Archive for June, 2015
Now that I’ve gotten old enough that I no longer want to ask people to participate in my indie productions simply for “exposure” or “as a favor,” my wife Eliza requested one thing: “Do as many projects as you like, just please don’t drain our personal savings to make them.” Fair enough.
At least several times a year over the making of the last few PoPS episodes, I’ve gotten really excited about the prospect of making a short film and doing all the things that I like in movies that I can’t do with PoPS. All the gore, dark ambiguous tone, and anamorphic-style framing I want. Then I write a project, I get all excited about it, I discuss it with people, start looking for locations, start looking for wardrobe, and think about scheduling it…
Then I realize how behind I am on getting the latest PoPS episode done and I abandon the short, saying something along the lines of—Maybe after the next episode or There’ll be time for shorts once PoPS is done.
A couple months ago, an idea for another short grabbed my attention. Once again, I wrote it, got excited about it, started talking to people about it, and got more and more excited about it the more we talked. This time, I took a step to better motivate me to shoot the thing and actually get it done. I kept the locations few and achievable; I made it shoot’able in a single weekend; and I actually took on a freelance gig to get the money I need to hire solid gore creators, pay actors, and rent a super slow-mo camera.
This whole post has been leading up to a realization I had while shooting that freelance gig. One part of directing that I seem to really like is that it harkens back to my desire as a kid to have people play the way that I want them to play.
I was one of those kids that always wanted to dictate the storylines of the games we played. If we were playing some kind of camp game or adventure game, whatever it was, running around outside pretending to be different kinds of grown-ups, I tried to control the way the story unfolded. If someone wanted to take the game in a different direction, I’d get frustrated and try to keep them on target for the story we were already in the process of exploring. If the character they were being started acting in a way that didn’t make sense for the story that I wanted to tell, I’d try to reign them back in and make them play right.
I was working on this freelance gig just a couple nights ago—a kind of promotional music video—and the musician and his friends gathered up a crowd of people for an evening beach fire-pit scene. When they asked me how many people I wanted, I jokingly said, “Remember the opening scene of Jaws? What, thirty, forty people, right?” Then I said I was joking, and we all chuckled the chuckle of a group of people who had all just had a long, tiring day of shooting.
Then, a couple days later, when we got to the beach scene, I got out of my car to hear the words, “We got your Jaws numbers, man.” By the time everyone assembled, we had probably around 25 people. They all hung out, having a good time doing the marshmallow roasting, guitar playing, beach thing and I ran around shooting them and occasionally issuing little directions. For the rest of the night a large group of people immediately responded and adapted to my cues. It lit up that little kid “play right” pilot light that apparently still rests right behind my heart. I didn’t even realize it was still a thing. But I guess it is. Everyone that came to the beach scene did an amazing job and the footage that we got is so great.
I’m almost done with the freelance video now and I’ll be able to buckle down on finishing episode 9 of PoPS, but with the money in place to finally shoot one of my exciting shorts. That makes me so happy.
Thanks for reading.
Okay, you guys, let’s just get this out there. I’m movie crazy. I get obsessed with movies. The medium captured me as a kid, my fascination has warped and morphed over the years, but I just continue to obsess.
Until very recently, I always wanted to get to a movie theater during every vacation. It wasn’t truly a vacation unless I got to go to a new movie theater and see something on the big screen. When my family was in Paris when I was 18, I went to a French-dubbed version of Lost in Space because every movie was dubbed and I figured that movie would be visual enough to keep my attention. Did I think—Hey, maybe I don’t have to go see a movie if the only option is to watch one play in a language I don’t understand. Nope.
Over the last few years I’ve gotten better about this. Not completely cured, but better. When we go to Florida now I don’t need to go to the theater at Pleasure Island (or whatever it’s called now). I spend time experiencing all the crazy things they’ve created in the real world. I still can’t go out to LA without go to one of their theaters. Last time was the Cineramadome, the time before that was the New Beverly, next time it’ll probably be the New Bev again, depending on what’s on at CineFamily (which I haven’t been to yet). When we went to England we went to Looper, but that was my birthday, and I HAVE to go to a movie in the theater on my birthday. Just whatever’s playing. Fincher’s done me the favor of releasing two movies for my birthday viewing—The Social Network and Gone Girl). But sometimes it’s not even something I’m really that interested in, like Pitch Perfect, which I ended up liking a lot.
So, now here we are. A couple weeks away from going to Austin for Austin Webfest. Time to jump online and see what all the Drafthouse locations are showing while we’re there. Having never been to a Drafthouse, I’m super geared up and know that I have to see something. It won’t even take that much time away from hanging out with my friends in an awesome city. Our friends Craig and Chyna are coming to Austin, too. So, they can hang out and do whatever whle I slip away for a couple of hours to see whatever revival screening happens to be showing.
I find out that they’re doing this JAWS on the Water thing where the audience floats in a lake in inner tubes while watching one of the greatest movies of all time on a giant inflatable screen. Tickets are pretty expensive and I’d have to travel 40 minutes south to get to the ranch venue where it’s taking place. So, I throw that out to Eliza, just to see what happens. JAWS is one of her favorite movies, too. Seeing it with a full house when they did the 4K restoration was one of our favorite theater-going experiences of all time. We hemmed and hawed about the time commitment over what would be like a five hour commitment all told when we’re only in Austin for four days. I start wondering if I’d be too much of a movie-psycho to leave Eliza, Chyna, and Craig to hang out like normal people in an awesome city while I go to this thing by myself. But when I emailed Craig about it, he said he and Chyna were in, so… I’m surrounded by wonderful enablers.
In PoPS news, I’m about 8 edits away from having a complete rough cut of episode 9. I can’t believe how much work I still have to do on this episode between a reshoot night, ADR sessions, sound effects, SO MANY VFX, music, and color correction. I’ll just keep on working.
Not to mention that this week I have a freelance gig to shoot and edit to raise the money I need to do a short film later this summer, I’m spending a night shooting video for a friend, we’re helping some other friends of ours move this weekend, and I’m trying to keep up with a consistent exercise schedule. Sometimes I have to remember that I do all of this to myself. I opt in to all of these things. No one is forcing me to do anything. Okay. Just get out there and do it.
Thanks for reading, y’all.
Well, here we are. We started shooting episode 9 on November 3rd and we had our final night of initial production on June 2nd. That seems like a long production period. The vast majority of the episode was shot in November and December and the rest of it was tiny, little, one-shot cut-aways or one-off scenes with brand new cast in new locations. But I now have it all. I’ve just got to find the time to put it together. Let’s recap the final two shoot days.
Saturday, May 30th. The Thursday night before, I had two of my friends meet me at Chicago Costume Co. to get fitted for some costumes. On the shoot day itself, it rained all day, as evidenced by the last video update. So, after calling my contact, Kyle, to get this facility opened after they’d already closed due to rain, he met us and we got prepped starting about twenty minutes late. We shot as fast as we could, trying to keep everything dry with umbrellas while we shot outside, and we did a pretty decent job of it. Afterward, we took everybody out for lunch at the Brat Stop in Wisconsin, as the facility was right on the border.
Tuesday, June 2nd. The final night of shooting. We were using a friend’s workshop as a location and I had it all planned to do this green screen compositing effect in the background of a shot. Then we found out it would be possible to actually hang one of our actors off of this real motorized hook and move him around. So we did it. He had to stick his arms through this big furniture strap hanging off of the hook, basically hanging from his armpits. We could only do it for a few seconds at a time because that thing actually hurt quite a bit. I took the ride myself to see what it was like. That footage will be coming to the episode donors as soon as the episode gets released. After the shoot, we took the cast and crew to Parson’s chicken and talked how awesome Mad Max: Fury Road is and how much we miss video store culture.
Yeah. Another episode in the external hard drive. I know we’ll have one evening of reshoots, but I’d like a full cut first. Hopefully, I’ll have one within the next couple weeks.
Thanks for reading.