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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.