Wednesday, December 28, 2011

random thoughts from screening

a wk ago tonight was the premiere for TBBD. i had a battery of fears going in that haunted and taunted me: screen too small, projector bulb might explode, people might walk out in droves and/or hurl tomatoes provided they showed up at all, i might spontaneously collapse and/or combust and so on ad nauseum.

after my day job ended around 5 pm I had 2 hours to kill. went to the mall and browsed. by browsed of course i mean walked around random stores and waited until the staff gave me curious looks before moving on to the next merchant. after what must have been 1/2 hour I checked my watch: i had killed a total of 7 minutes. such it is pre-screening. a mix of nervous flutter and (in this case) excitement that my sense of proportion and time goes all funny.

 arrived at venue w/ hour or so to spare. my lead actor was there so we shared a glass and talked shop. and then people began to trickle in. and then flow in. and then suddenly it was crowded and i was on stage watching myself speak. and then the movie was playing and i was in the very back leaning against the wall, excited for it all to be over. the movie ended and was met with good cheer and support. I stayed in the venue for an hour or so meeting people, saying hi, and hello and how do you do and thank you very much. 

some time later i was having a drink w/ two old friends and a friend - who was unable to attend screening - was able to meet us briefly. I felt a mix of emotion but mostly a profound sense of relief that film was over. this is not because of any lack of faith in the film or the actors or anything like it but only because the act of screening your film is not unlike (I'm just guessing here) standing naked on a stage and asking everyone to evaluate your shortcomings some of which you're deeply aware of. I'd made it through.

 my friend gigi gives her assessment of the the film/screening here

Thursday, December 15, 2011

TBBD Trailer

The Big Black Dark is narrated by portland vocal talent Andrew Feinberg. Shortly after we recorded all the narration he sent me - totally unsolicited mind you - a sound file of him narrating the trailer. I left it untouched, added a few pictures and voila, here's a teaser trailer for the movie

picture lock

great celebratory pic from editor came two nights ago. fantastic feeling but it also comes bundled w/ a whiff of melancholy for me. hard to articulate but i think something to do w/ moving from a wealth of possibilities to one final verifiable thing. years of work and research and planning and the whole bit and now it's over. a death of sorts. a million choices and considerations and decisions all made, considered, decided. ocean reduced to teacup. i'm very proud of the teacup, don't get me wrong, just lamenting this part of the process.

when these moments hit i try to keep one word on my lips: onward. first onward will be the premiere screening in less than a week. 12/21/11 Someday Lounge, Portland Oregon. By coincidence the day is the shortest, darkest, blackest day of the year. the next onward is the feature. more on that in the days ahead.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

close, close

many experiences and details of post production have occurred since i last updated this blog. I'll have to bullet-point them since memory is a fuzzy beast and time is tick-tocking.
- film transferred to digital files
-hard drive sent to editor in los angeles
-rough cut of film done in final cut pro in sept 2011
-subsequent cuts and tweaks done in avid
- hunt for composer lead across the wilderness of the internet, finally ending in ithica ny by way of eastern oregon
- cut of film revealed that one rear-projection sequence not tenable. I did only one take on set (bound as i was by limited film stock and the mistaken presumption that rear projection plates were bright enough). reshoot options discussed.
- reshoot for sequence scheduled. opted to shoot on HD even though rest of film was shot on super 16mm. this for the sake of ease on the camera front, the editorial front, the fiscal front.
-actor talked into reshoot, especially since it necessitated him shaving off his well-tended and blossoming beard
- reshoot in early november. used still photos in bg plates instead of looping HD video. seemed to work
- talked w/ great band about using some songs for film
- talked w/ old pal about doing opening titles for the movie. (the above is one possible mock-up)
- searched for venue to screen movie
- found venue to screen movie
-continued final tweaks, changes, alteration
-worked on closing titles
- now begins the countdown to 12/21/11 Someday Lounge, Portland Oregon

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

transfer complete

Monday early AM we drove up to Seattle. blissfully light traffic so we got to Lightpress w/ 20 min to spare. went back to one of the suites, discussed some particulars then went reel by reel, or rather, roll by roll, identifying issues and concerns and ideas. was awesome to see the film, albeit on a smaller screen.

Matt Sipes and Todd Tschida in truck
took about 2 hrs to get thru 7 rolls. we then moved into a room w/ a large screen and got to see the footage up close and personal. (below are shots from DP's iphone). got out of there in early afternoon and went to union station. DP went on to Bellingham, I took Amtrak back to portland

Christine Calfas, mid-martini

Thursday, July 7, 2011

film processed!

film developed and processed at alphacine and now residing at letterpress. DP and I going up on monday to supervise the transfer. stay tuned

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

smooth landing

film en route to processing

by sheer coincidence my editor was in town for a couple days and is driving to vancouver BC on I-5 which will take her right thru/past seattle and by alphacine and due to her good-nature (as well as her probable need to stop for a coffee re-up in seattle) she was willing to drop the film off. This is also perfect since she'll be guiding the film through post, who better to literally bring it to post.

Monday, June 27, 2011

pictures from production - TBBD

the westerner inn, interstate ave, portland ore

Matt Sipes, The Man

Matt Sipes, Todd Tschida, Edward Davee looks on

Laying tracks for dolly move

craft service, day 5

director en route to setting up shot

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

production wrap - The Big Black Dark

finished shooting TBBD last night. I had hoped to be better at updating all the steps of the process, from the script to the storyboards to the pre-planning to the shooting and all stations in between but time is a precious commodity when you get into the zone and literally i had zero time to do anything beyond make the movie. which is to say it gets all whirlwind-y and there's no ability for context much less commentary. so then here, post shoot, are some generalization from across the shoot.

birds-eye view: things went exceedingly well. i did some new things on this one, including but not limited to shooting on super 16, using rear-projection, using a jib arm, acting, super long takes. b/c we shot on film (ie, $) i was hyper-concious about how much film we had left and so nearly everything was done in one or two takes. w/ one big exception (jib arm shot #2).

random data: 5 shoot days (2 night, 3 day) spread across 6 days, Thurs-Tues w/ an off-day Mon. we shot in a bar, in a hotel, in a garage, in my basement, wooded property etc. we shot on 7 400 ft rolls of kodak b/w single perf 7222, a total of 2800 ft of exposed film. 7 speaking parts.

things to remember for next time: do tech scout w/ sound for all restaurant/bar locations; rehearse everyone, ie don't presume b/c someone is great that they get what you're going for; don't scrimp or be lax on craft service/food etc; hire a script supervisor and/or AD and, as a corollary, don't print out only one copy of a shot list and then freak out if it goes missing; if using jib and shot starts high and ends low be sure to get a remote camera device so operator can start camera high instead of starting low, running film while jib is raised and then lowered b/c you will run through an entire mag in 10 takes and eventually you'll have to just walk away and hope you got something close; if you have a late night shooting push back the next day's call as long as possible

Monday, February 14, 2011

pictures from production - My Beer With Bill

Jacob Morehead

mike tanner

jacob morehead & mike tanner

lanie hoyo & jacob morehead

above are 4 screen-grabs from the footage, shot by scott ballard

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

shoot 1.22.11

actor came over at 4 to do voice-over, which starts the movie. he nailed it on the first take. we did it again for safety's sake but it was moot. around 5 dp arrived. we got into my car and drove across the river. we needed shots of actor on the max train - for the beginning and end of movie - but i had planned nothing out per se, going to steal the shots as it were so i felt quite at the mercy of fate. the three of us walked onto train, dp w/ hd camera w/ 35 mm adapter on it, and did our best to look inconspicuous. transfered lines and ended up downtown. we walked back to car and stole walking shots where we could, some from across the street, parallel w/ actor as he walked. by coincidence we went right by a series of food carts (the script has mention of downtown food carts in a - one hopes - amusing way) which fit right w/ script. only thing we needed was a shot of actor entering bar. decided spur-of-moment to get him descending down staircase into a restaurant/bar. several takes of that as dp had to do his own rack-focus...then across the river, to a vintage store in portland. they have great lamps that they leave on when store is closed and i'd hoped to get shot of actor crossing in front, but alas the store, though closed, still had all overhead lights on, which nullified any visual value. we got a shot off but i prob. won't use. we were just getting back into car when i saw a great neon COCKTAIL sign w/ a martini glass so we got a quick shot of actor walking under it.

back home for last scene. other actor arrived as did camera help. camera dept lit the living room while i ran the scene w/ actors. didn't want to give too many notes or over-direct. finally started shooting. i'd planned to do it all in one shot but decided on set to do a close master and two singles. got what i needed quickly and wrapped.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

shoot 1.17.11

shot yesterday at the blue monkon SE belmont. rehearsed the afternoon before at home w/ both actors, one of whom had just stepped off a plane. the shoot went pretty well i think but some issues popped up. we shot in the downstairs part of the bar which happens to be directly under a bar next door (if you follow that)
and right in the middle of a long two-shot we started to hear pounding and rumbling sounds. turned out to be people drinking early and shooting pool. i had met w/ dp at blue monk previous friday but - since it was night and there people about and a small band onstage - this never occurred to me. i won't say it ruined takes but more than once the sound threw/distracted one of the actors so much so that he lost his lines. the refrigerator kept cycling too. quite loud...

there were two big issues, both of which were solely my responsibility 1) i hadn't fully worked out the visual approach. b/c it's such a talky scene (18 pages of talking!) i didn't want to cover the whole scene in a two-shot and run the actors down, so there were parts i did in two-shot and parts i did in singles. however this kind of disrupted the flow of what's meant to be a continued, real-time conversation. this left me uncertain about the visuals as the camera started rolling and i ended up altering a series of shots on-set, which in turn erased a great technical idea the dp had. 2) had trouble getting the exact pattern/rhythm i wanted in a long speech. the actor was mostly doing everything right, based off what i told and was telling him but it was still not hitting the beats i heard in my head. i think we ran that speech more takes than anything else and I think i finally got it but i should have worked on it longer in the previous day's rehearsal. i should have stayed on it then, not waited until the day of the shoot.

second half of shoot is this coming saturday. walking shots, train shots, and one final scene between husband and wife.

Monday, January 10, 2011

approaching destination

shooting first part one week from today. one actor flying in from SLC. landing sunday AM. rehearse w/ him and other actor Sunday PM. Start shooting the next AM. Accelerated schedule will either be a boon or an obstacle. TBD. Meeting w/ DP at location on Wed PM to go over shooting approach. I haven't storyboarded anything yet but there's very little to storyboard since it's a 18 min conversation. We can do a master, we can do two singles and that's about it. hoping to refine my approach in the coming days. I am sometimes nervous and jittery, sometimes calm and ready.