Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cast Showing

Late Tuesday night, we finished the film. It is exactly 96 minutes and 28 seconds long, and we sent it off on Thursday to a certain film festival with our fingers crossed.

On Friday, we had a cast showing. Present were our leads, David Schonscheck and Adrienne Patterson, David's wife Stephanie (who has a small but memorable role) and the always-entertaining Peter Jurich and Mariya O'Rourke. Mariya had to leave about two-thirds of the way through the film due to some family matters, and while we're not sure if this film, like the last one, is exactly to her taste, she did seem to enjoy herself at least up until that point.

There was a lot of laughter through-out the film. Tom's sides were aching, but in that good way. Our last film had a number of comical moments, and was certainly (we think) entertaining and thought-provoking, but Son of a Seahorse is more of an overt comedy and it showed.

Afterwards, we asked what they thought of it. Everyone still present said that they enjoyed it, that it was good, and that the other actors were good in it. Peter and Stephanie expressed concerns about the pacing of the picture and the opening scene, which now clocks in at over twenty-two minutes.

Peter said that scene moved along really well, that it kept his interest and attention, that it built a certain momentum. He was not advocating cutting the scene or cutting it down but instead actually made a very serious suggestion as to how to make the scene longer. He just felt that the rest of the film doesn't build the same momentum as our opening set piece.

David disagreed with him on that point; he felt that the momentum was fine. Everyone agreed that the film slows down during its last twenty minutes or so, which is really a matter of structural design. Peter mentioned that around that point, he had time to think more deeply about David's character, Nick, and what his motivations may be, which is one reason why we did that.

Adrienne said that while she didn't notice any lagging while watching the film, now that we were talking about it she wasn't so certain. She also expressed some concerns about the final scene.

"Even when we were shooting and rehearsing it," she said, "I didn't know quite how it fit or was going to play."

"If there's something like that in the next one," said Tom, "please, tell us. Don't be afraid to challenge us. We're all making this film together, not just me and Mary, but all of us, and we need your input. We can work together to make it better or figure out what the problem is."

"I did say something at the time," said Adrienne.

Tom didn't remember that; Mary, diplomatic as always, was silent.

Peter, getting tired of all the questions, finally turned it around and asked us what we thought of it.

Said Tom: "Well, I can't really answer that question right now, because I'm still totally in love with this movie. I'm too close to it. After a few months or a year, the love starts to wear off and I can be more objective. But at the moment, I look at it, and I see, wow, this works and this is funny and what about this character moment here and I like the way this does this. So I can't really answer."

Mary: "I'm satisfied with it. I have some issues with some of the sound recording, but you can hear just about everything and there's no spikes. I think it's better than the last one, and the next one will be even better than that. So I'm happy with it."

Another trailer and poster are coming soon, and, of course, we'll be keeping you updated so make sure you check back regularly.

EDIT: P.S. Modesty dictates that we do not direct your attention to this blog's sidebar, especially not the GAMES BY TOM RUSSELL section which features a super-cool action-packed shooter about alien flowers.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Swanberg!

Our mysterious super-secret special mystery guest star (of mystery) is no longer so mysterious. Today, we recieved a disc containing what will be one of the most memorable performances in the film-- that of Joe Swanberg, the director of such fine films as LOL, Hannah Takes the Stairs, and Nights and Weekends.





To paraphrase Ben Affleck, Joe Swanberg is a gentleman and a prince.

He set aside some time in an already hectic schedule to commit this terrific, funny, and laudatory performance to video for us. And now that we have that, all the pieces are in place; all that's left to do is place the music and the end credits.

And just in time, too; the deadline for our festival of choice is this Saturday. The plan is to finish the hell out of it tomorrow and get it in the mail; on Friday, we'll have a cast showing.

Expect another trailer and poster sometime in the next week as well.

Huzzah!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Fix List

Our mysterious super-secret special mystery guest star (of mystery)-- that's OMSSSMGS(OM) for those of you playing at home-- will be back in the States next month, at which point we are to pester him relentlessly until he sends us his footage-- which, we're confident, will be absolutely golden-- a great way to kick off the film (as his part takes place about five minutes in and is an integral part of the film's now-legendary eighteen-minute opening scene).

To better adapt his performance to the tone and feel of the film, OMSSSMGS(OM) has asked us to send him a copy of the rest of the film, with his spot left blank so he can see where-all it fits in. We are, of course, more than happy to oblige, and after a bit of puttering around, we tonight burned a DVD with said film-in-progress and gave it a look on our telly.

We were pleasantly surprised to discover that the film looks absolutely gorgeous on our television set; we had gotten so used to looking at it on our computer, with its dismal colours and splotchy blacks. Whereas on the TV, it looks much the way (if not better) than it did on the camera. Which is wonderful.

We were not so pleasantly surprised-- indeed, we weren't really surprised-- when we came across a few places where the audio needs a little nip and tuck. When we mix our sound for our movies, we do it right on our computer, right in Adobe Premiere, using our computer speakers to judge when something needs to be raised and something needs to be lowered. Often, we miss little things with our imprecise equipment, and watching a rough cut on TV results in a long list of things to fix-- or, a Fix List.

This Fix List, however, was not actually that bad; there are ten spots to be fiddled with. Four of them are "spikes"-- when the decibel level is so high that an unpleasant distortion is present-- and there are three quiet scenes in which the mix itself is a bit lower than we would like, and so those must go up.

All-in-all, though, everything looks nice and everything is more-or-less audible; there is one small snippet of a scene where David decided to mutter, despite us telling him again and again to be louder, we told David to mutter, making it a "quiet moment" between the two characters in which only they know what is said-- like the bit at the end of Lost in Translation but less "emo"-- but we'll live with it it was intentional.

We would, though, like to get a better mike for our next project-- and one with a longer cord. Maybe even an actual boom operator with a sound mixer.

We'll see what happens when the time comes; we've already started taking a few stabs at the characters (with the help of our able-minded actors) and storyline of the next project, though nothing concrete will come out of it for at least a couple months yet.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Trailer! (# 1)

Our first trailer plays up the comedy side of the equation.



It also generally adheres to the peculiar rhythm employed by many of today's trailers-- short, almost modular sequences of ideas, each unit running roughly ten to twenty seconds, punctuated by a moment or two of black video in between. It's a popular format precisely because it is effective-- if the purpose of a trailer is to make people want to see a film, it does that fairly well-- and we decided to employ it for this trailer precisely for that reason. (And also because we wanted our first trailer to be out-and-about fairly quickly.)

Our next trailer for this film will probably be a very different animal indeed, both in terms of style and substance-- not necessarily pushing the comedy aside in favour of dramaturgical sturm und drang, but putting more emphasis on the anger as a problem, where it comes from, et cetera.

Not that-- let's be clear here-- the anger is a "conflict" that must be "resolved" by the end of the third act. That's exactly the sort of bull-puckey we're seeking to avoid. In fact, we're not even sure if the film can be divided into three acts. Five "movements", perhaps-- more like music than McKee.

Anyway-- tell us what you think of the trailer and please feel free to e-mail it, link to it, embed it and otherwise share it on your own websites, your Space that belongs to you and your Book of the Face.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Oops.

So, we're going through the movie, looking for shots for our first trailer-- and we notice that approximately three minutes from the middle of Sequence E are missing.

Gah.

As near as we can figure, what happened was this: we had two different layers of video. Video-1 contained most of the shots, while Video-2 contained reaction shots. That second track must have been "locked"-- meaning that it could not be changed while other parts were being edited-- when we were shifting the scene one way or the other. So layer one moved and layer two stayed the same; we then must have noticed it and unlocked the track, shifting it back over to where it should have been. In doing so, we then must have accidentally selected the first track as well, which means that that first track then overwrote the shots earlier on that same track.

At least, that's what we've been able to piece together. We're not sure when it happened, and it doesn't sound like the kind of sloppiness we would usually be guilty of.

Either way, we've got to re-edit a complicated portion of a complicated scene-- something we're not particularly happy about. But we'll do it. (We knew things had been going too smoothly.)

We'll probably have those three minutes back in place sometime this week; we should have the first trailer up and ready for mass consumption around that time as well.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy Anniversary

On a purely personal note, it was five years ago today that Tom and Mary started dating. It's been a hectic, stressful, and difficult five years-- but it's also been the best fives years of our life, and that's because, you guessed it, we've got each other, we've got love. The next five look to be even better-- hopefully less hectic, less stressful, less difficult, more peaceful, with more love.

Together, we'll keep making movies and keep moving through this life. And we just know, deep down, that some good things are coming our way. So you better stay tuned, because production is only part of a film's journey...

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Last Day of Shooting*

Production: 95 % complete.
Post-Production: 88 % complete.

Yesterday was our fourteenth and final* shoot, in which we tackled Sequence C-- the interview scene. We shot at an office building roughly .01 miles away from our house (also known as, "across the street"), with the kind permission of Mr. Gary Kuhlman, who is certainly getting a special thank you in our end credits.

Besides David, we worked with two other actors. One was immensely talented, and we'll get to her in just a moment.

The other, though, is The Worst Actor In The World.

That's him in the green shirt. To say he is a ham is an insult to Porcine-Americans everywhere. He has no sense of timing, of character, or of taste. We're not even going to do him the dignity of naming him. I don't know why we agreed to work with him, and now we're stuck with him, and I hope to God he doesn't ruin the entire movie with his gaping comedic black hole of a performance.

And, to top it off, he's lazy. Just look at him!

Yeesh!

Luckily, though, we got to spend most of the shoot working with the Amazing Mariya O'Rourke. For those of you unsure of how to pronounce her first name, the third syllable should be delivered as a loud karate yell, accompanied by a karate chop.

Neat Party Game
Here are some photos of Mariya O'Rourke and David Schonscheck. In order to win this game, you need to figure out which photos are of Mariya and which are of David. BONUS HINT: Mariya is female; David is not.





The thing that's great about Mariya, both as a person and as an actress, is that she has a very palpable force of personality-- it's a strange mix between cheerfulness and ass-kickery. She really brought that friendly toughness to the part of Penelope.

It's a difficult part, too. Many other actresses would have played the character as a bit of a ditz. But Mariya brought intelligence and aplomb aplenty-- which is exactly what we wanted and exactly why we wanted Mariya to play the part.

Extra Bonus Dash of Pretension
If you compare the screenshots from the two parts of the scene-- David and Mariya versus David and The Worst Actor In The World-- you'll note that, in addition to the fact that one scene features two good actors while the other features one good actor and The World's Worst-- the quality of the visual image is different as well. Not that one image is necessarily better than the other-- though the images from the David and Mariya scene, obviously, do not feature The Worst Actor In The World-- but that the colour temperatures are vastly different, lending a different "look" to each scene. This was intentional.

The scene with The Worst Actor In The World finds Nick, David's character, waiting to be called in for his interview. He's anxious about the interview, but also anxious about one of the potential end results of that interview-- i.e., moving up into a full-time job in an office environment. The dreariness of the room is meant to reflect on these anxieties in a subtle way.

The interview itself has a warmer feeling-- her red suit and his orange are more vibrant, there's more colour to the face, the walls are brighter. This is a reflection of her personality, and also on the ultimately confrontational nature of the scene.

Looking at the screenshots provided on this site, you'll note that each scene has a slightly different look. Sequence E, for example, features much brighter colours and far fewer shadows; Sequence F is much darker and grainier. That's not because we couldn't get equipment-- we own all our own lights and they're available to us at all times. It's because we had a very particular look and feel in mind for each scene.

We don't get too "arty" with it-- we don't switch into black-and-white, and we stay away from gross overexposure. But we do put a lot of thought and time into how the film looks.

And so, in this particular case, we thought it'd be nice to share some of that process with you. (You're welcome.)

*-- Well, it's the last regular day of shooting. We have one more tiny shot to pick up with David during the next week, and we're still waiting on some second unit stuff. But we're more-or-less done, mostly, sort of.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Lucky Number Thirteen

Production: 90% complete

We got a late start, but we finished pretty quickly. It was pretty relaxed and felt as "ordinary" as a shoot ever does. It was the last scene to be shot between our two leads-- which means that it was also Adrienne's last shoot for this picture.

Next week, David and Mariya shoot a three page scene, and then-- we will be done with the regular shooting; just some second-unit stuff is needed to finish up the film.

This whole experience has been rather strange. It's moved a lot quicker, both in shooting and editing, than our previous films. There was less of a need to rewrite or reshoot, and less of a need to pull a MacGuyver by making a lot of film out of very limited resources. There was far less stress this time around.

Sure, there were some grumpy set days, and some tensions-- but far and away this is the most relaxed and genuinely fun experience we've had in making a film.

It's been a real pleasure to make, and we hope it will be a real pleasure for the audience to experience.

SOASH goes international!

Contest! Contest! Contest!
One fact that many reading this site will not be privy to is that our film is actually in more than one language. Here, with subtitles, is a still from such a moment:

In what language is Mr. Schonscheck communicating? I leave it for you to decipher. The first correct guess will get some kind of prize-- what prize, I am not yet sure. But, hey!, it's still a prize, am I right?

You'll notice that we chose a frame in which his mouth is not open-- so as not to tip off any lip-readers in the audience. There is, however, a very vital clue located in one of the screenshots on this site. The very clever among you should pick up on it right away.

So, get cracking! When you think you've got it, post a comment on this entry.

And no, David and Adrienne, you are not eligible. :-|

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Thank Goodness for Nice People

Looks like we might have an office to shoot Sequence C in. We met with the property owner this morning and he was extremely nice and helpful. Still have to check with our actress when we have a chance to talk to her this Thursday, but we have our fingers crossed and it looks like this is going to be a go.

You can't understand what a relief this is, after running into so many closed doors. Thank goodness for nice people-- and for this nice person in particular, who will get a ginormous thank you in our credits.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

More pictures; thoughts on E-K inclusive

First up, we've got some new screen shots for you. These first two are from Sequence F:


And now, here's a couple from Saturday's shoot-- the film's final scene.


Well, it's nice to see that David wants to look his best.

We're celebrating a bit, as we've finally caught up on our editing, having spent most of our day slogging away at it. We've still got a lot of audio hiccoughs to clean up in Sequences E and F, but for the most part the editing on those sequences is completed. Which means that we got to watch Sequences E through K as one completed block of film, which runs roughly 37 minutes.

It's a good piece of work. Strong acting, strong writing, flowing seamlessly with an emphasis on a sense of time and place. It bodes well.

We did find, however, that we need to slip one more scene into these proceedings. We're working on that, and should present it to our actors on Thursday. If luck and time are with us, we'll shoot it on Saturday along with Sequence L.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Twelfth Night (of Shooting)

Production: 75 % complete.

Bugger of a shoot tonight. It wasn't a particularly long shoot-- just an hour or two-- and the scene wasn't particularly exhausting. But it was warm and we shot upstairs-- the hottest and dustiest room in the house. No matter how many times we vaccuumed and fussed, we knew it was going to difficult for Adrienne and her allergies.

As always, she troopered through it. The scene itself was a bit uncomfortable for her because of some of the content of the scene as well; but she was, above all, professional, courteous, and dedicated to getting the job done.

And done it is.

We have one more big shoot with both of them-- that's next Saturday, God willing-- a final shoot with David and another actress and the footage from our super-secret guest star remaining. After that, production will be complete.

Post-production's moving along, perhaps a bit slower than usual. We had fallen into the habit of editing a scene in its entirety between shoots, meaning that production and post-production were moving at pretty much the same rate. But once we got to Sequence E, we fell behind-- it's a long and difficult scene wiht a lot of footage to reconcile. That scene itself is now edited, and we're still working on Sequence F.

This scene-- Sequence M-- should be a lot more straightforward, and we'll probably have it-- and, hopefully, F-- done before next week's shoot. And so, if everything works out okay, we're hoping to be doing the final mix and touch-ups in the two or three weeks following the end of production.

So far, the film is shaping up to be roughly 85 to 90 minutes long; not bad for a script that, after cutting Sequence D, runs 54 pages.

Things have been moving pretty painlessly so far; everyone cross their fingers and hope our luck holds.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sequence F Screenie; Taking Stock

First, here's a nice evocative screenshot from Sequence F.



That's a nice shot.

We're now in the home stretch. The most difficult scenes have been shot, and the schedule is currently as follows:

Forty minutes from now: Second-to-Last Rehearsal
Saturday: Shooting Sequence M (the last scene in the picture)
Next week Thursday: Final Rehearsal
That Saturday: Shooting Sequence L (the last scene that requires both leads)
The Following Saturday, August 23rd: Shooting Sequence C

For all intents and purposes, that'll be our final shoot; we're still having some trouble firming up the location, but we've got our fingers crossed. We should have most of the picture edited by that time, and so if we feel we need to reshoot or add anything, we'll be able to do that on the last Saturday in August; production will be basically complete before David gets married/honeymoons in September, which would make shooting with him much more difficult.

While there have been a few scheduling conflicts, on the whole the filmmaking has been a pleasant and fast-moving experience. We're all worked together before, so we know what to expect from one another and how to get it. There were also some longer takes and less close-ups than our previous picture, and that helped tremendously.

All we'll have left to wait on is some footage from our special secret guest star; assuming we get that before November, we should be able to submit this to a couple of really choice festivals that, in theory, tend to embrace low-budget non-genre films.

Monday, August 4, 2008

The Scary Face Contest! (or, screenies from Sequence E!)

While we were filming the happy-go-lucky adventure that is Sequence E, David and Adrienne decided to challenge one another to a scary face contest.

David went first:

Adrienne upped the ante:

Round one is a tie. Time for round two. Look out, Adrienne!:


Ooh, that was a nice save. But what's this that David has up his sleeve? Looks like he's going to try to pull off a devastating three-hit combo attack!!!




Oh noes, he flubbed it with that last one. That wasn't a scary face at all-- it was a goofy face! Adrienne has an opening... this could be it, folks...

... and, yes, she did it! Adrienne won the Scary Face contest! (Not that her face is normally scary; she's just a very talented actress.)

Wait, David-- where are you going...?

Are you in the bathroom, crying like a little girl?

Only little girls cry, David. Make sure you wipe your eyes with the hem of your dress, so that you look pretty. Otherwise you'll never get a date to the box social.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Eleventh Shoot

Production: 68% complete

Got Sequence F done today. Once it and its predecessor are completely edited, we'll have a huge block of the film done, running from Sequence E through K. We'll be shooting L and M (the end of the picture) at the next two shoots, then we'll pony back to shoot Sequence C. Still have the musical number ahead of us, though the more we look at it, the more it looks like it's going to get cut-- not because of time issues, but because of thematic reasons. As I explained before, Sequence D has been cut-- though we might put the script for that online in the next week or so-- and we've still got to get a small piece of Sequence A from our Super-Secret Guest Star.

Because we're not going to put his name out there until we're absolutely sure that he's good to go, we won't be releasing the full and animated opening credits on teh internets just yet-- though we finalized them this morning.

Things seem to be doing alright now, and we look forward to finishing the picture and getting it out there.

Pictures soon, from both E and F. I promise.

Two Title Images

First, here's the corrected version of one of our opening title screens.



As for this other one...



Well, while I can promise that it is somehow relevant to Son of a Seahorse, I am not yet at liberty to discuss exactly how.

Big shoot today; actors should be here in 2.5 hours...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Oops

That's Schonscheck.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tenth Shoot; Pictures from Saturday

Had our tenth shoot today, featuring special guest star Jake Hildebrandt as the mysterious "Pete the Pirate".



The shoot went well enough; we had to keep restarting because David kept cracking everybody up. Not that I'd say that David is too funny; there's no such thing, I think, as someone who's too funny.

Speaking of shoots, here's some of those promised pictures from our mammoth ninth shoot. There'll be more where this came from as time progresses.



Sunday, July 27, 2008

About that Ninth Shoot...

Well, it turns out the mike was off the whole time. We have to redo the whole thing.

...

... just kidding.

The footage is beautiful and the acting spectacular and we'll be spending much of our free time this next week sorting through it all and cobbling it together.

Pictures tomorrow.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ninth Shoot

Production: 51% complete

Oh, Christ.

It's almost 1:30 in the morning here. We started just after 8 p.m. and we just finished. With the exception of dinner and one last rehearsal run-through, it's basically been five hours of four people cramped into one living room surrounded by two 500-watt lights without air conditioning on a hot and humid night. And-- genius that I am-- I decided that one of the characters should be wearing a sweater. A sweater! What the hell was I thinking?

(In my defense, I chose the costume on a non-hot and non-humid day. But still.)

It was a long shoot, and it was a hard one. The scene itself is emotionally draining, the scene itself is long, the scene itself had a lot of set-ups-- 14 basic set ups, not counting the occassional close-up and the like. And though she was benadrylled up the wazoo, Adrienne's allergies started acting up.

Like always, she troopered through it. She got a little bleary-eyed and puffy-cheeked towards the end, and we were all pretty worried about her. I don't think she's one that likes people making a fuss over her, and if she's reading this, I'm not sure if she'll exactly be happy with me mentioning all this. But I want to say that, while she couldn't exactly be her usual cheerful self, she was extremely professional the whole time through; none of it was reflected in her dynamite performance.

Next production, we'll try to shoot somewhere besides our lovely home. Now, don't get us wrong; we like our home. And it's very appealing to us to have a location over which we have complete control. There's never any worry about anyone throwing a party the night before, changing their mind, or blaming us for damage we didn't cause.

But we've shot in our home for two movies now, and, no matter how much we vaccuum and how much medicine she takes, the cat fur still gets to Adrienne. Adrienne is a very talented actress-- perhaps the most talented and responsive that we've ever worked with. She's someone we want to work with again and again until she gets sick of us. And so working with her in an allergen free environment would be highly desirable for all concerned.

And, more importantly, Adrienne's our friend-- and we don't want to put her through all this.

...Like I said, it was very hot, and so everybody was feeling a little grimy and there was a fair amount of stress. The end result, I think, will be worth all that bother.

At the same time, this whole "spend hot summer days/nights cramped in a little room with 500 watt halogen lights" thing has gotten old pretty quick. We still remember some of the less-than-ideal shooting days last summer, in our last production The Man Who Loved.

We're thinking that our next production, whatever it may be, we'll try to shoot this next winter or spring or, if it comes to it, that following autumn. (Autumn's Tom's favourite season; Mary doesn't have a favourite, but she "sure as hell" doesn't "like shooting in the summer".) Because these summer shoots are hell on everybody involved.

Anyway...

Shoot's over. It was long and it was arduous and it was warm. Tomorrow-- or, rather, later today-- we'll digitize all the footage to our hard drive and begin to piece it together. There'll probably be some pictures then.

Right now?

Right now I'm too tired to even finish this sen

Ninth Shoot Prep Work

Today's the big day: Sequence E, which starts as an interview and ends... well, you'll just have to see. Suffice to say, we think it's going to be one of the strangest and most invigorating cinematic experiences you'll ever... experience... at the... cinema. Ahem.

The preparation for this shoot has been somewhat extensive; pretty much every rehearsal has devoted a substantial amount of time to this monster. And we think it's going to pay off, big time.

But we've also done some more subtle prep work-- creating the two documents which get the scene started. The chances of the audience glimpsing these documents in any kind of detail in the film are slim to none; all they really need to look like is a resume and a list of questions, respectively.

That said, we decided to have a little fun with it, rather than merely typing gibberish.

First up, here's the list of forty interview questions, only three or four of which will actually be asked in the film. Which ones are they? (Hint: it's not the one about Charlie Brown.)



A more subtle sense of humour is in evidence in Nick's resume, with only a few gags slipped in here and there.



Well, actors should be arriving any moment now. Fingers crossed!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Eighth Shoot

Production: 34 % complete

Our rehearsal ritual is as follows: we eat, and then we rehearse. It's served us well, but today, we decided to change it up a little: we eat while shooting, and then we rehearse. We were afforded this luxury because the scene in question took place at the dinner table.

Here's a picture of David from that scene:



And because David's had twice as many photos posted on this site than Adrienne, here's a double-dose of Patterson-ness:




Boo-yah!

Next shoot's coming up this Saturday night, and that is a huge chunk of the script dished out in one ginormous and demanding scene. Will we conquer the now-legendary Sequence E, or will it conquer us? Stay tuned!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Seventh Shoot

Probably the last of the short shoots today; next week we start getting back to bidness. Still, we shot a few takes of a very important scene with David.



We're having dinner now (David is threatening to eat my pizza by means of a clever ruse) and then we're going to start rehearsing the dance number.

And, just in case fans of P. Diddy Jurich are not yet satisfied with the glimpse of greatness in our previous post, here's another choice still from the mysterious duel.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Acting With One Hand

It has come to our attention that the only still of the immortal Peter Jurich to grace this site has been of the duel at sunset. To remedy this situation, we provide another still below. (Peter's on the left, David's on the right.)



You'll note that this still has been masked (or "letterboxed") to the intended aspect ratio, making it an extra-special treat for Jurich fans everywhere.

And, for those of you wanting another look at the aforementioned sword duel, we present the following cryptic still from the film.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The First Scene is Over Eighteen Minutes Long

We knew that the film's very first scene, which pits out hero against a rather large and unexpected charge on his utility bill, would be a bit of a set-piece, involving five different shoots-- four of which have been completed.

With most of the footage in the bag, we started putting it together, and we came to the realization that, as the title of this post says so succintly, the first scene is over eighteen minutes long. That benchmark was arrived at by reserving three minutes for the portions of the scene that will be shot on that mysterious fifth shoot (more details about that when it happens). That is, by the way, a very conservative estimate, that three minutes; it could very easily be five or six and, to be frank, probably will be. In which case we'd be looking at a scene that was over twenty minutes long-- all before the opening credits.

You're probably asking yourself, "Are these people crazy?" And, last I checked, we were not.

"Does anything happen in this scene?"

Yes! In fact, a lot happens in this scene. There might not be any explosions, but it moves quickly, in its way, starting small and gradually building up momentum like a boulder rolling down a hill.

And-- I'd like to think-- it's funny. What we're attempting here, and what (I dare say) we're accomplishing, is to take a very ordinary event and, step-by-step, pile one detail or complication on top of another. Each detail is credible on its own, and each step from one to the other is equally credible, but by the time you reach the scene's apex, the difference between the beginning and that climax is starkly ridiculous.

"Isn't eighteen minutes plus way too long?"

And the answer to that one depends on the scene. In the case of this particular scene, I think, the answer is "no". So much of the Funny here derives from reactions, timing, and hesitancies that to excise them would not only make the scene less funny (and thus the film as a whole) but would also damage our carefully constructed structure (and thus the film as a whole).

So, we're very proud of this "little" scene. At the same time, we're a little conflicted about the length. Yes, it is as long as it needs to be, but at the same time, an eighteen minute set piece revolving around a mysterious charge on a utility bill doesn't exactly command the attention of festival committees or potential distributors.

It also doesn't help to win over most audiences. We're not really "arthouse" people-- we're very populist in our taste and our approach. Populist, I suppose, but also admittedly somewhat peculiar. Which has also proven to be a problem in the past: not weird enough for the crazy festivals, not "respectable" or dumbed-down enough for the prestigious ones.

We've got a niche, I think, and I think that means that once you've seen one of our films, you won't soon forget it. And those that dig our films are going to dig them more than your ordinary run-of-the-mill movie, and those that don't won't with a vengeance.

And that's fine-- that's well and good.

The problem is, of course, before you can see the film and fall madly in love with it, we've got to get it out there.

Hopefully, however, the presence of the fifth actor in that first scene-- the part that hasn't been shot yet-- will at least get those festival judges to give us enough time to win them over. Who is this mystery guest star? Well, until we're sure it's on we're not going to try and jinx it by putting his name out there.

But our fingers, as always, are crossed.

Sixth Shoot


Short shoot today-- easy, yet difficult. Easy because (1) it was short, (2) it didn't require a whole lot emotionally, and (3) with only one actress and natural lighting, it was pretty simple to coordinate.

It was difficult because of the way we shot though. We had a particular stylistic hiccough in mind when shooting, which transformed three short scenes into roughly eighteen even shorter ones. It's hard to get in character for a short scene, even harder when you've got eighteen of them, not a single one more than eight seconds long.

Adrienne rose to the challenge though, turning in a strong performance in what will be her character's introduction. So I guess it was an easy shoot after all. Given the circumstances, I say that's cause for applause.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cut Cut Cutterooni

Concerns about scheduling problems have had us looking very closely at our project, what we have left to shoot-- which is substantial-- the time we have to shoot it-- which is not-- and what we need to "tell the story", if a story this be.

And we've decided to cut a pretty huge chunk out of the film-- it runs about twelve pages-- not only because it would necessitate at least four different shoots at multiple locations (thus eating up four different shooting days), but also because of a number of other reasons. To wit:

1. Our first choice to play the part is unavailable, leaving Tom (the understudy for every part) to fill it. And it's not that Tom couldn't play it, or that he doesn't like acting-- he does-- but it would be less special than our first choice had been.

2. We've had trouble finding a place for it in the film. It had a place initially, and then we started shuffling things around, seeing what things work better in what spots, and we found that while it has some fairly deep thematic links to the rest of the picture, in terms of more tangible links it is tenuously related at best; it really just stands on its own. It could work, we reason, as a "breather"-- something to separate two larger chunks of the film-- but it's not really necessary to it the same way those larger chunks are.

3. In shuffling the other scenes, we've found new meanings imbedded in the material; behaviours and tendencies that are more noticeable and telling without this sequence. That is, the sequence that we're cutting contradicts a meaning that we weren't aware of at first, and having found it, it becomes easier to sacrafice what we thought, at the writing stage, was going to be one of the highlights of the film.

And so, there you have it-- the script is now twelve pages lighter and our shooting schedule, while still close, is four days shorter. (Which, when you're shooting weekends, is a helluva lot of time.)

We should be having a (short) shoot on Saturday with just one actor, followed by a rehearsal with both leads next Thursday. That Saturday, while our actress is at a concert, we'll try to work with David on his last bit of solo shooting, as well as starting to work, choreography-wise, on the musical number.

As we get back into production, there should be more frequent updates, as well as pictures galore.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

In the words of a very wise man, "grrr."

In observance of the Fourth of July holiday (and, to be more precise, the Fourth of July holiday plans of members of our cast), we took a break from shooting with the intention to tackle that unmitigated tyrant of a scene we know and dread as "Sequence E" this coming Saturday.

Unfortunately, Blanche is in town that very evening, and so one of our cast members opted to bow out to see said concert. Undeterred, we decided to grab a few important shots with the other cast member that Saturday, with the next Saturday cordoned off for "Sequence E".

But, as often is the case with the best-laid plans of rodents and homo sapiens, we discovered that on that following Saturday, that other cast member is going to a concert, which means that shooting "proper"-- that is, shooting the big long scenes that make up the bulk of the film-- is put off until at least the 26th of July-- the end of the month.

This caused quite a scramble, and so we've spent the last spot of time going over the remaining material, trying to figure out if it can be shot before David's wedding and subsequent honeymoon.

The answer? Yes, but only if we double-up on a couple weekends and do a couple of week night shoots. Which is certainly doable, though I'm not sure how happy the cast will be about it.

And even with that schedule, we haven't quite set aside the time we need for the musical number.

"Musical number?" you say.

Yes, musical number. We introduced David to his song today. He's a bit trepeditious...



... but so are the rest of this at this point. I got the sinking feeling that something's going to be cut...

... and I hope to God it's not the song.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Podcast # 1

Our first podcast for Son of a Seahorse gives an extremely brief introduction to the film for the uninitiated. Expect more depth as production continues.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Fifth Shoot: My Favourite Actress

No offense to the other actresses we've worked with, past and present, whom have all been fantastic, but today we got to work with my favourite actress in the entire world.

Diane Schmidt is sweet, funny, and down-to-earth, with none of the phony actressy tricks employed by far too many these days-- everything about her, and ever performance she gives, is uncannily and completely real. She's a wonderful human being, too-- friendly, compassionate, and a fighter when she needs to be. She raised three children more-or-less on her own, and has continued to play an extremely active parts in the lives of all her grandchildren (and great grandchildren).

(Full disclosure: Tom is one of them.)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Fourth Shoot



Exactly what it looks like.

Third Shoot: Creature Effects by Jacob Hildebrandt

Jacob Hildebrandt-- infamous through-out the internets for his mechanical wonderments, one of the two Jakes attempting to assert steampunk supremacy, a friend, an actor, and one heck of a nice guy-- created one of our most unusual cast members for this film. Here's a picture of the lovely lady:



We have to be careful with her, though. Sometimes she gets a little angry, and has to blow off a little steam.




Who is this mystery lady, and what role does she play in the Episode of the Utility Bill? You'll have to wait and see, my friends. Wait and see.