Doug's Production Diary 32

Sunday, July 31, 2005

This was a rather big day. Throughout the morning and afternoon, Dan and I went hunting for props - Jimmy's King Costume, waffles, fudge, business cards, adhesive labels, and so forth. We had quite a bit planned so we wanted to make sure we were all set and ready to go.
Dan and Mike B. ran over lines down at Arabica while I waited for the rest of the cast and crew to arrive, and also printed pages out for everyone involved tonight.

The ball got rolling around 5:00 p.m. Our first scene was our Human Statues milling about their ride, anxiously waiting for Jimmy to bring their costumes back. The Guild Representative (Mike B.) came zooming up to check them over and he looked great. Everyone was hitting their marks so this shoot went smoothly. We had Tony up in the truck for a great downward angle on the group. Statues looked phenomenal, all with their masks resting on their brows, and Mike B. looked super in costume. We didn't need too many takes, since they all did so well.

I was particularly impressed with Jason, who seems to really grasp his character well. Once Jimmy hustled up, we had a ton of fun getting close-ups of our statues gorging themselves on Jimmy's peace offering. We all cracked up. Brett improvised a bit and really made this scene shine. I have to say shooting outside in the daylight is by far the easiest and best looking conditions.

After that, we did a costume change for our next planned scene: Jimmy's receipt of his tip. We would end up not doing this because Christian was so late in arriving. I tried not to be too upset because I know he's got some personal stuff going on that seems to be quite trying for him, but still, it sucked missing out on this great scene. I was really looking forward to using our Guild Representative business card, too, since I think they're great!

By now, the sun had set so we shot the scene where the boys first encounter the statues on their way home from work. This began the night shooting, which is always tricky due to lighting. Fortunately we found a handy outlet in the park to recharge our camera battery. After getting such great daytime stuff, this part was difficult for me because I was in the scenes and I so wish I could be strictly behind the camera with Tony. Of course I trust Dan and Tony implicitly, but ever since that floor shot I can't help but always wonder if our shots come out good...or great. Listen to me, starting to get a big head.

But this is our baby and I like to see everything! Plus, I think I'm the worst actor in the film to boot.

We all did our best though, and I think it came out okay. I am a little iffy on our final tracking shot: it felt too rushed and didn't quite run as I intended. I think everyone was a little antsy by this time, and we may have sacrificed the original vision just to get the shots over with. I don't like the feeling but it's hard to be demanding when there's no pay, and I'm so appreciative of the time everyone gives to begin with. Fingers are crossed!

Next up: Behind Lure #1 and #2. These were such a pain in the ass to light! I could tell there was some frustration all around by this point. It's very challenging to light outdoors at night, especially when there is movement involved. And again, I was in the scene so I never know if where I'm placed is good or not, and so forth. But we did our best as usual and I think we got it down good. The second part (to intercut Jimmy/Doug telephone scene) was much easier though. With no movement out of the light, so that went very smoothly.

Last, but not least...Jimmy on the phone with Doug! This was cool for a number of reasons. One, it was the thirst time shooting the same scene, so it was a testament to our attention to detail that we got the apartment to look exactly the same as the previous shoots. Second, it was the last thing we had to shoot in the apartment, affectionately referred to as the "Brick Oven." It's so fucking hot up there!!

We shot this scene first as a close-up on Jimmy doing all his lines. We shot 2 or 3 takes and I couldn't see anything because I was holding the script up for Brett to read and I had to pay attention to that, so not only no camera view, but no Brett view either. Hope it's good.

Second take was all three of us from the waist up. This was tough because I never know what I should be doing, especially for so long, but I think we did okay here.

Finally, we got a shot of Jones and Buddy for flavor, when Buddy realizes what's going on.
I think by this point we were past the frustration I sensed early in the evening because we were in a more controlled environment with better lighting and because we all know we'd have a tricky scene in the bag and be done in the Brick Oven.

We're getting really close to finishing up, but there's still a lot of work to do. I will be ecstatic if we are ready to submit even for the late deadline for Sundance.

Doug's Production Diary 31

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Tonight we got some cool stuff done with our 3 Million Candle Power light gun: scoping out the cigar lounge. We initially planned to do both segments (before and after) but logistic problems ate up time so we only got the before. But what we got was really good. Brett managed to hoist himself up a tree using rope and his own strength. I was wowed. He looked great, especially in his "crazy eyes" close-up ("Who is this guy again?!").

We had to cheat a number of these shots because of what was in the background in the shots we wanted, but with clever use of shadows and trees, I think we covered ourselves well.
Storyboards were, once again, proven to be a valuable guide. But I'm most impressed with our light gun. Shooting at night is easy now!

Doug's Production Diary 30

Monday, July 25, 2005

Unfortunately, I had to work tonight. But that didn't stop us from getting a shoot done: Doug's retrieval of the note left by Jones at Lance's Comic Shop. This was pretty simple. We taped the note to the door and got a real nice close-up so our audience can read it, then Doug's hand reaches in and moves about in a creepy manner before snatching it away.

Then we cut to a medium shot of Doug reading the note, but with his identity still kept secret. We gave a nice amount of time here to add some dialogue later, then as Doug moves the note away from his face and lowers his arm, we pan down with him to a waist level where he crumples the note. It looked really cool because Dan totally engulfed the note so it basically "disappears" in his hand.

Then we cut to a long shot of the strip, lit really cool at night, as Doug stalks off into the shadows.
Doug's scenes are some of my favorites because they're very brief and, because of that, we really pack a lot of flavor into them.

On a side note, because we have our 3 Million Candle Power light gun now, we decided to re-shoot the murder-in-the-alley scene. Now, we can actually do it at night and have way better lighting effects. Sweet!

Doug's Production Diary 29

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Today I didn't think we'd get much done, because it was rainy and dark all morning.

Fortunately, that cleared up by the afternoon so we were good to go. Dan and I hit up the thrift store (a.k.a. The Costume Shop) for supplies, along with Pat Catan's for art stuff and Lowe's for some 3 Million Candle Power lights for outdoor shooting.

At 5:30 p.m. we went for our first "scene": Buddy and Wishes make eye contact. We added some dialogue in to spice up this part for Dan Harvey (Wishes). It's very quick so we did 4 or 5 takes and i think it went very well. There was a big break between shoots so we did some running around and got dinner before our night crew arrived: Jason and Brandy, and John McGuire. We did Jason and Brandy's scene first, and this came out great; thank goodness for that light! We had Tony all over the place on this one: in the back seat of the Tracker, standing on the hood, holding his tripod way up in the air, you name it. We added Lance (McGuire) into this scene as the guy who picks Brandy up and drives away.

Speaking of John, he is nearing completion of filming. Well, there's still a bit to go but I'm just wishfully thinking. He does okay, but has a bit of trouble with his lines and direction, but so far we've gotten everything with him in a satisfactory manner. His scene tonight involved him talking on the phone and making a angle only. I think it came out pretty well in the end, once he remembered his lines and movements. It was a little tricky.

Finally, we got Dan, as Doug, making his victim list. This shot looked really cool: a parchment on a red sheet with a single light source, surrounded by blackness...the ink looked like blood. We did a slow pan down the list to show all the names, then a medium shot where Doug spills the red ink all over it like blood. Very cool.

And that was that. Still going forward!

Doug's Production Diary 28

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Got three short scenes done after work. First was Silver Man parting ways. Keith had his first turn on screen as Gold Man. They both did great! Their masks looked phenomenal on screen, and they ate it up. A street band was playing on the corner so we used them: Silver Man acted his usual jerkiness when they asked for spare change and was instructed to eat shit. It was great!

The band put their banner up too, for some exposure, and also said they'd do some music for us. Sweet!

Also got Doug talking to himself in the mirror - Dan riffed it and did a fine job. Finally, got boys on their way home from work. This consisted of two shots: One of Jones looking through the window of Wishes' Well, followed by a nifty tracking shot crossing the street with a well-timed stop on the other side where Buddy comes back into frame to throw his two cents in. Jimmy's "kindling" was a HUGE joint that showed up well in the foreground. Right after we finished, a huge rainstorm began.

From start to finish, it was a night of serendipity due to the band and the rain. Kick ass!

Doug's Production Diary 27

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Planned to do "Scoping Out Giovanna's" but Christian had relationship problems with his girl so he couldn't make it. But Tony, Dan, Brett and I went and did some scoping of our own. We picked a spot and worked through the scene. Decided to have Brett do a little rappelling from a tree.

Should be a snap.

Doug's Production Diary 26

Monday, July 18, 2005

Plans didn't pan out as well as I thought today. I hoped to get more done than we did but here goes: we got Jimmy's scene while he's on the phone with Buddy at work done. The shot I wanted to start with wasn't able to work, so we tweaked it a bit. I wanted to pan across the statue costumes, come to the "Old Scratch Deluxe Itching Powder" can, hear the toilet flush, and cut to Jimmy exiting the bathroom. Didn't work. But the shot came out well despite this. We did get a pretty innovative shot by putting the camera inside the oven so Jimmy opened it, retrieved the brownies, and shut it. Very cool.

For Buddy Drinking Tea, we start with empty apartment shots lit sort of "Blair Witch" style. Over that, we hear Buddy screaming in pain. Then we come to the kitchen where Buddy checks the water temperature in a very stupid way.

After that we got our Frankie Chains viewing shots where Buddy begins to trip out due to the herbal tea. Extreme close-ups simulate the television screen, and that was that.

A quick shoot, of pick-ups "between scenes" but still important and done with.

Doug's Production Diary 25

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Tonight was a long-anticipated scene: the sad tale of Charlette Marone (at Giovanna's Restaurant). This was a night shoot, after 9:00 p.m. so a lot of waiting around to do the scene.
Christian and Foley came over early to rehearse their lines and it sounded like they had them down pretty well. They had practiced on their own a few times this past week which I was thoroughly impressed with. We all knew this was a big and important scene and really wanted to nail it.

By the time we got to Giovanna's, they were just closing up, so we came in with all our gear. Once left to our own devices, we set to work getting the place in order.

Marty Fischlin showed up and we put him to task rounding up some extras, which would ultimately prove fruitless. So we had him, Mike Piazza, and Mike's girlfriend Heather. Not much...a little disheartening, but we'll do the best we can.

We took this scene in chunks and our approach was a bit different. First up, we shot Christian and Michelle's segment. For this part we shot the whole segment from one principal angle, then went back and did various other shots to round out the scene. Michelle was very nervous at first, playing Brenda, but overcame that soon enough and did very well.

Christian, on the other hand, was phenomenal! Cracked us all up with his junkie impersonation. Further, he had ALL his lines down to a tee. We also utilized Foley and our few extras here for the background.

Next up, we focused on Foley as Chuck, who sat a table and bantered with his guests. This went well and Foley looked great in his wig and moustache. His "Knuckle Time!" delivery was also killer.

Moving along, we shot Chuck and Brenda's segment where-in Foley stole the show with a little improvised catchphrase ("What.") As in "What are you gonna do about it?"

And finally, Jones and Chuck went at it. This part was fantastic. Christian really did a convincing job and Foley impressed me with his portrayal of a person whose story confused even me a little (and I wrote it!).

Other than the standard sorts of shots, we did get a nice dolly-like effect using Jordan's skateboard on the marble bar, and in particular the "Knuckle Time!" shot with Jones flipping out in the background were my favorites.

In addition to all of that, we squeezed in the part where Chuck is stopped on the way to his car by Doug.

We did a nice pan with Chuck until Doug came into frame. And another facing Doug with a great lens flare from a background street lamp. Both angles came out great.

Missed out on the crossing-the-street tracking shot...maybe we'll work around that?

Overall a very fun, and very productive, shoot.

Doug's Production Diary 24

Monday, July 11, 2005

A night shoot was on the books, which meant a lot of waiting throughout the day. Dan and I had to walk to Target for a new tarp to act as Jones' kidnapping sack. Since our original was torn and dirty after shooting outdoors with it at Mike B.'s house.

Also, we had to wrack our brains over the Stan's Tea situation, but we decided to go with it and assume the best with Mr. Young. So we procured a mound of loose leaf tea from the Enclave. Then we used Babelfish to translate into Korean the following: Insides of oxen great cure from stress. Signed Stan. We placed this under the tea in a container and got to work.

We have a really nice overhead shot of Buddy and Jimmy lying on the floor. Brett and I nailed this one almost immediately. Fortunately, we reviewed the footage quickly and I did not like the composition: it was completely symmetrical (good) except for one imperfection (not good).

So we re-shot and nailed it...but better!

Then we got a cool pan of Jimmy and Buddy heading for the door. I threw a little "good go first," in reference to an earlier scene.

Jones in the hall with the sack was great stuff - quick and easy.

Finally, we got to our "70's Show" homage panning between Jones, Buddy, and Jimmy. It took a few tries but we got it. Tony said it turned out really really well. Other than that, a few pick-ups for particular lines, like "I left a note," and "that's how we're gonna do it," and that was it.

Oh! Tony did a little Frankie Chains DVD to use with Buddy. Basically just a bunch of loops with some television-style graphics...very cool.
Onward and upward!

Doug's Production Diary 23

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Today was one that had been looked forward to for some time, lemme tell you. Bob Bene from the Willoughby Brewing Company was really cool about letting us shoot there, and EVERYONE was excited to see Brian Shapiro in action as Frankie Chains.

Man, it was worth the wait!

Brian looked phenomenal in his tailored Ticknor's duds, and the W.B.C. looks awesome on film!
Our first challenge began, really, the night before when all our extra help bailed on us. No "Make-Up Girl," no Brandy, no Gina. Dan and I quickly summarized what we had available and adapted to that. So Frankie's show became one of budget cuts itself: the Make-Up Girl got a better gig on Sally Jesse...powdered sugar buzz subbed for cocaine habit...craft services quite...and apple juice is better than Irish whiskey on an aging body. Jay was great as Frankie's Stage Director, and because of our changes he got extra lines, screen time, and even a close-up!

So our first shot - the Long Pan, went very well.

Then the acting began, and Brian was stellar. He takes direction well, really does a lot to establish his character, and is very cognizant of continuity. Plus, he LOOKED the part so much!
I don't think I have to mention how much storyboards help...but they do (immensely!). There, I mentioned it anyway.

The rest of the shoot at the Brewery went smashingly, and we got all the footage and angles we needed, including Brian's "Promo Spot" for the Frankie Show to use throughout the film. It was great!

Our good luck followed us the rest of the day, as we went from place to place to fill out our scene. Bobick's Golf was really cool - good example of what carrying a camera and equipment can get you! They let us shoot in their private driving range area. A few on-the-fly changes and this segment came out great! Check out the "way to dive right into it..." line - sweet! We came up with a little gimmick for Frankie where we start each part with a close-up and then zoom out to show the new locations - it worked superbly. Frankie quickly endeared himself to us all and hopefully this will translate into the film as well.

Clark Street Convenience was very cool, too. They lady on shift (Jimmie Dawson) was our movie clerk and she was fantastic - this part will knock 'em dead for sure!
Arabica segment went very smoothly too, except for the sound which is atrocious but we can easily re-do that. The Point Park segment was equally smooth (on the Tech Center steps) and the segment down by the river was a lot of fun too.

Only one more segment is needed for this scene - the "sun tanning/boat dock" segment which is my personal favorite. I've had this part in mind for a long time!!
Our shoot was from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. A long one (who keeps THOSE kind of hours?!). But so completely worth it. As usual, this shoot was easier and another step forward in improvement.

Afterwards we watched all the raw footage (45 minutes) and all agreed it was fantastic.

One more scene in the bag...

Almost there!!