‘Untitled’ Diary: Part Two

30 08 2005

Original shoot days planned: 12-13.

Equipment pick up and drop off dates: August 18th and September 1st.

Actual shoot days: 5

Shoot Start Date and Time: Thursday, 25th around 4:00 PM.

Shoot End Date and Time: Monday, 29th at 9:45 PM.

Total hours captured on tape: Approximately 11.

Total hours on location shooting: Approximately 36.

Number of crew members planned for shoot: 2…Sound and Camera.

Number of crew members eventually: Just me.

Verdict: I’m happy it was just me. Was able to plan and execute everything I’d planned on location.

Obstacles as a lonesome crew member: Not too many. I didn’t log camera or sound report. Minor inconvenience with changing tape and batteries and hooking up light and sound, but it was worth it. Took some getting used to, but was fine. Was a bitch capturing long scenes hand held.

Advantages as a lonesome crew member:Was able to monitor all aspects of shoot. Lot more freedom in moving around actors. Was great capturing long scenes. Settings were more intimate, quiet, lot less clutter and actors were able to focus a lot more. Was able to schedule shoot time and breaks with lot more flexibility. Was able to cater to changes very quickly.

Number of actors going in: Approximately 11.

Final number of actors: 4.

What happened: Everything a traditional shoot couldn’t dream of.

Verdict: Couldn’t have worked with more perfect actors for the project. There were new changes to story, character, location and actors almost every other hour. The actors took those changes in moments notice and applied them to project. Major change occured on Day 3. Lost 3 actors and a location due to unfortunate series of events. Due to the fault of none. Dropped two entire storylines and changed the course of the story. Toughest decision to make, but made it nonetheless.

First meeting with actors: Friday, 19th from noon till 7 pm, every hour.
First concrete story idea: Morning of Monday, the 22nd.

First character created: Adam.

Last character created: Marie.

First major change in filming the story: Friday, 25th around 6 PM.

Last major change in filming the story: Monday, 29th around 4 PM.

Last addition of any kind to character of story: Monday, 29th around 8 PM.


‘Untitled’ Diary–Part One

30 08 2005

Project Conception: Sometime in June

Project Summary: Two Week Shoot. Find the film during shoot and post. Largely improvised with actors working from and with given characters.

Reason: Didn’t have a script when booking equipment. Had to use the opportunity.

Who to thank for project support: Prof. Katherine Fry and Prof. Frederick Wasser.

Who to thank for equipment support: George Casturani.

Who to thank for equipment and training: My good friend Kurt Odenwald.

Who to thank for having the balls to do the project: Um…you know.
Equipment booked: June 23, 2005

Equipment approved:

Panasonic AG-DVX 100A, two shotgun mics, two Lavalier mics, one Mole Richardson 4*200 watt Tweenies, one Rifa-Lite, one field mixer, a Quad box, a Fishpole, two headphones, two XLR cable, two AC cord, reflector, 2 floor mics.

Equipment eventually picked up:

Everything except Tweenies. In addition took tripod, light dimmer.

Equipment eventually used for entire shoot:

Camera and one shotgun mic. Also used tripod, one floor mic, one Lavalier mic, and couple of blue gels…but rarely.

Bought from hardware store:

A clamp-on reflector for $6.99, a Sylvania 65W flood light and a 100W clear bulb for use in a couple of scenes.

What did I do for lighting:

Used mostly available lighting, and whatever lamps and lamp like things.

Locations used for shoot:


Locations initially planned:

Close to 8 or 9, including Central and Fort Tryon Park, a cemetary, and a car interior.

On The 11th Day of Production—It’s a wrap!

30 08 2005

Fresh from the location, the shoot is finally over. Officially it ended 9:45 pm last night, August 29th. As usual, after a project, I’ll go through a period of depression. I’ll then pick myself up, and move on to the next project.
As of right now, I have an intense feeling of accomplishment. I’ll talk more about what actually happened in the next few days. Then, I may not.
But, let me thank the actors who’ve made it all come together, and made the process a lot easier. Their patience, commitment, and professionalism throughout filming has been nothing less than extraordinary. It’s a leap of faith with this project, and they’ve given me immense support throughout.
Final cast list as follows:

Sarah L. Stephens.

Graham Stevens.

Noelle Teagno.

Geoffrey Barnes.

Thank you, Sarah and Graham, for putting up with me and my wild project. Thank you both for allowing me to film in your apartments. And most of all, thanks for your enthusiasm and patience. Your participation meant a lot to me, and has brought life to the characters. You’ve stayed calm amidst all the craziness during filming and have given performances beyond wonderful. Thanks for accepting last minute changes almost every other hour. They were big changes, but you both showed a lot of grace.

To Noelle. Thanks for the wonderful performance of Marie. Thanks for the impromptu dinner scene set up and your support of the film. You’ve helped lift the party scene to a higher level and have given it a touch of joy.

Thank you, Geoffrey, for bringing Peter to life with a letter perfect characterization. You’ve been brilliant all throughout pre- and production!

7th Day of Production (click here for project details)

26 08 2005

Yesterday marked the 7th day of production. It was a good day. Good day to learn things, good day to find things, and a good day in many ways. I had promised earlier to write about the project during production each day to, sort of, chrinicle the advancement of things. Unfortunately, the nature of the project doesn’t permit me to actually write details of the day’s shoot.

Ideas are coming to me as I film, and as I face obstacles. First, let me tell you why I can’t give more details. The actors are participating with very limited information about there characters. They are also in the process of discovery, as am I, by improvising and finding out as they do the feeling, the attitude, and the character of their characters…for lack of a better terminology.

Now, I’ll give some examples of the process of filming. Let’s say I have a location, character in mind for a certain scene or storyline and for some reason something has come up, let’s say, a big audition for the actor or the apartment being fumigated, then I have to find an alternative solution. In my case, with limited time it only means changing the story. Or, let’s say an actor skinned her knuckles while doing a particular sequence, we worked that into the story.

In short, something is always changing, every day and every other hour. I have to find ways to not let that affect the production and use the changes in the story.

What do you do when the one light you have to work with does not work and you’re shooting in an apartment lit only with fluorescent lighting? You move on. I don’t have the luxury to wait for the right lighting, the right atmosphere, or the right anything. I have to film with what I’ve got, and believe me, it makes for some very big compromises, yet ones that make you keep it simple and clean.

I have to admit there isn’t a whole lot of a difference between a well planned shoot and a shoot that has to go with what it’s given, and that is, again, just my take on this. It’s accepting what was captured on camera. The advantage to the latter is, you are more open to what happens in front of the camera and, like the former, not killing yourself for the best take. After all the best takes are never filmed. The best takes are probably 60% of the best take you’ve imagined. Searching for perfection is a luxury and requires a lot of patience, both of which are scarce in real life. I like the element of surprise in front of the camera, especially when someone gives me something I would have never thought up with the very characters I have sketched out for them.

I tend to go off on a tangent a lot, but the progress is going well. It’s unfortunate that I can’t share the whole story of the movie, or I should say the current version of the story, with anyone. Not even the actors, but they are appearing before me as the characters which is a very good start.

I have less than a week to go. With 6 days of surprises in between.

Fifth Day of Production

23 08 2005

Sad to not be able to work with OBSHBSFV DBLFT due to SAG technicality. The timing was just unfavorable. Had to change story line quite a bit. Her enthusiasm in the project moved me and I’ll definitely find a way to work with her in the future.

Finalized two additions in the project. IFPGGSFA DBSOFU and ZQHZL KNQUZMR.

Fourth Day of Production

22 08 2005

Ahh the things the mind can do when time makes the clock gallop. Crystallization has begun and all those thoughts, ideas, and random images that have been floating around are finally settling down and are introducing themselves to one another.

A story for the movie was born today, dear friends. In the next few days, I expect to see it speak, take its first steps, hit puberty, and go off to college wearing miniDV.

Each actor is being given, separately, his/her character outline.

Can’t wait to see what happens when the characters meet on screen.

Third Day of Production

21 08 2005

Had a good day in many ways. Lots of advancement. Not a single frame is shot, though. Not a single word written in the script form.

Am I worried? Heck no!

Random questions:

Can you name the top 5 most educated countries in the world?

Who is Mircea Eliad?

Where did the term ‘Steal my thunder’ come from?

Name the first names of two famous Renoir’s? Are they related?

Chicken or the egg?

Allow me the answer to that:

Chicken, because the egg…(to be continued)