Sun Setting on an Era

August 26th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

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.
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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:
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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:
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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.

A Little Rusty

August 17th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

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.

Trusty Dusty’s Leaving, Must He?

August 10th, 2009 § 2 comments § permalink

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.

Pissed

August 7th, 2009 § 1 comment § permalink

Zach here. With only three days of shooting left to go, things take an unexpected yet unsurprising turn for the worse.
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Simon Kogan and Aaron Buechel

August 6th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

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.

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Sunny

August 4th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

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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.

Where am I?

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