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Old August 21st, 2006, 08:20 AM   #31
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Wow, you guys really suffer for your art... Do your loved ones just stare blankly while you try to explain why you still do it?

I can't really talk about feature shooting but after going to Hong Kong and shooting HDCAM and HDV(which was my first HD experience after years of Digi / DV) with a completely Chinese crew who did not speak a word of English (and I know about 2 words in Cantonese and the same two in Mandarin) for a week, I'm confident I can overcome all. Best crew and best shoot I've ever had, in fact.

Oh, except when I left the charity I was working for's Z1 at Hong Kong Airport.

Luckily I got it back, but not before I got an extremely stern lecture about leaving big heavy bags full of electronics in an airport terminal. 5 mins later and they were going to do a controlled explosion... :-O

Aside from that I've not really been unlucky - Just stupid... Although to be fair that was dumb too. Turned up for a studio-based links shoot for a series I was writing and producing once and I'd written scripts for completely the wrong shows.

As my celeb presenter looked on impatiently I wrote two 50min shows worth of links in 2hrs while the 20 man crew shook their heads and tutted. Can't vouch for the quality, but no-one said anything and it all went out as recorded. There's cheating and there's 'cheating'.

One of the earlier posters on here really needs to rethink working with what must be the world's unluckiest DOP. Daughter hit by a car? Relatives dying? And the rest... He might well be Gordon Willis but it sounds like he's a jinx. ;-)
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Old August 21st, 2006, 08:38 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Ben Scott
One of the earlier posters on here really needs to rethink working with what must be the world's unluckiest DOP. Daughter hit by a car? Relatives dying? And the rest... He might well be Gordon Willis but it sounds like he's a jinx. ;-)
That was me! He's a good friend with a great eye. This project was a learning project and we had all commited to the time it was going to take to get it done. Life happens, we got the shoot done anyway. Ironically, it was a movie based loosely upon the greek story of the three fates.
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Old August 21st, 2006, 08:49 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Ben Scott
I know about 2 words in Cantonese and the same two in Mandarin
Assuming the first word is "beer", what is the second word?
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Old August 21st, 2006, 08:54 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Ben Scott
One of the earlier posters on here really needs to rethink working with what must be the world's unluckiest DOP. Daughter hit by a car? Relatives dying? And the rest... He might well be Gordon Willis but it sounds like he's a jinx. ;-)
Actually, the DP on Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ would earn the title of unluckiest. He was struck by lightning, not just one time, but twice, on two different shoots. Somebody didn't take the hint the first time ;)
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Old August 21st, 2006, 09:32 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by Keith Forman
Assuming the first word is "beer", what is the second word?
The second word was "More".
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Old August 21st, 2006, 09:40 AM   #36
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There's a running gag on some of my films and my friends' films. If the DP is getting frustrated, someone asks for an eyepatch for him or her. If the director is frustrated, everyone fears he or she will completely snap. Both are references to the movie-within-a-movie, LIVING IN OBLIVION.

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Old August 21st, 2006, 10:22 AM   #37
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Forman
Actually, the DP on Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ would earn the title of unluckiest. He was struck by lightning, not just one time, but twice, on two different shoots. Somebody didn't take the hint the first time ;)
Peter Greenaway made a fascinating short film about people who have been repeatedly struck by lightning. Not sure if it's very unlucky or VERY lucky.... Depends if he can talk without a Hawkins speechbox.
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Old August 21st, 2006, 10:23 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith Forman
Assuming the first word is "beer", what is the second word?
Too true. And the second word? Xie Xie.

Thank you.

For the beer, obviously. ;-)
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Old August 21st, 2006, 10:37 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by Cole McDonald
That was me! He's a good friend with a great eye. This project was a learning project and we had all commited to the time it was going to take to get it done. Life happens, we got the shoot done anyway. Ironically, it was a movie based loosely upon the greek story of the three fates.
I'm making light of it but what a terrible time he must have been having - hope everyone that could be alright eneded up alright.

However, knowing the stress and thought processes of the crew I bet approximately 30 secs after they heard about each of those incidents they were like ' Oh my God, that's so terrible. Where will we find a DOP at such short notice?'.

I had a pregnant TV presenter have an serious episode and have to be rushed to hospital the night before a voiceover session (with transmission that same night), about 6 shows into a series. I told my exec Producer she wouldn't be able to make it until the next day and what had happened and how they would have to cover the slot or repeat a previous episode and his exact words will stay with me forever..

'Well she's not gonna die is she?... If she's not there tomorrow replace her with my friend Jason'.

Unbelievable.

Worse still, she came in rather than have someone steal her show. I would have told them where to stick it, and I told her that if they replaced her I was gonna quit. When she came in I spent the day feeling a curious mixture of relief in being able to get my job done, happiness that I didn't have to quit out of principal, and like a total and utter bast'd slave driver with this pregnant woman still in her hospital clothes.

Still... The show must go on.
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Old August 21st, 2006, 10:41 AM   #40
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heath McKnight
There's a running gag on some of my films and my friends' films. If the DP is getting frustrated, someone asks for an eyepatch for him or her. If the director is frustrated, everyone fears he or she will completely snap. Both are references to the movie-within-a-movie, LIVING IN OBLIVION.

heath
Love that film. Actually adheres to my 'there's never been a bad film with a dwarf in it' philosophy. Although FIRE WALK WITH ME might be the exception that proves that rule.

I've actually been able to use my fave line from that movie in an argument. When Buscemi dream-loses it and shouts at the DP - 'You pretentious Beret-wearing motherf****r!'

I was in France at the time but I thought it was funny... Note to self: Get out more...
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Old August 22nd, 2006, 08:58 PM   #41
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wow, this is a fantastic thread. I agree, this one should go on forever as a type of filmmaker therapy.
I just realized how many typeos i made in my original post....i can only speak of my sorrows while soused.
Here's to our efforts boys!
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Old August 24th, 2006, 01:17 PM   #42
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Never~ending production

April 2004 ~ We decide to make the Redneck Planet series, (a toilet humor) based on characters from previous home video messings around. During the course of the year we film several skits and everything is going great. As November approaches actors start vanishing and not staying in contact for months on end. I sit on the footage.

February 2005 ~ The actors return, almost out of the blue, to finish the first episode. We shoot several more skits and everything is going well.

April 2005 ~ We finally push a clip or two through post and to our website. Filming continues.

May 2005 ~ The primary actor, or star, goes MIA seemingly forever...the series is nearly cancelled.

January 2006 ~ I decide that all that footage can't go to waste and start up post production on a slimmed down version of the first episode -using all existing footage.

March 2006 ~ I finally release a handful of decent sketches and teasers to Google Video, we get 10,000 hits/views in just 45 days!!! (Rednecks vs. K-9 being the most popular)

June 2006 ~ Upset that I don't have all the footage/sketches I need to make a decent pilot, I decide, again, to pull the plug on that production and start working on our serious project (Dark Horizon) a horror movie.

July 2006 ~ The actors from Redneck Planet, mostly family, come out of hiding, see themselves all over the internet, and want back in -want to finish production!

August 2006 ~ Present day...I have decided to close production on Redneck Planet as a series and go for the easier route of just releasing clips here and there as we have time to film them. Eventually a DVD will be made with a collection of all the sketches... Pre-production continues on the horror with new, dedicated actors and a new co-writer.

~~~So over two years of off and on again production and still no solid 30 minute pilot. Hours of footage, some usable, some crap. Crazy schedule changes, summer weather (Phoenix 118 degrees), and peoples lives running amok nearly haulted our goals. I managed to produce 3 other short professional projects in all that time!

~~~Lesson learned? Get it done while everyone is hot on the idea, don't delay for anything. Do things to keep everyone hot on the idea, create a schedule. For the horror, to keep everyone interested, I hold a meeting once a week to work on script revisions, movie posters, location brainstorming, etc.
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Old August 24th, 2006, 02:40 PM   #43
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I guess I've been very lucky compared to some of you guys.

My second short film, had to keep rescheduling 'cause my lead actor worked at a court reporting firm, and would often get surprise calls to shoot depositions at 5:30pm on any given day. Took around 6 months to finish a 3.5 minute movie. Also had multiple locations. Also, in one flashback sequence where he remembers a former girlfriend, his real life girlfriend was sick/busy (don't recall which) that day, so he brought his sister instead. They did silly stuff like skipping down a hill together, dancing, etc. Then I was inspired and had them pretend to kiss against a sunset sky (they were in silhouette). Good times. Good incestouous times.

Another short was all interiors, and was set at night. Should be easy, right? No. Couldn't schedule it to work out actually shooting at night, so we shot on the weekend, during the day, and I had to black almost every window in his house with duvetyne or visqueen.


This most chaotic was my last short. Here was a movie that somehow seemed doable to shoot in two days. It was more like three, and when I say "day", I mean a period of about 18 hours.

I went through two actors before finding one that was able to do it.

Our first day was night stuff, and we got started late, got lost on the way to our second location, and almost got kicked off of said exterior location by cops. We had to promise not make any noise, 'cause if they got complaints, we were through. We had a genny to power electric lights (we were nowhere near available power), but it was a plain old generator, no covering, cushioning, etc. It would have been insanely loud. It was recommended we not use it. So we lit everything we shot with torches (it was a scene involving a ritual), a tiny blue flashlight (ended up being the moon), and a Q-beam, which is this insanely bright flashlight whose battery only lasts about 20 minutes on a full charge. I don't think we started shooting 'til around 1am, and left at like 8am, and had to be back up and running around 2pm.

So next day, we had some day exterior stuff to do, but we got started so late the sun was pretty much gone, and my DP/gaffer faked the daytime through an elaborate use of foamcore and lights. It kinda works. For a shot where a guy was supposed to swing a golf club at the the camera (it was a POV shot--we had a piece of plexi in front of the camera), I got quite hit in the head with said golf club (I was operating the cam, apparently in a bad position), and said head proceeded to bleed quite a bit. One guy's wife was a doctor, so she came and checked me out, and it was all good. We still had a lot left to do, and didn't stop 'til 5am or so. That was supposed to be the last day, but the actor promised us another. We started early the third day (about 5am), and finished about 15 minutes before he had to be out the door.

Final product came out pretty well, all things considered. I did have a real pro gaffer on that shoot, though, and a guy acting as PA/grip some of the time.

So, here're my thoughts.

Actors--I know we all want to cast our friends, but our friends usually don't get that we really need 8-10 (or more) hour days to get anything done, and if they're not getting paid, probably won't take the project that seriously) Using real actors (I'm not sayin A-list celebs, but people that ARE actors, that have devoted their life to that pursuit) is probably a better idea, since they are going to be used to that kinda stuff. Also, I've been really, really lucky in this regard--I don't use strangers as actors. I've met people along the road to life, through work (when I say work, I mean video/film industry type things), or school, or personal recommendations, and these are the people I end up using as my talent. I've never held auditions. I usually just think of someone from my "roster" who'd be good as the character, and hope they're interested in doing it. These are always people I consider to be good actors, not just people who are convenient. I'm also paying everyone out of pocket on this next shoot (granted, it's a half hour short, not a feature). I think even if the pay is low (not REAL low, but low compared to union scale or whatever), it'll keep morale up (make the project feel more legitimate), and give them motivation not to be unavailable that day. Also, yeah, food. Last time I got a real meal for everyone once a day, and had coolers with snacks/drinks all the time.

scheduling: I've heard the advice about shooting 2-3 straight weeks (I guess this'd be for a feature), instead of doing weekends for four years, or whatever, but let's face, that's asking a lot from everyone who isn't personally invested in the film. That's either asking someone to use their vacation days to make your movie, or asking them to take a bunch of sick days, or I don't know what. I've been doing the weekend thing for my shorts, and it's worked out okay.

I'm thinking if you had a real simple story in one location (think Tape), you could do a hell of a lot of it each day, and get it done in a few weekends, instead of year or something.

I've never done a feature, and you know what? If I ever write a feature-length script, I think I'm gonna try to do the whole thing right, instead of shooting on DV/HDV with no budget. It's just not worth it to me to care that much about something and then shoot it in a way that devalues what it could have been. I'd rather wait 'til I have the means to let it fulfill its potential.
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Old August 24th, 2006, 05:05 PM   #44
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Originally Posted by Josh Bass
I've never done a feature, and you know what? If I ever write a feature-length script, I think I'm gonna try to do the whole thing right, instead of shooting on DV/HDV with no budget. It's just not worth it to me to care that much about something and then shoot it in a way that devalues what it could have been. I'd rather wait 'til I have the means to let it fulfill its potential.
Josh I completely understand what you are saying here, from what i've heard here in the uk to be taken seriously by industry folks you have to at least shoot digibeta.

This is where things change for us, that costs a substancial amount of money for a three week rental , and if your spending that on cameras then you have to go the distance on everything else....good actors (at least union rates), cranes ,dollys, grips ,gaffers etc etc to do it justice. Bottom line your stepping your game up which can only be done with funding.

Like I said I understand what you are saying about waiting till you have the means. However the way i see it is I would rather shoot a couple of self funded features of lesser quality just to go through that gruelling process where it just feels like your in a two week battle and your gonna keel over from fatigue which you only get from doing the full movie in one shoot. That way you make all your mistakes in relative safety so your prepared for whats to come when you have £80 or £100,000 funding and alot more pressure.

Ive always said to the other people in my company (we're all the same age 25) that I agree funding is inevitable but you can choose when you think your ready for it and I think you need to go through the production of a feature with all of the crazy stuff that happens that you wouldn't ever think of in order to be ready.And I'm so glad I did cause i'm alot more confident about taking on that kind of money.

Of course that is just what I think is right for us. Diffirent Strokes for Diffirent folks.

Andy.
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Old August 24th, 2006, 05:25 PM   #45
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Andy I totally agree with you.

Having worked as a broadcast director and producer I always said that I would never shoot my personal projects with lesser production values. The upshot of that has been that I've never shot any of them at all because I didn't have the funds to do them how I felt they should be done.

A strategic rethink has been in order because ultimately now I think it's far more important to be making stuff rather than talking about making stuff you can't afford to make.

With the advent of HDV etc. and 33mm adapters and whatnot, I can finally see a way forward. Yey for technology and my lowering standards!

Ben
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