Thursday, May 13, 2010

Vaughn wants to do what???

Rob and I were able to read the script for "Night of the Alien" back when Vaughn seemed to be pumping out a script a minute. They were all great, but that one stood out as truly unique. We loved it. Later, we heard that he was going to get it made and that he had some producers on board. Great! I don't remember how much later, but Rob met with Vaughn, and when he came back, said that the producers had backed out, and Vaughn planned to shoot the movie in his bedroom if need be. "Vaughn wants to do what??" Rob said we could do better. At first I was horrified at the thought of making a movie with zero money. How many projects had we done thus far for free or next to free? Hadn't we said we were not doing any more FREE projects?? But the more I thought about it, and the more time went by, more and more people were on board and it seemed like a doable thing.

Casting had started, consisting of many of Vaughn's friends. Rob went to a table read and thought they were great. Our mutual friend Neil, the brilliant DP was on board and Rob would be production designing and producing, along with Vaughn. We had an initial meet and greet and the incomparable Shakey's Pizza in West Hollywood. We met a lot of the actors and other awesome people who were ready and willing to "throw down" for the good of the project. Rob and I tried to collect people's availability, so we'd know how best to schedule things. We felt good, leaving that evening.

We spoke to our friend who is a veteran First AD. He liked the script and had offered to help, but had to back out in the end, due to another project. He did, however, give us a template for a schedule. If we were going to do this thing, we had to do it right! Not only did we need a daily shoot schedule to keep track of all the scenes and characters and locations, but we were making a movie here! Money or no money, it was a bonafide movie and we needed to treat it as such. We made a contact list, e-mail list, call sheet and schedule. This movie was coming together. Our friend who is a prop master, and who conveniently had recently worked on a bong-heavy movie was willing to loan us a bunch of props. We met him at his trailer and collected bongs of various sizes, fake guns, fake weed, fake money, rings, rolling papers, etc. We were on our way. We rented a few Renn Faire things from a local prop house, where we got a great deal. This was a real movie, afterall. We couldn't forget that. Luckily, Rob had just come off of big movie job, so he had a bit of money at his disposal, which he used here and there to pay for things. We got a great deal at our big location, where we ended up shooting 5 days. And though money was extremely tight, a movie wouldn't be a movie without craft service! Though we often were hitting up Trader Joe's close to their closing time, and fully exhausted at the end of a shoot day, we had to have breakfast items, snacks and drinks and a ton of coffee on board each day. Keeping up crew morale on a movie where no one was making any money was of the utmost importance.

Things went along. We started shooting before Christmas and got a lot done, but had to come back after the holidays to get the rest. Scheduling became harder for some, but we made it work. Any road block or obstacle we encountered, though they may have been frustrating, we tried to think of it as having happened for a reason. Something else was going to happen that would lead us in a different direction, which most often was better than the first plan.

I mostly handled props and craft service on a daily basis. I had to keep the food on the table stocked and drinks readily available. We went through pots of coffee like it was the only thing there keeping us going. Also, partway through the day, I'd have to work on the schedule for the next day, with an advance schedule of the upcoming days. That was often hard or impossible to do alone, since call times and scenes to be shot needed to be discussed with Vaughn, Rob and Neil.

The shooting was fun, but days were long. I got sick in the second half, after the holiday break. The longest day we had, I had to leave early, since I was just so sick. I could hardly breath and was not an asset at all. I felt awful leaving that night at 10PM (yes, 10PM was leaving early), knowing that they'd be there many hours later, to finish shooting, and to wrap out of that location for the last time. Rob got home at 4AM and I was so glad to hear everyone stuck around to help wrap.

Now that shooting is done, post production is well underway and things keep moving along. It's great to continue being a part of this miraculous production of such a truly unique film. Onward and upward. I am so happy that Sundance has started a new category for their festival, called Next. They allow 8 movies in the under $50K category. It's non-competitive, but could definitely allow us some buzz.

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