Monday, June 30, 2008

Philip Marlowe/Casting Your Films/Internet Specials...

Your Angry Filmmaker guest quote of the week.

"Its (Hollywood’s) idea of "production value" is spending a million dollars dressing up a story that any good writer would throw away. Its vision of the rewarding movie is a vehicle for some glamour-puss with two expressions and eighteen changes of costume, or for some male idol of the muddled millions with a permanent hangover, six worn-out acting tricks, the build of a lifeguard, and the mentality of a chicken-strangler."

~ Raymond Chandler

I love Raymond Chandler. He was a terrific writer and he had such a way with words. When I was living in LA I read all of his books and then one of the art house theaters did a whole weekend of his films. I was in heaven! I was in that theater for just about every one. They also had the different versions of some of his films. That was a great weekend.

And even though times have changed, Chandler’s quote still rings true.

A lot of people have portrayed Philip Marlowe over the years, and I think I finally figured out what works best for me. If you combine Humphrey Bogart’s attitude with Robert Mitchum's physical presence you have the ultimate Philip Marlowe. Bogart doesn’t take anything off of anyone and you always know that he is on the case for the long haul. Mitchum looked large on the screen and has this weariness that I think is the essence of Marlowe. Mitchum’s Marlowe had seen it all and he was tired. He didn’t own much (an over coat and two pistols according to one of the films), but he was going to see this thing through to the end, and it didn’t matter to him if he survived.

If you could put those two guys together you’d have one great character. Trust me, I like them as individuals, it’s just that Marlowe is larger than life.

So who could play Marlowe now? Is there an actor out there that has the attitude and the physical presence to pull it off?

One of the things that most filmmakers who are starting out do is to cast their friends in their films. While it is always great to have free actors, one thing you need to be careful of, (especially young filmmakers) is casting a bunch of people that are all the same age and ethnicity. Sure, your leads can be a certain type, but then you need to fill your supporting roles with people of different ages and ethnic types.

Why? Because you need to give your audience characters that they can identify with, who are like them in different ways. It also shows a more accurate picture of the world around us. When I am judging some film festivals I can usually tell the age of the director by the age of the cast. This is not always true, but you would be amazed at how accurate I can be. Young filmmakers make films that have tons of young people in them. Don’t think about making films just for your friends; expand your vision and the world around you.

I was told by a lot of different distributors when we were shopping Birddog around, how amazed they were in the casting. They were all good actors and very believable in their roles, but they were all different. I was told that most first time directors make the casting mistake, this was just one of the reasons the distributors had a tough time believing it was my first film. I told them it was my 12th film, but first feature.

Populate your films with all types and your films will look more “professional”. But also keep them historically accurate or you’re gonna have Spike Lee or Clint Eastwood bothering you!

Other stuff.

Internet Special!!!!

Go to and check out The Angry Filmmaker Work Books. They are packed with lots of good info and are a real bargain at a mere $10 each or the set of three for $25 (plus S&H). If you order all three work books, (Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production) before July 15th, 2008 I will send you a free DVD copy of Kicking Bird. That’s all three books plus a Kicking Bird DVD for $25 + $9 S&H.

So what are you waiting for?

I am finally on Facebook and I am doing more stuff on LinkedIn. So if you want to be my friend at either place just look for Angry Filmmaker or Kelley Baker and add me.

My Masters Class, Making the Extreme Low Budget Film has been re-scheduled for August 18th thru September 5th in Franklin, Indiana. Check out for more information as it becomes available.

As always, feel free to link to my site and subscribe to my blog.

Talk later.


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Thursday, June 26, 2008

This just in...

A buddy of mine just sent me this and asked if I would post it. It looks fun so follow the links and check it out of you're interested. The folks at The Indy Film Co-op are great!

New York, NY – Tromadance Founder Lloyd Kaufman and The B Movie Celebration announced the creation of a new expanded summer version of the Tromadance Film Festival in Franklin, Indiana, at this year’s American Film Market last November. This announcement included details on the transformation of the Tromadance Film Festival into a fully immersive film experience that now includes a larger screening schedule as well as more panel discussions and in-depth workshops covering a variety of topics pertinent to young filmmakers. Summer TromaDance takes place during the B Movie Celebration September 26th-28th in Franklin Indiana.
TromaDance is the first film festival wholeheartedly devoted to filmmakers and fans. Unlike every other film festival, TromaDance does not charge filmmakers to submit their films. Entrance to all screenings is free and open to the public. Also, there are no VIP reservations or preferential treatment regarding films, panels, or parties of any kind given. The organizers of TromaDance believe films are meant to be seen, especially when it comes to new filmmakers. Art — in all its forms — is for the people!

TromaDance features a range of films made independently, usually without big stars, big money and far removed from the Hollywood studio system. The official selections of TromaDance have been made with nothing more than passion, courage, integrity, and raw talent.
Everyone at TromaDance is treated as an equal. The elite and the celebrated are treated no better or worse than the experimental filmmaker or the random moviegoer off the street. Admittance to all screenings, panels, parties, and events is strictly on a first come, first served basis. If there are any VIPs at TromaDance, they are the filmmakers whose blood, sweat, and hard work are on the screen.
TromaDance is an opportunity for everyone who’s ever picked up a camera to have their work seen without the compromises required by elitist cartel interference. TromaDance is proud to be the first and only film festival of the people, for the people, and by the people.

You may send your film (along with the official entry form, available at

to the following address:

c/o The Indy Film Co-op
99 East Monroe Street
Franklin, Indiana 46131

Entries will not be returned.

Part film festival, part educational symposium and part circus, the B Movie Celebration is an event unlike any other. Scores of classic B feature film films have been shown at the 2007 B Celebration, including Forbidden Planet, Night of The Living Dead and Death Race 2000. Guests at this year’s B Movie Celebration included Troma Studio founder Lloyd Kaufman, B Film Legend Jim Wynorski, Special Effects Guru Tom Savini and numerous other practitioners of the B Movie art form.

Talk later.


Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Who needs Opening Titles?/Other stuff...

Sorry this posting is late, it’s been a bit crazy here. I am trying to do too many things at once. I’ll be better next week.

Your Angry Filmmaker Tip.

Who needs some big opening title thing? Start the movie!

- - from The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide (coming really soon)

This is something that really drives me crazy. All of these filmmakers who put these long and elaborate opening title sequences in their movies that have nothing to do with their story, and we have never heard of them, or any of the Actors.

I have judged student film festivals where I have seen “A Film By…” credits, with a fancy animated logo for a company that they just made up. We don’t know who you are, what we do know is that you’ve got an ego.

In Hollywood “A Film By…” is the credit to have for a director. Their agents negotiate to get that credit. And many directors don’t deserve it, unless they have written, directed, and produced the film. Film is a collaborative medium filled with huge egos.

I don’t really want to talk about that credit too much, what I want to talk about is head titles in general.

Why not just start the movie? A friend of mine, when we were making The Gas Café basically said, “Who cares about another Kelley Baker Film, besides your family?” And he’s right. Unless you have written an opening title sequence that tells us something about what your movie is going to be about, don’t show us a bunch of people’s names that we don’t know, and may or may not see again. Jump to the first scene. Get us in to your movie.

In Birddog I did do an opening title sequence. One of my characters is singing Tennessee Ernie Ford’s Sixteen Tons, (which cost me a lot of money). As you are watching the scene you start noticing that something isn’t quite right. As a friend of mine said at an early screening, “I thought, poor Kelley, his opening scene is out of sync! And then I realized, wait a minute, it’s supposed to be out of sync. What is going on?” That scene pushed him in to the movie. It is finally revealed that this character is lip syncing the song at a nursing home. That is important to the story. I am telling you something important about the main character (who isn’t even on screen until the following scene). I also used Sixteen Tons for a reason. Listen to the words and you will know what the movie is about. It’s about a guy who no matter how hard he works, (he’s a used car salesman) he still owes his soul, “to the company store”.

There was a reason for that scene to exist in the movie, so I integrated it with the title sequence. In my last two films I haven’t done opening titles with cast and crew. The Gas Café has no opening credits. Kicking Bird has the Angry Filmmaker name and my name at the head, and the film title during the opening sequence. Do I have an ego? Of course I do. I also co-produced, wrote, directed, edited, sound designed, and was one of two re-recording mixers on the film.

I am still not a fan of having my name on screen before the movie starts, my title designer and my marketing friends insisted on it. In building the Angry Filmmaker name, they want to make sure that my name is associated with it. They know more about that crap than I do, so I said okay. Would I have preferred not having my name at the beginning? Yes.

I decided against putting a lot of titles at the head of my movie because I work with lots of really talented people, whose names are not well known. By not using opening credits I am forcing the audience to watch people they are unfamiliar with who may or may not be actors. Maybe they are the characters they are playing? I want the audience to identify with the characters and not think about whom is playing who. I want to get the story started. I want to get the audience involved.

Most opening title sequences are vanity as far as I am concerned. Very few are used to advance the story. It is why I like (and teach) films like The Conversation, and Once Upon A Time in the West. Both of these films introduce important elements to their plot in their opening titles. I think that’s great. You have to watch the opening to start to understand what the story is going to be about. Both Leone and Coppola lay it out for you, and they do it visually, and with sound, not with words scrolling across the screen. I don’t have a problem with that; I find those uses of opening titles interesting.

So next time you are thinking about your opening credits, ask yourself are they really necessary? Can I tell the audience something about the plot, story, or characters through the opening titles? If you can do that, go for it. If you’re just doing it so you and your friends can see your names on screen just like the “big guys”, then wake me up when the titles are done and the movie actually starts. Until your movie starts, I really have no interest in seeing people’s names.

Other stuff.

My Masters Class, Making the Extreme Low Budget Film has been re-scheduled for August 18th thru September 5th in Franklin, Indiana. More info will follow. Check out for more information as it becomes available.

I am still looking for Fall Tour Sponsors, if you know anyone at a company that you think might be a good fit for the Angry Filmmaker Fall Tour please let me know.

Check out my site and look at The Angry Filmmaker Work Books. They are packed with lots of good info and are a real bargain at a mere $10 each or the set of three for $25 (plus S&H).

As always, feel free to link to my site and you can subscribe to my blog. So what are you waiting for?

Talk later.


Monday, June 16, 2008

Workshop Postponed/More Writing/other stuff

First the Big News…

We are postponing my Master’s Filmmaking Workshop that was to take place in Franklin, IN from July 7th – 25th. Franklin was hit hard by the flooding and it is going to take them some time to get things cleaned up. We are tentatively planning on re-scheduling the Workshop for late August. That will be determined by my friends back there in Franklin.

If you have already paid for the workshop please contact the Franklin Film Institute or The Indy Film Co-op for more information. I am hoping that we can re-schedule the workshop and that everyone can still make it.

I will let you all know when it will be re-scheduled as soon as I know.

My thoughts are with my friends in Indiana and in Iowa. Two states that have always been good to me. I hope all of you that I haven’t heard from are doing okay. I know you will recover from all of this and I am looking forward to seeing you all again. God speed.

More on writing … (continued from last week)

Once I have made all of the changes I want to my script, I bring in actors that I know and we do a read through. Different actors take on different roles. As we read through the screenplay from beginning to end I listen to the dialog. What sounds good, what sounds stupid, what just doesn’t sound right? And I make more notes.

Then I go back to the script and make changes to the dialog as it’s needed. The words have to sound natural coming out of characters mouths. If it doesn’t your actors can’t sell the lines. If they can’t sell the lines, their acting comes off bad.

Look at how bad great actors look in the Star Wars films. Why do they look so bad? Because they are trying to make stupid dialog sound good. I wish people would tell guys like Lucas that he’s not much of a writer when it comes to dialog. But as long as he makes more money than God, no one in a position of power will ever criticize his writing, they are all too dependent on his money to be honest with him. His dialog sucks! I don’t think he’s much of a story teller either. The last decent thing he made was American Graffiti. Although I must admit the very first Star Wars was fun.

I refine the dialog all the way through rehearsals and even when we are on set. I have no problem if an actor needs to change some words, as long as it doesn’t change my intent. I believe that you need input from your actors when it comes to dialog.

I was reading once that Steve McQueen used to go through a script and cut his lines. He would tell Directors that he felt he could just do a look at the camera which would get the same point across that some lines would. McQueen was a brilliant actor who knew what worked best for him and many times that was fewer words and more “acting”. He could achieve more with a facial expression or an action then many actors could with dialog. Listen to your actors!

That’s not to say that all actors are brilliant, that’s still up to you. As much as we want to talk about “auteurs” and the director being in control, it is still a group effort to get a film done. Don’t forget that.

Remember, the re-writing never stops until the premiere.

Write the best script you can with help from people you trust.

Other stuff…

I am still looking for Fall Tour Sponsors, if you know anyone at a company that you think might be a good fit for the Angry Filmmaker Fall Tour please let me know.

Check out my site and look at The Angry Filmmaker Work Books. They are packed with lots of good info and are a real bargain at a mere $10 each or the set of three for $25 (plus S&H).

As always, feel free to link to my site and you can now subscribe to my blog. So what are you waiting for?

And finally, your Angry Filmmaker Tip.

On the set, don't ever lose your temper. Let me repeat that. DON'T EVER LOSE YOUR TEMPER! If you lose your temper the entire shoot suffers.
- - from The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide (coming really soon)

Talk later.


Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Fall Tour/New Book/New Workshop

Hey Everybody,

It’s that time of year again. It’s cold and rainy and I feel like I haven’t seen the sun in months. Yes, it’s June in Oregon.

And we all know what June in Oregon means. It’s time to dream of better weather, vast stretches of open highway, huge gas bills and the Fall Tour. Yep, I can’t believe it either, but I am going to be hitting the road in September in the face of high gas prices and the Presidential campaign.

My first stop will be at the DC Shorts Film Festival the weekend of September 13th. I will be on the East Coast for about 2 weeks before I slowly start making my way west.

The Fall Tour is going to be a big one! In addition to showing my movies and teaching work shops I am going to be promoting my new book, The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide: Making The Extreme Low Budget Film. The book should be ready later this summer.

"Angry or not, Kelley Baker knows his stuff, and he tells it all in this book that's part indie film war story, part instructional manual for true independents, and part furious rant. It's always entertaining, and it might just tick you off, but – most important – the advice contained within these pages will help you get your film made. Anyone reading this book can tell Baker truly wants to help passionate wannabe filmmakers realize their creative visions without going bankrupt or making the kinds of mistakes they can't afford to make."

Chris Hansen, writer and director of “The Proper Care and Feeding of an American Messiah.”

I have also added a new work shop.

Pre-Production on Extreme Low Budget Features, is a 3 hour work shop where Kelley Baker will walk you through the ins and outs of everything you need to do before you get to the set. From casting, staged readings and actor rehearsals, to script break downs and securing lots of free stuff, Kelley has seen and done it all. How do you know if you've hired the right crew? What kind of insurance should you have, and how much? What happens if one of your locations falls through at the last minute? Do you have location releases, talent releases? Who gets a certificate of insurance? How long should Pre-production even last? “I believe that your movie is made before you ever step on the set. If you get Pre-production right then the rest of your schedule should go smooth, and when it doesn't you need to know what to do to get it back on track.”

So contact me ( if you’re interested in booking me on the Fall Tour, or if you want to chip in for gas. Moses and I will are looking forward to seeing all of our friends again.

Other stuff…

I have a new page on my site (, called The AF Speaks. If you have ever wondered why they call me the Angry Filmmaker I’ll tell you about it. The page contains short video interview clips which will be updated every other week.

I’ve also added another clip to Odds & Ends

Don’t forget to check out the work books. Bowling Green State University just purchased multiple sets for their film classes, shouldn’t you?

Talk later.


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Monday, June 09, 2008

Mid-West Weather/More Writing/New Stuff/other thoughts

First and foremost I want to say that I have been reading the news about the bad weather in the mid-west all weekend. I hope that my friends out there are doing okay. I’ve sent some e-mails to check in. I can’t believe all the bad weather you have been getting back there. Take care of yourselves.

And to my friends in the Franklin, Indiana area, (home to the Indy Film Co-op), I heard your town was really hit hard. I am so sorry. It was a beautiful town and I hope the flooding doesn’t have lasting effects. Good luck with the clean up, whenever that can start. I understand that you’re getting more rain later today. I hope you are all safe.

Take care and know that I’m thinking about you guys. I wish I could be back there to help.

From my previous blog.

Writing continued…

When I give my scripts to people I trust, I also give them a questionnaire so I can find out specific things about my story and characters. I want to know who they like, and why? I want to know if the story drags anywhere, does anything not make sense. I want them to put their thoughts in writing. That way I can compare their thoughts with others. Does more than one person have the same problem with a character or plot point? The more people agree on certain things within your script the more you know what is working, and what isn’t.

After talking to everyone, I go through all the notes and make comparisons. That usually tells me what I need to work on. I will do another draft or two and then hand my revised screenplay to the second group of people. They also get a questionnaire that usually contains the same questions that I asked the first group.

I want to see if I fixed the problems from the earlier drafts. I also want to know if I have created any new problems. Depending on the response tells me how many more drafts I will need to write.

The group that I have put together over the years is very important to me. They come from all walks of life and have all sorts of different points of view. Only one of them is a filmmaker. He is also a novelist. I rarely have other filmmakers read my scripts. Why?

Most filmmakers can’t separate themselves from their craft. They always want to talk about how I’m going to shoot something, what kind of gear I’m going to use, or they will compare my script to something else they’ve seen. (Film Geeks are even worse in this aspect.) That doesn’t help me at all! I want people who like films, but are more interested in character development and plot then blood, special effects and explosions.

I also want people who will be honest with me about the script. When someone says your script “sucks”, walk away. You will never learn anything from that person. If a person tells you they had some problems with your story and they have some questions, open your ears. You are (hopefully) going to be told honestly about problems with your story.

Many people have their own agendas when discussing your work, and that’s fine as long as you are aware of that. I always tell people that your parents and your friends will always tell you that your scripts (and films) are great. They don’t want to disappoint you.

I don’t have that problem. I can tell people that I have problems with their scripts and WHY! Why is a big thing. You need to explain why something doesn’t work for you. That helps the writer to understand where your criticism is coming from.

When I was at USC they would rip our films up one side and down the other. It was some of the meanest criticism I have ever seen and experienced. The faculty there wanted to know how badly you wanted to make films. We had a 50% drop out rate with the group that I started with.

I now have extremely thick skin and I’m smart enough to know that someone may not like my work but that doesn’t mean they don’t like me. It just means that I made something that they don’t like. That’s fine. You can’t please everyone all the time. (There are a lot of people who don’t like me or my work, trust me, I am not losing sleep over it.)

More on writing next week.

Your Angry Filmmaker Tip.

The Gospel According to Arthur: "Don't ask. Don't get!"

- - from The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide (coming really soon)

Other thoughts.

I am not sure what’s going to be happening with my Masters Class in Filmmaking this summer through the Franklin Film Institute. Let’s see what happens with the damage in the town. Go to and we’ll post details as we know them. I’ll also post them here as well.

Find out more about the Angry Filmmaker @ There are a lot of great tips contained in my work books. Buy one and see for yourself. You just might learn something.

I have also posted some new stuff on the site. Check out Odds & Ends, and the new page, The AF Speaks. Links to both are on the Home page,

Take care, Bill, Josh, and all my other friends back in the mid-west. - - Kelley

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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Writing/Film Schools/AF Tip

Your Angry Filmmaker Tip.

All writing is re-writing.

- - from The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide (coming in Spring 2008)

I don’t believe that I made up that line but I certainly live by it.

Too many Filmmakers believe that unless you’re on the set you’re not making your movie. Bull Shit! Your movie is made in the writing stages, and in pre-production.

Not enough Filmmakers spend time on their scripts, re-writing, getting feedback from people they trust, and then having readings of the script so they can hear how the dialog sounds, and if it flows. Does the story make sense?

No, we have to hurry up and get out on location so people know that we’re filmmakers.

Before I shoot any of my films I probably do 8 or 9 drafts of my scripts. I also send it out to two groups of people I trust. Note I said people I trust. I want my screenplay read by people who are going to be honest with me about the story and the characters. I have 12 people I give my stuff to, in two groups of six. I give draft 5 (or 6) to one group of friends with a questionnaire. I require them to read the entire screenplay at one sitting.

Why one sitting? Because your script should read like a movie plays. People should be able to read it in the time it would take to watch it. That is a rough estimate. (I once spent 5 hours reading a friend’s screenplay that was 160 pages long. It was way too dense.)

I’ll continue this train of thought next week.

I get asked all the time by students and people who want to be filmmakers, “Should I go to Film School?”

It’s a good question and I usually respond by asking people what they want to do. Do they want to write and direct? Do they want to shoot? Edit? Depending on what their answer is determines my answer.

If you want to write and direct I think film school can be a good thing. You can learn about story structure, plot and character development, and how to work with actors. You also get to make mistakes and screw up on your student films, which is great because once you get out you are not allowed to screw up. There is a lot of money riding on what you are doing so it had better be good.

If you want to shoot or light, find a good DP you can learn from and volunteer with them until you have learned enough to go out and start doing it.

If you want to edit I think you should go to film school. Why? Because editing is just as much a craft as any other part of filmmaking. Just because you can use Final Cut, or Avid doesn’t make you an editor. It makes you an operator. Real editors know why they are cutting things certain ways. They are exploring ways to assist in the story telling. Most of the great editors I know can talk about editing in technical terms, philosophical terms, and story telling terms. When I was in school we read Pudovkin and Eisenstein. We watched the French New Wave and saw Godard break the rules, we also read Godard and knew that he knew the rules he was breaking, and why.

Too many people think they can make a movie. It’s not that easy, and making a good movie is even harder.

Do you need to go to film school to make movies. No! Lucas and Spielberg went to film school and their movies suck. They just make lots of money. And if you just want to make money go to LA.

Tarantino didn’t go to film school he just watched movies, and that’s why he is constantly stealing stuff from other films. At least he steals from foreign films.

It’s really up to you if you want to go to film school or not. One of the great things about USC when I was there was that the faculty dumped on the students constantly. We had a 50% drop out rate in my group. They wanted to know how badly you wanted to make films. If you thought it might be fun, or easy, you didn’t last long. They wanted only serious filmmakers. And some of those filmmakers have gone on to make crap. At least they got a good education. (People think I make crap, but at least I make smart crap!)

I guess that’s what I miss. Films like so many other things in our culture have been “dumbed” down. I was trying to find something to see at the theater last week and I failed. I can’t see wasting my money on the crap that is out there. I picked up an old film from the library and loved it.

I wish more filmmakers, if they don’t go to film school, would at least go out and rent old films, classic films and foreign films. I also wish that people would read more. And by reading I mean books. It’s amazing what you can learn from books. Like how to tell a story.

And here is something that has always bothered me. Why are people proud of the fact that they don’t read. Like reading and learning is a bad thing? It certainly says something about our society.

Reading is a great thing! It doesn’t hurt, and you might even learn something! I am at the point anymore where I don’t even care what books people read, as long as they read.

People who want to make films need to step away from their computers and stay out of theaters. They need to read books, and live life. Go out and do things, then make movies about what they know. Too many people are already making movies who obviously don’t know anything. Don’t believe me, check out You Tube, and your local multiplex. Sometimes there’s not much difference in content.

Enough of this, I need to get back to work.

If you get a chance check out an obscure BBC series called Father Ted. There are only 7 episodes (to my knowledge) the main actor had a heart attack and died after the 7th episode was shot. It’s about three priests on this island off Ireland. It is funny, irreverent, and features some wonderful dialog. A true gem of a show that would never be allowed on the air over here.

Don’t forget my Masters Class in Filmmaking this summer through the Franklin Film Institute. Go to for more details. There is still space available.

Find out more about the Angry Filmmaker @ There are a lot of great tips contained in my work books. Buy one and see for yourself. You just might learn something.

Does Cleveland Rock?

June 1, 2008

A buddy of mine is moving to Cleveland this summer and is looking to meet other Independent Filmmakers. Is there a film scene in Cleveland? Let me know.

Check out Dave Berry’s sites, Smoking Monkey Pictures on My Space, or SkyPad Industries (

He is a good guy so if anyone in Cleveland is listening, drop him a note.

And if there is an Independent Film scene in Cleveland let me know, I would love to come by and do a work shop or a screening.



Don’t forget my Masters Class in Filmmaking this summer through the Franklin Film Institute. Go to for more details.

Find out more about the Angry Filmmaker @ And don’t forget to buy some of my stuff!