“Silence” Pre-production 3

The third week of class went very smoothly, we made a lot of progress on many fronts this week.

We have all but two of the locations locked down.  The most difficult location is the dump.  We were not able to lock the BedfordRecycling location so we started looking at other options.  I did locate another possibility in town but after leaving two voicemails, I have not heard anything from the owner of that property.  We do have a back up plan in place so if all else fails we do have a way to film the scene with a dump backdrop.

We did lock the office scenes at Cardinal Stage.

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Cardinal Stage also is providing us with the rehearsal hall scenes so we owe them a huge thank you.

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In addition to this, we locked the Buskirk Chumley Theatre so we have the dressing room location and possibly the lobby squared away.

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We also have locations for the interior and exterior of Nonie’s house.

The students also made a lot of progress and wrote two scripts for the promo-video for IndieGoGo.  Michael has been making more progress on all of the graphics and we also narrowed down what the title sequence will look like for the web series.  We have also made progress with both the audio and props.  We locked the costume designers.

Last but not least, Nick and I were able to rewrite the script into its fifth draft and I finally solved the elusive ending, which was driving me nuts.

All and all it has been a very busy and productive week.

Keep your eyes peeled for more up-dates.

Russell

“Silence” Pre-production 2

We are now in week two of the class and pre-production.  Let me clarify, students have been assigned to specific production roles in a class that I developed with my advisor to promote learning in their specific jobs roles as if they might encounter in the industry.

For example, the Producers and Directors last week went with me and we did some location scouting.  Those students have now been asked to follow up with those locations to make arrangements for us to meet with the property owners of the locations where we would like to film.  One location that we were looking for was a dump that could double for a New York city dump from 1927.

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Another thing that I had the audio students do was to create an audio map of the entire production so that they could start working on creating Foley sound effects in pre-production.  The camera group was assigned the task of bringing photos or videos of lighting examples and examples of shots that we may use in the production.  The production designer started compiling images for all of the graphic elements of the production from fonts to set decoration.  The script supervisor has been giving Nick and I coverage notes and we have been revising the script further from those notes.

We met as a class and had a general production meeting then we broke into groups and the Directors and Producers met with each of the production teams.  All and all it was a very good meeting and a good start to the production process.

On a side note, there is an observer who has now become an obstruction to the process.  This observer’s insights and experience are appreciated but given the format of the production meetings, the observer’s tangental comments are obstructing the process and in a small part undermining my authority.  I do have a plan of attack and will stop this from happening again next week.  Ultimately, if this plan does not work, I will ask this observer to leave so that the production may continue without obstruction.

Overall, I am very pleased with our current progress.  Nick and I made a lot of progress last week with the script and cut six pages of text, making the script much tighter and more visual as opposed to being bogged down in the dialogue.  Garrett has also been a huge help and we no have a Facebook page, Goggle account to share documents, and several other media sites that will make the process run smoother.  We have also collected all of the production team bios and headshots for Indiegogo and marketing purposes.

I am working on the PSA for the cattle call and I am just waiting to hear back from Tamera, the Graduate Assistant, about a room to hold the auditions.  Once I have that locked in place, I will be able to disseminate the PSA.

Well, that’s all from “Silence” for now.

Cheers-

Russell

“Silence” Pre-production

I am officially in the throws of pre-production for my thesis production.  A web-series entitled “Silence” that Nick Krohn and I wrote.

“Silence” Synopsis:

New York (1927) – a Vaudeville team, realizing that Vaudeville is on the way out, decides to produce their first film: “King Lear”.  However, on the set of “King Lear” a random garbage man stumbles into their film and turns their drama into a slapstick comedy.  The comedy is a huge success and the company is faced with finding this garbage man to repeat their success and reap the riches or whether it is more important to them to pursue their art.

Yesterday, Nick and I went to Muncie and Anderson, Indiana and we were able to lock two key locations for the web series.

Paramount Theatre

Paramount Theatre

I am thrilled to announce that we will be filming in the historic Paramount Theatre in Anderson, IN and the Muncie Civic Theatre, which is an old Vaudeville theatre that was built in 1880.

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Muncie Civic Theatre

Today after reworking the production schedule to accommodate the schedule of the actors and the venues, I sent out an offer to each actor.

I am currently working on writing more specific details for each assigned role in the production.

There will be more to follow over the coming weeks.

Cheers-

Russell

Memory Box

“Memory Box” is Sahar’s last big school production and I wanted to do everything that I could to make sure that it went off as well as possible for her.  As such, once she gave me her character descriptions and needs for casting, I was able to round up all of the actors that she needed.  In terms of casting this was not as difficult as “Grief Stricken”.  However, it did present some problems because she was looking for several actors in the thirty to forty age range and as most people in the business know, it is difficult at the best of times to find male actors compared to female actors and the older the cast is the more difficult it is to find appropriate actors for that age range.

Once we cast all of the actors Sahar and I spent an entire day finding appropriate costumes to fit those actors.  The issue was we were short on time and Sahar was looking for costumes that fit the time period of the shoot: the 1960s.  Goodwill used to be a great source for period costume designs but in the last five years they have stopped carrying clothing that was more period appropriate.  I may only assume that this is because they are trying to make shopping there more appealing by only stocking clothing that is more current with the times to increase sales.  Frankly, that is only conjecture but I have noticed a change in what clothing they stock.

As a result of the Goodwill situation, we drove all over Bloomington to varying thrift stores but did manage to get costumes for the entire cast.  All but one, Sahar needed a robe and pajamas for the father sooooo while she and Brian started setting up the location to film.  I literally ran two blocks to Salvation Army to pick out an outfit for her.  I had to do this because I had all of the equipment in the van and they were unloading the van.  While out, Sahar called and asked me to pick up Champaign for the New Years party scene.

I should explain, the first shoots that we did were all based around memories of the main character.  Sahar’s idea was to shoot each memory in different media (3D, 8mm film, and digital) so that the memories would have different feels and looks.  She also wanted to shoot on 8mm so that we could later project the images on a screen and have the main character interact with them on the screen.  We thus had the 3d and 8mm as the memories and the digital as the present, where the main character tried to interact with her memories.

This meant that we were shooting each sequence with three different passes for each type of film.  The 8mm was shot as if the main character’s Uncle Frank were manning a old 8mm camera.  The 3D were shot as straight memories and the digital utilized a shallow depth of field to create the claustrophobic feel of the main character desperately trying to grasp and retain her memories.

One other thing that made this shoot difficult was that Sahar needed for me to track down a functioning 1960s car.  I was fortunate in that one of the other nontraditional students in my Motion Picture Production class is part of a classic car club and after speaking with him, I was able to work out details with him so that we had a car that fit the look that she needed.  Okay, so car secure but that was only one part to the problem.  The second part included carefully shooting the car sequence with the car driving away in a way that we framed out all the other cars on the street so that we did not have any modern cars in the shot.  We had to shoot the sequence at least six times for varying reasons.

All and all the shoot was very rewarding due to all the challenges that it presented that we needed to work around to make everything come together.  I am always the optimist and although I never really know how it will all work out, I have done enough productions to know that it always works out.  In fact, anyone who has ever worked with me could quote me on saying, “it always works out”.  Frankly, that is part of what I love about this job, seeing how all the pieces do come together and helping make that possible.

We still have one more shoot for this production on the 17th and I look forward to working with everyone again.

Cheers-

Russell

Carmen’s Karma

I did not have much to do with this production at all aside from the fact that I did the age make-up for Sahar and stood guard over the gear while we shot at the coffee house.  That and my orange Halloween pants although festive were a problem for Carter’s shot so I was banished to the couch to hide my pants.

However, I would like to note that I thought Brian did an excellent job as a producer and think that he may be quite good in this job in the future.

Cheers-

Russell

Homeless Man

Turn about it fair play and as Kate acted for me in “The Red Room”, I acted for her in “Homeless Man”.  As such, I did not directly have anything to do with the production side of this short this time.  However, here are my thoughts and reflections on this short.

Kellie was very well organized and had a shot-list ready and knew what she needed and wanted to shoot the day of the filming.

Ole was working audio and although he did not have much experience with audio prior to this shoot, it was evident that what he had seen audio techs do on professional shoots had influenced how he handled himself.  I say this because he stepped up and was paying attention to the fact that he needed ambient sounds that I have not seen many of my other class-mates have made an effort to do while we are on location.  As such, I am fairly certain that Kellie will have a lot to work with in the way of car doors shutting, foot steps, keys jangling, and even the gear being wheeled across the parking lot.  There were many other instances of this but that gives you a fair example of what I am referring to.

Mark was crazy artistic as ever and employed his mad monkey skills to climb a fire-escape and get Kellie a sweet overhead shot of the van entering the alleyway.

Brian was also on par and ever the consummate professional, he helped make sure that Kellie got the light she needed via bounce boards in the alleyway.

Oh and on a personnel note, I shaved my head for Kate and Kellie so that I looked more like a drummer as my usual straight hair haircut did not look very drummer like.  I also bought some red shades and ended up looking like Woody Harrelson from “Natural Born Killers”.

It was also cool to work with Caz again as she was portraying Kate at a younger age.  Yes, this short is based on a life story from Kate.

All and all it was a fun shoot, we even got some shots out by Lake Monroe, where Eumi bravely stood in the rode as we drove my van by her so that we could get a cool traveling shot of the van by the water.  Anyway, those are my reflections on “Homeless Man”.

More to follow-

Russell

Grief Stricken

“Grief Stricken” was the insane project that I volunteered myself for because I had already committed to shooting it for CMCL’s “Double Exposure” student film festival.  The idea of “Double Exposure” is that a student filmmaker is paired with a student composer from the music school and they work together to create an original work.  Anyway, I had already pitched a short at the “Double Exposure” speed date secession where we had two minutes to meet composers and assess who we might want to work with on this project so the problem for me was figuring out when I was going to film this additional film on top of my already busy schedule with Cinematography and the Motion Picture Production Class.

The solution came when Jim had a time-slot open in our schedule in Cinematography.  The problem, I had two weeks to turn around and get all of the production elements in place.  Another problem, the week prior to shooting “Grief Stricken” I was shooting “The Red Room” sooooo one may see how my life became a bit complicated.  Not to mention the fact that I was also producing Sahar’s monster of a project “Memory Box” the week after “Grief Stricken”.  My moaning aside, this actually turned out to be a relatively painless shoot.

It involved four locations: an exterior of a newspaper building, a home, a cemetery, and an interior with a pull down window.  No problem right?  Well, mostly, no problem…my first attempt at securing the newspaper building fell with the turn of the seasons but my second attempt went off like bottle rockets.  I also easily secured a friend’s home to shoot at and I was able to secure Rose Hill Cemetery as I had shot a scene from “The Babbling Banshee” there.  My bane however, came in the form of the pull down window.  I went to seven, count them seven different locations before securing a location.

The day of the shoot started with a little tension because we had had very little sleep the night before as we had shot “The Red Room” pick ups until 2am and so we were tired and there was a miscommunication between Tyrone and myself.  However, he and I quickly sorted that out and we were able to move forward with a brilliant shoot.  Everything went smoothly from there on out except for a misplacement of a camera mount plate for the Bolex Reflex.  Sahar was able to compensate beautifully and pulled together all of the shots so that we had no other hick-cups.

Another major win was that eleven extras agreed to help us and be part of the climatic scene in the cemetery, where everyone opened there umbrellas to reveal the punch-line of the pieces.  Ahhhh but to see the punch-line you will have to watch the short.  I am at this moment still waiting on the return of the film so that I may start editing the film.  Susanne over in CMCL is going to have the 16mm transferred digitally for us, which is awesome because I also shot with my XH-A1 and with a little Aftereffects magic I will be able to use both sources so that I may use the best footage from both cameras.

Well dems my thoughts on this production – I am sure there will be more to follow.

Cheers-

Russell