Wednesday, June 30, 2010

SHOOT RECAP - modifying scenes

When each day is a new adventure of craziness and ain’t no time or $ for much pre-production, you’re gonna go a little off script... not necessarily a bad thing.
In the indie movie making world TIME is always a major issue. There is NEVER enough of it. So on those days(like, every day) when you is running behind, ya gotta make some modifications. This usually means cutting what ever possible out of a scene, still move the story, and save on set ups. Yes, this can and does usually come back to bite you in the ass so need to be very careful about what does go, but when you can’t get said location back... You’ve got to. For example, all that extra banter in the band rehearing scenes... in a room which took too WAY long to light, didn’t lend itself to master shots, and contained multiple characters... GONE
SOME STUFF PLAYS OUT NOT QUITE AS PLANNED Yes, there are times(on a movie no matter how big or small) where the initial vision of the flick is not necessarily what you end up getting. So gotta make the most of what you DID get. In our case, we actually ended up getting a more streamlined work... For example, the apparent tragedy of one of our actors almost dying, seriously HE ALMOST DIED, forced the production to take some time off during his recovery. Thus providing a bit ‘o unexpected extra time for the script to get tweaked, plugging plot holes, and smoothing out all that didn’t quite play out as ‘planned’.
ACTORS LIKE AD LIBBING the script was pretty much kept to, but a couple of those crazy thespians also just happen to be EXCELLENT improvisers.. so just let ‘em roll, getting in and out of scenes. Some of the funniest stuff in the movie came from this. Feeling out scenes also got better as the actors got to know each other. We shot the second part of the movie first and the first part last, which ended up working wonderfully. In the second half of the movie our heros(Fran and the Lord of Evil and Darkness) are in some rather weird and bizarre situations... tentative and ‘by the book’, good. In the first part of the flick our heros are just having a fun, drug induced, good ‘ol road trip.... actors being comfortable with each other, freely messing around, good too!
photos by Suzan Jones

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Sitting around jawing one night with some of the other weird outsider-ish compadres working on this movie sorta got us coming to a bit ‘o a conclusion... that we’re kinda like rebels fighting the Empire. Ya know, strapped into beat up little x-wings, trying to blow up the mighty Death Star.
EMIPRE: LOTS of $ at stake....... the Empire is HUGE and under it’s far reaching umbrella A LOT more than just movies are made. They gotta keep making the big bucks to help pay for their enterprises losing $...
REBELS: $?? At stake??? We’re just trying to make something cool, different, and entertaining.
EMPIRE: It’s about math, HEDGING, we were just talking about $ at stake. Do we have the right ‘proven’ screenwriter-director-producer? Does the packaging add up? It’s not so much how good or what the project actually is, it’s who’s the ones creating it. No one’s gonna get fired if a movie staring Kelso and the chick from Grey’s Anatomy tanks. Kelso and that chick from Grey’s are money.... and if their wonderful work of fiction actually makes some bread, don’t even matter if it’s watchable.
REBELS: Just trying to make something cool, different, and entertaining here.
EMPIRE: Will test-test-TEST their product with the dumbest audiences possible in order to taylor their wares for the largest demographic possible.
REBELS: Cool, different, entertaining. Anyone?
EMPIRE: Keeps relaunching the same assets over and over and OVER again. But they’re proven franchises, right? Franchises that make.... there we go with that $ thing again.... Jaden Smith rules :)
REBELS: Don’t got any rights to 80s franchises, action series, or sitcoms.
EMPIRE: Has bucks, BIG bucks, enough to shove ANYTHING down ANYONE’S throat.
And yes, we are even Rebels even in the indie world... doing the EXACT OPPOSITE of what an indie flick is SUPPOSED to be doing. Cuz even in the indie world in order to get your work seen you STILL need stars, a ‘defined’ genre(preferably action flick), your protagonist needs to have ‘defined’ goals, and there must be a ‘defined’ demographic who will go see your little movie. 
We got NO stars, NO ‘defined’ genre, our protagonist is a pot smoking slacker, living off her dad, with absolutely NO goals... and demographic?? Who the hell knows.
All we set out to do was make something cool, different, and entertaining. 
Is all that time shooting womp rats gonna help find a break through??... stay tuned...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

SHOOT RECAP - make up and wardrobe

In order to get proper looking aliens, crack heads, slackers, strippers, death metal lead singers, high maintenance mistresses, stoners, and thugs at least some form of make up is required. And we had exactly one, count ‘em ONE make up gal... the ever mighty Suzan Jones, also doubling as set photographer, boom operator, sound mixer, sometimes actress, and mom.
How’d Suzan pull this one off. Well, no one really knows for sure, but somehow SHE DID. Usually one of the first to arrive(after a one and a half hour drive... that’s right ONE AND A HALF HOURS) Suzan would immeaditaly tear into the actor in need of the most ‘camera ready’ make up, usually being one of the girls, who could all actually do their own make up if need be with Suzan doing touch ups.

There were some specialty ‘looks’, like the dark circles under Lucky’s crack head eyes and sores around his crack head mouth. The ‘alien’ required quite a bit of preparing as well.
Most fun was watching Suzan continually hopping down from the boom ladder to touch up an actor, before taking another behind the scenes pic... THAT was some multi-tasking.
Wardrobe was a whole nother matter. In the beginning we ‘thought’ the actors would be able to keep track of all their garb. Then there was DAY 4(see earlier post), making the Real Deals set up a ‘wardrobe central’ to keep track of stuff. 
There wasn’t really a ‘costume designer’, so before we started shooting all the main actors brought several wardrobe choices to the Real Deal for review. The Deal being THEE production designer(and not being color blind) would then pick what worked best in context of the ‘look’ of the movie. All the other actors brought several wardrobe choices their first day on set and Deal would do his thing. 
Everyone’s favorite Thug Julian got his whole get up at the 99 cent store.
Any wardrobe question became a Real Deal question(just another one his eighteen or so jobs).
All and all everything worked out pretty well, considering all the running and gunning. Suzan and RD have like 35 years production experience between them, so it really helped that they knew what the hell they were doing. The actors did a great job creating all of their ‘looks’ too. 
So ya don’t always need rows and rows of Star Wagons to get results.
photos by Suzan Jones

Sunday, June 6, 2010

SHOOT RECAP - blocking

No storyboards were used in the making of this movie. Really? How could we? Well, running, gunning, and unknown quantities abounding. 
Blocking was done according to time and coverage.  Actors would rehearse the scene as they might ‘play it out’ naturally, the Set General would get all the coverage in his head and then shoot.
As per usual there was never enough time, so many times we’d have to just stud one take in order to get EVERYTHING in a master. This usually meant a little more time blocking, putting actors in just the right spots where we’d need the least amount of set ups. 
The biggest blocking challenge was the mother of all scenes(day 10), where up to 11 characters were interacting at once. The General had ‘em go through the scene as they would naturally, which ended up looking like a stage play, not working at all. Waiting for their next marching orders, the actors started chatting in small groups, each one irrespective of the others. There was our answer. 
The ten page scene(which has since been cut down and checker boarded), was split in two parts, each taking over an hour to block. But got all that time back in well conceived set ups, which were broken down to the minimum amount necessary. 
Moral of the story... block-block-BLOCK to get the most out of your time and coverage.
photos by Suzan Jones