13, 2000 - First day of shooting!
of mine, Steve
Shannon, had let us use his companies office space for
the office locations in the film. His company is called
which is developing some software which will monitor internet
traffic from within a company. He's been hiring people for
a few years to catalog Internet sites, so he's got a ton
of computers lying around. It's basically a large room with
a few outer offices, so I spent a day the week before getting
a U-haul truck and renting some office dividers to make
cubicles for my set. [Note to self: On the next film, make
sure I have a real budget so I can hire a production staff
to lug this type of shit around. I had to load those bastards
(office dividers) into the truck by myself.]
to shoot 5 scenes on the first day (Saturday) and 5 more
on Sunday, all at the Geoff desk location with John and
Geoff. Earlier in the week I had sent my camera off to AZ
Spectrum in New to get a video
tap installed, and the guy had promised it would arrive
by Friday. Nope. The guy calls me Friday and says I'll get
it tomorrow. There goes Saturday. I had also bought a 400'
magazine back for my camera from a guy in Australia. (He
tracked me down through a previous bid no one of these on
ebay.) Up till now, I had intended to shoot using my 200'
magazines. A 200' load of film runs for about 5 minutes,
400' will get you a little more than 10 minutes. I shelled
out another $600 for the new 400' back, figuring I'll save
money in the long run if I don't have to keep changing backs
every 5 minutes and losing takes as the film runs out in
the middle of them. The 400' magazine back from Australia
had arrived on Saturday too! Woo hoo!
attempted to rehearse earlier in the week the scenes we
wanted to do for Sunday. We thought we could just glance
at the script, fake our way through it and have it come
out looking natural and brilliant. No way. We quickly realized
that to have the acting look at all competent, everyone
is going to have to learn their lines cold. (Damn, it looks
so easy when Marlon Brandon just mumbles his way through
John and Geoff pretty much knew their lines, but didn't
KNOW their lines, we had to take about 30 minutes of rehearsal
on the set just to get them up to speed. [Note to self:
actors start to droop when put under hot lights. Avoid long
rehearsals under such lights.] THEN we were able to think
about rolling some film, and this was after about 2 hours
of set-up time just for lights, props and set dressing.
[Note to self: hire a set dresser when we have a million
dollars for the next big one.]
have a great find with my young crew; Emery
and Brandon Bond. A pair of 16 year old identical twins
whom John and I have known since they were toddlers. They
are very technically savvy for their age on audio equipment
and computers. They apparently have their own DJ gig at
their school and have been pulling in some money doing raves
and dances at their school. It took me 20 minutes to show
them on how to work the DAT machine and boom. Bam, they
had it...AND they were totally into it. I wish I could work
with pros who get it this fast. I'm sure they'll be hiring
me in a few years to work for THEM.
was nervous a first, then got into the acting. Those guys
went through about 6 pages of script with not a lot to do
onscreen. They basically reacted to what was on a monitor,
which I'll recreate and insert later. I suppose this isn't
an easy thing to do without becoming self-conscience because
you basically aren't DOING anything, just talking. I've
read about some indie film where they've done 10 pages or
more of script a day. Christ, unless you've rehearsed for
DAYS before you shoot, there's no way you're gonna get a
good performance. (Unless you're TOTALLY making it up as
you go along, then it'll just probably suck.)
to bring the Coolpix
950 camera. So we took no stills from this day. Packed
it up, drove the Bond twins home and sent the film off to
Cinepost in Atlanta the next day.
16, 2000 - Scratch, scratch, scratch.
We got the film
transfer back from Cinepost. There was a light scratch in
the middle of the negative all the way through. Damn. On top
of that, I was underexposed about a whole stop. Because this
is 320 asa film, if you have to lighten the image during the
transfer to video, you end up with much more noticeable grain.
I was also wondering why I kept cropping everyone's head in
the framing. In certain scenes, the frame line went right
through Geoff's forehead. I didn't think I was THAT bad as
a cameraman. Jesus.
On my previous
film tests, I attributed the scratches to a crappy film magazine
back. I confirmed this when I had gone back and done a scratch
test on the magazines. You run some unexposed film through
them with the emulsion side facing out. You can actually SEE
the scratch on your negative if you shine some light off the
surface of the film. [Note to self: geez, video doesn't suffer
from this, what gives?] Now it appears that my new 400' back
from Australia is doing the same.
Called Boston Camera
and told them of my plight. I wanted it looked at before my
next shoot on Saturday. "Bring it on down, we're busy, we
may be able to look at it before then" they said. I drive
down there next morning. "Ahh, I'm busy, I can't do it. Here...send
it to Optical
Electro House in California." The guy disappears. Brother.
Optical Electro House is the last place in the US that will
even attempt to service an Eclair
ACL camera. (They stopped making these cameras back in
1980.) If I did send it to them, they'd just clean it, charge
me a couple of hundred, then send it back to me without exposing
film through it. I'd probably lose an entire week if not more.
Screw it, I'll clean it myself.
was another concern. I had shot some film tests with all sorts
of different film stock. I thought they looked fine, I thought
my light meter I was using worked. I did notice that the light
meter I was using didn't have any settings for cinematography,
just the basic still camera settings. Just to be sure, I bought
IV-A light meter. (Industry standard in the movie biz
from what I've seen.)
Then the framing
was kicking my ass. How the hell could I have chopped off
everyone's head so badly? I grabbed a video still from my
video tap tape, (the image that I was monitoring when I was
shooting) and a still from the BetaSP transfer. I lined them
up in Photoshop and compared the two. Son-of-a-bitch, wadda
ya know, my frame marks in my camera viewfinder were WAY off!
(The video tap sees what's in the viewfinder, not what is
getting exposed.) This doesn't surprise me, because the camera
was modified for Super 16mm. Who ever did the mod probably
just guessed at the frame line, and didn't bother to check
it by exposing some film through it. If it weren't for the
video tap, I would've kept blaming myself for the poor framing,
because I wouldn't have EXACTLY remembered where I had the
frame set when I was shooting. At least I can now compensate
for the correct framing by masking off my monitor to where
I SHOULD be pointing the camera.
[Note to other
video guys: having a video tap installed is the greatest thing,
especially on an Eclair ACL. I've always shot with a video
rig while looking at a monitor, and rarely through the viewfinder.
If you end up buying something like an Eclair ACL, send the
$1600 to AZ
Spectrum and get one installed. Rob someone if you don't
have the money.]
19, 2000 - Snow day. Shooting canceled.
We were going to
shoot on this Saturday, but I freakin' blizzard blew over
New England the night before, so I canceled the shoot. The
good and bad news was: If I had to rent a camera, I would've
picked it up on a Friday and would've been forced to shoot
something, or else I would've lost my rental fee for the weekend.
The bad news was;
on Friday night, I was hoping to cheap out on my crew and
buy some cold cuts and bread to make sandwiches for lunch
the next day. I ended up spending $40 on 5 pounds of cold
cut meat and other crap. Because the shoot was canceled, I
had to eat my own cold cuts for a friggin' week! When I told
this to Juliet Bowler, she had a good laugh that I had impaled
myself with my own lousy lunch. Some savings. Screw it, we're
gonna go back to that deli for lunches next time.
26, 2000 - 2nd day of shooting. (Irene and Amanda knock heads)
we shot the sequences between Irene and Amanda in the reception
area. Irene dumps a load of work on Amandas desk, and John
Horrigan antagonizes them while they have an argument.
I wrote these scenes
last when I saw who good Lauren Verge and Juliet Bowler were
in character. I figured these two would knocks heads whenever
they interacted, so I fleshed these parts out. I also felt
guilty that the Mr. Williamson part was originally a complete
walk-on, with nothing to really add to the mix, so these scenes
set up the exchange between Dan, Irene and Mr. Williamson
later in the film.
Lauren had also
mentioned that this acting biz ain't so easy as it looks.
She thought that trying to know her lines while fumbling with
an armload of props was tricky, but I thought what she had
done was great!
[Note to self:
changing wardrobe or changing camera angles takes exactly
the same time, change the lights and finish the scene before
moving on, even if the next scene is exactly the same set-up.]
Didn't get the
final close-up of Lauren and John because John had to split
for an announcer gig at a hockey game. I hope I can grab the
close ups when we do a similar scene with Amanda and Mr. Disgusting
Eric chews his meter
Horrigan on set
Juliet as Amanda
Johnny doing boom
Director on set
Eric with camera
27, 2000 - 3rd day of shooting. (More of John and Geoff)
up the Geoff desk set. Pounded out the rest of the scenes
we wanted to do on the first weekend of shooting. Johnny looks
more comfortable with his acting. Says that he has much more
respect for what 'real' actors do. We noticed that when given
a prop (a phone) and you have something to do (pace), this
acting 'scam' feels a little bit easier to do.
Johnny had done
some very silly improve shit at the end of the day. His favorite
thing to do for a laugh is to distort his face by putting
a tight rubber band around it and start doing John Merrick/Elephant
Man impersonations. I had to roll film on his latest variation.
Hopefully I'll post them somewhere on the site, if not included
it at the very end of the film. (The good ol' "oops! Good
thing we stayed to the end of the credits, or else we wouldn't
have seen it!" ploy.)
Behind scene 116
Eric film lip
Johnny & Geoff
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