Choose Your Own Blog

Sunday, December 20, 2009

March 2000

It's worth noting that the additional five grand we got was by putting together a prospectus coupled with my trailer--showed it to one of the actors(Jeff Kipers) who had some money and he agreed to come in as Executive Producer with the extra cash.

March 2000

I've been busy. Edited 2 separate trailers, twice. I lost a hard drive that had all of both trailers on it, so I had to start over. I had exported some rough copies onto VHS, but I wasn't happy with them, so I did it all over from scratch.

I've done some rough titles in 3D Max, an excellent program. With help from my brother, I've gone in and added blood digitally to the scene where Duke gets shot and it looks good.

I got enough money to get the rest of the footage transferred to Beta(at a cost of just over three grand), so I've got the entire movie now on Beta. It's down to a matter of editing.

We've picked up an additional five grand, which should be enough to finish the movie. I've got my eye on a couple of composers and I'm going to try to talk one into scoring the film for what is essentially peanuts.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Dec 1999/Jan 25, 2000

December 1999

Managed to get the money together for the 10 reels. I’ve gone through and tried to pick ten with what I hope will have the best shots on them.
What happens if they all come back blank? How fast am I gonna kill myself?

Jan 25, 2000

Got the footage, ten reels(about 1 hour 55 minutes of footage), transferred to video best light. I was a little worried about it, because RGB--the lab who did two reels to make sure nothing was wrong with the camera/film/etc--did a lousy best-light transfer.

Well, I'm happy to say, Fotokem did an outstanding job. I gave them minimal instructions, just asking that they lighten anything that was too dark.

I had picked the reels to be transferred with a general idea of how I want the trailer to look. If I need any shots that aren't on these ten reels, I'll have to shoot them on video and intersplice it, hoping that it's not too noticeable. The difference between how film looks and how video looks is pretty dramatic.

Some of the shots came out better than I could have expected. I think I can make a good trailer.

Monday, December 7, 2009

A little treat

Let's take a break from the past for a moment. I'll share with you the first 25 or so pages of the sequel to "Hunting Humans" that I started writing about 5 years ago(I think).

There's some background on the page about it. Check it out if you like Aric Blue.

Note: the formatting is off a little, but I've tried to preserve it as close to the original Final Draft version as I could.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

November 1999

Wow, it was slightly over 10 years ago but it seems like a lifetime...

November 1999

Here's what it all boils down to: Money.

From the beginning, I had my eye on post-production. There are really two ways to go about it and they are as follows:

1. Shoot the film and get it transferred to video in as high-quality as you can get, with scene-by-scene color-corrections and all. Then, edit the entire movie on video and come up with a finished product on video(ala Robert Rodriguez). Shop that around, enter what festivals you can, see if any distributors are interested. If they go for it, the cost of doing the re-edit and all will be up to them. This is the over-all cheaper way of doing things, and the way I was looking at.


2. Shoot the film and get it best-light transferred to video with time-code. Edit on video with an AVID machine, then get the negative cut according to your EDL(Edit Decision List) that the AVID gives you. Then prints are made from your edited negative. These prints can be submitted to festivals and what have you. This is more expensive.

As it is, I raised all the money for the production on my own, but I over-taxed myself. Personal things have come up to keep me from raising other money(bought a house is the main one), so I'm stuck. I don't have enough money for either option right now.

So, the option I'm currently looking at is getting about 10 reels transferred at one-light(it doesn't look that great) and editing it into a trailer that I can show to some backers to get them to put up money. Getting the reels transferred is going to cost in the neighborhood of $1600.

Yes, film-making is expensive.

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Wow, for those who really MUST know everything that was used on a film.


The Camera:
We shot on an Eclair NPR. It's a pretty compact camera, pretty quiet if you're not shooting in a small room with a shotgun microphone(which we did frequently).

The Film:
  • All of it was shot on Kodak Vision 500, a very high-speed film. Too bad the actual company who sells it is not so speedy processing account applications. The film cost $135 per 400foot roll, and that gets you about 11.5 minutes at 24 frames per second, which is regular speed for film.
The Sound:
  • We had an Audio Technica 835b shotgun microphone. Very sensitive. Too sensitive sometimes. We used a Mackie 1402VLZ Pro Mixer. I recommend it highly. We recorded all the sound onto a full-sized Panasonic DAT machine. We had a portable DAT, but didn't use it, as it didn't show levels very well.
The Lights: (Or lackof)
  • We had a 1000watt Lowel DP light that went from flood to spot. Probably our most-used light. We had a 1000watt Lowel Soft Box that worked well. We had some Chinese Lanterns that we lit with bulbs ranging from 100 to 250watt. Other than that, all we had were some construction lights and creativity.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

September 8th, 1999

This is surreal. This is the actual place where I started originally uploading this log WAAAAY back when.

September 8th

Started putting some of these journal entries up on the web. I figure filmmakers should get a kick out of them. I start it off with a list of the “Players” and “The Equipment” which is below:

Kevin Kangas, Director: His qualifications include extensive studies of the films of Michael Bay, as well as his ability to pronounce the title La Jetee. Sometimes, he can even tell you whether it was Einstein or Eisenstein who came up with the theory of relativity.

Rick Ganz, Lead Actor: Just because everyone wants him doesn't mean his ego is huge. His modesty is legendary, and mostly because we've only heard of it and never seen it. If you see him, make sure you ask him to get you an autograph from his cousin Ricky Martin.

David Gil, Director of Photography: He's the guy that shot that commercial with the one guy that's talking to the other guy when that thing happens. Yeah, you know the one. Just don't be his Assistant Cameraman if you like to sit down, because he gets miffed. And speaking of...

David Mun, Assistant Cameraman: Hey, you gotta give the handicapped a chance sometimes. And I hear we'll get a special tax break too.

Rick Shipley, Title Pending Outcome of Litigation: Local filmmaker whose titles include but are not limited to: "I Wish My Mom Was A Whore", "Die, Slut, Die, But Do The Laundry First", and "If Sheep, Horses Too".

Bubby Lewis, Lead Actor: Likes earrings a bit too much, if you know what I mean and I think you do. Sings and dances on set for no discernible reason. I think he thinks he's good.

And a lot of other good for nothings!

In case you didn't get it, almost all of the above is a lie. Read on and you'll see what the cast and crew was really like. Then, buy the book and see what kind of juicy stuff I could make up about them.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

August 25th, 1999

I am ashamed to admit I have no pics for this entry.
So here's another would-be actress and the picture she sent.

August 25th

I managed to get my employee to come in and work my shift so I could get some sleep. Gil and Mun wanted to go out and have some drinks, since it was their last night, so I needed the rest.

We went to the Cancun Cantina, a bar that's half-country/half-good-music. Gil, Mun, Rick and my girlfriend got pretty trashed, doing nasty Tequila shots. I got a good buzz. We left when they closed, so Gil and Mun would get no rest before their plane left at 7:40am.

Not that I would either. I had to go unload the van and return it to my parents' house, because I was getting a bit sick of it. I wanted my compact car back.

I unloaded the van and went to pick the guys up. Mun was puking, Gil was sleeping. I rushed them to pack and took them to the airport.

I dropped them off at the terminal and helped them take their bags to the luggage check in. Mun looked like he was going to puke some more. We didn't exchange too many words, but I've got their numbers and emails.

We're going to hook up at some point. I'll probably be flying out to Fotokem in L.A. to supervise the color-correction on the video transfer, and L.A. and Arizona are only about four hours apart.

I gave them some scripts to take a look at. If I can show Hunting Humans to people and say, "This is what I did with almost no money", I'm hoping I can get some backers to shoot a 35mm feature that can actually make it in the theaters.
That's the plan anyway.

Monday, November 23, 2009

August 24th, 1999

Special effects by Half-Ass, Inc.

Okay, full disclosure here. I never mentioned this when I posted it before, but there was some awkwardness when shooting Ganz's naked scene. You see, the night before this shot we had found out that our Director of Photography was gay.

And then Rick remembers he has to drop trow and get his ass shot by said homosexual D.P.

Now he's self-conscious. What if Gil's looking at his ass with lust? Oh, the horror.

So when we get to the naked scene Ganz comes out of the bathroom in a towel. We set up for the shot and Ganz drops the towel--and he's got an athletic cup duct-taped over his junk.

It's the funniest thing I've ever seen. I try not to laugh too much.

Weird thing is that Gil acts as strange as Ganz does. Acts like he doesn't want to shoot it. So I take the camera and shoot it myself, and for once he doesn't seem to care if I touch the camera.

Strange night. But I remember it all fondly now. The warped looking-glass of time...

August 24th

Last day of shooting. Feels pretty surreal, like it's not really the last day.

The first bit of shooting called for some shots in downtown Baltimore. Rick arrived and he followed me into Baltimore. Gil hung out the window and got some landmarks. Then I pulled over and Gil and I got into Rick's car to get the other shots. I let Mun drive my parents' van.

It went easy at first. Traffic wasn't too bad, but it was getting worse. We got into a lane and Rick asked, "Is this a turn lane?" because we wanted to go left. It wasn't a turn lane, but we did anyway. A minute or so down the road and Rick asked, "Where's Mun?"

My parents' van was nowhere to be seen behind us. "He was right there," Rick insisted. They dropped me off at the street and said they were going to circle back around. I started jogging down the road toward where I see a police car's lights flashing.

Sure enough, a cop has pulled Mun over. I tried to talk to the cop, but he didn't seem to care.

Mun didn't even have his license on him, so the cop was trying to check it. We waited, and after about 15 minutes--and the cop smoking two cigarettes in his car--he came back to the window and said that Arizona wasn't cooperating with info. He suggested I drive out of Baltimore.
We lucked out there. Mun would have been screwed if he got a ticket here.

We high-tailed it back to my girlfriend's parents' house, where the rest of the shooting would take place. Unfortunately, they were home.

We displaced them to the downstairs and began shooting. Things weren't going well. The special effects where Rick cuts himself with a knife weren't working for squat, Gil was getting into one of his "let's-get-it-over-with" moods, and my girlfriend was coming upstairs to ask how much longer because her mom had to come up and go to bed.

We rushed through some scenes. I improvised some of the scenes--none to the better, I might add--but we finished all but the last scene we had to shoot. It's the one where Rick stands naked in the middle of the living room.

Surprisingly, we had no problem. It seemed that once Rick got naked, he kind of enjoyed it. Of course, he had an athletic cup taped over his crotch(a really funny sight), but you couldn't see it from our angle.

And just like that, we had the Martini(the final shot of a production). We broke down all the equipment and went through it so no one had anyone else's stuff. We even had almost an entire reel of film left.

I had Mun wrap 100 foot onto a spool so I could shoot some stuff with my Bolex.
I took the boys to the motel and went to pick up comics for my store. No sleep for me. I feel like I should be used to it.
Rick, when hearing he has to present his ass to a gay guy

Friday, November 20, 2009

August 22-23rd, 1999

August 22nd

Oh my God, what a wonder two days off can make. I feel refreshed. Mun went to New York for a couple of days, and Gil went to D.C. to visit his cousin.

Sunday morning rolls along and we headed to Owings Mills to make up some shots we couldn't get at the office before. I picked Mun and Gil up at 7:00am and they were pretty tired. Ganz was a half hour late, but once we started shooting, everything rolled pretty smoothly. Gil was pretty tired, so he let Mun shoot most of the shots.

I dropped them off and went to my house to get an hour's worth of sleep before the wrap party. My girlfriend bought enough food for an army.

Only about half the crew showed up. Any other time you mention free beer, you get too many people. I got drunk, and that's all that mattered anyway, isn't it?

August 23rd
Behind the Scenes shot to the only deleted scene

Hard to believe it's the next to the last day of shooting.

I mean, we're almost done shooting a feature film on a shoe-string budget. How many people actually accomplish what we've done? There’s literally thousands of people on the web all talking about doing it, but I bet you only one in a thousand does.

Anyway, we had a flashback scene where Ganz comes out of the bathroom pulling on a ski-mask and shoots a guy in the back of the head. I was going to have it very John Woo-ish, with Rick catching the bullet shell in slow-mo as it pops out of the gun.

It was what I called a “trailer” shot, something that would make it into the trailer I’d show everybody. Really, it wasn’t even in the movie.

The evening started badly enough. Rick couldn't find a ski-mask. He ended up buying a bandana to wrap around his face, so I guess now I'll be accused of stereotyping him. Oh sure, the Latino had to wear a bandana, did he?

We get to the racquetball court and find that someone has signed the court out for the time we wanted to shoot there. Rick has played with him before, so when he showed up, we asked him if he'd like to be in the movie. He's not too enthusiastic, but since all he has to do is play racquetball, he said okay.

The guy who was supposed to die doesn't show up. He was my hair-cutter, who just about begged me for a part. I substituted one of the guys who was supposed to be a racquetball player, but we didn't need him since two real players showed up.

We set up. I pumped up the sprayer so when Rick fired the gun, I could squirt blood all over the glass. After a couple of rehearsals, we went. The bullet shot was loud as crap, and Rick didn't catch the shell.

The blood went everywhere. It went onto the glass wall, but it also went all over the floor, the camera, the rail and my pants. And all of a sudden, a woman's voice said "What's going on here?"

I was in the process of coming out of the bathroom with some paper towels when I heard her, so I was completely unprepared. Rick and I have played racquetball there a lot, and I have never seen a manager in the building. It's like 11:00pm at night. For once, I didn't have a lie on the tip of my tongue.

Rick knew her. He tried to smooth-talk her. It seemed to work, but she said she wanted the place clean, as she just spent $4100 getting the place painted. I'd say she got ripped off.
She left and Rick started panicking. She knows him, she'll have us arrested, and so on. I calmed him long enough to get a final shot from inside the racquetball court, but we started cleaning up and I didn't get any slow-mo of the bullet being caught.

We did get her whole speech on video though. Way to go, Mun.

I dropped the guys at the motel and Rick and I went back to clean the place. We must have done an okay job, because Rick called her the next day and she said that all was fine.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

August 19th

Setting up Duke's death scene

Ha! We actually watched Mickey Blue Eyes! Man, that's the funniest thing in this blog...

August 19th

Good day. Lots of sleep. I woke up and made a phone call to Duke, who hadn't responded to my emails about showing up tonight for his death scene.

We couldn't shoot until Rick showed up, so I went and picked up Gil and Mun. We also stopped by FedEx, who had left a note on my door saying they had a package.

It was the two reels we'd sent off to RGB Labs. I was a little nervous before we sat down to view them. What would they look like? Would there be scratches through the negatives? Maybe even nothing on them?

We watched the video, commenting throughout. We all agreed that it looked pretty good, but the transfer sucked. There's an entire scene that you can't even see what's going on. They didn't monitor the transfer, they just set best light for wherever the reel started, and then probably left. Other than that, what we shot looked pretty good.

We showed it to Ganz. I think it gave him a little boost. It kind of picked us all up a little bit. Nothing like results to get you motivated again. I'm Jonesing to develop the rest.

We went out and tried to get the final scene of the movie, where Aric drives off in a new stolen car, off to a new city with new prey. I put Gil and Mun on an overpass and said to shoot our car while we drove under it and pull up to a wide shot of the highway.

We drove under, then back around and they had never seen us. They didn't shoot any film.
Daylight was fading quickly. I told Rick to drive around and come up the ramp and we'd shoot him driving there, with the sunset behind him. We shot it, but I don't know how well it turned out. If we have film left in the end, we'll shoot it again.

I made a quick call to Duke. His wife informed me that he had karate class that night and wouldn't be home until around 9:30pm. That means he wouldn't be on location until 10:00pm at the earliest.
The true face of Aric Blue

I cursed Duke's mom for ever having him, and we went over to the house to set up lights and get ready. We shot some pickup shots and then some close-ups on Ganz, then waited for Duke to show up.

An asshole neighbor came out and asked us who gave us permission to shoot there. I lied about a class project again and he asked whether we'd shot behind the houses the week before. I said yes. He said, "Yeah, we saw you aiming your camera in our windows". Dream on, pal, your wife's a cow. I don't say that, though. I just nicely tell him we were shooting in the house on the end and that I used to live there.

He doesn't relent. Get the lights and cord off his lawn, he wants nothing to do with it. Have we gotten permission from the Association(the community one, I presume) to film there?

We moved the lights. The neighbor continued to bemoan his woes to Mun, but we were pretty much ignoring him now. Duke showed up a little late, but we got the scene done and I think it went pretty well. Even managed to record sound this time.

We packed up fast and rolled back to the movie theater. We got there about midnight and shot the scenes we'd missed, as well as some more coverage. Ganz fled for home and the rest of us stayed and watched Mickey Blue-Eyes, which was actually pretty funny.

We've got Friday and Saturday off(thank God!) and then we shoot early Sunday, then have the wrap party in the afternoon. Technically we're not done, but it's close enough, and it'll be the last weekend day we have available before Gil and Mun fly back to Arizona.
"Hey, you got something on the back of your head..."

Monday, November 16, 2009

August 18th, 1999

Rick Ganz taking a sleep break on the floor of the theater
August 18th

I woke up after four hours and was still dead tired.

I got up anyway. Had to make some calls. RGB Labs called and said they'd be sending back the two reels they'd developed and transferred to video(oh yeah, forgot to tell you that we sent them), but they needed a credit card number and not the check I'd sent.

I shuffled some scenes around so we could shoot later at the theater.

I got Gil and Mun, and Ganz showed up before that. We shot some cool scenes, most of them with one take. Got some coverage anyway. You always get some coverage.

Doing good on the reels. We still have about six reels left and not a ton left to film. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

We got to the movies and set up early. The first shots went easy. Then we got to the pivotal point in the story where Aric finds one of his would-be victims already dead, with a note on him that says "I've got your pattern".

We shot the beginning, where Aric rounds the corner, punches in the code and finds Doug(played by James Fellows, a projectionist who shops at my store) already butchered.

James Fellows, MURDERED!

We shot the cutaways of Aric's POV moving slowly down the blood trail on the door to the body and got all that done. I told James he could go change out of the bloody shirt and put on another one for a different scene.

We were changing mags when I see Rick laying on the floor. No gloves on his hands. I asked him whether he was wearing gloves during the scene. He said, "Oh shit". I took that as a no.

We had to reshoot some cutaways of his hands with the gloves on. I hope the scene still works, since it's one of the biggest moments in the film. It's where the story spins off in a new direction.

We went outside and got some other shots, and Mun came up to me and asked whether he could strike the set, meaning pack it up. I was in the middle of one shot and I thought it was the last one, but I didn't have my script in front of me. Mental Note: Don't ever strike a set until you're sure you're done.

Ganz took off and I went to check over my script. We missed the entire beginning of the script where Aric gets to the theater and lets himself in. Now we're going to have to come back for it.
Dead...and loving it

Friday, November 13, 2009

August 17th

Jeff Volpe dies great(and is happy about it).

This is a case where I REMEMBER how bad the shooting day was, but in retrospect it seems like we had a lot of fun. Very strange trick of memory.

August 17th

No shooting at all in the day. Scheduled setup was at 12:30am at the movie theater where a buddy of mine works. That was when the last movie lets out, so we would setup in the theater and hopefully get all the shots done.

Setup took longer than I'd planned, once again. Mental note: Need a bigger crew.

The scene is where Aric goes to a movie theater in the middle of the day and finds a showing that's not very full. He proceeds to kill three of the four people in the theater, and is about to kill the lone girl when her boyfriend walks in. Aric then kills both of them.

The girl ended up a no-show, so I did some fast re-writing in my head. We didn't have much time either, so I moved the body count down to four instead of five.

The new way I planned it was for Aric to kill the three people who are in the theater, and then while he's about to leave, he hears the door open. He sits down quickly as another movie-goer enters. With three lone guys watching the movie, the theater appears to be a porn establishment. I may add a V.O. later, so the audience will identify better.

We shot a wide master of Aric walking in, looking around, then moving behind the first victim, played by Jeff, the guy who runs my store on Sunday. We cut, got Jeff out of the scene and continued the master as Aric gets up and sits behind victim number two, Brad, another employee of mine.

We moved Brad out of the scene and had Aric get up and come across near camera where he sits behind his third victim, played by Assistant Cameraman David Mun. We cut and moved Mun out and then finished the master as the last movie-goer enters, played by Brian Wade, a customer of mine.

We had a slight delay as we blew a fuse and tried to locate which fusebox was the correct one(there's about 6 fuseboxes scattered through-out the theater, running from the projection room to behind the concession stand).

We moved in for a close-up on Jeff, the first victim. This was going to be the only one I used any kind of special effects on, figuring that once the audience sees it the first time, they'll draw their own conclusions. We shoot a medium as Rick lunges forward and runs the knife across Jeff's throat. Then we moved in for a close-up where I'd already drawn a bloody wound on Jeff and taped a tube to the side of his neck.

The plan was for Rick to start with his arm in front of the room and cut in from the medium to the close-up, and as his arm leaves frame, you'll see the wound, and I'll spray blood rhythmically from the tube, so it will spout out.

We rolled camera, and no blood spurted at all. Rick's arm had been blocking it, so it just leaked down Jeff's shirt. We couldn't very well try it again, as Jeff's shirt was soaked red now. The blood on the auditorium floor looked cool leaking down the incline, so Gil suggested we get a shot of that from a low angle, and rig the tube again so blood pumped down toward the camera from Jeff's neck as he lay on the ground.

Credit to Jeff for laying down on that nasty floor, because it wasn't clean. He was having a good time and that makes all the difference when you're working on a low-budget movie. The difference between the miserable night before in the woods and the night at the movies was the control of the location. Things went wrong in both locations, but at the movies everyone was having fun and it was easy to come up with other solutions.

We finished with Jeff and moved on to Brad. Brad's not a professional actor, so I had some reservations about how realistic he'd look when Rick grabbed him from behind. I told him the shot we were going to do and said that we'd stop rolling when Rick lunges forward. "Is he going to grab me this time?" Brad asked. "No," I replied, "we'll stop right before that."

While Gil and Mun were taking some last minute readings, I told Rick to go ahead and grab Brad. The surprise would be real. It worked too.

We cut from that to a shot as Brad's arms drop into the aisle(Aric is pushing each person he kills onto the floor so they can't be seen). Brad flops partyway into the aisle and all you see are his arms being pulled into the row.

We got done that shot fast and moved to the Mun shot, which went off without a hitch. We play with the idea of Mun’s character trying to stop the knife and getting his finger cut off(since Mun is missing a finger already), but decide that it’s too much trouble to mess with.

The original plan was for Brian, the last victim, to come in and sit a couple rows behind Rick. Then, Rick would get up and sit behind him. Being a large theater and the only two people in it, this would perturb Brian's character, so he would turn to look at Aric. Aric tries to act like he's watching the screen, but when that doesn't work, he attacks. I wanted Rick to stab Brian in the chest, but we didn't have any special effects worked out for it at all.

I changed the choreography so Rick stabs with his big knife, but Brian catches his wrist. Then Rick reaches behind him and pulls out a small knife(a special effects knife with a retractable blade). Rick jabs it into his chest a couple of times. The first two practices didn't work, as the small knife kept falling out as Rick stood up. The first real time, after the stab, the blade came entirely out of the handle of the fake knife.

I managed to fix that, but on the second take, Rick snapped the blade in two. Hopefully we got what we needed. Mental Note: Bill Rick for the fake knife, that careless bastard. That thing cost me $3.99

We finished up that scene at about 6:00am, and didn't finish any of the other theater scenes. I'm going to have to do some shuffling to fit those in tomorrow night.

I dropped the guys off and had to go straight to pick up comics and sort them at my store. Only problem was that the van I was using was overheating. I dropped by an automotive place and had them take a look. The van needed a new radiator.

By the time I got that replaced and sorted the comics, it was almost noon. I had about four hours to sleep before we were shooting again. Ain't this the life?
From left to right: Dave Gil, Dave Mun, Jeff Volpe, Rick Ganz, and Brian Wade

Thursday, November 12, 2009

August 16th, 1999

Setting up in the woods.

One of the worst nights. Hands down. Hot, sweaty, bug bitten night.

August 16th

I got up early and started to go down my written list of things to do. First on the list was to call Kodak and get five more rolls of film. I used my girlfriend's credit card. That was all we were going to have to finish up, so I resolved to be a little more rigid on what we shot.

I had to get a replacement bulb for the Lowel DP light that blew in the rain. I knew we were going to need all the light we could get for the shoot in the woods that took place that night. I also needed more fake blood, as the stuff I've made up just isn't cutting it.

I also found out that Lisa, the girl we needed for the office scene on Saturday, couldn't make it on Saturday. I scrambled and told Rick to try to get the office for Sunday instead. Now I've got to try to fit Gil and Mun's mini-vacation in before that, and that also means we'll be shooting the morning of our wrap-party.

I picked Gil and Mun up, and we headed to a lighting shop. We picked up two bulbs for the light and some more gels. Gil is acting a little weird again. I don't know what throws him into these moods, but he seems to snap out of them pretty quick. Hopefully, he'll be out of it by tonight.

Fast forward a couple of hours and we were on our way to the woods across the street from my parents' house. We got there a little later than I would have liked--darkness had already fallen--but we found a little clearing where we could shoot the final fight between Aric and Dark, the serial killer who has been stalking him.

We started setting up lights. We ran all the extension cord we had across the street from my parents' house, but it wasn't enough. We couldn't hook up more than one light per cord or we'd blow a fuse at the house.

A cool neighbor let us plug into their house, which helped, but we were really running behind. It was 10:30 and we hadn't shot a frame. I had us scheduled to start shooting at 9:30.

Then, the asshole neighbor had to show up. "What's going on?" he demanded to know. "Mr. Lally?" I asked.

He said yeah, but still didn't seem to recognize me. "Kevin Kangas," I told him, very friendly. "I lived across the street from you."

He nodded, but didn't seem to care. "What's going on?" he asks.

I tell him we're shooting a movie in the woods. He wants to know how long it's going to go on. I lie and say about three hours. "So you're going to be shooting until midnight?" Nice math, Einstein.

"About one," I correct him, even though I have us shooting until 3:00am on the schedule, and most of the time we ran over.

"You have permission?" he prompted me. "No," I said, still nice. "I just thought that since I grew up in this neighborhood, I wouldn't have any problems." He told me he can't let me shoot a movie in the woods until 1:00am. "Come on," he said, "you're going to be shooting a movie in the woods until 1:00am?"

I told him he probably wouldn't even hear us, because we're in the woods and we won't be loud--though I guess I forgot to mention that we needed to fire some blanks. "Frankly," he said, "if I hear you, I'm calling the police."

He went back in. I made a mental note to throw a brick through his window later.

We moved in to shoot the fight scenes, but we didn't have enough power to record any of the dialogue, so once again, ADR is the word of the day. The similarities to Robert Rodriguez astound me.

The night stretched on. It was hot and there were a lot of bugs, mosquitoes included. I was real unhappy at the start, because I'm not sure anyone besides me knows exactly what we need to shoot. Gil is shooting some stuff and excluding others, and I think it's because the lighting is very tough to work with.

The hours went by and we finally came to the end. We were saving the gunshots for the end, but we had a shot of Bubby(Dark) getting shot in the head. I hooked a hose to his head and attached it to a pesticide sprayer filled with fake blood. When I squeezed the lever, blood shot out.

We got a couple of scenes shot and I was hunting for something on the ground when I accidentally squeezed the trigger when the pump was not attached to the hose. A shout, then people were laughing, and I looked up and Bubby's face is covered with fake blood. I'd sprayed it all over his face. He was laughing, so it was cool. We wished we'd had it on video.

We finished at 4:30am, firing off the blanks and bolting. Of course, Rick forget to wear his gloves the first time, so we had to shoot a second take.

I had brought the van around to the baseball field side of the woods, and had to navigate a tiny path that was bordered by a ditch on one side and a fence on the other, THEN drive on a hill that sloped about 40 degrees. I prayed that the van wouldn't flip.

It didn't. I went home, sweaty and smelly and miserably tired. If you think you're going to shoot an indy movie--and you don't absolutely love movies and the process--save yourself a lot of trouble and go do something else.

Oh, and don’t schedule any shoots in the woods in the middle of a summer night. That’s an important rule to remember.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

August 15th, 1999

The motley crue outside the movie theater.
Shooting without permission, of course.


This was a busy day. I remember it. Good news is that it turned out that we weren't missing a reel, we had just misnumbered one.

I remember driving through Baltimore too slow for traffic behind us, and the light we had gaffer-taped to the car ceiling kept falling down into Rick's face as we shot. (you can see one take in the bloopers on the HH disc)

But I don't think it was one of the tougher days.

August 15th

Houston, we have a problem.

We can't seem to find reel 17 of the film we shot. It's just missing. Which should be a notice to you: Log all your footage. We've been doing it most of the time, but we were real short-handed for a few days, so we stopped briefly in a point where we had no sync-sound.

The day started late and I'd gotten a lot of sleep, so it was the first day that I felt a little better. My head was clearing and I didn't feel as sick.

We went up toward the movie theater where Aric kills five people while they're watching a movie. We shot the outside scenes as he walks toward the theater with not much problem, and then the scene where he exits the theater with a bloody shirt and knife.

We took a break while we waited for darkness to fall and I began to look over the schedule and script. I tried to keep track of how many scenes we'd missed and where we could shoot them. Gil wanted to go visit his relative in D.C. while Mun wanted to go visit his sister in New York. They both wanted to do it Saturday, but that's the only day we can get the office again to shoot the missed scenes, so if we end in time, they can split.

Our other problem comes by the fact that we have about six rolls of film left. Each roll is 400 feet and shoots about 11.5 minutes of film at 24 frames per second.

We've got a lot of shots ahead of us, and 69 minutes of film ain't gonna cut it.

We headed into Baltimore to shoot some city scenes as Aric looks for more prey. We got some scenes from inside Ganz's car, then we tied up traffic as we shot from my car toward Ganz.

The light we rigged in Ganz's car made his face light up, so a lot of people were looking over at him. I decided if anybody asked that we'd say we were second unit for The Replacements, which is the Keanu Reeves/Gene Hackman movie that was shooting in town. They were actually shooting as we drove by PSI-Net Stadium to shoot our scenes.

We moved back into Glen Burnie to shoot the scene where Aric leaves the movie theater and sees a stranger that he believes might be another serial killer. I played the guy he sees.

We pulled our cars up to the light, essentially blocking the road in that direction. We started to shoot, and it wasn't very long before an unmarked car comes driving up, turning on his blue lights.

He rolled down his window and asked what we were doing. In the manner I've perfected I said, "I'm shooting something for class."

"You can't shoot here," he told me, looking at our setup. "You'll cause an accident."

"Oh, no," I assured him. "Everyone is driving by here slow."

The cop looked like he didn't believe me, but he didn't want any part of it. It was about one in the morning. "All righty," he said and sped off as fast as he could.

Gil and Mun couldn't believe it. They were cracking up laughing. They said if we’d been in Arizona, we’d have been jacked-up against a wall by that time.

We shot some more footage. A close-up on me from Aric's disturbed point of view. Close-ups on Rick. Shot of me from Rick's car as I pulled up.

Another cop pulled up, this time fully marked. A black officer stepped out as I walked up to him. "What's going on?" he asked.

"I'm shooting something for class," I replied, which you'll memorize if you're smart and shoot a lot of guerilla stuff. Them's magic words.

"Oh yeah. What school?"

I've always been a good liar. "Anne Arundel Community College."

The cop seemed familiar with the school. "What class is it for?"

"Film Production," I slipped out, then smoothed it over. "Actually, Video Production, but we're gonna shoot on film and telecine to video for editing." I figured that throwing in the big words might help.

"What teacher is that?" he asked. "Mr. Sparks?"

My mind reached for a name and came up with one. "No, Mr. Hamburger." Which I then realize happens to be the name of the realtor I used for my store.

The cop frowned. "Hmm, don't know him." He asked me some more questions and seemed genuinely interested. I told him about the story and he said it sounded like it would make a good movie.

He asked if we were going to use any guns and my warning lights went on. Sure, I told him, but we'd already shot those scenes. My warning lights went off when he volunteered that he had a prop gun that shot blanks if I needed one.

He said a Good Luck and Be Careful before he left.

We finished up our shots and I made a long list of things to do before we shot the climactic fight tomorrow, not the least of which was, try to find some money for more film.

Monday, November 9, 2009

August 14th, 1999

Rick's favorite scenes to shoot

August 14th

Hey, what's another hot humid day to a guy who's coughing up phlegm and has to direct a film even though his head is so stuffed up that he can't think? I overslept, but it was no biggie. Our day was pretty small. We'd actually gotten one of the scenes out of the way on an earlier day when we'd had the time.

We got a shot of Rick waking up from a nightmare. Easy stuff. We've got another shot of him waking up on a different day and getting a phone call, but we have to put that off, as the thunder and lightning is raging outside. I'm hoping it will blow over fast, as I've got Joe Ripple coming over at 6:00pm to shoot the other scene with him. I called him anyway and told him not to come unless I called him again.

I fixed some dinner(Caribbean jerk chicken) while we were all waiting to see whether the storm was going to blow over. It did.

I called Joe when the sun began to reappear, and we quickly secured a car. We didn't have a person to be the dead body in Aric's car, so I cast my girlfriend. She just had to play dead, but every time her eyes closed, they twitched. I hope no one notices. We shot a cover shot anyway, just in case.

It took some time, and the sun went down fast, but we got it done. I think it came out pretty well.

Joe went home and we shot the other scene inside the house, where Aric thrashes himself off the bed in his sleep, then answers the phone and has a conversation with Dark.

We finished up around 8:30pm. Not too bad. The guys(Rick, Dave and Dave) went into D.C. to party, but I just wanted to sleep. It was the third night in a row that I felt my eyes trying to shut while I was driving to the store to drop off the film in the refrigerator.

Late call tomorrow with not much sync sound. But come Monday, we have three days of grueling stuff. I hope I feel better.
Don't make him angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

August 13th, 1999

Ah, lasers!

Another hot, humid day. I woke up sick as a dog, coughing up green phlegm and wheezing. Not fun.

We needed to shoot on a bike-trail overpass that crosses a major highway, and I'd had one in mind when I wrote it. The only problem was that there were no main roads anywhere near the actual entrance to the trail.

We stopped on the highway and I climbed the fence, scaled the tree-covered hill, and looked for a way to get to the overpass. Didn’t see an easy way.

I found the closest place we could get to, since we needed sync-sound with this take and don't have a generator. We needed to use the inverter that you plug into your cigarette lighter to get AC power. I had to jump a curb on private property and drive up a hill, but I did. We were on the property of a major mall(Marley Station) and they routinely had security trucks patrolling. I wondered how long it would be before someone came up to question us.

We got a couple of nice shots up on the bridge, but not before Ganz could sneak in a complaint about how hot it was. It must be hotter when you're watching other people carry equipment, because he's always whining while the rest of us are working.


Sure enough, a security guard showed up with the stock question: "What's going on?" I lied to him and told him we were filming a little thing for class. He asked whether we had permission from the mall. I gave him my best innocent expression and said, "This isn't BG&E's property? I called them to ask for permission and they said it was fine as long as there were no crews working on the property".

He bought it. He said no, it was the mall's property and how long did I think it would take? I was gonna say an hour or two, but said, "An hour--" and he gave me a look, so I added "Tops." He nodded okay and took off. If ever there's a job for liars, pencil me in as C.E.O.

There was a shot I wanted of the people on the overpass talking while we get a car's-eye-POV driving under, but we only took one shot at it because it wasn't an easy set-up without walkie-talkies. We honked as we approached, but in major traffic, they didn't hear us until the end.

We returned to the house to shoot the big showdown before the final fight. It went terrible.

The room was too small. I knew that going in, but it really sunk home when you've got three actors trying to interact in ways they're supposed to, but they have to move to get around each other.

Then, every time we try to do sync-sound, we pick up the camera noise. It's very quiet, but when you get in a small room with a shotgun mic, you hear it pretty good. It sounds like a movie projector that's been muffled.

So I try to record everyone's lines, but there's no way this scene is going to come together without some major ADR. Just what I need, more studio time.

The scene runs long, very long. I'm trying to get as much coverage as I can, but rain hits and one of our lights(our brightest) gets blown out. We've got no replacement bulb. Great. It also kind of ruins our continuity for the shot outside that we were going to get, so now that gets pushed back to later.

We ended after shooting for roughly 14 hours. We had a break in the middle, but it's not like we relaxed too much.(I recorded some ambient sound and tried to redo the shooting schedule) We shot four rolls of film, as opposed to our average of about two per day. We're down to eight or nine rolls. It's going to be close.

Tomorrow we shoot late, so I'm going to get some sleep. I need it bad.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

August 12th, 1999

Bubby, Dave Gil, and Rick Ganz mugging for the camera

I remember that Trent showed up--we had never auditioned him. He came on a recommendation from Bubby. No one I had auditioned for that part had been very good, so I was even thinking about trying to do it myself.

Not really what you want to attempt on your first film.

Trent shows up with a box of cookies. We all sat around shooting the shit while we set up. It was fun. A decent day other than the blistering heat.

Aug 12

Today's stuff went pretty smoothly, but we shot over two rolls of film in one day, which is more than we can afford. We'll have to tone down a bit, so we have a lot of footage left for the finale fight between Aric and Dark.

We met Trent, the actor who was to play Frank, the scummy detective. He's a funny, talented guy, but don't ask him to fart. He can fart and burp on command.

We shot most of his scenes without much problem. Rick forgot to wear gloves in one scene and I've got a feeling we won't get a chance to re-shoot or cover it by showing him wiping off the keyboard where he was. The other guys keep saying "Suspension of Disbelief", but they're also saying "Fix It In Post", which is not what I want to hear.

The weather was hot. Very humid. As soon as you walked out the door, you dripped sweat. I'm hoping it will clear out before we shoot the final fight, as that's outside in the woods.

If the humidity is like this, plus mosquitoes, can you say Suck-Shoot?

I'm going to bed.

Trent played a scummy Detective

Sunday, November 1, 2009

August 11th, 1999

August 11th

Shooting was scheduled for 6:00pm. I picked up the camera guys and dropped them off at the laundry, so they could wash some of their clothes. Exciting stuff, this filmmaking.

We were shooting a flashback scene where Aric poisons the girl in the apartment above him by injecting her eggs with massive amounts of codeine. We had a really attractive girl named Allison to play the girl, and the scenes went down fast. We ended up two hours ahead of schedule.

We moved to a parking garage to shoot a scene we missed. Parking garages are excellent when you don't have a lot of light, as they're pretty well-lit.

I moved some of the voice-overs(V.O) that Aric was saying in the car to in the garage, which made the shooting much easier. We've already driven around looking for well-lit streets, and it's not an easy thing to find around here.

We finished that and picked up one other scene we missed, and we were still ahead of schedule.

What to do, what to do...

We went to a strip club. No, we had no scenes to shoot there, but all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. We played some pool, watched some naked chicks, and had the Arizona crew buy us beers since they were sure they could beat us in pool.

Better luck next time, guys. And Mun, get that nose washed off, if you know what I mean(and I think you do).

Call time is 1:00pm tomorrow. The shoot will probably be harder.

3:55 a.m

I was getting sick. My throat is getting scratchy and my chest is starting to get congested.

I felt it a little bit earlier, but did it stop us from going to Fantasies Strip Club after last night's shoot? No. Being sick is not a good way to be when you're directing. I'll be lucky to have any voice tomorrow, which is for the big showdown between Aric, Dark and Frank.

We'd be shooting around 2:00pm, so I was going to try to get some sleep, but I'm typing this at 3:55am, so it won't be as much as I like. I'm ready to drop now.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

August 10th, 1999

Joe Ripple faces off with Aric Ganz,
revealing that what I really wanna do is shoot a Western

It's funny that this was the first shoot with Joe Ripple, who would later go on and surprise all of us by directing horror movies on his own.

I'm sorry to say that back then we were shooting on film, because we wouldn't do any "rolling rehearsals", and Joe did some funny improv on one that I wish I had video of...

And looking back at this to see that I watched The Sixth Sense in the middle of this's hard to place how far back this was until you see details like that.

August 10th

The schedule got changed again. Ganz was getting tired, as he's working his regular job and doing these late night shoots, so I agree to move some shots to later so we can end the night earlier.

The sun was setting, so we got a few shots and then moved inside. I was worried about the actor playing our detective, Joe Ripple, since I hadn't heard back from him, but he showed up early, dressed perfect. He came on, knew his lines, and made us all crack up on set. One of our better choices for actors, and someone I'll definitely use again on another shoot.

We rolled through that scene and then knocked out three scenes in a half an hour. They were all set in the bedroom as Aric Blue goes to sleep. All we had to do was change him and lie him in a different position. Came out like a charm.

Ahead of schedule, we shot a scene that was planned weeks later. A flashback scene. It went nicely. We were thinking about sending out two reels to RGB labs to see what the stuff looked like and to make sure there was no scratching on the negatives or anything. It was too late to do much if there was, but it would be nice to see.

We knock off early and go see Sixth Sense, starring Bruce Willis. Good movie. Worth seeing. (and in hindsight, I had no idea how big it would go on to be)

Tomorrow is a cake day. We're shooting one scene in the evening that's a flashback. I'm beginning to brace for the coming weekend, as that's when I have scheduled the bulk of the shoots.

Monday, October 26, 2009

August 9th, 1999

Getting the shot with the real gun--notice us all cleared from behind the Camera.
This night was hot, and I ran a lot. That's what I remember. And yeah, I remember those annoying kids.

August 9th

Another late day. Most of our schedule is evening shoots, as a result of of the combination of our lead actor's work schedule and the fact that many scenes take place at night.

The shoot was at my girlfriend's parents' house, which was doubling as the place that our lead serial killer has temporarily appropriated.

I got my girlfriend to go down to a neighbor's house--one she doesn't know--and ask if they'll mind if we shoot some film in front of her house. The woman didn't seem to mind. Then I got my girlfriend to go to another neighbor and borrow a dog for the night's scene. Only drawback is that there was this kid that kept saying to me, "My dog's gonna be in the scene tonight". Over and over. Like I don't fuckin' know it, kid.

Dave, Dave and Rick Ganz arrived, and we started to set up. We needed to shoot a scene as Rick watches a man with a dog, then the man with dog walks off. The light was fading fast and we wanted to shoot before it got pitch black.

Didn't happen.

We didn't shoot from inside the house where I'd originally planned it. The dog was excitable and uncooperative. We had to put its owner out of camera range in the direction we wanted it to walk, and sometimes it would just bolt out of its collar. It liked cheese, so we hid some in the bush where we wanted it to go. It didn't work too well.

Kids ran into the scene once, not knowing we were rolling. I was losing patience very fast.
We moved down the street where we would film where Rick kills the man and his dog by shooting them. We had to run extension cord down the road about 800 feet and ended up putting too many lights on one cord.

So I ran another line from the house(the operative word begin “ran”, as I ran back and forth from the house myself no fewer than ten times).

We kept blowing fuses, so we tried hooking them to the house near where we were shooting(without permission). They didn't work. Finally, my girlfriend got permission to let us run cord to the house of someone she knew nearby.

The kids had come down and were pestering the shit out of me. They'd climb in the van, they'd pull extension cords, they were brats of the worst order. I blew my top. I wasn't nice about it all, but I got them out of there. They left crying. I think one of them stole the disc to my light meter.

That's showbiz.

And this is what the shot looked like on film.

We got the scene done and I think it came out nicely, at least the end of it. Hard to tell. The hardest thing about this shoot is not being the one shooting. I'm used to shooting my own footage, and sometimes it makes you feel a bit helpless and uneasy when you don't know exactly what was shot.

We shot a dream sequence later in the night, spewing smoke all over. The wind started blowing, and Gil said to Mun, "Move the smoke machine over there". Mun said, "But the smoke's blowing that way". Deadpan, Gil said back, "Oh, then just sit there." It was funny.

One thing I learned quickly: Indy filmmaking is about compromise. You need to be able to rewrite the script on demand to fit the boundaries that you'll come up against. Running too much footage? Shoot less takes. People talking in places that it's hard to light? Move the location. Can't get the shot you want? Shoot a different one, even if you think it could have been the best shot out of the whole thing.

It's frustrating, but that's pretty much the definition of indy filmmaking, at least as far as I can read it.

I thought I'd record some of the sexual innuendo going on during the shoot, but it's hard to write them all down. Here's a couple:

"I got Off on my hands" --Rick Ganz, referring to bug spray.
"Move it around so I can get the effect" --Dave Gil, referring to moving a Chinese lantern on a boom pole to see the best lighting.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

August 8th, 1999

Dave Gil goofing off as Mun holds the China Ball lamp that we've taped to a boom pole. This was our primary light on HH. And no, I'm not kidding.

Man, running around doing things with NO permission is quite the rush. You never know what bullshit story you're going to have to make up on the spot to convince someone to let you shoot there.

Cop come by? You're a student shooting a film.

Nosy neighbors? You're shooting something for your son's school's project.

Inquisitive people? You're shooting a video for a movie you wanna get into Sundance. Can they help?

It's like that 80's song. Lies lies lies...yeah.

August 8th

Started late afternoon, so I finally caught up on some of my sleep. Our first shot was guerilla filmmaking at the Super Fresh.

No permit. No insurance. No permission.

No problems, either, it turned out. Not one person bothered us, not even the two cops who pulled up near us. They went in to get a pizza. I mentioned how well that went and that we were ahead of schedule and everyone told me to shut up; I'd curse us.

We were about 45 minutes ahead of schedule, but it was raining and the later scenes involved outside stuff. We shot anyway. It went well. We even got to use a restaurant called Granny's, got permission and all. I forgot to get a location release signed, but I'll do that the minute we're done shooting. I promise.

On to my brother Paul's. He plays an artist who is stalked and killed by Aric.

He was a real sport. We shot his death scene and all, even splashed water(doubling for gas) all over his room and he didn't mind. He was late for a family reunion, which I was AWOL for. Hey, gotta have priorities.

Went on to Rick Shipley's death scene. Got the locals to cooperate with us and they even let us run a power cord into the building. Went off good, should look really nice when color corrected.
Our next scene was in Aric's car, which was Rick Ganz's car. It was full of stuff though, since he was moving. We had to go move him to Frederick before we could shoot the next scene. We were ahead of schedule, but that would set us back.

After dropping Rick's stuff off, we went to Annapolis to look for well-lit roads. We stopped at Denny's for a healthy breakfast. For some reason, they had the A.C. set at about Absolute Zero.

Dave Mun told a funny story about how he lost his finger(he's missing one, in case you didn't hear). Anyway, when he was younger, he was in a class to learn how to catch throwing stars. His master threw one and Mun reached up to catch it. "Did I get it?" he asked. Say this like you're an ancient Oriental Martial Arts Teacher: "You failed".

Cracked us up, anyway. All any of us had to say to get the group cracking up was "You failed".

We found the Annapolis Mall to be pretty lit, so we figured we'd drive around in the parking lot, in the road that goes in a huge circle around it. You wouldn't be able to tell, since the focus was on Rick.

Anyway, we'd just started shooting and security drove up and asked what we were doing. I told him we were shooting something for class. Did we have permission, he wanted to know. I told him no, but we'd be gone in five minutes.

Not good enough, apparently. He kicked us out.

What an asshole. Annapolis is like that. I think it must be a huge city full of closet cannibals or something, because I've never seen a town so afraid of cameras.

Later, Rick started to question whether he wore the right wardrobe in the right shots. Just what I needed. We didn't have anyone in charge of continuity, so I'd asked him to go through his script and make a note of what outfits he wore and when. So much for that.

We ended up shooting until 4am in the morning, but it wasn't that big a deal since we had a late start the next day.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

August 7th, 1999

Lisa played Barb, the secretary

Mun(with beer), Ganz, Gil, and Shipley

I remember this day as being kind of fun. The environment was semi-controlled.

Biggest hassle was my stomach--early in the morning it just decided to freak out. To be delicate about it, I blew up the only bathroom in the office, so we couldn't shoot down that hall until the stench cleared out.

As I look at the pics above I remember that Gil got into a little mood and asked Mun if he wanted to shoot a couple of takes. This made me very uncomfortable, since I had seen nothing Mun had ever shot.

I let Mun do it for a couple of takes, but I supervised even closer on those.

August 7th

Earlier than noon, I don't perform well at anything other than complaining, so you can imagine the state of things as I picked up the camera guys at 8:30 am.

We arrived at the office at the scheduled time of 9:30, but there was no one to let us in. Jeff, one of our actors for the day was already there, and after a few minutes, Ganz arrived with the key.

We hustled all our equipment in and set up.

Rick Shipley, a local filmmaker who had helped us cast a lot of our talent, showed up to help us out. He shot a movie on DV called Dangerous Mode, so keep an eye out for it.

The girl who would play Barb, the secretary at Aric's workplace, is named Lisa. She and her boyfriend Brian showed up. Shortly after, Duke arrived. He played Brad, another of Aric's co-workers.

As we set up, I could quickly tell we'd have a problem shooting sound in the office that was to be Aric's. It was small, and the sound was reverberating the slight camera noise right into the shotgun mic.

So for every take, we would shoot film and sound, then another take without the camera, so I could try to place it in. I've a feeling, though, that we're going to be doing a lot of ADR(Automatic Dialogue Replacement). That's a tedious process and isn't exactly cheap.

We started rolling through the scenes, but some of the people we were using weren't actors, so they'd flub lines left and right. I had to have Gil get a lot of coverage from behind in case I had to just dub in the lines while the audience is staring at their back. I've had to do it before, and I did it with success, so I'm not too concerned about it.

One of the funny incidents: We didn't have enough hands to do the slate, so we had the actor in the scene doing it. It was something like Scene 33, Take 2. He reads Scene 33, Take 6. None of us could figure out where the six came from, but that's one way to make it tough to sync up sound in the editing room.

As the day wound down, it turned out I didn't have enough sound cable to run outside around the side of the building, so we had to scrap that shot for the day. That made two scenes total that we missed. It looked like it was a good thing that I'd left an extra week for anything we missed.

We were probably going to need it.

We wrapped about 9:00 pm and I flew home. I was asleep by 10:30, so that the next day I wouldn't be comatose.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

AUGUST 6th, 1998

Dave Gil sets up the shot with Cathy Granville.

I was sweating bad. That's what I remember about this day, and you can see it on the Making Of on the HH dvd.

NOTHING was going right. I didn't know near enough about sound and I was in charge of it all. I was on the DAT machine trying to get the best sound but I wasn't even sure what levels I was supposed to be recording at.

Sure, I had spent a year on the newsgroups talking to sound guys but you get differing opinions. In the end it worked out pretty well.

But don't get me started on everything else that day. I've spent a lot of time trying to forget it.


On paper, I had us starting to set up about 4 p.m., as the shot takes place sometime toward the evening. We were scheduled to be in Rick Ganz's parents' house. He told them to take off and he'd pay for a hotel room for them.

I was running late, due to trying to call everyone, ensure we had food and drinks on set, pick up the special effects knife and more that popped up by the moment.

I got Gil(the D.P.) and Mun(the A.C.), and we bolted over to the house. Rick and Cathy--the girl who was to get naked for the shower attack--were waiting.

We began setting up. It took a while. There was a ton of equipment, and we were working with the bare minimum as it was. No wonder studio shoots have crews of a thousand.

We set up and get some of the shots inside. They were going well and the dog we had was actually doing what it was supposed to! We couldn't believe it.

Luck changed just like that.

We went outside to try to shoot some exteriors. The mosquitoes attacked immediately, biting the hell out of Mun and Gil's arms and legs. I've never seen anyone swell up from mosquito bites like they did.

I was trying to record sound when suddenly a fire truck pulled up across the street, and of course they didn't turn off the truck. They just sat there and made loud noises. So we were going to take it all back inside when I heard someone shouting to me.

The fire truck was there because there were live wires exposed. Those wires had now blown a transformer in the neighborhood, so no one had any power. Cameras and DAT machines and mixers run on power. I figured we'd wait an hour and see if they had it back on.

I figured wrong.

Rick came in and told me his parents were outside. His father had a stroke earlier in the day and they were back from the hospital. They didn't want to go to a hotel.

We beat a hasty retreat. The plan was then to go to the apartment Rick was moving out of, and try to shoot the rest of the scene and match the shots. I realized immediately that the carpets were not going to be the same color, but lots of people have more than one color of carpet in their house. I hoped it would match somehow, or I'd be rewriting out the beginning of the scene.

We got to the apartment and set up. The place was messy from the get-go, since Rick was on his way out, but now the living room was cluttered with equipment. As we were getting ready to shoot the scene where the girl strips to her underwear, Rick's soon-to-be ex-wife shows up.

What are we doing there, she wanted to know. There was an argument. Rick's soon-to-be ex-wife left in a huff. Good riddance, I say.

So we shot the scene where Cathy strips to her underwear and enters the bathroom. It went pretty well. We started the shot where she takes off her bra and panties and starts to get in the shower when she's attacked. When Rick pulled the curtain back and grabbed her, you could hear his hand hitting her throat. He JERKED her to the side and made motions like he was stabbing her.

When I yelled "Cut", I was terrified that Cathy was hurt. If you'd seen my face during the take, you would have laughed. I think my jaw hit the ground at the ferocity of Rick's attack. If it looks half as good on film, people will think Rick really hurt her.

Well, he did, sort of.

He had a real knife for that shot, and he brought it in and turned it so the handle would be the only thing touching Cathy. Unfortunately, he nicked her with the knife a couple of times. She was a real sport though. She didn't even complain when the prop knife with a retractable blade--the one that was hand-made by my brother--broke skin on her chest.

We ended about midnight and we had missed a scene. Not too bad, considering we'd had to move on the fly.

The only bad part: By the time all was said and done(we had packed up, I'd taken the crew home, I'd gone to get the wheelchair that was near our original shoot that evening, and then I'd gone to Metro to get some last-minute food and supplies) it was 4:30 am. I went to bed immediately and got up at 8:30 am.

Very tired, very sick to my stomach. I knew it was going to be a rough day.

Rick Ganz is creepy in the shower. Trust me.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

August 5th, 1999

Funny anecdote I remember from this day that I never put in the log.

I picked up Gil and Mun at the airport.

Now, I don’t realize it because Gil doesn’t set your gaydar off, but he’s gay. (and this will come into play in another funny story during HH)

So we’re driving out of the airport and some idiot swerves into my lane. I say, “Fucking faggot.” Gil and Mun laugh—I probably would have realized they were laughing just a bit too hard, but I had other things on my mind.

Later when we found out he was gay I remembered that and laughed. Hey, I’m a child of the 80’s. "Faggot" was the in-slur back then, and it's still a staple of my vocabulary.

Also, meeting Mun turned out to be a great thing, as he went on to shoot my next two features.
This is what the back of my parents' mini-van looked like--
it's the poor-man's grip truck.


August 5th, 1999

The D.P. and his camera assistant flew in, so I was to meet them at the airport at 7:26 p.m. I was using my parents' van for the week, so I went to pick it up. Meanwhile, I was frantically trying to find a wheelchair for the dolly shots.

I got to my parents' house and my head was still spinning from the list of things to do. I'd written tons of them down, not the least was to call the actors/actresses I'd need for the next day's shoot. Kiona, our Production Manager, helped out some, but I hadn't really given her much of a cast list to go from.

I was about to pull out of my parents' driveway when my dad said to hold on. He played with one of the tires and I just got a chance to hear "Looks like a...nail", before the tire began deflating rapidly.

It was about six o'clock and now I had to jack up the car, patch the tire, put the tire back on and get going. I'd meant to stop by my brother's house to pick up the special effects knife he made, but there was no time now.

I got it all done and picked up the guys at the airport. They turned out to be real good guys, amiable and understanding about the very-guerilla way of shooting that we ended up doing.
David Gil is the D.P.(Director of Photography), and he's done stuff for Fox, NBC and CBS, so he really knew what he was doing. The only reason I could even afford him was because he was trying to get some feature film credit for his demo reel. He's only 28, too, and Latino, but don't hold that against him. (Who loves ya, Gil?)

David Mun is the 1st A.C.(Assistant Cameraman), and really the only A.C. At 22, he's younger than Gil, but seems pretty knowledgeable. He's shot some shorts on his own and has his sights set on D.P.'ing a feature himself in the future.

We decided to go ahead and take the camera up to the theater that night, as we were going to catch a late showing of Mystery Men. We were going to try to get some footage of my friend James splicing film as a theater worker.

As we set up and just messed around, I saw how long it took to set up lights, test equipment, move everything, and the rest of the essentials. I could tell that I might as well toss my projected schedule into the paper shredder.

The Mystery Men was pretty good though, and we did discuss a few of the tactics we'd take to shoot some of the other movie scenes. I dropped them off at the luxurious hotel that I'd gotten for them(Motel 6) and headed off to get some sleep.

Good luck with that. I ended up getting about 3 hours of sleep.

Monday, October 19, 2009

August 1st, 1999

Exhibit B for why you should not try your own poster art

So yeah. This one is pretty brutal. You can tell I was feeling the pressure.

The funny part here is that Rick and I knew each other since about 1994 and then he started dating his soon-to-be wife. Let's call her P.

And I didn't like P, and I guess the feeling was mutual. Rick kinda distanced himself from me, I'm sure at her urging. We stopped hanging out. I didn't get invited to the wedding. (I was not offended--believe me, I hate weddings.)

A couple of years after they got married we somehow connected again, and tried to get a feature film off the ground, which led us here.

But eventually my perception of P was proven correct, and they divorced. Too bad the brutal part of the separation took place during my first feature film...

Aug 1st, 1999

Eight days until we shoot and I still have no film. Kodak keeps referring me to someone who's not there. I leave a message, I get no reply. This was all because they wanted me to get a business account.

Am I going to get a discount for having a business account? No. So what the fuck? Rick, the main asset, is having trouble with his wife.

Basically, she's a cunt. No, really. I don't use that word a lot, but it fits. If they didn't have a kid together, I'm sure Rick wouldn't even be married to her.

So, they're going to separate and the way this is going to work out is that Rick has to be out of his apartment somewhere around the 15th of August.

Ah, perceptive of you. Yes, right in the middle of the shoot. I guess, because I don't have enough to worry about.

Anyway, I call Kodak back and act like I've never talked to them before(they've got a million reps, so it wasn't tough). I ordered twenty five reels of 400 foot film and had them ship it to me. Taken care of.

Thanks for jerking me around, Kodak. I’ll remember you in the end credits.