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Saturday, December 26, 2015

How Lovecraftian Cosmic Terror Applies As A Metaphor For Modern Society


 “The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents... some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new Dark Age.”
~ H.P. Lovecraft


It has been mentioned before that my film in progress, The Quantum Terror's cash of creatures are more than just your run of the mill beasts that maim people for kicks, but rather metaphors that speak of the burdens that everyone living in or modern society must bear. For many people who have a cursory knowledge of H.P. Lovecraft, the name evokes images of slimy, tentacled monsters devouring hapless victims, while leaving the survivors to cackle with mad laughter, which in turn dissolves into hysterical tears from the encounter. It's a fair enough generalization, but in this day and age of Cthulhu plush toys and role playing games, I fear that the true implications of an alien terror so vast, so complex, contradictory, and foreign that it causes people to go insane, has been lost on most, especially since we have already encountered such a being. No really, we have. It didn't come from a fallen meteorite, beneath ancient ice, or the briny depths, but from that alternate dimension that is the collective human consciousness.


Maybe, I better step back for a moment. You see, human consciousness is in itself its own dimension. Everything our five senses perceive is not reality, but rather a construct created by our brain, based on the sensory information that our nerve endings, eyes, nose, ear drums, and taste buds have delivered to it. We are living in an imaginary best guess, based on this information, that our mind has built for us, so we can move through three dimensions as efficiently as we can. In truth we can't even be sure that we're moving at all, or that space is three dimensional. (See René Descarte for more about that.) We're flying much more blindly than we believe, and metaphorically speaking (at least we hope it's a metaphor) we've stumbled upon an malevolent parasite that has latched onto our psyche. It's nothing overtly obvious that implanted itself into a single being, like a zombie virus or possessed little girl, but rather it inserted little pieces of itself into each and every one of us, so that it could exist among us all, slowly and methodically eating us whole from the inside out, by overwhelming our personal concept of reality in a poisonous way. Why?

“I think the point is to make us despair; to reject our own humanity, Damien: to see ourselves as ultimately bestial; as ultimately vile and putrescent; without dignity; ugly; unworthy.”
~William Peter Blatty, The Exorcist
 
 Human beings greatest strength is that even in the most cut throat of times, when this Trojan horse in our collective has cased so much destruction, good people can be found who inspire hope and rally others to strive for improvement. Historically, these people have risen above the clamor and shown their fellows the way, not through deception and despair, not through coercion and censorship as so many are want to do these days, but by example, so that we can right the wrongs, or at least rebuild with the intention of doing better next time. 


However, each time this entity returns stronger and more determined then the last, a Hydra like insidious worm akin to that which gets into the brains of cows, causing them to turn in circles until they drop dead or rabies infecting a pack of wild dogs so that they turn on each other. It finds what matters to us most and digs in, driving us apart until we are so consumed with the weight of it all, that we eventually give up and let ourselves fall to ruin.  



Amazingly, I've found that it is this Equestira Girls: Rainbow Rocks song, entitled "You Didn't Know That You Fell" that illustrates this point quite perfectly with its lyrics, but instead of a Siren's song dividing us, it is the cacophony of the dilapidated media and politics, that is perpetuated minute by minute courtesy of social media. We've all been assimilated into it. Indeed, it can't exist without us and the people who profit from it are working hard to make sure we never leave. 


What? You were expecting a giant naked lizard man with an octopus head? While that image is definitely more fun for horror movies, it is those same movies that have ensured that if such a being were to really manifest in our world, our brains will have already been prepared for the image and recognizing the enemy. We'll be ready to fight.




However, this being is far too clever to do something like that. Instead it has attacked us in a way most people never have thought possible, and therefore we would not be able to protect ourselves against, so readily. Rather than overwhelming us with sheer alien incomprehensibility, it overwhelmed us with the incomprehensibility of our own inner world, taking our desire to be moral creatures and hitting it dead on. The younger generation of our current populous has suffered the worst from this attack, because they do not come from a time before everyone carried a device with them that constantly inundates everyone with information and misinformation, 24 hours a day. However, having that frame of reference is not a sure fire inoculation. We were all taken off guard.




Those of us who grew up before the iPhone and Androids never imagined that there would be a worse perpetrator of this deluge than the TV, which we could easily walk away from to continue on with our daily lives. Now we're always plugged in, wherever we go, and so are the mechanisms of our culture. It gives us information on tap and at the touch of a little screen, grants us the capacity to learn things and see places without traveling, but it mixes that great privilege, which no one wants to give up, with superficial things and tells us that no person should be without them. At breakneck speeds it shows us threats and atrocities both real and manufactured for manipulation, and gives us such conflicting information, rewritten history, edited events, propaganda, people arguing, condescending to each other, accusing everyone of racism, holding grudges for things that happened before any of us were born, telling them they're evil for eating meat, not having solar panels, thinking differently then them. It tells them that the environment is being destroyed, terrorists are killing everyone and it's our fault, the economy is crashing, our government is being controlled by corporations, you're greedy for opposing new taxes, the color of your skin invalidates you (or if you're black and you agree with a white person, you're a coon.), your typos invalidate you, your bills are overdue, and on and on and on, and this is coming at you all the time, and the big message is if you're not thinking about it, caring about it, trying with all your might to do the right thing, fix all the planet's problems, and not offend anyone, then YOU are what's wrong with this world. Dare to present another point of view and you will be blocked, ganged up on, ostracized, and labeled a troll. It's passive aggressiveness with all the aggressiveness of World War III. Pass it on. Of course, feel free to absolve yourself when you do. Everyone else does. It's enough to drive anyone to madness in a way that puts any cosmic horror to shame. 



  
And so Cthulhu has risen. Or maybe it's more like the Orwellian bullet to the head (read 1984 to get that reference) wherein here comes the self appointed master to tell you that all of this free will is really what's ailing you. "What you need is to put us in charge." they tell us, "We know better than you. Never mind that we're the ones that built the pyre and fanned the flames." and when we're all beaten and crazy from it all, and agree to their devil's proposition, Cthulhu will have consumed us completely. 



However, unlike the writings of Lovecraft, there is still hope. When enough people learn to question what they're shown, to know when to tune things out, to seek knowledge through the world that the information highway does not show them, but rather go back to experiencing what our five senses show us, we will once again be able to take our lives back from this horror. First we'll have to learn not to fear the cuts and bruises that both our egos and physical bodies will have to endure, to be happy this way. We'll have to learn to live with different points of view and accept when others don't always agree with ours, and also accept that this might not mean that they're bad people. We'll have to be aware that there will always be others willing and wanting to hurt us and be prepared to defend ourselves against them, but we will do it with courage and integrity, rather than crying to some imagined savior, who is really just a salesman or aspiring slave master, minus the tell tale tentacles that would otherwise raise a red flag. 

All of this will be in The Quantum Terror. Don't worry, it will be subtle. We know you don't go to the movies to be preached to, like in this article. I'll leave that to James Cameron when he releases the next Avatar movie. 

As always, thank you!
-Christopher "Moonlight"
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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Why I Made The Protagonist Of The Quantum Terror A Lesbian


I've had a lot of comments since I started this campaign to bring The Quantum Terror to life. Two of them stand out in my mind, and I feel are important for me to address.

The first one was from a Facebook commenter who said something like, "I was into the trailer until I saw the girls kissing." I don't think they were actively offended by it, but may have had some concerns that the movie was just going to be gratuitous in an exploitation kind of way. While I freely admit to wanting to make a movie that is as sexy as it is scary, it's also very important to me that there isn't anything in the film that doesn't need to be there. The Quantum Terror is a love story between two women that is interrupted by not only the horrors that come with alien creatures, but the perceptions of others on the outside looking in. These preconceived notions come from everywhere and at everyone who is trying to be true to themselves, their feelings, and sense of place in the world. After all, quantum physics is partly to do with the influence of observation. (...as explained in this video, if you want to know more on that.)


Indeed, whether we like it or not, our daily lives are greatly influenced by how others perceive and interact with us. Regardless of our skin color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or age, each and every person is experiencing life from their own individual point of view, yet we still have to contend with how others perpetuate the stereotypes that come with our commonalities. Celebrities and media will over inflate them, encouraging others to embrace these stereotypes as culture or life style, when they are neither. They are simply pigeonholes meant to keep people thinking of themselves and others as part of the masses, rather than taking ownership of ones own identity. The result is often segregation through the illusion of pride or heritage. Heritage and traditions can help us learn about where we came from and where we're going, but unfortunately are also often used to draw lines between us and our fellows. Before you know it, people are using them to justify bullying through bigotry.  These stereotypes influence those who would rather generalize than address each person they meet as a unique human being, who may have their own thoughts and feelings, their own hopes, problems, fears, or loves outside of what any group which has been automatically designated to them by a roll of the cosmic dice. We seem to live in a world where daring to step outside of that has become socially unacceptable on any side of these lines. I feel that could be damaging to anyone's psyche, especially of today's young people, who don't seem to have any frame of reference to ground themselves in.*


My intention in creating a lesbian protagonist was to take the stereotype and strip it from the character, so you would see the human being underneath, which we all have in common. In doing so, I felt that I could be free to take an objective look at these characters as I wrote them and free them from the box others might want to put them in, even if I am a heterosexual male. Was I successful? I asked our leading actress Kristen Cochell (IMDB) what she thought, and this is the reply she sent me.


"I fell in love with my character in The Quantum Terror, Sam, shortly after reading the script. Sam is unlike a lot of heroin/leading roles we see in the cinema currently, which is what attracted me so much to her. In this movie we have one of the first Lesbian heroines. A gay hero? It's unheard of, which is one of the reasons I wanted to play her. Another reason Sam's character spoke to me is because main female characters have always been undermined by covering their emotions on film. God forbid we show a main character in an emotional light, right?  Don't get me wrong Sam is very strong, sort of like Sigourney Weaver in Aliens, but she's also very fragile at moments, which makes her human. Sam's character has been a turning point for my career. The internal struggle between fighting to find her sister, fighting back her feelings for Lucy, fighting aliens and quantum physics, it's been a truly challenging role that I could not be more grateful to tackle. The Quantum Terror is not just about making a lesbian love story, but raising and changing standards in the film industry."


Which brings me to...

The second comment I received was from another actress who auditioned for the lead. Her's was something to the effect of, "Even if you don't cast me, I just want to say thank you for creating a part like this in your film. It means so much to me and to other women, especially in Austin, that a filmmaker would chose to have a female lead like this one." I confess, I was much taken aback at being told this. I've always been a fan of science fiction and horror, and in my mind all the great films had a woman at the forefront. Sigourney Weaver's Ripley in Alien and  Linda Hamilton's Sarah Conner in Terminator stand out the most, but movies like Hellraiser, Nightmare On Elm Street, Rosemary's Baby, and Halloween all centered around a well written heroine. It seemed only natural to me to do the same. That's not to say that the decision was entirely accidental. I had decided that I didn't want to center my theme around a person's race or spiritual beliefs, because not only could that become unintentionally polarizing, but I feared that not everyone would be able to automatically relate. On the other hand a homosexual person can come from any walk of life. It truly seemed to be the only way to go. I hate to say it, but in this day and age I realize that this is still going to be a hard sell. It would be an even harder one if the romance was between two men. I feel that two women may be a little easier for male moviegoers to handle.

I realize I still run the risk of garnering criticism and perhaps even malice from our potential audience, but it is my hope that people don't come at this movie thinking I'm going out of my way to make some sort of progressive statement. I'm really not. This movie is ultimately about tentacled horrors from another dimension whose very existence will bring people to the brink of metaphysical madness. All this other stuff about individuality, having the freedom to chose, and being true to yourself is just subtext to make the movie more engaging for everyone, including myself. When you see it, you can decide what to take away from it on your own.

Hey, by the way, we'd actually love to have you as part of the fun, so why not head on over to our Indiegogo page (click right here http://igg.me/at/quantumterror) watch the trailer, and pick up a pledge reward.


*Next up: How Lovecraftian cosmic horror and quantum physics apply as a metaphor for our media driven society!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

First, watch the trailer and then I'll tell you about what we've been up to.


Here's the short link to the Indiegogo: http://igg.me/at/quantumterror

Did you like it? We're pretty pleased with it. There are issues what we're working to improve right now, such as improving our sound, but over all I think you'd be hard pressed to find anything else of this quality on our budget. I'd say that I'd bet my reputation that we'll probably finish with a better all around film than most bigger budget indies, but the fact is that anytime a director/producer makes a movie, that's exactly what they are doing. Fortunately, I've got a great cast and crew who are bringing a level of quality to this film that would otherwise be out of my reach. However, we still need your help. If you've already pledged, please share our campaign. Now what we've made our goal, Indiegogo is letting us keep raising money, so we can make this movie be the best it can be.


The Story
Samantha Carroll's twin sister Silvia has gone missing, without a trace. The only clues that Sam has to go on are notebooks filled with strange quantum physics equations combined with scribblings about the occult, that have been left behind. Silvia's ex-boyfriend and fellow college classmate claims he has seen her going into the nearby drainage tunnels that run under the town he lives in, however he himself is a suspect in her disappearance.
Accompanied by Samantha's concerned ex-lover Lucy, who has brought a new boyfriend in tow, the now group of four go down into the tunnels where strange alien creatures and alterations of reality, will confront them with their deepest desires and darkest inner truths. Now, the question isn't just whether they will find Silvia or not, but if it's even possible for them to ever get out again.

How We're Making It Happen
If you haven't already seen, we've cast actress Kristin Cochell in the leading roll of Samantha Carroll. She, along with the supporting cast of Paula Marcenaro Solinger, Matt Blackwell, Jordan Michael Brinkman, Mike Gassaway, & Dimitrius Pulido were all part of an extensive casting process, in order to ensure that we had the best actors possible, who would engage the audience and truly bring the story to life. 

The Script
As I say in the video, story and characters count. Executive producer James Hudnall is known for his work as co-creator of the Ultraverse for Malibu Comics as well as Harsh Realms for Chris Carter, and is a writing genius in my book. His revisions of the script are invaluable. We continue to talk on the phone about directors we love (David Lynch and Sergio Leone are names that kept coming up) and tweaks that should be made to the script as footage is shot. We're both very visual storytellers and we want to make sure that ours unfolds through mood, body language, the looks in people's eyes and actions, as much as through what is said.


Building Scary Worlds & Monsters
Let's talk about building underground tunnels and the creatures that inhabit them, on a micro budget. My passion for a long time has been working with a hybrid style of miniatures, trick photography, practical effects, puppets, and green screen composite work, both for the screen and design. I've helped bring to life the visions of some amazing creators, on projects like Passport To Explore, Live Forever: The Ray Bradbury Odyssey, and Harbinger Down, but I'm the director, so I had to bring in someone who I could trust to do even better at that stuff than the standards I hold myself to. That's why I made Jenna Green my head of special effects. You'll probably know her best for her time on SyFy Channel's Face Off (season 4) but she also wowed audiences with work on Army of Frankensteins.


We're not having a go at the FX alone, though. Studio 1881 actually has no internet presence, so you'll just have to take my word for it when I say that the main creature that is being sculpted there is beyond amazing. The fact that Oscar winning FX company studioADI is contributing animatronic tentacles to our film is just mind blowing. Having the support of people with that level of achievement (the Aliens franchise, Tremors, Starship Troopers, Harbinger Down) makes us believe we must be doing something right.

 
The Look & Sound
Cinematographer Anthony Gutierrez is one of our latest additions to the team. This has been an amazing development for us, because even though I had confidence in my own camera skills and artistic eye, there's nothing like having a specialist at the helm, that can look at everything that is going on in a production, and capture it in a way that transcends your average B-movie. Composer Derek Hunt is a relative newcomer to film scoring, but as you can tell from the trailer, he's come up with some haunting melodies that will put the fear, in atmosphere. (It works better when you say it out load.)


...and there's so much more we're doing right now, that we either can't talk about just yet, or would just make this post twice as long as it already is. (Shout out to David Paul, who is doing our titles & the band Frankenstein who have a track in the film.) I just want everyone to see that the stars are right. We've attracted more top notch talent than I could have ever dreamed. We've got a film with amazing visuals, themes like love, LGBT issues, freedom of choice, life, death, spirituality, science, and the passion to make it all happen. Come be a part of it.


Oh, and I almost forgot. Check the shout out we got on this weeks Fright Hype, on Crypt TV.

VICTOR FRANKENSTEIN TRAILER!! That and the best Mortal Kombot YouTube reimaging ever on this week's horror news show FRIGHT HYPE!
Posted by Crypt TV on Friday, August 21, 2015

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Quantum Terror IndieGoGo, The Practical People, and Beyond!!!


So far 2015 has been one of the busiest and more exciting years of my life. As you can see from the above video, I'm in the middle of crowdfunding and producing an independent horror movie called The Quantum Terror. I've also become the host of a new podcast show on Leglesscorpse.com, dedicated to raising awareness of practical effects, which are the in-camera makeups, animatronics, and puppets that bring so much magic to cinema. I call it The Practical People, based on a documentary that I've been working on over the past few years, by the same title. I've also been doing a lot of writing around the internet for Legless Corpse, Movie Pilot, The Austin Film Meet, and of course, my own Moonlight Art Magazine.

The Quantum Terror is going really well. Unlike many crowdfunded films, we're not waiting until the end of our campaign to launch production. We're already drafting our script, building monsters, and casting. If you'd like to follow along with our progress, you can follow along on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blogspot, and of course by getting our updates when you pledge to our campaign, which you can do by CLICKING HERE. Check out the newest WIP video, which shows our undressed tentacle puppets.


The Practical People had a really strong debut, when my co-host Jack Ritchie (www.darkestjack.com) and I interviewed special effects legend Shannon Shea. We talk about everything from Neill Blomkamp's Alien Movie, to Shannon's work on T2, Jurassic Park, Evil Dead II, Predator, teaching for Cinema Makeup School and his new book I'm Rubber, You're Glue by Shannon Shea. Next episode Matt Winston of the Stan Winston School of Character Arts. CLICK HERE to listen and enjoy.


My writing has been coming along, and I'm pleased to be featured in more and more places on the web. Click on MoviePilot.com and Leglesscorpse.us to see the articles I've written for them, which I'm very proud of, and also check out my first article for Austin Film Meet called 6 Tips For Creating An EPK For Your Film. That was a fun one to write, and I look forward to creating more content for them in the near future.

Is that all. NO! Oh my gosh, no. Within the next few days, I should have information on publicity stunts for The Quantum Terror, which if you're in Austin TX, you can come out and see. I'll also have info on a fundraising event for the film, at the beginning of next month, in Downtown Austin. I'll also be included in some of Out Of Step Books art anthologies, and have been asked to help put together an art book for someone else. I can't say anything more about that one yet. All in good time, and one step at a time. As anyone knows, you can't do all these things at once. In fact, I have a feeling that all of these things will see me strait through, to 2016. Stick with me. It's going to be a hell of a year. Thanks.

~Christopher Moonlight

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Quantum Terror: A Christopher Moonlight Production

A twin sister lost. An underground maze. A nameless insanity from outside of time and space awaits.


It's no secret that I'm very passionate about what I do. Film making has always appealed to me, because it allows me to engage my creativity through writing, drawing, building, and working with other creative minds, as a team. In my quest to pursue projects on micro budgets I have been humbled, but my commitment to finishing them have only strengthened my creativity and problem solving abilities. There for I am happy to announce that my four projects, the all green screen sci-fi short Girl In The Window, my documentary The Practical People, short film My Little Zombie (which I will talk about more, in future posts) and my first feature length horror film as a producer, The Quantum Terror will all see completion of their productions in 2015. 

What Is The Quantum Terror?

When I came to Austin, TX in 2012, I was fortunate enough to make some wonderful friends, including director Frank Papa III, special effects artist Jenna Green, and film composer Lauren Morris, and before long I convinced them that they should work with me to produce a work of indie horror, the likes of which no one has ever seen, or dreamed possible on such a micro budget. We tried to run a Kickstarter in the month of December, which was really the wrong time...



...but it was a great way to A) learn that Kickstarter isn't the right platform for us, no matter how near or far from Christmas we try to raise our funds, and B) gain a tremendous amount of enthusiastic and supportive followers who want to see a movie like this made. And why wouldn't they?! We love movies full of strange alien shapes, tentacles, and mind blowing scientific ideas of interdenominational beings so incomprehensible to the human mind, that one would go crazy, just from seeing one. (takes deep breath) It's easy to see that other people love them, too. We also love seeing awesome practical effects, like the ones in John Carpenter's The Thing or James Cameron's Aliens, so when we started doing test videos for our own effects, we and everyone else could see that it could be awesome.  

 

 By the way, those creepy sounds were provided by the before mentioned Lauren Morris, who's passion and deep understanding of her craft make it obvious that she's going to be a huge asset in making this movie as spine chilling as it can be.

 

Of course, these are just some of my own humble effects tests. As a producer, my job is to bring in people who know better than I, and I think I've scored a pretty amazing talent in makeup and creature effects artist Jenna Green, who is responsible for the more impressive effects on the film Army Of Frankensteins. You may also remember her as a contestant on season 4 or the SyFy monster makeup competition show Face Off. Here she is talking about one of the higher end rewards we came up with for our crowdfunding. 


We're also courting some amazing actors. I won't mention all of them here, because their availability is going to depend on when we raise enough funds to shoot, but they include the likes of Mike Gassaway (Magic Mike XXL, Dallis, Bad Kids Go To Hell) and Paula Marcenaro Solinger (Blood Sombrero, Salem, Flashes) who was also kind enough to record this video about why she wants to be a part of our movie.


So, what's this film about?

Our story follows a young woman in her early 20's named Sam, who is struggling with all the expectations that she believes she needs to fulfill within the chaos of modern society, and the confusion she feels after having an unexpected romantic relationship with another woman. Things continue to break down, when her twin sister goes missing, and the search for her leads Sam and her former lover into a dark underground labyrinth where a malevolent entity from beyond time and space, dwells. 

Wow, right? I could go on, but I've got to get back to work on producing this film. As you can see, we're really passionate about creating something meaningful and unique. We believe that there's plenty of room in life for diversity, and really can't understand why people continue to chase after the same horror movie tropes until they evolve into meta, and the meta burns out. Let's take our love of creatures, practical effects, great acting, and solid storytelling, and show that the spirit of independent film making can bring new and original material to the screen.

  
We're coming to IndieGoGo, very soon. Lets do this thing! Follow us on:

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