Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Hammer Fell in Jerusalem: Anathema teaser!

I just did a quick teaser for the film.

And the poster art as well, because I'm a benevolent and loving Gan:

A Hammer Fell in Jerusalem: Anathema poster art

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

"I must not fear. Fear is the Mind-Killer..."

Well, as I wait for the export to finish for the second video test of my film, I thought I'd finish the production round-up. When I opened up my mail programme to start the post, I received a note from Schmap: Denver that a photo I took in the Denver Airport on the way to Shockerfest is on the shortlist for inclusion in their travel guide. (Click here to see the photo they want to use.) Neat! Okay...where was I?

SUNDAY, 28 DECEMBER, 2008 -- the Holy Crap day:

We had a lot to do this day to make up for Saturday so we were hustling. Luckily, I have some really kick ass actors on my docket and not only did we get everything done that I had on my list, we even got a few things done that weren't scheduled until the following Sunday.

Howzabout THEM apples!

It was yet another early day. I'm a night owl so writing something that took place mainly in the day was really stupid of me, but only in that personal mumbled-grumble sort of way. We saved by not needing a lot of electricity, except for our one night shoot (which went splendedly though I discovered, as I edited the footage, that more light would have been better. The footage still looks great, it just doesn't quite have the kick of the rest of the stuff.)

We reshot the stuff we filmed of Rick on the first day since I wouldn't have his tailor-made costume which then lead to the hours upon hours of rotoscoping work, but I've finished that and it all looks beautiful considering my unskilled hand at this digital effects gig. We also had the first shoot out at the railroad tracks (such a beautiful location), our Payne Park shoot, and the stuff in the house back at Marguerite's wonderful and versatile property where we met Tom Noel Smith, who was playing Abner. I got the same reaction from him that Eon gave me when she realized that the film was silent. That really seems to trip people up that I would want to make a silent film! To be honest, I can't imagine trying to make this a talkie with my miniscule budget. When I have backing then it'll have sound. He was just about word perfect in his performance, too, but I think he got into the spirit of the project. It's not often actors these days get to use their entire body to tell a story or show an emotion and I wanted to experiment a little.

Anyway, we finished three hours ahead of schedule -- you read that right THREE HOURS AHEAD OF SCHEDULE, even with all that we had to do that day -- so I got to go home and relax a little before having to go to bed.

We had one more week off before the final day of the shoot, SUNDAY, 4 JANUARY, 2009. This was the greenscreen and fight scene day with the majority of the day's work shot on Marguerite's property with one teeny tiny shot left to do on the railroad tracks, something I forgot the previous Sunday. I wasn't concerned. If we didn't get it that day, the only people needed for the shot were Chris and myself and we're both local.

Shawn set up the greenscreen frame and I started filming David's parts from the reschedule. Poor Michael was stuck in Orlando and couldn't make it until after David had to be at rehearsals so I went ahead and shot them separately deciding to fix it in post (if I never hear that phrase again, it'll be too soon...I just know I'll end up using it again sooner or later, however...) and then I took photographs of my assembled cast. Alana couldn't make it that day either, but I figured, "Well, if I shoot a little dark it won't matter and since Chris and Rick will be fighting and getting sweaty, there's no way to keep up on that so I'll just shoot anyway."

Worked out for the best since I didn't have to worry about their make-up and we could just plow through the sword fight. Yep, you read that right. Sword fight. I shot it with them going 1/3 speed and then fixed it in post. I think it looks great! I'm EXTREMELY happy with how the fight turned out as choreographed by Rick. And there were no flesh wounds!

Once we were done with the fight scene, we packed up and headed out for the final martini shot, the one by the railroad tracks where I kept thinking of the movie Stand By Me as Chris and I went to get the shot. It took a minute, was one take, no covering angles, and then we were done! Woohoo!

Now, it's time for post...


Me, being smart, actually started editing during the first break in the shoot. That's why the rough cut was done pretty quickly. I knew that the special effects were going to be hell for me and I wanted to be done in time for the final deadline of the Sarasota Film Festival, but I don't think I'll make it. It's the 21st now and while I'm done with all of the special effects (I'm still deciding if I want to add sparks to the swordfight), I still have to tighten the cut, adjust timing on the title cards, and edit together the music. Now that the special effects are done, I can focus on communicating with my brother what I'd like to hear for the soundtrack. We're already off to a good start, though, so that's something. Assuming the festival doesn't implode this year, I can always enter it next year! This time, however, I can add that my first short film, which was rejected by my hometown, won an award in California...haha!

The special effects, which are way beyond my ken, took so bloody long because I ended up having to move every control point by hand for each frame. I'm calling this rotoscoping even though that might not be technically accurate, but I don't know what else to call it. There tended to be between 60 and 100 control points and between 40 and 228 frames. It took hours for what amounted to two seconds of screen time. (I shot at 24 frames per second, video is usually 30 frames a second.) I think it looks really pretty, though, so I can't complain too much. ;)

I think that tomorrow or the next day I'll start cutting the teaser and then we'll go from there. I'll post it when I'm done.

Thank y'all for your well-wishes! They have not gone unheard or without my gratitude!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

"Have Gun Will Travel reads the card of a man / A knight without armour in a savage land..."

Well, I've decided that after losing five hours of tedious, backbreaking rotoscoping work on a shot that I would start all over, get a couple of frames done, then take a break and finally write about filming my new flick. :D

I whistled the tune to the above theme song lyric as Chris Cline and I trudged down a bit of disused train tracks by Payne Park for the final martini shot for "A Hammer Fell in Jerusalem: Anathema." If one didn't notice the palm fronds, one would absolutely think they were on their way to see a dead body with three of their closest friends outside of Castle Rock, Maine... It was a simple shot and was to be done in one take, but I'm getting a bit ahead of myself.

Our first day's shooting was on SUNDAY, 21 DECEMBER, 2008 -- the garage and the alley. it was also the first time I was meeting three of my actors: Eon Song (who played Laurel), David Walker (who played Tango), and Michael P. Miller (who was Milton). I found them / they found me through an advert I posted on the Sarasota Craigslist which was then reposted to various talent agencies and actor's sites in Florida. Eon drove down from Tallahassee and Michael came from Orlando. David is a local. Also joining us was Rick Sharpe (as Batraal), but his stuff this day was filmed in a green hoodie as I was going to do some funky special effects and had to try and make it match a costume that was coming for him later in the week.

Shawn McBee and I met everyone outside the theatre and immediately went to our first location, a nearby alley, for the first shots of the day. There's a certain sense of freedom in knowing you don't have to worry about sound: it's a silent fantasy movie (no dragons, none of that stuff, but I don't know of any other genre it really fits in) and though I shot it in colour, the final output will be in black and white.

In the park -- Before In the park - After

Those are just screen caps taken as I was editing, not truly indicative of the final product. :D

Our wonderful and patient hairdresser and make-up person, Miss Alana Goldman (who was recommended to me by Kick Ass Hair for Kick Ass People's Summer Daniels), came out and hooked us up with some fantastic make-up. Make-up for black and white output is hard, but she was fantastic.

The first day went extremely well and we were done well ahead of schedule, which was nice. We couldn't exactly use it to our advantage as the other actors weren't available, but it was nice to feel that sense of accomplishment. After the shoot, we all ate lunch at Applebee's (close and open on a Sunday afternoon) and then Rick and Eon came back to my house to check out some of the footage and talk about their characters. I had a sore throat by the end of the day; I'm not a particularly social person, I don't talk very much, so I'd spoken more that day (and really every day of the shoot) than I have since middle school.

MONDAY, 22 DECEMBER, 2008 -- at the Cock and Bull:

Frank, Dawn, and Howie of the Cock and Bull need a special thank you here as they allowed us to come in before they opened to shoot our scene. Thank you, guys!!

We only had one scene to film this day and a very limited amount of time on the location in which to film it so the night before I made absolutely sure I had all the notes and shot lists and storyboards I could have before walking on set and got to filming as soon as I possibly could. This was Chris Cline's first day on set, he's playing the Priest and he's bloody perfect for the role.

Again, we were extremely fortunate and got everything in the can with about an hour to spare! Then we went to Sugar and Spice for dinner - a good local Amish restaurant. I hope we didn't frighten the customers and staff too much, this ragtag group of guerilla filmmakers. :D

SATURDAY, 27 DECEMBER, 2008 -- on the private property of Dr. Marguerite Barnett:

This day started off badly with the seamstress being unable to make the costume in time and Michael had car troubles and wouldn't be able to get into town until after David needed to head to rehearsals. I postponed their scenes until the following Sunday and shot the parts of scene 19 that we could get, which were parts with Chris and Eon. The fake blood wasn't co-operating and I hadn't considered how to mount the half-knife to Chris' chest -- Shawn rigged something up that I'm happy with, but I would've have been just as happy with my other idea, too.

On the whole, while we got a lot of stuff in the can that I'm happy with, I was not so happy with the day on the whole. It wasn't the actors or anything, it just wasn't a good day. I was pretty depressed when we went to dinner, but I started cheering up immensely and was absolutely positive that the next day's shoot would be spectacular even though we had a LOT of work ahead of us.


I need to stop here so I can get ready to go to work. The final two days and post-production will follow in the next couple of days. :D

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

I know...I know...

I promised a filming report once we wrapped (which was Sunday, by the
way, at around 3:30 in the afternoon.) I spent all of today making the
poster and am about to go to bed. I'll show off the poster when I have
the film done.

For now, just know that the final day was fully awesome and I will
have a report up soon-ish. :D