As 2016 headed into it’s Autumn months, I was riding the high of Dead Drift’s success while pondering what to do next. I’d already written another season of Dead Drift, another season full of fun and silliness, ending on yet another cliffhanger ending. The problem was that I’d already spent too long in one place, doing one thing, working on one project. I imagine that’s less of a problem if you’re getting paid stacks of fat cash, but I’m still just a hobbyist, dumping thousands of my own dollars into this stuff. Nobody is paying me shit. Amazon revenues recoup a fraction of the costs that go into making something like Dead Drift, not even counting the time. That said, I was ready to do something different. To “play in a different world for a while,” as I said it. Turns out, that was a bleak world of magic, demons, and a young woman named Penny Palabras.
Penny is free to watch on TFN – https://watch.thefantasy.network/movie/penny-palabras/
Brokenkites, aka James Willard, made a bunch of the music I used in Dead Drift. He also wrote and self-published a comic book called “Penny Palabras.” He asked if I’d be interested in adapting Penny for the screen. After some consideration, I accepted. I adapted the screenplay and was ready to proceed. Thing was, after 4 years on one project basically by my self, I wasn’t about to get into that again. I needed a team. So I set about building one. The core crew that formed was Travis Blood, one of my favorite collaborators from back in the MAP days, Sean Driscoll, who I’d worked with at my day job, and though she didn’t come aboard until later, Sabrina Rose, whose enthusiasm is unparalleled.
We filled behind the camera roles, cast our characters, found our locations, and shot the feature film Penny Palabras. We simultaneously shot a series of “VLOGS” from Penny that serve as a prequel to the movie, setting the stage for the events of the film. We released these weekly as we shot.
Penny was a great project. We started shooting in April of 2017, working every weekend through June. There were a handful of pickup shots and scenes through July and August, culminating in the final shooting day where Deena Ingley (Penny) and myself got the shot of Penny submerged in water. The two of us showed up at the hotel where I worked at the time after hours, I stuck a gopro under the water line, and fully clothed, Deena jumped into the pool.
The final edit was released to Amazon in late Spring 2018. We struggled to find Penny’s audience. I think the movie is good, though a bit slow overall. Within a week of going online, Penny Palabras hit the torrent sites. One tracker showed that Penny was downloaded over 20,000 times in a few days. If only we had a dollar for each of those downloads, Penny would have been a profitable movie. Instead, it was a loss. BUT – it was the first time I’ve experienced the exhilaration of having one of my movies pirated like that. A handful of reviews here and there actually got what the movie was going for, and the appreciation of those few fans has to be enough.
I loved every day on set filming Penny Palabras. Our team was top notch, and I made a lot of long-time friends and collaborators while making Penny Palabras.