Tag Archives: comedy
LOCKED & LOADED! Michael Legedza, Shawn Whitney, Kathryn Palmateer and Jason RIvera.
I’ve been meaning to summarize our final stages of post-production for the last several weeks and have final set aside the time to do so. When, many moons ago, I last blogged about our struggle to complete post-production, we had just hired Luke Sargent to step in and take over the role of picture editor. This was both an excellent decision – life changing, in fact – and a lesson in expectations, especially when it comes to timelines for lo-fi filmmaking.
Luke was contracted to work on the edit until the end of October. But when you only have a few days a week to work on something things take longer than expected. He had every right to step back at the end of October – when we barely had a fine cut – and expect either more money or to move on. But he stuck with us right to the end, through colour correction and sound mix. He has been an inspiration to us and a great learning resource. And incredibly supportive – in the last two weeks he picked up the master files and a BluRay master from Redlab Digital (our post-production house) – to cut a trailer for us and to burn us an exhibition screener. Incredible. Besides his commitment, his work and creative contribution have been incredible. I don’t think that any of us believe that we would have a completed film as good as it is without Luke. Many hat tips go his way.
I have to admit that I’m the kind of person who isn’t always great at planning ahead. I focus on the task at hand, work my way through it then move on to stage. As we approached the end of picture edit we knew we were going to have to colour correct the film – we lit with mostly fluorescent bulbs, for instance, which gave everyone a yellow hue. And of course we needed a sound editor and sound mixer – to get the best quality sound and to get an M&E track (music & effects – you need a separate track from the dialogue if you hope to make any foreign sales so that they can dub in the local language).
This was new territory for me. I have no experience with this aspect of the post-production process and have never dealt with a post-house. I met with one facility and they talked about giving us a great deal and coming in as executive producers in return for an equity stake in the production – then they backtracked a few days later and gave us a very large quote that was out of our budget. But, even more, we were left with a bad taste in our mouths because they had said one thing and then turned around and done another with no explanation and pretending like nothing had happened. Trust is really important to us. So, I started looking around Stage32.com – sort of a Facebook for film industry types. We’d found some crew on their for the shoot and it had worked out well. We got in contact with a few colourists and even met with a wonderful sound editor and mixer, Anne-Marie Ront. But it was clear that separating all of the elements – when none of us had experience with this stage of post – was going to be too much to deal with.
Again, Luke came to the rescue. He introduced us to Ahmad Ismail at Redlab Digital and Ahmad came through with an excellent overall quote for bespoke completion services. We decided not to try and take the movie to Telefilm and seek finishing funds. We’d already had a bad experience of submitting the unfinished film to a distributor who had been asking to see a rough cut – and then didn’t give us notes, just sent a curt email passing on the film (we were expecting advice, not a sale). Filmmakers: in case you haven’t heard this enough, never send your unfinished film to anyone, no matter how much they ask. So we decided to shoulder the extra debt and finish the film ourselves and do it in a one-stop, high quality facility. And it was well worth it – Redlab organized everything and all we had to do was show up and focus on the movie. And we worked with some excellent people: colourist Andrew Exworth, Sound editor Michael Legedza (who provided full foley and created a whole sound design for us!), and sound mixer Jason Rivera. It made it a painless process and gave us a film that was the best possible end product that it could be. There’s no doubt that helped us get into Worldfest, the Houston International Film Festival.
It’s been a long, challenging process and a steep learning curve for all of us. But we made it through and now we’re ready to embark on the next phase of this journey: festivals (yay, Houston!), sales, and a premiere screening in hometown Toronto. Stay tuned!
Oops, forgot that he was the nervous type. Next time text him you love him instead.
Lots of people have written us or asked us in person the status of A Brand New You. The short answer is that we are still in post-production. As you know, if you don’t have a lot of money you at least hope that you have time. We, of course, want to get ABNY out into the world as soon as possible – but we have to make due with compromises in the time department that means things move a little slower. C’est la vie.
To be honest, if we may be “glass half full” for a second, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Getting some distance from a story can actually strengthen your objectivity and, in the end, strengthen your ability to see the areas that need work: things that seemed obvious and clear appear murky after you’ve forgotten the connections in your head. And jokes that made you split a gut in the context of too little sleep and the frenetic energy of the set fall flat when you’re well rested and sitting down to watch it. We like to think of this as an opportunity gifted to us by necessity.
We hope to have a rough cut before the end of the year and are super-excited to see all the bits and scenes and shots assembled together into a story. We’re already thinking about some music and an IndieGoGo campaign to raise the money for things like an audio mix and a music supervisor to help us assemble the score for the film.
We’ll definitely keep you posted on all this and let you know when we have a trailer, test screenings and are preparing to launch the IndieGoGo campaign. In the meantime, we aren’t just sitting around, we’re already working on our next edgy feature comedy and we’ll keep you posted as it moves forward. We’ll also be ramping up the blog in the coming weeks to share some of the news from the world of scifi, comedy, science and filmmaking that inspires and interests us. Hope you’ll enjoy the “musical interlude”.
Who knew that 7 days in a row of filmmaking would be so exhausting? Well, it is. There is no doubt that this is a real marathon that we are running. But it’s also a sprint as we run like hell every day to try and get all of the scenes that we’ve scheduled shot with enough coverage. The good news is that we’ve “made our days” every single day but one and we made that scene up the next day. Today was no different – we got our day and finished right on time.
But, damn, I’m tired. I’m sure I’m not the only one. It’s also difficult because we’re shooting primarily inside of our house, so at the end of the day there’s still no escape from the film because the make-up and wardrobe department are in our bedroom and the camera dept’s gear is in our office. And craft services is in our kitchen. Etc. Not to mention the fact that half of our house is a dressed set. But we’re soldiering on and have no intention of stopping, come hell or high water or childcare challenges (Bea has been with her grandparents all weekend but we have to figure out childcare for Tuesday evening, when we shoot till midnight). We’ve come too far to give up now.
We’ve now shot in almost every room in the house (except for Bea’s room, which we’re trying to keep as a “sacred space” so that she doesn’t feel her whole life has been thrown up into the air). We shot in our backyard last night (and the garden got trampled badly, which breaks my heart a little bit, even though I knew that shooting a feature film in our house would lead to some damage). We’re even going to be shooting in our roommate’s bedroom. She has been very gracious about it and is staying at her sister’s place this weekend. I just realized tonight, however, that we didn’t tell her that we’re shooting a sex scene in her bed. Surprise, Lyvia!
Edsson Morales was on set today, playing the role of Phil, Santiago’s lawyer. Those scenes were shot in Spanish and he did an admirable job of speaking complex scenes in Spanish legalese with a delivery that was naturalistic and convincing. Kudos to you Edsson! Murray ran outside in his underwear and scared our neighbours as they marched in the annual parade of saints put on by the Catholic Church next door. They may not speak to us for a while – but I’m not sure if it will be out of fear or disgust. Or some combination of the two. Lord knows if they heard Murray’s potty-mouth on the set, disgust would win out.
The lab is now struck and April and Joffre rolled the main floor back in time to the arrival of our hero, Santiago, and made the place look like a total dump. It was very convincing, including leftover take out food in styrofoam containers that we’d kept in the freezer so that it wouldn’t start to stink while we waited to use them. It’s a bit surreal to move back and forth in time viz the time stream of the movie world. We shot the beginning, then the end, then the second half of the second act, then the middle of the first act, and so on. In the midst of all this we have to try and remember when we are and what has transpired in order to sustain consistent performances and even keep the characters in the right clothes.
We also did a lot of block shooting today, which means we set up our camera and lights and then shot several scenes in that location from that angle. Then we moved the camera and the lights and shot the same scenes back to back from another angle. Then we did the same thing again, for a third time. Our sound recordist, I’m sure, hated us. Every time we shifted to a new scene, she had to re-mic the actors to suit their new clothes. But it sped up the shooting and allowed us to get much more coverage than we might have otherwise. It was worth the effort.
Tomorrow morning we move the whole unit to a location for two sequences at Lula Lounge, which is being dressed to look like two places. 7 am will come early! So, it’s time to go to bed.
BY SHAWN WHITNEY
The halfway point is the hardest part of any endeavour. You’re far enough from the start that the novelty has worn off and you’re too far from the end to feel the sense of impending relief. I guess that’s why they call Wednesdays “humpday.” Today was our humpday – the halfway point through the shoot. It didn’t help that I went out drinking with the director of photography last night and didn’t get into bed until 1am. (Hey, I never said that I was smart.) It also didn’t help that today was our heaviest page count day of the whole shoot – 11 1/2 pages. On the best of days that is a heroic amount of pages to cover – for reference, feature productions regularly only shoot 4 pages or even less in a day. On humpday it’s madness. And we had some leftover pages from yesterday – a time lapse scene of our heroes assembling their cloning lab.
The thing about shooting a 12 day microbudget feature is that you live or die by getting your days. There is no room for going overtime when you don’t have the money to pay your actors overtime. And having to reassemble crew and actors for pick-up days after the fact is not something we really want to have to do given the logistical and cost associated with doing so. It means that you have to prioritize and be flexible about your coverage (the number of different angles you shoot for your scenes) and you have to prioritize which scenes will get full coverage. Today that was especially necessary if we were going to stay on schedule. So, in the morning, we shot with two cameras to get our time lapse lab construction scene – with one camera at a medium distance and the second camera with a larger lens getting close-ups that we can use as inserts during the time lapse sequence. Upstairs for a number of toilet scenes, we shot three scenes from one angle. Doing that is a bit of a risk – what if the performance is inconsistent? Or any actor flubbed their line or a shot went fuzzy at some point during a long take? Then you don’t have any other angles to cut away to in order to cover up a weakness or just to build a textured scene. On the other hand, some scenes are less important than others. A scene that acts as merely a transit between one plot point and another, is less important than a scene in which a major turning point takes place. A moment of key conflict is one where you don’t want to take as many chances that you might not have enough coverage to build a solid scene. You need to shoot from as many angles as possible, including inserts and cutaways when you can. The key is differentiating one from the other and then getting full scenes in those where we relied on one angle to carry the scene. Does it always work? Check out the outtake below to see what sometimes happens, especially in a comedy with an actor who has a background in improv.