Thursday, November 2, 2017

Terrortory 2 Update


Okay, you want some real behind-the-scenes dirt? Here you go.

Making movies with micro budgets is HARD, man. It's hard, even when you get actors and actresses who are there for you, and have your back.

But when you get ones who don't have you're back? When they're there only for their reels, or for the money? Big problems.

Today, I give you the segment called "The Fountain". I'm gonna break a little news here that we've kept under wraps.

I met a local author named Ronald Malfi a few months back. It's weird, because he lives near where I grew up, he went to the same high school I went to, and he's published like 20 books, but somehow I'd never heard of the guy.

My buddy Stewie introduced me to him by giving me his book, "The Night Parade". The book was REALLY good. My only problem with it is that there's no sequel.


From there I read a couple of other books, and they were all very good too. Check it out, you can find his books here:
http://amzn.to/2ztc9rt

I just started reading his new book "Bone White", and as expected, it's great too. (the others I can recommend are Little Girls, Floating Staircase and December Park)

So I reached out to the guy and he'd apparently heard of me, and seen some of my movies. (his brother sort of knew me in high school, I think he said) We agreed to meet for a beer and a little chit chat.

At the bar we ended up being there for like four hours. Way more than one beer. That was the first time it occurred to me--hey, it would be cool if he wrote a segment for Terrortory 2...

I can't remember if I mentioned it to him at that meeting, or one of the next bar meetings we had. It's funny, but we'd only plan to hang out and drink a beer or two, and every time we'd end up talking until the bar closed. About scripts and books, ideas and things we were working on.

Anyway, at some point I asked him if he'd be interested in writing a segment. He seemed like he might be. For the next month he started pitching me ideas. A lot of good ones, but he kept throwing more and more out, and finally one in particular seemed fully formed at the pitch.

It was called the Fountain, and had a very EC Comics kind of feel to it. He wrote the whole script and sent it to me, and I said--Yeah, let's do it.

THINGS GET UGLY FROM HERE

I'm pretty sure this segment is cursed. I've been trying to shoot it for three months. I cast the two main leads, but then struggled to cast a part that involves nudity. Not sure why it's so hard to find around here now, but it is.

I've also had to find a remote country store, which is pretty hard to do in this area. Most of them seemed to be around 3 hours away, which is too far. It would basically add an entire extra day of shooting.

Then I needed to find a store I could shoot the inside of, if whatever store I found wouldn't let us.

Through the month of October I struggled to not only create some major props, including the "Fountain" itself, but to get locations and that actress.

I got a name referral from a friend, and reached out to this model(who has done some acting). Here is how the original contact went:

ME: I'm trying to contact you about a possible acting gig. (XXXXXX recommended you; I've directed her in two films). Can you hit me up at MY EMAIL or respond here will also work I think)

HER: ok
where are you based

ME: Maryland. I met you WAY back in the day at a horrorfind convention when my first film came out. (Hunting Humans)

HER: ok

And that is where the conversation ended until late that night when she followed up with:
HER: so what is this gig
ME: It's for Terrortory 2--the sequel to my last film. It's an anthology horror, like Creepshow, and this is the last segment we need to film. The segment is called "The Fountain".

Some of the details are, we're shooting the scenes November 4th. The
nudity is full body but non-sexual--you'd actually be covered in blood and
it's a night scene, so I'm not even sure how much is going to be seen.
It's outside though, so depending on weather could be cold. The pay is
AMOUNT(we'll be shooting some indoor, non-nude scenes from about 5pm-10pm,
then outdoor from about 11pm-1am).

Let me know if it's something you'd be interested in.

Then there was silence for a day, then this:

HER: so is there a lot of dialogue?

ME: Not a ton. Long as you don't show it to anyone, I can send it to you to see if you think you're okay with it.

HER: ok
if lot of dialogue im not interested

That's where I was like...say what? Actors ALWAYS want more lines...but she wants less? Oooookay.

I send her the script, and she says she's in. I give her contact info to Zig and he gets in touch with her to give her details of the shoot.

That's when she sends him this:
HER: and this is accessbile via traim/bus.?  i live i  ny so i dont have a car

Okay...let me give you a little advice if you're an actor: If you don't have a vehicle, you may want to PUT THAT IN THE FUCKING CONVERSATION AT SOME POINT BEFORE THE UPM CONTACTS YOU.

Now I'm clearly going to have additional costs of getting bus tickets both ways, plus I have to get someone to pick her up at the bus station to bring her to set, which is about 75 minutes away from the bus station.

Zig finds possible bus schedules. If she comes in at the 3pm bus, she can be on set at 5pm. We'll be shooting until about 1am, then we can get her back to the station by 3am to catch that bus home.

She doesn't want to do that much travelling in one day. I get that. But now that means I'm adding in a hotel. This model has now become over half my total budget for this segment. And judging by how difficult the communication has been so far, I anticipate the actual shoot to be a nightmare.

But I keep plugging away. Working through the Halloween season when I'd rather be enjoying myself. I create this "fountain", I paint it and add some crackle stuff that'll make it look old. With my brother's help I create a weird statue for the top of it.

I find a remote store about 90 minutes away, contact them and they're closed on Sundays. We can shoot the exterior there, no problem. A buddy of mine with an antique store says his store can double as the interior, but they don't close at all during the day. (the scene takes place during the day)

So I'll have to light the place like it's a daylight scene, but I think it's doable.

All the actors say that the weekend of November 4th will work. I'm hoping it's not going to be so cold that the model will freak out when she gets nude that night. I figure we'll shoot a couple minutes, cover her up a couple minutes, shoot a couple of minutes. I don't need TOO many shots of her completely naked.

But then...two weeks before the shoot, the main female actress goes MIA. Doesn't respond to emails. Doesn't return phone calls. I get that stuff comes up. But there's no reason to not drop me an email that says "Hey, something came up, can't do it. That's just unprofessional and dickish.

Anyway, this girl's name is Sarah Burton, and if you're an indie filmmaker, I'd advise you to avoid using her. I certainly will never cast her in anything. I found out by a simple Fb search that she took a new job on October 30th, so I'm guessing that's the reason.

So this week I scrambled to find a replacement. There's not a ton of local female talent that I haven't already used in Terrortory 1 or 2, so it's tough. Nobody could do it on such short notice, so I finally pulled the plug on the segment.

I will attempt it again in the spring, as soon as the weather gets tolerable enough to do so. I will recast both female parts.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR TERRORTORY 2?

Well, the film is already feature length--probably about 83 minutes after credits. What I could do is either release it whenever it's done, and then when I get the Fountain done, I can insert it and re-upload it to Amazon so people can see it.

Or I can just wait and get the Fountain done and put it all out at once.

Both options are open to me, but I haven't decided yet.



Saturday, October 14, 2017

Rough Cut Of Pumpkin Trail Done


A face cast that Mark did of one of the actors. Why he did it...well, you'll just have to watch the flick when it comes out...

Anyway, got a rough cut of the Pumpkin Trail done and tomorrow am going out to try to get some pickups shot done for it. With no actors. Primarily just a shot of the forest at night, still. Because the forest at night is pitch black, we're gonna be rolling just as the sun goes down, and I'll just use the darkest shot that's still visible for the actual movie.

I'll get some noises(foley) that I need. Then some shots with the THING in the pumpkin trail. Can't say much. You know.

Am doing double duty though, as BEFORE that, I'm heading across the Bay Bridge to scout out some country stores for some scenes for The Fountain segment. I really need a desolate store exterior. I'm shooting the interiors elsewhere, but finding a running store that doesn't have any customers, and is in the middle of nowhere...could be tricky.

Still looking for one of the lead actresses. I don't get why it's so fucking hard to find around here nowadays. I mean, I'm paying cash money. It's not gratuitous, and it's not sexual.

Basically, if I get that location nailed down, and I get that actress nailed down for the dates...we'll be a go. And THEN...when that segment's shot...I can breathe again. Because the hardest part is done.

After production, that's where you really make the movie. At the edit chair. But you have all the time you need, you can work in the comfort of your home, with music playing or not, whatever you feel like.

Editing--movies, at least--can be a lot of fun. The other shit I edit, the stuff I get paid to edit...not so much fun.

I guess I can mention that the rough edit of the Pumpkin Trail isn't as terrible as I thought, though it still disappoints me in parts. And yes, the THING in the movie is super campy, so at least I know Rob Dimension's gonna like it. :)

I showed Zig, and he thought I oversold its suckitude on the phone. "It's fine," he assured me.

"Hey, fine is two steps above what I was aiming for," I thought.

Anyway...going to bed. Going to be a long day tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Breaking Me Down Part II. The Epic Conclusion.


Sorry, can't really show too many photos from night 2 without spoiling everything.

So day 2--I wake up and find out that the scratchy throat and heavy feeling in my jaw had turned into a full blown cold. Runny nose, VERY sore throat.

No big deal--just gotta go direct a complicated segment all night long.

I get there early to try to set up the main location and shoot a couple of shots that will actually be the last shot of the movie. The location is every bit as challenging to get to as we'd thought, but I sort of slide down the hill with the equipment, so it saves some time.

We get the shots done, but one of the actors still hasn't shown up. We're scheduled to shoot from 8pm-3:30am, but one of the actors has to work in the morning so he's hoping we end early.

Yeah, right.

The late actor doesn't show up until around 8:30--and I forgot to tell you that the actors forgot to take off their lavs when they left. So not only am I worried that when they powered them down, we lost the audio, but I didn't get to dump any of the cards, which I have to do now as they show up.

I'm doing that, but we're running late on the start.

I try to get what I can. We shoot out one actor(not the one who works in the morning), and he leaves, but not before accidentally leaning on of the main pumpkins and splitting it down the side. Super.

We shoot until we get to the troublesome effect, and I set it up. We tried it. It...sort of worked. Parts of it. I can't really describe it until the movie comes out, so you won't know what I'm talking about.

We're running late, but we're done on that location. We have to move a decent distance away, carrying all the equipment, and I'm already tired. (and my scratchy throat is ROUGH)
(It's humid as fuck, and we've all soaked through our shirts with sweat...)

The replacement FX guy, who turns out to be very helpful, goes to get the body parts and FX gags that Mark has prepared.

I make the lazy-man's decision to walk down the hill and just do it there. It's so dark, nobody's going to be able to see anything in the background other than out-of-focus forest and the dark. Everybody seems happy with my decision.

Only issue is that I never planned on the scene being in this location, so it causes some confusion. I also get my first taste of a shot that's in the script, but there is NO way to make it happen. I shoot, and I shoot, and I wing the whole thing, barely checking my shot list.  Just no time, and the area is different than I'd planned for.

But I'm pretty sure I'm missing some shots. My head is pretty stuffy, I'm hot and tired. I do what I can, get what I can, and finally call it around 3:30am. Ironic, because I never finish on time.

Me, Mike and Zig hit Denny's for breakfast. I know I have to go home, do a rough cut of this segment fast so I can see what I'm missing, and whether I can go get pickup shots without the actors...all before the leaves change much more on the trees.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Breaking Me Down, One Segment At A Time. Pumpkin Trail Part 1...


The past week was tough. Right up until the last minute, I was working on some practical FX to take the place of what I was given last week that was...bad...to say the least.

I'm not positive my version will work, but it will work better than the other.

There is a metric fuckton of props in this segment, so I had to confirm I had them all and wouldn't forget to take them on the days needed. Had to finish carving a few pumpkins--I had given some out to friends to carve too, since we had around 40 total.

Then I ran around and picked them all up the day before the shoot. I went to bed early Friday night, knowing that I had to be down on set at 8:30 am.

This

Is

When

Things

Went

Wrong

First thing you do on shoot day is check your phone to see whether there's any last minute problems. But oddly enough, I tap the power button on my phone and it flashes that symbol that tells me there's no battery left. Even though it's been plugged in all night.

I unplug it from the computer and plug it into another computer, thinking maybe the USB port on that computer went bad. Nope. No charge. So it's either the charge cable has gone bad, or the phone has.

I'm suddenly phone-less on a shoot day.

I'm up early so I toss everything in the car and head to Walgreens with my laptop. Buy a new charge cable. Plug it into my laptop. It starts charging.

I hit Dunkin Donuts to get some donuts for everybody. Check my phone and hey, it turns on enough that I can see that I have a text message from one actor that says "Call me ASAP", and was sent at 8am. I don't have enough charge to call anybody, so I text him back to call Zig.

I drive to the parking lot that we meet in, and by that time have enough that I can check the voicemail the actor left. It says, basically, "Hey, my face is swollen up and I'm in pain, and if you have any other options for actors, maybe call one."

I do not have any backups for the role. Who the hell could take a role with zero notice and learn 16 pages of dialogue? We're shooting over 11 pages on the first day, so there's no down time to give anybody.

I'm hoping Zig has told him to come and we'll just deal with it. If the actor can do it, we'll just make his swollen face part of the character. Whatever.

He shows up. Doesn't look TOO bad, but he's definitely in pain. I ask him if he can do it. He's a champ, says he will. But he warns me he'll be a little muddy on the lines, as he's taking some painkillers.

The other actors show up, and we get to shooting. Again, small crew. Me, my brother Mike, Zig, and Stewie shows up for a little while.

Crazily enough, we not only get the 11 pages done, but we get another 1 page scene done before we leave at about 11pm. (we shot from 10am-11pm)

I've been getting a scratchy throat for a couple of days, but I'm glad it didn't turn into a full blown cold for my first day. Unfortunately, I woke up the next day and it HAD turned into that.

And we had a big day of FX, shooting at night, and one of the cast has mentioned he works early the next morning so that--even though the shooting schedule has for weeks said that we'll be shooting until 4am--he'd love to end early.

But hey, here's a shot of the pumpkin trail(part of it) that my brother shot on day(night) 1...






Monday, September 18, 2017

Never Before Seen Pictures From the Terrortory 1 Wrap

I know I haven't really done many updates--had a lot to do.

At this moment I'm doing last-minute prep to shoot the "Pumpkin Trail" segment this coming weekend. We were supposed to shoot it last weekend, but rain was threatening and I had to either cancel the camera rental on Monday, or eat it if it rained.

On top of that, there was some other FX issues that you just would not believe if I told you. If you have seen Brutal Massacre: A Comedy, then you might be able to imagine it. (and if you haven't seen that movie, DO IT. If you work in low budget horror, you will dig it in a big way.

Anyway, today I'm going back out to the woods to get a few pickup shots for the main story plus some foley. Cutting's coming down from Connecticut, and Joe's coming out, so it'll be a reunion.

I was out in the woods again yesterday doing my final location scout for the Pumpkin Trail.  Keeping track of all the trails and locations is tough, to say the least.

I can confirm that I will debut a teaser for Terrortory 2 at Monstermania at the end of this month, so if you're around, come check it out and say hi. (If you can't make it, don't worry--I'll put it online sometime after that)

So here's some pics from the first wrap that I never put out, featuring the Gotz character. I figure it's long enough to wait to spoil this, right?

All pics are by my brother Mike Kangas--you can see some of his pics here:
http://www.thepicta.com/user/mike__kangas/1642219067

And follow him on Instagram. It's mike_kangas there.



This is what no-budget sound department looks like. I hope it becomes a meme on the Movie Set Memes group. (It's Steve "Stewie" Pattee, working hard as usual)

Laura, Steve and Brad. Pretending to have fun.



So, this. Probably needs some explanation, because you didn't see it in the movie, did you?

We had some issues with the first version of the doll-face makeup for Brad. It wasn't good. Made him look like some sort of geisha doll. I'd show it to you, but Brad made me destroy all pictures of it. (Okay, not really, but why embarrass all of us by showing it?)

Well, they had THIS mask in their stuff so we toyed with the idea of using it instead. Only problem for me was that it really made no sense to the plot. See, Gotz turns people into dolls. So why on earth would he turn Brad's character into leatherface?

So we shot some pics, but never used it. I may have rolled some video, I can't remember.

Gotz, doing his best Elvis, I think. That's M.T. Smith under the mask--he's also Smiling Jack in the film. (so if you see that question on Jeopardy, now you can totally answer it)

Goddamn Stewie trying to score with Gotz. He's really desperate.

Then below, another two shots of Gotz. You can see my immediate problem, which is that we didn't make his neck match the mask. So any low shots got really problematic.



You could say this is me lying down on the job. But what it REALLY was was one of the most dangerous shots ever. I lay down there while she swung the stick at me, so it's sort of the Gotz-dies POV.

It was pretty scary looking through that lens as she swung it over and over. Luckily, I hadn't irritated her enough that she "accidentally" hit me or anything.

Another shot oft he not-used mask.

Weirdly enough, people don't want you to bash heads in on their carpet. They don't want blood stains all over. How ridiculous, right? So we had a piece of the carpet, and took it outside to try to fake it out there.

The color balance on the lights didn't match AT all--a fact I'm sure you can see in the final film. No matter what I did to try to get it to match, couldn't get it perfect.

Also, this is the FIRST time we tried it. His face didn't bash in like I wanted it--the top of his head sort of popped off and blood oozed out. It was kind of cool looking, but not so realistic.


Anyway, more to come. I gotta go get my equipment ready.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Music Of Terrortory and Terrortory 2


When I first started on Terrortory I wasn't sure what we were going to do musically. My usual and first love is orchestral--it's what I've heard in the movies I've loved all my life. From Bernard Herrmann to John Williams to Basil Pouledouris to Alan Silvestri to Jerry Goldsmith to Danny Elfman and more.

But in the back of my mind were guys like Harold Faltermeyer and Tangerine Dream and Vangelis.

They did some pretty incredible, non traditional scores using synthesizers. And with Terrortory being an old-fashioned horror anthology, now would be the time to go with that sort of sound if I ever did.

Well, way things worked out, I couldn't get one composer to do the whole thing anyway. Time was not our friend, and by the time I moved forward and realized my regular guy Chad couldn't do it, the sand was slipping through the hourglass too fast for one guy to meet the deadline.

So I started thinking...there's no REAL reason that the segments couldn't be scored by different people. We could keep the classic orchestral stuff for the main storyline--which would be handled by the talented Terence Jones(who returns for the sequel)--and then I would start looking around for talented synth guys.
By the way, you can get the score for Terrortory here at Terry's site:
http://www.terencejonesmusic.co.uk/music/

I'd been part of a synth FB group for quite a while, and had heard some great songs. Could any of them segue into actually doing MUSIC that would accompany the video, rather than just a SONG?

Turns out that I got a lot of submissions. I went with a well-known guy named Daniel Deluxe for the Smiling Jack segment, and he hit nearly a home run right off the bat. The music he gave me the first time is about 98% of what's in the final movie. I had one tweak for it, which he did right away, and it was perfect.

Then another guy named Ben Mosely--his moniker is Bishop of Battle--came on to do Siren. He was super cool to work with, and unlike Daniel, we talked face to face a few times in vid-chat to discuss ideas and my thoughts. The Siren score turned out awesome.

Meanwhile, another guy had started work on the Drone Collector but after he saw how much work it was for the money, he bailed. I don't blame him--if the only reason you're doing it is for the money, then this probably isn't for you.

I didn't exactly have a backup, and hadn't even found anybody to do Prowler yet, so I hit Ben up because he's mentioned he'd be interested in doing more. I sent him Drone Collector and he went to work.

I also mentioned that if he had time and wanted to do Prowler, well, I'd owe him big.

He got both done, and they're both very different-sounding and excellent scores.

-----------

Also in the back of my mind was the end-credit music. What do I do about that?

Well, I aimed high at first. Like, WAY too fucking high. I actually looked into licensing real 80's songs that would be perfect for the after-"We're going to the beach" cut to black.

On my list:
Ain't Nothing Gonna Break My Stride
We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off(To Have A Good Time)
Modern Love
Don't You Want Me
She Drives Me Crazy
I Can't Go For That
Can't Get Enuff - Winger
Lips and Hips - Electric Boys

Had a conversation on the phone with a very nice guy who licenses music for TV and movies. It would cost $500 just for him to find out the exact amount it would take to license a song and from who. But he told me--if I didn't have a minimum of $5000, there was no way I was going to get rights to any song that played on the radio in the 80's for any more than a couple of years, and if I wanted anything that hit the top 40--WAAAY more.

And as I told him, no, I didn't have that money. He was super cool about it. Gave me a lot of information, when he could have just told me to fuck off, peon.
UPDATE--I located his name and company in case you have the money and want a good music clearance guy.

THE MUSIC BRIDGE LLC
(Music Clearance, Licensing, Supervision and Consultation)
P.O. Box 661918, Los Angeles, CA., CA 90066
Phone: (310) 398-9650 Fax: (310) 398-4850
Website: www.themusicbridge.com

Then I went back to the music groups. I had been listening to quite a few songs, and some of them were pretty perfect. I made a list of my top 10. They were these, in no particular order:


This is the song that ended up in the credits, and it's perfect there. The guys in Foret De Vin were super cool to work with, and had no problem with the contract. (it takes no rights other than the rights to put it in the movie--the master use and sync rights)



FM-84 is a group that hit it big just about the time I was looking at credits music. They got back to me, but they'd hired a company to place their music in movies and TV, so I'd have to go through that company. That would have ended up being too much money, so they were out of the running. But that song(and that album) still kicks so much ass.



I didn't get that far in pursuing this song, but it's such a catchy, funky tune, and the whole "Men are not nice guys" sort of fits into my idea of how a lot of the men are in the film.

This one doesn't have a video, but is totally worth a listen on Soundcloud:
https://soundcloud.com/rad-rush-records/sebastian-gampl-winner-get-it-on



This one fit in with the fact that Brad and Carly were on vacation(holiday), and is just a super catchy jingle.

I knew I wanted an upbeat song, because in my mind I was sort of trying to ape the feel of the ending to Lost Boys. You know, drop a great one-liner and punch out to black. I knew I'd never do it as well as Lost Boys, but steal from the greats, am I right?

Anyway, I'm on the search for the end-credits to Terrortory 2 and may have found the perfect song. I'm talking to the artist now, so fingers crossed.

But I can let you hear this--this is a song that gets played in the movie. Since I've already licensed the rights, I have no problem letting you hear it. It's a funky, cool tune by a very talented guy from Poland--go buy it and support him.




Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Terrortory 2 Update. I got good news, and I got bad news...


Okay. Let me lay it out for you.

Been working incredibly hard to edit the wrap. The sheer amount of compositing work is pretty staggering. I don't feel like ever putting Smiling Jack in anything again, because filling in the actor's eyeholes gets tedious, but that's nothing compared to the hole in the top that I have to fill in.

At this point I now have a playable edit of the whole main storyline. (I was calling this the "wrap-around", but in this case it's the main story so I'm going to stop calling it the wrap)

It's about 45 minutes long, which is right in line with the script length. I'm missing the last 3 or 4 shots though, which we didn't shoot. I have to get out and do that soon before the leaves start changing.

More and more I've been getting bombed by the "This many days 'til Halloween!", and I realize that my deadline is 30 days LESS than that, and there's just no way I'm going to get the other two segments shot and edited, as well as scored, as well as make a trailer and a poster, and do both the front-end and back-end credits to the movie...in this space of time.

I had a plan that I'd shoot the Pumpkin Trail segment, put it in, then release on October 1st--then when I got the final segment done I could insert it, and re-upload the whole movie.

But no way is it all going to happen unless I start cutting major corners--meaning, the quality will suffer.

So today I finally made the decision...going to have to push back the date.

It's funny...when I originally told people I was going to go for the October 1st release, we all had a laugh about how insane it was. Then somewhere in there I convinced myself I could do it...and reality has now corrected me.

I'm not sure when the exact release will be. I still plan on shooting Pumpkin Trail in September, then The Fountain in October. I SHOULD have the movie done completely by the end of the year then, no problem.

Just gotta figure out what month will be good to release it.

See, this is a thousands-of-dollars decision. If we don't hit the bonus on Amazon, we lose over five thousand dollars. Our best chance was obviously October, since that's Halloween/horror month, and we already did it with the first film.

If we don't hit the bonus but do about the same numbers, then this is pretty much a break-even scenario for me. That's not great, given the amount of time I put in.

These are the things keeping me up at night. (or trying to...but thank Crom for pot brownies)

I leave you with this...probably my favorite picture I ever shot of Richard Cutting on set. He plays Aiden, one of the main characters in the movie.


Thursday, July 27, 2017

What I've Been Doing...


I chopped up all of the "Mad Gathering"'s audio, synced it all, and did an entire assembly edit. The whole thing.

Wow, does it suck.

It is pretty clearly one of the toughest scenes I've ever had to edit.

We shot it all out of order because of the people who had to leave early, then the special effects that take place that we can't shoot out of order because of how different people's appearances are after the effect takes place. I got guys who switch frame sides, and multiple people talking to each other, so keeping shit straight on the shoot was tough.

There are many scenes that require compositing--a couple of scenes where the actor's not even there--gotta put them in. (they're 10, and I wasn't dragging them out to the woods til 5am) Another actor whose face SHOULD have been messed up for the shot, but we couldn't mess it up because we had the earlier scenes to shoot. (I had to have this shot now because we'd be losing people early who you could see in the shot)--this actor whose face should be messed up has to GET messed up via compositing.

Now, the reason I'm not TOO down on myself yet is because it's an assembly edit. They all suck.

There's zero rhythm to them. The sound's not fixed AT ALL, so every edit jumps out and screams THIS SUCKS DONKEY BALLS AND YOU'RE A SHIT EDITOR.

This was basically just getting the form of the piece. Finding the best takes, and where they will fit. Next I'll go back and try to massage it all so it's not so ugly. Ten, twelve more passes and I might even find it tolerable.
----
But I moved past it for now.

Dove into the main storyline that we shot. First, I edited the last scene of the movie. It involves that complicated shot that almost certainly needs some CGI in order to get the effect done. I took it to my brother's with all the raw footage of the scene, so he can take a whack in Cinema 4D, see what he can do.

Overall I think the scene looks great. It's amazing how simple a shot with one actor and straightforward action can be, right?

Then, went to the beginning. Again, one actor with a simple action--looks good.

Next scene, now with two actors. Looks great. Works out well, the performances seem to be coming across nicely. BUT...I discover a pretty severe issue. I'm not gonna get into it here yet until I make sure I'm screwed--will let ya know.

So that's the first 3.5 pages of the script edited together. It clocks in at 4.5 minutes. Not bad, and scenes always get tighter as you make passes.

I also cut a ton of the audio while I was going through files looking for the first couple of scenes audio. I think I have the next two scenes' audio already cut up, each mic.

I know, you want more pictures....can't really help you. Our cool publicity stills have to be kept for web sites and exclusive promos. The web sites love those, and it's not like I have 300 great photos I can give out.

Tomorrow--another full day of editing. (today was only a partial day, which for me is like 8 hours)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Terrortory 2 - The Main Story Day 5 and 6


TUESDAY - DAY 5

I go to sleep late again, and have to get up at 9am to check the weather to see if it's changed. It hadn't. I call Cutting and Zig and see if they just wanna go to the place an hour away when the storm's supposed to hit, and the second it's gone we'll head onto the scene and shoot it.

I walk out the door and it's humid as piss again. I change my shirt into another sleeveless shirt.

The drive takes an hour, as expected. I get there just as rain starts to fall. It pours. Cutting and Zig show up, and we have a pow wow in the car while we watch the doppler radar on Cutting's phone to see how long the storm's going to stay.

Not long.


We get out of the car and--minor miracle--the humidity has really come down. We head to the location. It's a tourist spot, so I'm not sure how many people are going to be there. I figure: It's a Tuesday. It's still cloudy out. A thunderstorm just blew through here not 30 minutes ago...who's going to come out?

As we're setting up, a couple comes out and is hanging out near us. I'm not ready for the shot, so we tell them--if they want to move out to the spot to take pictures, go ahead. Turns out the guy was there to propose to his girl. So they're at the location kissing and chatting, and meanwhile my drone is on standby waiting for me to launch it. Losing battery by the minute.

They take forever, and another girl's wandering around.

Once they're gone I launch the drone. While it's flying, other lookie-lou's come by. I think the drone scares some of them off; it DOES sound pretty frightening when it's going. Like an angry swarm of bees.

I get some cool video. I even get this video accidentally, but now I'm super glad I got it. It shows me going out to plant some props at the very edge of the "cliff". You can see where I have to turn around, and how slowly I do it--it was pretty terrifying for a moment.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jHrDHdvhSyk

Once the drone comes down though, more people come through. We're waiting for them to leave to get shots. Some people go up the trail behind Cutting to leave, but then stop and just have a discussion on a trail. Right in the picture. And loud enough it's on our audio.

Cutting actually asks one group nicely to take it elsewhere if "they're just chatting". They do, so we get the shots.

Off to Five Guy's for a celebratory dinner.

Tomorrow we have that one final shot to make up for. We need to do it when the light isn't terrible, so we're going to do it in the evening. I can sleep in. But I haven't seen a movie in a while, so I'd really like to see the new Apes movie or Baby Driver.

Zig and Cutting are in, so I guess I'll just get a regular 8 hours of sleep instead of the twelve hours I'd like.

WEDNESDAY - DAY 6

We hit the new Apes movie around noon. Me and Zig liked it; not sure Cutting did.

Then Cutting goes for a doctor's appointment across the bridge. We meet at Chik Fil A for dinner, then down to the original location. It's around 6pm when we walk into the woods, and it's still HUMID.

This is not movie sweat, people. This is after a leisurely walk to the location.

It's just me, Zig and Cutting, with very minimal equipment. Didn't stop Cutting from bitching though, and then forgetting to wear the right shoes. So if you see the first scene, and then look at scene 2 and go, "Hey, those weren't the shoes he was wearing..." then you are correct, sir.

It's scene 1. We reshoot the whole thing since it's only like 5 shots, but this time without the horrible sun speckling that was going on.

I got some really cool stills of Cutting here--perhaps my favorite I've ever shot of him. Can't show it yet, but you'll see it on a web site, I can promise you that.

Done--a wrap on the wrap.

Next time--what I'm been up to since then...

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Terrortory 2 - The Main Story Day 4

Monday Day 4




They're either texting their parents to say goodbye, 
or perhaps their agents to ask 
"What the hell have you gotten me into?"


I woke up feeling refreshed and not sore at all!

That is a gigantic lie. Just figured I should start off different. I once again reload all the equipment I took out of the car the night before. I fill the cooler with water and ice, and put that in the car. You know, the exciting things involved in filmmaking.

Head on down to the site. I hustle into the woods and get a quick scene done--it's just Cutting waiting for a second in the woods, then he leaves. It's four shots. The humidity is fogging up my lens again. It's super hot--and it's only 8:15 in the morning.

Then we head back to the parking lot, where one of the girls for the next scene has shown up. Then the other two girls show up. We head to the OTHER parking lot for a separate section of the woods and start shooting.

The girls seem game, and cool to do the scene, which I have to shoot awkwardly because it involves prosthetic effects added to their faces at intervals, and then more walking.



On a side note, I sometimes think these actors who have never worked with me will look into my casting notices and then look me up. They see I've done some real movies, things that can be actually viewed. They've got professional posters that look like real-budget movies. Then come to set expecting things like "hair and makeup" and "P.A."s, and in general, a crew.

Since Bounty my sets are more like a college film-shoot headed up by a film geek with not a lot of friends. My crew on this one consisted of LITERALLY two people, Zig and my brother Mike. That's it. We lugged all the equipment in, and anything we couldn't, the actors stuffed in their backpacks. Joe helped out more than an actor should, frankly, and Cutting even carried stuff besides his orange chair. The days Matt was there, he helped out too.

I don't, for the most part, like talent carrying shit. They've got other things to deal with.

But the low budget coupled with my reluctance to ask people to come work for free are both striving to put me in an early grave. Frankly, I think they should work harder.


Ziegler and FX artist Mark Wenger.

Anyway, we shot half the scene then ate lunch--my brother went to the deli every day and got whatever people wanted. So he's doing P.A. work too. Also, they know him at the deli so they treat him pretty well.

We get done and we're not far off the schedule. While we were eating lunch I decide to move the location of the next scene from way off to about 200 feet up a hill from where we are. Because I'm dying.

It's a big Smiling Jack attacks scene. Tess comes back--she was one of the kids earlier. She's super cool, and has no problem falling down, getting her face smushed into the ground over and over, and just in general having fun. I wish I was young again so I could have some fun too, but apparently it's very hard to de-age yourself without drinking the blood of babies.

(and even then it's a very slow process, and babies don't exactly grow on trees)


Will, Matt, Cutting, Tess, me and Zig.
 My brother's taking the picture.

We have a couple of effects that look like they may work, but every time I shoot Jack when he moves his head, I start to have flashbacks to how much frame-by-frame compositing work I have to do to make it look like his head is hollow.

We have one final shot, and we wrap--about an hour late again(at 7pm instead of six). We drag all the shit out of the woods. I'm good to just go home and fall down, but Cutting and Zig and Mike seem to want to order pizza from the local shop that has REAL good pizza, so I say sure. Mike goes to get it, while Cutting and Zig and I go to my parents house to sit on the deck. (Okay, I went in the pool for a couple of minutes, in my jean shorts and all)

We ate pizza, sat there and chatted until about 9pm. Then home to do the normal routine.

We're watching tomorrow's weather because we have a complicated scene to shoot about an hour away from any of us, then we gotta come back the other direction for 90 minutes and fix that first drone shot that was overexposed. A thunderstorm is supposed to be rolling in in the middle of the day. If it moves one way or the other, we may be able to shoot it.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Terrortory 2 - The Main Story Day 3

Sunday, Day 3

I don't wanna bore you with this again, but I am so sore when I wake up that I'd give you my entire silver age comic collection if you'd just let me stay home, and go shoot this for me.

We head in for the opening shot of the movie. It involves a really cool drone shot. Unfortunately it's so goddamn sunny that I can't get it to not blow out white with brightness unless I put the ND filters on it, but if I do that, then it's too dark once the drone comes through the canopy. I can let the drone compensate for it, but it doesn't look great when it does it.

I do some other shots with the regular camera, but the sun is putting bright highlights whenever my guy walks the trail and the sun shines through. It's tough. And still HOT.

And now people are having a party somewhere in the distance where you can hear them partying. And then someone runs a buzzsaw not nearby, but still--it's a buzzsaw. You can hear it. Then a dog barks for like 20 minutes straight. If I was their neighbor I would have either killed the dog, or them.

We move not very far away--I'm beginning to change locations out of convenience. Not a great thing to do, but let's face it--I spent a ton of time in the first film shooting visually-different locations in the woods, but we still had asshats being pissed because "It all takes place in the same location."



Well, first--no it's not. The longest segment of the movie takes place IN A HOUSE. There's another long scene in a warehouse. Then the actual scenes in the woods were shot in radically different places and/or times of the year.

Second, and more important--do these people get pissed when they watch Friday the 13th? Why's the whole movie take place at a camp? And then part 2 and 3?  MORE CAMP. WTF is up with that, right?

Fucking people.


We move to another scene with Smiling Jack. I'm not really feeling most of what I'm shooting, but I refer back to my own rule which is NEVER JUDGE YOUR SHIT WHILE YOU'RE SHOOTING IT.

Still, would love to have the sun go away. For a couple of days.

Then we have some on-paper easy scenes. It's all talking and walking. But Cutting, the lead actor is having a hard time remembering some of the lines, and he's getting frustrated over it, which can kill an actor on set. I pretend it doesn't bother me--and it doesn't bother me that he's missing them, it bothers me that it's so goddamn hot and my arms are dying.



I figure it's cuz Cutting's not getting enough sleep, and if the heat is boiling his brain the way it's hurting mine then it makes sense. Later, after we're done shooting I ask him about it. Because he nailed all those long speeches and exposition in Garden of Hedon, so I was surprised that these short sentence, big paragraphs would give him problems. He says it's because many of the sentences are variations on each other with slight differences.

I dunno, but whatever. We're all doing the best we can under brutal conditions. I remember thinking "Man, shooting outside in July could be bad..." but I really never anticipated it would be like this.

But here I am walking backwards while shooting Cutting and Joe walking toward me, and I have to try to walk around a trail I can't see. My brother is spotting me, tugging gently in directions to let me know where it veers, but still...hard to compensate while also keeping focus and composition.



Again we wrap about an hour late. On the easiest shoot-day we're going to have. I really thought we'd make this one. But between the heat slowing us down, the moves, the stopping for the COUNTLESS planes going overhead ruining our audio(we're not exactly near the airport), and the fact that I have to get a lot of coverage because I'm not positive of exactly what points the lines veered from the script--it all took a lot of extra time.

I actually have been going by my parents' house to jump in the pool after every shoot--sort of a chlorine insect wash. Then I head home, dump footage, back it up, start batteries charging. I don't get to bed until after midnight, and I have to be up again at 7am to head to the set.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Terrortory 2 - The Main Story Day 2

As promised, here's the video of us JUST having gotten to the location--this is approximately 3 minutes later.


Big thanks to Joe--I was thinking the next morning that I wished we'd recorded some of it, and Joe tells me he got a bit. Awesome.

In case you're wondering why we took the next day off, I knew it would go late into the night and all our other shoot days start at 8am. No way were we shooting Thursday night until Friday morning at 5am, then working three hours later.

Anyway, the report continues...



Friday, Day Off

Friday, I woke up sorer than shit. For some reason a few of my toes are numb in spots. Like, I walk and it feels like something is stuck to my toes, but I check and there isn't. It's the numbness that makes it feel like that.

Today is spent re-designing Saturday's shot list to be a little less ambitious, and to include a few multi-camera shots that will hopefully mean we end on time. I have us shooting from 9am until 6pm, but I'm not positive at what time it will be too dark to make the scene seem consistent.

I have to gather all of the props, recharge the drone batteries, the camera batteries, the monitor batteries, clear the cards, make a few notes in thislog(which I flesh out later into what you're reading now) and all the other little minutiae of filmmaking.

Saturday, Day 2

Joe and Cutting, pretending to have fun

We got a slight break in that it wasn't as hot as it was supposed to be, but it was still humid as crap. Lenses that came out of the carrying case--even though they'd been in the woods for 4 hours--still started fogging up. It was cloudy out, which was nice--with the sun, you have to constantly battle highlights and differences in the light for consistency--cloudy is sweet, especially since I have very fast lenses.

We shot the first scene no sweat. We did part of the 2nd scene, and then the actors showed up. It's a group of "kids"--three guys and one girl. We set up for their shots, and knock some out. Get that scene done. We send Mike to go get us lunch before we're done, but the deli is slammed so we decide that while we're waiting for Mike to return, we'll go knock out the next scene real fast. It's only four shots.

Get that done too. Man, it's all going so great that I'm thinking, "Too good to last..."



 Tess and Colin(two of the kids) walk out to her car so she can drop something off with her dad, and Mike shows up a minute later. All of us eat. We're wondering where Tess and Colin are--they come walking toward us from the OTHER side of the trail. They've gone the wrong way and circled way back around.

By the time we're done eating we're only 10 minutes late to start. The sun comes out. It gets very hot. The actors get chatty in between takes. This is something you always get--actors wanna talk to other actors about acting. It's expected. But they really gotta pay attention to what I'm saying, because when I have to repeat myself to come over and act in their scene, well, I get pretty fucking cranky.

At some point during this there's a bit of...drama, let's say, between my brother and Mark. My brother's a super laid-back guy, so I don't know what the issue is at the time. Let's just say it turns out Mike's not interested in helping out on FX any more.

We do some drone shots--it's working fine. I discovered what the problem was. At night the drone can't use its own cameras to figure out where it is, and if it also loses its GPS signal--which it does because we're in no-man's land, then it switches to a really shitty mode that makes it drift, and ignores
you on the joysticks. And you can't turn that mode off, which makes a lot of the people who own this very unhappy, myself included.

I joke that all of my future movies will be shot with me sitting in a chair, operating the drone camera. Because I'm shooting nearly zero tripod shots, which means I'm holding a rig all day long. Wanna try it?

Take 5 pounds of anything, then hold it straight out in front of you. For like 90 seconds. Then you can rest for a second, then do it again. Do it three or four times, then take a five minute break. Then repeat it OVER AND OVER, but for some of those make sure you get down on your knees for some of them.

Also be 46 years old and in terrible physical shape. See how you feel.



We have what I guess you'd call a stunt. It involves someone taking a beer bottle to the side of Smiling Jack's face. Suffice it to say that with complications and my doubt that we can get an intact sugar-glass bottle half a mile into the woods, I concoct a plan to use a REAL beer bottle upside the side of Jack's face.

I first try to weaken the beer bottle in tests. It doesn't work. Then I figure--you know, if we tape a big piece of steel to Jack's plastic head, and the bottle hits there then it's gonna shatter. Matt won't feel anything other than a slap to the head.

So we do it on location.  Brandon is game to try it(he's the actor swinging the bottle). He does it. I'm in the path of the flying glass and feel it hit me. No biggie. Matt's not hurt. But oddly, out of everything I considered, I never figured Brandon might take any shrapnel that would hurt him, but the back of his hand was bleeding.

Not a lot, and he was game for take two. So we have two good takes. On the second take I got hit in the arm by a tiny piece of glass and started bleeding a little. I really wouldn't have thought these shards would be sharp enough to open up a cut just by flying through the air but there ya have it.

We do a couple of FX shots. The first one works pretty well. I'm liking. The second one is a mixed bag. The humidity makes it hard to stick an appliance on the face that stays, so we sorta improvise. I'm not sure how it'll look once I edit it, but I'll make it work.

We're scheduled to shoot until 6pm--we wrap at like 7:10.


This was the largest group of people we had on
at anytime in the shoot.
From Left To Right
There Is No Way I'm Naming Them All

Side Note:
I had a tiny worm, of all things, burrow into my skin. I thought it was just a tiny insect, then I pulled and a 1/4 inch worm comes out. Now the area on my leg is getting all red, and it hurts. What the fuck was that?

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Terrortory 2 - The Main Story Day 1

I think I mentioned that Terrortory 2 differs from the first film, and from most anthologies in general. Those have a main story/through story/wrap around story that exists to tie together or give reason for the segment stories to be told.

Terrortory 2 has a main story that will be fleshed out with the anthology stories. The through-story is the reason the movie exists, not the segments.

We shot it all last week. One of the hardest weeks I've EVER experienced, and I'm counting the week I had to watch the Nightmare on Elm Street remake.

Here's the diary I kept:

Thursday July 13th. DAY ONE



I head down to Arnold and meet Joe, Zig and Cutting at the 7-11. We grab some supplies, and head to the woods. As soon as we get to the location, thunder starts. I'm thinking--there was a small thunderstorm that was supposed to be in the area for a REAL short time. Figured it would miss us, or would just rain a little and the canopy would keep us dry.

A DELUGE of rain hits us. Tons of water. Cutting was smart and had pre-bought a tarp, so they all huddle underneath it while I try to actually hang it on trees. I am soaked in about 2 seconds. I mean, as if I just jumped into a pool. (Note: Joe has video of some of this, and I'll post it when he sends it to
me)

It didn't last long--maybe 15 minutes, but all the wood in the forest is soaked and we have to start a fire. I'm completely drenched from my shoes and socks to my shirt and pants. The equipment is a bit muddy, and even after all that it's still fucking humid as shit.

(My brother later tells me he saw the doppler radar and it was this super-intense, super-TINY storm that ran right over pretty much just US.)

I find out VERY fast that I've completely forgotten the lapel mics I use on my shoots now. I have no idea how that could be. My backup(which I run all the time anyway) is the separate shotgun mic that I've used on every movie since Hunting Humans, and a full size Zoom recorder with XLR inputs. It's usually a backup, but now it's my only mic and I didn't bring a boom pole. (I usually put the whole setup in the scene somewhere hidden so I can get other sounds/dialog that I may use)



We try to light the fire and--shocker--soaking wet wood is hard to light. With persistence, and more time than I wanted to waste on it, we get it lit.

We try some drone shots, but the drone's acting funky. When we started the scene it wasn't dark, just dark-ish. I tried to make it look dark, but as it actually GETS dark and we put out the lights behind them, I'm wondering how well it will match what we shot.



We have some more problems in general, but we finish the scene.

We move all the equipment up a STEEP trail. My arms were done from bringing all the shit in at the beginning. Now I'm wiped, and I gotta hold a camera for how many more hours? It's tough.

I'm feeling the trenchfoot--soggy shoes and socks the entire time. The humidity is INSANE, and we get a call from Mark that Fred, The Midnight Clown, is having a problem with his makeup running. (They airbrush it on outside) They end up running to my parents house nearby to airbrush him in the cool basement. (My mom keeps the house arctic, and my brother used to airbrush in the basement all the time, so no big deal)
NOTE: Turns out that they just airbrushed him in the kitchen--my mom told me the basement was a mess. I tell her, nobody would have cared.

This puts us even farther behind though.

I should note--Zig has been sick from pretty much the get go. Something's wrong with his stomach. He throws up more than once on this shoot, I can tell you that.

 He's not talking much, which is how you can normally tell something's up.

I gotta run to the car to get the Midnight Clown's costume, and I mention I'm going to sit in my car for 5 minutes while we're waiting for the clown to show up. I'm gonna blast my AC and try to get cool. Zig quickly volunteers to come with me. In the car the AC is, as expected, the best thing in the entire world. We both agree we could just go to sleep right then.

We don't even get our 5 minutes though, as Mike pulls up with Fred and O'Brocki, who's playing Wade. We gotta carry some shit back into the woods--FX stuff and drinks. I volunteer, for some stupid reason, to carry the most heavy stuff. I think I'm just an idiot. I have to stop a few times to set the container down and take a break.

Fast forward--we're at the new base camp, about to shoot. I've decided to shoot all of Fred's closeups first since the longer it goes, the meltier he's gonna get.

BLOCKING

I'll admit that this is one of the harder elements of filmmaking for me. Blocking consists of how you run the scene--where people say certain lines, or do certain actions. In a perfect world, you get time to just run through the entire scene and see the blocking, and then adjust your shots accordingly. For me, even if I had the time, it really interferes with the shooting script I've run, especially if there's significant variation from the way I pictured it.

I'm a big pre-vis guy, in that I have seen this movie in my head over and over, so when we go out there and things don't start to line up the way they did in my head...that's where I run into trouble. I'm working on ways to get better at this, but it's still not fun.

We try to block out the scene, and lighting is, of course, a problem. It's pitch black. I have four big lights, but now that we're not shooting in the order of my shot list--which was broken down so we only have to move the lights once for each direction we're shooting in--we gotta run around putting lights here and there, and it's a hassle.

Also, I'm cheating a lot of positioning because of the way the area we're shooting in differs from what I wrote.


Headlamps on the head make reading your shooting script easy. 
Plus, they're EXCELLENT for attracting bugs right to your face.

We shoot.

And shoot.

And keep shooting.

Because Mark's not there, my brother Mike has to attempt the blood effects, which is a blood cannon, basically. My brother is struggling, because he's been working outside all day in the heat, since like 9am, and now he's out in the woods with barely a break at 3am. For those who can't do math, that's 18 hours of hard work outside in the heat and humidity with only a lunch and dinner break.

We shoot the effect, and I have no idea whether it's going to look good or not. It would be more impressive if it was during the day, that's for sure.

We were scheduled to be out of there at 4am, but we didn't actually walk out until 5:45. The light was coming up by the time we got to our cars.

Carrying all that shit back pretty much broke me. Had to stop four times. Joe carried the heaviest one item--this insane bag full of I-have-no-idea--but I had both light kits, which ain't small and they ain't light.

We're scheduled to be off Friday, but I'd mentioned that maybe we'd go shoot Tuesday's one scene if there's no wind(I can't shoot it unless there's no wind). The weather's calling for a thunderstorm, and we all feel like garbage, so I say screw it. Day off is back in effect.

Either way, I get home about 6:30am, dump footage, take a long shower, and am in bed by 7:30am.



Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Terrortory 2: One Segment Down...Part 2


Alex was nice enough to come out at 5:30pm Saturday to redo her audio. We also recreated the entire scene without dialogue--so I have a foley'd track I can use when I use any wild audio. If you had the time, you should do this for every scene you shoot--not just because it will save you during your actual edit, but it will make doing an M and E(Music and Effects) track for foreign super simple.

Good news was we got Zig back--he's production manager, but also a jack of all trades. Anything I need, he can get done. Takes a lot of weight off of me.

We hightail it to the woods. Some of our creatures are already there making themselves up. Matt, who plays Smiling Jack is also there. I like people who show up early.

I think this pic is far enough it doesn't give much away


Zig and I stack my dolly up with as much stuff as we can fit, and I drag this dolly through the woods. Matt goes with us so we can leave him at the location with the equipment, and go back for more.

The dolly works like shit. Too many roots, uneven ground, then like 100 feet of uphill sand at the end. The cart flips sideways twice, making us reload it. 

By the time I get to the location I am DRENCHED in sweat. Zig and I go back and get another load, do it again. I drag it again, cuz frankly Zig isn't a big guy and this thing is heavy.

At the end of THAT run, I feel like I'm having a heart attack. 

The thing is, I'm a pretty immature guy. I wear a hat all the time--and have since I was like 20--but the thing is, it hides that I'm actually losing my hair now. So it's these things that make people think I'm in my late 30's. I am not. I am going to be 47 this year, and as much as I kid myself that it's not THAT old, it is. Especially when you do ZERO exercise other than when you're shooting a movie.

We hustle back again to get the last of the stuff and see who else has showed up. Most of our monsters have, but they're going to wait until my brother arrives with the Midnight Clown, who's getting painted, and they'll all come as a group.

Me, Josh, and Zig head into the woods with the last of the stuff and it's at this point that I realize I have made a huge mistake--I am wearing my prescription sunglasses, and I have forgotten my regular glasses. It's getting pitch black, especially in the woods. You see, my wife's truck broke down while I was waiting for Zig to get to my house, so I had to run her to a friend's house to get another car, which made me slightly late. I got flustered, forgot my glasses.

And she's not answering my call now--I was hoping she could bring my glass to the location.

In desperation I call my parents--they're out to dinner, but say they'll do it. Will take them over an hour to go to their house, get our spare key, then go to my house and back to the location.


AH! So many unclear pictures! 
It's like I'm trying not to show anything.

We start setting up lights, trying to light a bonfire, while Mark is finishing up the makeup on everybody now that they've all walked the trail to join us.

The fire does not want to blaze. Maybe it's wet from the storm the day before, but spoiler alert--we didn't get a good fire all goddamn night. Gonna be some digital fire improvement I think. Fix it in post, right?

I shoot some little things--the fact that I can't see so well isn't a deal breaker right away, because I can see fine up close without my glasses. So I can get focus on the monitor no problem. Luckily I don't have to do it too long--my dad shows up with the glasses, and my brother walks the trail to get them 
from him. (we're so deep in the woods that there's no way you'd be able to just walk in and find us)

My plan--and my shot list--is to get all of the shots featuring the creatures done first so we can release them earlier than the expected 3am finish time. 

There are complications with lighting--normally you want to shoot all the shots facing each direction at once--that way you only have to move the lights a minimal number of times.

And then there are FX changes that should be happening, but we can't do them yet because I haven't shot the close ups on the person yet. I run around getting what I need on the shots. At least, hopefully. 

We try to get some cools still too--another FREE FILMMAKER TIP--get them. You need them. Stills captured from video don't look as good, so don't think you're just going to use those. Webs and magazines can tell, trust me.

The way I'm shooting--popping in and out of the scene to shoot what's needed--is very disorienting for the actors. It makes it hard for them to build up the emotions they need. Like, if we had time for a wide master then I would have done it. That way the actors play it through once, then when you ask them to jump to a specific spot then they can.

But so much FX happen during the scene that we can really only shoot about 40% of it.


Rob Tongue in the new costume he made

Much of the night is a blur. The good news is that it's relatively cool--much better than we could have hoped for. There are none of the massive insect and spider attacks. Plenty of daddy longlegs, but they're not a big deal.

At some point we let some of the monsters go. My buddy Rob Tongue stayed, along with Matt and Fred(The Midnight Clown). We got some cool stills with them whenever we had to prep FX or break for something else.

Things start running late. The main creature-guy(I'm being vague on purpose) had his mask on for a long time, and he's hot and wants a cigarette(and probably a water because he's sealed in that thing). So I try to get everything with him shot, then tell him to take a break. Shoot more stuff. Move lights. Change batteries. (Sometimes a light has run down, and I have to go find it in the darkness in order to replace the batteries)

I keep checking the time because we're past 3am now. I know we gotta finish, and we have a bunch of FX at the end, plus some gunfire. (I do practical gunfire--no matter how much work you put in on After Effects, muzzle flash and recoil just NEVER looks right).

We finish Alex's stuff and let her go. She was a trooper, We keep shooting.

Looking down at the shooting script and going:
"But it was only like 30 total shots..."

Finally I call it. It's like 4:15am. We have to truck all this shit out of the woods, and I really don't want to make multiple trips. Mike took Mark, Fred and the main creature guy out when they were done, and they haven't returned. We try to compact everything together and figure out how to get it out in one trip.

Josh is like--just keep putting bags on me. He ends up carrying like 6 bags of shit, plus some other stuff. We stack the dolly, and Matt volunteers to drag it out. Zig and I grab the rest, and we awkwardly carry it out. Mike and Fred meet us halfway and take some stuff off us.

By the time Zig and I are on the road it's like 5am. I get home, dump footage and audio, then back it up and plug in batteries--it's after 6am when I'm done.

Then to bed. 

Hard to sleep because I know I have a lot of work to do, because come Thursday the main production starts, and that's 5 days straight. (Well, one night, then 4 days in the heat and humidity)

And still have a lot of little things to do--find/organize the props, go to the woods one final time to double check the sites with how I think I'm going to shoot, try to pre-viz the shoot in my mind so I can see what I may be forgetting.

Gonna be a stressful couple of days...


The Midnight Clown says 
"No, You Can't Have An In-Focus Picture Of Me."

We left this at the site so anybody walking by would think there's been a murder in the woods.