*Artwork by Justin Gammon – pretty much sums up how I’m feeling at the mo’.
(Production Designer Penelope Davis does last minute touch up for actress Joanne Robertson as fellow actor Parker Anderson unleashes his charisma at the camera.)
Joanne Robertson, star of many, many productions at Prescott Center for the Arts, wrote us this note, fresh from shooting her scene as news anchor Melissa Blonde in “Dead Votes Society.”
“So what did I do today? Got to watch a team of very talented filmmakers doing what they love to do. Got to be directed by Angie and Andrew, who really get this acting stuff.
Got to hang out with Parker Anderson who was the source of continuous laughs. Got to know some really cool people like Penelope the production designer and latent actor (ha ha.) Got to hang out with some long-time friends like Arnold who I really respect. From beginning to end, a top-notch, professional and VERY fun time.
Thanks you guys for the GREAT day! Break-a-leg on the remainder of the shooting… Can’t wait to see the movie. It’s gonna be great!!!”
Don’t forget, if you’d like to be an extra in the climatic last scene of
Dead Votes Society” on Sunday, October 28th, just send an email to email@example.com.
(Fine Print) Sorry, no one under 18 years old. Must be available from 8am to 6pm on that day. This is a volunteer position. We will, however, feed you and give you screen credit on the film and IMDB!
Sean Jeralds (that’s him in the black turtleneck) has performed in a lot of comedies over the years in Prescott, AZ. Besides many farces at Prescott Center for the Arts, he was a cast member in the last Coyote Radio Theater group on KJZA.
So it was especially fun to have him on this shoot – an adaptation of a CRT sketch – playing a completely silent cameo as “Nervous Guy #1.”
Here’s Sean’s reaction to a day spent shooting and re-shooting 6 shots of scary comedy.
“WOW! What a competent, professional, well-planned and executed film shoot – that’s what it was like working with the team Angie and Andrew put together for filming of DVS. No detail was overlooked; from the catering to costuming, everything was dialed. I’m not sure what I liked most about the day, but my choices are 1) getting “glycerined up” by Penelope, 2) being drooled on by Cason, or 3) Watching Tiffany trying to keep a straight face. It was a great time and I can’t wait to see the finished product. Break-a-leg Team DVS!”
Awww, shucks! (repeatedly stabbing right toe into the carpet) What a great cast and crew we have on this film!
We wrapped up our first shooting day around 6 p.m. on Sunday. And yes, it was AWESOME! And a lot of work. But mostly it was so much fun that the work didn’t seem like work.
Penelope Davis, our production designer, did an incredible job with the make up for both the zombies and the “normies.” Even with a knee injury, Tiffany Antone had a great attitude and played a terrific “straight woman” to Cason Murphy’s zombie. And yeah, it was great to have former Coyote Radio Theater member Sean Jerald play the extremely nervous (and sweaty!!!) zombie interpretor.
Other than a great cast and a kick ass zombie “look,” what made the shoot successful was a crew that figured out how to work well together super fast. Truly, a great group of peeps for the crew. And I know we’ll only get even better as we move through the next three shooting dates. I DO believe in zombies!
On Sunday, October 28th, 2012, the comic movie “Dead Votes Society” will be shooting its last scene on Prescott, AZ’s historic Courthouse Square.
We are looking for extras to be in this scene. We are looking for all ages and body types, both men and women. We are casting for the following characters:
- Press Photographers
- TV News Camera Operators
- Tourists visiting Arizona
- Militia Members
- Secret Service Agents
ALL PARTS ARE UNPAID PERFORMANCES. We will provide food during shooting and, oh yes, it is a chance to see yourself on the Big Screen in a real, live movie.
If you would like to know more, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Extra” in the subject line. Our producer, or one of her staff, will contact you to answer your questions.
One of the awesome things about making an indie movie is getting the chance to do some “inside” jokes and references. Dead Votes Society is adapted from a Coyote Radio Theater script written several years ago, but now is our chance to give some of those fab voice actors a chance for some screen time. And the really funny thing? They don’t actually have any lines. It’s one of those details that pretty much nobody but the writers and some hardcore CRT fans with great memories will recognize, but it makes me giggle. A lot.
Then there are the little things that make sense to us, but probably won’t mean anything to the average viewer when all is said and done. But you know what? If you’re gonna go to all the trouble of making a movie, you might as well throw in a few things just ’cause you wanna.
Another perk? Getting to play with fake blood! Andrew decided that he really, really needed to see if Ben Nye’s Stage Blood truly has a “zesty mint” flavor. He pronounced it “pleasant, but not too strong,” while Art Director/Production Designer Penelope Davis gave it the thumbs up for color and consistency. Our actors can rest easy. Our SFX blood is officially director tested and Production Designer approved.
As we prepare for “Dead Votes Society”s October principal photography, I’m thinking about rehearsals and how to help our actors get ready.
Just today, it occurred to me that while most of them have acted for years with Prescott Center for the Arts, Blue Rose Theatre or other organizations, most of them haven’t done much film work.
One thing we’ll need to work on is this: most films are shot out of sequence. It can be a little strange for an actor who’s used to “starting at the beginning and continuing to the end” on the stage – but film is a different kind of theatre.
Since film has a moving viewpoint, the camera and tripod have to be picked up and moved each time the shot is from a new viewpoint. And, the lights have to change too, so the set is let for that viewpoint. Unless you light it for every viewpoint like a sitcom but . . . brr . . . let’s not think too much about what that would look like.
So, we have to move the camera. Which takes time. Many new film actors may not realize just how “hurry up and wait” a film set can be. You’re ready to move on to the next emotion or the follow up double-take to the joke you just made when . . . “Hold for airplane!” Or, “Can someone tape that cuculoris down? The wind is making the shadow move?” “Who’s got an extra C47?” And that acting moment is on hold.
To minimize the down time and to get through the shoot faster (time is still, sadly, money), the director and the DP will make a shot list and then group the shots by where the camera is shooting from.
So, for example, scene two in DVS has 8 shots. Half of them are a straight ahead “two shots” – meaning its just like a regular news broadcast, a shot of two people sitting behind a news desk.
Since half of the shots are from this angle, we shoot each of them and THEN move the camera and re-do the lighting for the next group of shots. That means the actors will perform minutes 1 thru 2 of the finished scene. Then we stop. Re-slate and they perform minutes 4 thru 6. After we move the camera and re-light the stage, then we get to minute 3 and so on.
It takes some getting used to. But its the only way to shoot a nine minute movie in “just” four days.
It’s commonly held that a good movie starts with a good script. Seriously, without a good story to tell, why bother, right? The script is what inspires faith in a project. Without that faith, it’s mighty tough to keep finding new ways to approach the plethora of challenges are are bound to come up.
But just having faith ain’t gonna get ‘er done – you need a shovel, too. Okay, mostly it’s a metaphorical shovel, but it still boils down to laying the groundwork and thinking ahead. Otherwise you end up with an awesome script and a crappy movie.
Basically that means more than an hour or two spent on the most convenient flat surface available – a kitchen table, desk, etc. – working out all the details. That may not sound like fun, but if you believe in the project (and I do!!!), then all that shovel work turns out to be (almost) as cool as shooting the movie. Oh, and besides that metaphorical shovel? Lots o’ coffee is a big plus, too…
*Andrew Johnson-Schmit working on the shot list.
Whoa! Auditions are almost upon us and we’re hip deep in prep work. I’ve done more things for the very first time in the past few weeks than I’ve done in years. And y’know what? It’s AWESOME!
The hubster (Andrew) and I spent the weekend writing lists, revising the shooting script and breakdown sheets, making phone calls, and sending a ton of text messages and Facebook messages off to various peeps. It’s awesome to get back in touch with people we haven’t worked with in years (Matt Jackson), people we’ve worked with on Tsunami (Penelope Davis, Sean Souva), folks we’ve known for years but have never worked with (Jerry Chinn), and some people we don’t really know well, but are excited to get to know.
We’re still making plenty of picky decisions (of the “blue…no, green!” variety), but at the end of each day we’re a little closer to actual production. At the mo’, I’m just enjoying the process. Yeah, even the heart attack freak outs…but now it’s time to get the notes ready for Friday’s auditions. Those notes aren’t gonna write themselves!
In the beginning was The Script. And behold, it was Pretty Good. And so, the writers stayed up late and made The Script into The Shooting Script. Which wasn’t so hard, in that it meant (primarily) that each scene got numbered and that we put Continued at the top and bottom of script pages that actually, you know, continued. But it also meant we had some ‘splaining to do. Scenes that were “you know, then stuff happens” had to start getting a little clearer in terms of what we see and in what order.
But, The Shooting Script came to an end and now it was time for “The Breakdown Sheet.” And so it was another late night.
The Breakdown Sheet is a way to get more specific about a scene. Who’s in it? What costumes do they wear? Are there special effects? A pretty straight forward list of what needs to be on this stage to make movie magic possible.
But, it also calls for a shot list at the bottom of the sheet. And that is where you’ve got to get real about the cinema grammar you are using. How do we go from here to there? How do we show this and how do we achieve this effect with the audience? Start close in? Go wide for The Spielberg Reaction Shot Homage? How wide? That is what we’ve been doing late tonight. Not done yet, but Angie and I understand better what we’ll be asking of our cinematographer on Day One of Principal Photography for The Dead Votes Society.
Can’t wait to see it. Actually, can’t wait to sleep. But THEN…can’t wait to see it.