtu.be/psENjn3CbT8

I'll do a review of it soon if anyone's interested. But for now, I'm very happy with it.

 

New iMac Pro

New iMac Pro

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes it is expensive! Yes it is a huge financial investment. But I have been waiting for this machine for a good two years, and carefully saving my pennies and biding my time. I last bought my MacBook Pro in 2012 and so after 5 years, it's finally meeting its match when trying to be my main writing machine and video editing machine. It was time to invest in newer kit for the video editing side of things. Especially now that I'm playing around with 4K footage. And the MacBook Pro will mainly become my backup on the move machine for writing and only occasionally editing - until that too can be replaced (as it's not really good for more than 30 mins long HD projects). But this new iMac will be my main workstation from now on.

It looks kind of small in the picture, but that's only because there's a new 32" 4K monitor next to it.

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5Dec/170

Things to get used to – import costs and a lack of manuals

As an aspiring filmmaker, there are two things that you have to get used to, if you want to be able to obtain the gear that you drool over in other people's social media feeds:

  1. Import costs: everything that I can only buy on the internet and not through an approved local retailer comes with an added random cost imposed by the tax office / csutomers. Joy! This usually means that your parcel is held hostage until you can pay the ransom, so that you can take it home. Because, after all, no Swedish hands had anything to do with putting half of my imported items together, but of course I'd be defrauding the Swedish government of money by not paying them for the fact that no bugger already legally imports these items and sells them within Sweden, right? And it's cheeky, because you're already paying a premium to ship the damn thing to yourself, and the seller gets to mark up your item in the currency exchange too. Now you have to pay a third cost and you have zero say in the matter. Fun times!
  2. A lack of documentation / manuals: Usually, such items either come with an incomprehensible manual (either in a foreign language or merely some dodgy sketches and no words at all), or no documentation at all. As happens with my latest purchase. This is ok when you can figure out from website pictures how to assemble and use your items. However, if something were to break, do you know how to ask for a replacement part, if you don't know what the parts are called? and if you break it through accidental misuse, then it's all down to you.

I bought a Lan Parte GH5 camera kit / rig (http://www.lanparte.com/product/info_45_itemid_483.html) for my camera and I love it. However, it really would have saved me some time and some head scratching to get a piece of paper with it / booklet that explains how to assemble it all! And it would have been great not to have to pay an extra 440 SEK in ransom, to take the item home.

Of course, now that I have this, I realised that I also need to order the camera shoulder rig (http://www.lanparte.com/product/info_45_itemid_493.html) and the follow focus... some nice early Xmas presents for the Swedish government....

PS - it's worth saying that no one has forced me to buy these things. However, when a local retailer failed to fufill my order for the 8Sinn cage and handle, and I couldn't find any other options, I decided to chance buying it abroad. Also, I bought it in the full knowledge that I could have been ripped off or it might have been faulty / incorrect. You pays your money and you takes your chances basically. Luckily, I was very well taken care of by HMI US (https://www.facebook.com/HypermediaINTL ). I just wish these guys had a local Swedish reseller. 🙂

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25Oct/170

Camera swap – time for 4K

Gear porn is a hard addiction to fight. Our desire to stay ahead of current trends in video production, to produce something that can hold its head up high in an ever changing media landscape is tough to keep apace. And I know, in that regard, that I'm an addict. And it's hard to deny the urges that stem from creative desires...

It's little more than a year that I've been playing with and trying to master working with HD video - namely 1080p. Trying to shoot for web delivery and produce videos that can hold their heads up next to the kind of visuals that we can see on the small screen. Although I am obviously not a professional cinematographer, in the traditional sense - as in someone that almost exclusively studies their craft and is hired to capture a marketable vision for others - I do hope that until I can get the chance to work with a professional, that my own visuals will hold up along side that of my peers. And until then master the pesky world of DLSR videography, at least to a point that i can be proud of the results. Currently, I'm not near where I want to be. I'm still a beginner.

But when I wanted to shoot a new film - and was deciding, during pre-production, what I was going to do with the film, I found that there was a little voice that kept talking about not doing the film in 1080p and trying 4K...

The use of 1080p is clearly waning. Now is the time for 4K... and then what? 5 or 6K? lol. No I won't chase every passing bandwagon. But I do think that 4K should be with us for a good while yet. So now is the time for me to invest in it and learn how to use it. My problem is that I don't currently have a computer powerful enough to handle 4K yet. So I'm waiting for Apple to sort their lives out and hurriedly release the new Mac Pros. It's been a long time coming and if they disappoint, I will have to jump to another PC manufacturer, after years as a loyal Mac fan, as they've already wasted enough time and ignored their pro customers long enough. So until then, I'm focussing on the camera - to worry about the edit later.

So why 4K?

4K (3840 pixels wide Ă— 2160 pixels high) is a much bigger frame than 1080p (1920 pixels widw and 1080 pixels high). Even if you plan to release a 1080p movie, that bigger frame gives you plenty of options to crop creatively, to compose artful frames, that were better than that shot on the day. It also gives you more power to stablise unintentionally jerky shots in the edit. But it also future proofs your footage, assuming that 4K TVs become the new mainstream home viewing format.

So what camera have I chosen?

Z-PANASONIC-GH5-BEAUTY

It was a tough decision. I loved the ease of use, using my Canon 70D. And for vlogging, my point-and-shoot G7X MKII. However, Canon seem unwilling to solve the 4K riddle for their lower end semi-prosumer clientelle. I waited and they failed to deliver a good affordable 4K camera. Yes they've delivered what they call 'affordable' models in the C200 MKII and the C300 etc, but they're hardly affordable for people on lower budgets for anything other than as a rental. And I don't see much to like in their other DSLR range. So even though I love the way they do things and their glass, it was time for a change.

Now I loved what I saw in the Canon C200 MKII, the Panasonic EVA1 and the Black Magic Ursa Mini Pro. But if you buy those, then you still have to buy more gear to go with each. And you'd have automatically doubled your costs before you've even invested in storage to capture your footage on. I just couldn't justify the investment right now. Also those cameras are big. for my needs, right now, smaller is better. But in the future?...

It was a tossup between Sony or Panasonic, for me. Sony seem to have mastered the low light capability - something the guerilla filmmaker needs to deal with every day. But after using the RX100 MKIV and trying to Vlog with it and seeing how they p*ss battery power up the wall in minutes, I was not keen to invest in a more expensive camera that might have had similar issues. Also, their cameras tend to have a softer look that didn't quite do it for me. Instead, I went for the Panasonic Lumix GH5 - mainly because I heard much of the previous GH4 model - as a go-to for many wedding videographers and low budget filmmakers. They tend to bea bit more vocal about this camera than I tend to see in the Sony world. Having an active community to support you and advise you is key to me, as a learner. And I will just have to be creative when it comes to getting enough light.

The GH5 isn't cheap. Nor is it a simple proposition to switch format and then invest in new gear. Everything comes with a little risk. But so far I am happy. And before I committed to my chosen path I wrestled with the decision for a couple of months and did so much research that I felt incredibly depressed by the thought of doing any more.

For me, I was lucky in that I chose to switch at a time when my Canon gear, although it had depreciated in value, was desirable enough to give me a decent sum in a part exchange. So I had a good starting sum to play with. Then I waited for the new firmware update for the GH5 to come out - as there had been many criticisms of the camera on it's initial release earlier this year. And then I pounced. 🙂 At least it felt that way.

I purchased the body and then of course, unless you want to also invest in a speedbooster adapter, so that you can use your existing Canon glass with the different format camera - the GH5 is a Micro 4/3rds format - you then need new lenses. Lenses are not cheap - not if you want to invest in Pansonic lenses with inbuilt image stabilisation, so you fake a gimbal-like smooth moving shot. Although there are many cheaper 3rd party lenses that don't have that stabilisation - as well as 2nd hand lenses that do, but have dropped in value. Also, if you want to shoot in V-Log (a professional video codec that enables you to shoot in a professional format and then colour grade the footage later), you then need to buy the license key to unlock that pro format in the camera. The SD cards needed for that V-Log format at 4K are also very expensive, and have recquired SD card manufacturers to develop a new way of marking their cards, to guarantee that they can handle the footage. You need lots of them too, as 4K will eat up lots of storage in the shoot, nevermind the hard drive space you'll need when you take it into the edit. In short, I could go on with what I am learning, but it is truly dizzying to see how much other gear costs need to be factored in when building a kit - e.g. lights, sound gear etc. So I won't bore you any more. But suffice it to say that this camera, with a few more lenses will complete my basic kit and give me plenty to learn and keep me plenty occupied for a while now.

So far I've only had the briefest of time to play with the photo capability, to try out the new lenses and installed the new firmware update - I've purchased but I am waiting for the V-LOG key and have yet to put try editing any footage. But soon! First I need to go through the manual and play play play!

For now, my gear porn addiction is sated. Now comes the post purchase guilt and the need to shoot this damn movie. And then will inevitably come the post-production issues that I need to research and rehearse before the shoot. It never stops. Right?

Links:

Some video links that might be helpful:

GH5 Cinema Set-up & Tests: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0btY-irwawk

Panasonic GH5 - Everything I found out that you should know:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6O0XrHzGgk

Pansonic GH5 6 months later: https://youtu.be/N6BcaykMp88

4 Best Video Cameras for Indie Filmmakers in 2017: https://www.lightsfilmschool.com/blog/4-best-video-cameras-for-indie-filmmakers-in-2017-aec

 

 

 

 

 

 

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15Jul/170

Don’t Forget To Breathe – in production now

Film poster for DON'T FORGET TO BREATHE

DON'T FORGET TO BREATHE

DON'T FORGET TO BREATHE (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt6207538/?) - a film I co-wrote with Darwin Reina, is being shot right now in Barcelona, and I'm not there. It's a weird feeling. On the one hand, I am super stoked that the film is going ahead - after a lengthy but much needed pre-production period. On the other, I'm feeling a bit disconnected from it - a social media lurker, merely peering in through the lens of posts on Facebook and Instagram and checking up on progress. It's strange... so why am I not there?

I've been working my fingers to the bone recently - I had some very tough script deadlines to meet and some business travel to conduct. All of that is now done. And soon my holiday starts. But right now I am exhausted. Any creative will know that feeling of having recently achieved something significant, but then being in a weird limbo of not knowing if it is even any good? If people will even like what you've created? And having given everything to hit that deadline and to then be utterly crushed as the weight is removed from your shoulders - and the rest of you sags to the floor. The fact that I am able to sleep right now - in my new house and new bed - is propping me up. My brain is firing on all cylinders creatively, having been well-warmed up by the recent productivity, but I need to allow myself to rest and not dive into the next big thing right away. And that also means that although I technically could jump on a flight to Barcelona.. and book a hotel... should I?

Image of a magnetic whiteboard

Creativity lives here... or does it?

I've worked on films before and it is exhausting. It's an amazing process - long days, lots of standing around, great camaraderie etc - but although it can be incredibly rewarding and give you a chance to forge new creative relationships, it can also be very draining. If it was in a week, I'd be there. But right now... I need to cling on to rest.... My holiday starts then. But right now, I'd be no good to them. I'd be the worst kind of on set hanger on. A sleepy and irritable guy,  and feeling like a zombie the whole time, trying to follow what's going on and needing everything to be explained to him again in another language - and merely delaying and exacerbating the inevitable crash that will follow. After all the film is being shot in Spanish and although I did a year of it in school, it was 35 years ago and I can only order a cool beer right now. I'd only have to get people to use English, and it would bring the wrong kind of vibe to what is by all accounts an otherwise smooth production. So despite being torn, and really wanting to be there, I must give in to my need to rest. After all, I've been working crazy hours, often 7am to 1opm all week round for weeks on end, and doing this since November!

So all I can do right now is urge you to check out the social media feeds, follow and share the posts and await the eventual film - as I am doing.

I'm waiting in case the cast or crew have a question about the script that I can help with. I'm going to be there to help Darwin with the edit and the post production. And when we make the next films that I am writing for him, we'll do it together.

For now, I have a big magnetic white board to fill, and it's crying out for some index cards, some story beats and some fresh ideas. I can do this from an arm chair. It's a kind of rest. It's creative. But I'll also be hawk-eyed on my social media feeds...

Good luck guys! ¡Buena suerte!

 

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16Aug/110

Dream within a dream sequences – clichĂ© or not?

I am suffering right now from a flu bug. I don't sleep really. Hardly ever. When I do, it is usually after days of no sleep, or it is alcohol induced and fleeting. Or when I am ill, as my system is too run down. Anything more than two hours is a great night's sleep. But this makes me a very tired and usually creatively unproductive person when my energy is constantly dwindling after a full day of work.

Also I am constantly jealous of those who do and how easily they slip into oblivion. I hate it when they do it so effortlessly and they dream so richly. I begrudge it. Anyway, the only time I really sleep is when I am ill. And up until now, I would say that until this morning I always thought that the existence of really lucid dreams that could be confused with reality and those that led to other dreams, like the hackneyed dream-within-a-dream sequences in most horror films were nothing but a purely literary or cinematic device. That is, until it happened to me. Sort of....

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21Nov/100

Films watched recently

A few of the more notable films I've watched (in Alphabetic order):

30 days of night 2 dark days

  • 30 DAYS OF NIGHT 2: DARK DAYS - Yawn, blah... this b-movie sequel fails to live up to the promise of the first film. Right from the first movement when we see a quick actress switch and tiresome flashback monologue you can tell the film will suck worse than the hissing vampires this actress is trying to warn everyone about. It tells the tale of the female survivor travelling around and trying to convince people what happened after an apparent cover up, who is then sought out by a useless band of supposed vampire hunters to hunt the vampire queen. Only these tossers have no clue, inappropriate ideas about suitable weaponry and we don't care what happens to them as none of them are anything more than cardboard cut-out characterisations, including the Ripley-esque lead. It really outstayed the welcome and stunk up my night's viewing and was only memorable for the pain it induces when I think about watching it again.

Blood Creek poster image

  • BLOOD CREEK - a strange mix of atmospheric horror and sporadic, outlandish CG gore. This tale of a Nazi warlock using an ancient runestone to reanimate the dead and do his bidding proved entertaining, if a little predictable in places. Surprisingly good cast for what felt like a low budget schlocker. The main plot had more than a few plotholes, but entertaining and innovative enough, despite it's obvious desire to create a franchise. Worth repeat viewings.
  • CASTRATION MOVIE - Round a friend's house I was told a tale of a tape handed down from a cult film director by the band who released it. The bizarre nature of its footage and the murky provenence seemed like too good a chance to pass up the opportunity to watch what may be an actual - albeit bizarre - 'fake' snuff-type movie; as released by Psychick TV. The movie features the shoddy home movie road trip footage of a potential serial killer, featuring various 70s Mexican and White rentboys playing with electrode sexual stimulation / drug induced highs, with not altogether successful and sometimes fatal results. My friend had never watched it all the way through, so we did. You can't unsee this type of film, so think twice before deciding to check it out. - if you wish to check out what others think about the film and find out more about what is shown CLICK HERE. I certainly think it is a film that deserves more research into it. Not sure who would want to though.

Machete poster image

  • MACHETE - Danny Trejo (FROM DUSK TILL DAWN, HEAT) stars as the titular badass Mexican cop with a penchant for overly large shiny knives. The bag guys underestimate his gift for survival, when he is forced to watch them kill her, before being left for dead, stabbed and left to die in a burning house. He soon appears in the US as an illegal immigrant and is forced to take part in the fake attempted assassination of a candidate for State Senator (De Niro), using immigration as his ticket to office. Soon everyone is out to get Machete, but this unstoppable force of chopping and slicing carves his way through them all, until he gets his revenge; only stopping for the love of some hot Chicas - including a great pool scene with Lindsay Lohan (the Senator's daughter) and Alicia Rachel Marek (the Senator's wife). If you don't mind your action extra bloody CG, and can handle the idea of Trejo being an irresistible stud, then this film will float your boat. It did mine.

Ong Bak 3 movie poster

  • ONG BAK 3 - Another flawed martial action film starring Tony Jaa - picks up right where the second one finished. We find out more about the power of the Evil Crow assassin character, whilst Tien (Tony Jaa) is healed and regroups to fight another day. Flawed, but still amazingly shot and featuring some unique action sequences - this time a more yoga / Thai dancing style of fighting. Well worth a view.

PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 poster image

  • PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 2 - The much hyped sequel to the original haunted house tale - where a family bring their first born male home and all hell breaks loose. I fell asleep through the first film and wasn't entirely keen on going to see the second one. It does suffer from the same repetition and painfully slow build-up, and 'just-in-time-exposition', but it does deliver in the end. I was impressed that I felt the classic hairs-standing-up-on-the back-of-my-neck feeling, and that others in the cinema were jumping left right and centre and the unhappy ending. But I could have done without the pool cleaning equipment porn moments and other repetition. The film could easily have been 30 minutes shorter without sacrificing the experience. If I'd watched this at home on my own I doubtless would have slept through the good bits. I may now actually bother rewatching the first snooze fest.

REC 2 movie poster

  • REC 2 - a brilliant sequel to the first excellent Spanish Cinema Verite zombie movie, which blends the occult, possession and zombism into a terrifying unrelenting mix. This film picks up where the last one left off, the same night, with the female reporter being carted away by a possessed freak, and throws two new bands of curious people into the apartment building looking for answers. As one would expect, each band fall prey to their own stupidity and the hunger of the building's inhabitants. This film should be watched late at night, alone, in the dark. It will scare the pants off you and make you reach for the light switch when you go to bed. It has a very clever spin on how to make a monster truly terrifying and make use of night vision; something that is rarely seen in the tired horror genres of the last few years.

The collector movie poster

  • THE COLLECTOR - amazingly dark and unflinchingly twisted take on the Slasher film genre, with a thief breaking into a family home, only to find the house rigged with booby traps (ala SAW) and the family all trussed up in various states of disrepair. The titular killer is always one step ahead and seemingly unkillable, or rather the victims are seemingly intent on only maiming and not finishing the job. if you don't mind that sort of clichĂ© fare then it is well worth a look.

THE LOSERS  poster image

  • THE LOSERS - a weird comic book action movie about an A-TEAM-like band of Special ops characters who fall afoul of an evil CIA operative and barely survive an assassination, when they go against his orders. Their quest to restore their honour and avenge a Helicopter of kids didn't really float my boat, despite the very slick action sequences. Nor would it interest me to read the original books. But I may rewatch this when I'm in a better frame of mind and hopefully learn to love it.

Anyway, there are far more to mention soon. But that's it for now.

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27Jun/100

The story of THE COLLECTOR – aka MIDNIGHT MAN

Funnily enough, while lazily going through all of my RSS feeds and catching up on neglected blog articles, I found out that I'm already subscribed to one blog that is linked with THE COLLECTOR: "THE INSIDE PITCH - A Hollywood executive discusses screenwriting." - Written by Christopher Lockhart. It seems that Christopher, besides writing an excellent blog on the Screenwriting industry, from the inside, also produced THE COLLECTOR, which was originally known as the MIDNIGHT MAN. Read how the project came together here:

http://twoadverbs.blogspot.com/2006/05/midnight-man.html

"a small story that demonstrates one way a project comes together, and the arduous process it takes to launch a career and prove your worth in such a competitive industry."

That'll teach me to not keep up on my RSS feeds. ;0)

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20Jun/100

Breaking in – The COLLECTOR

SAW 3, 4 and 5 creators have a new film coming out - THE COLLECTOR - which looks amazing. And well worth a view, in an otherwise Horror bereft cinema schedule.

Collector poster

Check out the clip on the HORROR CHANNEL. Or go to the official website and watch the atmospheric trailer.

"For handyman and ex-con, Arkin, a quiet home and a family on vacation is an "opportunity". For inside the house lies a jeweler's safe, and inside the safe is a rare gem - his only hope for repaying his ex-wife's debt and keeping what's left of his family intact. Unfortunately for Arkin, inside the house is also a box containing the latest specimen in a collection catalogued in blood, bone and tears - a human specimen packaged as “bait”. While the trap may have already sprung shut on parents Michael and Victoria – cutting short their vacation before it could even begin - the jaws have yet to close on teenage daughter Jill and eight-year old Hannah. As the seconds tick down to midnight, Arkin becomes a reluctant hero trapped by a masked “Collector” in a maze of lethal invention – the Spanish Inquisition as imagined by Rube Goldberg – while trying to rescue the very family he came to rob."

But, more importantly - SAW creator Darren Lynn Bousman - continues his excellent Blog posts on 'breaking in' to the business here:

PART 3

PART 2

- I know I know. A tenuous link between the two. But one is educational and the other is entertaining. And there is a bit of a link.... enjoy. ;0)

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