Featuring a talented cast (Dave Fontaine, Ky Gratton & Anna Ross), Trick or Treat is a short horror film from the mind & direction of Michael Oakes. It is currently in production in both the Niagara Region and Toronto, Ontario.

For Sam and her friends Halloween is a night filled with tricks and treats. The name of the game is whose prank is the scariest. The fun ends when Sam begins receiving bizarre gifts on her doorstep. Is this just another prank or has someone changed the rules?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Happy New Year!

A much belated happy holidays, everyone.

It’s update time again. I was hoping to have a little something posted for Halloween or at least in November, but things have been super busy with the film so I’m a little bit behind. First off, I’m happy to say all the shooting for Trick or Treat is complete. We had a series of small re-shoots over the month of October where we picked up odds and ends that we didn’t have a chance to shoot during our August shoots.

In late October, we shot an extended ending to the film in a new location, Thorold, Ontario. A skeleton crew (my sister Lindsay and I) worked hard for two nights and had some great results. The footage looks great and I think the scenes shot will work great as an epilogue to the film.

As I had focused on the shoot for most of October , the film's edit process was temporarily put on hold. However, I’ve been able to get back to it during November/December and I’m happy to say we have a full rough cut. The production crew has had a chance to screen this version of the film and although it’s still in a rough state, it is starting to come together. Now that the holidays are over, I have gone back into editing and hope to have a final cut of the film for early to mid-February.

In other film related news, I’d like to mention that we have a new talent joining the team in the role of composer. It’s still early on so I will make an official announcement when things are further locked down.

And last but no least, as promised in my last post, I have a few holiday treats in the form of some screen shots from the latest shoot.

We hope you are enjoying the new year and we look forward to what 2011 will bring for TOT!

Thank you as always for your continued support,

Monday, October 11, 2010

A TOT Update from the Director/Editor.

Greetings from the editing room!

It’s been over a month since we wrapped principle photography on Trick or Treat and I figured it was about time I posted an update.

First off I would like to thank our wonderful cast and crew for all of their time and hard work these past few months. The shoots in St. Catharines and Toronto were a success. Tracy and I both had a great time working with everyone and we came out with great footage and even better performances.

Since the Toronto shoot wrapped I’ve been busy with everything post production. Using the Canon 7D has helped us to achieve some very good visuals; however, the trade off for this visual quality is time. The raw footage had to be converted to a format more suited for video editing. Also in the workflow, using non-sync sound allowed greater control of the audio quality, but added in syncing time. These necessary steps ate up a bit of time but I’m happy to say that it’s all done and out of the way, and that we are now in the middle of the editing process.

As of last week I finished a very loose rough cut of the film. It’s still early in the process but I am starting to see the film coming together and it’s very exciting. Below I have posted the first ever stills from the film. Nothing too revealing but a little taste of things to come. Feel free to post your comments.

Another bit of news to reveal is that this weekend we finished the first round of re-shoots for TOT. This first round was just a chance for me to pick up some additional shots that time didn’t allow during the major shoots. This shoot's main focus was inserts and establishing shots for the Toronto shoot, as well as the title sequence. We will be having another re-shoot in the coming weeks in St.Catharines to film the final scene.

Having said that, I think everyone is caught up… check back soon for more goodies as we draw closer to Halloween.

As always, thanks for checking in!

Michael Oakes, Director/Editor/Writer

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Photoblog: Shoot No. 2

Here are the photos from our Toronto shoot which took place on August 20th & 21st, 2010. Please check out one post below with the behind-the-scenes details of our 2nd shoot!
(All Photos Copyright Tracy Tendean Photography - No photos may be reproduced in any form without permission.)

Spider POV of the bloody shirt I somehow crafted together.
See the texture? Downfall: it was sticky.
Since we couldn't use copyrighted candies, we made our own.
Midnight snack?
"I love his bejewelled eyes" - Awn
Halloween deco everywhere! As Halloween month is one month away, we're just going to keep it up. Don't judge.
Innocently creepy? I think so.
Setting up the scene.
Miss Clapperboard extraordinaire.
The gals hanging out. Anna cozying up to her cold & dead co-star.
Washroom scene. (Dollarstore shower curtain, holla!)
That time the mothership came to steal our cat back.
Awn channeling her inner Dexter Morgan.
God bless Lauren and her arms of steel!
My new favourite thing: the clapper.
The girl crew: we worked hard & discussed Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Our "moonlight" lighting.
Michael giving direction to Dave & Anna.
Straight thuggin' it on the couch.
Working on the action scenes.
Capturing every angle!
It's not Halloween without orange & black streamers.
Lauren's turn behind the camera!
Awn Matthews, secret door holder.
The amazing blood & tubing technique. Note the garbage bag body bib.
The birthday boy and his cake.

Shoot No. 2 & Thank You's.

This past weekend we shot our second shoot over two days at our Toronto location - aka our small one-bedroom apartment. With actors, crew & equipment, it was was rather cozy but we managed to survive.

Prepping for the second shoot was a lot easier than the first shoot. For one, we didn't have to travel and lug bags anywhere as it took place right in our apartment. And two, we were able to decorate the location much in advance since we lived there. The only prep, aside from decorations, was to prepare Sam's Halloween costume. We knew we wanted a bloody shirt, but I was a bit nervous having never done this before and not wanting it to look cheesy or fake. A few days before the shoot, I channeled my inner Dexter and worked with the fake blood from the gouge set from the first shoot and some food colouring. I dripped the blood from the collar and let it drip down and do it's thing, mixed with dipping a paintbrush in a mug of red food colouring and spritzing it on the blood for texture. The result was a creepy bloody shirt & a perma-blood-splattered kitchen wall.

Decorating the apartment for Halloween was a whole other story. Luckily between our Halloween decorations that I keep stashed away & the bag of decos my mom lent us, we had a pretty good selection. The orange and black streamers on the other hand -- where do you find those colours in the off season? I thought you could find them anywhere, but apparently no one finds use for these colours between the months of November-September. This is where Toronto's small and grungy dollar stores come in handy where Michael found not only black streamers, but a 200m roll of orange streamers for $1.50! We are set for years.

As for getting these streamers up - what's a story without some battle wounds? With the time ticking before the first of the two Toronto shoots, I thought I'd be helpful and put them up alone while Michael was at a class. Long story short, I got one row up on the ceiling okay, but during my second row attempts, I fell from a very high place and landed chest-first on the hardwood floor so hard that my glasses shot off in the opposite direction into the kitchen. I suffered for the rest of the night with a sore body, ankle and semi-sprained wrist. All for a good cause!

Day One of the Toronto shoot arrived as did our main actress Anna Ross and our crew for the weekend: Michael, myself, Lauren Peterson, and Awn Matthews. Without the make-up expertise of Shirlene, I was left to the make-up duties and did up Anna's face & chest in a pale and bloody look. It took a lot of trial and error but in the end it looked pretty decent & Anna got to leave at the end of the night without blood stains all over her! (The trick is that the food colouring gets trapped in the chocolate & corn syrup used in the fake blood recipe). Note to self: learn special effects make-up. Anna really brought her game to this shoot and we got through her scenes quite smoothly in 4-5 hours ending at 11:00pm. No animals were harmed during this night of filming, but our cat Foster did temporarily escape during a hallway scene.

Day Two of the Toronto shoot began with a little delay but we were quick to get right to filming as soon as we could, even if it meant stepping off of my producer stool and take over sound for a scene - which, let me tell you, take a lot of arm strength, which I don't have even a smidgen of. Luckily, Lauren arrived soon after and took over. Dave arrived and we were so happy to have both actors in for a full day of acting -- we were even happier that Dave was so cool with spending his entire official birthday with us working his butt off!

We couldn't help but be so impressed with everyone's great spirits - we know it wasn't the most ideal working conditions: small apartment, crammed space, no air conditioning or fans on during filming due to sound interference... and for the actors, having to wear clothes that one would wear on a chilly Halloween night... most notably Dave who had to wear a t-shirt, a long sleeved button up, a hoody, a mask, thick long cargo pants, socks and shoes. (Note: it was 35*C outside.) I swear at times I was concerned he would pass out from some sort of interior heat stroke but luckily we avoided any need for an ambulance. We did provide ice cream sandwiches and popsicles, so we did make attempts to prevent our actors and crew from melting away!

This second shoot was lots of fun but a hell of a lot of work. It involved not only the uncomfortable-at-times conditions, but also a lot of action scenes which was new to all of us. Michael did a great job at choreographing & directing that, at times, I found myself with tears in my eyes overcome with fear for our main female character. A little ridiculous it sounds, I know, but I guess that's means we were doing something right! We also somehow dodged any complaints from our apartment neighbours considering we were filming loud dialogue in front of their doors and at times lots of running and screaming. Although there was a panic moment over losing footage (the footage was eventually found, phew!) this night also went rather smoothly.

One of the neat behind-the-scenes moments was creating the blood-slowly-dripping-down-a-face effect. This involved garbage bag body bibs, tubing from the hardware store, a rocks-paper-scissors match between Awn & Lauren to see who would have to be designated as the "tube blower" (Lauren won, or maybe it can be considered "lost") and a careful but successful single try!

After 8 long hours of shooting, it was officially "a wrap!" at 10:00pm... but not until we officially gave Dave the mini-birthday celebration he deserved over a budget birthday cake, some candles and a little token of our appreciation.

Even though there is a very small part of the film left to shoot, the journey thus far with our past 2 shoots has been nothing short of awesome. We are SO very blessed to have had the talent, crew and company around us for this project. From Ky enthusiastically drinking the fake blood, to Dave driving to and from Toronto and acting all day on his birthday, to Anna working 2 long days in a row on our film knowing she had another full day gig the next day on a different project & the various crew members from both locations (Lin, Shawn, Shirlene, Lauren, Awn) all we can say is THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

We look forward to piecing this short film together in the post-production stage and cannot wait to not only see it all come together, but to be able to show the final project. Stay tuned for more post-production updates, teasers, trailers, posters, and everything in between!

Photoblog from Shoot No. 2 to come!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Photoblog: Shoot No. 1

Here we go! Some shots from Shoot No. 1.
(All Photos Copyright Tracy Tendean Photography - No photos may be reproduced in any form without permission.)

Just a fraction of the gear and bags we had to lug to the location.
Our snack and beverage spread. 
Michael answering some of Ky's last minute questions about the script.
We were all about great production value - down to the little details.

Michael teaching Shawn the ropes of the Alesis.

Shawn testing it out on Lindsay as she covered the doors with garbage bags. Keep the creepers out!

We were all actually very impressed with Shawn's quick learn of the Alesis. He now has a PhD in  Sound.

Michael & Dave setting up the lights.

These happened to be in the Halloween costume box :)

Michael watching Ky & Dave rehearse.

More rehearsing...

... and some more!

Michael blocking the scene with our actors, smiling a smile of approval :)
Michael directs Dave to do 30 push-ups as an acting tool. We were all impressed because he did all 30!

Dave smiling after reading to us a Miley Cyrus song title. "Ice Cream Freeze (Let's Chill)"

Shirlene preparing Ky for his close-up.
Through the director's eye.

The complicated wound that didn't want to stick at first. Michael suggested we staple it to Ky's neck.

Shirlene and a full-of-life Ky.

It's a wrap!

Michael & Ky!