Saturday, April 29, 2006

7th Annual Student Film Festival 2006

Pete and I got back from Lincoln a while ago after checking out ten short films put together by this year’s Johnny Carson School of Theater and Film presented at the Ross Theater. I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised. I went in with fairly low expectations (this is film school afterall) and I truly enjoyed all of the films that were presented. Most of the films tended toward comedy and the crowd was definitely into them. There were a couple that were more dramatic and they were a nice change of pace in the program. There were some very nice visuals in a lot of the films and the future looks bright for these filmmakers. On a down note, I will say that I saw more boom mikes in shots in 1½ hours than I have in my whole life, but hey, this is film school afterall, right? For me, that actually added to the comedic elements of some of the films.

It was nice seeing Jeremy, Tory and Trace again and good meeting Matt and Chris after the films. I’m looking forward to working with each of them on our upcoming short film “Wisdom”. More on Wisdom in the upcoming days.

Friday, April 28, 2006

UNL film school academy awards

Every year the film school down in Lincoln has their own version of an award show. They show the films worthy of submission and later that evening they give out awards in various categories. Tomorrow from 2:00pm to 4:00pm the short films will be shown at the Ross Theater so Pete and I are going to head down and check out the films and hang with some of the up-and-coming filmmakers. Four of the ace students in the film department will be working on our upcoming short film "Wisdom" so it will be nice to see them and hopefully get a chance to talk about the shoot.

"Hero Alley" - more shooting scheduled

Chris has spent some time over the last several days going through the script and determining what shots were still needed in order to have a complete film and a schedule was put into place and all of the necessary cast and crew have been contacted (you know who you are). The good news... we do NOT have a 3:30am call, we will be meeting back at the location on May 7th at 7:30am. What a treat. We need to finish two scenes with only half of the cast so we should be in and out in no time. That should give us a little time to do some interesting "artsy" camera shots as well, so that's always fun.

Hopefully sometime during the next week Chris and I will get to sit down and review the footage and get the editing process underway.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

"Hero Alley" principal photography - day 2

They said it couldn't be done. They said you can't shoot 28 pages of script with 34 camera setups in one eight hour day. They say that that is just too much. Well, have I got news for them... ummm, they were right. We had an extremely aggressive schedule planned this morning and while the cast and crew did a fantastic job, we just couldn't get through the whole schedule. Chris will be reviewing the shot list and the script in the next 24 hours and figuring out what's left, and we will attempt to reschedule all of the necessary actors to close this thing out. I know most of the filmmakers and actors have new projects starting in May, but everyone is on board and ready to finish principal photography on "Hero Alley" as soon as possible so that post production can begin. The good news, we don't have THAT much left, so we won't have to start at 3:30am anymore. Scott at Kelly's Hilltop Lanes has been awesome and is totally working with us on the schedule and very open to us coming back and finishing.

In case I hadn't mentioned how great the cast was doing yet today, I want to reiterate again what a fantastic job they are doing. This has been a very enjoyable cast to work with and they are making this production a lot of fun.

Okay, I'm going on minimal sleep so the details beyond what I've written so far are a blur. I will add more specifics on the shoot in upcoming days. Also, Chris and I will review all of the footage that we've taken over the first two days and we can start putting an editing plan together.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

"Heart of the City" ADR work - day 3

Day three of our ADR work is now over and it went very well. Kristy and John LB came in and did a phenomenal job getting back into character and delivering their lines. Both of them punched in almost immediately and effortlessly delivered their dialog, matching what was on the monitor and giving the right tones and inflections that the character's needed. The process was a lot of fun, okay, not really fun, but necessary, and it was cool to see the actors revisit their characters again. Now Jeff will take his hard drive full of audio clips back to Minneapolis and start laying the new dialog back into the film.

One of the scenes that required ADR work was an emotional scene between Nate and Kristi that takes place at a skateboard park (full of skateboarders). While Brad, our sound recordist, did an excellent job with sound throughout the project, the best sound guy in the world couldn't have done what we were asking to do. It was an exterior scene, on a windy day, with fifty skateboarders in the background. Have you ever asked fifty skateboarders to skate quietly? Well I have. Anyway, the scene played fairly well on headphones on the set, but after the final cut, the ADR will really punch the dialog and make a more impactful scene (yes, I said impactful). One of the many tricks in the filmmaker's bag.

I was able to make it to the first half of Eric's move this morning (Eric is playing "Dex" in "Hero Alley"). We moved LOTS of boxes and all of their furniture. A special shout out to the Two Men and a Truck that did most of the really heavy lifting (since they were the only ones getting paid). Because of the ADR work that we did this afternoon, I missed out on the promised pizza. Eric promised he'd bring me the leftovers tonight on the set, so we'll see if that actually happens. And speaking of the set, it's 8:30pm on a Saturday night and we're filming more of "Hero Alley" in seven hours. I should go to sleep now, but that seems unlikely.

Chris put together an updated shot list schedule that should make tomorrow morning run very smoothly. If the actors and the crew bring their "A" games, we should end up with a nice little project.

Friday, April 21, 2006

"Heart of the City" ADR work - day 2

Day two is over and it was another successful day in the studio. Monica came in and did a great job, giving us the necessary audio tracks to help the final edit. Nate came in for some additional work as well and is one scene away from completing his portion. Tomorrow afternoon we should be able to finish with John LB and Kristy.

Well, it's Friday afternoon and typically I'm looking forward to a little relaxation throughout the upcoming weekend. Sadly that doesn't seem to be in the cards this weekend. Eric from RoomMate Productions is moving into his new house and his 9 month pregnant wife won't be able to lift too many boxes (sounds like a weak excuse) so I plan on sneaking over there to help, then it's back to the studio in the afternoon to finish the ADR work, THEN we're back on set shooting "Hero Alley" at 3:30am Sunday morning. It's a good thing I'll be at a reunion party all night tonight. Maybe I'll find a nice, quiet corner somewhere and crash for awhile.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

"Heart of the City" ADR work - day 1

Day one of ADR for the feature film "Heart of the City" went well. The two lead actors (Nate and John) were in studio today and tremendous progress was made. All of the scenes that needed to be updated were finished for John, and Nate will be back in tomorrow afternoon to finish his. There are two sessions scheduled on Friday and two more on Saturday, then it's back to the editing room. Props to Nate and John for being able to get back into characters that they haven't visited for over a year. Mad props also to Bernie for the use of his studio space.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

"Heart of the City" ADR work

Jeff is back in town and we've got most of the necessary actors scheduled to come in studio for ADR work Thursday evening and Saturday afternoon. For you non-movie types, ADR is Automated Dialog Replacement which is the process of re-recording the dialog of the actors in a studio, and replacing some of the dialog that was field recorded. This helps eliminate any background noises and can cover up a litany of poorly delivered lines since the actor will be sitting comfortably in a studio, watching a monitor and holding their crutch...err, a copy of the script, in their hands.

Once the ADR work is done and the editing gets tightened up, I think we'll have a decent film, ready to be shown to an executive or two in hopes of finding some cash for possible distribution. And by "some cash", I mean huge piles.

In "Hero Alley" news, all is well and we are still on track for filming this coming Sunday morning at 3:30am. All of the actors and crew are in good spirits and ready to jump in again. I was hoping everyone would hate the project and quit after the first day so I could sleep in on Sunday, but alas, everyone is still excited about it (just kidding Chris). This has been a great project and we're getting some great performances, so I'm looking forward to hitting the editing bay and cutting this thing together.

"Wisdom" is still on track and pieces are falling into place. The last few casting choices will hopefully be made in the next week so that rehearsals can begin. Once the work for HOTC and HA are wrapped at the end of this week, we'll be able to narrow focus on "Wisdom" and hopefully put together a nice short film.

Lastly, speaking of huge piles of cash, if anyone has any that they want to donate to a filmmaker with vision and several projects in the pipeline, please feel free to contact me. I have purchased a powerball ticket for this evening's drawing in case I get no takers on that offer.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

"Hero Alley" principal photography - day 1

The first day of principal photography is officially “in the can.” For all you non-filmmakers out there, “in the can” is a GOOD thing. Since we’re shooting this digitally (not on film) a more literal translation is “in the cassette box.”

I want to start this post by reiterating what a great cast we have. Everyone did an amazing job. Nods and smiles were exchanged between the crew during takes as we enjoyed the various actions that each of the actors brought to their character. It’s been extremely fun watching these actors take Chris’ words and turn them into living, breathing characters. What a treat.

So, the day started at 3:30am. Which is early. Real early. I actually popped in at about 3:20 and Chris and Courtney were already there getting muffins, cookies, rolls and drinks all laid out for the cast and crew. It’s always nice to have stuff to snack on between scenes and they put a very nice spread together. Bob and Lou showed up shortly after me with all of the video/audio gear and Chris’ brothers showed up to help with all of the grunt work. We had a great crew that really banded together well setting up each shot and making sure everything was lit correctly and that the audio and video were all taken care of properly.

So the big question, did they “make the day” which is another filmmaking term which basically means did they get all of the shots that were planned. Anyone that’s shot movies knows that a few pages a day are about maximum for cast/crew. We had fourteen pages to shoot, and we were shooting from 3:30am until noon. Pretty aggressive plan, but I will tell you that yes, we were able to get everything we wanted, and we actually snuck in a few extra close-ups here and there. I owe this to a great plan, a great crew, and great actors that showed up prepared and ready to go. We had minimal issues* so I’m calling it a huge success.

A special thank you to Scott from Kelley’s Hilltop Lanes right here in beautiful midtown Omaha for giving us this great location to shoot and for having the areas that we were shooting in ready to go when we got there.

*Okay, let’s talk for a minute about the “minimal issues” that we had. On every film set you run into a few things here and there, but I will tell you that this day went extremely smoothly. The crew will fondly remember the few issues that we had. Like blowing a circuit while lighting a scene. And after getting the circuit back up and rerouting all of the extension cords to a different power source and “living dangerously” on a different circuit, we blew that one too. And you always have the occasional audio issues like air conditioning, ridiculously loud video games and planes flying overhead. Well, we thought of all of those and took steps to prevent them from interfering and did quite well. One thing we didn’t plan for was the world’s loudest maintenance man cleaning the bathroom with the world’s loudest squeaking door and ALL of the sinks and toilets running at once right next to the room that we were shooting in. After duct taping him in another room, we were set to go again. The last issue was one that cracked the whole crew up. During a scene where the camera was facing a door with a translucent window, suddenly a head appeared in the window that didn’t just appear, but pressed itself fully to the window and stayed. This was everyone’s introduction to Chris’ mom. She had just arrived on set and apparently she was trying to listen into the room to see if we were shooting. We were. We cut the scene and opened the door and Chris hung his head as introduced his parents to the cast and crew. Very funny moment.

Alright, that’s all I can think of to write for right now. Again, the project is going well and the cast and crew are doing a great job. Next shooting day is next Sunday at 3:30am. Wish us luck. I should probably go to bed now.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

"Wisdom" auditions

Auditions for "Wisdom" went great. We are very excited about getting this project underway and seeing the quality of the actors that we have access to is awesome. A few more auditions are scheduled early next week and hopefully we will be fully cast by the end of next week so we can start rehearsals.

Only 28 hours until principal photography for "Hero Alley" gets underway. I fear I will not be getting the required sleep between now and then.

Early, early wheels have been set in motion for a new film with the working title "Pawn." Initial conversations with two writers have been very upbeat and both expressed excitement at this experimental project (something that to my mind has never been done before). More on this new project at some point in the future. Way, way in the future.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

"Wisdom" auditions

Auditions for the short film "Wisdom" are being held Thursday evening at the KPP studio.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

"Hero Alley" shot list

The shot list for "Hero Alley" is completed and ready to go. Only 62 camera setups. What are we thinking? I have complete will be fine. Actually, the shots and set-ups should go pretty quickly the way we have them laid out. It's starting to come together.

More interesting developments in "Wisdom" too in the last couple of days, but more on that as things fall further into place.

Spent some time down at Reel People this weekend. Thanks to Jeannette for all her help. Great place and highly recommended when looking for talent.

In "Heart of the City" news, all of the necessary actors have been scheduled for ADR work. Recordings will be taking place in the next couple of weeks.

Friday, April 07, 2006

"Hero Alley" story boards and shot list

Chris and I spent about four hours tonight breaking down the script and coming up with a solid shot list and a good start on the story boards. Conventional wisdom (and common sense) says there's no way we shoot 42 pages in two days, but we have it broken down and I think we just might do it. Seriously.

In "Wisdom" news, more info about potential actors is trickling in. The sooner we get this cast, the better I'll feel about it. Hopefully next week we'll have it locked.

In "Heart of the City" news, post production is starting back up again (after some time off for shooting commercials and music videos). Several of the main cast members have been scheduled in the next couple of weeks to come back in to the studio for some ADR work. Audio issues are the biggest holdup on this project at this point so this process will help greatly.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

"Wisdom" cast, crew and location

Good news for our "Wisdom" shoot. We landed another cast member today and got confirmation on my last key crew person this week so this project is shaping up nicely. There are only two characters left to cast and I have a pretty good idea on each so I'm starting to feel good about it. We will try to schedule an initial read through sometime this month, and at least one full rehearsal to get all of the characters/emotions/actions down.

A shout out and a big thank you to Dr. Ken for letting us use his facility. When Pete and I toured the dentist office for the first time, we were both excited at how perfectly it lays out and all of my previsualizations fit perfectly in the space. Plus, they close at noon on Saturdays so we can film all afternoon/evening which is nice. Certainly much nicer than the 3:30am calls we have for "Hero Alley" due to the location schedule. I anticipate my actors will like me much better than Chris ("Hero Alley" director) when both projects are shooting.

In other good news, Jason from RedFrogs has offered to shoot a behind the scenes/making of documentary of our production so that will be fun to have. We'll be able to edit that down and stick it on the finished DVD when it's all done. Of course, that's assuming that all goes well during principal photography. If it's a train wreck I will confiscate the footage and destroy it. Thanks Jason.

"Hero Alley" storyboarding

Story boarding for "Hero Alley" is ongoing, though slower than I'd hoped. I'm not as good of an artist as I would like to be, but I suppose as long as the shots are detailed enough for the DP to see what needs to be shot and what camera movements are required, then that's all that is needed. My biggest issue that I see as I story board this film and "Wisdom" is coverage. If you don't know what coverage is, then look it up on a filmmaking website. Anyway, I tend to overcover scenes when I put together a shot list. It's great for editing and you end up with a better film, but sometimes time doesn't necessarily allow for all of the setups required. I will be reviewing the story boards and shot list that I've created for "Hero Alley" tomorrow night with Chris (writer/director) to see his thoughts and see if we need to cut anything out. The good news, the way I have it layed out will make for a visually interesting and enjoyable film. The bad news, we have a 45 page script to shoot and we're only filming for two days. Impossible you say? We'll see.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

"Wisdom" crew update

Good news regarding Wisdom's shoot. Three (so far) of the four crew members that I wanted have agreed to the shoot. We now have a solid DP, AC, Gaffer and AD for the project.

Casting continues. Wish us luck.
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