Archive for August, 2008

Day Seven

Posted in Production with tags , , , on August 30, 2008 by Richard Diaz

We finally did the Gary, Indiana shoot. It was one of my big worries because it involved all of the lead characters, was out of town, and was going to be strenuous. It was not easy getting everyone’s schedule in line. Lucky the actors were willing to reschedule work days to do it. Having shot there last summer (almost a year ago to the date) for the ‘Macbeth’ trailer I knew what to expect. When we did the original location scout for that and I saw the old post office I knew I had to rewrite a scene for ‘Distortion’ to take place there. There were still some of the props from the Macbeth trailer still there. Also a big pile of water bottles which were left by another crew that must have shot there as well. The place is pretty popular. I only hope I shot it in such a way that really took great advantage of the place.

With everything involved though I knew it was going to be a major thing. Scheduling people, travel, but also because there is no electricity in the place. When we shot there last summer we had a generator. I don’t have the money (nor the crew) for a generator. Luckily the place gets plenty of light even on overcast days. But it’s still something to consider. There is dialogue, action, suspense. A lot to do.

In retrospect now I should have allowed more time. I was trying to make it easier on the actors by having a later call time and tried for an early rap. I should have allowed another two hours at least into the schedule. Towards the end we were rushing and it took its toll. Although outside of one bit that I am certain I can cheat on a pick up somewhere else I think we got everything needed. I’m doing a rough cut and I haven’t come across anything yet where I feel like I didn’t get what I wanted. Although I haven’t gotten to the stuff we shot towards the end yet either. It does look good though.

I am testing different looks for the scene. I am big on color correction. Especially for this type of film. Out of the camera footage is too clean and too colorful. Some scenes just need to be desaturated while others needed a completely different look. The Gary stuff specifically. It may sound weird because looking at the pictures you may think to leave the place as is. But I went through a few options and found an interesting look for the whole scene. I’ll see if it holds or if it is too much for people. But I think it brings something extra to the scene.

Luckily no one was hurt. A few slips and slides (the place is filthy) but that was it. Although I do wish I allowed more time I am happy with how the day went and with what I’ve seen from what we’ve shot. I think the location also helps with the scope of the film. When you have no money a location can do wonders. A place like this is perfect.

Shon decided to leave a little memento that we were there. Maybe if I’m back there a year from now shooting something else I’ll see if it’s still there. Leaving our mark in Gary.

Day Six and a Half

Posted in Filmmaking, Production with tags , , , on August 25, 2008 by Richard Diaz

As much as I hate receiving my credit bills every month and seeing how far in debt I’ve come there are times when I have some bit of hope that maybe I sort of did the right thing. I am paying for the film out of pocket. I’ve gone down the investor route on other projects and had zero success. So I figured the best thing was to just make the film myself with the means that I have.

A lot of my money over the years has gone into buying equipment. Everything from computers, editing and post production programs, cameras, lights, etc. Needless to say none of this is cheap. And with the amount of debt I am in … well, it’s a lot. I’ll leave it at that. I can only hope in some way this film helps start my film career even on a small level. Only time will tell if this sacrifice will pay off both literally and figuratively.

One of the advantages of owning your equipment is that you can do things at the drop of a hat. Tonight I was walking past the window and saw some great light coming in from the setting sun. I grabbed the camera and shot a few shots which are very moody. Perfect to help set up certain scenes in the film. A great moment when you just feel happy that you can jump on something so quickly. At least until the next round of bills comes in.

Day Six

Posted in Production with tags , , , on August 22, 2008 by Richard Diaz

I know the title is day six when technically it’d not exactly a full day. In fact, I think it was maybe two hours. While trying to do things on the producing end (like checking out the police station in the previous post) I didn’t like that so much time had passed without shooting anything. There was a technically simple scene that takes place later in the film that was perfect.

Since it was an exterior with no place to plug in lights I decided to bring along my trusty little lamps I got from Home Depot. The HVX200 is not incredibly light sensitive (unlike the newer HVX200a I believe) so I need a decent amount of light. I had to have both Brenden and Mike have these lamps in their lap and even then exposure was open full. It is a tad darker then I would want but it also lends itself to the look. I know in post I can brighten the footage slightly too. One of the joys of working with HD. You get a lot of latitude with the footage.

Once again Brenden and Mike made my job easier. Outside of a slight hit of the giggles everything went smoothly. They always make my job easier. Outside of minor direction I don’t need to do much but concentrate on the technical aspects. I didn’t go too crazy either. With a scene like this you let the actors carry the scene. No fancy camera work is needed. I shot very simple coverage for the sake of editing but when you have actors on their game you let them do their thing and stay out of the way. That’ll do more to tell the story and reach an audience than any camera trick.

We lost a pick up day at the bar but I hope I can pick that back up again soon. However things look like they could be good for an earlier scene with Brenden and Kimberly. An important scene since it basically establishes their relationship and chemistry. And then it’ll be on with the Gary, IN shoot. A return since the “Macbeth” shoot last September.

The mighty lamp from Home Depot came through again.

The mighty lamp from Home Depot came through again.

Brenden and Mike as George and Sam.

Brenden and Mike as George and Sam.

Scouting The Police Station

Posted in PreProduction with tags , , , , on August 20, 2008 by Richard Diaz

Went on a scout of an old police station today. There was another crew shooting their film so I was able to get in and look around. It’s pretty worn down so I’m not sure if it’ll work for what I actually need for the police station but I’m thinking of rewriting another scene to take place there. It’s a cool location.

Here are a few pictures from the scout.

Day Five

Posted in Production with tags , , on August 9, 2008 by Richard Diaz

Back at the bar for one more scene. Unfortunately we ran out of time so I will need to go back one more time to shoot some pick ups but everything went well. The actors once again performing beyond what I hoped for. Without thinking I went to adjust one of the lights and burned my finger. Ouch!

Now with the insurance in line I can start heavily pursuing some of the other locations. There is still a lot to be done but I am hoping that I can have a good chunk done by Labor Day and then just bits and pieces here and there to do in September.

Brenden, Jeff, and Kimberly.

Brenden, Jeff, and Kimberly.

Day Four

Posted in Production with tags , , , on August 4, 2008 by Richard Diaz

Finally I was able to get to the opening scene. I was so excited to finally shoot a scene with Shon. Eddie was game which was good because he got a bit dirty.

The scene was about as low rent as possible. While we were shooting there was more than a few times I felt a bit odd because it felt a little backyard productions type of shooting. But I went with my instincts and I think it looks great. I had to bump the gain to allow more light. The problem is it brings out a lot of video grain. Although I think it could work considering the feel of the scene.

Shon as William lurking in the shadows.

It was a lot of fun. I think the footage needs some work on the color correction front and I need to check how the sound will be. It’s not a dialogue scene but there will be sound. Not sure how much of the actual sound I can use if any.

The final scene at the bar has been postponed. Some work is being done there so it has been pushed to another day. Hopefully by the end of the week I’ll be back in the bar to finish that up.

If everything goes right starting next week I should have quite a lot more going on. There are some really great leads regarding locations. I can’t wait.