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.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The utility bill that starts the entire film. While it's never seen in this detail on screen, we took some time with this not only to amuse ourselves and our lead actor, but also to help him keep all those pesky numbers straight.

David Shonsheck as Nick, politely explaining what he thinks of his bill.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Second Shoot

Sunday's shoot was fairly awesome. We had only part of one scene to shoot-- David's side of a three-way phone conversation. And while some of the material was tripping us up, we got through it and ended up with some very, very funny stuff.

There should be some stills coming soon, as well as some behind-the-scenes type stuff-- prop design and background television video-- for your perusal and enjoyment.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Adrienne Patterson as Madison.

David Shonsheck as Nick.

David and Adrienne demonstrate the busting of many grooves, simultaneously.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

First Shoot

Had our first shoot today. Just some small scenes, but important ones. (Of course, every scene is an important one.) Things went very smoothly, and our actors were on top of their game, despite Adrienne having a tremendously bad allergy attack. We were very worried about her, but she troopered through it and I dare say none of the footage betrays the tough time she was having.

Afterwards, we did some rehearsing with both of them. For some reason, we all got the giggle-fits-- every one of us laughing at every line, even and especially at those lines that weren't in any way, shape, or form amusing. But it wasn't a bad rehearsal-- far from it. It was a lot of fun, and very refreshing. We all agreed, tongue somewhat in cheek, that we got a lot done rehearsal-wise in addition to the shooting.

Adrienne bowed out shortly thereafter in order that she might recover from her allergies. David stuck around and we ran through the material for next Saturday a couple of times. Before he left, he tried his hand at Tom's new video game, Block and White, and Tom also introduced him to one of his favourite games that he had nothing to do with, the immortal classic Shotgun Ninja.

It was, all-in-all, a good start to a good film.

Stay tuned the next couple of days; to paraphrase Paul Thomas Anderson, There Will Be Pictures.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Fifth Rehearsal

In the words of a very wise man: Wowza.

Today, David and Adrienne knocked our socks clear off. They were firing on all cylinders, hitting all the right notes, pulling incredible surprises and meanings seemingly out of thin air, astounding us at every corner-- and other cliches that all simply add up to that one compact and extremely powerful word: Wowza!

We've been looking forward to our first shoot, which is two days hence, with both optimism and confidence to spare. Things haven't been perfect, but we've been getting there, working ever-closer, building the performances and the characters step-by-step. We planned on starting small with our first shoot to get our feet wet, to get us started but also to give us more time to find the characters.

But tonight, they were found. It wasn't David anymore, but Nick; it wasn't Adrienne, but Madison. If we were confident before, we're ten times as confident now.

Saturday's going to be wonderful, and all the shoots are going to be wonderful, and they're going to be wonderful, and this movie is going to rock-- or, to put it another way--------


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Peter Jurich Rehearsal

Peter Jurich, who so brilliantly brought to life the character of Pete the Pirate in our last film, The Man Who Loved, was over today for a one-on-one character-building session and rehearsal for his character in Son of a Seahorse, Eddie. Things got off to a shaky start, something we attributed to the fact that it was, indeed, the beginning.

But as we pressed on, it became clear that something wasn't quite working. Peter's natural speaking voice, and very Peter-like inflections, were clashing with the character's very particular voice. All seemed lost.

We had a talk about the character, going over his self-perception and its shortcomings, his opinions of the other characters in the scene, his predeliction for certain words and phrases. And Peter listened, thought about it, and started again-- and he was firing on all cylinders.

Tom started laughing. A lot. A whole lot. He was laughing so hard, if he had been sitting in a chair, he would have fallen out of it. He was laughing so hard, he clapped his hands with glee and flailed his limbs about all higgily-piggily. He laughed so hard that while doing this he just about threw his arm out.

He laughed so hard that he frightened three little pussycats, and they have not yet forgiven him.

Peter found a voice for the character-- and I mean that literally, not in the figurative "finding your voice" sense but in the sense that he found an external tone of voice and manner of speaking which opened up the inner life of the character. It was, in its way, very Method-- starting with behaviour to suggest the psychology and feelings beneath that surface.

It reminds me of a story about Laurence Olivier. The great actor was having trouble getting into character for a film-- I think it was the original Sleuth. Try as he might, he always came off flat, like he was phoning it in. The crew and the cast (which, if it was Sleuth, was just Michael Caine) wondered if they needed to get a replacement.

Then something miraculous happened: Olivier put on a little fake moustache, and suddenly, there was the character. He was right on his game again. Now, you might ask, what does the moustache have to do with acting? How could that really change his performance?

But, it did, and it does. Sometimes you just have to find that one little detail-- or, in the case of Peter's voice for Eddie, a slightly more obvious one-- that will unlock the entire character for you, give you a frame of reference, and thus bring the script and the film to life.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Fourth Rehearsal

Got a fair amount of work done today, despite the ungodly heat. Our two leads are pretty much off-book on a big chunk of the script. We should be rehearsing again next Thursday, going over not only the material we went over today, but also the scenes we need for our shoot on that Saturday.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Rehearsal 3.5

David was sick today, so it was just us and Adrienne. We went over Sequence E-- it's a big scene in more ways than one-- and over a monologue that Adrienne's having a little trouble with. Not her fault; it's much too wordy, as most monologues are. We're starting to whittle it down to its essentials, and we'll see what's what on Friday, when we should have both of our leads-- alive, healthy, and well-- to go over the material.

Tomorrow, another one-on-one rehearsal, though, with Peter Jurich, who's playing the small but vital part of Eddie. We'll be shooting with him probably the last Saturday of this month-- shooting with the other two should start not this Saturday, but the next one. We're going to shoot it more or less in order, which gives us more time to go over the demanding material in the second half of the film.