Posted tagged ‘Production Simulation’

Filming Skin Deep: Day 1

February 12, 2009

Today was the first day of filming Skin Deep for our production class.

We definitely have an all-star team. With Steve Marshall producing, Matt Salisbury and Patrick as the writing team, Michelle Cowdrey as gaffer, Josh Maas as cinematographer, and Brian Olson as our sound and editing supervisor, I couldn’t ask for a better-qualified group of students around me.

But there was a lot of pressure going in; there are some big Hollywood names interested in helping us promote the project if they think the final version turns out well. So people are really relying on me, as the director, to make it the best it can be. The problem was that we were not ready last night. Our actors arrived from far and wide, we had a script read through, we discussed shots, schedules, and plan-B’s. But there was still so much to do. Not all the props were accounted for. Not all the extras were accounted for. We didn’t know how everyone was going to get to the location. And on top of it all, we were unable to convince our professor to let us skip the midterm because of filming. I went to bed stressed and worried. I had discussed the issue of maintaining people’s high spirits on set, and he told me that that was up to me; he would be so worried about everything else that could be going wrong.

This morning we woke up at 7AM. 5 cars of people moved to our location. Half an hour late arriving, but otherwise flawless. The only cloud in the sky was the fact that is was raining. Hard. And that put a damper on our plans for later, which involved an outdoor cafeteria scene. But first things first, we filmed our morning indoor scene. Running a half-hour late, we did not have time to film the second scheduled scene before class time.

So we had lunch, we had our excellent set dressers put together the set, and we made some adjustments to the schedule. Then we went to class.

After class, we went to film the outdoor cafeteria scenes. It had stopped raining, and we were cutting corners left and right to get rolling. But we ran out of daylight way too fast. Right before we rolled camera, the producer and A.D. stopped me and said it was too dark. We would have to go with plan B.

After that, though, the day went perfectly. We filmed 2 scenes in the school hallway, the library scene, and the scene we had missed this morning. We even had a pizza dinner to top it off.

But now I have a headache. I think we all do. And we spent so much time preparing for today’s shoot, that we don’t have nearly as much done in preparation for tomorrow’s. We were all too tired to even go over dailies. And I am worried that we may be out of camera battery power. More and more things could go wrong. More weather problems, more time taken because we didn’t finish our call sheets…

I believe I should go to bed. I have to wake up at 7AM again in the morning. And I think I might be dealing with a grumpier crew tomorrow. I will let you know how it goes.


Production Simulation

February 5, 2009

What better way for a film student to start the New Year, the new quarter, than to make a film? And not just a film, a web series: the forefront of new media.

This quarter we have our production simulation class. We had one a year ago, but we were still very inexperienced and uneducated, and all we really learned is that we were terrible filmmakers. This time is different. Since a year ago, we have taken advanced editing and production classes. We have taken multiple directing courses. And we have each made several short films. (And many mistakes to learn from, as well.)

The concept of the Production Simulation course is a brilliant idea for a film school. Our two top film professors form the “studio”. The sophomore and junior classes combine and are split into three teams. Each team will have the 8-week quarter to make a short film.

My team got started early. About Thanksgiving time, we were given a heads up about this course. So Steve Marshall quickly teamed up with writing team Matt Salisbury and Patrick Lyon. Steve is one of the top student producers at the school, and the writing team, working closely with our screenwriting professor Chris Riley, was able to write a mini-series over Christmas.

Right before Christmas, I talked with Steve, and he asked me to direct the episodes. I was honored.

The final rewrites are just being completed. This week all three teams are completing casting and moving into the final stages of preproduction. Our team’s project is called Skin Deep. It will be four 5-minute Webisodes, about a high school nerd who took on a lifeguarding job over the summer, and comes back to school ripped. The story is about love vs. lust, and the characters that learn the lessons.

This quarter is going to be just the hands-on experience we need to apply all we have been learning. And we fully plan on taking it to the next level with advanced marketing campaigns and promotion. Look forward to it!


February 5, 2009

The production simulation is going ahead full steam. We are maybe a day or two behind schedule, as far as where we want to be in the preproduction phase goes, but nothing too bad.

Last week we had our casting calls. Three people auditioned over YouTube, and they got the parts. One actress is even willing to fly herself out here from Texas, pay all her own expenses, and repeat the process if necessary, even though she knows she will not be paid for this!

But the most interesting casting was for the lead role. The description called for a young man to play the high-school student with the body of a Greek god; the man all the girls want, but who still has the heart of a comic-book nerd. We had offers from several middle-aged men, some stringy gothic fellows, and other… interesting characters. But we had three live auditions last Saturday. After much discussion, watching the recordings again, and weighing the pros and cons, we were at a standstill between two options. Kevin is a student here: he is a great actor, and takes direction really well. But he looks more like a quarterback, or jock type. Josh is a local Abercrombie model. He does have the body of a Greek God, and the wardrobe and face to match his tanned muscles. But he cannot act. Which was more important for this character? We took it to the ‘studio’, who easily chose Kevin. Kevin was enthusiastic, and I believe he will be great in the role.

The next day, I went with the producer and cinematographer to scout out a school location for our film’s high school. We found a great one, and they are letting us film there on weekends. But the cafeteria will not work, so that will have to be somewhere else…

Team 1 started filming today. (We are team 3). I saw their set. It looks very professional. And they seem to have everything well under control.

We need to start jumping the gun a little more…

I have the shot lists almost completed. Steve has finished production boards. All the rewrites are done. We are casted and almost scheduled. When things are finalized with location and schedule, I will start storyboarding and planning with the cinematographer and sound guy. Filming should begin in a week.