Time

Time passes us by so quickly that quite often we don’t even realize it. I was thinking about what my next article on here should be about, and I am not sure why I decided it should be about time, but I think time is a very important factor in the filmmaking process; it is a very important aspect in life as well. You think that you have all the time in the world to do things, but you blink your eyes and you’re five years older, and you wonder where the time went to. I do not live in the past, but I regularly find myself being nostalgic for times gone by; memories have the ability to transport me back in time. It is crazy to think of all the films I made a few years ago, and all the fun I had while making them. This is one of the reasons why making films are so much fun: they create memories. It is true; when you make a film you will have experiences you never thought imaginable. It is more than that, however, it is creating a vision within your head become a reality.

Last year, while making one of my short films, the day came for the “big” scene. This was to be the main scene of my film, which also had to be done in one long, continuous take, for artistic reasons. We had choreographed the whole thing out during a rehearsal beforehand, and the actors knew their lines. It was a lot of work. We were filming in a stadium style classroom at a University, and we thought we had all the time in the world to get it done. We filmed, if I can remember correctly, around four takes, but I still didn’t have the exact take I wanted, but we were running out of time. We were running out of time not because it was late, but because the room had apparently been checked out to a large event and we were effectively kicked out of my filming location!

We rushed one final take which was a disaster because, well…we were rushing the hell out of it. This whole confusion came about because of a slight oversight on our part about the checkout list for the room, and now it seemed all the hard work we had done was for naught. Luckily, one of the first takes was good enough to use, and we didn’t go back to re-shoot anything. The take I used still had an element or two about that I still don’t like, but overall it works well. There was a slight audio mix up, but I was able to fix that easily in post. There are just some visual components about it that don’t necessarily sit well with me, but I also understand I’ll be the only one noticing them.

Overall, it worked out fine. I got a useable take, and we finished the film on schedule. I am still proud of this film. However, I return to my point of time. It can run out without us realizing it. When making a film, make sure you have the time to do so, otherwise you may end up in a situation like we were. Not only in your filmmaking and artistic endeavors, but in life too. If you can be writing something, drawing something, filming something, recording something, doing anything productive at all, but choose not to because “there is always tomorrow”, reconsider that decision; time is precious, and the older we get, the shorter it becomes.

I know that, for me, I will continue to make films because of how fun it is, because of the times I get to share with like-minded people, and because of the awesome memories that come with it.

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It Was a Dark and Dreary Day (Pt. 2)

The shoot started off on the wrong foot. The location was too noisy when we were going to start, so we couldn’t film right away. I turned this into a positive and had us rehearse and block the scene for an hour or two. When things had quieted down we got to work. It was slow (i.e. line feeding), but we managed for several hours and got the shots we needed. The first real hurdle we had to face was the makeup situation.

I had two people work on makeup for that scene. They were downstairs trying to make fake blood. To this day I am not sure what happened. We followed the directions and everything, but the blood just did not come out right. It was chunky in spots, but mostly had the consistency of water, and a pink color instead of dark red. It just wouldn’t work for what we needed it for. We were able to use some of it for the bullet wound on my actor, but for the squib it just wouldn’t have worked (mostly because the color was way off, we could barely even call it red!).

At the end of the day, however, this was probably a good thing. We never wound up using the blood spray device I made for a couple reasons. First off, we couldn’t stain the walls. This was an actual apartment with an actual landlord who didn’t even know we were filming there. I definitely did not want my director of photography (who lived there) to get in trouble. On top of that, the blood just wasn’t the right color. We also had never used this type of device before and it just wasn’t going to work in the space that we had. I tried everything I could to make it so we could use it. I even tried rewriting the scene. In the end, however, I just used a digital blood splatter effect that I added during the editing phase.

We got through it! We wrapped close to 5:00 p.m. and then all went out to dinner. It was a very long day with a lot of hurdles to overcome. I tried my best to turn each little mistake, each little hurdle into a positive. As a result, spirits were kept up on set and the people there believed in what we were doing every step of the way. The final scene was not nearly what I wanted. I did the best with what we had, but the final scene was less than desirable. If I could go back and do it again, I would have scouted the location way beforehand like I had originally planned to do. It was a great learning experience, however, and a great memory that I will forever cherish.

Remember, even on your most stressful days, to enjoy what you’re doing. There is going to be a lot of back breaking work, a lot of mistakes, and a lot of hurdles you’ll need to jump, but just remember why you’re doing it. I make films to tell a story, to express myself, but I also make films to have fun. If there was no fun in it, why do it at all? There were many moments that could’ve put a real damper in our work, but we turned each of these negatives into positives. Some of the most frustrating elements of that day are now some of my favorite memories. It may have been a dark and dreary day, but we sure had one hell of a blast!

It Was a Dark and Dreary Day (Pt. 1)

Almost two years ago I wrote and directed a short film. The first half was some of my best work up to that point in my life. The second half…not so much. I had a lot of fond memories, however, of the production of that film. Specifically, the longest shoot day of the production schedule.

On that day in April, we were supposed to film from roughly 8:30 A.M. to about 5:00 P.M. with a break for lunch in the middle. Looking back on it, that was the most fun day of the entire shoot. At the time, however, it was one of the most stressful. We were about to film in a location we had never been to before, which meant we would have to block the scene as it happened, (something I do not recommend at all). There was also to be a special effect shot involving a homemade squib for a blood splatter effect. It was going to be a long, long day.

There were many obstacles, however, that stood in our way of accomplishing that scene. For starters, some of my actors didn’t know their lines. This wasn’t a case of missing a few lines and improvising around them; this was a case of them never even looking at the script! I can’t entirely blame them, they weren’t actual actors, but feeding lines on set can become tedious and bothersome rather quickly!

I didn’t know it at the time, but some of my actors were also hungover from the night before! If I had known that at the time, I may have blown a gasket! Luckily, they didn’t tell me until almost a year later and we’ve laughed about it ever since (including the lack of line memorization). All these little things that slowed down production have actually become inside jokes between the cast, crew, and myself.

One thing that stands out in my memory of that day’s shoot was the rain. It was a dark and dreary day. Clouds hung about all day long. It rained for quite some time in the middle of the day. I had to take some of the cast & crew in my car to get from our set to where we were having lunch. Unfortunately, I own a small car, so we started putting people way in the back where there were no seats! It was a bumpy ride for them, I am sure of it! It was little moments like these that still make the memory worth remembering. Despite all this, we still had a lot of work to do that day.

(More to come; including all the issues we encountered during the actual filming of the scene…)