Sunday, July 3, 2016

How I Made a Movie: Part 4 of ? - I've never said I'm NOT ambitious



Previously on Part 3...

Shooting went somewhat smoothly for our first day
I had to take charge as a director, but I also had to listen to my crew
Now, I had the confidence or the foolishness to shoot a big, big scene...

If you play Mugging: The Show, at time 3:13, you can see the beginning of the audition scene. In my head, I knew it would be a quick-edited scene and be a little crazy. But I had no idea what the process would actually be like. Production-wise and process-wise, I had to figure it out on the fly.

We put out a casting call for a mugger on Backstage. This served two purposes. We were hoping to find someone for the final scene but also use the audition as an improved scene using most, if not all, of the people who auditioned. The improv would become the scene that made the final cut.

I was basically unsure of every factor involved in this shoot.
- would the actors be okay with us filming?
- would the improv work?
- would the cameras give us the right footage?
- what about sound in a very enclosed area?
- would we able to hide under the cameras?
- what if we didn't find a mugger?

It was nerve-wracking to say the least and I wasn't even thinking of the normal factors involved in shooting like cinematography, lighting, and cast performance. We had no script and 90% of the used footage, with the exception of the beginning and Randall's audition, was improvised.

Surprisingly, the day was my favorite of the entire shoot. We were having a TON of fun. Everyone who came to the audition was willing to participate and each of them brought something different to the scene. With every audition, all I could think of was 'this is gonna look great!' Because every audition was a different improv, we (the cast) was very much getting into the groove of improvising to the point of doing it for standalone reasons.

So, it was onto the next day of shooting which posed its own set of problems. There was a large span of time between shoots and winter came on stroooooong. We were scheduled for one full day of shooting near Riverside Park. Afterwards, we would wait until nightfall and then shoot the mugging scene in the park. But we didn't foresee how bad the winter weather would be. The daytime scene was extremely uncomfortable for everyone involved and no one thought the nighttime shoot was possible as the temperature was expected to drop even more dramatically.

We called it off and decided to wait for another day.

Unfortunately, the temperature did not let up and when I looked at the footage we did have from that day, it was unusable. Everyone was in thick coats, rubbing their hands, shaking. It didn't look good and we essentially wasted an entire day. It took a huge toll on my morale and worse still, we would have to wait until the weather got warmer before we could even think about shooting. That meant waiting until Spring, which would take months.

To not completely drop all my momentum, I decided to edit the audition footage we had recently shot, the majority of which stayed as the final. It was the one thing I could really hold onto while I waited for the warmer weather.

MONTHS LATER...
We finally shot the last two scenes easily with one large exception. I didn't realize how heavily the change in daylight affected footage. Just an hour made a huge difference (and an hour goes by REALLY quick). If I were to do it all over again, I would start shooting once the sun went down, rather when it started going down.

It was here when I learned another thing about filmmaking (a lesson I've learned about writing, drawing, and acting so it was only natural I'd learn it here as well) - lose your ego.

There was a scene I had written that both my actors thought were something else. The beginning of act three originally had a scene where, in part of the pumping up of Daris, he smacked him for motivation. I had written it as one of those standard scenes where a trainer is giving the trainee a good motivational talk and then slaps him for motivation. BUT, both the actors thought it was a spanking scene similar to when athletes smack each other on the butt. That also made sense and I thought it was funnier. I had zero hesitation in realizing that what the actors thought the scene was was a funnier representation of my written scene. So we shot it with that scene in place.

Unfortunately, because I hadn't storyboarded that specific scene, I totally forgot a key aspect, which was having the camera on our principal actor. Despite our best efforts, in the editing room, the entire scene was cut.

After a long night of shooting, WE WERE FINISHED.

It was amazing to know we were done filming but it dawned on me that the next step would be one I would take by myself. I'd have to edit all the footage we shot into a 9-12 minute short. How the hell was I going to do that?

Looks like that's a story for another blog post....