He Who Watches Day One + Day Two Production:
Making a film sounds more fun in theory than it can be in reality, but I will say I was surprised with the flow of this particular little project. The production went super smooth, actors showed up ready to go, and aside from very freezing weather outside (pretty sure my legs were numb ice stick popsicle thingies by the time I reached warm air many hours later), I did have more fun than troubles. I operated the boom mic/zoom and ran the cam on some of the bridge scene (as I call the ‘mind death’ scene that randomly stepped out of my mind, saying “HEY DO THIS!” one night). Plus, there were some indoor fun or experimental angles. I really felt like I could go with anything that usually felt more risky for this. I got to explore the glory of shooting for slo-mo several times. There is no cold wind, freezing lake that required slippery climbing to, large scary groupings of ducks, nor bed that would get in our way that weekend. Even the few issues we had with our sound recording, I have to admit I needed to pinch myself a few times because of -how- on schedule things were over all! 🙂
Day One included shooting outdoors. This was going to be the shorter, but rougher day because it happened to also be the COLDEST day of the year the one day we planned to shoot those scenes. Already scheduled, we decided to bundle up and try to make it as comfortable as possible. The first major scene we needed to tackle involved our two main actors, Sarah and Eric (and his awesome son PA’ed for us, always nice to have someone just in case you need something on the fly!) We had a bit of a bump trying to find the right location. The first location we had in mind we decided to nix upon arrival. Luckily, we pulled together and decided to check out the local Broad Ripple park in the case that we could find somewhere suitable to use. We pulled up to the park, and what do you know! There is a perfect little abandoned bench just sitting out by the water and dead trees. It was way too perfect for us! We lugged equipment and trudged in the cold to set up and get going on the first scene of the day.
Hilariously, we noticed this jogger warm-up bar which Eric put to good use trying to get blood flow going in the icy winds. The zoom/boom gave us a lil issue over here, but overall we managed to be rid of most annoyances like kids n dogs n people. The few times it did interrupt, our actors graciously backed up a bit and re-did the scene. We got some amazing sunlight which made lighting a breeze (pun intended!) since we wanted natural here. After we completed this scene, we numbly scurried back towards the car and proceeded to push our faces on the heating vents until we could officially feel our faces again. We drove over to the secondary location, and despite it looking pretty gloomy far as not being totally ideal, we talked over a game plan and kept our actors warm as we could in the car. In the mean time, our awesome PA and AD ran over to a nearby cafe and grabbed a bunch of hot chocolate to warm us up, too. Pocket warmers also came in handy, but I think we all would have loved it if they were body sized and would cocoon us like a jacket! I like that here is when the less experienced might suffer total panic and meltdowns, yet somehow everyone kept up their spirits enough to continue onward and not storm off set!
Thankfully, we’re quite accustomed to the push and pull of production. You have to know when to push for something and when to give in and work with what you can. Nothing is ever as perfect as you see it in your head. I knew for sure given certain scenes, I’d spend ages and hours past what we should have to get them just right. One particular shot of a scene involved multiple polaroid pictures flying over this bridge and into the water. I wanted LOTS. Haha, however reality came down to accepting what was possible and not. I wish we could have spent more time on this scene in hindsight, but it was near the end and we couldn’t feel our fingers anymore. The wind was another issue, but not entirely as I think it made them float a little further than it might have otherwise. It’s just, I wanted at least 50 fluttering down very slowly, and reality was maybe 5 or 6 and you really only see 2-3 super well. 🙁 Oh well! You know?? You have to let it go sometimes. I’d had this scene in my mind for quite some time, calling back to my college days when I was brewing up ideas for my capstone. I didn’t know where this shot would make it’s debut precisely, I just knew I had to do it sometime in a fitting film 🙂 It’s one thing to write for a film, but I have to admit it’s an amazing feeling to see one in particular find it’s “home” as I might say…perhaps it’ll never be as epic of I saw it in my mind, and that’s okay. It still lives where it was made! 🙂
This second scene location for the Bridge Scene…Did I mention we happened to pick the one Saturday that Broad Ripple was having some holiday fest by the fire station (which was somewhat nearby the Bench Scene and definitely next to the Bridge Scene)!? Oh boy. We had traffic, by foot and car, horses and carriages, lots of strollers, blasting holiday music and ornaments on nearby trees?! To top that off, the lake was FILLED and I do mean filled to the brim with ducks. Ducks everywhere! They were noisy and splashy and curious little things trying to come up and investigate Eric or the camera.
Crowds be damned, we carved out a path to go ahead with the scenes. Hilariousness ensued when we had people trying to run by with giant kiddie strollers or would just wander right in like oblivious to the fact that there was a crew of people trying to film something. Surely they would go to the other side of the sidewalk right? NOPE! But, all in all, after we turned into living popsicles, we managed to get through it. Now, when it comes to horror – or in our case, psychological thriller horror – you know you get to have a bit of fun far as angles, movement, etc. I can’t say I know for sure how the bridge scene would eventually come together, but Sarah did a fantastic job of giving us a variety of posing, emotions, and movements. One of which is spectacular!! A slo-mo of her slowly sinking to the ground, with her hair whooshing slowly from one side and down, down til she reaches the ground and crumples up. Has to be one of my fav progressive shots to cut later. I think we clearly were thinking like editors the whole way through best we could – so that we made sure to get every shot possible to have nice variations and spooky or jarring shots too.
Day Two included shooting indoors. At my apartment, which was so weird to do!! I just know when I see my bed onscreen every time I’m going to giggle a bit like whoah, that location is mine. It’s just a weird thing ya know? Much much MUCH longer day than the one before, but we really wanted to knock everything indoors out on that Sunday. It could not have come sooner. After a lovely day living life as a veritable snowman, I think all involved were very relieved to know we would be indoors with plenty of refreshments and heat and comforts that you tend to ignore somewhat when you are around them all the time. It’s funny, but one thing that can be overlooked while shooting a short film is keeping a happy crew.
I went out and tried to think of everything I’d like to have on set if I were an actor/crew. Lots of fresh veggies n fruit, a type of cookie (went with gingerbread because Trader Joe’s has ridiculously tasty ones that almost everyone got addicted to, thus becoming a run-on joke “hey did you grab a gingerbread man for the road” when anybody was leaving) and some veggie fries, cashews, other crunchy snackie nommie type things. We went with a local tasty sammich shop for lunch for the actors/crew there most of the day, which worked out brilliantly, plus took off pressure of what-to-do-fer-lunch. Water, coffee, and vitamin zero water. Keep it simple on drinks really because honestly people drink a lot of plain water most of all. And some sort of candy, because people get to sweating and working hard and need a little sugar boost.
Oh wow, I just went into a wholeeee nother area I didn’t plan on! So Day Two was mostly involving shots of Sarah and Dane (couple) as well as Sarah and Angela (sisters) and then the doctor/nurse scenes as well. Balancing equipment on a squishy wobbly bed at times with many people was I’m sure a hilarious sight. There were a few challenges that day to conquer. One scene we have Sarah take a little tumble off a cliff… I mean uh. wait. haha. She falls a bit, weakened, but I think we managed to do the scene best you can without a stunt actor launching themselves into the ground – and hopefully that’ll come across well enough. Hey, we once did a car colliding into someone (mostly made it realistic in post sped up) so the sky’s the limit, if you fail – oh well, *snip* 🙂
The scenes between Dane and Sarah went wonderfully. Eric again looked positively awesome in his imported London pants, coat, and tophat. Seriously he’s really great in any film I’ve seen him in – he really made The Man, -the man-. Everyone seriously knew their lines also. We were happy with the scene and moving onto Angela and Sarah’s sister conversation. Some fun times happened too between takes. Eric snuck up on Angela to bite and also some great shots of Eric and Sarah. In our director’s cut, there’s more to the conversation than we could fit in the theatrical one. Le sigh. It happens! I should also mention our little kitten Spaz kept jumping on the bed or sneaking into scenes. That cute rascal!! We moved swiftly into the doctor and Sarah scene, Eric’s schtuff, and the nurse came in near the tail end. The last shots were very experimental of Sarah in bed. That’s all I want to say before giving anything away! haha. Plus I fear I’ve said too much!
He Who Watches will be premiering at the Days of the Dead con in Atlanta with the rest of The Collective V3. It will also screen at the other two con locations throughout 2012, Indy and Chicago. And it’s still playing at HorrorHound in Columbus. We’ll be screening it locally within the next month or so with some Karmic Courage Productions films, details coming soon! HOW EXCITING! 🙂
This is a short horror psychological thriller film shot specifically for The Collective v3, which is said to be “The Collective is by far, the most unique independent short film collection on the market today. The Collective features 10 – 10 minute short films all made by a different filmmaker. What sets this collection apart is that all the films are based on the same synopsis or object.” Their v3 is a collection of ten female filmmakers with the same theme of the last ten minutes of life. This appears to be an on-going event, so who knows when v4 comes around, you may find yourself wanting to participate. If you are curious about it, you can read more on their FB page or http://www.jabbpictures.com.
OH…ps: Yes Sarah, I promise the next film you are in will not be coughing blood, dying, sick, or otherwise maimed. LOL.
Also… Post-production blog incoming soon. I also want to discuss the process of the mock pictures we made up, and graciously had people show up just for us to take the pics earlier that week. YOU ROCK! 🙂