The Blog of Ryan Foss

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Reformat the Planet

Being an indie filmmaker, 30 something, a love of video games (classic and new), and a love of techno, you can’t blame me for finding the documentary BLIP FESTIVAL: REFORMAT THE PLANET interesting.

Tonight I found myself on the internets like usual and landed on Pitchfork.tv. They had a link to a short video playing for one week only so I figured I’d check it out. Little did I know it was the entire movie for the documentary about a niche music culture known as chiptunes. Essentially, geeked out people who make music with old game consoles like the Nintendo Gameboy. Simply put, 1 bit to 8 bit type music. It was really quite impressive. I wish I had some musical skills.

I strongly recommend you check out the trailer.

BLIP FESTIVAL: REFORMAT THE PLANET trailer from 2 Player Productions on Vimeo.

I’m Big in Minnesota

When I arrived at work late today, 9:30 am, I was greeted by my co-worker Chris. He had a strange grin and a WTF look. I was feeling sorta sheepish since I was so late. Been having a hard time sleeping lately since I’ve been up playing Final Fantasy XII. (Makes me think of the drinking problem joke in Airplane.) Anyway, Chris says he has to show me something and he pulls out Minnesota Monthly magazine.
Here’s a better image from the Solstice Film Festival slide show. That’s me second from the left.
Bill’s Big Pumpkins red carpet at the June 2007 Solstice Film Festival at the Fitzgerald Theater in downtown St. Paul. Pictured right to left: Gail Foss, Ryan Foss, Stephanie Nagel, Bill Nagel

Awarded

2008 Cedar Rapids Independent Film Festival
Silver Eddy Award
Pro-Am Documentary
Bill’s Big Pumpkins

Big Pumpkins, Big Surprise


This morning I managed to get up early, which is weird because I was up till 2 am. After the normal good mornings and stuff with my family, my wife told me to get a paper, the neighbor had told her I was in it. Of course, on my drive to work I grabbed one at the local Grab-N-Gas. There’s a cute little mention about my movie Bill’s Big Pumpkins. Here’s a link to the article in the Star Tribune.

Anyway, we’re part of the Home Grown Cinema series. Bill’s Big Pumpkins debuts on the first night, Monday May 12th! Here’s the trailer.

Freelance Guru, Special FX and Modeling

Every once in a while I’ll take a job on the side. I prefer paying gigs, but sometimes I pro-bono if I’m interested or the cause is good. I currently have three “gigs”.

The first is a special FX shot for a MN independent filmmaker. I took this job back in July of 07, didn’t get the footage until January, and I’m about to finish (April). It’s been a slow process, which is my fault to some (probably great) extent of course, but with family, school and other jobs, hobbies (the pumpkin movie) and interests (video games, beer, etc.), I’ve been less than available and less than motivated. Good news is its done. It was a special effects shot with fire as you can probably see from the image. I lit fire to my driveway three times and my garage five times to get the shot right. And that was after my attempts at “faking it” failed to yield results I was happy with. Hopefully the film turns out well for the director/writer barring my delays.

The second gig is a good one. It’s a Guru job. Guru.com is a website for freelancers. I get e-mails about freelance jobs and I look but usually don’t apply. This one however was right up my alley. Some guy out there is modifying a Head On arcade cabinet with a SEGA baseball game and needs a custom control panel. I submitted a bid and he took it because I mentioned my current interests and motivations with classic arcade cabinets. Its going well I think, though I way underbid compared to the time it will take me. Course, I will take the money earned and apply it toward my own arcade.

The third gig is a free one. I’ve been unmotivated to produce any TurboSquid assets lately and needed some inspiration. It came in the form of an e-mail from someone who downloaded one of my free models, a pickle to be exact. This person had obviously read my e-mail asking for response if they use it, so I rewarded them with a reply and an offer for more free models. Turns out he’s working on a mod to Fable. To date, I’ve made him (I’m assuming a him) a low polygon hamburger with texture. Soon I’ll be completing a hot dog and additional food items. Should prove interesting in the least.

Film win, we’re big in Iowa

After an eventful weekend at a film festival in IA, and a broken sump pump which required my attention, I’m finally able to post an update. My film, Bill’s Big Pumpkins, took Silver in the Pro-Am Documentary category at the Cedar Rapids Film Festival in Cedar Rapids Iowa last weekend. Silver I guess is second place. It feels good to win something.

It was fun. I went with my wife, my BF from high school and his wife. We stayed at the lamest, 1970’s remodeled Ramada in Waterloo. It was an adventure that’s for sure. We didn’t plan much of anything and it was a real stress releaser. We just let whatever happen. We got the last two rooms at the Ramada too, so that was lucky.

We stayed later than we planed, sticking around to see another documentary called FRAG. FRAG is about the (or the theoretical idea of) professional video gaming. It was a really interesting subject, but… it was long and sooooo boring and repetitive. It was repetitive. Really repetitive, saying the same thing about 10 times, unnecessarily. I was really hoping it would be exciting and something to tell people about, but not so. So much potential. Still a good idea, and parts were done really well, but it did drag.

Giant Pumpkin Seeds are a lot of work

As part of our promotion for my documentary film Bill’s Big Pumpkins we started selling packages of giant pumpkin seeds. We started doing it to help pay for the production and promotion of the movie. This, to my surprise, has been very well received. We’ve shipped more seeds than DVDs. I imagine we’ll keep doing it. We’ve met many interesting and exciting people in the process!

Here’s a picture of my last batch of seeds for the year. I lay out the seeds in lines, making sure each one has 10 seeds of the right kind, and then I package them up. This was something like 45 packages, two weeks ago. I’m down to less than 20 packages now! Not to surprising considering it will soon be time to put pumpkin seeds in the ground.

Interviewed… Butter City?

On Saturday, March 8th, Quantum Petshop (myself and co-filmmaker Bill Nagel) were interviewed on a PBS talk show called Butter City, a show about independent film in MN. It went quite well we think. It was weird and fun at the same time. Unfortunately the show wont air (state wide airing FYI, in Minnesota) until May.

Dan Orozco, the host, is a pretty good guy. He’s fun and a supporter of our unique style and comedy.

Really good show, Brass Kings


On Friday night, my best friend Bill and I filmed the Brass Kings performance at the Cedar Cultural Center. If you’re wondering, the Brass Kings are a kick ass folkish band. They provided most of the music in our documentary Bill’s Big Pumpkins. It was an incredible show.

What’s really amazing about the Brass Kings is that they are three men. One plays guitar and sings, one plays washboard, and the other plays a gut-bucket, essentially a metal tub with a broom stick and a rope. Unique to say the least, but it sounds awesome.

I may not have mentioned it much in my other posts, but I’m an amateur filmmaker. This was our biggest shoot to date, using 5 cameras simultaneously. It went quite well. The only problems we had (that we know of thus far) were lighting, some camera settings (some interlaced, some 4/3) but nothing we can’t work around. Fingers crossed.