Friday, August 27, 2010

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Meetings, Interviews and Pickups

Saturday morning was spent meeting with potential investors in the WWII doco and the meeting went very well, especially since we were starting the doco on Sunday afternoon. After the meeting I went to Brisbane for my Grandmother's birthday, and while I was there, voted in the federal election. Straight after that we went to another meeting with Ian Sparke, of Sparke films.

Ian is the amazing military advisor and military costume supervisor on such projects as Kokoda, Thin Red Line, Wolverine, Beneath Hill 60, The Pacific and the Long Tan doco. His expertise on the authentic look of uniforms and soldiers from the 1700's to modern forces is essential for my projects.

Ian is doing what I'm trying to do with the 'Redeemed' concept trailer, he's made a short trailer for his feature script 'The 34th Battalion'

I wish him the best of luck with the project, and hope it gets off the ground soon. I'm going to employ Ian to get the uniforms and props of my Redeemed trailer to be correct for an SAS trooper. Down the track I'll get him for the actual film of Redeemed, plus the WWII re-enactments for this doco project I've started.

Ian did an amazing job on Damien Lay and Martin Walsh's Long Tan doco re-enactments, so it is essential to get Ian Sparke for the quality and authenticity of the period.

My short film that I shot with Frankie Oatway needs a couple of pickups, and then that will be complete, followed by the final scenes for the 'Redeemed' trailer, so that when I launch, I will have a film directed by me, a trailer for a feature script, and a WWII doco on the books.

It creates a body of work that any future investor, producer, executive can look at, and that's the plan...

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Am I insane?

A question that many a film maker asks...What am I getting myself into is another, and the two are usually side by side in the mental conversation.

I've wrapped on my short film with Frankie Oatway, it just needs to be cut, graded and soundscaped. Post production doesn't worry me as there is no deadline for this film, it just needs to be done right. So I can take my time.

However, the WWII doco has launched straight into preproduction, I'm taking meetings to discuss what assetts we have on hand, what we can arrange, and how to interview the veterans as soon as possible while they are still in the country for the re-union, going straight into research into the unit. Talking to the Department of Defence again (they must love me by now, I've bugged them so many times...bugged as in contacted, not bugged as in listening device...please don't arrest me)

I'm investigating the cost of setting up a HD edit suite at home, and the cost of HD cameras...hiring the gear is becoming a nightmare, and the freedom of having my own gear for films and doco's might be worth the debt...maybe.

So much going on and I haven't even debriefed from coming back from was only two weeks ago but it feels like last year, so much has happened.

I can only mutter to myself 'Ex Pertinacia Victoria' and keep going...though the muttering to myself doesn't help my sane image, but then, I'm a film maker.
I am insane.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Principle Photography is a wrap

Well, we did it. A two man crew and two lead actors, we got the final key scenes in the bag. There will be a few pickups to be shot in the future, some tweaking to be done in post, but it's in the can.

Ok for a debrief, lets look at some of the problems faced. One: the production house where I hired the gear from was useless. Three times over the course of the film they failed to provide what I ordered. Mics weren't in the gear, lights used in some scenes were not on hand for the next shoot (when promised they would be), so the lighting was different, a mixture of 5.6K cold fluro banks and hot tungsten kit with CT gels thrown in to fix the problem. Workable but inefficient for the small crew requirements.

I arrived at their door at 8.55am awaiting their open time of 9am, to get the gear loaded in 10min and go straight to the shoot location (an hour away). The gear was not ready for pickup, 45 min was wasted as all bits of gear were organised, accounted for, discovered bits were missing (lights, mics) and reorganised. A discount was given, and the replacement gear was given for free also, but that was only barely acceptable, but due to time constraints, low budget, and overall exasperation, I moved on and got the job done.

Two. Communication. I missed a vital email telling me my highly experienced 1st AD was caught up in a family emergency (and it really was inescapable) and couldn't work on the film. So for that nightmare first day, I was down a crew member, no tapes, no mic. So my checklists, structure, and process was on the back foot immedietly. But we got through it. But communication needs to be improved, my own, and my checklists to minimise mistakes.

That was pretty much it, communication and getting the gear I paid for, not bad for a film that was written while I was in Shanghai, pulled together, cast, equipped and recast in under a week, and crewed by ultra minimal crew! Everyone was amazing, the way they pulled together on a film that they didn't get paid for, and worked their behinds off in freezing cold, covered in blood, gave up their weekends, filmed shot after shot, take after take, and created something amazing, well, hopefully, if I do my job right. Post production is approaching fast.

Thanks to Tim Murfin who played the upper class and insane 'Colonel' opposite Frankie, their scenes were quite disturbing and powerful!

Oh, did I mention that the day after the film had wrapped, I still had the camera gear and fresh HDV tapestock, and I drove two hours to a country town which was hosting a reunion of WWII veterans and grabbed interviews and overlay for another doco...yes, I took off and grabbed another opportunity for ANOTHER project, talked to key people, made contacts for more Department of Defence involvment, and yeah...I don't stop. Can't stop. Won't stop creating.

I've signed the contracts for Eskimo Joe's track and am now coming up with the money for the synch fee for the Redeemed trailer! Here goes!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Skirting Disaster and Working Hard

6am I'm driving the hour it takes from home to get to the first location, the car is full of equipment, tracks, board dolly, jib arm, counter weights, Black 70% Shade Cloth (great for negative lighting windows/doorways). The camera gear and lights are already at the location, picked up by Frankie, the lead actor and I'm pumped, ready for a great day of shooting. The weather is perfect, and the location is fantastic, everything is great...until I realise that I've left the HD tapes at home.

What a rookie mistake, what a complete amatuer move, I was swearing at myself in my head with a lot more choice words than that. I decided to drive the final 15 min and drop off the gear and see if anyone from the crew is still back in town and could pick them up from home.

Negative ghost rider, too late. So I dropped off the gear, made the actors comfortable, apologised profusely, swore at myself some more, and drove the hour back home. Picked up the tapes, got back in the car, drove back to the location.

9am. I arrive back at the location, set up the gear, and discovered the production house who we hired the camera gear from had not given us a shotgun mic. I checked the invoice, I had paid for one, they hadn't included it, but had told Frankie it was in the bag...

I'd already lost 3 hours, what to do! Hit the phones, call every Soundie in my contacts, who had a mic? Got a mate back in town who had one but wasn't able to run it in to us...Back in the car, hour there, hour back.

5 hours behind schedule, early afternoon, light fading, not a single frame recorded and we had a night shoot to get to by 7pm at another location in Brisbane, 1 hour's drive from where we were.

It is a testament to the professionalism of my cast, and my crew that we got it done. Sharon Grimley, who had been cast three days previously was amazing. The rapport she had with Frankie was so heartening, and made the scene real. Frankie powered through and showed a softness and depth to his character that will make his cold killer three dimensional.

My brother in law was my only crew member for this part of the shoot and he was brilliant, his work ethic and his involvement in this film helped me through when my spirit was flagging. When your crew are busting their ass to make this work, you work harder so as not to let them down, and together we got it in the can.

Low budget indie film making, ultra minimal crew, one day to shoot it due to cast availability, we worked hard and got it done. While we were doing this, the large cast was assembling at the Brisbane location to prepare make up and costume. Alison Green, who was a non speaking role actually had Assistant Director experience, and took charge and fed, watered and organised the crew at location 2, while we were at location 1.

Desiree Voglesang was our makeup artist there, who actually worked on Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, her experience was invaluable! The bloodied victims were disgustingly good!

We made it to the night shoot, to be told the club location where we expected to shoot till 11pm was actually shutting down at 8.30pm (it was a quiet business night) , we had arrived at 7.15pm. So I quickly shot the one interior scene with Jake Stormoen who had driven two hours to be there for his scene, and arranged for power to be left out the back of the club when it shut down so we could complete the exterior scene.

For the next five hours in freezing cold, we splashed thugs with blood, shot people, got vicious, used the tracks, and worked our way through the shot list that Keith had in his hands, keeping us focused on what was needed. Our armorer fired off our blanks and we had half a film shot.

Sunday was a lot more relaxed, and we got to spend a decent amount of time on the emotional scenes, and explore Frankie's character. He really is a star in the making, with an emotional depth and range that is extraordinary!

Next week is the final three scenes of the film...our location is brilliant and I can't wait to get in there...with tapes and mic of course.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lucky to be on schedule

I start shooting my short film tomorrow, and it's going to be a long day, two day scenes and two night scenes to be done, but I am amazed at what we've managed to pull together in a week of preproduction. The script was polished on Monday as well as Camera gear booked, cast member replaced on Wednesday, Armourer was confirmed on Thursday, Tracks, Track dolly, and Jib arm was confirmed this morning.

So much was hanging in the air and is now falling into place with an almost audible click.

Beautiful day location and gritty night location, it will be a great contrast.

Can't wait to get on set and get this in the can,

here goes...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

I'm filming in 3 days

Am I insane? Yes. To add to my short notice schedule, my lead actress dropped out yesterday morning. She had to pull out due to commitments to her kids and family, which I completely understand. It just meant I was down on a key role, with a whole lot of gear booked and nothing to shoot during the day. (the night shoot is huge)

So I put a casting call out on facebook, and by the end of last night, the role was recast with the talented and darling Sharon Grimley. She will be playing Frankie's wife, a softer contrast to his hard case character.

We're on track, snow ball is rolling, here's hoping it doesn't become an avalanche...

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Shanghai and my short film

So here's the reason I have been offline for two weeks. I was in Shanghai, China for a holiday, and couldn't access the net often while I was away. So while I was having a proper break, I was also slightly on edge as a good mate of mine, Chris Allen was completing a short film script from a story we both came up with.

Why should this be of concern? Well, this short film is not 'Past Mistakes' a script I wrote with the intention of filming as a calling card. I scrapped it due to timing and resources. Frankie Oatway, my actor mate, well his career is taking off in the States in a big way, he's scheduled to fly out to New York to start on a new TV show and a number of films on Wednesday 18th of August...That leaves two weeks.

I found this out while I was in Shanghai, so my good mate Chris (who I've know since we were 13) wrote an amazing script that we polished with Frankie, while I was on the other side of the world. We start filming on Saturday 7th of August, and finish on 13th of August. That's two days of filming and two seperate weeks of rehearsal...ambitious? Yes. Crazy? Most Certainly. Achievable? I believe so!

Once that is complete, I'll finish the Redeemed concept trailer in time for a November launch, so I'll have a short film shot in the style of 'Redeemed' with the hard action and intense emotional scenes, plus a concept trailer of my film idea, set to the incredible music of Eskimo Joe. That's the plan...lets see if it works.