Zach here. I got an interesting email from Brad the other day:
Although I still haven’t responded to Brad, I agree with him. So here I am, getting my blog nut. It’s been almost an entire month. When you last heard from us, things were grim. I was barfing. Within a day, Nandan was barfing too. Sophia even barfed once, although the reason remains unclear. My best guess is that it was sympathy barf. Brad never barfed. He just did push-ups.
Yes, things were grim. It felt like the god damned Oregon Trail. I thought it was all over. A year of planning, thousands of dollars, and countless hours of labor…all for nothing. I was depressed.
But it wasn’t all over. We pulled through and shot everything, including the ever-daunting bar scene. It was something I’d been concerned about since I first wrote it into the movie. Things started to look up when Manuel connected us with his friend Emiliano, who owns a bar called AlterEgo. We took a meeting with him back in February at which he bought us beer, food, and invited us to shoot anything we’d like at his bar. Unfortunately, just days before the shoot date we’d arranged, Emiliano called me with some bad news. The bar had been shut down by the city. We did some massive schedule shuffling and planned to shoot it one week later, when the bar would hopefully be back in business. And it was!
The night we shot there was an outrageous thunderstorm. Things were high stress. Brad and I had to make a literal run for cash and on our way back Brad fell in the street – full on Funniest Home Videos style – and took the skin right off of his knee. He couldn’t stop the blood running down his leg so he tied some cloth scraps around the wound and we left for the shoot. Bonus for blog readers, if you ever get to see this movie you’ll know to look for a super rare Nandan cameo in the background of this shot:
Anyway, all went extremely well and my eternal thanks go out to Kevin, Kenneth, Cait, and Kendall for coming out to appear as extras at 3:00am on a Sunday night. And perhaps the most eternal thanks of all go to our buddy Germán, who recorded sound that night despite a bum shoulder and work at 9:00am (we wrapped at 6:30am). I felt bad suckering an innocent guy like Germán into the job, but it was all worth it to see Brad make his long-awaited appearance as a highly patriotic drinking enthusiast.
But moving on. Brad and Sophia left. Nandan and I took all of the cloth wallpaper down and arranged to meet the landlord at night so that she wouldn’t see the marks that it left everywhere. She didn’t. Shhh…
Nandan and I faced a predicament. We were out of our apartment on the 8th but not flying until the 15th. In classic form, we decided not to address the issue too seriously until just a few days shy of homelessness. Enter Vero. A mutual friend of OLGA’s, we’d met her only once at the Bummer Summer premiere in March. But despite our lack of really knowing each other, Vero stepped in and offered to share her lovely apartment with us for the entire remainder of our stay. We gratefully accepted and made ourselves quite at home. Vero is awesome and I look forward to returning the favor at some future date in some other hemisphere.
Aside from three simple re-shoots, our last week in Buenos Aires was pure vacation. It also happened to coincide with my favorite film festival, BAFICI, where I was all warm and fuzzy feeling right at home as a threepeat attendee. We really couldn’t have spent our last week any better than we did: with new friends, new films, and a lot (I mean a lot) of Fernet.
Next was New York, and it was kind of a blur seeing as I was only there for five days. We did a lot of homecoming partying. The highlight was definitely our Bummer Summer screening at reRun, a cool new theater in Brooklyn, where we unveiled two brand new trailers to a packed house: one for The International Sign for Choking and another for Nandan’s Detroit movie The Men of Dodge City. Sophia threw us an after-party that was so intensely enjoyable that I felt just the slightest twinge of regret for fleeing the city. Thanks to Nick Feitel for taking this, the only photo of the night:
About ten days ago I flew to Seattle where Bummer Summer was screening yet again, this time for an entire week (two screenings a night!) at the Northwest Film Forum. They’re a really great organization and they even set me up with editing facilities during my stay. Many thanks to them for a great time.
And now here I am, back in Olympia, my dear sweet hometown whom I haven’t seen for six months and where this whole thing started over two years ago. I’m hard at work editing the movie, so expect more updates and less interesting photographs.
Zach here. I’m fresh back from Colón, Entre Ríos where we had our wildest and yet most comfortable adventure yet. Wild because we had four days in an unknown land to write, produce, and shoot an interlude-type sequence that comes exactly halfway through the movie. Plus there were tons of mosquitos. But then comfortable because of our friends Ximena and Ezequiel, pictured below:
Brad was also there, but too busy loving asado to appear in the photo.
Anyway, these guys hooked it up. They showed us all around Colón and took us everywhere we needed to go. They also arranged for a press conference at the mayor’s office in which a bunch of people with microphones fired questions at us. I’m not sure what they were saying and I’m not sure what I said back to them, but somehow that short meeting entitled us to a free hotel room and free lunches at a local restaurant. When it comes to filmmaking, we’re like those natives or whatever that use the whole animal. Sleeping and eating was not all we did in those places:
I would like to apologize to anyone whom I may have just offended with the phrase “natives or whatever”.
Moving on, we shot a lot of cool stuff. For example:
El Palmar, a national park where we lied to a really nice ranger in order to keep shooting :/
A really scary structure of ambiguous design that I had to climb over and over again.
And most notably for me, at the Forclaz Windmill where our new buddy Juan Carlos came through with a great performance. After the shoot we all sat out on the lawn as the sun set while he provided ice cold orange soda and his life story, set to the backdrop of some rural ass birds and crickets. Otherworldly.
It was an awesome trip, and I think it was in Colón where we finally hit that magical milestone at which point onward it feels like we’re actually in the process of shooting a movie. A lot changed for us this past week, most notably for Nandan. He found a new use for Brad that’s going to make lighting a lot easier from now on:
But not all change was for the better. The stress of production drove him to take up smoking:
I propose that we all utilize facebook to encourage him to kick the habit.
Butt Colón aside, things are going well in general (in addition, of course, to the huge host of things that aren’t going well). One huge thing that happened was that we fake-wallpapered 2.5 rooms of our apartment using tons of fabric and a gooey cornstarch-water solution. I think it looks awesome. A few people have asked whether this movie is going to be in black and white or in color. Allow me to clarify:
The only downside of the whole thing is that the landlord has proven a little more hands-on than any of us expected and I’ve become crippled by paranoia for fear that she’ll find out. Yesterday I was home alone and the doorbell rang. Without even knowing who it was, I shut myself in my room and remained motionless until I was sure that they had gone. The thing about the fake wallpaper is that it pulls right off and causes no damage to the paint job. I’d just rather that the landlady not find out at all. Plus, even if she doesn’t care, she’s unlikely to be happy about the glass coffee table that Nandan shattered by sitting on.
I should probably tell you my name is Bradley and that I have been with various Newhard entities here in Buenos Aires for about two and a half weeks. Writing my first guestblog to all you millions of fine readers is daunting, but then I look out from the 14th floor of our new apartment and its amazing balcony (where Nandan has decided to sleep btw), and the warm breeze and water view gives me the chutzpah to continue.
When I first got here I could not help but notice the professional dogwalkers in BA. I shit you not, at least ten dogs (I have counted as high as 15 on one occurrence), each leash entwined together forming something not dissimilar to a very thick, rainbow-cyborg-arm wrapped tightly around an appendage from someone usually under 150 pounds.
Amazed though I was, I found myself hoping our production would be like this…yoked together and moving in the same direction. Probably due to a combination of jetlag, new friends, and catching up on all new things TISFC, I began to suspect that helping out on this film was going to be more like herding cats. Luckily these suspicions proved false, and as we move from preproduction to shooting I can feel it all coming together.
Our new location/office/awesomeplace is really, well…awesome. When going through each room and checking lighting this week, Nandan seemed very pleased with everything as is. Now, I am catching up on my Newhard history here, but I have been told that this is a rare occurrence. Much has transpired already, and I am happy to say that so far, most things have worked out really nice. I have always thought of myself as agnostic when it comes to the film gods, but we mentioned noticing their presence yesterday. Let’s hope that doesn’t jinx anything.
This morning we shot our first dialogue scene at a location gifted to us by none other than Oscar winner Juan Jose Campanella and his production company. Here are two great shots of Zach going deep Method today.
Suffice it to say we are very fortunate and extremely grateful to Juan, Muriel, and (ZACH’S NOTE: the lovely) Dalia for this favor. Including the previously mentioned but worth mentioning many times over amazing support of 791Cine (an awesome indie distributor here in Argentina that is getting Bummer Summer some South American love). Locations, actors, and favors are flowing our way. Here are some stills from rehearsals with Radical Roger, our new best friend and cohort.
He is plays a really cool role in the film, and also has a band OLGA that we can’t stop listening to on repeat. Check it.
But just in case you thought we were hustling too hard, rest assured we have also been having good times with many new friends as well. From homestyle Asados (like a BBQ that is about the slow process of hanging out a couple hours until the tasty chorizo, ribs, and steak begins to sizzle and pop and filling the air with so much goodness that the dogs can’t help but lick the grill), getting comped tickets at sold out events, night-skating in a park with everyone sharing cold beers, pogo-ing at a crazy drum concert until the wee hours of the morning…we are feeling the love on the wild streets and humid nights as well.
For the rest of today we will be “arting” the apartment where much of the film takes place. This weekend has lots of shooting, and then we head to the rural Entre Rios for an adventure outside the city that we are really looking forward to. As long as we don’t lose Nandan due to his peculiar habit of walking and looking at the ground directly in front of his toes (drawing muggers wanting a Canon 5D), Zach doesn’t get kidnapped by the Vieja Contrabanista, and I don’t build a parador and decide to live there, we should return from the jungle intact with good footage from a great location and some tales fit for regaling.
In parting, I leave you with our small contribution to Argentinian culture after seeing the very cool first feature, Somos Nosotros. After the screening we humbly shared one of the simple secrets of life back home.
Zach here. Yesterday, with the generous participation of Maya and Mackinley, I got the last remaining shot of the film. Twisted up in the backseat of a car with one eye on the camera, one eye on the audio levels, and an inexplicable third eye on the actors, I found a whole new appreciation for my ex-crew. I missed the days when my job consisted solely of making serious poses and furrowing my brow as the scenes played out in front of me. Oh yeah, and the shot would absolutely not have been possible without the unreasonably kind Rhian Peterman, who traded cars with me for the day, despite mine having a blown head gasket and spewing white smoke from the tailpipe. Obviously I neglected to mention this to him.
This was so overdue it’s absurd. There were a couple different times that we had wanted to feel “done” and yet hadn’t quite warranted the satisfaction: first when Dusty left, then when Nandan left. Now, as I’m getting ready to leave myself, I finally feel something like a sense of completion. As has become tradition, we wrap-partied over twist cones in the Eagan’s parking lot.
The amount of work this little guy has put in is above and beyond. Especially considering that he’s just a punk kid with no interest in acting. Why did he do this for us? It’s a mystery. And the same goes for Maya. She was a last minute replacement when another girl dropped out, and turned out to be an enormous improvement to the movie. Thanks guys.
Now don’t think that just because I’m done shooting means that the blog’s days are done. In order to prevent e-stagnancy, I’ve devised a new category called “reflections”. So many great photos have gathered on my hard drive over the past several months, so it seems like a good idea to share one of them every few days as well as what I remember about when the photo was taken. Coming soon…
Zach here. Our last official day of shooting was sometime last week. Or the week before. It was low-key and anti-climactic, which suits me just fine because so is the movie itself. The day before it was much more stressful. You never realize how many airplanes there are in the sky until you try to make a movie. Or how many little girls there are riding around with deafeningly loud training wheels on their bikes. Or how many dudes there are on the basketball court, slamming the ball into the ground as forcefully as they can with each dribble. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank that last dude for not playing basketball at our request. He saved our day by letting us ruin his.
Anyway, the last day. Low-key. We only had a couple of shots to get but the sun was setting quickly and it was a no-blowing-it situation. Normally we’d have blown it completely but everyone was on point and we sprinted through a handful of good takes in almost no time at all. First Luc left. Next Julia left. Thirdly we drove Mackinley home. Finally, Nandan took off late, late at night. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank him formally. I had been planning to make this movie for a long time, but I am absolutely positive that it would never have happened had he not made the intensely rash and foolish decision to come join me. Anyway, seven months after our first blog post and here’s what we’ve got to show for it:
Like I said, that was all last week. Or two weeks ago. It would have been nice to feel like everything was done with production-wise but there was plenty of b-roll-type footage left for me to collect on my own. I’ve been collecting it at my leisure. Life isn’t easy for a one-man crew, but I manage. For example, here’s a shot of my sound man getting some ambiance just this afternoon:
So what’s next? On September 15th I’ll be taking a Greyhound back east to New York (Nandan is there already), at which point I’ll add a new and exciting category to the blog: post-production notes. Get psyched!
I’ll try to keep updating somewhat regularly, despite there not being a whole lot to report these days. Things are entering dark and uncharted territory for us. It’s like some Return of the King type shit going on.
We went back into production Saturday after a week-long recess. The day was remarkable for the record-shattering number of times I managed to bring things to the edge of total disaster.
It all started in the morning. Upon arrival from my Vancouver vacation I had spent the night at a friend’s house about thirty minutes out of town. This friend had said he’d take me home in the early-afternoon but got caught up in some matters of home improvement and, in order to honor his obligation, just gave me his car. He said he’d pick it up later that night in Olympia. The day’s first location was at a drive-in movie theater. It was a complicated shot, probably the last shot of the film, and we’d been granted only two hours by the management to get it done. Punctuality would be key. I texted Mackinley to make sure he’d be ready and received an all-too-familiar response. “Wait…we’re shooting today?” To make matters worse, he was not in Olympia. To make bad matters better, he was not too far from where I was. I picked him up in my friend’s car and we just barely made it to the shoot on time.
As I mentioned before it was a complicated shot. With Dusty gone, our crew now consists of three people, and only two whenever I’m acting. We absolutely needed more people to get the job done. Naturally, we’d neglected to enlist anyone. Over the past several months, one of the things I’ve heard most often from people is “dude, just let me know if you guys ever need a hand with anything I’d be so down to help out.” Yesterday, no one was so down to help out. Pulling into the location I got a call from two dear old high school friends who were in town and wondering what I was up to. They knew next to nothing about making movies but were willing to be there in twenty minutes. Saviors.
We got everything set up and ready to go, but suddenly the audio equipment decided to fritz out hard on us. The recorder wouldn’t recognize the cards we put in it. It wouldn’t even power down. It seemed to be getting levels just fine, but Luc couldn’t hear anything in the headphones. The clock was ticking. The drive-in employees were getting anxious as customers would be arriving soon. I didn’t know what to do. Without audio there was nothing we could do. Our sole chance at getting one of the most important shots of the film was slipping away. That’s when we realized that the headphones were just plugged into the wrong jack and it was making the thing all screwy. We got the shot.
After a few hours of downtime, the next shot was to take place downtown; a re-shoot of something we’d done earlier and weren’t happy with. Thirty minutes before everyone was to meet up, Nandan and I remembered that we didn’t have the car that Mackinley’s character drives. It was a pretty big issue considering that the scene would be taking place inside of it. I made some calls and arranged to borrow my sister’s car, which would pass easily enough considering that it was dark out and that we wouldn’t be shooting the car’s exterior.
Nandan got in my car, I got in my sister’s car, and we left. This is when my friend called me wanting his car back. I told him where it was parked and that the keys were in the trunk of my car so he ought to meet us at the location. This is what he did, but in keeping with the rest of the day, the keys were not there. I had to abandon the other four members of the cast/crew to go back home in search of the missing keys, completely unsure of whether we’d find them.
I couldn’t find the keys. It was looking like an awful end to an awful day. Just as I was about to strap on a headlamp and comb the driveway, my friend picked up a set of keys off of counter and said “why don’t I just use these?” I didn’t appreciate his joking around and snapped back angrily. “Because they won’t work in your car.” “But they’re my keys.” Oh, so they are.
I got back to the location, we got the shot, and I went home to dream about all of the ways in which we might blow it the next day.
Zach here. Dusty left us on Friday afternoon. For Nandan and I, it was a heavier moment than either of us had expected. The guy had straight up moved here to help us out 24/7 (which was totally uncalled for and yet an immeasurable blessing), and we’d grown so used to him that his sudden absence came as a shock. It also signaled the beginning of the end of this whole thing. It’s scary, difficult to comprehend, and probably calls for a much schmaltzier post than I’m willing to write at this point. I’ll save it for when we’ve actually finished shooting. But the point is, our greatest and most sincere thanks go to Dusty. We couldn’t possibly have paid him what he was worth, so we paid him nothing, and he was alright with it.
Progress-wise, we’ve been getting pickups and re-shoots done here and there. Our final three days of shooting are scheduled for this weekend when the weather will hopefully have cleared up. Until then I’m off to Vancouver, B.C. for a three-day bachelor party. Yikes. Don’t expect an update until I get back. If you’re jonesing for your schmaltz-fix already, just check out the commemorative Dusty video I posted on our YouTube channel this afternoon.
Nandan here. We shot at the Buechel’s Canal House today, amazing place, we’ll be there again tomorrow. Big Thank You’s in order for Aaron for taking us out there (and for acting in the film, in a sequence shot a week ago) and for Simon Kogan for coming and helping us out in a big way: first by putting up with our rampant unprofessionalism, and second for playing a great role despite all of that. You’ve probably seen his sculptures if you’ve ever stepped foot in Olympia. If not, check out his website at simonkogan.com.