Monday, September 26, 2005

who the hell needs sleep anyway?

The last few days have served as an eye opener on various different points of life and the desire to make something professional out of this whole "movie job." I made sure to go extremely out of the way to ensure that I had some involvement in a certain project... where as some other individuals that have been kind enough to use me in their projects have had fantastic opportunities dropped in their lap.
I talked to Robert Saba yesterday and he said that he quit a casting search for a BBC show. He mentioned something about having a problem talking to people about their fat kids at the Mid-South Fair. I don't know, I think he should be focusing on editing his film anyway (mainly because as I'm one of the leads and producers... so I'm eager to see how my on screen work comes together and how his first feature comes together as a whole). He also got a gig working with this Will Ferrell NASCAR movie in Birmingham. He'll be gone for two weeks... but shit man, he keeps getting these movie jobs so it's not half bad.
I had to work a few extra days this week. When I wasn't working at the "day job" I was working as an extra on Black Snake Moan. I got moved up to a Featured Extra on Saturday with some "interesting" screen time (but that's about all I can say about that situation-- I had to sign a confidentiality agreement). So I woke up at 7:30am Thursday to work the day job. I had leave work a little early to get to set (way-the-f-out in Fayette Co.) by 4pm. I was a little late. I worked there Thursday from 4pm to 6am. I drove home, picked up some fresh clothes, showered and had to be out at Wolfchase to meet my reporter on Friday morning at 8:45am. We were driving to Nashville (which by the way is a 3 and 1/2 hour drive if you speed). I got to sleep a little on the way there (thank God). I worked in Nashville for the day and got back into town dropping off my reporter at 5:50pm (after a good bit of racing down that flat line interstate 40 on a steady diet of Red Bull, Gobstoppers, and Trident White Gum). I had to bust ass to get back to the Black Snake Moan set by 6pm. I made it about 6:20pm. I worked on the set from that point until 7am on Saturday morning. I was one of the last "extras" on set. I can't go into any further detail about the shoot... but I will say that despite being extremely exhausted, the sunrise was gorgeous. It looked like the entire sky was set ablaze.
So, after all of that brain distress, physical drain, and dead-to-the-world brain activity that usually kicks in as a survival mechanism (or acting, take your pick)... I drove home, caught an hour and a half of sleep, and had to report back to NC3 for work at 9am. I got home somewhere around 6pm and crashed for a bit shortly afterward.
I managed to catch about 4 hours of sleep before I was told to wake up for a "birthday party." My head was still filled with a fine static hum of white noise... but a couple of drinks took the hard lined frontal burn off of my brain. Unfortunately it also took quite a bit out of my depleted energy level. Needless to say, we didn't film on Divine Manipulation of the Threads this weekend.
My biggest laugh came on early, early, early Friday morning when Craig walked over to me at my "extra start position" and jokingly asked, "You want to direct any of this?" I might have taken him up on it if I actually knew anything about the script. On the other hand, I might have been the only extra there that has the Directors cell phone number.
It was cool to see Craig work and how a "paying motion picture" actually operates. It's a much different creature than our little Indie Projects... much different.
I took Christine out for dinner on Sunday (as I'm going to have to treat her like a princess for putting up with my bullshit for a while-- again, I can't really talk about it) and we caught a 9pm show of The Corpse Bride. Now I'm back at the day job and mildly reeling from a very, very busy couple of days.
Oh, I'm also dealing with my dog's open wound from his neuter surgery. He just won't leave it alone, he's been wearing one of those head-cone e-collars for two weeks, he's knocked everything off of every table and inadvertently broken a few key pieces of "nice things that I used to own," but mainly, he's making attempts to lick his balls. Unfortunately he's been tearing the shit out of them with this plastic space helmet. It's kind of a fun time (mainly because I still have no idea what I've been through over the last few days)... I'm sure it will hit me later. But now I've got to figure out what we're going to film for this weekend... and call Colors to find out what exactly is going on with BSM. Aren't Monday's fun? I need a drink.
Oh, happy 10th Anniversary to Anthony and Anita!

Monday, September 19, 2005

weekend seven: making a movie with Bevan

Okay, I won't lie. When we have some changes that can move toward the possibility of setbacks, I start to freak out a little. On our last film venture, A Cowboy's Silver Lining, we lost an actress for an undetermined amount of time. I don't mean that we couldn't actually find her (though that did become a problem after a while), I mean that she wasn't able to film for a portion of time and we didn't know when she was coming back. So, when hurricane Katrina hit, we fell into the same situation as before. Thankfully, there are still a few scenes and shoots that we can put into a Saturday motion picture extravaganza before those absences will effect the pleasing forward direction of status thus far. Well, I could also keep loading tapes and rough cutting to buy a little more time before we run ashore. I'm not blaming anyone (with the exception of a hurricane and perhaps God). Our absentees are good people doing good work for a good reason. I'm proud of them and are willing to wait as long as I possibly can for them to return "home" to us.

Now, with that said... we rescheduled our Saturday shoot for Friday night... for three reasons. One was the previous message about people being out of town for disaster relief. The second is that I was trying to squeeze a funny scene about DOPPELGANGERS involving the Green Twins. Kelly Green was leaving town at 12noon on Saturday... forcing us to move the shoot up a day... directly afterwork... only allowing us an hour and a half to shoot an entire scene. Yes, a scene can be shot in that time and still look and sound great. The third reason is that the Cooper/Young Festival was taking place on Saturday. Yes, the last reason seems selfish but I'll explain myself in a moment.

The Friday night shoot was pressed for time. Because of the Cooper/Young 4K run... I was fifteen minutes late to set... with our other actor, Joe Smith. I had to pick him up because if he had moved his car out of the Cooper/Young area he would lose the space and have to walk 5 blocks to his car until Sunday. We got caught behind the runners on the way in and out of the area... eating away our precious Friday night. The scene was really, really funny. We pressed everyone with the time, stayed a few minutes late, and diverted a near catastrophe when Kelly couldn't find his car key (which was still in the door). I suppose that it's no real surprise that we named the newly purchased boom-mic stand "Kelly" (it's a long story that I'll save for another entry... or the documentary). Thanks to Joe, Shaun, and Kelly for giving us your Friday night... thanks to Brad, Anthony, and Christine for putting up with me. Thanks to Cafe' Francisco for allowing us to film with short notice and keeping a smile on when we went 10 minutes over.

Later that night, Christine and I drank with Joe at dish (a favorite local bar and a location for a later scene). The following day we drank for 12 hours straight (or so) at the Cooper/Young Festival. Okay, now the Cooper/Young festival is something that I have attended since before my days of living in Midtown Memphis. Now, I mentioned that scheduling the shoot for Friday was a little selfish. That's because I would have scheduled the shoot around that Saturday anyway. I love this festival. It's an art festival with a great atmosphere, good friends, cheap finds, cheap beer (if you have good friends), and carnie food. I can't help it... I love corndogs. After you've had a few barley-pops you really don't give a crap about what you're eating... as long as it sobers you up a bit. Perhaps one day I'll be able to replicate that whole scenario for a film... or at least have the money to do it if I wanted to. That would be fun, I think... well, probably a nightmare because I'd be sober.

So, Sunday I acted in two other films (the two other films that I had committed to before we started shooting on Divine Manipulation of the Threads). I've finished shooting on M. David Lee III's film Slow Down... You're Dating Too Fast. I was married off in the movie. That kind of scared me a little. But David was finally able to wrap the shoots for the film. Yes, I held him back for about a month... but he understands. I also filmed on Robert Saba's movie, Delusions. Robert says that he wrapped principle photography yesterday... which is pretty exciting... but we still have a few "pick ups" to do for that production.

Again, it's been a busy weekend. I'm sure this week will be just as full... because now I have to figure out what we're going to film this weekend (or just fall back to loading tapes and editing).

Whew.... sorry Ralph, I can't think of any threads (I drank them away Saturday)

Sunday, September 11, 2005

tape two and three: loaded and rough cuts

The joy of getting all of these shoots "In The Can" as they say (or at least as I've heard said before... seeing as how we're not really shooting on film) is all a fantastic thrill of progress. We have been trucking along quite fine these last few Saturdays. Our shoots have been limited as such because I've basically gotten in too far over my head when making certain commitments. I've taken my fair share of flack for holding up the operation, but I will have it known that I've been busting my hump on every single thing I do... cutting no corners and making certain that the projects I'm involved with will have the utmost attention to detail and production. With that said... The cast and crew of Divine Manipulation of the Threads got to take the weekend off.
I'm not being a slack-ass (as I've admittedly been on the months of pre-production stagnancy). The last few weekends have blossomed quite vibrantly. The stuff we've managed to capture is funny and encompasses the movie magic that I fell in love with in the first place. However, because my "dayjob" has scheduled me to be the on-call photographer, I figured it was in everyone's best interest to not schedule a shoot. For I know that as soon as I make the schedule, get everyone involved and where they need to be, and start rolling through the camera eye... I'll get called in. It has never failed. So, I no longer schedule anything of necessity or ask anyone else to give me their time when the percentages start to rise against the favors of our little indie movie production. Everyone got to take the weekend off except for me. Instead, I took advantage of this valuable down time to load tapes into the machine.
Now, I've made mention on how it takes twice as long (sometimes three times as long) to load video into the computer as it does to film it. So, one can imagine what feeding two hours worth of good takes does to the frontal lobe. My eyes went through sensory overload. Making the drive for the long and winding road home felt like a THC induced dreamscape. On the other hand... I got to revisit a lot of great material. It's satisfying to finally start getting the production into a rough cut stage of pieced together scenes and ideas. We're nowhere near the point of finishing the shooting schedule (by any stretch of the imagination). I just like getting a jump on the editing process. I love seeing it all come together. I guess, at heart I've always been an editor... It's the first job I got in television... and the first job I truly desired to master. A good editor can save a piece of crap from smearing it's oily discharge across the screen. A great editor can transform that same piece of fecal matter into a shining work of art that would make the masters envious. They will wish that their shit looked that good... they might even smell the rose scented aroma wafting around the load.
See... poop humor works every time. Anyway, I truly enjoyed my Saturday of loading and rough cutting the beginning stages of our film. Now, keep in mind, I've only got two scenes rough cut. We haven't even taken a splinters worth of weight off of this tree. However, the explosive orange and reds of fall will soon turn the corner... much as our production will follow suit and gently fall into a vision that demands sensory attention. I would know... I've seen the rough cuts...

Friday, September 09, 2005

football season is over...


"No More Games. No More Bombs. No More Walking. No More Fun. No More Swimming. 67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted. Boring. I am always bitchy. No Fun -- for anybody. 67. You are getting Greedy. Act your old age. Relax -- This won't hurt."

--This was Hunter's "suicide note" or at least the last thing he had written before he let himself out. Not too long ago his remains were shot out of a cannon and showered all over his friends and relatives that had gathered for his grand hurrah. What better way to share yourself with those you love then to have them gasp in amazement at a fireworks show, be fired out of a cannon, and have a little dried up piece of your cremated ball sack land in someone's eye. I wish that he and Brando could have hung out during their last days. Now that would have been an interesting story... a "Fear and Loathing" adventure just sitting around the patio with good books, good drinks, and guns. The great ones go out with a "BANG."

Monday, September 05, 2005

weekend six: making it stick

(Yea, yeah, I know what else rhymes with six) Due to some last minute changes and actors that were unable to be with us this weekend, we fell a little behind the schedule. However, in our defense the schedule would have only been made had we started at 9:30AM.... and we started at 3PM... I'm very pleased with what we were able to get on film.
Once again we took over the back room of Cafe' Francisco for our Indie film shoot. Some unsuspecting individuals got to be guest extras, Joe made a new drink out of pure sugar (I'm sure the guys and gals from Red Bull will be calling him any day now), Jennifer got all crazy-faced when she dreamed about smashing a guys face in a waffle iron (and once again proved that she's just one of the guys... but much better looking), Shane's crotch got some special attention that made him scream like a girl, and I managed to get Christine's iPod a cameo appearance while keeping the first scene all together as the "straight man" of this little comedy troupe.
Anthony did a fine job of putting up with my crap and making sure that everyone was on the ball (as he likes to stay on balls for some reason). Brad held the boom mic for most of the day and talked about boobs, the boom operator, and being followed by a boom shadow. Christine was doing a fine job of watching the monitors and performances... but she kept walking off of the set and disappearing. I think it had something to do with Cappuccino and too much Olive Oil on her Greek Salad plate (if you know what I mean).
As the evening pressed on we finally got to see the debut performances of TRACY ADAIR and KONG. I've got to tell you that since this film has taken a turn of absurdity it's gotten to be really really really funny. When someone takes off a pair of sunglasses and you laugh... you know it's good. When a guy has his ears tucked into a high-roller hat because it's too big... that's good stuff.
We filmed a fight scene on a city street... got some applause for beating the crap out of people... and later packed up the gear and proceeded to get shyte-faced at T.J. Mulligans (who were nice enough to provide jell-o shots for us). So, we had some good times got some great material and managed to survive the debauchery that followed. For those of you that care...


JOE: "Shake your sugar..."
(Joe knows what pays the bills-- and what gets you cast)

BEVAN: "Am I soft?"
(Bevan talks about the focus of the camera, but of course, it's takes a different meaning)

SHANE: "I thought my crotch was the star of this scene."
(Shane states the facts)

JENNIFER: "I'd give my left vagina for one of those"
(Because once you get a hysterectomy, they take the p#$$y but let you keep the box it came in)

Thursday, September 01, 2005

tape one: locked and loaded

It has begun. Last night I traveled out to Bartlett, the homebase-batcave-studio-rama where we base the majority of our "post-production" operations, some production locations, and sit in a garage enjoying the creature comforts of beer. Now, I didn't get to partake of the frothy goodness of an ice cold adult beverage... but I did get down to brass tacks with loading video into the computer. Now, I have to load the video in at "real-time" (or "reel time"). That's not a huge surprise. Everyone that makes these home-movies of sorts has to load in video at "reel time." There are some that a lucky enough to load video in a 2x speed... or even 4x speed... but those days are either long behind us or too far into the future to see. The point... it takes twice as long to load video as it does to shoot it. A one hour tape will take you somewhere around 2 and 1/2 hours to load (and that's just the good takes).

With loading the video I got a wild hair and decided to rough cut our first production shoot. The scene was a fun little warm up to the larger tasks ahead of us. So the shots are clean but not "as clean" as I would like them to be. You notice things like a slight bit of soft focus on a subject that should have been corrected... or a bag that was left just out of shot on a previous set up and is now sitting in the corner of the scene. You get to see your screw ups and how to "edit" your way out of them. God forbid that an actor does something in a good take and you don't have another edit to go to that matches the movement.

However, there is an immense joy in seeing this stuff come together. We're not close to being finished with the production... but I'm getting a jump on the POST. I'm quite pleased... I'm having fun... and we should be able to share some of it with you all very soon. So, until the next time...