Saturday, July 30, 2005

Almost Done

We had a scheduled short day today. We were only supposed to go until noon, and we ended up finishing even earlier than that. It's a good thing, too, because the lead actress was dehydrated and lightheaded last night, and we were shooting out in the heat today.

Only three days left -- we shoot until Wednesday of next week, and then we're DONE. I can't believe we're so close to the end.

The students working on postproduction edited some footage together for us, and it was great to see it coming all together. One of the student-editors began to intercut footage that wasn't intended to be intercut -- and it worked.

Performances have been fantastic. I'm not exaggerating. The actors are THAT good. I just hope my directing is worthy of all they've done.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

too tired

i have been too tired to blog. great material, finally got to see some footage tonight and am pretty happy with it. really funny stuff, but i am too tired right now to write about it. i have a 'sun headache' from shooting all morning on the beach. i will try to blog more about the shoot this weekend.

Monday, July 18, 2005

DP Discussion

Never got around to having the discussion with the DP about adjusting his style, but the message must've sunk in, because -- FOR THE MOST PART -- we moved quicker today. We still shot 13 hours, and we still got WAY behind, but geenerally speaking lighting and camera weren't behind all day. Many times they finished their set-up before costume and makeup had gotten the actors ready (and then they tweaked forever AFTER actors werte ready -- so they made up for the earliness).

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Making a movie is hard work.

Don't let anyone tell you differently. It's hard. It's sometimes downright grueling. I'm exhausted, and we've only been shooting for three days.

It's going well -- good footage, great performances. So much of directing, I am learning day by day, is the decisions that were made BEFORE production. And a lot of it is keeping your cool under pressure.

The main pressure right now is that the DP wants to light this film like it's a normal feature and not a rough-looking mock documentary. It's becoming something of a struggle, and one of the actors talked about it with me tonight as well. So I'm going to have to address this (again) on Monday morning.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

And so it begins

Actually, it begins tomorrow. But the actors are now here -- on their way from various airports as I type. I'm a little nervous about meeting them, about directing them. The day will be quite hectic because of all that has to happen today, and I am concerned not to tire them out too much. It's going to be a whirlwind day for them.

I'm excited, nervous, worried, elated. It's going to be fun and exhilirating at times; depressing and frustrating at other times. Making a movie is an exercise in compromise. At every turn, you have to be fully aware that compromises are going to be necessary; the trick is knowing which ones you can give in on and which ones you have to fight against.

More as time permits (it maybe a week or more before I log on again!)

Monday, July 11, 2005

All Fun and Games

AAP reminded me in the comments of my last post to try to remember to have a little fun while shooting the film. And he or she is right. I grouse a lot about my fears, anxieties, and concerns on here (what else is a blog for?), but I'm also really looking forward to this process. I question my own abilities. Not as a writer, or even with getting the performances I want. But when it comes to shot selection, I don't give it enough attention, and I wonder if I have what it takes. I'm worried about it.

This kind of film -- without going into specific details -- I can get away with not pre-planning the shots. But in order to maintain a certain style here, I'm kind of limited. Those limitations work since we're on a low budget and a tight schedule -- but still, I'm feeling limited and concerned.

The actors get here on Wednesday, which should be a hectic but exciting day. The production design team is doing some really nice work on costumes and some of the crazier props we need. So I am feeling pretty good overall.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

that sense of dread...

Profgrrrrl posted about her sense of dread regarding an upcoming deadline. The term applies equally to how I feel going into these last few days before production officially begins. It seems like there's just so much to do. I'm longing for a beer and a nice cigar, but I don't have the time.

I don't have any great details to share at the moment; it's just a growing sense of dread about everything to come, including my own shortcomings.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

First Shots

Today was our first day of shooting. This wasn't on the official schedule; we had an actor in town, needed to get two shots with him, and basically did an unofficial shoot.

Glad we did an easy day. We have a lot to learn. Students didn't know what they were doing. Equipment was left behind. The DP gave us a list of what he'd need and then asked for things that weren't on the list. We didn't even have headphones for audio.

Fortunately, we only had to get two or three shots. It took us five-and-a-half hours to GET those shots, but I digress.

We don't shoot again until Thursday. Producer plans to take the reins on equipment and on drilling the students on set-up of equipment. I am hopeful we'll be in better shape on things. It was good to have a day like this to measure our inadequacies and know what we need to fix before things get crazy.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Department Head Meeting

Started our big final meeting with all department heads today to review the script and make sure everyone knows what they need to know. We actually only made it through half the script before we had to break for some other meetings.

We have approval on most locations now, but there are a few still outstanding.

Casting is nearly complete.

Went to a large bargain basement-type place with production designers and costumer to get some outfits for the actors/characters. Huge place with lots of old/secondhand clothes. The characters are pretty quirky, so this kind of place is perfect. We found some awful stuff -- a shopping cart full of stuff for which we paid all of six dollars.

I have to say -- the production design team is doing really great work. I'm really pleased with the gusto they have for their work. There's still lots to do, but generally, I feel pretty good about where things are in terms of costumes, sets, etc.

We actually have our first shooting day tomorrow. The shoot officially begins next Thursday, but ac actor we wanted to use can only do the shoot on Saturday, and since we don't have him interacting with any of the other actors, it works out to just shoot his scene now. And it'll function as a sort of test-case/dry-run for the students. It's an easy day, just two or three set-ups, one actor, and some room for him to improv a little. I'm not really nervous, but I probably should be. And I should be working on my shot list, but I haven't picked it up for two days.

I'll be nervous the day all the lead actors arrive. Lots to do that day.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Getting started...

Today was the first 'class' meeting with students who will work on the film for credit (filling most crew roles). They will be a real wild-card, but I appreciate their enthusiasm.

On the depressing side, I awoke with a serious 'crick' in my neck -- majorly stiff, very painful.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Still Learning...

So I just realized I can post pictures right through Blogger (to paraphrase Homer Simpson: "and here I am using Flickr like a sucker!")

Again, I have nothing new to post. So this picture is kind of random. I did see Batman Begins this week, so you get a picture of Batman (FYI, I really enjoyed it - probably the best Batman flick so far, but I still have an affectionate place in my heart for Tim Burton's two attempts, primarily because of his acute sense of visual style).

I also saw Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (I hate dollar theaters -- I like the cheap part, but I hate the "feet sticking to the floor" part). Regarding the Guide, I enjoyed it. It captured Douglas Adams's sense of style and wit (and expecially his affectionate and sometimes biting frustration with bureacracy) about life, the universe, and everything. The additions and changes, some to update and some to flesh out a very wordy and not altogether visual story (such as the "point of view gun"), kept to the spirit of the original. The inclusion of several references to the old BBC television version of the novel were nice (the music, the casting of the original Arthur Dent in a cameo, and the appearance of the old Marvin the Paranoid Android in a queue on the Vogon planet).

God, I am such a geek. I enjoyed it, in a silly and fun way. It's nothing like enjoying the novel. But it was fine. Sam Rockwell's performance as Zaphod Beeblebrox was really terrifically funny and stupid and saved the film in a lot of cases.

Note: I've edited this post five times since I wrote it and published it. Proof-positive I shouldn't blog this late at night. I feel an urge to blog, but I have little worth saying at this point. I've been lost in private thoughts this weekend. I've been trying to create some kind of shot list for my film (I accidentally typed 'shit list' there for a moment, so that might be quite telling, and it at least describes how I feel about my directing talent at the moment).

I've worked my way through roughly 1/5th of the script. Plenty still to go, but I tire out creatively pretty quickly. Another geeky reference here, but I remember when I used to read comics as a kid, and Marvel Comics started publishing the "Marvel Universe," which was a series of reference guides to their heroes. So under each character, like SpiderMan, for example, they'd list his alias, his powers, and his weaknesses. And it seemed like, for each character, they way they'd describe that person's limits was to say that "toxins built up in his blood." In other words, XYZ hero can lift 100 tons, but he can only carry out that level lof strength for a few hours "before toxins develop in his blood to tire him out."

So, all that to say, I can only work creatively for a very short time before creative toxins develop in my blood, forcing me to rest. Or my kids need me to make lunch. One or the other.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Locations 3: Jesus Mural

Jesus Mural
Originally uploaded by terminalmfa.
Can you tell murals are a theme here? There are some great Jesus murals all around the city. This one I like because the painting itself is just a little amateurish and thus slightly comical.

Locations 2: Wheelbarrow Mural

Another Mural
Originally uploaded by terminalmfa.
I like this mural as a backdrop because it's just kind of a little 'off.'


The "Fish" House
Originally uploaded by terminalmfa.
I decided to configure a flickr account and realized I had no pictures to share. So depressing. So I decided to blog a few location photos for the upcoming film. I don't know how to do these all in one post, so there will be three or four separate posts.

This one we affectionately call the "fish" house. Backdrop for a scene on a sidewalk. Someone's house, all painted like an ocean scene. The only thing missing is Nemo himself.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Thank you.

so tired

feeling veery fatigued the last few days. i started taking a new medication to (hopefully) reduce the frequency and intensity of my cluster headaches (a form of migraine). one of the side effects of this medication is, apparently, fatigue. i'm not really a high energy guy normally, and this hasn't helped. tonight, i'm really exhausted. i wish i knew how much of it was the meds. certainly that's contributing. but i also mowed the lawn and cleaned up the yard today in intense heat, which always takes it out of me. and i slept maybe four or so hours last night. so it's hard to blame the poor medicine. but as the shoot begins in less than two weeks, i really don't need to be experiencing fatigue like this.

anyway, things are happening with the film. casting is almost complete (just a few day-player roles to fill). locations are almost locked up (but i am concerned about having all the forms). got the clearance report from the script clearance company, and that raised a few red flags. their job is to warn you of anything that could potentially be problematic. they included dialogue references to celebrities (one of the characters makes a derogatory remark about a celebrity, but the character in question is deluded and mostly ridiculed for his idiocy. now, could a celebrity sue over that? i suppose he could. it seems a little far-fetched. i'm choosing to not worry about it. but there are a bunch of little things that are kind of annoying.

the lead actor's manager asked for the moon (financially). he asked for 10% of the film based on the fact that said actor is up and coming and could break if he gets into a few things, like a pilot he's up for. my response, ultimately, was that we weren't giving any more percentages out, and that given the actor's **current** status in the industry, we weren't prepared to pay any more than our initial offer plus a little more (all deferred).

i haven't heard a response but wasn't expecting to (he said he'd take a look at my response and talk to me after the holiday).

had a good talk with two of the three leads over the phone today. since we can't meet in advance, that's the way we have to do it. they really really get these characters. i love listening to actors think about and discuss the backgrounds of their characters as a way to really explore and get into the role. it's the way they do their job, and i find it fascinating because i'm so focused on my own role that i often don't think about HOW they do what they do.