How a SciFi and Horror Film Director Uses Noteshelf

Jason Tucker is an award-winning film commercial director, with a passion for SciFi and Horror films.  He's brewing 6 terrifying films of horror, suspense and science fiction through his Little Creeps project. Back this amazingly talented indie filmmaker through his crowd funding page here.

1.) Tell us your background. 

I started as an illustrator with a heavy-bent towards conceptual, editorial work. Upon reviewing my work, an art director expressed that my thinking was perfect for advertising. So, I went back to school for design and advertising and did that full-time for 19 years.

I did well and received awards places like The One Show and Cannes, but most of my free time was spent watching Genre films. Horror, Sci Fi, Superhero films. A boss recognized that and I went back to school again for directing, which lead to me directing five music videos in the first year after I graduated.

2.) How long have you been shooting genre films, most specifically SciFI and Horror?
I've been directing genre films for 3 or 4 years now. The jump came after creating the ad campaign for Resident Evil 5 while still working in advertising. While I enjoyed making ads, making them for a survival horror property was amazing. I wanted to keep that feeling going.

3.) What is it about SciFi and Horror films that interests you?
I love VFX and creature design to the point that I learned those disciplines, as well. I also love a good scare, but I think what interests me most is the challenge of it; Horror and SciFi are the hardest genres to write for. The main goal of any move regardless of genre is to suspend disbelief, to make people think what is on screen is real. With Horror and SciFi, unlike a drama, you are starting with something that is completely unbelievable and you still have to draw people in to the plight of the story. That can only be done with character.

Also, genre films are actually a better opportunity to make a message movie. That is something I learned from an interview with Rod Serling (creator of The Twilight Zone). He was a award-winning playwright of stories with heavy social commentary. I'm paraphrasing, but he said, "if you make a movie about a film, all people hear is a judgmental finger wagging at them, but if you wrap it in Science Fiction people more readily absorb your message."  I always liked that notion.

4.) How did you discover Noteshelf?
That came from Prolost creator Stu Maschwitz. I had been following him for years after getting his book The DVRebels Guide, which every aspiring filmmaker should get.  He was a head at The Orphanage VFX studio and was VFX supervisor for Sin City and created Magic Bullet. He really supports indie genre filmmaking and gave lots of ways to improve the quality of your films.

The connection to Noteshelf came with his Adobe After Effects plug-in Boardo which works directly with your iPad app. The plug-in comes with custom notebook paper for Noteshelf that snaps your sketch to your film frame. From there, it allows you to add pans, zooms, digital dollies, etc. The greatest thing is it automatically adjusts the timing of your frame's start and end points so you don't have to keep adjusting each and every parameter as you refine your animatic.

5.) What made you choose Noteshelf for your sketching needs, especially when it comes to creating storyboards?
Compared to the others I tried, I liked Noteshelf's responsiveness. I don't own a fancy stylus (indie director, remember?). Despite that, there's no discernible lag when sketching.

Also, the fact I can use it on my tablet is great. You can't always bring your laptop an your drawing tablet with you. This makes it much more portable.When I'm finished, all I have to do is export the frames to my camera roll and Airdrop them to my laptop to animate with Boardo in After Effects. It's a really great workflow.

6.) What’s your process in making the storyboards? - Any weird habits maybe? :)

Headphones. creepy music, the script and a huge cup of tea. Then I just keep plowing through it until I have a first pass done. 

Noteshelf works great for Board-O-Matics, as you can duplicate frames and save a ton of time. This way you only erase the part that changes and re-draw that. Everything else is not only drawn, but in the same position, which avoids background movement that distracts from the subject of the shot

7.) Aside from the classic shows you’ve mentioned in your crowd funding page, where do you find inspiration for your work?
Life, strangely enough. I tend to "What if...?" a lot. What if is your most powerful tool as a creator. What if that person hadn't calmed down? What if, that's not the mailman at the door? What if, that wasn't a false alarm? 

Other than that, natural light that falls in a way that changes the mood of a place you have visited a million times. Corny, but it's helpful. 

8.) What’s the best advice you got from a mentor or leader, especially when it comes to filming?
This is how you do it with the fancy stuff. Now here's how you do it. ~ My film teacher, Alan Calzatti.

9.) If things go well, who would be your dream cast and why?
I already have one, Michael, the one who was on Sleepy Hollow. But to answer your specific question:

Rosario Dawson. Great actress regardless of genre of the film she's in, which is an important quality to have; she also happens to be a huge horror fan.  

Michael B. Jordan, Michael Sheen and/or Chris Hemsworth for the same reasons.  

I think the common ground between all of them is the don't play the roles differently than they would a serious drama just because it's horror or SciFi . 

If you want to see what happens to a mob enforcer who's in love with his employer's new dead girlfriend and other more haunting and terrifying stories, back up Jason's crowd funding project here.