Wednesday, January 25, 2006

weekend twenty: a nice round number named 'fin'

Somewhere on a rather insignificant scrap of paper stuffed into a jacket pocket or perhaps patiently waiting on the edge of a table are the child-like scrawls that represent an end-date. I loosely remember swallowing reasonably cool gulps of beer in a Bartlett, TN garage and packing up a few items of camera gear when Brad Alsobrook casually said, "We'll have to write down the time." The statement seemed to dance through the uncomfortable silence that comes at the end of a day when all of the "work" has been finished and the toys have to be placed back into their boxes. The words poured over me with little response but it would seem that "we" have made a business habit out of marking down these random times of day and night that serve as mile markers. I was too elated to burn the numerical time of evening into the back of my permanent memory. The smile stretched across my face displayed the joy of being able revel in the simplicity of the moment. The never-ending weekend shoots, the stress of juggling actor's availability, and the wonders of troubleshooting every possible hurdle that could shipwreck our voyage could now be put to rest. There was a weight lifted from my heavy head and heart, for the months of throwing my back out trying to lift the damn things were now over. We finished shooting Divine Manipulation of the Threads sometime before 6pm on Saturday January 21st 2006. I'm sure somewhere around the July entries of this "blog" there is a mention of when we started shooting production on this Indie film. Yes, it took us long enough... but you should try making a feature length film with over 30 leading and/or featured characters with no money and spare time. Shit ain't easy (to put it mildly).
My odd change of appearance marked the final shots of the film production. I walked around for a week with a platinum "match-top" head that attracted a barrage of comment. Anything from "What color is that Brokeback Blonde?" to "I looked outside... it seems to be a nice day for a White Wedding." At least, those were the most creative of the comments placed in my memory banks. However, the dark roots are pushing through my scalp and I've got a nice little dirty-blonde thing happening that occasionally looks Green. It's also nice to have the option to do what the hell I want with my hair. Maybe I'll go silver next.
Back to the point. We went through the rather relaxed motions of a final day of filming. You can see the anguish in Anthony's face. It's either anguish, elation, or someone ate cabbage for dinner.
The day started at a bank that chooses to remain nameless (though I would love to thank them for every large portion of assistance they provided in allowing us a great location), traveled back across Memphis proper to our location at Cafe' Francisco on Main St., and finally ending the day in Bartlett. The bank shoot had to be finished quickly... within two hours anyway. It was probably more fun for me than anyone else. I added a little something to my character that I'm hoping comes off well. I haven't looked at the tapes yet (the day job has been keeping me more than busy as of late). Luckily we noticed that a key prop was missing before we landed too many takes. You see, our script supervisor/producer/continuity supervisor was a little under the weather this weekend. Some kind of bug got under her skin on Friday and refused to let go. C. Marie Connolly (as we'll have to credit her) was a real trooper... as was our lead actress, who amazingly enough was also sick as a dog. I would normally make light of such a situation but there were very serious threats of vomit. Thank you for not puking on the set... or on me. Jen Weatherford pulled through for us, which shows the level of commitment that everyone involved in this project has. Thank you. Lisa Sanchez joined us for a quick cameo at the cafe' and Joe squirted half and half all over himself. He gets excited easily.
So at the end of the day we picked up a "missing voice over" (something that I thought I loaded into the computer but couldn't find... I've got 19 tapes worth of material to fish through... give me a f-ing break) and celebrated with a few members of the cast and crew with an impromptu beer drinking session. It wasn't an "official wrap party" perse... moreso a "wrap for the day party" with a side car of "what a long strange trip it's been." The official wrap party will come sometime in the near future and we'll let all of the appropriate people know of the time and place (but if you know a little about the people involved you can pretty much guess where the festivities will be held). I'll continue to update these pages as I press along with editing. The release date for the film is somewhere just over the horizon (we're thinking somewhere around the end of February or the beginning of March). So, I'll continue editing the rough-cut of the film during evenings and put in extensive hours of frontal lobe scorching, weekend-long editing sessions until we've got something polished and pretty enough to put in front of a test audience. Then the real cutting will start. You can't please everyone... but I don't think that we'll have too many problems softening the stiff upper lips of those that get to see the "first cut." It's a funny film... probably more amusing than we had anticipated.
The future? We'll run it through the gauntlet of film festivals and search for someone out there willing to distribute it. I'm not looking to get rich (even though that would be nice... which reminds me that I still have to check my powerball tickets)... I merely want people to share the joy in watching the film. I know that at some time, the money will eventually be there. We still need some cash to get the thing pressed to DVD. Anyone got a few extra bucks? I'll put together a coffee can beggar's cup and start collecting donations... want me to dance a gig?... I'll sing you a Bob Dylan song if you like...
Update when I can...


BEVAN: Why pay five cups for a buck of coffee...
-- I know how to screw up lines.
ANTHONY: Look, I'm trying to get it up.
--as funny as it might sound he was actually talking about a computer.


Monday, January 16, 2006

weekend nineteen: the subtle re-shoot and not so subtle change of appearance

I think that it's quite obvious that there will be no more re-shoots after this weekend. We (meaning Rusted Sun Films in general) rarely re-shoot anything. Under normal affairs we will go through production takes until we get what is needed (or what may seem reasonably close to what we had originally envisioned) and most of the time... we do takes until everyone is happy with the Audio, Video, and Performance. Thankfully we capture a myriad of various angles and compositions to deal with any changes in continuity and/or dilemma that might come up in editing.
As we drove along through the rough-cut editing process (yes, I edit as I shoot so that I won't take another couple of months editing this film on 'spare time') we found a little problem with the top section of "THE DATE NIGHT SCENE." As far as the previous shoots for this scene, we've had to deal with sodium lighting color correction, squeezing in shoots with actors that were moving out of town, availability of The Peanut Shoppe, frigid wind gusts that cut to the bone, and emergency work trips out of town. It's actually quite fortunate that we had gotten this far without predicament. However, there was an issue with sound during the earlier production. A small electric hum emanating from the overhead lights seemed to cross into the dialogue to a point of irritation... an aggravation that simply would not migrate until we re-shot the scene.
So, we took forty-five minutes of a Friday evening to re-shoot a bit of dialogue. All in all, I think that the re-shot material will end up better than the original takes. That should be taken to heart simply because we owe it to everyone involved in this film to put out the best product that we possibly can (while shooting for free on weekends). I love making films. Which is why I have done, quite possibly, the stupidest alteration of coiffure. Saturday... high noon... the standoff between black shock and concetrated bleach took place. Only one came out standing... standing as blond as bleach blond could be. I bleached my hair. No, I didn't do the eyebrows.
The change is due to the last few scenes of Divine Manipulation of the Threads in which my character will drastically change his appearance. I've got to practice delivering my monologue in either a British accent (cockney or semi-proper), Scottish (ala Sean Connery), or something equally off-set to confuse our audience for a moment. Afterall, when you steal $70 million from a bank... you probably want to look a little different at the end of the day... then get the hell out of the country. So... until Saturday I'll be dealing with the asinine remarks of my co-workers, friends, family, and film cohorts (and probably after Saturday... or at least until my hair grows out).
Oh, I also joined the rest of the world and bought a personal cell phone. Apparently it's a necessity of survival... and it plays music, takes pictures, and can download television clips (a service that I will soon be taking off of the bill because, really... that's just ridiculous). So, for those of you that need the new number... you should probably ask me. I won't have a land line after this evening. I'm all mobile and sheeeeit...


ANTHONY: "We've seen that face before"
JEN: "It's been a looooong time."
(referring to her "OHH" face).

BEVAN: "You have to point it there... 'Cause that's where the action is..."
(referring to taking the microphone and pointing it at his crotch)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

weekend eighteen: all 'bout the josephs

So when we started this Indie project, Divine Manipulation of the Threads, there was every intention of making it a comedy about a bunch of idiots trying to steal 70 million dollars. The storyline and the dialogue held a certain "Soderbergh" cool ala Out of Sight and Ocean's Eleven. I loved the idea of being able to play in this world of danger... yet have it actually be strangely comical. Well, one night the cast and crew were out celebrating after a full day of shooting and someone said, "You know what would be funny? If we had, like, a Broadway Musical in the middle of the film." There was a tsunami of drunken laughter that billowed to the high lofts of the rafters towering overhead. The mere idea of these oddly loveable characters singing and dancing in the middle of the picture (for no other reason that laughable entertainment and supreme idiocy) held some kind of sway within the hearts of the actors and filmmakers alike.
I mention the background on this idea of note because this weekend... we filmed the aforementioned "Broadway Musical Daydream Extravaganza Delirium." Originally, I didn't think that it was going to happen... but I'm quite glad that it did. Sunday was another windy day in downtown Memphis, however, we were quite lucky that the shoot didn't require the capture of sound. Lip-synching to the pre-recorded song would be good enough.
Friday had changed the temperatures to a bastard cold cutting edge that only tightly bound leather would serve as a formidable barrier. However, there was promise that Sunday would be a comfortable 62 degrees. Thankfully... the weathermen were right and Mother Nature kept her word... at least for the earlier hours of Sunday.
With the hurdles of weather playing in our favor, the next obstacle was the flood of "extras" canceling for the shoot. Friday, Saturday, and early Sunday morning were riddled with phonecalls, text messages, and e-mails from people that couldn't schedule the event it. I cannot and will not complain about any of these cancellations, people give us their free time... and thankfully having everyone there wasn't completely necessary. I will admit, however, that my heart started to sink. I truly thought that we were going to be left with three people and a sad testament to the original idea of a comic musical number.
When I arrived to the shoot location, my fears were put to rest when a fair number of our regulars showed up to "play movie" once again. One thing that I do so dearly love about our troupe of actors in Memphis is that there are those that you can always count on to participate. I've got a great group of people working with the company... and that's why we have formed, THE RUSTED SUN FILMS FAMILY. Basically, anyone that shows us heart, gives us their sweat and honest time is part of this ever growing family. For that... I say thank you.
Now, we really had a blast Sunday. I have never shot a "musical" sequence... but you wouldn't be able to tell that it was a first. The shoot was hilarious. Everyone was wired and ready to go for whatever stupid idea was served on the platter and did so without question... and maybe a chuckle. Joe Smith truly shined in his role as "Pooch" while mime-singing, dancing, and creating the music that made it all possible. The hard work is paying off boys... the hard work is really paying off. I have to give a giant "THANK YOU" to each and every one of you that showed up to film this weekend. You really made it happen.
We still have to put in a re-shoot before I can bleach my hair and continue on with the tail end of the production shooting schedule. The days of endless movie madness will soon come to an end... on the forefront, anyway. The grueling weeks of post-production will follow with rough-cut edits, re-edits, sound polishing, color correction, stylized post, test screening, and paying to get the final product PRESSED onto DVD.
I will share with you one thing that I learned from our experience with DVDs... don't burn them yourself. There are all sorts of issues that come up when you burn DVDs yourself. Spend the time and money to have someone press them professionally. It will save you a massive headache and will turn out a superior product. Yes, it will cost some money... but it's worth every penny. Trust me... I know... I can show you the receipts of last year's experiment in homemade DVDs.
Oh, did I mention that there's still a "making of" documentary that we have to complete? Yeah... I forgot about that one too. By the end of this project and the opportunity to reflect on exactly what the hell happened in 2005, I'm pretty sure that I will not be able to recognize the "old Bevan" in direct comparison with the "new Bevan." ...With an exception of the gray hairs, of course.

Monday, January 02, 2006

weekend seventeen: dancing in the streets

The Gods got together for a game of "No-Name Card Game" and cleared the skies for a wonderful backdrop this weekend. The cold breaths of winter had been shelved with the preserves. This weekend brought warmth and the much needed change of weather conditions that had to take place for a reasonable shooting environment. The only fear was that we would be "singing in the rain." Instead we were allowed to "dance in the streets." The warmth stretched smiles across everyone's faces... cast and crew alike. Happiness is a warm bum...
This was the weekend of "The Heist." The cast was dressed as though we had just escaped from a European Insane Asylum. It was precisely what was needed for the scene. We borrowed a "blimp" from Robert Saba and fell in love with the amazing ability of such a simple device. It slices the wind currents like a hot knife through butter... oh, and it gets great audio too. Since we were playing around the downtown area this weekend and the river is notorious for carrying tradewinds with it's downstream current, I knew that audio was going to be an obstacle. We actually had to re-shoot a scene from a few weekends ago because of a wind-noise rumble. I don't even like the word re-shoot... but it was necessary... and I believe it came out better because of the extra attention to detail.
Joe and I went through the "hand-signal dance off" in public this weekend. It came off as being even more humorous than originally envisioned and there was an added humor to everyone being able to hear the captions through a megaphone. It's amazing that we weren't bothered that much while shooting in public. I mean, we did catch the attention of a few beggars here and there but the passers-by didn't really mind that there were four oddly dressed people running around the downtown Main Street mall with a camera and crew in tow.
I haven't looked at the tapes yet but I'm sure that everything came off without a hitch. Arnold and Dayna did a great job as usual, Brad jumped back into action after a "butt flu," and your usual cast of characters rocketed through another manic Saturday afternoon movie shoot. One down, two to go. Yeah, only two weekends left on the production of this mother...
Sunday evening I got to catch Munich. Go see it. It's a fantastic film... a bit gory at parts but the blood is absolutely necessary. Spielberg shouldn't do press on his movies anymore. I think that negative review might have affected the turnout... but it's an amazing movie. I will make one comment that I want everyone to pay particular attention to.
It's just bad parenting. I cannot possibly imagine how twisted that child's head will be once it's seen a fully naked woman spewing blood through a bullet hole in her neck. What the fuck is wrong with you people? You can't bring children to those kinds of movies!
On the other hand... all free thinking adults should go see it. The political message isn't really overwhelming.. it's just a good movie and I think that the director has done a fantastic job with telling "a" story... not "one side of" the story.
I hope all of you have a fantastic New Year. So far it's going quite well for Rusted Sun Films. 2006 will be our year. An eye opening year. A year of success and amazing dreams come true.