Sunday, September 27, 2009

TUWOPS: Farm/Editing Journal

Day One

Got off to a slow start today. Mostly because I wanted to be able to get the last episode of True Blood before heading into the internet-free zone. Haven’t watched it yet – but I assume it’ll be worth it.

Traffic sucked. A lot. Construction AND an accident, in the same spot – a rubber-neckers heaven. So what’s normally an hour drive was more than double.

Went up into the attic of the summer kitchen at the farm, the area I decided would be best to set up my edit suite. Wasp infested. I had a conversation recently about the importance of wasps. We couldn’t think of one. I imagine that they play into the food chain in some manner or form, but I honestly believe that if wasps disappeared from the planet, nothing would change. Granted, I am not a killer – however, I’m a fan of assisted suicide – so as a trick learned from Emily’s mother, we left bowls of lemonade by the windows. And it’s their own fault if they go after it. So I’m somewhat guilt free.

So now I’m set up in the summer kitchen. The table here is a bit wobbly, I don’t think the table top is attached to the base, so I’ve put my RAID on one end and me on the other, so it balances it out and doesn’t tip. Or it hasn’t yet.

So today is all about getting settled in. I think I’m going to do some photoshop work tonight on some of the Haley pictures to make them look more like “ads”. I’ve got five days until people come up to see a screening, and for my Sundance-Rough cut, so I’m in good shape.

Day Two

There are at least forty dead wasps in the bowl of lemonade. It could very well be one of the more disturbing things I’ve ever seen. I’m still debating whether or not to take a photo of it for the blog. I suppose the answer to that question will be given in a visual representation above.

Another great discovery today was free wi-fi. The farm is on a six acre lot on the outskirts of Kitchener and a few years ago some developers started putting sub divisions on the area surrounding it. So outside of the woods and gate there are a bunch of boxes made of ticky-tacky, otherwise known as houses – and while taking Ephraim for a walk this afternoon I discovered that THEY DON’T PASSWORD PROTECT THEIR INTERNET! It’s like a buffet out there. So while I doubt I’ll post, I do have access to my e-mail, which is lovely.

Editing wise it was a good day. I finally tackled the last Haley scenes and it’s a doozy. Lots of whip pans in the scene which makes it easy for me to steal from different takes without it looking like it. All I have to do now is edit the last ten or so minutes of the film. I decided to be brave and screen what I have so far for myself today (which is roughly 90%) of the film. I took notes on things that I definitely need to work on – but to my delight it’s feeling pretty good already, even at this early stage.

My goal tomorrow is to have a completed assembly so that I can start tweaking what needs to be tweaked.

Day Three

So it’s now been a week since I’ve finished shooting the film, but before I update you on the editing process – an update on farm life.

The wasps have returned and seem uninterested in the lemonade bowl. My neglect in emptying said bowl has probably deterred them from going near it. The fault, dear readers, is with me. However, the weather has taken a turn to the cold this afternoon and so they probably won’t be bothering me much anyway.

I’ve also been trying to rig up a stereo to my computer to get slightly better sound than my iMac speakers. This is still a work in progress.

So I’ve got an assembly of the entire film now. It’s coming in at 1hr, 49 minutes including a temp credit bed. Not bad for an assembly. I’ve got a list of notes I need to address while working towards the rough cut I plan to screen this Saturday(right now it’s Wednesday). I think in the end a good length for this film will be between ninety and a hundred minutes. It’s a tough film to cut down based on the way it’s shot and there’s not really any scenes that are extraneous. We’ll see what has to happen to get it down (assuming it needs to get down).

Okay. I’m going to BBQ and take my son for a walk amidst the trees. Maybe we’ll see more deer that live on the farm in the bushes. I’ll take a picture of I can.

Day Four

Today saw an up and a down. The film is officially to the point where I need to have other eyes on it. It’s my director’s rough cut, coming in at 1:48:34 – a pretty good length for a rough cut I think. However, when I exported the huge ass file (at 26gigs it was actually smaller than I expected), it was out of sync. Not at the beginning, but it did a drift that, by the end, had it about two or three seconds out. I spent the evening calling Zach (my DP, and a wiz when it comes to all things technical) back and forth trying to trouble shoot but nothing seems to have worked. I’ve got a back-up plan that I’m going to try to see if works tomorrow. I want to be able to pre-screen the film for my wife before everyone comes up on Saturday, so that she can tell me all her brutally honest thoughts.

Crossing my fingers that I’ll be able to make a screener.

Day Five

Success! So I decided to export the film into small chunks and then patch it together in DVD Studio Pro and it worked like a charm. I could also cut and paste the individual chunks into one big quicktime file, but this works for now. Hurray!

So I screened the film for Emily, which is extremely helpful to me because I find that when you’re watching something you’re making by yourself that you’ll let things slip, but as soon as you put someone else’s eyes in front of it you become wonderfully self conscious about the stuff you know, deep down, isn’t working. Emily is also one of my most blunt and trusted critics – she has no qualms about crushing my artistic spirit – a good thing to have in a wife. The good news is that, even in this rough stage, the film works. There’s some parts that need a little extra TLC, but nothing that can’t be dealt with. Feeling very good about it right now. So I’m all set up for tomorrow when Anthony (producer) Zach & Yvonne (DP and sound), Meaghan (production designer), and last but not least Mary (actress) come visit us at the farm and we screen the film. Everyone’s excited except Mary, and I don’t blame her. I can’t stand watching myself on camera either. Looking forward to their thoughts. Will report back soon.

Also on a farm note, I tried to take pictures of the deer yesterday, but I fear I couldn’t get close enough. I finally saw a buck yesterday, I’ve never seen him before, just the younger deer and the women-folk. So by my count there’s at least seven deer in proximity to the property, but if I had to guess I’d say there’s about a dozen that come and go.

Day Six

Today was screening day. I’d already made the screener file so there was nothing to do today for the film besides wait, and so my wife deemed that it would be Daddy and Ephraim day – which was a good call.

So of course when Eph and Em woke up I spent an hour writing up re-write notes for another script I’m working on with my writing partner. If all goes well I intent to attack the hell out of that script while I’m still up here in the wilderness.

So we had a few cancellations for people coming up, but all the invited crew members were able to make it, which was the main thing. Anthony, my producer, Meg my production designer, Mary, one of our leads, and last but not least Zach & Yvonne, my DP and our sound.

We had a nice little feast of burgers and things from the vegetable garden here on the farm, gave Meg a tour of the property since it was her first time up, and then played some board games.

After dinner… we screened. It went really really well. Some areas of concerned played better with a bigger audience. Some areas still stood out and so I’m going to work them as best I can prior to submitting to Sundance. Today is the 19th. The film HAS to be in Utah for the 25th. So tomorrow is all about tweaking the sound and doing some little picture adjustments and sending the film off ASAP. Then next week will be about writing and relaxing a bit. Visiting my family for a day. All good stuff. Then when we get back we’ll screen for the investors and start making a post-plan for the immediate future. What really needs to happen ASAP is getting the film in front of people that know nothing about it and getting their thoughts. The sooner I can do that, the better.

Day Seven

Today was all about sound. Because I cut in sequences and then put them all together, the sound levels inside of the sequence are always fine, but from section to section they’re too loud or too quiet. So I spent a big chunk of today ironing out the sound and doing a few smaller notes that we discussed after the screening last night. Anthony e-mailed me some more notes but I won’t have time to incorporate them before sending the rough cut off to Sundance. I’m in the process of writing up my music and graphic notes which have to be sent off with the rough cut. Sundance is fine with the film being unfinished, they just need to know which elements are still in flux.

So now I’m just building the DVD which I’ll let format overnight and then I’ll watch it first thing in the morning to make sure there aren’t any glitches – and then I’ll send it super-wicked-fast delivery to Anthony so he can send it off with the other forms.

Day Nine

Make no mistake. I was lazy on Day Eight and wrote nothing in this farm journal. In truth I’ve done very little on the film in the last two days, although I had a good talk with my producer, Anthony. We went over some notes he had that I’ll incorporate sometime before I return to civilization. I’m getting excited to start showing the film to people and to get feedback from those who know nothing of the film. Right now it’s just minor tweaks. I’m also excited to start looking to see if we can get festival rights to some of the songs we want, and I’m even more excited that we’re sending the film off to Sundance. It was one of my big goals to have a worthy cut ready, and I think we’ve accomplished that. The film will continue to improve over the next few weeks, but its core is there.

Outside of not working on the film I’ve been catching up on writing, which I’ve neglected since having gone into pre-production on this film. When I get back to the city I’m going to seriously consider buying a new laptop so I can keep on top of it more wherever it is that I am.

Tomorrow I’m going to my Dad’s to finally go through the stuff I’ve been storing there. He’s about to put his house up for sale so I’ve finally got to clean my shit out. I’ve bought three big Tupperware bins. Whatever doesn’t fit in them gets thrown out. That’s the rule for tomorrow. Wish me luck!

Day Eleven

So I only used two of my bins yesterday! That being said I only got through about half of the stuff. A return trip will be needed, but I found some great stuff. My thesis from film school – about budgeting. A lot of the stuff I learned doing that paper became super helpful in making Paul Shepard. I also found some great board-games, some movies I forgot I had (homemade) and some writing of mine from high-school. It’s probably all pretentious teen-crap, but there could be some worthwhile nuggets in there.

So today was spent working on the rough cut that I’ll be showing to our executive producers upon returning to the city. Emily’s parents have joined us up at the farm and they want to see the film, so maybe tomorrow night or Saturday. Either way, I think I might or might not watch it with them. Haven’t decided yet.

Day Twelve

So I decided to watch it with my in-laws after all. They are the first audience that knows nothing about the film going into it. So for that alone I was excited and nervous. The worst thing that can happen is you show your film to someone new and it doesn’t make sense, or they have a lot of questions about things that you thought were clear. And this film is talky, and I’ve always been cautious about that. To my delight there seemed to be no confusion at the end. Some laughter through-out, and in the end, the only issue was my father-in-law said, “Now that’s a dialogue film. Not an action film. Who is going to watch that?” A very valid, very good question. I mean, really, hopefully everyone! But it’s a low-budget film. It’s not going to take a huge audience to make the money back. I suppose I’ve never really talked about it in this blog, but the plan right now is to hit the festival circuit and see what happens distribution wise. Our investors have been awesome about not seeking out distribution before and seeing where the cards lie. It’s going to be an interesting road coming up. With the landscape of independent film constantly changing, I can’t to see what happens with all of it.

So I’ve still got two more days up here at the farm, but I’m not sure if I’ll have anything else to report, film-wise. My father-in-law mentioned inviting a friend up to see the film, a film professor. We’ll see. If not, this will probably be my last entry for the farm series. I’m going to take the rest of my time to do a polish on a script that my writing partner and I plan to send out for feedback soon.

1273 – 50 First Dates

Another film that I’m finally coming to years after it’s release. It’s an interesting blend of Sander and Barrymore. You’ve got a lot of the Happy-Madison in jokes and cast, but you’ve got the tremendous heart that Barrymore brings to everything that she does. I don’t want to give anything away but they do some really lovely things with this premise, and the ending is impressive, although not without a slew of new questions. All and all this film was much more interesting than I imagined from the outset. If you haven’t seen it and you’re a Sandler and/or Barrymore fan – check it out.

1272 – Interview

I picked this film up on DVD years ago and finally got around to watching it. For a film that’s mostly in one location with two actors, it’s a force of a film. Intoxicating, really. Buscemi and Miller are a dynamite team and keep you interested the whole time. The writing is really quite stellar and the performances top not. Sienna Miller is a force. I wasn’t big on the ending, but if you’re even remotely interested in this film I recommend it whole heartedly.

1271 – The Informant!

The trailer for this film had me in stitches. I’m a fan of Soderbergh and I think Matt Damon is underappreciated as a comedic talent. There was a lot of fun in this film, even if it did start to drag near the end. If you’re a fan of dry dry humor go for it, otherwise it might not be your cup of tea.

1270 – Platoon

Okay. So I finally watched this film and now people can stop giving me shit. I’ve always heard good things about this film, but it still didn’t prepare me for the ride. Not so much about war, as it’s about what war does to you – it’s a great film filled with tension and a star-studded cast. (Who know that Charles Grodin was once known as Mark Moses???). Tom Berenger probably doesn’t get enough props, but the man has a great resume and it a force of an actor – especially here. I really look forward to diving into the special features of this DVD. Easily my favorite Oliver Stone film.

1269 – Two Girls & A Guy

Something compelled me to bring this film up to the farm with me. Perhaps in the spirit of creating an independent film. It’s been years since I saw it, and I know that I was quite drawn to it at some point. I imagine it’s because the young writer in me saw this film as giving me permission to be verbose with dialogue and throw convention and structure to the wind. There are some interesting moments in this film, but it’s more of an exercise than a film.

1268 – Rock-N-Rolla

I’ve never had an issue with Guy Ritchie – that being said I never watched ‘Swept Away’ so that could be it. This film was exactly what I expected having been a fan of his earlier work. There’s no amazing depth to Ritchie’s films, but there’s some fun to be had inside of them, and this one was fun indeed. I hope they were serious about the follow-up film promised at this one’s end.

1267 – One Week

What a beautiful film this is. I’ve been wanting to see this ever since it was at TIFF. Really glad I finally got the chance. Em and I rented it and I might just have to pick myself up a copy of it at the store, I’d like to delve into the special features and don’t have time before I have to return it. This is one of the best Canadian films I’ve ever seen. It’s inspiring. It takes a clichéd Canadian topic and breaths a beautiful life into it while at the same time making a picturesque post-card of our country. So many beautiful moments in this film, from the Newfoundlanders bicycling across the country to win a case of beer each, to the rancher who hadn’t cried in ten years. The whole thing was done with a beautiful subtlety. Anyone who wants to learn how narration should properly work in a film should take a look at this one. I fully recommend it.

1266 – Be Kind Rewind

I’m of two very different minds when it comes to Michele Gondry. On one hand I think he’s a genius, truly. On the other hand, I think he works best when collaborating with another writer. Someone to transcribe the brilliance and make it manageable. I’m not saying he should be watered down, I’m just saying that… I find his solo projects to be a little less enjoyable than the ones we saw him do with Kaufman.

I’m sure that this film is meant to be goofy, and light and heartwarming. I just felt that it took a long time to get to a point that wasn’t hard to come to in the first place. If I’m to be terribly cruel about it, I think Gondry is a better filmmaker than this. It’s Gondry-lite. If you’re an uber-Jack Black fan, go for it, otherwise I’m not sure how enthusiastically I can recommend this. Kind of makes me sad to say that…

1265 – True Blood: season two

Here’s a show that went from good to great. If Weeds is good at doing cliff hangers, this show is a master of doing them, again and again. Now that it’s really delving into the characters and it’s not just a vampire show, it’s gotten really really interesting – they really opened up the world this season and set all of it’s characters down a unique path.

I could go into much further detail, but I won’t. If you’re not watching this show yet, you really really need to.

1264 – Weeds: season five

I’ll be the first to admit that I almost tapped out of this show around season three when it got… weird. But then starting the fourth season it kind of re-invented itself to the point where, now, it’s in a state of complete awesomeness.

What was beautiful about this season in particular is that all of it’s characters, new and old, got some form of reality check. Mary-Louise Parker continues to dazzle in both performance and beauty, but Shane is quickly becoming the most interesting character, even though Justin Kirk’s Andy is still my favorite aspect of this series. I heart that man and would be extremely happy to have the chance to work with him one day.

Without spoiling anything, this is a series that prides itself on cliff-hanging season finales, and this one, was probably the best of the best. Can’t wait for season six!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Off to the farm!

My wife's family has a beautiful stone farm house in the outskirts of Kitchener - the above photo is from our wedding, where we had the ceremony. I've got a month and a bit before I start up on a big editing gig (Carlawood: Season 2!), so we decided that as a way to decompress from the shoot, as well as a way to let me cut the film with zero distractions, that we'd pack up and go to the farm for two weeks. No internet, shitty cell phone signals - it'll be glorious!

While I'm up there there will be little to no blog updates - my apologies. I'm going to try to sneak into town and find free wi-fi every few days to keep my e-mail from getting backed up - I'll see if I can't update this thing from my iPhone, but I make no promises. This weekend we're having a 'games night' with some friends, and if it's in a decent shape I'm going to show a cut of the film. Right now the goal is to have a rough cut ready to send to Sundance on the 25th of this month. Sundance is really cool about letting you submit a rough cut and if they reject you, you're still free to submit the finished film the following year. A lot of festivals don't do that. When the film is finished we'll have a big meeting to discuss a festival plan for it.

I'm back on the 28th of September and I'll have a cut to show our investors that week. I'm sending them over a disc with select scenes today to whet their whistle. Exciting times!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

TUWOPS: Wrap Party – Mission Accomplished

Last night we had our wrap party at “My Place: A Canadian Pub”, it’s a new pub in Bloor-West village ran by one of our exec producer’s Brad Long. Really great turn out and a ass-load of fun. Nothing major to report, but I thought it might be fun to post some pictures so that you could all see some of our behind-the-scenes peeps, as well as our wonderful cast.

Kris Holden-Reid with my partner (not in the sexy way) and producer, Anthony Grani

Two of the hardest working people I know, Zach Melnick and Yvonne Drebert, my director of photography and my sound recordist.

The lovely Zoie Palmer

Rivals for Paul's affections on the page, Christine Horne & Mary Krohnert.

The rose between these thorns is the lovely, Meaghan Lynch, my production designer.

Jen O'Sullivan (my wonderful script supervisor) with myself.

Siobhan Power and Samantha Espie, both whom played fans of Christine's character in the film.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


So here we are. Fifteen days later. Officially wrapped on my first feature film. Huh. This has been a long road, and I know we’re not off it yet. There’s still many things to do with this film, but the major hurdle has been crossed. We shot the film. And we shot it on our terms, with our people. We did good.

Over the years that we’ve been trying to get this film made I’ve been offered money to sell it, but I stood firm that I would be the only person directing this film, and I’m glad I did that. I’m not saying that someone else couldn’t have made this film. I’m sure they could have – but I’m glad that it was me. It feels right.

So where do I start with the love fest? I suppose with the people whom this film wouldn’t have existed otherwise – our crew. We really lucked out in this department. A lot of people I’ve already worked with in the past, but there was a lot of new people and in positions I haven’t worked with professionally. It’s amazing how effective it is to have individual departments working and thinking on things that free you up to be creative. In no particular order…

Having never worked with a costume designer I was lucky that we were able to get Ginger Martini to lend her eye to this film. There’s a distinction to each of the characters and some fun stuff going on that I hope people really enjoy.

Having had nothing but bad experiences in the past with make-up artists, I was overjoyed to have met Maggie Quioc last winter. She approached every day with zest and joy (and an ever growing baby in her belly).

Running our sets and sharing rides with me was Mark Huisman, my 1st AD. I didn’t know Mark well moving into this project, and he really came on at the last minute to save our ass. Traditionally an actor, Mark was a delight to have on set. Having barely ever worked with an AD before, Mark was perfect. Never forceful, but always thoughtful. We made all of our days and that’s no small feat. I’ll miss my rides to and from set with Mark. Our 2nd AD was Tim Symons whom I met when I taught first year film production for a semester at Niagara College. Tim is ridiculously smart and caring. An asset to the production in many ways, and a talented writer in his own right. We’ll probably all be working for him one day.

Another first for me was working with a proper script supervisor, in this case - Jen O’Sullivan. I’ve worked with script supervisors as an editor before, but as someone who edits their own stuff that they direct, it was really helpful to have Jen there to help convey my thoughts as a director to my thoughts as an editor. Jen and I bonded over our love of music, and my need to read more books. She’s lovely and I hope to keep working with her in the future. Also a shout-out is deserved to my man Forbes, Jen’s shadow who filled in for a few days. An energetic lovely guy.

Our Art Department is second to none. Seriously. From the ground up with Ryan Grani working his ass off wherever he could, to the delicious Drew Lint who carried out every zany idea anyone had with his own flair, to the lovely Meaghan Lynch whom I adore more than I can express. This is the second time I’ve worked with Meaghan as my production designer and it won’t be the last, not even close. My favorite thing about Meaghan is how excited she gets about things, and how her excitement and creativity often trumps my own in certain situations. Meaghan makes stuff better and that’s what you want. I’ll miss her presence now that we’re wrapped.

This film would be nothing without our camera and lighting department, from Mark ‘Special K’ Lammert, to the brilliant Ann Tipper (whom put up with far more friendly abuse from me that she should have). But the main team behind this film were Zach Melnick and Yvonne Drebert, two of my closest friends dating all the way back to high school. Technicians, artists, and filmmakers in their own right, Zach and Yvonne care more than anyone else about the work they do and it’s that kind of anal retentive behavior that will make this as good as it is. I could not have made this film without these two. That’s just a fact.

And last but certainly not least is Anthony Grani. I know he’ll never admit this, but this film wouldn’t have been made if it wasn’t for his passion and dedication to the project. In fact it was because of this script that Anthony and I met, and if I’m honest, no matter what happens with this film in the end, the best thing so far has been the friendship I’ve gained with him because of it. Everything else will be icing on the vegan cake that is Anthony Grani.

So now to our actors. I gush over all our actors, because they’re all gush-worthy, but there’s only two left to go on and on about. Although I do need to give a big thanks to Christine Horne for making a special guest appearance via speaker phone tonight, and she even abandoned a dinner party momentarily to do so.

Mary Krohnert has been with this project about as long as anyone. She is Sam. After the first reading of the film there was no doubt in my mind that it was her. And it makes me happy to have made this film with her. I said a while back in this blog that if anything comes of this, I hope it’s that people see how beautiful of an actor Mary is, and I mean that. She deserves it more than anyone.

Last, my lead, my Paul Shepard, Kris Holden-Reid. I never actually thought we had a real shot at getting Kris for this movie, so big props to him for seeing what he did in the material and for trusting in a first time feature director to carry it out. Working with Kris has been a delight and a wonderful experience, and I look forward to a repeat performance. He brought so much to this character and to this film. I never had anyone in mind for Paul when writing this, and I can honestly say that I can’t imagine anyone else in this part now. Thank you for rocking so hard, Kris.

So that’s the love-fest. Wrap party this weekend. I’ll take some pics and post them up. I’m going to disappear into the country at some point next week so there won’t be any updates for a while when that happens. I’ll keep an editing journal to help quench all your creative thirsts.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

TUWOPS: Day Fourteen

And so it is. The second-to-last-day. Or should I say evening. Tonight we shot a pretty pivotal section of the film – for those of you familiar with screenwriting terminology it would be “the mid-point”. And tomorrow night we’re shooting the “inciting incident” as well as the “break into act two”. Pivotal, pivotal, pivotal.

So while tonight’s set-ups and camera moves were pretty simple I tried to organize the night in such as way that we’d be able to give the actors as much time as they needed to get the scene down. It’s a five-pager with no real breaks. All on the actors. In the end we didn’t do any more crazy takes than we normally did, and we got some emotionally awesome stuff.

So here we head into tomorrow, the final night of principal photography. It’s all gone so fast in a way. I’m going to miss our crew (they’ll get more specific shout-outs tomorrow), but I’m really going to miss the hell out of Kris. He’s been my rock-star this whole shoot. I’ll gush more about him tomorrow as well when I’m over-emotional from the film’s wrap.

Here’s some of the stuff we shot yesterday. Keep in mind it’s meant to be the character’s home-movies and so the lighting/video quality is intended to reflect that.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

TUWOPS: Day Thirteen

Thirteen days down, two to go. We’re in our final location, which is a gorgeous Coach House that’s very… 70’s architecture. Check out the shower in the pic below with our AD Mark Huisman:

We got this location through a rental agency that usually rents to producers/directors/stars coming to town to shoot. This place screams group orgies. Seriously, if you took a red-light through this place it would look like a Jackson Pollock painting.

So we’re here for the last two days shooting the ‘heart’ of the film. Today was especially interesting because almost all of the stuff was shot by our actors Kris and Mary as it’s meant to be home movie footage. It was even more fun because it was a simulated Christmas morning. Tried as she could, our production designer Meaghan couldn’t find a Christmas web-radio stream that worked so that we could get a little more in the spirit. See below, Anthony Grani, our fearless producer, indeed in the Christmas spirit:

Tip of the Day: We had to fog out some windows to hide the extremily green trees. Spray deodorant works perfectly, although it pollutes and makes the place stink and the crew cough.

Also, fancy expensive locations have awesome toilet paper.

So. Stills.

A lovely Meet-Cute between Kris & Mary:

I'm going to leave it a mystery what Paul Lee is doing here:

Zoie & Kris dancing from our day eleven shoot:

And last but not least, the brilliant Aron Tager as Dr. Max Henreid:

1263 - Inglourious Basterds

I'm going to do my best not to ruin any spoilers of this film, but to be safe - if you haven't seen it, tread lightly.

I was a big fan of Tarantino growing up. He was hip, cool, and so by extension, I was cool for liking his films. There was a time when I could quote Pulp Fiction from beginning to end. And why not? It's a wonderfully quotable film. Most of Tarantino's films are. The man writes good dialogue for strong, unique characters.

So then what's my problem with this film? It's a bit indulgent. It does it with flair, sure. But. The. Scenes. Take. Forever. To. Get. To. The. Point. Is it rewarding when it gets there? Yes. Often! But does it ever take time to get there. Pitt is quite good in the film, but it's stolen completely by Mélanie Laurent. In fact she was the shining, expected soul of this film. The rest is pure indulgence. We never get a sense of purpose, of justice. Sure we all know Nazi's are bad. But I want to know the personal connections to the characters. Why it matters. Tarantino doesn't seem interested in that. It's way cooler to give a guy a rope burn on the neck and never explain it. Like it doesn't matter. Like he doesn't need a motivation or an arch.

So I guess, in the end, I'm fine with not being a cool filmmaker.

Monday, September 07, 2009

1262: 30 Rock: season two

This is a show that just gets richer and richer in comic gold. Tina Fey is a wonder to behold, and the supporting cast is dynamite. Alec and Tina make a surprisingly amazing team and part of me wants them to stay apart, but part of me delights in what would happen if you got them together. I look forward to seeing where this series goes in future seasons. If you haven't seen it and you're a fan of funny - it's a must see.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

TUWOPS: Day Twelve

Holy shit. It’s day twelve. Seriously. Damn. How did that happen…

So no pictures today. I’ll have some to upload after tomorrow’s shoot. In the mean time here’s a magazine mock-up that we’ll be shooting in a scene tomorrow:

So today was a big long day, but oddly it didn’t feel like a big long day. Probably because we spent a decent amount of time outside. Fresh air and whatnot. It’s good stuff.

We didn’t do the usual insane amount of pages we usually do, but we did a lot of scenes and a lot of set ups, and two location moves – and not to mention we shot the end of our film today. I’ll get to that in a minute.

Today we were graced with the talents of Paul de la Rose, Paul Lee, and Aron Tager. All playing parts that support documentary elements of the film. All a lot of fun. We got to shoot a bad commercial today too – which I thoroughly enjoyed. I’ll throw some stuff for that up tomorrow. It’s pretty awesome.

Today also featured the return of Mary Krohnert as the girlfriend-of-the-week. Mary shot with us for a day on the first week, and now we have her for the rest of our shoot. Mary is near and dear to my heart and I’m so excited to have her in this film. We shot her first and last scenes of the film today, which was interesting. All I can say about the first scene is that if you don’t fall in love with her character right away, you have no heart.

So the ending. It’s interesting. Back when I started scheduling the shoot order of the film I put a lot of thought into what I wanted to hold off on and what I wanted to shoot up front. In the end, I’m sure it doesn’t matter as much. Good actors are good actors. That being said I can’t imagine putting the order of this film in any other way. It seems to have worked out perfectly.

I also want to give a shout-out to the weather gods for gracing us with perfect weather for this entire shoot. We’re now indoors for the rest of our shoot – so it can do whatever the hell it wants to!

All right, I want to work on a little video for the wrap-party, so I should get to it. And I want to rest up. Tomorrow it’s Christmas on the set. Can’t wait!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

TUWOPS: Day Eleven

Today was probably the saddest day on set for me. Not because the day didn’t go right. Not because the performances weren’t coming through. It’s simply because we had to say goodbye to not one, but two of our amazing actors.

The first, Zoie Palmer. What can I say about Zoie. She’s a delight. She took a role that could have been such a cliché and breathed beautiful life into it in a way that was exactly what I wanted, and yet so much her own. The scene we shot with her was an intense scene both emotionally and technically and she just gave and gave and gave. The scene will be a tough one to cut because there’s so many great choices. These are the kind of problems that you want to have.

And the second we say goodbye to – Alex Poch-Goldin. It was hard to say goodbye to Alex. I can’t even begin to describe what he brought to the role of Ray. He has a fantastic dry wit, and one of the best smiles I’ve ever come across in my entire life. He has a tremendous talent both in terms of what he brings to his own performances, but even more so in what he brings to the whole. Alex is the kind of performer who pays attention to everything, and if he can offer a note or suggestion he does, and he’s right when he does so. In short, Alex makes a scene better – even if he’s not in it. A man with no ego, he has helped to elevate this film. His presence will be missed.

So one day of rest before we begin our last four-day-stretch. Next week we are re-joined by Mary Krohnert as the new girlfriend-of-the-week. We’re in the home stretch, and the mixed emotions that come with it.

Friday, September 04, 2009


Here we are. Two thirds finished. What a ride today was. It started off pretty horribly to be quite honest. To set the scene we were shooting on a sound stage, and we don’t have the kind of equipment one would usually have when shooting on a large-scale sound stage. We needed something to patch into the sound stage’s electrical. So what we thought would be a simple pick-up at the camera store took A LONG time and because the crew member who was picking it up had all of the make-up with them we couldn’t start to process any of the actors. We started today two and a half hours behind schedule. Because our crew is awesome we were caught up by the third of six sequences we had to shoot today.

Two of our sequences today required a fair amount of blocking and figuring out. In the end we went into over-time a bit, but we had planned for that for today anyway, we actually planned to go much further into overtime so technically we did quite well, especially considering our start. Go team!

So today we finally got to put Zoie Palmer up in a scene. I don’t want to show off too much of her stuff today and it’ll ruin the scenes for an audience not familiar with the script. We also had Landy Cannon, Ace Hicks, and a slew of great actors doing background joining us today.

The hardest part about this whole process has been getting all of these amazing actors and only having a few days to shoot with them for the most part. Outside of being tremendously talented they’re also a group of really sweet, beautiful people.

So, for your viewing pleasure, here’s some stills from our last few days now that I’ve had a chance to catch up on digitizing the footage:

Pat & Tricia

Tricia being interviewed:

Kris being interviewed by the lovely Ms. Hoople.

1261 - Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Despite the fact that I had this poster on my wall for years as a teenager, this is the first time I've ever seen this. Had to watch something while bringing footage for the film in, and this was on the pile. Gotta be honest. It was just a little 'meh'. It's hard to judge something thirty-years later. And it's not really fair to. I mean, in terms of technique and effects it stands up. I just felt that the film was a bit sluggish and I'm not quite sure that I got the point of it. That we're not alone, that we have to follow our instincts? Perhaps.

I wish I'd seen this when I was young, I could give it a better chance. I'm sure there's something there that I missed, but I found myself nodding off during that long end sequence with the ship landing. Oh well. Can't love 'em all!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

TUWOPS: Day Nine

So that above here is the exterior of our location this morning. We were shooting a scene that will eventually play as a news-magazine-style show in the finished film – and the marquee is boasting the title of one of Paul’s films. So this morning was busy with lots of extras and doing some mock interviews and photo shoots outside of the theatre. The actor’s union rules state that I’m actually not allowed to talk to the extras – if I do I we have to upgrade them and pay them more. I can address them as a group, but not specifically. I have to go through my assistant director for that. It’s retarded. Alas.

So I broke off from our main crew with Kris, and our girlfriend-of-the-week, Zoie Palmer, who is playing Haley, an actress-slash-model. So this afternoon was spent in the studio of pro photographer Virginia Macdonald. We shot a bunch of stuff of Kris that we can re-use for fake magazine covers, newspaper articles, etc… including the gorgeous shot below.

For Zoie, who plays former model, we had to create her “world” through a series of fake photo shoots. Now the character of Haley is not a high-class model. Far from it. She was one of those working models who is used to sell glasses, furniture, and back to school clothes, as per below…

The Hakim-Optical shot:

The Sears-esque furniture shot:

The pseudo lingerie shot:

And my favorite, the over-the-hill-model-trying-to-do-a-back-to-school shot:

So that’s it for now. Tomorrow we spend in a sound-stage shooting more with Zoie’s character. It’s going to be a long day, but a complete blast!