Archive for October, 2013

Shoot Days 8 & 9

Posted in Hypothesis the 8th on October 31, 2013 by PoPS blog

Day 8, Saturday, October 26th. This was a great day, with a very manageable page count on the docket. The tense part of this one was the lead up to it. For episode 8 I was looking to finally get a superhero roof top into the show. Most superhero movies have at least one shot with their main character perched on a roof top, looking down upon the city they protect. Situationally, any roof top worth being on usually wants a production to have insurance which protects them from liability and damages. Production insurance is expensive, yo. Fact. Expensive for little guys like us. So our most Twitter-followed lead sent out a Tweet asking if anyone in his network had access to a Chicago roof top with a nice view. A couple responded and I started corresponding with this very nice girl named Liz. She goes to school in Chicago and asked her school on our behalf if we could get up on the roof of the 10-story girls dormitory for a 3-hour shoot session. With 3 days ’til the shoot we waited to hear. Nothing. Thursday, 2 days to the shoot. Nothing. Friday morning the word came down. Approved. I felt a tight knot in my chest loosen. Mind you, I wasn’t even aware that said knot existed until it was gone. Saturday we did a brief exterior shoot outside of a bar location and then headed to find out what this roof top looked like. When we got there, we were greeted by Liz, her sister, and a security guard who would keep an eye on us during the shoot. They lead us not to a 10-story building, but to a 20-story building. Hold up, let me clarify. A PERFECT 20-story building. No rails at the edge, no decking for civilians, it was a raw roof top overlooking all of downtown. It was gorgeous.IMG_2154Eliza, not a fan of heights, rode a mild panic attack all afternoon as we shot a three-page dialogue scene with the greatest backdrop we’ve ever had on the show. Really good day. After that, we walked to Sprinkles’ Cupcake ATM and headed home to carve some pumpkins and watch Fright Night (2011). Great flick.

Day 9, Tuesday October 29th. The thing about shooting in the woods at night is that there’s NO light in the woods at night. So it took us a little longer than usual to get the lighting right and get rolling. Not to mention the fact that I left the doggone boom mic sitting in the office at home. That kind of slip is more of an indication to me that I’ve been going too hard than anything else. Well, except my dwindling patience. More on that later. Eliza ran to get the microphone while Craig and I ran lines and Ryan and David set up the lights. We got to location at 7 p.m., shot from about 8 or 8:30 to 11, packed up the gear, and hung out at a place called Chief’s Pub, discussing—as peoples of great breeding and intellect are wont to—Ghostbusters, Gremlins 2, and first dates. At least it wasn’t freezing bloody cold like the week before. It was chilly, but much more manageable.

Eliza has been fabricating more props than usual for this episode. She spent the last few days putting together a large, unwieldy, and complicated bit o’ prop. I attempted to help her, but trying to balance production, work, exceedingly late nights, Halloween-related projects, and social life has ground my patience level down to a raw, exposed nubbins. Every minor setback was like the end of the world to me. She finished it herself over the following two days and she nailed it. I’m telling you, this woman is on fire. She went from actress and story editor to producer to producer extraordinaire including prop fabrication and she’s taken over as 1st AD too. Boom. Nailing it.

We aren’t shooting until next Tuesday now, so I have a couple days to get my bearings again. We have maybe five more shoot days of exteriors over the next few weeks. Here’s hoping the weather cooperates.

Thanks for reading, everyone.

–Jake

Halloween Marathon: Nightmaraton 2

Posted in Movies on October 29, 2013 by PoPS blog

Hey, guys! It’s Halloween once again. Scary movies, awesome seasonal aisles, pop-up costume shops, and pumpkin carving!

IMG_20131028_184643Just like last year, me and my friends decided to take on an entire horror franchise in a single day. This year we face off against the shape who cannot be stopped, Michael Myers, in the Halloween series. 10 movies. Starting at 8 a.m. and finishing a little after 2 a.m., not everybody makes it through, but at least most of us last longer than the original Laurie Strode. Check it out. And Happy Halloween!

LINK TO OUR NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET MARATHON

And here’s a picture of Eliza and me clearly being terrified in front of the original Myers’ house from Halloween, now housing accountants in South Pasadena.

photo

See you next year. And in the words of Michael Myers: …

PoPS video update 178-Shoot Days 6, 7, & 8

Posted in Hypothesis the 8th on October 27, 2013 by PoPS blog

Ep 8 Shoot Days 3, 4, 5, 6, & 7

Posted in Hypothesis the 8th on October 24, 2013 by PoPS blog

See, this is what happens when I miss a week. The production days stacked up like crazy. I’ll do brief rundowns of each to keep this production blog on track.

Day 3, Sunday October 13. Back to the warehouse to fill in the gaps with our hodgepodge quilt-work of shooting. Got some dialogue singles from a couple cast members that should drop nicely into the rest of the footage we shot from the previous weekend. We also wrapped a cast member for good so he could move to L.A. It was wonderful that we were able to get him into episode 8 and send him off in style, but it was sad to see him go. A shorter day, 10:30 to 4. By 5:30 we were sitting in one of our favorite pizza places unwinding with some deep dish pizza. A solid shoot day and we wrapped the warehouse stuff for 8. 18 pages down.

Day 4, Tuesday October 15. After work I hopped in the car and got down to the city as fast as I could manage. We rarely shoot our exteriors downtown, but I wanted to get some shots of the elevated train line in this episode and downtown locations just look more gritty and lived-in than most suburban locations. A fantastic restaurant called The Heartland Cafe agreed to let us use them as a base camp for all of our gear while we were shooting on the sidewalk outside of their place. The streetlamps were bright enough that we only needed to set up one other light for the whole night and we tried to race through our pages. We got our first shot at 8:30 and we finished up around 11:30. We could have actually gotten through it faster, but we had to stop for sound any time the el’ came by or cars rumbled past on the brick street. Other production interferences we encountered in the city that night: Noisy airplanes, one screaming match a block over, one guy who wandered over to see if we would shoot his stand-up act for a DVD, and a tipsy guy who just wanted to watch us work, although he was polite, stayed quiet, and just watched. We got our four pages and then hung out for a few minutes with the crew at The Heartland.

Day 5, Saturday October 19. Got up at 7 to pick up a couple people and get downtown by 9. At this point, I was really tired of waking up early on my weekends. Another full day downtown. This time at Ping Tom Memorial Park on the south side, down by Chinatown. Even though the locations we’ve been choosing for this episode look great, they’re really noisy. This time we chose a section of the park next to the river with a really gnarly-looking railroad bridge in the background. An active railroad bridge. What I didn’t realize, was that this bridge served as an end-of-the-line turnaround point for a couple of different passenger lines. That shut us down a couple of times per hour. Toward the end of the day some folks on the river also made recording sound pretty much useless by blasting classic rock from their boat. Despite all of this, the reported threats of rain pretty much held off until we got everything we needed. We were briefly shut down while it drizzled for about 10 minutes in the middle of the day, but other than that and the sound disturbances, we were able to get our roughly 8 pages and all sat down for dinner before heading home. Wrapped at 5:30 when it was too dark to get an extra scene we tried to cram into the day and it actually started raining.

Let me just say, shooting dialogue scenes is so much more satisfying than shooting fight scenes. Especially fight scenes that will be intercut with other scenes. Everything feels so disjointed and incomplete, happening in short, confined bursts of activity. In dialogue you can just see the scene play out. Most of our dialogue stuff will be coming up later in the shoot.

Day 6, Tuesday October 22. For some reason the temperature dropped ridiculously the last couple days and we ended up outside in 34 to 38 degree temperatures for a little over four hours. It does reinforce my belief that filming in the cold makes everything way harder and we were right to dive into production to get our exteriors before December, when these temperatures are justified in the Midwest. Two great things about the shoot this night. 1: We were shooting with the Damon team, our group of villains. They’re the most fun group of guys with the greatest attitudes you could hope for. 2: We used some work lights as environmentally significant lighting in the scene and our breath vapor looks so cool backlit by them. Super badass. We finally shot in an amazing courtyard location on the south side of Chicago that I’ve been planning to use in PoPS since the beginning. We shivered through half of the four pages we needed to get in the courtyard before calling it a night, grabbing all the coverage of one of our cast members who wouldn’t be able to return the following night. By the time we wrapped it up and got the important gear inside it was midnight. We grabbed a bite to eat in a really cool, gentrified, hipster bar and were home by 2 a.m.

Day 7, Wednesday, October 23. Made a dash for our downtown location right after work again. Traffic was awful and he got there around 7:50, 20 minutes late. Thanks to a crack team, everything was already set up and we started shooting pretty much immediately. More fight scene shooting. Tiny pieces, shooting for a second or two. Somehow, the night was even colder. We surmise it was the appearance of an ever present wind that was freezing cold and played hell with our sound. We might have to ADR some of the dialogue because of it. We finally got everything on my shot list and started packing up all the gear around 11:45. We wrapped quite a few actors for the episode these last two days. It was sad to see them go, but it’s nice to feel like we’re making solid progress. We all grabbed a drink at a bar nearby and then Eliza, myself, and Chris headed back to the suburbs, stopping for dinner at Denny’s, the only place on our way that was likely to be open at two. Got home around 3 a.m.

I’m feeling pretty tired, you guys. But we’re keeping on top of it and getting great stuff. And now it’s Halloween week! In addition to three scheduled shoot days, I have a Halloween movie marathon video I want to upload tomorrow and Eliza and I are going to carve Jack-o’-lanterns.

Thanks for reading, guys.

–Jake

PoPS video update 177-$500 Prize Pack Winners

Posted in Hypothesis the 8th on October 20, 2013 by PoPS blog

PoPS video update 176-Location Hunting

Posted in Hypothesis the 8th on October 14, 2013 by PoPS blog

Ep8 Shooting Days 1 & 2

Posted in Hypothesis the 8th on October 10, 2013 by PoPS blog

Whoa! Here we are, into the production diary aspect of the blog again. A week ago this time, I was hyper-stressed about our first weekend of shooting in the warehouse. Now, here we are on the other side of it. We even wrapped ahead of schedule on both days.

Day 1-Saturday, October 5th

Woke up at 6:30 a.m., got to our gorgeously decrepit warehouse location at 7:30 a.m. Eliza went off to get the coffee and bagels for the cast. I checked on the 300 feet of extension cord that I ran through the building the day before and waited for people to show up. The weather report was for rain and the day before was dark to a point that would have made shooting in the warehouse impossible. Needless to say, I was a little nervous. We had some late arrivals, but were shooting by 9:30 a.m. Because of people’s schedules we were shooting things in a very round about way. I had taken the five’ish scenes that happen in the warehouse in episode 8, shotlisted everything, and scheduled the coverage of the least available actors first. On the first day, Suede (who plays Damon) had to leave early to perform music at a very important function. So we shot all of his coverage that had him in the frame with other actors who wouldn’t be able to make it to shooting the next weekend because of plays starting or traveling for work. After he left, we shot more coverage from the scenes where Damon was out of frame. We were scheduled to wrap at around 7 p.m., but had gotten through my scheduled shot list by 4. We started grabbing stuff from my day 2 list, but at 4:30 the sky finally let go and the rain we were promised showed up with a vengeance. As I’ve mentioned before, the warehouse is dilapidated. That’s why it’s such a cool location. What it isn’t, however, is waterproof. Our main shooting area was luckily out of the splash zones, but we had to quickly move the craft service table and all of our gear into the central dry section. The massive, airplane hanger-sized entrance chamber into the warehouse was a series of waterfalls from the patchy roof and the ground was quickly covered in an inch of water. The three extension cords stretching to the neighboring building were completely submerged. I headed out into the indoor monsoon and disconnected each of them. I hung the ends off of support beams to dry out over night before driving people back to their cars in the parking lot. And then we all drove home through unsafe conditions and flooded streets. There’s cell phone footage of this that will be available to donors to the Indiegogo campaign. The “Vine videos” perk has become a “shifting perspective, behind the scenes, cell phone footage” perk, and any donor over 15 dollars gets access to those videos. Campaign here! One more thing about day one. The Damon team. They’re so much fun to work with. They all give absolutely fantastic performances and they’re great to hang out with on set. Amazingly talented folks with amazing attitudes. Shooting with them is the best. We added someone else into the mix this time too and he was FANTASTIC. He brought more personality and natural ease to his character than I ever could have hoped for. I can’t wait for you guys to meet him.

Day 2- Sunday, October 6th.

Dragged ourselves from bed at 6:30 a.m. again. At this point I thought—My God. People shooting actual movies have 6 a.m. call times for months in a row. I drove to the set with a knot of tension in my stomach. By the time we’d left the night before, determined little puddles of water had begun to spread from the windows across even the dry section where we’d left most of our gear. I didn’t know what we were going to find. When I swung the massive gates wide into the entrance chamber, much of the water had already dissipated. The area we’d left our gear was totally dry and everything was workable. There were even patches of dry ground through the entrance room on which to set each extension cord connection. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, everybody showed up earlier than the day before, and we jumped back into shooting. Another day of great performances and we rocketed through my shot list. A scheduled end time of 7 p.m. again, but we wrapped cast around 4 and the crew was out at about 5:30.

We have one more mini-day of shooting in the warehouse with three of the cast members to grab single shots of dialogue and little bits that don’t have the other cast members in the frame. It should be a truncated shoot day, but I’ll have more to say about that next week.

I was reading an interview with Joss Whedon—perhaps I’ve mentioned him before—a couple weeks ago and he said something that perfectly crystallized what I’d been thinking about as I was having trouble lining up the complicated schedules of my cast: Writing is creation, directing is compromise. Every time you get to set there seems to be 10 or 20 reasons why the thing you saw in your head can’t be adequately captured on camera. Then instead of whining about it, you have to figure out what you CAN get that will service the needs of the story you’re telling. That’s how it usually is. This last weekend didn’t feel like compromise at all. It felt wonderful. We got outstanding material.

Another guy I’m constantly talking about around here is Kevin Smith. He was also talking about how adaptable independent filmmakers have to be. As he gets ready to make his next horror movie, Tusk, locations and actors kept slipping through his fingers and he had to push through the “Let’s quit and watch TV” impulse to keep pushing the project forward. It’s part of a really great ongoing piece he’s writing for The Hollywood Reporter: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/kevin-smith-why-quentin-tarantino-645204

Thanks for reading.

–Jake