December is shaping up to be the busiest December I’ve ever experienced. The only only time that could have rivaled it is college, and I know this is beating college Decembers because I would have been forced to finish all my work by this week.
On the contrary, it seems things are just getting started. Editing our horror short (due to The Collective by January 1st), finishing touches to Love Dance (festival deadline January 12th), and editing some behind the scenes stuff for Leah, Not Leia, a short film I PA’d in 2010 that will be hitting DVD on Valentine’s Day – plenty to keep busy and plenty to blog about, but for now I’ll sticking to a summary of our filmmaking weekend on the horror short, He Who Watches.
We found out that The Collective was looking for more female filmmakers to round out this edition approximately 4 weeks ago yesterday while we were at Kate’s (director of Love Dance and Home Security, a short I script supervised last weekend) showing her our cut. I left the next day for a week long conference in Vegas and wrote the script on the plane. When I returned, I sent Katie the script to edit and we asked Sarah and Eric to be in the film. Sarah helped us out by putting out a call for the rest of the cast, and we had our remaining cast filled in by Thanksgiving and sent them the final script ON Thanksgiving. Then we had to balance all the schedules of the cast and find a day to shoot, and it couldn’t be December 3rd because of Home Security, so we went to the next weekend and it happily worked out for everyone. I quickly scouted an outdoor location in the least ideal conditions possible (at night on a different day than we intended to shoot because we had no time to go out otherwise). Then shot lists, prop lists, Katie organizing her apartment for the indoor shoot, and getting 3 actors together to make a few more props.
We decided to give DSLR shooting a shot since this piece could work with it and wouldn’t have any problems with the downsides of SLR. It was also way more portable for the locations we shot outside, and for the types of shots we did inside. Overall, it was a pretty good choice. It was stabilized on a monopod. We quickly sourced lights and audio equipment from a friend. Audio was dual system with the intention of syncing in post with dual eyes.
Basically, the most frantic pre-production we’ve ever gone through.
Day one was our outdoor shoot, and I’m glad we did it first to get it out of the way because it was tiresome. Through my lack of proper location scouting, we ended up in the worst location ever to shoot anything in the history of cinema. Eric and Sarah luckily were amazingly understanding and really worked with us to get what we needed. We decided to ditch a location early in the shoot and go to a much quieter park (where we were watched by a car creeper). Minus a few ignorant walkers yelling behind us (seriously, once people notice we’re shooting, why do they feel the need to get closer to us AND talk louder? It’s like a statement that they CAN or something) it went pretty well, and we went back to Broad Ripple to shoot on a bridge.
Seriously, worst location ever.
It was about 20 degrees outside so you’d think people would stay indoors. Nope. We were shooting on a bridge, dodging walkers, strollers, car gawkers, and holding for carriage clip clopping (I have never seen a carriage in this location EVER – and I lived there for 3 years!). It was madness. We’re so lucky that Eric and Sarah were so willing to freeze their asses off, because we were FROZEN. We finished basically on time, minus a couple of shots in the river (where I had my hand submerged in the icy canal, YAY). We wrapped on the actors at 4, on time, and finished up a half our later. Not bad for all the crap we had to work around.
Day two was indoors and decidedly more comfortable. I had actors coming and going throughout the day, with Sarah all day since she’s in every scene. The difference between working with people you can scrounge up versus professional actors is like night and fricking day. Every scene went incredibly smoothly because the actors knew their lines very well and took the direction we gave them easily, making small changes as needed. The blocking was easy as this is a dialogue heavy piece, and they basically killed it every take. We consistently ran ahead of schedule all day and were able to take our time. It was great and everyone was in good spirits.
I don’t really do a lot of this kind of thing much lately – the planning, shooting, and all that stuff. I’ve focused more on editing and post because that’s the area I enjoy and where I want to professionally develop and be known for in the community. But I especially don’t write scripts very often. It was really great to see this script that we threw together so quickly actually happening right in front of us. Hearing the words you wrote play out and realizing it actually doesn’t sound that bad is great! 😛
Now we’re onto post production, which will have to be quick but shouldn’t be an issue. We didn’t shoot much beyond what we really knew we had and wanted. I think it’s going to come together well.
Actors, if you’re reading this: thank you so much for your talent, time and professionalism. In a film carried more by performances and dialogue than camera tricks or action, you made all the difference.
Production stills coming soon!