Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Five-Day Film Festival

Last weekend, I was a part of the cast and crew for a movie produced as a part of a five-day film festival. Rob and I entered this festival two years ago, and that's how we produced "The Chrononauts," which we are currently trying to develop into a webseries. This year, we produced a short film called "Rendezvous," and you can find more information about it over at the RHP website. The whole process was a lot of fun, as most of these festivals are, and we finished an entire movie in less than a week. I think we have a very good story and a very good script, and we have two lead actresses in this film who are heavy-hitters. Overall, I think it's a great project.

But let me tell you about it in slightly more detail...

On Friday night (last Friday), Rob and I were working on the story when we learned that the location we wanted to use was probably going to fall through. Stressed and panicked, since we had actors showing up in literally 12 hours, we scrambled to find a new story that we liked as much as the old one. After a few hours of this, we got an email that the location was going to come through after all. So now we had our work cut out for us in writing a script. We sat down around 11pm to start working, and I left his apartment around 1am with a fully completed script. We printed it out, emailed it to actors, and then tried to catch at least a little sleep before starting early the next morning.

Early the next morning, I was out the door bright and early so I could pick up Amanda, one of our actresses, from the train station. We arrived at the set around 9am so we could get into
costume and discuss the script, and then head off to get started with the filming. We had a beautiful day for it, although my wool costume did make it just a little bit uncomfortable. The first scene we filmed as the final scene, which was a big fight between the heroes and some Nazi soldiers that stumble across them in the woods.
We filmed the fight scene first, broke for lunch, and then hustled ourselves through the rest of the script to make sure we could finish all the scenes before the sun went down. As it was, we finished slightly ahead of the sunset, and we actually had to wait for it to get dark so we could film a nighttime scene and a dream sequence.

Our production crew dug a fire pit and made a campfire, and the actors made s'mores while Rob set up the camera and the lights. Then we broke out the fog machine and the air cannon to get shots of the dream sequence, and we ended the day by blowing me up. Rob's exact note to me was to "Die like Willem Dafoe." In Platoon.
It was a great shot to end the day on, too. When we watched it on the playback, we knew we had something awesome for the film. The black smoke behind me filled with pieces of debris makes it a great image, and it works really well in the film itself.

As we were shooting the movie, I confess to being nervous about getting the chance to finish the whole thing. Rob and I habitually bite off more than we can chew when it comes to shooting movies in a single day. I always panic a little bit when it gets to lunchtime, and I worry that we're not going to get everything done that we need to get done. But we always get everything done (mostly), even if Rob decides that he has to cut some setups in order to finish in time. And I know there have been times when we've had to run out of a location without getting some shots we wanted. But that didn't happen this time, and we got more done that I was expecting. We all went home happy with the footage we had, and now only needed to put everything together as a movie. But that's the next post.


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