Saturday, June 24, 2017
The next day, the day I was going to call the actress to see if she was going to flake, I got a late audition video in. Turned out it was the only audition where the actress got how I wanted the character to be played.
So I said fuck it--I cast HER instead. I emailed the other girl to tell her that we'd made a mistake in casting her, and apologized. She seemed okay with it in her reply to me.
The other girl seems good to go, so now I have the main cast for the segment.
Went through the shot list and made it ironclad. With all my little notes to myself to remember the shit that I might forget.
Back out to the woods today for some more location scouting for the OTHER segment that we'll shoot starting July 13th. It was hot as fuck. Found a tick on my sock afterward, so I'm two-for-two on ticks on the visits. Guess they weren't kidding when they said they'd be bad this season.
Only thing I'm sweating right now is how many "creatures" I'll have the night of the shoot. I'm taking some old halloween costumes so we can throw them on background people and keep them out of focus, just to give a little more depth to the gathering, and make it seem like there's more creatures there than we have.
I feel pretty good about the actual shoot for the first segment. Still have a lot of tiny things to get in order, but it's really the main segment that we'll shoot 2 weeks later that's gonna be the biggest issue. Still have to cast a lot of smaller roles, and one big role.
My backup actor who I was going to go with if I had to--not 'cuz he's bad, but because I just don't want to always use the same actors in my flicks--he's busy. The other actor who is friends with a lot of mutual friends hasn't turned in his second audition. He was late sending in his first audition, so I'm getting a bad feeling about him anyway.
Did some more research on using a steadicam while manually pulling focus yourself(as the steadicam operator). Everyone says it's impossible, so I guess I'm gonna find out.
I think, rather than the 50mm, I should have gotten the 35mm. After this segment if the 50mm is too hard to use with the steadicam, I'll probably return it and switch it out for the 35mm. Never done that with the rental place, but I think they'll do it.
This video is applicable to something I'm going to try on the first segment. Gotta test it to see whether it works though.
Saturday, June 17, 2017
Still had no luck on a main actress for the 1st segment. So today I said fuck it, and sent out a congrats letter to an actress who's decent but not my first choice. She seems excited, but then after I send her the script she says she wants to talk to me on the phone, has some questions.
WTF is that? There's no nudity or sex whatsoever in the script, so...what's the deal?
Why is it so goddamn hard to get decent actors and actresses in this area? So many half-ass, lazy, reluctant mutherfuckers. If I lived in NY I'd already have this whole thing cast, and with way more talent than I'm currently looking at.
Unfortunately, then I'd be living in NY.
I'll call her today, and if I sense she may flake, I'll take the role back and just keep looking. I mean, I have a whole 12 days to find someone else...
Got a monitor for the camera. Gotta figure out how to make this whole steadicam work with it. Once I get the camera, I need to mount it all on and then balance it exactly. But if I pivot the monitor to a different angle on the steadicam, I'm guessing it's gonna throw off the weight and I have to re-balance. That'll add time I don't have.
The camera comes in on the 27th, so I'll have 2 days to get its settings right so it matches the mavic as close as possible, and get the steadicam weighted right for the lens I'll use mostly(a 50mm probably).
Gotta cast the other main part to the wrap. Have sent a ton of sides, with notes that say we're casting soon. Does that get actors to send shit in?
Not so much.
Thursday, June 15, 2017
Still no lead actress.
It really surprises me sometimes how hard it is to get good actresses. So many of them take little shitty roles in shorts or crappy never-to-be-seen low budgets or zero-pay flicks, and here I am making a movie that's gonna be seen by a minimum of 50,000 and while I'm not paying a ton, I AM paying.
And it's only two nights of work, unless something really bad happens.
Had one actress from NY who was decent. A bonus that she had hair like a wig I have, which will help one of our FX shots. (If we cast someone with dark hair, I'll have to buy a wig.)
She sent in an audition. I was waiting on a couple of other auditions, but I got back to her two days later. She claims she already booked something.
Meanwhile I've gotten some other applications for the younger role of Tabby--she's in the main story that we'll shoot mid-July. Some are decent. But I have a friend(Okay, a FB friend) who has a girlfriend that looks perfect for the role. I'd reached out to him to see what he thought.
He told HER, and she's all excited. Really wants to do it. Even does an audition, and she's not bad at all. So do I take the chance on her? Only downside there is--wait for it--she has dark hair. And it's another person whose head gets fucked up, thereby requiring a wig.
Wanna see our melon tests? (of course you do)
That was the watermelon. 96fps. Didn't really explode much.
Then we tried the cantaloupe. Only watch the first 20 seconds of this, then skip ahead to 5:20 for the 2nd shot, which was from the side instead of below.
I mean, for reference these are pretty cool. Not sure I can actually composite any of that stuff in and make it look right, but perhaps if I take certain chunks, isolate them, then map the pieces of the actor's face to the proper pieces...perhaps I could get something there.
Went over and got my steadicam back. Also went by to see some of the FX. Most of it looks great. He's having a hard time with a piece that goes on what I call "The Dark Lord", but hopefully he can fix it so it's badass.
Honestly, if I could get this actress cast then I'd be feeling pretty good about the first segment...
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
Nevermore so than this week have I asked myself "WHY?"
Why do I do this?
Went out Friday to do some testing. Only had about 4 hours, but figured it was enough time. So, so wrong.
Of course it was windy. The drone was all sorts of crazy once I got it above the trees. But still...I think I might be able to make the shot work.
I didn't have time to find all of the locations. We found some, but never even made it over to the section of woods where the clown shit is shot.
Then we rushed to do the melon-shot tests. I bought a watermelon and a cantaloupe. I painted the watermelon tan, because otherwise the green skin is an obvious problem with green-screen. We put that up first on a light stand, and watermelon juice starts gushing out the bottom all over the stand.
I fire at it from underneath, the same direction the gun will be held by the person. The melon doesn't explode. It fractures, and there's more of an explosion of mist than anything.
So I put a hole in the cantaloupe, and dump in fake blood. Then I pop it on the stand, and fake blood starts leaking down the stand. Nothing like sticky sugar water and fruity juices to get the bugs after you.
I shoot THAT. One earplug has come out, but I don't have time to put it back in. I have to turn my head away from the cantaloupe when I fire, in case cantaloupe guts come at my face. (I'm only like 2 feet away from it when I shoot)
And unfortunately, the ear with no plug is the one directly facing the gun. My ear is ringing severely. The cantaloupe doesn't explode either.
The test is more or less a failure, but it's given me an idea.
The bad news is that I have to go BACK to the woods to do more scouting. But hell, we have to go back out there to break up a bunch of wood for the fire anyway. More work, and my back is pretty bad again.
The casting is rough. Got a lot of applications, but many are out of state. I actually sent an offer to one girl out of NY. She says she works an hour out of Baltimore, so can be considered a local hire.
That was Sunday. She hasn't responded. I need someone cast THIS WEEK in the role so we can get her face cast done before Mark goes out of town for a week. It's looking less and less like that's gonna happen.
Another main role is basically a local guy's to have. I sent him sides months ago, and had to badger him twice to get him to send them to me. He apologized profusely. He didn't nail it, but he's not bad.
So I sent him notes on what to tweak, and to send me another audition. I tell him to nail it, and the role's his.
That was a week ago. No audition yet.
Honestly. What do I have to do? It's not like these are unpaid roles. The pay isn't great, but most of these people work for free in dogshit shorts that go on Youtube, so where's the disconnect here?
I may have said it a lot in the past...but THIS feels more and more like the final KK film.
Did I mention I'm going over budget, and I really can't afford that? I mean, I'm over budget and that's not even counting in the new segment I'll probably try to shoot in August. I didn't write it, but some of you may know the guy who did...
I dunno. Making microbudget films is for the young and energetic, and neither of those apply to me anymore.
Here's one of the more successful video tests. I'll probably start a little higher(as high as I can go and not see civilization), and then want to come down so you can see my main actor walking through the woods. It's obviously completely un color corrected.
Wednesday, June 07, 2017
So the thing is, I'm gonna rent a camera for the 3 week period in which we'll shoot 2 segments of Ttory 2. Almost certainly gonna be the Mark 3, which I used(and loved) on the Ttory 1 wrap story.
I've debated about simply trying it with my GH4, but the low light performance just isn't there, even with my fast lenses.
Now the hard part is deciding which lenses to rent with it. Should I get the 100mm 2.8? The 50mm 1.2? The 85mm 1.2 or the 1.8? (the 1.2 is obviously much better in low light, but apparently weighs a lot more and the depth of field will be incredibly hard to work with.)
I have a 24mm 1.4 and a 35mm 1.4, and my brother has some variable L glass, but none of it is lower than a 4.0 fstop.
I know this must be riveting for you people who don't use cameras.
I think I'll probably get the 100mm 2.8 and the 85mm 1.8. That means I have a decent run from 24mm to 100mm. Anything over that will force me to use my brother's lenses, which means I'll have to work harder at the lighting.
On the wrap, I'm thinking about mixing the GH4 and the Mark 3. Their color science is apparently very different, with skin tones showing up strangely. The reason I'm not too worried about this is that I'm not going to mix them within scenes. Basically, shoot all the day scenes with the gh4, and the night scenes with the mark 3.
Would really love to rent a monitor but none of them are super cheap. I don't technically need one for focus, as I'm pretty great with that even on the little LCD screen, but the fact that the mark 3 doesn't have a pop-out lcd screen BLOWS. That's really the main reason the GH4 is my preferred camera. (and that I own one, and it also does 4K, so okay there's a couple of reasons)
Am having major back issues. Haven't really moved off of my couch in 2 days. It's agony. If this happens during the shoot, will be a problem. I'll have to be so doped up to be able to move that I probably won't know what the fuck I'm doing.
The shoot is barreling toward me. Too fast. Still haven't cast some major roles. Mark's working on the FX and is getting a lot done. Once he's done the FX for the June 30/July 1st shoot, he's gotta get right on the other stuff so it's ready to shoot on July 13th.
I'm going out Friday to location scout and do some other tests in the woods. Gonna be hot.
Stress. Pressure. Work.
I know. Why do I keep doing this to myself?
Friday, June 02, 2017
Okay, gonna give it to myself today. Got shit done. Not even counting my wife, which I also did.
Posted some notices about casting yesterday, so fielded a lot of those, replying to most people. Sending sides to some.
Finished the three DVD set in Encore for Jared--it's a business thing so apparently I get paid. He says there'll be more work to come too.
Talked to Mark about FX back and forth. He's getting some work done, which is great. What I've seen looks pretty cool too.
Revamped the schedule, reaching out to key people to find out if they'll be available. They all seem to be able to do it. I'm not a huge fan of it right now, but we do what we gotta do. (we're literally gonna start Thursday, shooting until like 4am. Then we'll take Friday off, and work Saturday-Tuesday to finish the wrap.)
Packed up a fuckload of eBay shit. I will never ever get all this comic shit out of my house. It's never-ending. But the money's nice. Gonna need it with how tight this budget's getting.
Researched a couple of other cameras. Still think I'm going with the Mark 3.
Put a casting call on Back Stage. Says specifically that we're only considering people in the DMV area(Delaware, MD, Va). I immediately, like within 5 minutes of the posting, get two submissions from ladies in California. Way to read the listing.
Talked to Cutting, got him squared away on his character.
Broke down the locations into easy-to-remember one sentence descriptions that I can take when we go to the woods to find the exact places we'll shoot.
Started revamping the shooting script for the segment we shoot first, now that I've seen the actual location we're shooting in. Some shots gotta be completely removed.
Even with all this done, I got SO much more to do. It's overwhelming. If not for the special brownies, I'd get no sleep.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
Full on pre-pro has begun for Ttory 2, and not a moment too soon. I mean, I just flipped my calendar and I'm literally IN the month I start shooting. And there isn't gonna be much of a break after we shoot this first segment. Maybe 2 weeks, then boom--into the biggest and most complicated part of the movie.
Went location scouting for the 2nd time this week. Found a crazy hillbilly kinda guy who owns 4 acres of woods and weirdness. Walk a ways and there's a school bus covered in trees. Why? Who knows?
After that, met up with a local horror author again. For just a quick one hour meeting, that always turns into an all nighter. Met him at 8, didn't leave the bar until 1am. He's got some great stories, and we were hashing out shit. Still working on a story that maybe will be in Ttory 2.
He also told me the entire plot of a new book he's almost finished that's not exactly horror. It's pretty good though. Trippy and complex. I'd like to read it, so I think he'll send it to me before he gets it published.
Posted the first notices about casting. I've already pre-filled roles with actors I know and like, but now I've got the harder part of filling with people I don't know. Are they reliable? Are they good?
It's rough, seeing people do audition videos but they're not nailing the part. Especially when they LOOK the part. So I'll keep looking at people, and then probably get him to try the video a 2nd time with some notes. See how he takes them. If he doesn't adjust, it's probably not going to work.
But man, I need a peppy, fun young actress and I'm not hanging around with that group anymore. (I'm old now, don't ya know)
If I was in NY or L.A., it would be easy to fill. But we don't exactly have the budget to ship a NY actress down and keep them here for 3 days, or I'd do it in a heartbeat.
Just can't believe there isn't some young actress around here dying to take the part. There isn't any nudity involved...
Did get a VERY attractive woman for the nude part. The model from the first Ttory vouched for me--I didn't know they were friends, but she texted me to tell me the other lady had texted HER to ask about this director who wants to make her a topless monster in the woods.
She's like "DO IT, it's fun!", so she's in. Very cool.
SOOOOOO much work to do.
Camera wise, still trying to figure out what to shoot on. 4K means literally nothing to me other than giving me some room to re-frame shots, which is why I'm gravitating back to the Canon 5D Mark 3. I can rent one for a month for like $300. The lenses will cost a little more, but I also can then use my brother's nice glass.
I thought about going to the 5D Mark 4, but apparently other than the 4K it doesn't have a lot of improvement. (no pop-out screen, which is INSANE in this day and age). The real kiss of death though is that it records in a highly uncompressed, nearly lossless codec.
Which will burn up TONS of card space, and apparently makes editing tough for even fast computers.
Which takes me back to the Mark 3. I've used it. I like it. My brother has a Mark 2, so there's a lot of interchangeable stuff I can use from his camera.
I have to get my steadicam back from Jared. I haven't used it in 10 years, so I gotta get it, get it weighted right with the camera, then retrain myself to use it.
THEN figure out if there's ANY way I can adjust focus while floating without messing up the steadiness. Because that ain't the way it's done in hollywood...(there's a motorized focus puller mounted on rails on it, and another guy elsewhere pulling focus, so the camera operator only has to make sure his frame is right)
Gonna be a lotta sleepless nights coming up...