Articles, Learn, Project News 06 September 2012,

Posting on Decktechs Post

By David Kent Kendall

Filmmaking is hardly ever an instantaneous process.  This is especially true for an independent, visual effects heavy Sci-Fi television pilot like Decktechs. Even after the crucial decisions of preproduction and production have been executed, there is the vast blank canvas of postproduction waiting on the horizon.  I use the term “blank canvas” because even though a film’s final cut often echoes what was written in the script, creative decisions made in post enhance the original notion. Multitudes of technical, artistic and critical choices culminate in post to make the picture complete.   This, of course, can’t happen without a tremendous team effort by a skilled postproduction crew.

When our picture was locked, a talented visual effects team was assembled. Once in place, they went to work on such tasks as 3D modeling, compositing, lighting, texturing and animating components of the episode’s 270 visual effects shots.

All of this was occurring parallel to a quite rigorous sound design venture.  Rob Miller, SCAD Sound Design Professor, graciously agreed to assign his graduate level postproduction class to the project.  He then split the show’s four acts up equally amongst his students and the work began.  Their job was managing the editing of dialogue with sound designers working in remote locations around Savannah and as far away as Seattle, Washington. 

Working “in the cloud”, each of the students acted as a sound editor working under the umbrella of Nick Gough who took the role of Decktechs Supervising Sound Editor.

Today, the Decktechs pilot episode is in the final phases of postproduction.  Throughout, we have witnessed students and professionals alike, use their special skill sets to deliver stunning visuals, sounds, and musical compositions.  We are humbled at the amount of dedication each of these artists have shown and are absolutely thrilled with the work they have done.  We can hardly wait to get everyone together for the premiere!

Articles, Involve, Learn, Project News 31 August 2011,

From Fan to Film Crew – Bringing a New Universe to Dragon*Con
By Lauren Leasure

I’m Lauren Leasure, and I am an actress, artist, production coordinator, and costume designer for Kendall Pictures’ Decktechs. But when you get right down to it, I’m just a big ol’ nerd.  

I love science fiction. You name it, I’ve watched it. I didn’t start that way, but now the geek runs deep. That said, I am living with a dark, dark secret. Sometimes I’m embarrassed at the amount of sci-fi that I consume. Is it a good thing, I wonder, to devote so much attention to one genre? Shouldn’t I be more concerned with programming that accurately represents the reality of my world? The truth, however, is only a few channels away: I could just as easily be watching Jersey Shore, Toddlers and Tiaras or The Real Housewives of Mansionland, which purport themselves to be reality, but are just as unbelievable and far from the real world as any episode of Battlestar Galactica. With sci-fi, I have to suspend my disbelief just as much as any other program, but I get the bonus of having spaceships, time travel and robots thrown into the mix. It’s that love for sci-fi that brought me to Decktechs.

I heard about Decktechs on the Internet. A brand new, original sci-fi show trying to find a foothold online? Naturally, my interest was piqued. For the past few years, sci-fi television has been thirsty for a quality show with a unique script, and suddenly, here it was. Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered the show was filming just minutes from my home in Savannah, Georgia. What’s more, the casting notice detailed a female supporting role, Jos: an independent, self-sufficient, bad-ass of a character. The sci-fi geek in me jumped into action, calling forth images of Princess Leia, Kara Thrace, and River Song.

As it happened, the notice was for that very day, with a little over an hour left for the auditions, so I rushed there. Unlike the sci-fi heroines of the past, Jos was a new and original twist on the old “tough-girl-exterior” genre staple. My excitement was ratcheted up even further.

After the audition, I made it plain how enthused I was about the whole project and told the producer and director to call me even if they just needed someone to bring them doughnuts on set. Much to my surprise, I was offered the position of Production Assistant. I was stoked! As fate would have it, our extremely talented head of wardrobe, due to the demands of school and work, found herself unable to devote the time necessary to the fledgling project and it was my time to step up. Something in me stirred. Something heretofore hidden and dark. Something… nerdy.

I’ll tell you a secret, as long as you keep it between you and me and don’t do anything silly like post it on the Internet. I love going to conventions. Yes, silly nerd conventions. Another secret: when I go to those silly nerd conventions, I wear homemade costumes, a hobby first indulged at age 4, piecing together the costume of Gadget from Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, and fueled by a lifetime love of theatre.

If I’m honest, “cosplay,” a term preferred by the sort of person who owns brightly-colored wigs, double-sided tape and corsets but doesn’t list their profession as “exotic dancer,” is the only reason I’m any good at costuming. We’ve all seen the stereotype of the people who attend these conventions portrayed on Galaxy Quest or that infamous SNL skit where William Shatner screams “GET A LIFE, will you people!? For crying out loud, it’s just a TV show!” to con-goers. You expect to see everyone from The Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy to the Dwight Shrutes of the world. And sure, at any con, there will be Klingons stomping across the lobby, but it’s so much more than that. These stereotypes are fewer and farther between than you may realize. Believe it or not, everyone attends these things: your banker, your doctor, your lawyer. And this is especially true of my all-time favorite convention, Dragon*Con.

 

Dragon*Con is, essentially, the east-coast San Diego Comic-Con, except it doesn’t have to pretend it’s not a press junket. It’s huge, it’s hot and it’s four of the best days of the year. Dragon*Con is North America’s largest annual science fiction and popular arts convention. Held every Labor Day weekend in the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, the Atlanta Marriott Marquis, the Hilton Atlanta, and the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel, it attracts over 40 thousand attendees with its multitude of celebrity guests, exhibits, art displays, merchandise, and collectibles.

With events planned around the clock, there are thirty-five fan based programming tracks, 3,500 hours of panels, workshops, gaming, a parade in downtown Atlanta, film festivals and art shows. And not one of those things can be accurately described in text. You’ve just got to be there.

And, now, for the first time in nearly a decade of attending cons, I am a spinning cog in the next big thing to hit sci-fi – Decktechs, a show of which I am an absolutely huge fan, and would be even if I weren’t working on it.

Several weeks ago, with Dragon*Con quickly approaching and Decktechs post-production nearing completion, my creative gears were turning and my imagination was in overdrive (or should that be hyperdrive?) when, suddenly, an idea appeared, and my twin passions found a way to work together. I went to my producer and director, presented the idea and they gave their blessing.

It was at this moment that everything came full circle. From sci-fi fan to sci-fi contributor, I could now die a happy girl. In on the ground floor of something amazing, I kept in mind the lesson of Serenity: fans can be more than just supporters and can move the industry if they try. So, I wanted to use this opportunity at Dragon*Con to introduce a legion of sci-fi aficionados to Decktechs first hand. But I’d have to come up with something strong and new, something unique to the show.

In Decktechs, the Eliptacom corporation runs the Solar Beacon, a massive underfunded solar collecting vessel on which our protagonist, Don, and his fellow deck technicians work. For Don, Eliptacom is a distant, out-of-touch company more concerned with the bottom-line than the welfare of its more “blue-collar” workers, like Don, who labor to maintain outdated equipment in a slowly crumbling facility.

What better way, then, to expose con-goers to the show than to bring to them the corporation that controls every aspect of Don’s life? Eliptacom would go to Dragon*Con. Or, as I will now call it, Elipta*Con 2011: a chance for the galactic leader in spacefaring industry to get in touch with Earth’s most enterprising individuals.

Utilizing a concentrated viral campaign, including commercials on the convention’s TV channel featuring Decktechs footage never before released in its entirety, Eliptacom will make its presence known at Dragon*Con. A street team, some members of which will be wearing screen-used costumes from Decktechs’ pilot episode, will promote the company (and the show) in lobbies, on sidewalks and standing in line for panels. Business cards, handed out to con attendees and left in conspicuous locations, will feature the Eliptacom logo, website address and a QR code directing interested parties to more information on Decktechs. Finally, during the con, an Eliptacom spokesmodel character will provide an inside look at the convention, for a follow-up video to be released after Dragon*Con.

In the grand scheme of things, these are baby steps, but who knows, maybe one day, people will be wearing my Decktechs costume designs at Dragon*Con. And God help the overly critical and judgmental con attendee who tells me the DT costume I’m wearing isn’t accurate. Trust me, they exist.

But whatever people make of this campaign, however they react, this is an opportunity for me to present a show that I know and love to a community that I know and love the same. I owe so much to Kendall Pictures and Decktechs, and I believe in the work we’ve done. To be able to take that work to the people who fostered in me an interest in this sort of thing in the first place is a rare treat. Dragon*Con, beyond being an environment chockful of dedicated media consumers who can make or break shows, is a melting pot of sci-fi, costuming, pop culture and plain old fun. I believe Elipta*Con can not only fit in seamlessly, but flourish amidst the Klingons, Cylons and Autons.

Now if only I could find something to wear…
Decktechs TV Pilot is a Kendall Pictures, LLC production
Articles, Learn, Project News 04 July 2011,

The Director’s Perspective – Sound Design
by Dave Kendall

Working on an independent television pilot can be like creating a multi-layered cake. When production wraps, the creative aspects of postproduction kick into full swing and you begin to see the fruits of your labor come together. While this phase can be very rewarding, it takes time, patience, and a dedication to see it through. Once we had finished production for Decktechs, we went straight to work on editing and in April of 2011 we had a picture lock. What this meant for us was that we could finally start working on the multitude of visual effects shots and begin tackling the intricacies of the pilot’s sound design.

Post sound design in itself has many facets. There is dialog editing, sound effects, sound synthesis, Foley sounds, automated dialog recovery (ADR), the musical score, and various instances of panning, blending and equalizing that coalesce to bring the picture to life. None of the aforementioned could have been handled without a strong post sound design team and we were fortunate enough to develop one. This was largely made possible through the efforts of SCAD sound design professor, Rob Miller, and his graduate level post sound design class. We approached Rob with this task early in April by pitching the project to him and his students. Two weeks later, the project had been approved through SCAD’s sound design chair, David Stone and the process began.

Rob decided that it made the most sense to divide the episode up into four reels that would coincide with each of the episode’s acts and then disperse supervising roles to each of his four students. These students would then be in charge of working with other sound designers that we had appointed ahead of time—some of which were working remotely from other states. The fact that we had uploaded the movie file and Pro Tools files to an FTP site allowed our designers to “work in the cloud” by accessing all of the content from the web.

Soon we were able to conduct spotting sessions to decide where and how certain sounds should be placed. As the director, this was the most enjoyable phase of the process as it allowed for me to articulate to the designers how sounds could be used to further tell the story. To put it simply, I wanted the sound design to act as its own character playing to the mood or meaning of any particular scene or story arc.

At this point in time, we are about halfway through the sound design and I am looking very much forward to the second half. This little article wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t thank the following individuals for putting so much time and effort into Decktechs: Professor Rob Miller, Professor David Stone, Nick Gough, Blake Johnson, Eric Berzins, Timothy Liedel, Pete Dupon, Robert Garvin, Brandon Neslund, Max Christman, Matt Klimek, and Sean Regan.

Articles, Learn, Watch 10 February 2011,

The “Albert” Experience by Erick Esteban

I first learned about Decktechs when I received an email at the end of last April from Carrie Lee asking if I would be interested in reading a script for a production they were working on. As soon as I read the script I knew I wanted to be Albert and be a part of telling this story. All the characters jumped off the page and the fact that it was set in space got my Deep Space Nine juices flowing.

The audition was held over Skype, which gave the project a further futuristic feel. I felt like George Jetson the Actor during the whole thing. The months that followed were filled with pre-production interviews and a successful Kickstarter campaign. All of  which was just a precursor to the production. WATCH Erick’s Interview.

It wasn’t until late November that I boarded a red-eye flight at LAX.  I slept most of the flight which simulated the cryogenic sleep I would have been under if I was traveling to a space station near the sun.  I landed at Savannah/Hilton Head Airport and was greeted by the smiling faces of Carrie Lee and Dave Kendall of Kendall Pictures.  Dave was playfully holding up an “Albert” sign. We all shared a laugh and headed straight to check on the production load-in at Meddin Studios, where we would film the bulk of my scenes and where most of  the green screen work was done.

As I stared into that huge green space and the all-green frame of the spaceship that I would fly, I was like a kid in a toy store.  I had only worked on a green screen once before but never at this level.  The moment was exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. Once I sat in the cockpit chair of the Flea, I had a feeling that I was about to be a part of something very special.  I was really here. It was now time to shoot.

The week I spent in Savannah filming Decktechs’ pilot is one of those weeks in my life that I will never forget.  There was a synergy in the air the whole time we were filming.  There are times in your life when you know you are exactly where you are supposed to be. Decktechs was definitely one of those times for me.

I have been acting for almost fifteen years.  I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of many wonderful productions, but living on the “Solar Beacon” and getting to fly a spaceship ranks near the top.  I can’t wait to start on episode two.

WATCH The “Albert” Experience

by Erick Esteban,
Decktechs Cast Member

Articles, Learn, Project News 11 December 2010,

Local production of TV pilot could mean revenue for the future

Article link on Savannahnow.com
Posted: December 10, 2010 – 11:09pm | Updated: December 11, 2010 – 3:19am


Co-director and writer David Kendall, right, talks about his production of Decktechs on the set at Meddin Studios. (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News)

By Linda Sickler
Independent filmmakers are shooting a TV pilot in Savannah, that if picked up by a network, could be a boon for the city in terms of a long-term presence.

Kendall Films is producing the dramatic-comedy pilot, “Decktechs,” at Meddin Studios on Louisville Road. Produced for the science-fiction market, the pilot is set in 2075.

It won’t be finished until late summer, but the production already has attracted the interest of networks and distributors.

“A local project can have a larger, deeper impact on the community than a transient project,” said Jay Self, director of the Savannah Department of Tourism and Film Services. “A $50 million feature film is going to spend a lot of money here, but then they’re gone.

“A local project may not hire as many people, but it can create a larger opportunity over a longer period of time,” Self said. “A TV series can go for years and years.”

In ”Decktechs,” a young man, Don, wants to work in outer space and lies on his resume. He lands a job on a corporate space station, but soon finds himself stuck in space in a dead-end job without enough money to return to Earth.

“It’s futuristic, but realistic,” said executive producer Carrie Lee Bland, who has ties to Savannah.

The pilot is being directed by Bland’s husband, David Kendall, a former art teacher who has worked on film projects over the past eight years. Currently, he’s an M.F.A. candidate in the Savannah College of Art & Design film and television program. “Decktechs” is his master’s thesis.

About half of the pilot’s budget was raised through Kickstarter, an Internet funding platform for creative projects. Through the site, 78 backers have pledged $6,850 in funding, exceeding the goal of $5,000.

The script was written by Kendall, Stephen Withers and Brian Pace.

The production was originally expected to involve 50 people, but now has more than 200. The cast includes locals and professional actors from Los Angeles and Chicago.

“Because of the Web and social media, it already has over 1,000 fans on Facebook,” Bland said.

Once finished, “Decktechs” will be taken to independent TV pilot festivals in New York and Los Angeles. Bland is confident it will be accepted into those festivals.

“Our intent is not just to sell the idea but to keep the business here,” she said.

Kendall and Bland formed their film company four years ago. Until “Decktechs,” the company had focused on commercials, short films and TV content.

Talent, equipment in Savannah


Carrie Lee Bland Kendall is the producer for the sci-fi TV pilot called Decktechs (Steve Bisson/Savannah Morning News)

Bland attended Armstrong Atlantic State University until a successful audition pulled her away from Savannah. She worked as an actress for 16 years on Broadway, off Broadway and in TV and then went to work for the Chicago Mayor’s Office of Special Events.

“My career sent me to other places, but I always knew I wanted to return to Savannah,” Bland said.

When Kendall decided to attend SCAD, he and Bland toured Meddin Studios and were surprised to find the space and equipment they needed.

“Savannah has always been a creative community that has drawn creative people and produced creative people, but they tend to leave,” Self said. “What we are seeing now is an opportunity that this creativity can be utilized locally and stay here.”

To follow the filming and post-production of “Decktechs,” go to decktechs-series.com.

Articles 24 August 2010,

The Director’s Perspective – Casting
by
David Kendall

When I first read the script for Decktechs, I was blown away by the richness of all of its characters. To be able to co-direct and help revise drafts of Decktechs is an opportunity to fully realize the depth of these fictional beings. However, writing and directing are only a part of how these characters will be brought to life. The other component that has to be added to the equation is actors. Great characters deserve to be manifested by actors who can truly step into an alternate world and become someone else. So, when it came time to cast the characters, we wanted to make sure we were putting talented and experienced actors into these roles.

Articles 18 August 2010,

Written by Stephen Withers

These days, it is hard to keep track of what writer/director/actor Samuli Torssonen is up to. My last memory is seeing a behind the scenes sneek peak of his upcoming film, in which a large crew was assembled on a soundstage – a “real” soundstage – in front of a massive blue screen, with lights, cameras and dollies. This is clearly a guy who has made it.

In recent years, filmmaking has become accessible to virtually anyone as professional productions and amateur productions are increasingly distinguished only by the skill of their creators, and not the equipment or financing necessary. Propelling this, along with desktop software and inexpensive equipment, is the accessibility of visual effects – it is possible for anyone to download learning editions of professional software and simply learn it themselves, the quality of output only limited by the amount of time the person is willing to spend learning and creating. Conceivably, an artistically inclined person can create a feature film with stunning visuals for virtually nothing, if they had enough time to spend.