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-   -   Bizzare, strange, downright bad luck of filmmakers (https://www.dvinfo.net/forum/techniques-independent-production/73454-bizzare-strange-downright-bad-luck-filmmakers.html)

Heath McKnight August 19th, 2006 09:41 PM

Even shooting in a house or apartment, etc., can be tough. Loud neighbors, lawnmowers, etc. A soundproof studio is the way to go, but who has that money??


Joe Carney August 19th, 2006 10:06 PM

Not me, or anyone I know, but you've pretty much made the case for such things. :)

Andy Graham August 20th, 2006 05:05 AM

The most common problem i'm seeing from eveyones strories is the actors letting you down.

The reason for them letting you down IMO is that they have no idea what so ever about what you are trying to acheive. Now I don't want to tar them all with the same brush because there are some actors who just get it and are great to work with but generally they're a pain in the neck.

We had two guys that banded together and just moaned all the time about how many takes and how hot it was under the lights and how there jackets were getting dirty and that they were gonna send a drycleaning bill (which they did). One of them even tried to tell me how to work the camera and then told me that the jvc hd100 was crap and the xl1s (which was my backup) was the one we should be shooting with!. I have to ask why if they hated it so much did they even bother to come to the auditions.

On another occasion I met an actor at the location and got to talking to him while we waited for the rest of the crew. I asked him (as you do) what other projects he was working on and what he had done before and he said "I've never acted a day in my life mate, i'm just a chancer....i saw the ad and thought i'll try out". Straight away i knew he was gonna be an editing nightmare cause were gonna have to feed him his lines line by line and then find somethin to cut to in between which sure enough thats what happened.

I just think if they taught even the slightest bit of the technical side of filmmaking to actors then we'd all get on so much better


Mathieu Ghekiere August 20th, 2006 05:13 AM

I've never really had problems with actors...
To the contrary, I've had actors supporting me and going through wind, cold and rain and still, not a complaint and much fun.
It's pretty bad hearing those horror-actor stories.

Ps: this thread is fun and very informative!

Heath McKnight August 20th, 2006 08:29 AM

A student of mine, on the day of his shoot, FINALLY told me his lead actor re-wrote the script and they were shooting that. Had I known, I would've forced him to fire the actor.


Jason Leonard August 20th, 2006 11:08 AM

i've been shooting a flick about failure for the pst 14 months. 14 months!
it is no small irony that a movie about failure could be so steep, so rooted in faliure itself.
here is a QUCIK rundown of the highlights.

November 2004: after a solid month and advertising and securing a great location for auditions we have the years first big snow storm. the storm closes down the college campus that we were using, keeping the prospective acors/crew and the media from 2 local tv stations and 5 papers away. it turns out to be the biggest storm that has happened in 20 years.....very nice.

December 2004: After mentally recovering from such a henious twist of fate we regroup and find another spot to have auditions and plaster or sign up once more. it dosent become clear to me exactly what kind of place this is until we get there. it was....wait for it.......wait for it.......THE BASEMENT OF A NASCAR SHOP. yep, that must have scared the shit out of anyone who was wanting to audition.
needless to say i sat in this basement with my casting director all day. he played cards and i drank heavily. this was the day that i gave the worst newspaper interview of all time where i bashed my hometown adn its suroning burbs and proclaimed the article to be my suicide note.

June 2005: first scheduled day of shooting, goes off without a hitch. this is the last time this will ever happen.

July 2005: citing total lunacy my production manager bails from the show. with her goes a school that we were scheduled to shoot in. this was bad as finding a school (college) that will let us shoot a potty mouthed dark comedy with close to no cash is hard to comeby.
i spend the rest of this month with a cleaver to my throbbing wrist vein.

August - September 2005: the shoot is moving right along. we lost a few actors along the way due to other commitments (and them not getting paid) but all was going fairly well. then more disaster strikes....one evening as i was setting up for a shot someone tripped over an XLR cable and send the camera off of its tripod and onto the ceramic tiled floor.
now, the camera didnt really look worse for wear and seemed to be shooting just fine so we finished (a 9 hour day) and jsut kept the production rolling.
we shot for about 2 more weeks, wrapping actors like xmas presents, and the end was in sight.
one night i was checking out some dailies and decided to throw them on the computer so i could cut a little scene together, for morale boosting purposes.
i put a tape into my deck (the first time i used the deck, the first time i needed to caputre anything from this project) and was falt out horrified.
the video was blocky and covered in digital noise. this was bad. i checked another recent tape, same deal. every tape that i had shot since the fall of the camera was useless.
this was almost the worse news of all time, considering how many actors i would have to call back, how late it was getting in the summer (impending visual season change) and mostly how much $$$ it would cost for a new camera or a repair. This was all ona budget of $7k, this would not allow me to drop 2 on a new camera. i was devestated.
so i tell the crew whats up, send the camera to cannon and find out that it is a merciful $300 for the repair (all the heds were jarred and needed to be rplaced) . i am elated further when i find that the camera can be returned to me in a matter of a couple of days given the ease of the repair and my close proximity to the NJ factory.
3 weeks go by with me calling cannon and being told that they had no status on my repair and suddenly i find that we are in the middle of september and the leaves are changing colors. my exteriors would be ruined.
finally i get word from cannon that they have found additional damage to the camera, moisture damage. i freak out and explain to the guy that this is not possible, he tells me to store my camera with a charcoal briquette.

October 2005
so i man-whore myself out for the cash to get the camera back and i start to calm down a bit. there is still no snow on the ground and i can just concentrate on the ext, shooting the ints in the winter. good, fine, grand.
i get a call at work one day and get some more good news.
the secondary male lead has failed a mandatory drug test and will be going to rehab/jail for a year.
thats right, read it again.
ironiclly 2 days after he leaves my camera comes back and is pristine.

November - December 2005
spend this time debating the use of my existance and get locked into other existensial pickles. find myself at a $27 a night motel on xmas eve, eating kung po shrip, drinking a large bottle of jim beam, watching forest gump on tbs and surronded by strings of glowing festive notted xmas lights.

January 2006
begin shooting the interiors, all is going well. it is here that i notice a pixel that is beging to die, i freak out and decide to push on.

March 2006
xlr box dies a terrible death as someone forgets to take it off the pasanger side tire of my care. it, and my dreams, are crushed once more.

June 2006
have to fire 3 actors due to total lack of respect and adherance to the schedule. mad scramble to find replacements begins. drinking resumes.

August 2006
we find another school to shoot at, but somehow fail to shoot everything that is required. this is actualy a result of some actors blowing off rehersals and failing to memorize lines that they have had in their possesion for over a year.
happy me

so thats where we be as of today.
there is SOOO much more misfortune that has happened and it is all posted at a running diary that my producer/de-facto ad has been keeping.
its all at www.trenchmouthproductions.com/blog.html
if ou vist please excuse the mess, the website is under severe construction (the entire site) even the blog has been moved to the yahoo 360 thing, thus loosing all of the pics and comments.
anyway, thats what ive got for you.

Heath McKnight August 20th, 2006 11:27 AM

Wow. I'm stunned silent. But this is stuff I've also suffered, too, and I will say this, plan the shoot and avoid the "weekends" shooting, etc. Do it all in two weeks or so.

Everyone, check out Rick Shmidt's classic, priceless book here:


And his newer one, Extreme DV:


This is how I made my films with little difficulty, after running into so many other problems earlier in my career. I think most of our mistakes and disasters come from a good lack of planning. Learn how to schedule your shoots.


Heath McKnight August 20th, 2006 11:29 AM

Then buy this book to learn how to market the flick:



Jon Fairhurst August 20th, 2006 11:56 AM

Last weekend we entered the 48-hour film project in Portland. I'm the composer and my music system hard drive crashed, but we recovered. In the end, our shoot went well.

Not so for one of the other teams. They were assigned the Spy genre. For some reason, the writer decided that the main character would be a plant with ESP. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to create a story around it. After too many hours with no sleep, the writer just got more and more stuck.

Their film ended up being a documentary about a failed film. At one point the lead actor asked the writer about what was going on in the scene. The writer had no answer whatsoever. The actor had no idea what to do, but at least he kept his cool.

The best bit was after the credits. They showed two young actresses talking about how excited they were to be a part of the project, and how great they expected it to turn out. :)

The bottom line is that film has many aspects. And any failed aspect can spell doom.

Andy Graham August 20th, 2006 11:59 AM

Well Jason thats quite a story you have there! man you'll be grey before your time.That one may take some beating.

Heaths right though a two week solid shoot is the only way to get it all done, it can mean working from 9 am through to 3 0r 4 the following morning and then a few hours sleep before starting at 9am again which i did on a few occasions.I was actually finding it hard to get my camera batteries charged, i had a small caravan generator that i would crank up at any location just to charge my batteries.

Jason I do the same and throw a small scene together just to keep moral up in the cast and crew, it's amazing what a few edited scenes can do to a very tierd cast and crew there was a great big chear and everyones happy again for a short time

BTW Heath im going to a "how to market your film" seminar in the Edinburgh film festival on wednesday so i'll post a little of what i hear.But the book looks good it would go well with my guerilla film making handbook


Joe Carney August 20th, 2006 12:33 PM

Jason, you have an entire country western album there buddy!!! Think about it. (just thought you could use some cheering up).

Mathieu Ghekiere August 20th, 2006 01:22 PM

Jason, I really feel sorry for you, and at the same moment - don't take this the bad way - it's to hilarious. You also describe it so full of dry humor.
You really should have made a making of, it could have been the new 'Lost in La Mancha'!

Has anyone, btw, seen the movie, American Movie?

Btw: Jason, keep believing in it, really. Some movie making experiences are terrible, but sometimes the best movies come out of it (Alien and Jaws, are 2 examples that come to mind right now)

Dennis Stevens August 20th, 2006 01:56 PM

I haven't had anything quite as bad as these stories...

I did have a scene where an actor delivered an incredible performance, and my unbalanced non xlr mic cables pick up static, including a radio station. That converted me to saying sometimes you have to get good equipment, and not cheap out.

Filmmaking to me follows the 5 stages of grief:

Denial about how hard this project will be
Anger about how hard this project is turning out to be
Bargaining to save the film, i.e. 'now that my actress left, maybe I'll just wear a wig and talk in falsetto'
Depression about how the final film will look
Acceptance that this is real life, and you should be proud of your accomplishments.

Heath McKnight August 20th, 2006 01:56 PM

Casablanca and The Third Man seemed destined to be "fun" movies, where the cast and director where having too much fun on set. Those movies ended up being great.


Mathieu Ghekiere August 20th, 2006 02:59 PM


Originally Posted by Dennis Stevens
Filmmaking to me follows the 5 stages of grief:

Denial about how hard this project will be
Anger about how hard this project is turning out to be
Bargaining to save the film, i.e. 'now that my actress left, maybe I'll just wear a wig and talk in falsetto'
Depression about how the final film will look
Acceptance that this is real life, and you should be proud of your accomplishments.

LOL, why does this sound so familiar...

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