The Beach, Delphinia, and a Bathroom

August 3rd, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

Nandan here. We embarked on our first group field-trip last Thursday, heading to our only location across the border: Pacific City, Oregon. After a week riddled with 100+ degree days I think we were all looking forward to nice little beach day. On the way down south we managed to stop by Dusty’s sisters house in Portland to fill our mouths with Lays before heading to what is now my official favorite eatery in all of Beaverton: Lupe’s Escape. They provisioned us with large saucy burritos, rice, beans, chips, salsa, and optional salad for a cool $5.75, and were very helpful when we expressed desire to have our meals individually packed for the road. They were also very amused when they saw us sit down to eat our individually packed meals in the lobby.

Our plans for Thursday involved finding a good deserted road and filming a scene where Zach’s car (Lila’s car in the movie) breaks down on the side of the road. After Lupe’s we abandoned I-5 for smaller highways that take us over the mountains to the coast. Somewhere in the middle of these mountains we found a gas station and decided to fill ‘em up. After gassing to the limit we noticed a slightly ironic fact about Zach’s car: it broke down. It took an hour’s worth of yanking and banging from Dusty’s trusty tools to get the car running again.

A couple of weeks ago I was sitting in the Olympia Megaplex watching the credits of Harry Potter with Dusty when we both had a good laugh at one particular job title: Weather Consultant. What a silly idea. Somebody’s job was to sit around with an iPhone and look up the weather.

After a few more hours of hot and sticky driving we came down out of the mountain to have our hearts torn in pieces by the sight that caused me to eat my contemptuous words at Harry Potter from weeks ago: Clouds. The entire sky was covered with clouds. It looked like it could even rain. Nobody had bothered to consult anything about the weather. Upon arrival at the beach we had about two hours of daylight left and some tough decisions to make. We were planning on shooting the beach sequence over the course of two days. But if the days didn’t match weather-wise we would have a serious problem. That being said the fog actually looked pretty interesting, and might be a blessing in what Zach described as “a really ugly, nasty disguise.” We decided to try to shoot everything that night. Miraculously we managed. And it looked splendid.

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We then all spent the night at Mary and Rob’s house, a couple of class-a individuals we found on couchsurfing.com that accommodated all seven of us despite the fact that they already had three friends staying at their place.

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Saturday brought us to Delphinia, a magical land that gave birth to our two newest child stars: Azaria and Amani.

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And finally tonight we returned to the scene of previous crimes to film the one scene we didn’t manage to film a week ago during our party scene. It was a scene that involved Mackinley in a bathroom. Alone.

We have six more planned days of shooting. Wish us luck.

Blowin’ It

July 28th, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

Zach here. Last post I mentioned shooting all night in a bookstore. That went alright. One of the shots got botched and we’re going to do it over again tomorrow.

There’s this one scene in the movie that’s a house party. We decided to throw a real one at our friends’ place and shoot it. This is where mistakes were made. To get people there we bought a keg of beer and like a gallon of poison. A lot of people showed up. It got loud fast. My character was supposed to be drunk in the scene. I can act a lot of things convincingly but not drunk so I started drinking. Meanwhile things were heating up and everyone was out in the backyard yapping. The tenants knew that the pigs would bust in if the noise level got too high and solicited my help. They gave me a megaphone. First mistake.

If you’ve never addressed a large crowd by megaphone then you may not understand, but getting my hands on that thing I felt like Gollum slipping on the One Ring. Or like I’d drank a Sierra Mist. I started wisecracking and barking directions like out of control. As anyone who saw Spiderman knows, with great power comes great responsibility. I was being irresponsible. Meanwhile the rest of the cast and crew were dumping all kinds of bad news down their throats. Soon came the inevitable visit from our friends the boys in blue. Said they’d received a call about some profanity being shouted via megaphone.

I swayed unsteadily alongside my two friends the tenants as they got disorderly conduct citations. Coppers wouldn’t put the heat on me even though I’d thrown the party. Said it had to be the residents. They’ll be appearing in court on August 5th if you’d like to go cheer them on. Hopefully the fines won’t be too steep ’cause I’ll be paying them (minus the money that both of them still owe me for Harry Potter tickets, of course). Back to the party.

Most people left at this point. We took advantage of the vacation to shoot some scenes inside. I was dizzier than the damned tazmanian devil but I can say, having seen the footage, that my performance was outstanding. Next on the agenda was the bathroom floor. Excess glitter and dried piss. Dry heaving.

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I look up and there’s Dusty sitting on the edge of the bathtub donning all of our sound equipment and pointing the mic in my face. “I’m rolling, dude.” The two of us were in there together for hours. When I found my legs again it was long past bedtime. I climbed into the other room and balanced myself precariously between the comforter and the sheet. This is when I received one of my new favorite text messages. “Dude. I’m covered in vomit. Please help me clean the couch cushion I puked on and help me get home! I love you guys.” From Dusty.

According to Nandan, Dusty had passed out in an armchair watching Twilight. He was still sporting all of the sound equipment. 25 feet of XLR cable trailing behind him. He was still recording. This is where he harfed all over himself and the armchair.

Nandan woke me up at 6:30 with awful news. We needed to shoot a scene. I hated every second of it. I remember looking up at Luc, his eyes at half-mast and sound gear hanging off of him, holding the boom pole from the hip with the mic pointed outward at some random wall. I thought, “man, we’re blowin’ it.” But something like thirteen takes later we’d captured the film’s sweetest moment between Mackinley and I. Almost worth it. But by no means worth it.

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Thanks to Nandan for being on top of it all night long, getting all of the shots we needed, taking care of Dusty, cleaning the bathroom, and picking up a new armchair to replace the soiled one, among other things.

And if your wondering where the rest of the crew was to be found while all this was happening, check out the new video about to go up on our YouTube page, including a taste of some Land of the Lost Soundtrack party beats cooked up by our very own Luc Heuer.

Day Whatever

July 23rd, 2009 § 2 comments § permalink

Zach here. Blog-wise, we started production so strong that a lull was bound to come around eventually. This is it. I have to go. I have to go shoot all night in a bookstore. But I wanted to let you know that we’re still alive and that things are going well. Here’s a fresh new take on an old classic.
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And here’s some whatever.
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The most exciting news as of late is the arrival of our friend Rob. He flew in from New York on Sunday to play a pivotal role in the film’s thrilling climax. Look for a special guest post from him coming soon.
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Last but not least, here’s something we shot that I’m pretty excited about. I dare you to guess what is has to do with the rest of the film.
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A Question…

July 18th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

…Why can’t a guy fall asleep around here without having it wind up on the internet?

Day Eight

July 18th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Nandan here. Day Eight was quick and easy, made only marginally more difficult by the absence of a certain useful tripod bolt. We shot the very first scene that involved attaching our camera to a moving vehicle via suction cup. Then we gave the keys to a completely unqualified and unlicensed 15-year-old…The keys to the car that was borrowed from my roommates uncle…

Anyways, all went well and the low-key night led to a low-key wrap party:

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Day Seven

July 17th, 2009 § 2 comments § permalink

Zach here. We got two scenes done yesterday.

The first involved our two favorite minors making out in the backseat of a car behind a building. It was a little uncomfortable for everyone. I knew that they didn’t want to have to do a lot of takes, and I didn’t want to have to make them. To make matters worse, we had gone to the location to rehearse last week and been given the boot by a totally malevolent hag. She told us that we couldn’t come back, and that she would be locking the gate to the parking lot. But not only did we return yesterday to find the gate to the parking lot wide open, but also the gate to some huge, noisy thing connected to the side of the building (like the one that Chris Farley pees on in Tommy Boy), meaning that I was able to shut down the cooling unit to the entire building in order to record cleaner audio. And when it came time to make out, we got exactly what we needed in only a couple of takes. As an added bonus, the dialogue scene that follows came out better than in any rehearsal. Nandan helped lighten the atmosphere significantly by accidentally swallowing a small bolt from the tripod. I’m not kidding, he literally swallowed part of the equipment. He tried to purge the thing, which only resulted in a lot of gross dry heaving.
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Last night we shot a scene in which Mackinley and I run into Julia playing at a house show. I had been nervous about shooting it since I wrote it into the film an awful long time ago, just because I was never quite clear on how exactly it would play out, and because the idea of having to organize a convincing house show setting and work within that setting totally stresses me out. Anyway, I haven’t even seen the footage yet, but I’m pretty sure it was a success. Everyone brought their a-game. The location looked awesome and a healthy amount of extras showed up on unreasonably short notice to make the scene look legit while Julia and my old friend Alex Rivera played beautiful music. We still wrapped two hours late, naturally. Totally worth it.
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Day 6

July 15th, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

Nandan here. Day 6 went swimmingly, although it’s probably a good thing that Brian Padian called the Pac NW Labor & Child Welfare Bureau on us because we breached new frontiers in violations today that caused our actors to turn purple and spotted from the cold.

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And we did some location scouting:

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There is also a sweet timelapse video Dusty made while shooting today. View it at our YouTube page.

Day 6 closed with a wrap party at Harry Potter. Morale was high.

Day Five

July 14th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Zach here. We had a three scenes scheduled for yesterday. Two of them were a complete success. The third, which consisted of swimming at the river location that I’m sure you saw us scouting on our YouTube channel, was postponed due to this bullshit mid-July cold wave that we’re experiencing. We’re going to try again this afternoon. I’ll let you know how it goes. Until then, here are some flixxx that my dad took from yesterday’s shoot. Thanks Ian Weintraub, thanks a lot.
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In this photograph, Mackinley is pretending to be speaking with a phone sex operator. Dusty is laughing because apparently he’s not a grown-up yet. Nandan is smirking because he knows this about Dusty.
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Dusty is a handyman ’till death. Look at this ridiculous invention he rigged up so that holding the boom pole would require slightly less effort. It’s made out of a speaker stand and a little metal wheel well covered in cloth for the pole to rest in allowing for full swivel capability. On set it’s become known as the “dusty device” or the “lazy dusty”.
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Dusty says that this is the photograph they’ll put on display at my funeral, which freaks me out, but scope the tee. At least I’ll be reppin’ my man Werner from beyond the grave.

Day Three, Four

July 13th, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

Days three and four were on Friday and Saturday, but they wound up being one long, taxing, child labor law-breaking day. Despite being the third and fourth days, I consider them our first real days of shooting on account of we tackled our first scenes involving something besides a single character wandering around giving blank stares with no dialogue.

I showed up at the location (Nandan’s house) around noon and we started getting ready by moving around furniture and placing lamps/christmas lights. The actors started trickling in a bit after six and we all ate dinner together and went over what we had to shoot. As soon as it got dark we started rolling. I had thought that because we’re shooting long takes, the process would go quickly because we wouldn’t be covering every scene from several angles. We found this to be absolutely false. Covering scenes in one shot means that you don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing the best bits from different takes, you have to nail the whole thing. We found ourselves shooting 2-3 minutes conversations almost twenty times each. It was incredibly grueling, especially from an acting perspective. The night lasted until five the next morning.
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Following brief, ineffective naps we were back to shooting at 8:30, and finished around two that afternoon. It was rough, but on the bright side, the long hours helped our actors to effectively portray sleepy people in the morning shots. No one took their method acting farther than Mackinley. Check out “Wakeup” on our YouTube channel to see what I’m talking about.

The aftermath of the whole thing was a confused, anxious exhaustion. I couldn’t tell whether anything we’d done was any good. I still can’t tell. Being so involved in the process, it’s impossible to gauge anything from an audience perspective. My strategy is to keep going humbly and hardworkingly until the very end and keep my fingers crossed that what we’re making isn’t completely abhorrent. If it is, I’ll be bummed.

Finally, some shout-outs. To Elna Baker, for coming down from Seattle on short notice for a small role and giving an outstanding performance. Check out her website (elnabaker.com) and pre-order her upcoming memoir, The New York Regional Mormon Singles Halloween Dance. To Luc Heuer, the other half of our crack sound team, for having gone unmentioned on the blog thus far but being totally invaluable. To Rhian and Thanh, the residents of our location, because people stomping around your home and speaking at high volume that late into the night is hard to tolerate. And to Danny Hibbard, because he showed up to help out even when it meant mostly sitting around waiting, and because I know he’s reading this.

Day Two, Part Two

July 10th, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

Zach here. Our second day of shooting was rougher than the first. Yesterday’s post may suggest otherwise, but let me explain the circumstances of the photographs.

We needed to shoot a simple scene on a longer-distance bus, like a Greyhound. We decided it would be best to just buy round-trip tickets to Seattle for the crew on what would hopefully be a near-empty bus and shoot without any sort of permission. We headed down to the station to catch a 4:30. About five minutes before our scheduled departure, the woman on duty told us that the bus had been overbooked, and that there wouldn’t be any seats for us. It didn’t sound ideal for shooting. We got our money back and headed home to the office, where we all fell asleep (minus Nandan, who documented the experience). After a quick, completely unfulfilling nap we drove up to Tacoma to catch a public bus to Seattle, which looked just like a Greyhound on the inside. It was way cheaper, too. We got some good material as the sun set, but we needed more after dark, so we waited around in Seattle for the light to be just right (absent).
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Our return bus came, but so did an enormous tour group of about twenty people. We decided to wait half an hour for the next one. When it finally showed up, it was the wrong kind of bus. We decided to wait another half an hour. In the meantime we went for some preemptive wrap party milkshakes. This caused us to miss yet another bus. The next one that rolled around was still not what we were looking for. Figuring that the nicer, Greyhound-looking buses weren’t running anymore, we climbed aboard and headed home. Despite it not matching our earlier shots, we got some good stuff. I imagine that either one bus or the other will appear in the film, perhaps neither, and certainly not both.

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