Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Greetings all! Every December, I am assigned to organize the slew of events, happenings, and skull-duggery that has occurred around our household throughout the year, and to whip up a holiday letter to share with family and friends. This year was obviously quite important, and because of that, I thought I'd post the letter in its entirety here on the site. Thanks to all for an amazing year!

So here we are. Holiday season 2009. As I write this, that pesky fiend Jack Frost has recently nipped at our noses and whipped up the first frenzied snowfall of the season, thus ensuring that we will indeed have a white Christmas. Is it really already time to trim the tree with pop culture ornaments and to watch as Ebeneezer Scrooge (or Bill Murray) goes from ‘Bah Humbug!’ to ‘Merry Christmas!’? 2009 was an amazing year, so before you plug in the plastic Santa perched atop your roof and hang those stockings by the chimney with care, let me fill you in on what’s been happening in the 100 year old house on Thomas Avenue.

Jen is still a woman with unlimited energy, and has effortlessly transitioned into her new role as a mother. For a gal who enjoys her sleep, she had no difficulty (well, on most nights) adapting to a newborn’s schedule. She enjoyed a wonderful ten week leave from her work, spending time snuggling with Alex while yours truly took over in her stead. Finding the delicate balance between work and motherhood was not without its hiccups, but Jen has managed to do it smoothly. As for work, Jen continues to traverse the highways and side streets of the Twin Cities as Minnesota’s Lead Photographer for Chicago-based VHT. She spends her days photographing a wide variety of homes, and her work has been featured numerous times on the cover of Edina Realty’s Exceptional Properties magazine. Always with a camera holstered at her side, she has certainly taken every opportunity to snap shots of the adorable new face in our house, filling many photo albums already. Who knew?!

This past year saw a slight shift in my artistic focus. As the film frontier in Minnesota quieted, I cracked open my security blanket (or laptop, as most people call it) and dug into a variety of writing projects. First came the release of my Jackie Robinson book, Dodger Dreams: The Courage of Jackie Robinson, followed closely by a chapter book for early readers titled Drake Bacula: MonSTAR! Drake was an exciting project as it was a collaboration with my good friend (and talented illustrator) Elizabeth Hurley. Both books are currently available nationwide. As of now, I am putting the finishing touches on another project for local publisher Stone Arch Books, a graphic novel focused on the sport of football. 2009 also saw the release of a number of film projects I worked on. Into Temptation, Dawning, and Midnight Chronicles are all available on DVD, garnering critical praise and festival wins around the country.

So there’s this cute new face in our household, and he very much deserves his own paragraph. Alex is now seven months old. Seven months! I always believed that it was a cheesy cliché to say: ‘They grow up so fast.’ But really, truly, absolutely, they do! It’s hard to fathom that just this past spring, our shiny, brand new baby boy was a tiny, 7 pound 11 ounce bundle. We’ve experienced so many wonderful ‘firsts’ since then, and we have cherished (and laughed…boy have we laughed) every moment. I have been fortunate enough to be able to stay at home with Alex, being a full-time Mr. Mom (and no, Michael Keaton fans, I have yet to fight a washing machine or staple together a blankie). So what tricks does Alex have up his sleeve? Here’s a short list of some of the amazing things he’s been up to:

- He is now the proud owner of not one, but two teeth
- He gets major air in his Johnny-Jump-Up
- He skillfully sits up
- He is becoming quite mobile, rolling and starting to scoot (watch out!)
- He multi-tasks with his toys, often opting to cram one into his mouth while keeping his hands free to play with another
- He loves vegetables, but doesn’t quite feel the same way about fruit. Good thing he doesn’t know that green beans aren’t really breakfast food
- He loves his Exersaucer (or Command Center, as we call it)
- By the time he was three months old, he’d been to three Minnesota Twins games
- He is a frequent customer at The Source (where he picks up comics on a weekly basis)
- He loves the library
- He is not fazed by the large flashing object his mother carries around (as seen in numerous photos)

The term ‘gift’ is thrown around quite a bit this time of year, conjuring images of a brightly wrapped package with a shiny bow on top. But we often forget that the word can mean a great deal of things: happiness, health, family, and friends. We have been given the greatest gift this past year, a smiling, happy baby, and for that, we feel very blessed. So amidst the onslaught of holiday shopping, television stations dedicated to A Christmas Story, and that nostalgic feeling you get when you gaze at the sky on Christmas Eve night, swearing you saw the streak of a sleigh pass overhead, remember that the real gift isn’t the gaudily-wrapped fruitcake, it’s the fruitcake who gave it to you.

We love you all dearly, and wish nothing but happiness to you and your family this holiday season.

All our love,
Brandon, Jen, and Alexander Terrell

Friday, December 11, 2009

'Drake Bacula: MonSTAR!' NOW AVAILABLE!

Hey everyone! Just in time for the holidays, I have effectively added the option to purchase Drake Bacula: MonSTAR!' to the site! Perfect for early readers, the book follows the adventures of movie star/vampire Drake Bacula as his best friend Sam tries hard to keep the public from finding out about Drake's 'fang-tastic' secret. Toss in a ghost sister, a knight butler, and a skeletal dog who buries his own bones, and you've got a hilarious, spooky (but safe) story.

By clicking the following link, you'll go directly to a Paypal site where you can purchase as many copies of the book that you'd desire (they make great stocking stuffers!).

Here's the link:

Thank you all for your continued interest and support for my work. I hope you check out Drake, and if you do, I hope you like it!

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Happy holidays!

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Hey all! So, November has kind of flown under the radar. Sorry about that. It not like it hasn't been eventful (Alex is working on tooth number two, he's eating real food now - if peas indeed count as real food, we traveled to Colorado and back to celebrate my mother's birthday as a family, and I'm currently working on children's book number three).

Recently, though, our 48 Hour Film Challenge entry, Ghost Beef Sandwich, found its way onto the Interweb, so I thought I'd share it with you. Feels like forever ago that I was blogging about our little flick. So I hope you enjoy it.

A few additions to the list of people whose blogs you should check out:

Thomas Kingsley Troupe: Thomas and I met at Barnes and Noble, where our mutual participation in the aforementioned 48 Hour Film Challenge sparked our conversation (on a side note, we didn't accidentally bump into one another. TKT is married to the older sister of one of my childhood friends. Strange world, huh?). Anyway, TKT not only works in film, but he is also a talented children's book author! So check out his site.

Steve Brezenoff: Steve and I have not officially met, but I noticed a while back he had written books for Stone Arch Books, most notably the series titled Field Trip Mysteries. He's also a St. Paulite and a stay at home dad, much like myself.

Scott Phillips: Yep, the same Scott Phillips who wrote The Ice Harvest. He's a super-cool, talented writer. Follow his blog by clicking here.

All right, everyone. That's what I have for you now. If I don't get back to you before Thanksgiving, have a great Turkey Day!

All the best,

Friday, October 30, 2009


Happy Halloween everyone!

Man, this has always been my favorite time of year, and my favorite holiday. I'm sorry Christmas, your intentions are noble and your nostalgia is appreciated, but you don't give me goosebumps or make me wonder if there actually is something under my bed.

I hope your Halloween is spooky and safe.

All the best,

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


There are few theaters in the country that know how to show a film like The Heights Theater in Columbia Heights. Last year, for their Halloween extravaganza, they showed a wonderful print of the classic William Castle film, House on Haunted Hill, starring Vincent Price. They screened the film in something called 'Emergo', a gimmick that had us guessing until, at the pivotal climactic moment in the film, a dangling, illuminated skeleton swung over the crowd from the balcony. Awesome, I know.

Well, this year, the spooktacular film screening is Whatever Happened to Baby Jane with Bette Davis and Joan Crawford. That alone should entice you to come out to see the movie, and to celebrate the greatest of months with the greatest of holidays. In addition to the film, though, Horrorwood artist and compatriot Brent Schoonover and I will be in attendance. We are offering free copies of a single issue of Horrorwood (something to read while munching on pre-film popcorn), and will have copies of the trade, and complete sets of the floppies, for sale before and after.

The show starts at 7:30PM. Tickets are &$8.00.

Hope to see you there!


Monday, October 26, 2009


Hey all! Posts are few and far between right now, and for that, I apologize. Things around here have been running pretty smoothly. Alex has officially cut his first tooth (there were a few long days mixed in there, but it comes with the territory). I excitedly signed a contract to write another book with Stone Arch Books, something I will share more about as I can. And we're planning a trip to Colorado soon to celebrate my mother's birthday by visiting my sister!

But this post is about the Into Temptation DVD, which is set to be released TOMORROW! That's right, as of October 27th, the Minnesota-made flick that had an insanely good run at the Lagoon Theater, along with theaters in Omaha, New York, and beyond, can be yours to own.

If you're an Amazon kinda person, CLICK HERE.

It's also available online at Best Buy and at Target.

Oh, and you can also add it to your Netflix queue.

So fire up the popcorn, and enjoy!


Wednesday, October 7, 2009


This weekend is the 21st annual MCBA FallCon Comic Book Celebration! Running from 10am-5pm both Saturday and Sunday (Oct. 10 & 11), the show features a slew of fantastic artists, writers (yeah, myself included), publishers, and retailers. For the second year, the convention will take place in the enormous Grandstand on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul. The new space is wonderful, allowing ample space for comic book fanatics (those dressed as Iron Man, and those not) to converse about comics, art, and the history of Green Lantern.

As always, I will be seated by Horrorwood artist Brent Schoonover, as well as Getchu Books publisher (and Monster Ninjas writer) Ryan Jacobson.

There will be copies of Horrorwood available. As an added incentive, Brent's wonderful wife Nicole is baking up delicious cookies to be given away with the purchase of the graphic novels of either Horrorwood or Brent's other book, the fantastic Astronaut Dad.

But wait! There's more! You guessed it. I will also be selling and signing copies of my new chapter book Drake Bacula: MonSTAR! Lies, Camera, Action!. This will be the first time I have the books available at a convention! I'm looking forward to sharing Drake, the perfect kid's book for my favorite month of the year: October!

In addition to the usual hullabaloo of FallCon, I have been asked for the first time to participate in a writer's panel. The panel, titled 'Writing is Turning One's Worst Moments into Money' will take place on Sunday, from 12-1pm, and is free for anyone visiting the convention. So come see me talk about the craft of writing (and try to keep the heckling down).

Okay, since that's a lot of information thrown at you, I'm going to sum it up for you. Here are the details:

What: MCBA FallCon '09
When: Saturday, October 10 and Sunday October 11
Time: 10AM - 5PM both days
Where: Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul - Grandstand Building
Admission: Adults are $11.00. Good for both days. $1.00 off with canned food donation. Children 9 & under are FREE

For more info, visit the MCBA's updated website HERE.

Hope to see you all this weekend!
All the best,

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Hey everyone!

Say, you know those annoying 'check back soon!' and 'exciting news coming soon!' comments I've posted on this blog? Well, the exciting news has finally arrived, and I can share the reason for those cryptic words.

I have written another children's book! The book, titled Drake Bacula: MonSTAR!, is now available! Published by Getchu Books, the book is illustrated by the talented Elizabeth Hurley.

Wanna know what it's about? Thought so. Here you are:

As Sam Russell knows, it's not easy being Drake Bacula's best friend. Sure, Drake is a movie star, and that'...s cool. But he also has a secret. Drake is a vampire. The problem is that Hawk Hooperstein, the school bully, is going to share that secret with the entire world just as soon as he gets proof. Can Sam stop him? And will he keep Drake's friend Gretchen from learning the truth, too? Or might Sam's lies lead all of them into a dangerous trap? Find out in...'Lies, Camera, Action!'

Drake is a chapter book written for grades K-3.

Cost is: $10.00.

It is available through the publisher, through Amazon, or through the distributor, BCH.

However, the best way to get a copy of the book is to get it straight from the source: yours truly! I will be setting up a way to order books online, and I will gladly sign each copy (personalized, if you'd like!) before sending them out. I will have more information about this when it's available. It's the easiest way to get a hold of your own, personal copy of the book.

Thanks for all of the support, guys. I am so very excited for this book!

Happy reading,

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Howdy! Been a while since the last post, and this is kind of last minute, so for that I apologize. The author of the fantastic series of Cork O'Connor mysteries, William Kent Krueger, will be signing the latest book in the series, Heaven's Keep, tonight at the best little mystery shop in the world, Once Upon a Crime!

If you're unfamiliar with the books, Krueger's series follows former police chief Cork O'Connor of Aurora, Minnesota. The books perfectly blend the beauty of Northern Minnesota's landscape, the history and culture of the Native Americans living there, and the love of one man for his heritage and family. Keep is the ninth book in the series, and I must say, simply reading the synopsis on Krueger's site broke my heart a little.

So check it out. I've met the author a couple of times, and he is a genuinely nice man. I cannot make it to the signing tonight (which bums me out), but thankfully, tomorrow night, Mr. Krueger is signing at the Barnes and Noble in Roseville. I will, of course, be bringing the copy of Keep that I plan to purchase at Once Upon a Crime this afternoon.

More excitement coming soon, I swear!

Friday, August 14, 2009


Great news to share! The Lagoon Theater in Uptown Minneapolis will host the local, theatrical release for Patrick Coyle's 'Catholic noir' flick Into Temptation. This will be the first time the general public will be able to view the film (which, if you don't know, was shot entirely in the Twin Cities with a group of hard-working, dedicated local cast and crew - including yours truly. The flick stars the uber-talented Jeremy Sisto, Kristin Chenoweth, and Brian Baumgartner).

The film will be screening from AUGUST 28 - SEPTEMBER 3. Check the Lagoon's website for show times.

The DVD will be released nationally on October 26th.

So come out and enjoy a strong, locally-made film. Bring friends. Buy popcorn. It's a great flick that I'm proud to have worked on.

All the best,

*UPDATE!!! Due to its popularity, Into Temptation's run at the Lagoon Theater has been EXTENDED! The film will now run until SEPTEMBER 11. So if you haven't checked it out yet, you still have a chance. Screenings have been selling out, so get there early!

**UPDATE UPDATE!! Temptation has been selling extremely well at the Lagoon, and they've extended it through the beginning of October! How crazy cool is that?! So crazy that I'm using my daily allotment of exclamation points!

Friday, July 31, 2009


The trailer for the new Coen Brothers film, A Serious Man, has hit the internet. If you didn't know, the film was shot entirely in Minnesota, with a majority of the talent coming from the Cities.

I had the opportunity to work on the film for a handful of days. Many of my days were spent on a small block in Bloomington, a suburb of Minneapolis. The production had skillfully transformed the block into a 1950s neighborhood. They tore up the road and sidewalks, re-sod the entire block, pulled trees from yards (which they replaced once shooting had been completed), and created new facades for many of the ramblers and their garages. Stepping on set was pretty amazing, like being transported back in time (if you disregarded the fifty-plus crew members, camera and lighting gear, and constant stream of nearby traffic, that is).

My additional days were spent at St. Olaf College, during the massive classroom scene (the dream scene with Larry getting his head bashed into the chalkboard) and on Rice Avenue in St. Paul, where we spent the day filming the car crash you see in the trailer.

All in all, I feel very blessed to have worked on such a large project with a group of very talented folks. And it was quite surreal standing near such strong directors as Joel and Ethan, not to mention the talented Roger Deakins.


*Note: The rabbi's secretary in the film may seem familiar to you. She is none other than the amazing Claudia Wilkins, a Guthrie professional who played the evil Mayor Lesher in Midnight Chronicles.


Friday, July 24, 2009


Well, I have some very exciting news to share! My first published book with local children's book publisher Stone Arch Books has been released as part of their new Fall 2009 catalog.

The book, titled Dodger Dreams: The Courage of Jackie Robinson, is part of Stone Arch's Graphic Flash line of books. The books are high-action, dynamic stories that are told in both prose and graphic novel format. They take historic events or important figures and tell a fictional story from a young person's point of view. The concept is fantastic, and when I was offered the opportunity to write a story about the most important person in the history of baseball, I was ecstatic.

Dreams is gorgeously illustrated by the talented Claude St. Aubin, whose work on the book (and on previous Flash titles) is downright amazing.

Here's a plot rundown for the book: Max Owens is New York's biggest baseball fan. On his birthday, Max's grandpa gives him the greatest gift of all: World Series tickets! During the game, Max watches his favorite Brooklyn Dodger, Jackie Robinson, compete against the New York Yankees. But when his team loses, this fourteen year old fan will learn that baseball is more than just a game.

The book is currently available in a couple of locations. The easiest place to find it is at the Stone Arch website. You can find information about it HERE.

It is also on Amazon, and you can find it HERE.

I'm very proud of this book, and am so excited to have worked with a great publisher like Stone Arch.

Thanks, and happy reading!

Thursday, July 23, 2009


That's not just a clever, catchy title. This post is truly about a few books in the pipeline that I'm pretty darn excited to pick up and read (as if the massive pile in front of me isn't towering enough).

Heaven's Keep by William Kent Krueger

Keep is the ninth book in the Cork O'Connor series, and (I believe) the second to last. Krueger is a local author, and I've had the pleasure of meeting him on a couple of occasions. He is a genuinely nice guy, the kind of guy that would be a fine mentor for a young, scrappy author. His books show an authentic affinity toward Native American customs and history, the beauty of the Minnesota landscape, and familial bonds. While they often deal in gruesome reality (the breathtaking finale of his prior book, Red Knife, is a fine example), there is something sincere about his storytelling.

Once Upon A Crime bookstore will be holding a release party for the novel on Wednesday, September 2nd. I've already got it on my calendar.

Once Upon A Crime: An Anthology of Murder, Mayhem, and Suspense Edited by Gary R. Bush and Chris Everheart

Speaking of the fine folks at OUAC, this anthology of stories is something I just came across. Brimming with crime fiction by familiar names like, well, William Kent Krueger and Anthony Neil Smith, the book honors the store that has championed many mystery authors, and its proceeds will go toward assisting the owners with recent medical costs. It's a great way to support local, independent booksellers, while receiving a slew of stories written by great Minnesota authors. It's win-win!

Memory by Donald Westlake

Leave it to the gang at Hard Case Crime to get their hands on the very last manuscript by the late Donald Westlake. Written nearly forty years ago and shelved, Westlake's story follows a man who is the victim of an assault that leaves a peculiar scar: his brain is unable to retain memories, or form new ones. Now, he sets out investigating a missing person's case where he is the missing person.

Memory will be published in January 2010, a fitting tribute to a talented author.

More exciting news coming soon, so check back!
Happy reading!

Monday, July 20, 2009


Yep, you read that right. After three years of production, additional shooting, and extensive post-production work, Midnight Chronicles will be released in the United States and Canada.

On August 13th, the film will be available on both DVD and as a digital download (from a number of sources, including iTunes). This fall, the release will expand to include a wide variety of retail sources.

The DVD will be overflowing with extra features, including a director's commentary, deleted scenes, and a making-of featurette.

If you'd like to pre-order a copy of the film, click HERE.

If you have no clue what I mean when I use the words midnight or chronicles, you may want to click HERE.

(You can also scroll down on this very blog and find more info about the international release)

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Previously on the Mental Records blog: Team 7 Minutes Late had escaped from the evil clutches of the sun, completing their filming with mere moments to spare. Now, with the clock ticking, our heroes wage a battle of epic proportions against a slew of footage, in an effort to beat the clock. Will they produce a funny film before time runs out!?


Yeah, so Sunday didn't start out as slam-bang as that. I leisurely arrived at the Bowmans around 9AM, refreshed, with a 12 pack of Dew on hand, and prepared to finalize the editing with Scott. We had until 7:30PM that evening, and we had a lot to accomplish.

Keith and Jason were off-site, sprinkling their computer wizardry on our handful of FX shots.

A sickly Nicholas (with the assistance of his band, The Map and the Territory) worked from home on our score, the aptly titled tune, 'Hobo Picnic.'

Scott and I began working on the remainder of the rough cut. The film was in a good place, with only a few tricky scenes to edit in their entirety. A good portion of the film was cut together, though, so we were feeling pretty good. Silly us.

Chris arrived, using his extreme allergic reaction to cats as an excuse to sit on the back patio, in the glorious sun-dappled day, to compile our paperwork.

I'd like to say that there were strong disagreements and verbal battles as far as the editing is concerned, but it all went pretty smoothly. As the day wore on, though, we found ourselves glancing at the clock more frequently. Communication with Keith and Jason was tricky, but when we received the first of our FX shots - Dave holding out the sandwich in slo-mo - and proceeded to laugh riotously, we knew we were on the right track.

Morning became afternoon.

Lunch was pretzels and soda. There was no time to waste. Our post-production supervisor, the adorable Jack, was on our ass, eager for the damn film to be finished.

Jason worked tirelessly on the shot of Dave passing through Sam, finally nailing it and then driving his hog over to the Bowmans to assist with sound.

Keith continued to finish the remainder of the shots, completing our title card and end credits.

Nick, the trooper that he is, arrived with a CD of finished music.

TJ, our talented cinematographer, swooped in to sit with Scott for the color correction process.

By four o'clock, after picture had been locked and effects shots added, I found myself bouncing from person to person. Had we crossed our 'T's? Check. Dotted our...lowercase 'i's? Check.

Were we on time? No, dammit.

Six o'clock was nearing. We had told ourselves that six was our stop time, the time we would pull the plug on post and burn our final film. Well, we were just starting sound downstairs (Jason working feverishly on a second laptop), our color correction was not quite finished, and we had not rendered out a final file.


Finally, Jason rushed upstairs with our final sound track. Scott imported it, making sure it synched up.


This is always the time when I get extremely, and justifibly, anxious. With Love Me For My Mind, this was the time we found we had exported the incorrect timeline, thus making our film 7 minutes late. Hell, even with Open House, we did not anticipate the export time, and it almost cost us. But Scott assured me he had run the tests, and knew the export time.

So he converted it to standard definition (I know, ugh! More on this in a second) and set up a Quicktime data file to burn.

Jason revved up his hog, ready to Evil Knievel his ass to the drop-off point, if necessary. He had the paperwork in one hand, his helmet in the other (see, remember kids, wear a helmet), and all he needed was a DVD from Scott.


The disc ejected, and Jason shot out of the Bowman's like a bat out of Hades.

That was when we noticed something.

In the transition to standard definition from high definition, the FX shots were, well, affected. Some of them grew stuttery - not jarringly so, but enough to notice. Which brings me to one problem with the whole experience...

I know this is a competition where anyone can participate. I love that fact. Creativity can come from anywhere. And for those teams who are not as experienced with cameras and editing equipment, submitting a film in standard definition is not only the preferred choice, but the only choice. But the festival only accepts standard definition projects, a fact that is detrimental to teams who are experienced, and who have taken the time and expense to shoot their film in high definition. To not offer an alternative is frustrating, considering that each team pays to join, then pays to make their film (and rent equipment, in most cases), and then pays to come see their film screen. So the fact that the film on the big screen is not entirely representative of the hard work and effort displayed by a particular team is depressing.

Okay, okay, rant over. Stepping down from the soapbox.

We prepped a second version, a back-up version of our film, on DV tape. Jason was to wait until the last possible moment to submit, in an effort to correct our stuttery FX shots with a different entry.

I started my car. Set the GPS. Knew where I was going and when I would arrive.

Then saw Scott with his head on his desk.

Apparently, the DV transfer was creating black frames between certain edits, so he pulled the plug. We would only submit one copy. The stuttery copy.

Jason called from the drop-off point. We were in.

The film was submitted at 7:23PM.


I kid you not.

And that, my friends, is the long-winded behind the scenes story about the making of...

FINAL THOUGHTS: The film screened well. We got laughs in the right places. It was a strong entry. Sadly, though, it did not win the 'Audience Award' for its night, and was not asked to screen as part of the 'Best Of Minneapolis.' Oh well. There were some strong films this year. Do I think ours is as good or possibly better than some I have seen? Yes. Of course, I'm biased. We did receive a nomination for both 'Best Director' and 'Best Editing', so we have that going for us. Did the 48 Hour Film Festival showrunners inform us of our nominations? Nope. We learned that after the fact. The experience has made us a little disillusioned toward the whole process, and we have decided that in the end, we just need to make a film on our own terms, without having to cram a stilted line of dialogue into the film, or have our sound guy driving so fast that, were his motorcycle equipped with a flux capacitor, he'd be playing Johnny Be Goode at the 'Enchantment Under the Sea' dance.

Thanks to the entire cast and crew. It was a pleasure to work with all of you, and I'd gladly do it again. Whether or not you feel the same way remains to be seen.

And thanks to you, Occasional Reader, for indulging me. I will now return to my regularly scheduled blogging.

*If you haven't seen 'Ghost Beef Sandwich,' I will post the film as soon as I can.*

Monday, June 29, 2009


Saturday we were greeted by sunshine. Thank God. In previous years, the weather for the 48 was often rainy or uncertain. Chirping birds and cloudless skies were something different and new. And very welcome, considering half of our film took place outdoors.

As the crew assembled at 7AM, I stared at the giant orb in the sky and knew already that it was going to be our greatest enemy. As crew were assigned their various corners of the Bowman home, joyfully sipping their coffee, I pictured us at the end of the day, frantically cursing and hurrying to get shots.

We started our day inside (another fact that left me a little nervous). After picking out Rich's suit - an inspired, striped outfit that happily reminded me of Al Calavicci from Quantum Leap) - and Sam's lime sherbet polo, we prepared to shoot the kitchen scene with Emily.

The scene went well, and is probably the funniest in the flick. Emily, the true sport that she was, had Sam and his bagel breath moaning in her ear and kept a straight face...most of the time. Though I'm pretty sure Sam was the one who broke character first.

* Side note: Let's take a minute to revel at the glory of Sam's mustache. Sure, we had to add a little color to it to make it pop on camera, but boy, ain't that a pretty sight?

Sorry, back to it. Next up was Charlie Gerber and the run-through. They always say, never work with kids or animals. I don't see why not. Charlie nailed it. He yipped loudly at the perfect moment, and hit his mark every time. We followed Charlie's professional performance by using fishing line to yank a picture frame off an end table, taking hunks of the Bowman's living room wall with us each take. Whoops.

Visitors arrived. Jen, Alex, Liz, and Gwyn stopped by for a little glimpse into our craziness, and offered a little bit of sanity in return. Of course, Alex just slept through the whole thing.

Lunch was creeping up on us, the sun reaching its highest point, and beginning its evil afternoon descent. It was around this time that Chris Gerber approached me with this fact:

"Brandon, the neighbors are setting up a tent out front. And they just brought out seven big bags of ice."

Perfect. A birthday party outside, right next to our exterior action. A quick glance outside confirmed this, as well as showing the active neighbor zipping around on his riding lawn mower. I thought back to the peaceful, early morning, with its perfect light and quiet atmosphere. Sigh...

The last scene before lunch was the one I affectionately refer to as "The Ellipse Scene." It was the only scene not written out in the script, noted only by three lonely dots. This was the bit that sent Sam over the edge, the act that forces him to throw his hands up at Rich and tell him off. So what did we come up with? Why, pushing a little girl down the steps! It was a nice bit, lacking a little in the coherency department (the fact that the steps are not perfectly noticeable in the scene is a sticking point), but it got the job done.

And it got us to lunch.

And outside.


I like to think that I'm a pretty easy going guy to work with, but every so often I put my foot down and become quite adamant about a particular aspect of the film. Once, it was about punching a cow (another story for another post), but with this film, it was about the sandwich. Sure, we had stuff to make a sandwich, but this was our prop. This sandwich had to be big. It had to be loaded. It had to be so thick that it could kill a man.

So we made a grocery run, and concocted the heartiest dagwood we could. As the sandwich was being constructed, our sandwich 'expert' Kevin Schnabel (the patient and talented Dave Tufford) was being gussied up in his smock and hat, and a makeshift white background was being built in the Bowman garage.

The sun was getting lower. And we still had to shoot all of our exterior shots. Crap.

After nailing the slo-mo flashback shot, we moved outside, to Sam and Rich's exit and Dave's entrance. It was here that we shot our first effects shot, Dave walking through Sam. In order to accomplish this feat, we locked down the camera, shot a plate of Sam reacting to Dave walking through him, then shot Dave walking past the camera and into the house. Easy as pie. Let the FX boys worry about it in post.

We hustled into the street, loading up the dolly for the walking shots of Sam and Rich. The guys were exhausted at this point, but were troopers. The sun beat down on them as they walked the mean streets of Fridley.

It was around this time that our buddy Todd arrived, right when we needed a vehicle to pass through a frightened Sam. Again, we locked down our camera, shot Sam stumbling into the street and screaming like a girl, followed by Todd blazing past in his mini-van. Perfect!

Two hours of daylight and two park scenes to go.

We rushed to a nearby park, quickly spreading out Sam's picnic blanket and uncorking a bottle of crisp Pinot Grigio. The sun was getting close to the horizon, and we were chasing the light. I recalled the image from that morning, of us cursing and screaming as the light disappeared. We weren't there yet, but we were close.

We shot Sam and Rich meeting, and shot the locked-off plate of Sam laying on the blanket dead, followed by his rising up and meeting his AAO for the first time.

With this in the can, we wrapped Rich. Phew! Almost there.

Sam proceeded to give us a mountain of footage of him preparing eating and choking on the fat roast beef sandwich. Delicious!

Last up was our credit shot. Chris Gerber, dressed as a hobo, sat next to Sam's corpse on the blanket. He had himself a nice little picnic, swigging straight from the bottle and munching on the rest of the 'Ghost Beef Sandwich!'

At 8:45PM, with the sun slipping behind the trees, we yelled out triumphantly, "That's a wrap!"

Celebratory beer and pizza followed at the Bowmans. The rough cut was already coming together nicely (nearly three minutes were already complete), but we had a long road ahead of us.

For a moment, though, it felt good.

To be concluded,

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Friday night's festivities began suddenly. Before our motley gang of film fiends had even convened at MCAD (the usual location for our 48 Hour Brain Trust, a place where harsh lights, a room with no windows, and a giant white board keeps us focused and not distracted by shiny objects), our film genre had been picked from the Sorting Hat.

"Musical or Western," Keith told me.

"You gotta be kidding me," I answered.

Okay, so I'm getting ahead of myself. First, for those unfamiliar, I should explain exactly what the 48 Hour Film Project is, and how the weekend works. On Friday night, a team member from each of the eighty-some teams draws a genre out of a hat. Then, three particular film elements are given, items that every team must incorporate into their film in some way, shape, or form. You then proceed to conceive, write, shoot, and edit a short film no longer than seven minutes long.

The items this year were:
Character: Kevin or Kathleen Schnabel (profession, Expert)
Prop: A sandwich
Line of Dialogue: "I hope they decide soon."

You see, this was the third time our team had participated in the competition. The first year, our science fiction gem Love Me For My Mind was turned in to the judges late. Seven minutes late, to be exact. I know. Tell me about it.

The next year, we changed our team name to 7 Minutes Late (the chip on our shoulder was mighty hefty), and we drew the genre 'Ghost Movie.' The end product that time was the film Open House, about a realtor selling a home that just happens to be occupied by the former owner's ghost. The film took home a couple of awards, which felt good. If you haven't seen the flick, here it is. If you wanna give it a look see, I'll wait for you. I've got time...

All right, welcome back. Hope you liked the film. So where was I? Oh yeah, we were arriving at MCAD with news that we were either going to take 'Musical/Western' as our genre, or we were going to discard it and take the 'Wild Card' option. It's risky, because once you ditch your original genre, you must take the 'Wild Card' option they give you. We all agreed that even though we would love to create a musical, or a Gary Cooper style stand-off, time was not on our side for either. The smart choice was to spin the wheel and take our chances with 'Wild Card.'

So, with Jason (our team's representative at the kick off) on the phone, we found out which genre we would have.

Keith heard it announced over the phone. We all stared at him as he incredulously said, "It's 'Ghost Movie,' isn't it?"

Yep. It was. 'Ghost Movie.' AGAIN!

What are the odds?! No seriously, I want someone to figure them out.

The next few hours were spent throwing out ideas and seeing which had any merit, and which ones were not worth pursuing. Our first idea? One word.

Sequel. Open House 2: Open Wider

We had many of the same actors, including our three leads. It seemed plausible. Until we started to realize that most of the humor would be entirely reliant on the fact that the viewer would have had to have seen Open House to know what the dickens is going on.

So, sequel was out. What else?

We entertained many ideas, from a haunted sandwich to ghost cops (this one even had a theme song: "Ghost cops! They're cops and they're ghosts!"). By midnight, our brains were fried, our ideas were thin, and our nerves were on edge. We were running on soda, Doritos, and pretzels.

And that was when inspiration struck.

And so, after cracking open fresh cans of caffeine, we scribbled down notes, plot points, and funny dialogue until the white board was filled. We called actors, we organized locations (the beauty was that much of our film would take place in or around producer Scott Bowman's home. The fact that Scott was editing the flick there as well was gravy), and I flipped open the laptop and starting writing the script.

Around 2AM, we transferred the camera and lighting gear to Scott's garage. Our group dispersed, and from Scott's basement, he and I put the finishing touches on the script.

I laid my head down on the couch around 4:30AM, and to the sounds of birds beginning to chirp outside, I rested until just before our 7AM call time.

To be continued,

Thursday, June 18, 2009


So, I want to dig into the experience of making this year's 48 Hour Film Project film, Ghost Beef Sandwich. Right now, though, I unfortunately only have a moment to share the down and dirty details.

I will let you all know when the film premieres:

Monday, June 22nd
Riverview Theater

From each screening of 12 films, one film is chosen by the audience as the 'Audience Award.' These films, and a select few others, move on the Best of Minneapolis screening later in the week. So it's important to drum up as much support as possible for your film.

Find out more about the festival by clicking HERE, and directions to the theater by clicking HERE.



Greetings! When you hear the term 'lake cabin', most of you conjure images of a relaxing respite, where a cold beer and a good book are both relished on the end of a sun-drenched dock. Sounds pretty spectacular, eh? (well, unless the book is 'The DaVinci Code' or a Danielle Steele gem).

For me, the term 'lake cabin' also inspires another image. I picture a dozen sweaty, exhausted crew members working (basically) around the clock to create a gripping, intense flick. I picture actors dabbled with fake blood, an over-turned car in the pouring rain, and a man named Johnny Whynot (seriously. That was his name) toothlessly grinning and saying, "I'll flip that car for ya. Jus' get me a helmet."

The final product of this gruelling filmmaking experience is, of course, Dawning, Gregg Holtgrewe's flick about a fractured family taken hostage by a crazed man at their lake cabin, a man who insists that something is out there. Something that's coming for them.

Dawning has received a large amount of praise, and was most recently featured at Scotland's Dead by Dawn 2009 Film Festival.

This Friday, June 19th, at 8:00PM, Dawning premieres right here in Minneapolis, as part of the annual Solstice Film Festival. If you're interested in a new twist on a tired genre, come check it out.

The film is screening at the Suburban World Theater in Uptown Minneapolis.

Here's the trailer, to entice you...

New Dawning Trailer - Gregg and Tyler Cut from Gregg Holtgrewe on Vimeo.

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 9, 2009


Hard to believe that it's been three years since the gates of Blackweir were assembled on rural Wisconsin farmland, since truckloads of Styrofoam were transformed into faux-stone, and since a small and dedicated crew of (mostly) film newbies spent beautiful summer days in the sweltering heat of a tin warehouse with cottages on wheels, grotesque orcs, and a whole lot of dirt.

Filming Midnight Chronicles was a surreal and amazing experience. I was fortunate enough to work alongside some very good friends, and yeah, the days were long, but when you're laughing most of the time, it doesn't matter that it's 3AM and you're still inhaling 'atmosphere.'

Well, the fruits of Fantasy Flight Games' labors are finally paying off. Monday marked the international release of Midnight Chronicles. The film is now available in both France and the United Kingdom.

The near future will certainly bring with it a US and Canadian release, so hopefully soon, I'll be able to post more information regarding that. Until then, you'll have to settle with me re-posting the trailer for the flick.


Thursday, June 4, 2009


Some kids start with Dr. Seuss. Some with Mother Goose. In his nearly three weeks of life, Alex has been enjoying a variety of different books. Here are just a few of the things we've been reading.

We started with a little bit of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman.

We were then introduced to such super-villains as The Chameleon, Electro, and Man-Wolf with The Essential Amazing Spider-Man Volume 9 (thanks, Uncle Brent!).

Here we are practicing our various accents whilst enjoying a little Jack of Fables.

And finally, we cracked open the pages of Anthony Neil Smith's book Hogdoggin'. Alex is a big Steel God fan.

What other adventures will we take? Who knows. Tonight we read a couple of chapters of Kiss Me Deadly by Mickey Spillaine. Alex was riveted.

Until next time,

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


So this past week has been pretty surreal. It's been one heck of a whirlwind. Alex is at home, and we're all getting into a nice little groove. We seriously just sit and stare at him sometimes. It's a wonder anything ever gets done when there's a baby around.

Anyway, the trailer for Into Temptation, Patrick Coyle's Catholic noir flick, is finally up and online. The flick recently screened at the Newport Beach Film Festival, where our lead, Jeremy Sisto, took home the Best Actor honor. Enjoy.

And since I can't really resist, here's another photo of Alexander.

Note: This photo in no way represents Alex's opinions on the film.

More soon,

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Hey everyone! Man, what a crazy couple of days. It all started Sunday night, at around 12:30AM. I was laying in bed, next to my 'two days overdue' wife. I was just closing my book (The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, for those who need specifics) when Jen rolled over, grimaced, and said, "Whoa. That doesn't feel right."

An hour later, the contractions were coming pretty quickly. We finally came to the conclusion that our son was not going to let us sleep that night. We rushed to the hospital (Regions in St. Paul, a straight shot down University from our house. The location came in handy for a bleary-eyed father to be had driving there at 1:30AM).

The amazing staff set us up in a room, and with the guidance of two kick ass nurses, we went through nearly nine hours of labor. At 10:49AM on Monday, May 18th, Alexander Martin Terrell was finally born.

Alex is a tiny little fella (7lbs. 11.8 oz. and 20in. long) with a shock of blonde hair and long feet. We are now officially home from the hospital, and Alex is settling in to home life. We were very fortunate through the entire pregnancy, and are extremely blessed to have family and friends who are as excited as we are about our new addition.

So get ready for more baby photos on the blog, in addition to project updates. And thank you all for your love and support.

All the best,

Sunday, May 17, 2009


So I made a bet, and thank Christ I don't have to pay up. Upon walking into Once Upon a Crime yesterday, and shaking Anthony Neil Smith's hand, he promptly told me, "You know, if your wife gives birth today, you have to name the baby Hogdog."

Well, bullet dodged! Phew! We are still in a holding pattern over here, as the stubborn offspring has decided he's not quite ready to leave his snug home yet.

As for the signing...Well, first off, let me say, if you live in the Twin Cities, and have yet to set foot in Crime's cozy, basement location, shame on you. They are the most cordial, knowledgeable folks around. So do yourself a favor and shop there, dammit.

And while you're there, pick up Anthony Neil Smith's books. Neil's a genuinely nice fella (um, I mean he's a growling, frightening badass, with a rep to preserve). We had a chance to chat for a while, and I walked out with a kick-ass, signed copy of Hogdoggin'.

So a big thanks to Neil for taking the time to talk, and for the photo. Everyone go buy the book (you can pick up early, signed copies at Once Upon a Crime, naturally) and make it a scorching success.


Saturday, May 16, 2009


Quick post tonight. Tomorrow, the cool cats at Once Upon a Crime are hosting a book signing for Anthony Neil Smith's new book, Hogdoggin'. The book is a pseudo-sequel to Smith's dirty gem Yellow Medicine (which I read and loved. You can read my thoughts on the book HERE). I'm pretty damned stoked to pick this up. I'll post a run-down of the signing afterwards.

That is, of course, unless a certain child decides tomorrow would be a great time to finally meet everyone who have been asking about his arrival. We'll see, I suppose. Today was the official due date and, aside from a few sporadic contractions, he's still pretty cozy where he's at.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009


Every so often, you come across something you haven't seen or thought about in ages, and a wave of nostalgia floods over you. You remember a specific moment, a place, a smell. It reminds you of something your gray matter has decided to set aside in place of other information - long division, or the original cast of Charles in Charge for example.

Recently, three books I've re-discovered have had that effect on me. Wandering the shelves of Barnes and Noble, in the children's section, I found a few gems I had forgotten about.

Night of the Twisters by Ivy Ruckman:

Growing up in the Midwest, tornadoes are a common fear. I've seen firsthand their destruction, traversing fields of farmland in search of twisted pieces of metal that were once secured to my grandparents' farm. Yet there's something alluring about stormy weather, too, something about lightning and dark skies and listening to the radio as sirens wail their warning and rain pelts the hot asphalt. Night was the first book I read that I immediately identified with. It didn't matter that the action took place in Nebraska. The town in the book was my hometown of Eagle Lake. The main character, roughly my age, was me. I was the hero of the story.

Bunnicula by James and Deborah Howe:

In second grade, I had a student teacher. Her name escapes me now (replaced, most likely, by the lyrics to Ice Ice Baby). But one thing I distinctly recall was her enthusiastic reading of Bunnicula to the class. It was one of the first times I discovered the relationship between horror and humor. And come on, a bunny that sucks carrots dry? Genius!

The Castle in the Attic by Elizabeth Winthrop:

This is the purest example of what I mentioned above. I don't remember too much about the book itself (tiny knights defending a toy castle in a young boy's attic), but it reminds me fondly of my old bed growing up. I had a raised bed, with two drawers built into the frame. One day, I discovered that by sliding out the bottom drawer, I could slither under the bed. By replacing the drawer after me, my location was hidden from everyone. There was enough space under there for me to sit and read, and a strategically placed outlet provided the perfect spot for a life-saving (or eyesight-saving) night light. Castle was one of the many books I read in my Fortress of Solitude. And I had forgotten about it completely under I saw the cover on the book store shelf.

So that's my trip down memory lane. My posts have been sporadic (life, and impending fatherhood, are getting in the way). I'm trying mightily to post, and there are things to share. So check back!