Day 4 Is Done and We’re Wrapped!

This will be a quick report.  I will post a more detailed one about Day 4 and the entire production process this week.  I may have a few pictures too.  I’m just still a little tired.  Saturday was a long hard day.  Today, my DP and I got some pick up shots of the Kreskys’ car driving on country roads.  We’re finishing them on Tuesday.

We shot four scenes on four different sets and then got some extra coverage in the form of close ups of Diana for the inn scene we shot on  day one.  Twelve hours of shooting.  Long and tiring and things got a bit tense a few times between different team members.  We kept it together though, got the shots and it was a lot of fun.  Plenty of stuff for the outtake reel.

I kept up the jokes, something I normally do anyway in social situations.  Being a comedian is in my blood whether I am on stage or not.  I love making people laugh and it helps keep the crew loose and having fun.  We had some hilarious moments.  We shot a scene between Danny and Diana in their kitchen that involved the most intricate prop work in the movie.  Two large bags filled with groceries dumped on a counter and me pulling out a box of cereal and eating some.  Lots of little adjustments needed to make everything run smooth.  It was pretty funny.  I may post some video clips at some point.

One particularly funny moment was when we were getting our final shot.  It was a simple scene of Danny and Diana entering the inn and walking down the hall to the lounge area.  There was only one line of dialogue.  It was mine and a very easy one.  My final line to be captured.  In one take, I blew the line.  As I called cut, all of us, me included, broke into laughter.  My last line and I couldn’t get it!  Nice moment at the end of a long day.

That’s all I have time for right now.  As I said, look for a more detailed post coming soon.  There’s a lot more to tell.  This was quite an experience and hopefully I gave my editor enough good footage to cut a good movie.

An Uninvited Cast Member Named Sandy

Production on ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? is scheduled to resume this Friday.  We also have a production meeting planned for Tuesday.  However, Mother Nature has thrown us a curve in the person of Hurricane Sandy, on course to wreak havoc on Connecticut Monday.  We’ve managed to overcome several obstacles and while this one may prove the most difficult, we’ll work through it as well.

Schools have already been closed for both Monday and Tuesday and coastal areas are being evacuated.  Predictions are that many branches and trees will be down and there will be power outages throughout the state.  It could be quite a mess, but I’m adopting a “wait and see” attitude.

Tuesday will probably a full day of recovery, so there’s a good chance the production meeting won’t come off.  I can work around that, using emails and phone calls to coordinate our plans.  We’ve already worked together for the first two days of shooting and the crew has the hang of it.  I have no actors traveling in from out of state, as the remaining scenes feature only our two leads, me and my co-writer.  So canceling the meeting really will pose little problem.

The shooting days scheduled for the weekend could be tricky.  Friday, we are shooting all exteriors.  Although the rain will be finished by then, fallen trees and branches and possibly rain soaked muddy turf could adversely affect the final scene.  We have to get some pick up shots of Danny and Diana arriving at an inn in their car.  That shouldn’t be a problem.  The final scene though, takes places outside in a yard next to the building.  I’m going to prepare a couple of different ways to shoot, just to get around any problems we may have.

If the power is out at the location house, that would pose a problem as well.  By Friday, one would think power would be restored everywhere, but last year, at the same time, late October, we had a freak snowstorm that knocked power out all over the state and some areas did not have power restored for two weeks or more.  That would not be good.

It might not affect us too badly.  We’ve been running the camera off the battery and we can make sure we bring enough replacements.  We may not need lights to shoot outdoors, depending on conditions.  The owners of the home also have a generator, so they will have lights inside.  We should be able to shoot no matter what.

Saturday will be a different story if the power is out.  We will need lights for the interiors and I’m not sure their generator can accommodate movie lights.  I’ll just have to hope for the best.  If need be, I’ll reschedule.

So far, we’ve been able to work out everything and I won’t allow anything to sink this production.  There’s a great saying, “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way.  If you don’t really want to do it, you’ll make excuses.”  I really  want to this.  I’ll find a way.

Shooting a Film About a Filmmaker

With just six days to go until principal photography on ISN’T ROMANTIC? begins, I thought it would be interesting to discuss a unique aspect of this production.  Namely, the fact that the protagonist, Danny Kresky, is a writer/director.  Films about filmmaking present certain situations that make some scenes easier to shoot in some regards and more difficult in others.

When an independent screenwriter writes a script that he or she plans to shoot on a low budget, it pays to plan ahead and design the story in such a way that it will avoid a lengthy, expensive shoot.  It’s a simple fact of life in the movie business: there is never enough time or money, especially on an ultra low budget.

Right from the moment I conceived of IIR’s story, I planned to shoot it myself, so I kept that in mind during development.  I only have five speaking roles, two leads, one supporting role and two under fives.  I kept the number of se to a minimum, avoided special effects and set all scenes during the day to avoid tricky night shoots.  Making my protagonist a filmmaker was not due to any logistical considerations.  It made sense for the story.

This Saturday, October 13 is day one of shooting.  The scene takes place in a country inn where Danny is shooting a scene for a movie.  It’s the most complex scene in our movie and we wanted to shoot it on the final day.  Circumstances dictated we do it first and it will be fine.  We’re ready.  As I stated earlier, it makes for an unusual shoot.

On the down side, it requires more equipment and people.  In addition to our camera, we need a prop camera for Danny’s crew.  We finally found one, but it was one of the most difficult tasks of pre-production.  We also need extra lights for props and extras to portray members of Danny’s crew.  I had wanted to use my own crew members on camera, but there’s a reason they work behind the camera.  Most of them are not comfortable being photographed.  It makes for a more crowded set.

Another tricky thing is the fact that I am planning Danny Kresky.  So I will be calling “action” and “cut” both as Danny for the film within the film, and as myself for IIR.  Potential problems there.  I’ve decided that I will use the terms, “film action” and “film cut” as myself when shooting that scene.  After all, Danny’s voice sounds a lot like mine.

There are a couple of advantages though.  Normally, when lighting a set, care must be taken to ensure that lights, c-stands and other equipment is outside the frame of the camera to avoid spoiling the illusion of the scene.  Since our set is supposed to be a movie set, we can show any piece of equipment that we want.  More latitude in placing lights will make things go a bit faster.

On a personal note, I think it will benefit me in my duel role as a director and actor on the production, at least for that scene.   A number of experienced directors felt me playing a lead in my first film as a director would prove too challenging.  (I know better.  Like my fictional counterpart, Danny, I”m no ordinary schmuck.)  Danny is based on my stand up persona and is really a fictional version of myself.  That, in itself, makes things easier.  The fact that in that scene, I will be directing in my role as Danny, should help as well.  I can stay in director mode both in front of and behind the camera.  For that reason, I think shooting the movie set scene on day one may prove to be a better way to go.

Making a movie presents challenges and each shoot is unique.  If it was easy, everyone would do it.  I’m ready, both as a director and as an actor playing a director.  One thing I do know for sure.  It’s going to be a lot of fun.