Monday, November 28, 2005

weekend fourteen: saturday night's alright for fighting

So, what happens when you decide to film at a bar at 2AM on a Sunday morning?
1.) You don't get too many extras (3) to show up as scheduled.
2.) You have to somehow coerce people in the bar to "stick around" and be in an Indie movie that doesn't' have any money to offer.
3.) It's quite difficult to actually tell drunk people to stay quiet during a scene while you're getting dialogue.
4.) Eventually (even if you stay as cool as a motherfucking cucumber) there is going to be an altercation with some asshole that doesn't want to behave and is so drunk that they're willing to spend a night in jail just to talk shit to the person that owns said bar.

You get where I'm going with this? Okay, we planned for all kind of problems. We tried our best to get people out to a shoot taking place during the wee hours of the morning. David Nestler was even kind enough to help us continue on with our dreams of making a film by letting us film during his last few hours of operation at Dish. A few people were kind enough to hang out and "play" extra for the scene at the bar on tail end of their evening (perhaps fascinated that a film was going on and they just so lucked their way into a walk-on role). I moved the camera around to catch some of the ambiance of the bar atmosphere early on (mostly for cutaways). Anthony dressed up in an outfit that would have made "The Duke Boys" blush. Minus having the room filled with a bunch of dancing men, everything for the shoot seemed to be going very well. Then we began filming our dialogue at the bar.
It was hard getting people to stay quiet for the dialogue shoots. It's a bar. There was alcohol being served. I knew that I would have to be patient with everyone involved, it was late, and we would have to be quick. We knew that eventually, we would get what we needed to make the shots work. However, I didn't plan for a drunken wad of fucking idiots to sit directly next to the microphone, refuse to cooperate, and then refuse to leave. The first couple of times... no big deal. However, after a couple of busted takes when Ralph asked the guys, "Do you mind giving me a break, I know you, I know you're family, we're working here. Do you mind giving me a break?" and then the dipshit (who happens to work for a radio show here in town) responds with, "No, fuck you"... there is going to be a problem.
5.) Ralph is a retired Memphis Police Officer. He doesn't take shit from strangers... he doesn't take shit from drunks... and if you're going to be disrespectful and screw with the crew or even try to screw up the production, Ralph will eat you alive and shit you out in chunks. I've never seen him that mad before but I'm glad he kept his cool.
Eventually David had to eject the "radio personality" and his shitheel of a friend. The cops had to be called, David injured his knee after just having knee surgery, a shirt was ripped, several weapons waited in the wings, and eventually the bumbling morons went staggering down the street into another bar and started some more shit. People like that need to be put down.
Now, after that little excursion, everyone was a bit rattled but we continued to film, get some great takes, and cooler heads prevailed before ending the shoot at 4:15AM. I guess that would be one of the bright shining examples of why there is no drinking on a movie set.
I would like to thank everyone that came to participate (with a glaring exception of the two flaming assholes that derailed the first portion of the evening): Arnold, Dayna Hinkle (I remembered your name), Bob, Forrest (for keeping me from stabbing the aforementioned assholes), and even the Memphis Police (though I really would have liked to see the officer put his billyclub to use). I would really like to thank David Nestler for making the shoot happen, taking care of the problems that arose, helping with lights, music, extras, and taking one for the team. Everyone involved with this film owes David a truck load of gratitude.
I can't wait to see the footage. I've got to load at least two more tapes (I got a little behind), rough cut some scenes, and I'm working "nightside" until Wednesday on top of overeating all weekend. We've got quite a bit of work to do. So, next time we'll have a little more control over the situation (I assure you). Even though we had a few people that were a little more than unprofessional, I can tell you that everyone else was respectful, very professional, and very cool to the whole operation. The moral of the story here is: DON'T ACT LIKE A DRUNKEN JACKASS WHEN PEOPLE HAVE CAMERAS ROLLING.... we pay people to do that (sort of), they're called actors.


ANTHONY: Get me out of this outfit as soon as possible.
-- In response to wearing the "ubergay" cut off jeans.

RALPH: (bends over) That's why I come prepared.
--Ralph shows his piece.

BEVAN: What? There's a finger in your butt? You shit yourself? Why are you showing me your ass?
--In response to Ralph bending over


Monday, November 21, 2005

weekend thirteen: muh-mucker it's cold ( and a blast from the past)

Last Friday and Saturday marked another little adventure in making a feature length motion picture with absolutely no budget what so ever. As I had mentioned previously, the power grid at our warehouse location has pulled a Harry Houdini (disappearing and or dead) which made the possibilities of shooting our nighttime scenes nill to none. I like to think that overcoming obstacles with this film is something worth working towards and the act of beating these problems to a pulp should serve as a warm fuzzy feeling of accomplishment and strength in the face of adversity. When (baby) it's cold outside, and we've got to shoot out in the open air (or cold closed concrete spaces) logistics becomes a little bit of an issue. You've got to play nice and keep your actors warm. Now, actors will take a fair amount of abuse for their art. They'll do almost anything necessary to keep the production moving and keep the director happy with their performances. However, there are lines that are drawn. I hope that no one got sick from laying on the concrete floor Friday night. Thanks to everyone that stayed late into early Saturday morning. Thanks to everyone putting up with the cold. I did cut a few corners and decided to not put congealed "fake blood" on everyone that I wanted to. I was also told that I couldn't ruin Bob Nelson's Hugo Boss suit. That's a shame because I really want to be able to ruin expensive clothing... but on the other hand, I like Bob... and I don't really want him pissed at me (Bob called at 8:30am this morning to tell me how much fun he had and wanted to work with us again).
Chris Ross also did a fantastic job of bringing Tracy Adair back to life over the weekend along with his laughable counterpart, Kong - played by Freddie Mitchell. Those two are hilarious. Friday night Chris was pulling some jokes that made me laugh so hard that I simply couldn't get the shot. I actually had to walk away from the camera on several occasions. Howard Hodo made an Oscar-worth performance after being shot, Bob Nelson killed (on film anyway). Jessie King, Earl Thigpen, Marcus Seaberry hit the cold cold ground with realism everytime. T.D. and Travis were very kind to me after multiple takes of "being shot" and getting to the point where I know they were freezing their asses off. Friday night was the first time that I've actually seen a black man's nose turn bright red.
So, Saturday we caught a little sleep, pushed back the shooting schedule by an hour (because I was mother f-ing tired tired tired), we dealt with the pains of shooting on a public city street (and all of the vagrants that meander the sidewalks of Downtown Memphis), watched another cold front come in, and delicately balanced the scene we were going to shoot for the day because we forgot to bring another tape. The wind was a pain in the ass, we were hit up for money and cigarettes, I wasn't sure if a certain actor was going to make the shoot for the day, but we did have some fantastic new hands-on-deck for the production portion of this weekend misadventure. Lisa Kiesel, Arnold Edwards, and Dayna (I forgot your last name, sorry) were invited to come "play movie" with us this weekend doing an absolutely fantastic job (as I would expect no less).
So, for those of you that remember, or think that it's amusing... here is a little bonus picture from the days of long hair. Yeah... what the hell...


1.) ANTHONY: It was a really large clit. There was a tumor in it.
BEVAN: I don't care how drunk you were, when you're sucking d!ck, you know that you're sucking d!ck.

2.) BRAD: That guy showed you his MATA card to prove that he was homeless?

3.) ANTHONY: Did you see the tumor on that guys ear?
BEVAN: Yeah, he had a tumor in his clit.

4.) CHRIS: Do you have a tampon? I hear that they're really good for bullet holes.

5.) BEVAN: That's the first time that I've seen a black man's nose become red. I guess he's cold.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

not another wednesday evening...

The Rusted Sun Films team (left to right: Brad Alsobrook, C. Marie Connolly, Bevan B. Bell, and Anthony Howald) attended a premiere screening of Robert Saba's first feature film, Delusions last night (Wed. Nov. 16th). I'm sure that all of us would say that we showed up to support fellow film makers, the Indie process, and "network" with all of the shiny happy people that managed to make it to The Complex last night. Truthfully (my own reason) the reason for making face was that I performed as one of the main characters in the film, produced, assisted in some camera work, stunt choreography, and did special effects make-up (mostly bruise and blood work). Delusions was "the other film" that I was intimately involved in over the last few months. I was excited to finally see the finished product and share in everyone's joy that they have completed through months of hard work. The film came across the projected screen with all of the rough-around-the-edges-fantasy intended.
The film is a little... um... dirty. It deals with people's choices... bad choices, at that. My character, Cyrus, is a leg-breaker. I'm the guy that you don't want to see coming to your door when you owe someone a lot of money. Most of the time I just belt out speeches about making "smart decisions" or how easy it is for people to "change the error of their ways." However, close to the end of the film, I have to kick some dead-beat ass. Everyone else that acted in the film was fantastic. Chris Ross (who we have the pleasure of working with on Divine Manipulation of the Threads) did an amazing job as a shitty-drugdealer that tries to make a change once he realizes that his actions are hurting the people he loves. After seeing his performance as a whole I started to understand the character a little better. The great thing about it was that I didn't think that I was watching Chris... ...I was watching PARKER. And PARKER is a piece of shit. So, great acting. Tiffany Pemberton did a fantastic job for her first time out of the gate. She really put some great emotional performances on the table and carried it away. Seeing Forrest Pruett as a hard ass pimp was a welcome change of pace for his characters... he always surprises me with something good. Muck, Hollywood, Lee Mauney, Travis, Sparky (and everyone else)... very good work. The performances specifically shine because all of the acting was IMPROV. I'm not knocking anyone. Without all of these great actors and talented crew, this film wouldn't have been as great. It would take some time to mention all of the actors and particulars of the characters that I liked. Everyone should be proud. I want to thank everyone that complimented me last night on the acting. It's always very hard to watch myself in serious roles. I'm glad that I didn't come off poorly (at least from what was shared with me). Robert, you had a great premiere... keep the momentum going. If you let it lull or get side-tracked you'll never forgive yourself.

So, this coming Friday marks another late night for shooting on "DIVINE". We should wrap up a few characters for the film. I took a look at the "director's script" last night and we're riding the line of being 2/3 of the way through shooting. I've got a lot of scenes edited and I'm very excited about finishing the project. "DIVINE" is a quite a different movie when compared to "COWBOY." Now, I've got to find a heater and a generator for power. I hear that Home Depot rents them.


Monday, November 14, 2005

weekend twelve: return of the siesta!!!

We're all smiles... or passing gas, you decide. As I had mentioned on the Friday edition of the "blog," I barely made it through the work-time hours of Thursday and Friday. Between the two days I might have caught about 3 and 1/2 hours of sleep all together... and I was dragging a large crate of ass through the remainder of the blurry time frame of Friday night. After work on Friday, I managed to go home for a short amount of time before our "call time" and gather some pieces of my shattered head, so that I might form a rational or composed thought while we were filming at the wonderful Siesta Motel.

For those of you who have never visited the Siesta Motel, I would like to invite you to make the short drive and take in all of the character from a time long gone. The Siesta is an old road side motel located on a stretch of Hwy. 70 (Summer Ave). that has been taken over by suburban sprawl much like the Kudzu vine snakes through crack and crevice to invade every inch of sun drenched space. Yeah, I'm not much for the "Burbs" (even though the film with Tom Hanks is mildly humorous -- back before the time that he was considered the "Great American Actor" -- but that's another story). The Siesta was built in a simpler time, when there wasn't a desire for all of the amenities of luxury and home. It was designed (rather oddly) for the weary traveler who simply needed a bed and a shower. Since it's heyday not much has changed. The windows have been painted shut (also a way to make sure that the daylight doesn't seep through the lack of curtains), the carpet shows the pock marks of cigarette burns and old greasy spills, the bathroom is small but at least the water is clean. There is a large bed, a table, a few chairs, an antique dresser (if you wish to put away your clothes), and a heater for those cold winter nights when you don't have an extra body under the covers. As the years have passed there have been a few added modern items for the weary traveler that expects just a little more out of a room these days. There is a small refrigerator, a microwave, and air-conditioning until, and even cable television. However, these modern additions do little to sway the original Noir nostalgia that overwhelms you as you walk through the door. The place is straight out of L.A. Confidential.

We've used this location more than just this weekend. The Siesta Motel served as a backdrop for Mac the Crackhead's debut in A Cowboy's Silver Lining. Why would we use such a place for a roadside motel where a drug dealer has held up to run shop? Because it fits the bill. We used this location again for Divine Manipulation of the Threads and I'll give you a little hint... there's some more gangster shit going down at the Siesta Motel in this film. You take one look at the oddly built rooms and know that you've found one of the best kept secrets in Indie Film (which I'm now sharing with all of you -- I doubt that it will hurt Les' feelings to get more business).

Now, I will warn you... some of the clientele that stays for weeks at a time at the Siesta are reasonably nice people. They don't mind saying "hello." They're usually quite interested in what this film crew is doing around the motel... coming in and out of the rooms... They're usually good people. However, you will get some of these loner types from time to time that seem to be "up to something" and don't really like all of these people around... or a camera... or noises at 1AM. One of our neighbors was kind of a prick for a Friday night. If you're staying in a roadside motel... expect that there are going to be some disturbances on a Friday night. Don't bitch and complain to the owner, don't slam the door, and quit acting like a fucking baby. If you want privacy, solitude, and silence go to another place. The Siesta is still alive and thriving... at least for the meantime.

So, this weekend's shoot went very well. My hands are still somewhat stained with fake blood. We took Saturday and Sunday off (other things to do in this crazy life). This coming Friday, Saturday, and Sunday is going to be quite busy. We've got an actor coming back into town from NY, Ralph Hatley is coming back home to work with us some more, and we've got to play catch up for all of the times that we weren't able to get a shoot happening for the weekend. It's going to be busy busy busy. No rest for the weary.

On another note, this Wednesday Nov. 16th there is a premiere for another film that I acted in. The film is called Delusions and it is Robert Saba's first feature film. I've got a couple of other screen credits for the film as well but I'm pretty excited to see the film in it's entirety. Here's the skinny.

WHAT: "Delusions"
WHERE: The Complex, 704 Madison, entrance in rear
WHEN: Wednesday, Nov. 16 at 7:45 p.m.
ADMISSION: Free if you're on the list. If you're not then you have to pay $7
Note: Doors Close at 8pm no one will be allowed in after that time.

Friday, November 11, 2005

work: an experiment in sleeping disorders

Check it out... it's me pulling my hair out. Actually this is just another shot from our up and coming movie project. Here's the rundown: Ash is brainstorming and frustrated (that wasn't too hard to "act out"). Pooch is explaining the situation in the "garage," which will become an integral part of the film. However, this is how I feel today... and I'll give you a little insight as to why I'm functioning on only three cylinders today.
There have been a series of "meth" stories that have aired on "the news station." I've been putting in quite a few hours on those pieces over the last few weeks. Yesterday was a thirteen hour day. Normally that's not a problem. I actually welcome the overtime (because I desperately need the money --- Did you know that the country is headed towards a recession unless the "Average Joes" start receiving 60 percent more than what they've been earning in previous years?). So, a thirteen hour work day: Not a problem. Waking up at 3:45am so that I can be at work by 5am, then continue to work another 16 hour work day... makes things a little more difficult. I've done a series of these kinds of days before. They're not pleasant but they're manageable. You put in the hours and expect that at the end of a grueling two-week work period that the Tax Man will not have been so cruel as to take the majority of your blood, sweat, and tears away. $300 may not be much for a "Hollywood-Type" to spend on a pair of jeans at a Sunset Strip elitist store... but for filmmakers on a (cheap-ass) beer budget (Natural Light, anyone?), $300 is a lot of money! Okay. Here's the kicker... Remember that "second job" of being a filmmaker? Yeah, I mentioned something about that earlier. Well, take those two days worth of overtime, lack of sleep, and throw in a evening shoot at the Siesta Motel directly after work. You've got a recipe for passing the fuck out on a set of stairs and cracking your head open. Unfortunately, if there was something oozing out of my head it would be nicotine and Red Bull... because that's the only thing that has kept me running.
When your car starts to sputter or rock a little, you throw a can of "fuel booster" or "fuel injector cleaner" into the tank and hope that the problem will burn itself off. What the hell do you think Red Bull does. It's only 2:30pm and I've already had three. I'm out of cigarettes and I still have the entire day and evening shoot to look forward to. I will also tell you that Red Bull definitely flushes your fuel line (if you know what I'm saying).
So, if I'm not exactly all there tonight or if I'm bitchy or spacy or I just pass out... I'm sorry. It could happen... especially the being cranky part. I have to act tonight... but I'm getting my ass kicked, so I think that looking like hell will add a little character to the scene tonight. Whew... if I make it that far. So, Monday I'll give you the weekend shoot update. If I don't die.

Monday, November 07, 2005

weekend eleven: picking up the pieces

We continue to carve a little further into the stone as the weekends pass us by, turning faded greens to vibrant yellows, reds, and blushed orange. Our "rock," as it were, has yielded an impressive amount of talent, laughter, camaraderie, and (at times)even genius. --Or in "plain English," we've had another successful weekend of filming on Divine Manipulation of the Threads.
The series of shoots that took place Saturday, marked another set of hurdles to overcome through brainstorming creative measure. I would like to think that instead of merely jumping or running around these migrane-inducing obstacles, that we could blow those motherfunkers to pieces or set them on fire and ram through them with a motorcycle. However, I think that we managed quite well dealing with the warehouse location no longer having a power source, the wind picking up to the force of hurricane gales, and an "extra" that showed up forty-five minutes late and instead of waiting for his moment to shine in the film, decided to leave five-minutes later... never calling or showing up for the later shoot (I've gone over what I think of this particular kind of behavior, so I'll spare all of you the diatribe for now). The night shoot at the warehouse will be even more of an adventure I'm sure...

As I had mentioned, the wind outside was a little bit heavy. Had my hand not been on the camera, the wind would have tossed it crashing to the ground... and I'm sure that Anthony would have killed me without even questioning the rationale. Thankfully we weren't going to use too much of the audio from the shoot because... well, it's kind of ruined. We'll probably cover it all up with music when we edit the scene together. Forrest was quite brave to walk around the warehouse sans shoes. His feet were covered in a dusty mixture of dirt, dust, dead mice, dead pigeon, feces, homeless people, and frenchfries. Some of us managed to inhale so much of the dusty crap into our collective sinuses that I really thought that I was going to come down with some long forgotten version of the avian flu. When that stuff gets whipped around into gusts of wind, then blows into your nose and eyes... you just know that something bad is going to happen. If I come down with cancer or some undetermined virus or disease... I'll know why. I went through the day forgetting that I had a goatee precisely carved across my face... that looked really stupid (in my humble opinion-- even though it did make me look like a movie villain). I was happy to shave it off. I'm not a mustache kind of guy.
Sunday we managed to knock out some "pick up shots" that involved a voice over montage. I also shot a scene with my brother Bo, taking on his role of "Mac the Crackhead" once again. Later in the day I polished off another rough cut scene that had all of us rolling on the floor with laughter. I don't know if anyone will catch any of the dialogue on this film. The laughter is more than contagious...
Christine has the rest of the weekend shoots scheduled out (with all hopes that we'll make the days and everyone will be able to keep the schedule) so that we WILL be finished by the end of the year (or early January... we've got a few things to tweak in post that I know will take a fair amount of time). So, we'll keep working on it and hope to get it out for the viewing public as soon as we feel that it's ready. Peace and chicken grease.


NICK: Can you believe that he has a shirt to match the bucket of chicken?
(you'll have to see it to believe it-- purple and green psychedelic chicken)

TRAVIS: I cannot believe you wasted all of that chicken.
(referring to perfectly good chicken being thrown on the ground)

FORREST: What's my motivation for the chicken? I have chicken in my mouth and I'm talking on the phone?
(making sense now?)

ANTHONY: His feet look like Fred Flintstone's.
(referring to Forrest's feet in the nasty ass warehouse)

BEVAN: This place is so old it could be Brontosaurus shit.
(referring to the nasty ass warehouse)

BO: I got chicklets, mayne.
(gun runners love chewing gum)


Tuesday, November 01, 2005

vacation after the vacation...

Thank you to all of those that spread kind words of praise after watching our little trailer for our newest of new film projects. I believe I can speak for everyone at Rusted Sun Films that we love making these things to share with all of you. As it has been stated in so many of the responses... I can't wait to see the entire film either.
I managed to edit about three more scenes for Divine Manipulation of the Threads and we're continuing to roll on this track of actually getting things done. This coming weekend marks yet another stage of hurdles to jump through, as I've just been informed that someone has ONCE AGAIN BROKEN INTO OUR WAREHOUSE LOCATION AND FUCKED UP THE POWER GRID. Seriously... will you assholes knock it off?!? I don't have the energy (no pun intended) to deal with people sabotaging our shoots. So, we've either got to borrow a generator (which will more than likely become a sound issue, or I've got to buy a series of lights that will operate on battery power). If I ever find out which crackheads are stealing the copper wiring out of that building, I'm going to castrate them with a wooden spoon... or a plastic spork... whichever will leave a lasting impression so that they soon not forget that there is a price to pay when you steal. Just so you know, it's not going to be replaced or repaired again... so there will be no more copper wiring to steal. I'll give you a fistful of pennies if you just walk out into traffic.
Anyway, with all hopes, it shouldn't be too expensive of a problem to solve for the weekend. Hopefully.
So, what happens when you make plans for almost every single day of your vacation? You end up needed more time to recuperate from your "time off." One thing can be said for taking time off this year... I've learned the hard way that I cannot drink nearly as much as I used to... Nor can I cope with the sordid hours of fuzzy-headed confusion and displacement that occur in the wake of such said post-imbibing madness. I liked playing my days away as a filmmaker. I've got to find some way to make money off of that.
On another note, I'm wondering if I have anything left to shoot for Black Snake Moan. Someone today said that there was a newspaper article that mentioned the production had completed shooting. Now, that can mean a series of things... but I don't know what exactly it means. I guess I'll just wait to hear if they still plan on shooting "that scene." Happy Late Halloween to those that care.
We'll keep you posted of the progress, problems, and changes as they slam into my face during the week.