Hello from the other side of production!
Its been a hectic and crazy weekend of writing, shooting and editing but I can now share some stories with you about the production weekend and what went down.
At 6:30pm on Friday, Josh (writer, actor) and I went down to the Anza Club to get our story package. We were given an envelope containing a Genre, Weapon, Prop and Line of Dialogue that had to be incorporated into the film, but we were not allowed to open the envelope until 7:00pm sharp.
At 7:00pm a collective ripping sound filled the room as all 25 teams opened up their envelopes. We got:
- GENRE: Suicide Cult
- WEAPON: Box Cutter
- PROP: Stitches
- LINE: “You haven’t been yourself lately.”
Before you’re allowed to leave the Anza, you have to register your story package elements with the producers of the festival so we had a few minutes waiting in line to pitch story ideas back and forth and try to come up with something that would work. We returned to our home base to write and as soon as we entered the house I opened up my laptop, launched Celtx and typed in “EXT. HOUSE – DAY.” From there we began writing and brainstorming simultaneously to come up with an idea that made good use of our cast, locations and the story elements we were given.
At 9:30pm my first AD, Blake, arrived to talk scheduling. While he phoned everyone to let them know our call time (6am the next morning) and arranged carpools, we continued to write. Another of our actors stopped by and we did a short read-through to see where things were at. He helped us make some tweaks and we finished the script at around midnight. Then it was time for me to do my shot list!
Our script, in a nutshell, explores what happens to people when they are completely without fear. After a Doctor develops a procedure to remove fear, a group of people (all suicide ‘survivors’) who all undergo the procedure end up dead. Being without any fear eliminates all the rational parts of the human brain that tell them to protect themselves in dangerous situations, so they all ‘commit suicide’ by accident, while the Doctor drinks the fear he has harvested from them.
We finally got to go to bed at around 2:00am and setting my alarm to wake me up at 5:00 am was brutal.
At 3:30 am I was still WIDE AWAKE.
At 4:20am I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep.
At 5:00am, with about an hour of sleep to my name, I got out of bed and went to pick up my first crew member, my DOP. Two more actors and we made our way to our first location.
Everyone arrived at the location and first thing we did a read through so everyone would know what we were doing with our very long day. We were able to use ALL 5 of the actors that had agreed to come on board the project so there were lots of lines to run and memorize on short notice. After the read through, actors went to makeup and crew began setting up for the first scene, a round table discussion with 4 characters – an axis and coverage nightmare on any shoot, but especially a 48 hour one. We got through it, ultimately even faster than we had originally scheduled, and then the really hectic part began. All day we were conscious of our remaining hours of daylight. Most of the film takes place during the day, with a lot of exteriors and the sun sets by 6 nowadays. With no big lights to compensate, we were tied to sunset as our shooting deadline for a large portion of our scenes. But we made it!
We shot a number of things guerilla-style on the street including a scene where we killed one of our characters by car crash! I have always wanted to do a car crash scene in a movie and it was super fun (and looks great on film.) My actor is now covered in bruises though, lol.
Throughout the day cast and crew ran essential errands that kept the shoot moving forwards – batteries! art supplies! boxes! running tapes to the editor! a fuse for the stove we just blew out making coffee! Everyone was very generous with their enthusiasm and willingness to help out. Lunch arrived (generously made and ferried to us on location by my mom) and it was fantastic.
After shooting out the daylight, we returned to our first location to shoot the last ‘set’, the Doctor’s Lair. This was a very challenging set because the space was very small – roughly 4 feet wide and 8 feet deep, but with a slanted roof (like under a staircase.) It made for some really interesting shots and lighting, but it was definitely a challenge to get everyone in there physically to be able to do all the action and have the necessary crew members in place for sound, lighting etc. Our actors really pushed hard and brought the energy out for those scenes…and at the end of such a long day of filming, I was blown away.
We wrapped the shoot at roughly midnight – after 18 hours of filming! Everyone headed home, but the weekend wasn’t over yet for me.
I headed over to my editor’s house to check in with her, bring her the last tape and begin cutting the film down. We cut a few scenes right away to try and get them off to our Digital FX artist and Composer, and then I was able to sleep for a couple hours while she logged the last tape and did some more rough-cutting. At 5 am she woke me up to see the first ‘cut’ of the film. From this point, we had another 4 hours to get to a Locked Cut and send it out to our composer for scoring/timing purposes. At that point, we’d begin sound editing and color timing until we began our export process at 4:00pm. The timelines are always tight on a 48 hour film and as you can imagine, even this scenario only left us with a short window for music. We received the music and fx shots in the nick of time, laid them in and tweaked and began exporting right away. Our export went very quickly so we were able to take another 30 minutes and go back in to make a few adjustments to the color timing before doing our FINAL EXPORTS.
With two DVD’s in my hand I drove down to the Drop Off location and walked in at 6:52pm. The deadline? 7:00. Phew!
The film will be online sometime in the next 24 hours for viewing (AND VOTING) so please check it out, send it to your friends, and vote for us! I will post it separately when the link is available. You have from today until Oct. 29th to vote. Only one vote per IP address will show up on the system.