Monday, February 23, 2009

Done... Sort of.

It's over.

4 months of planning all came to a head over the last 2 days. We finished principal photography at 7:00 last night, and I have to say I got everything that I wanted. The performances from the actors, the images on the screen, the sounds. It was all there. But the biggest thing for me was the people.

We had a crew of about 45 people working on set on this short film. That doesn't include the guys from Locations Caterers working at their shop to feed this little army. That doesn't include the casting personnel, the drivers who came out to drive one truck around and Tracy the security captain who sat outside the studio overnight to watch a truck and make sure no one thieved from us. Doesn't include the guys from William F. Whites and Inspired Cinema Camera Systems who took the time to put together a great equipment package, then to also give us incredibly great deals on those equipment rentals. I have never had so many people come out and help me on a short film, and ask for nothing in return. To these people, I offer you my sincerest, heartfelt thanks.

So the filming part of the short is done. Now it's into the editing room. Got lots to look at. And lots of ideas on where to go from here. I couldn't wait to get this thing filmed, and now I can't wait to get this thing edited. Alan better not be sleeping right now. EDIT DAMN IT! EDIT!

Friday, February 20, 2009

9 hours

What a day. Extreme elation to extreme frustration, back to elation then to frustration again. Talk about a roller coaster.

I have to give full credit to my Production Designer, Shane Vieau. This fellow has poured his heart and soul into this short film, from calling in favours, to painting sets all by himself, this man has been tireless in making my vision come to life. Without his dedication, this short would be a fraction of of what it is. From my heart, I thank you.

Elation came in viewing the sets that Shane built. I walked into the location and my jaw dropped. What a beautiful, amazingly decorated set Shane built. I was beside myself. I couldn't keep the smile off my face.

Then the Frustrations began. But it's getting late and I have a movie to make tomorrow, so We'll leave that for another day.

Thanks Shane.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

3 days

Starting to get excited.

Had a great read-thru with the cast yesterday. It's kinda magical when a script you've had running around in your head is actually read aloud by some very talented performers. To actually hear the words, it was awesome. And the way these guys read it, it was almost exactly how I had envisioned it. A little tweaking and hey, it will be there. With this cast, I don't have to do much.

Everything else is falling into place. The sets are built and are being dressed as we speak. Wardrobe is running smoothly, I've got a lab full of animals now, and camera seems to be sorting itself out. My only problem, and it could be a big one, is the visual effects department. Still no word from my supervisor of visual effects. I guess I better start planning on filming this thing without the aid of visual effects.

Not the end of the world, but it would have definitely made the final product that much better. A drooling, stumbling un-dead pig. Think of how cool that would have been. Maybe we can put some make-up on the pig, or something.

So, it looks that everyone is moving in the same direction and Saturday will be one helluva day. I may not be writing much over the next week or so, but I have to say using this blog as a medium to vent has helped me immensely. I should do this more often.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Feeling calm, for some strange reason.

All of my life, I have procrastinated. If I don't have a deadline, I would put it aside and get to it later. More often than not, I would get the job done, but only after waiting until the last minute, and then once finished and out of my hands, I would forget a vital part of the package. Whether it was a science project, book report, some piece of paper due for work or something in my personal life, I always left the job for a later time. I mean, my last short film sat on a shelf for over a year because I didn't have a hard deadline for it's release. Usually I have some sort of thing gnawing at me to finish the job. I still have some tiles to grout in the kitchen, and those have been there for 14 months (got one side grouted, just need to finish the other side).

That's how I've always been. And as a result of that, sometimes my planning is a little off. I usually forget to do something. I know something needs to be done, and that usually gnaws at me. It makes me anxious to the point I can't sleep at night. Which is why, right now, I am wondering why I am feeling rather calm.

I am 1 week away from making my short film masterpiece, and I can't help but feeling I have all of the bases covered. Camera? Check. Sets and decorations? Check. Everyone's insured that needs to be insured. Food is something I don't have to deal with this time, thank God. Got a KILLER cast. Contact lenses are being worked on, got a pig. Two pigs actually. The only wild card right now is my VFX team.

This is the first time I have any visual effects on a film and I have to admit, I'm not sure what needs to be done. My Visual Effects Producer is out in Toronto, and I would dearly love to talk to him about what the hell I need to do on set on Saturday. He hasn't called me in 2 weeks. Will I ever hear from him? Is he still alive? Will someone still be there with me from his department? Should I start planning on not having any VFX in this film? Will the price of gas in Vancouver ever drop below the 80 cent a litre point again?

Ok. That calm feeling, slowly fading away. I guess I'll get no sleep tonight. At least something is back to normal.

Friday, February 13, 2009

One week

What a week this has been.

From meeting with all fo the creative crew members to finally nailing down a cast, it was a very busy, productive week.

Spoke to the cast members today. All of them seem very excited to be on this little masterpiece of mine, and the enthusiasm they all show really puts a part of my mind at ease. I am truly confident that I'm going to get superb performances out of all of these performers. I can't wait to see these guys in action.

Got he hard drive issue sorted out today, with the help of Alan. I think I got a good deal on these hard drives. I know what I was originally quoted was much higher. So every little bit helps.

And I'm going to need every little bit. The camera is still an issue. The latest quote is around $1,500 for the camera package. Now that is an amazing deal, and I have to thank those guys for the deal. But when you haven't budgeted anything at all for a camera package, a $1,500.00 hit is a big hit. I guess we bite the bullet and chalk it up to a learning experience.

Tomorrow's tech survey and production meeting day. A lot of questions will be answered and I'm sure I'll have some more to bitch about. I thought I was being fairly positive in this blog, but people keep asking me what I'll be complaining about next.

It'll be something juicy, I hope.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Casting - a comedy of errors.

What an experience.

I love casting. It never ceases to amaze me. I mean, here are a whole lot of performers, all coming out and pouring their hearts out, putting it all on the table, trying to get a part that doesn't pay too much in a small short film. Every one of them knowing that there is only going to be one chosen for the role they are auditioning for. I give all of them credit. They were all amazing, and I just shake my head at the thought of going through what they went through. There is no way I could go through that. My hat's off to you all.

The problems were not the one's auditioning. The problems were all technical. My camera, a small little video camera that has served me well for 6 years, just died. It just stopped working. after the first audition. It called it quits. Kaput. So we call in the back-up.

Everything;s going smoothly - got 2 batteries and plenty of disk space to record onto. 30 minutes in, it dies. Battery problem. Change battery and keep going. Five minutes later, that battery dies. No charger. Great. Keep going. But don't tell the talent there is no taping. Not sure of the rational behind that decision, but the auditions must go on.

And what auditions they were. There were only a handful of performers that were unsuitable. Everyone else could act in this short and it would be a good movie. But there are only 4 that will make it a great movie.

We all decided on one. Hands down, the best audition for the role. The other three had a few great performances, and we'll whittle those down tomorrow. Or I guess it's today. It's already Thursday. Must go to bed. Need a clear head for casting tomorrow.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Whoa, what a day.

Got all of the creative and logistical types in the same room today to talk about this short film. I've got to say, that as each person walked through the door, my smile broadened. Everything is starting to come together. First AD, Producer, Production Manager, Designer, DOP, Mentor, the people coming through the door, the talent and experience involved, just blew me away. I got this warm and fuzzy feeling inside. I was speechless.

Until the DOP came in and told me that the room we chose as our Interrogation room was too small. No nice to meet you. No looking forward to this project. Just, this room is too small. I thought he was joking. But he was serious.

And it got me thinking. I thought it was perfect. I've been on crime dramas where the interrogation room was 2/3 the size of the one I chose. But here is an experienced DOP telling me that it's a nice sized room, but once you start packing equipment, dollies, cast and crew inside, the room will shrink immensely. And he is absolutely right. He's got the experience, he knows how much room the equipment will take over, I have to trust his judgment. So we look for another room inside of the stage. The thing that makes me feel bad is the construction guys just finished putting in a nice window between the two rooms to make it look more like I was hoping an interrogation room would look. Now What?

Flip the rooms. Use the adjoining room as the Interrogation room, and the room we were going to use as the interrogation room as our bedroom. Done! Everyone's happy and I think the extra space in the interrogation room will provide for a lot of nicer, more interesting shots. Thank you Mr. DOP.

Then came the phone call from my new Costume Designer. Had a great conversation with him, and he has some great ideas. Looks like he will be picking up right from where Maya left off. I am in good hands here.

Then off to the Police Museum to look at our laboratory. After a little discussion, we got everything sorted out without any major problems. Lots of great ideas for Mr. DOP and Mr. Designer, and I am confident that everyone is now on the same page.

Then the spinning began.

Data management. We have decided to go with the Red One Camera. People have been telling me different things about this camera. How it's the greatest thing to ever come about for independent filmmaking, to you should avoid this camera at all costs until workflow problems are worked out. Most of the negativity has come from post production houses, and I can only assume that would stem from not being able to handle the data from the camera. But that could be from people updating the firmware of the camera and then the post production guys have to re-build their workflows to handle the new software protocols. Vicious cycle.

Anywho, what everyone can agree on is that you should have someone on set with you whose job is strictly to handle the data and naming conventions from the camera through to the hard drive you are storing your footage on and to make a back-up of that hard drive. Ok. Makes sense to me. Found someone to do that. He charges $400 per day! yikes! but if that is going to save me a lot of problems in the future, then hire the professional and pay the bill. This could be money well spent.

Then, I am informed that I need to buy 2 hard drives, in a raid configuration, mirrored. Ok. Makes no sense to me. How much? About $1,500.00. Double Yikes! That savings I had from wardrobe and locations is fast being eaten up.

Then the kicker. The data management guy tells me that I should have an Digital HD Technician on set as well. Ok. Technician sounds expensive. How Much? Roughly $700.00 per day, if I let him be the DOP and Camera Operator so he can add to his demo reel. But I already have a DOP, who is my operator as well. So he'll be looking for something in the $1000.00 day range. What the @%#*!!!!!!! That's what I make in a week. That can't be right. Gotta look into that one.

That conversation ended at around 6:30, and my head has been spinning ever since. Time for a warm shower and bed. I'll talk to Alan and sort this out tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, Casting! Yay!

Hopefully there'll be no spinning at this point tomorrow.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

2 weeks

Been a busy little while.

In addition to the regular job, and all of the stress that comes with that, not much was going right with this short film. February 21st seemed to be fast approaching, and I didn't have
anything in place to film. No cast. None of my vital crew. In fact, I was moving backwards in that I had no costume designer, production manager, 1st AD, Casting director, DOP, now Production Coordinator. But then, things started to come together.

It all started with the Casting Director. One big piece of the puzzle fell into place on Monday, and by Tuesday we had a solid number of performers willing to try out for the show, and will have some cast by Tuesday. Awesome.

Then the DOP. Still haven't met in person with him, but talked to him 3 times this week, and feel confident that everything is under control on that end. Hopefully he will be able to find a small grip/electrics crew to come along. That would take another large stressful thing off my plate.

Then we got a great combo package of Make-up artist and her friend a costume designer. Both work on a major TV show here in Vancouver, so with them comes free, or cheap, wardrobe and make-up.

And the week ended with with a new 1st AD. Someone I've worked with in my capacity as an ALM in the past, and who I've enjoyed working with. But... I still need Grip crew, electrics crew, Craft service, catering, and possibly a camera crew. Help?

2 Weeks.