Monday, June 26, 2006

Who puts a katana in their movie anyway?

Catching a sword was never going to be easy. I knew that when I wrote it, and I still wrote it. What an idiot. So how do you do it when it's supposed to be swung at full speed, and you don't want anyone to get hurt. Doesn't help if the person trying to catch it is covered in a black cloak and can't see too good. Well, we got it. Took a few takes. About 30. The sword work is tough. Making it look convincing is the hardest part. Plus, it usually has to be done over and over, which gets to be a bit much for the actors. We only had a short time for training (ie no time). But hey, you can't make a movie without a katana, right? You can? Shit.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

There ain't no coming back...

The last conversation was today. Really fuckin important to the movie. If this sucks, everything is ruined. Both Laurel and Carey were extremely serious and focused. Did we get it? You'll just have to wait and see. Ha, I'd hate me too. Hey, I'm still writing, aren't I? If we didn't get it, I'd be burying myself in the backyard. Still got a ways to go though. Plenty of time to fuck it all up with a bad score or bad sound effects, bad editing, etc. Damn, I hope this movie is good. I knew I should've put that mutant hippo in the script. Damn hippos. They need to lose some weight.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Costume "Issues"

The figures look awful in bright sunlight, and by "awful," I mean fucking awful. Your-eyes-are-going-to-explode-out-of-your-head awful. Got to keep them in the shade. Still figuring out the Leader. His spikes never want to stand up straight. Need to rebuild them from scratch. They weigh too much. Shannon helped with sewing the sleeves. Too long before. Looked ridiculous like some crappy rejected Gandalf. They actually work now. The final film won’t show much of the Leader, but that's probably for the best. Never saw much of the Alien or "Bruce" either, not that we’re anywhere near their league (or budget or storytelling or super freakin awesomeness... damn, you Ridley Scott! stop making classics!).

Monday, June 19, 2006

Who doesn't love bad weather?

Rained out tonight. Gave us a chance to relax. Still got plenty done during the day. Working around the clock. One or two days off each week. Usually, we’re shooting for 22 hours straight (or longer by the time the equipment is put up). It’s grueling, but we’re making a movie so you can’t complain. Something priceless: $1,500 piece of equipment in a $2 cardboard box... that's an indie for you.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

P2 Limits

We just did nearly 60% of the dialogue. Unfortunately, a lot of downtime comes from switching out memory cards and uploading them to a hard drive (wheeeeee... yes, it's that exciting). We can only get about 4 min at a time, but I guess that's a little like film and switching out magazines (except far cheaper... no? not like film at all? ok, I tried). Laurel and Carey had to memorize pages and pages of awful shit totally awesome shit I wrote. If it sucks, I can blame the producer. No? What about the director? They're all me? Ah fuck. What idiot hired me? I did? Shit. Stop cussing! What if a kitten reads this? Ha, kittens can't read. The film is all about the relationship of these two characters so if these scenes suck, we're screwed. Please don't suck. Please don't suck. Ah, the joy of filmmaking. At least, if it sucks, everyone will tell me! Ah shit...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Mmmm... Monsters

Extras... you get to be in a movie! Is it going to be in theaters? Well, uh... uhm... you get to have smelly crap glued to your face! Is Tom Cruise in it? Uhm... maybe? You don't get paid! And you can be half blind! Do I at least get a free lunch? Sure, if you can eat and drink through a straw! Hey, don't go! I need you to sign a waiver too! And I wonder why we have problems finding people. So yeah, makeup takes several hours at least. For the “hero” creature, it takes even longer especially the appliance blending. We use tissue paper, Pros-Aide adhesive, and PAX paint for that. Unbeatable combination... you know... for making the living dead. My aunt and uncle weren't a bit surprised to see ten monsters in full bloody regalia sitting around their kitchen table, eating homemade sandwiches, telling jokes and laughing. Who says a zombie lunch can't be heartwarming? Nah, they're not really "zombies." They don't eat the dead or turn other people by biting them. The mysterious black figures in the film experiment on the dead and turn them into these "creatures." Yep, I spent time thinking about that. Yep, that's why I'm single. By the end of the day, nobody wants to be a movie again (actually some do... they're crazy I know). Food helps. If you’re ever in Clinton, Missouri, all I can say is... Pizza Glen. Mmmmm... pizza.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


We've been trying to space out the day and night scenes so the actors and crew don't melt into radioactive space moles (damn moles), but some days we're literally filming from one sunrise to the next. Laurel is also acting in a play this month so we've been working to accommodate her too (kill me... I told her it was ok since I didn't want her choosing between that play and this movie... Laurel is awesome but scheduling = death). Anyway, so far, so good. Tonight, we shoot one of the nightmare sequences (bet you've never seen one of those in a movie huh?). Running extension cords through the woods has been interesting (if you consider interesting, tripping through pitch black heavy forest). It's difficult not to blow a circuit with all the power the lights draw. Yeah, we've done it a couple times. My aunt and uncle love me (I think they're deciding where to bury the body). We got a special circuit protector to help though. Here's another fun fact: a lot of insects are attracted to the lights. It's a swarm some nights. Moths, June bugs, etc. So every once in a while you hear a pop and see a cloud of smoke coming out of the lights. That one didn't make it. Bugs: 0. Lights: 548.

Wednesday, June 7, 2006

One Week Down

We put all the fight scenes later in the shoot to give us more time to rehearse (and so I can figure out how the hell we're going to pull them off... never write a fight scene). Everyone had to find their footing this week so we got some easy stuff out of the way. There's still a ton more to do. This is where robots would come in handy. Damn robots, why can't they invent themselves? At the very least, we should have androids by now. Why not a cat robot? It's not like cats are very useful anyway. Ah, I'm just kidding. Cats are cool. I just prefer robots. What was I talking about? Ninjas? No, I don't have a cat. So yeah, Rambo II has my answer. "How will you live, John?" "Day by day." How do I not get completely overwhelmed? Shot by shot. Yep, everything in life I learned from Rambo II. When life gives you lemons, act like you're sleeping then shove a bazooka through its window and blow up that damn Russian.

We're using a mini-35 kit to give the image a more shallow depth of field/cinematic quality. It's the same thing Danny Boyle's DP used on 28 Days Later. Yep, we stole it from them. Booyah. But I wasn't smart enough to build it on my own (thanks Redrock).

Monday, June 5, 2006

Watch Your Step

We got a small crew, and by "small," I mean like two people. Aaron has been rocking the boom. It's no fun holding that for 12 hours a day (or longer) so I'm sure he'll be sending a raptor back in time to kill my mom sometime soon, but sound is incredibly important, and he's always there on-time, giving it his all. I don't know why he puts up with me, but he does. We did a walking dialogue scene today... everybody on crew was constantly walking backwards. Take after take, and we only had a small stretch of land to use so Laurel and Carey couldn't go too fast either. Keeping them in focus was interesting. It was all hand-held, and somehow, Aaron managed to keep the audio really clean despite all the movement. He must be a ninja. Did I really say "rocking?"

Saturday, June 3, 2006

First Day: Principle Photography

Ticks. Fat, deer ticks. We have to constantly pick them off and check our clothes. At least, the big ones are easy to see. It's the little ones you have to worry about later (yessssss!). But you get used to them or you stop caring. Probably just the latter.

We're shooting in Clinton, Missouri, on my aunt and uncle's land. That's an hour and a half away from Springfield where Carey and Laurel (our lead actors) live. That means a lot of driving and hotel rooms but also... wait for it... free breakfast! I know... I wish it was a M41A Pulse Rifle too.

Flies keep buzzing the blood on Laurel’s clothes. It makes the audio a mess, but that’s not all. Even clear out in the woods, our shotgun mic still picks up cars, boats, planes, tractors, etc. I thought we'd have better luck this far away from any city (ie the perfect place for some stupid teens to run into a family of mutant robots). I really want to make sure the sound is good. They say that's usually the thing that suffers most in an independent film (you know... besides bad writing, bad acting, bad lighting, bad directing, bad FX, bad music, basically bad everything).

I found a really helpful piece of advice online. Set each audio channel to a different level so if one clips, the other should still be ok. You always need to check your levels with your actors beforehand too.

I wanted to film a couple different scenes today, but we only got one done. Aaron said that's usually the way it goes. Not if I was a ninja! Or ED-209. I always wanted to be ED-209. Big guns for hands. Hard time going down stairs, but it's a fair trade off. Is somebody actually reading this? Yeah, I didn't think so. Glad we're finally shooting though. I've been dreaming of this for a long time. Now, I just got to make sure this movie doesn't suck.