Sunday night, Angie (Madame Producer) and I (Herr Director) met with our good friend Matt Jackson (musician/composer/sound engineer) and went over the rough cut of “Dead Votes Society.”
This was the first time Angie had seen my rough cut of the short. As you may remember, she’s doing her own cut, so we can compare and come up with a version that uses the best from both of our approaches. And doesn’t lead to fist fights in the editing bay.
It was also the first time Matt had seen the rough cut. In fact, its the first time the three of us have worked together since the days of Coyote Radio Theater on KJZA. We’d had a great time doing that, we respect the man and knew he worked in a simular comedic vein to Christian, Angie and I.
Earlier in the process, Matt and I had talked about how we’d like to approach the project. We decided he would write and create the music, and oversee the post-production sound at his studio. Premiere Pro 6 and Pro Tools 9 HD would be the software of choice.
First, we watched the 10:40 rough cut just for fun and to see when the laughs were coming in at this point. Thankfully, there were some. (Hey, after all this editing, its difficult sometimes to remember where it is funny.)
Then, we watched it a second time and took notes. We agreed its easier to adjust the length of the music, so Matt is going to rough out the music cues while we still are futzing around with the editing. We came up with some musical ideas for Matt to explore.
We talked about how to solve the unwanted background sounds on the Square (more on that later).
I love working with talented people. More importantly, people who I enjoy hanging with, just as much as I respect their work. Feeling a great 2nd wind coming on!
Perhaps you are beginning to tire of our endless posts about editing in Premiere Pro (CS6)? Don’t blame ya. Felt that way Day Three myself.
And yet . . . as Benny Hill would say, “Learning . . . Always Learning.” Today, I have rough-cut footage for the whole piece running at 8 minutes. Slowly, I nip and tuck at the transitions, a frame away here, a frame away there. I see friends and feel like we spent the whole night together but it was just their image scampering around the editing screen, “Back and To The Left . . . Back and To The Left!” I re-did the last 5 seconds tonight, totally changing the rhythm. Fascinating.
I find myself getting giddy when I learn a new shortcut – currently Grave Key is my favorite. What’s yours?
I start to look at the material, the look and feel of the piece differently. My god, there’s so many ways to approach the flow with these. And that’s before we smooth out the audio and make soundtrack music. Its overwhelming, in a good way.
And, may I say, God bless the Cut-Away Shot! Young film makers, you cannot have too many of them. Seriously, they are miracles of coverage and will save your butt. ‘Course, as the older, wiser Spielberg would even admit, you don’t HAVE to use them all in the final picture. But, they are golden for getting you out of situations like a nightmarish repeated jump cut dead end.
So, the battle rages on. We are winning. Matt Jackson will start writing the soundtrack around December 4th and this is all very exciting. Viva los Zombies!
*AZ legislature candidate Blaine Walpole, portrayed by the hilarious Kevin Goss. Photo by Denise Elfenbein.
Principal Photography for “Dead Votes Society” wrapped yesterday afternoon as DP Forrest Sandefer raced against the dying sunlight to catch the last shot of the day.
It has been a hell of a project so far and it was a hell of a day to get it all done. 18 set ups in 7 hours.
There are waaaay too many people who gave so much of their time, effort and amazing abilities to give them all the credit they are due this hot minute. Over 60 people crowded the north steps of Prescott’s historic Courthouse, where politicians from Goldwater thru McCain have played out their political drama. On Sunday, October 28, 2012, we played out our satire of the same high drama
I will say that the cast, Judy Stahl, Dino Palazzi, Kevin Goss, Jody Drake and our herds of extras went above and beyond with their focus, their flexibility and comic characterizations while working in such a public place.
The crew was astounding – from Max Kornhauser’s creative and tireless fight choreography to Forrest‘s on the fly lighting and re-lighting of the shots to pull them off, Chad Castigliano and Matt Montgomery and Deb Gallegos racing from one side of the set to the other getting scrims and lights swung ’round, Cindy Nichols running up and down ladders and keeping the clapboard clacking on time, Penelope Davis – ladies and gentlemen, the amazing Penelope Davis and her crew (Chelsea Stone, Sylvia Boyer, Jasmine Castigliano, Dori Mion, Ginney Bilbray, Andrew Pigeon, Susan Crutcher and Debra Klein Duncan) who turned out such amazing make up designs for our zombies and “normies” with such incredible speed, Phil Hammon and his crew – Nick Stecki and Jerod MacDonald-Evoy – dealing with an ENDLESS stream of motorcycle choppers, dogs and yes, at one point a freaking wandering saxophone player, Cynthia Kitts Sobo keeping the shoot flowing with her assistants Terri New and Kay Pifer, all three of our extra Wranglers – Dan Seaman, Coralie Cole and Cole Lahti for organizing and leading their herds of people through shot after shot, and finally our stalwart, Sean Souva who not only detailed the script continuity with a meticulous eye but came early, stayed late and worked his ass off.
Truly, without our hardworking cast and crew, Angie and I would still be sitting around the breakfast table going, “You know what would be cool?” “What?” “We could make a movie!” “That would be cool!””Yeah.” “What’s on television?”
Thank you all and it’s off to post-production. Viva los Zombies!
Two weeks ago, Carie Hughes (lying down in the picture to the left) portrayed the hapless Poll Worker charged with teaching zombies how to use a voting booth modified for their special needs. Needless to say, it didn’t end well. But, in terms of our shoot, it went awesome, with Carie turning in a great comic turn. Here’s her take on what it was like on the set:
“WOW! What an Amazing day, at the day of the shoot as the poll worker. This was my first time acting in a movie and I wasn’t sure what to expect or how it all worked, but once I arrived and got to make-up then costume I was ready for more. I so enjoyed watching the crew prepare and set up for each shoot. I was so impressed how well they worked as a TEAM.
When it was time for the Director to direct us to his visual of the scene I was so Excited I could hardly contain myself. I loved hearing “Rolling!” then “ACTION!” Each take I got more into it and wanted to give my very best. Working with the 2 Zombies was so cool make-up can make them be so Real.
My final scene was a great test for me on my patience. Laying on the concrete floor for a period of time with blood, guts and other special props was so Intense! The time and preparation for this one shoot was long but fun. I have to admit I loved having all the attention on me, I truly felt like a star:) For the last take it got really messy, but I mentally prepared myself to keep on acting even though I knew what was coming. Once the blood started to shoot everywhere I tried to stay in character. I was thrilled to hear Andrew yell Cut! I couldn’t see a thing but from all the laughter I knew it must have been a keeper:)
I had so much fun and laughed so much- I look forward to the next… I totally have a new outlook and appreciation for the filming Directors and Actors.”
Tuesday night on the wonderful patio of El Gato Azul, over a fantastic spread of brews and tapas, the core of our Tech Crew for DVS met for the first time. This would be the Camera Department, the Production Sound Department, the Grip/Electrical Department, the Producer and the Director.
Besides making each other’s acquaintance, we decided on our work flow for the sound (the mic to hard drive course the sound signal will take). And planned a test shot prior to the first day of principal photography, to make sure all these fancy plans will work out when we have actors doing actor-ly things in front of both departments.
Its a pretty solid crew and they give me a lot of confidence. Here’s the roll call:
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.