Archive for December, 2011

Production Week 5

Posted in Hypotheses 6 & 7 on December 28, 2011 by PoPS blog

One shoot day.

Day 12. Thursday night. After work we assembled at the PoPS sanctum location and shot some things that take place in Jonas’s bedroom. As I outlined in the video update, Jonas’s bedroom is our crawl space, so the night before Eliza and I took everything out of it, which turned our living space into a nightmare but made the set look great.

Actually, Wednesday night was insanity. We had dinner at Eliza’s grandparents’ house with relatives that were in for the holidays, had an hour to work on Jonas’s room, went to see The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (probably my number 1 pick of the year) because I had to write a review of it for work the next day, and hung up more comic book pages as set dressing until about 1 or 1:30. Crazy times.

So Thursday night we were skeleton crew. Started shooting around 7:50. Ryan (usual D.P.) couldn’t make it, so my first A.D., Chris, took over the camera and we had a one-man sound crew consisting of David, who is a regularly one part of a two man sound team. Whenever David needed to do something else, I took over sound unless I was acting, in which case the boom pole ended up resting against something pointed in the direction of the actors. For some reason we’ve always had to implement the “lean the boom pole” technique whenever we shoot in Jonas’s room. Which is fine. It works. It’s not like there’s room for more than three people in the crawl space anyway and two of those are usually actors. We ended up wrapping at 12:30 and then hung out drinking and talking until around 3. It was great. There hasn’t been a lot of after-shoot hanging out and I’ve been missing it.

Oh yeah! We did a really crazy tracking setup. Since Ryan is usually there for every shoot day, most of the equipment just rides in his car. When we were transferring everything to my car, in preparation for his Thursday night absence, we didn’t grab the T-36 (wheelchair dolly) or the Glidecam (poor man’s steadicam). So when I wanted a slow track backward at the end of the night we threw around a few ideas until I devised the LEAST PRACTICAL (but ended up working) dolly system ever. We ended up pulling up the rug because the bare wood gave less friction, laying down a blanket, stacking up empty storage bins until it was the right height to set the camera on, and then David pulled the blanket backward at an excruciatingly slow pace for a 4-foot tracking shot while Chris braced the camera on top of the storage bins with one hand and pulled focus with the other to keep Craig sharp for a paragraph long monologue while I ran sound. It took about 23 takes, but we got there, and it looked really smooth.

I swear I’m not purposely going out of my way to make things harder for us, it just looks that way sometimes.

Thanks for reading guys.

Jarvi out.

PoPS video update 94-Christmas Update

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on December 25, 2011 by PoPS blog

Production Week 4

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on December 21, 2011 by PoPS blog

Okay. This last weekend was the shoot I was most worried about when thinking about shooting episode 6. It’s over now and it was outstanding.

I was just about to launch into a whole big explanation of all of the crazy things we did this weekend, but the whole thing is one giant spoiler. How am I going to do this?

Um…vaguely, I guess.

My favorite job I’ve ever had (outside of the acting stuff–Old School, Dr. Vegas, and The Bondage–acting is the cushiest job in the world, I swear) was working at a little local video store called Center Video in my hometown. It was the best. Talking about, watching, and thinking about movies all day. Greatest job in the world. Too bad that it was practically impossible to live on the pay. Also too bad that video stores are going extinct. Anyway, the owner of the store was this dude I know named Walter. Very cool guy. Since the store closed he’s been spending a lot of his time rehabbing buildings into huge, awesome, amenities-laden apartments in the city. He’s currently at work on one of his buildings and he volunteered the space as a potential location for the show. Floor 2 is in a state of near completion, without any of the finishing touches, and he said we could do whatever we wanted to it in way of set dec. It was an offer that was too good to pass up.

Thursday night my D.P., Ryan, and I moved a whole bunch of stuff in from 7 to 10 and got it very near to set up.

Day 9. Friday night we got the team together and shot from 7:30 to around 10:30.

Day 10. Saturday. I had a two and a half page shot list, totaling 33 set ups for a sequence that will last maybe about 60 seconds in the final episode. It’s pretty action oriented and involved a couple of minor stunts. It’s the first time we worked with actual stunt people and a stunt coordinator, and that part was a hell of a lot of fun. A majority of the shots were also heavy effects shots so I’m very excited to see everything come together, but it’s going to take forever before that sequence is done. It was also the first day we were trying to keep track of things that 3D effects animators require, like measurements and stuff. Eliza (my wife) was measuring girl and she had the difficult task of keeping the shot log and stopping people from moving after I called cut so she could measure their final marks; our instinct is to immediately huddle around camera for playback, especially when shooting action. She was awesome. We got to location at 10, started shooting around 11 and wrapped actors before 5. We then got some inserts that involved safety goggles and caused me to have another “this is the kind of thing that makes little boys want to make movies” moment. We broke the set dec down, boxed it up, and left location by 7. The footage looks awesome.

Day 11. Sunday. Back to the location for a day of exteriors. We got there around 1 so that Ryan could do some effects figuring, and started shooting around 2. Everybody was operating with slightly shorter fuses than usual. It had been a long, hard weekend, and people are starting to get kind of burned out. You can tell it’s been a long weekend when we go out for a cast and crew dinner in the middle of a shoot and there are protracted moments of silence when conversation peters out so people can stare into nether space, zoned out. We wrapped around 7 again and everybody headed out.

Our shoot days are about to get a lot more sporadic, with there being one or two shoot days instead a bunch in a row. In fact, we have no shoot days scheduled between Christmas and the New Year and then Lize and I are heading to Florida for a week and a half in the middle of January, so that’ll be a nice break too. We have a couple more difficult sequences left for episode 6, but we’re past the hardest stuff. Talk to you later.

Thanks for reading,

Jarvi out.

PoPS video update 92-Quick One

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on December 18, 2011 by PoPS blog

Production week 3

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on December 14, 2011 by PoPS blog

Day 6. Wednesday. At this point, I was fairly convinced that our production was cursed. We got to location and started setting up before one of our friends said, “What time does the bar downstairs start playing music?” We looked at each other and heads started shaking. The music started right as we were ready to do our first take. We shot from 8 to after 11, and most of the ambient sound has various baselines (thank you, DJ) running under it, but the performances were good and we made our night. We also started implementing production suggestions from Tim (Producer) and Chris (1st Assistant Director) that should have been in place all along, just in terms of how we run our sets. It’s made shoots move so much smoother. I just need to remember to stress to our cast (mostly made up of non-actors) how much time they could save us by memorizing their dialogue ahead of time.

Day 7. Thursday. Finally, a really smooth day. The actors were mostly off book, the crew was running like a well-oiled machine, and I was able to get every shot on my list without having to combine or cut anything I was hoping to get. Another 8 to 11 day. The new set methods were really working, walkthroughs, base camps, and division of labor really made an outstanding difference. On top of the fact that I didn’t insanely over schedule the page count this time. That makes a difference too.

Day 8. Saturday. I scheduled a noon start so that we could sleep in for a change. It’s been a few weeks and I haven’t been able to sleep past 8:30, which is unusual for me—come one, give me a break, we don’t have kids and I’m a night person. Everyone showed up late and we started around 1 p.m. We shot all day, got everything I wanted just the away I wanted and we wrapped at around 11:30. It was an absolutely amazing day. So good. Great character stuff for our villain, Damon. I swear, Derrick just gets better and better every time he plays this guy. And he’s such a fun character to write. Every one of our actors has upped their game for this episode; it’s been awesome.

Our big action spectacular scene shoots this weekend. We’re doing everything we can to prep for it ahead of time and I hope we can hit the ground running. I think the video update is going to be Eliza vlogging from set while we work.

This blog post would be dishonest without me talking about the series of personality altering meltdowns I’ve had trying to keep up with the ridiculous schedule as I originally set it up. Pushing episode 7 back made things more manageable, but it’s going to take me a little time to start feeling normal again. The constant feeling of nausea has started to subside and I’m starting to regain my appetite a little bit, so those are probably good things. Each one of these episodes is written and scheduled for a professional production and then I tried to cram two of them into all of our spare time around our jobs. That was never going to work. One of the comments on this week’s video update was some little d-bag saying, “I think you’re taking this show too seriously. Your videos don’t even get over 100,000 views.” But how can I expect anyone to take this seriously if I don’t? I have to take this seriously, otherwise, why am I doing it?

Thanks for reading, guys.

Jarvi out.

PoPS video update 92-Five More Shoot Days & Reset

Posted in Hypothesis the 6th on December 11, 2011 by PoPS blog

Production: Week 2

Posted in Hypotheses 6 & 7 on December 7, 2011 by PoPS blog

Day 3. Saturday. A light pickup day from what we didn’t get on Day 1. Started at 10. By the time we finished at 1, it was pouring on us. I doubt much of the sound toward the end of the day will be usable. Then we went to lunch as a group and headed to a grocery store to grab a couple photos we need for set dressing in Ep7. That sounds pretty strange. Then I had to get the video update put together.

Day 4. Sunday. Exteriors all day. It was the one day the weather’s been nice to us so far. It got colder as the day progressed, but at least there wasn’t any rain or snow. The page count was pretty light considering the amount of hours we had available to get everything. That’s how I should have scheduled the shoot. Every other shoot has been a horrifying race to cram too much screen time into way too few hours of shooting. We worked with some of our new actors and they were outstanding. There was a stunt scheduled for one of our actors that I didn’t want him to do. He’s not being paid, we have no insurance, and no stuntmen or stunt choreographer, so it’s kind of whatever we cobble together. The idea (without spoilers) was for this guy to get knocked off his feet with a lot of force and land on the pavement. My solution for that was to not ask the actor to do it, but to do the stunt myself. I put on his wardrobe, including face cover, tied a rope around myself and I wanted 3 crew members to yank me backwards off my feet as hard as they could. I’d shoot a clean plate and remove the rope. No one would pull the rope until we put down an air mattress for me to land on. I mean, sure, I would have hurt myself, but I wouldn’t have died or anything. This just proves how old we’re getting. We would have done that without an air mattress in a heartbeat if we were still teenagers. It was the first time the crew has refused to do anything for the show. The performances were great and we knocked out some good page count. We shot from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and then went for some Steak and Shake. That was a great day.

Day 5. Monday. Started after work at 6 p.m. Way overscheduled. The thing I’m finding out about these current episodes is that every day we’re in a new shooting location. That means we have to start from scratch every night in terms of unloading gear, familiarizing ourselves with where we’re shooting, everything. Never a chance to get comfortable. Every time we tried to start setting up some of our exteriors it started to rain. Correction, it would wait until we were all set up and our actors were in position and then start raining. It did that until around 11 when we headed out to try again, then it waited until our actors were in position and it started snowing. Snowing. Not hard enough to accumulate, but hard enough to register on video and make us worry about equipment. There were other complicating factors that night, including some sloppy screenwriting (my fault) that made a couple of the character beats seem pretty forced. We were running too far behind for us to spend the time trying to fix it on location, so I’m going to have to try and smooth it out in the edit. I want to do everything in my ability to avoid re-shoots because we were in a great location belonging to some people I really care about and we really put their home through the ringer. I never want to do that to them again. We wrapped sometime between 12:30 and 1.

This super independent filmmaking can be a pretty tough game. My poor wife has had to put up with a pretty mood-swingy husband lately. The scope of our schedule has started to weigh on me. I’ve already cancelled one of our shoot nights because it’s a sequence we need more time to prepare for in order to do it justice. The others we’re just trying to “Little Rascals” into place right before we shoot them. We’ll just keep on doing what we can. I’m never scheduling exteriors in December or January ever again. Not in the Midwest anyway.

Thanks for reading.

Jarvi out.