♦ Shoot Day 1
Today we commenced shooting indoor scenes at "Mountain Temple Center", which we will be portraying as the home of a reclusive witch in our film.
We ran behind schedule, which is to be expected, particularly when breaking in a new crew, but we completed several scenes before production wrapped for the day. Everyone is in good spirits despite the long hours.
The gentleman who is letting us use his property to shoot on let me know, in the course of conversation, that the place may have been built on an Indian burial ground!
OK! So, we're shooting a movie about the Occult in an actual working Gnostic temple, built on an Indian burial site.
What could go wrong?
♦ Shoot Day 2
Today our Makeup Artist called to let us know she was going to be late because her dog was stung by a scorpion and she had to rush him to the vet.
Our director of photography could not make it, but the second cameraman stepped in and did a great job!
Another key crew member was missing in action and couldn't be reached by phone. Luckily, our crew is quite talented and other crew members pulled double duty.
We ended up getting off to a late start again, but we got several more scenes finished by the end of the day.
Overall, A good, productive day despite a few rough spots.
♦ Shoot Day 3
Today, our Makeup Artist came down with severe food poisoning and couldn't make it.
Our secondary Makeup artist's husband was in a motocross accident and broke some bones and sustained other injuries. She had to attend to him and couldn't make it either.
The key crew member that was absent yesterday is still absent and his phone is not working. Good thing we have people to fill in in a pinch. I'm a bit worried about him though.
Our Director Of Photography was unable to make it again and the second cameraman stepped in again and did a great job. If this keeps up, he will end up as Director of Photography. He certainly has the skills!
On the plus side, our Wardrobe Supervisor showed up and helped out even though she wasn't scheduled to be there today. A nice surprise!
We got off to a late start but, despite everything, got more done than on the previous shoots.
Another productive day, more scenes completed.
♦ Shoot Day 4
The Second Cameraman (Now officially Director of Photography!) brought extra help! He brought a Goth makeup and wardrobe expert to help out with the apprentice's outfit and overall look. He also brought a second cameraman!
The key crew member that was absent for the last two shoot dates is ok. It turns out that his absence was due to miscommunication and he hadn't been reachable due to a bad cell phone. He's back and committed to the project.
The Primary Makeup Artist has recovered from her run-in with food poisoning and put in a full day today.
The secondary makeup person's husband is going to be ok. It looks like his most severe injury is broken ribs, which are not fun, but at least are not life threatening. She should be available on some of the future shoots.
We had a really good shoot. We finished up the last of the major indoor scenes at this location and we really got some excellent performances today. The actors really nailed one of my favorite scenes in the script and it should be great on screen!
We will be moving on to a new set of scenes for the next shoot date and a new location. Although our host, Michael Crowley was quite gracious in granting us full access to his house, temple, ritual area, extensive occult library and other facilities, it will nice to be shooting scenes someplace other than a pagan temple built on an Indian burial ground! It just seems like pushing our luck: anyone see "Poltergeist"?
♦ Shoot Day 5
Today's shoot was our first fully outdoor shoot for this production.
This time, we were shorthanded in our makeup department, which set us back quite a bit. Fortunately, out FX artist stepped up and took over makeup for this shoot.
Just as we were ready to shoot, a truck showed up at the location and STARTED SANDBLASTING!! They left eventually, but by then we were even further behind schedule.
Finally, we were ready to shoot, but it turned out that the reflector and diffuser had been forgotten, which meant we had to shoot strictly with unmodified daylight, which will mean more work with the footage in post.
Nevertheless, we forged ahead and shooting went very well. I kept pestering the crew to stay in the shade, keep hydrated and use sun block. Inevitably, I was the one who ended up getting totally sun burnt! By the end of the shoot I just wanted to take a cold shower and have an aspirin or twelve. Instead, we all went to "Lo Lo's Chicken and Waffles" which was really great, particularly since I had been up since 5:00 AM and was starving.
It was a long day, but we got all the planned scenes done. I am pleased with the progress we made today and I am learning that in order to make everything work smoothly, I am going to have to take more personal charge of the details and plan for redundant scheduling of cast and crew in order to allow for no-shows.
♦ Between Shoots
Today I finally got a hold of a representative from Rasputina and got a quote
for using the song "Gingerbread Coffin" in our film ($1000). We will get the formal agreement signed and make that payment during the editing phase of the project.
♦ Shoot Day 6
Today was a light shooting day, just a few people filming street scenes and a shopping scene at an occult shop, "Alpha Books". The shopkeeper, John Rogers, stepped in to play the shopkeeper in the scene and it went well.
♦ Shoot Day 7
Today was our first day of shooting for the forest scenes, which are vital for the film and constitute the bulk of the screen time. I assumed that between the natural sunlight and various shady groves, that lighting conditions would be ideal.
I was SO wrong!
We got to the location on time and eventually got organized, had lunch (The Assistant Director brought fried chicken. Nice!) and got everyone into costume. Shooting commenced behind schedule, but once we were underway, the actors really did a great job and the location looked fantastic! After the shoot, we headed back to the camera crew's house to look over the footage on their huge TV.
It was all unusable!
We don't have a sound person, which meant that a lot of the sound was pretty dicey, but the real problem was the lighting. What looked great to the naked eye presented way too much contrast for the cameras, resulting in horrible footage that wasn't worth trying to salvage. It was very disappointing after all the great work that we got from everyone.
On the bright side, we got a chance to look over the footage from the Alpha Books location and it was very good indeed! The shopkeeper did a really good job and the camerawork was very nice.
♦ Shoot Day 8
Today we headed back to the forest location to re-shoot the scenes from last week. This time, I have a plan to compensate for lack of a sound man and the lighting conditions. For the sound problem, we will be getting more close-ups during all conversation, so we always have at least one good audio track from the XL1. For the lighting problems, we will be shooting primarily around twilight, when the light is naturally diffused.
Shooting went well, the actors did a fantastic job and we re-shot everything that we had done last time.
Once again, we returned to the Camera crew's lair and reviewed the footage.
This time, it was great!
The lighting and sound changes resulted in good quality, usable footage that made up for all the bug bites and burrs we picked up out in the woods.
♦ Shoot Day 9
Today We headed back to the woods.
Everything went smoothly, although traffic and airplane noises are an ongoing nuisance.
We got more good solid footage and everyone did a great job.
We really could use a sound person and more help with props and such, but production is moving forward and progress is being made.
We reviewed the footage, and it looked great!
Before the next shoot, I will need to make more props, costumes, some FX and such and do some planning. We are getting into more complex scenes that will involve more of the peripheral characters and more prep work.
The Goth Makeup Consultant has evolved into a more vital crew member than initially expected and may be filling in for some of the other crew who are not always available, as well as appearing on screen as the Thief character.
♦ Between Shoots
Today, I picked up an armload of weapons from an S.C.A. family. They have a great weapon collection and they are loaning me a lot of swords and other medieval weapons. Their son is also keen to help out with editing and as an extra!
♦ Shoot Day 10
Today, we had another outdoor shoot. We are starting to get into more complex scenes, involving more actors and special effects.
There were a lot of problems with this shoot. I was up the entire night working on props, costumes and effects, which meant I started the day without any sleep at all. It is not good when the guy in charge of everything is falling asleep.
The next issue was that an important crew member didn't show up, which put us behind schedule, but I was able to pick up the slack. Unfortunately, there were other delays as well. I will have to try and get everyone to be more timely. (Myself included!)
I had one of the lead actors drive me to the location because, in my sleep-deprived condition, I did not trust myself to drive safely on the twisty, unpaved roads that we had to travel on.
Once we were on site, we had a quick lunch and started preparing for the scenes. Due to my lack of organization, this took longer than it should have.
I usually take time to organize the supplies for a shoot beforehand, but this time, I was working on props and FX right up until the last minute. I ended up just cramming everything in my truck whether I needed it or not.
We eventually got up and running, but we were behind schedule and I was having trouble concentrating. Luckily, one of the lead actors had brought along a friend with special effects experience, and she stepped in and deftly made the effects work for us.
We reviewed the footage back at the camera crew's house and everyone agreed that it looked good. We are making progress. We had more good usable footage, but far less than I had hoped for.
Everyone did a really good job. Good acting, good camerawork.
I have high hopes for the next shoot, but in the meantime, I'm getting some sleep!
♦ Shoot Day 11
Today, we returned to the previous forested location to work on the action sequence we had not finished last time.
I ended up blowing out a tire on the way there, which put things even further behind schedule than we usually are.
Despite many problems and delays, we ended up getting some very dramatic footage that will look great on screen.
Although we are getting good footage by shooting at twilight, the narrow shooting window is crippling the production and we will have to change our shooting strategy after we finish up the current scene sequence.
♦ Between Shoots
It looks like production is pretty much on hold until after the holidays. Everyone's availability is pretty bad until after the first of the year. I will spend the time making props and costumes and getting more organized and prepared for the shoots ahead.
♦ Between Shoots
January has been a production disaster!
After losing most of December to the holidays, we have been unable to get everyone on board for a single shoot day in January!
On top of that, it turns out that our primary camera is no longer being serviced by the factory and they have stopped manufacturing replacement parts for it!
One of our lead actresses is going to be leaving us because our production is behind schedule and she has other responsibilities! This will require some creative rewriting of the script! (Note to self: tighter shooting schedule on future projects!)
Vital crew members will be moving out of state in just a couple months too!
And the production is pretty much out of cash!
♦ Between Shoots
Thing are looking up! I have sold some costumes, which will give me some cash for production and a couple hundred has been invested by people who believe in the project, which is a nice vote of confidence. It is tough to produce a feature film without people who believe in you.
♦ Shoot Day 12
We are finally back in production!
We Shot some footage in a wooded area that will help to create the transition needed to replace one of our actresses. We used a stripped down crew and just a few of the core actors for this scene in order to economize and to get things organized quickly.
We shot on a secondary camera with our third cameraman, Patricia, who did a great job. We got some good footage that should work, although the sound turned out pretty badly: we were right under a busy flight path and had almost constant noise in the background! We got the scene in the can, though. We can edit the sound later.
After that, we shot another scene at the camera crew's house and on surrounding streets and it turned out great! Exposure, composition, sound, all excellent! Our third cameraman's son had a couple slices of the pizza that we ordered for the crew, which I figured made him part of the production, so we added him in the background in a walk-through and that worked nicely.
(New rule: If anyone touches craft services, they become part of the cast or crew: it's like eating fairy food! Eat even one solitary M&M and your soul belongs to us! MUAHAHAHA!!!)
It was a good day!
♦ Between Shoots
We just got permission to shoot one of our scenes in a vintage bathroom that we really needed! I know that this might not sound important to anyone but me, but this bathroom is exactly what we needed for one of our scenes. It is small, which would usually make it hard to shoot in but... there are three doors into it! One of our most dramatic scenes takes place there and I have high hopes for how it will turn out!
The next two shoot dates are already agreed upon and production is gathering momentum again!
♦ Shoot Day 13
Today, we set out to shoot four important scenes at four completely different locations. We may not have one of our lead actresses after today, so it is vital that we get this right!
Everyone got to the first location on time! We are working with a stripped down crew today, so that probably helps.
The shoot at the first location went very well, although we did have some problems with the lighting conditions, which delayed things. We were doing outdoor scenes at the Mountain Temple location. Everyone did a great job!
The second location shoot went flawlessly! It went faster than planned and the footage was simply stunning! This is probably the best scene in the film so far. I wish we had had more time to devote to it, but it went perfectly! We were shooting a scene at the home of a world famous mineral photographer, who let us shoot in the bathroom of his antique house. The only problem was that I forgot to lock up after the shoot ended, and forgot to tell the property owner we were leaving, which is not the way to treat other people's hospitality! I apologized profusely when I realized that I had spaced out on the property owner's security. Luckily, the guy was cool about it and there was no harm done, but I felt like an ass.
The third location was an improvised substitute for a scene that was supposed to have been at a sci-fi convention. We went to Imperial Outpost Games on Thunderbird and found it packed, which was perfect for the scene. We got permission from the owner to shoot the scene and he helped us get some volunteers for the scene we were shooting. Everything turned out really well and the gamers were very enthusiastic in helping out with the project. It was a very fun atmosphere to shoot in.
The fourth site never got done. We had people there ready to help out with the scene, but we completely ran out of time and I called and apologized for our no-show.
All in all, this was a terrific shooting day. Probably our best so far. Everyone really did a fantastic job today!
♦ Between Shoots
We have officially recast the role of the apprentice. Amy Searcy is an extremely talented young lady who will bring a lot to this role.
The director of photography is recommending we re-shoot from scratch using higher quality cameras and introducing a lot of green-screen. We are still reviewing the practicality of going in that direction, but it does have many advantages.
We held a cast and crew meeting and made some progress toward a shooting schedule for this year, although it looks like I will have to set up individual meetings with some of the people to iron out various issues.
All in all, the project is getting back on track and I expect a solid shooting schedule to be in place sometime this month.
♦ Between Shoots
We have added two new cast members who will be filling the roles of the "Whiskey Man" and the "Office Manager".
We have decided to go with a lot of green screen and this should speed production and reduce on-location expenses.
We had a productive cast and crew meeting, which yielded some good information and got us moving in the right direction.
We are still short a number of important cast and crew members and will be actively recruiting in the coming weeks via Craigslist and other means.
All in all, this round of production is shaping up very well.
♦ Between Shoots
Due to a variety of
important factors, principal filming for OfficeQuest is being rescheduled for
March and April of 2009.
We will be doing some minor shooting prior to March, notably, the snow scenes and a few of the outdoor sequences that we are not going to green-screen. This will reduce the workload for March and April a bit.
If March and April are bad months for you and you are in an important cast or crew position, let us know as early as humanly possible! We need you there, or off the project in enough time to find a good replacement!
We will be filming each Sunday during March and April.
On the positive side, this will give us extra time to improve on costumes, FX, sound, lighting and other technical production aspects of the filming.
This schedule change also means we will have Seth Gandrud back on board in his leading role of "Nerd #1" aka "Nigel Frankowski", which is a major bonus!
Ultimately, this delay will result in a better, more saleable film that we can all be proud of.
camera equipment, recasting and collection of sufficient
funds to resume. Apologies to all for this delay.