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Sunday, December 19, 2004

Day 6 Recap

DAY SIX (Sunday, October 10)
Location: Stockbridge Citgo / the garage

This is our last day of shooting in Atlanta before we relocate the cast and crew to Bradenton, Florida. Scenes for today include the band’s practice at the garage, scientist John Patterson’s emotional moment when he and the Skunk Ape lock eyes, and several pickups from the previous 2 days at the garage.
One scene we’ll do today is where Sheriff Brag and Deputy Bob spot the Skunk Ape leaving the garage and chase him from the garage. There’s a couple of lines of dialog right before they spot him. It’s Bob filling time with his opinions on luncheon meat, “I don’t like baloney. Now fried baloney…that’s OK. Hey, that looks like a Skunk Ape.” The combination of the dialog (overhead verbatim at a Taco Bell some 10 years ago) and actor Chris Hines' perfectly deadpan delivery makes it one of my favorite moments in the movie.

The most involved shot is where we have to kill one of the leading characters.

The script calls for the Skunk Ape to pick him up over his head and ‘break him in half’. I wrote that, but I have no earthly idea how we’re going to sell it. While Skunk Ape actor Ned Hastings is ‘the largest mammal I know’ (his words), he still can’t pickup a full grown man and military press him over his head. After much debate, we put the camera on the ground, tilted almost straight up at the back of Ned’s shoulder while he sits on an apple box. He grips the actor around the collar while burly key grip John Stephens hunch over just out of frame with black fabric draped over him. Our to-be-killed actor lays across John’s back and all Ned has to do is movie his arm up on cue. John will do the heavy lifting with his back and legs. It’s into the twelfth hour on set for the cast and crew, but everyone is gathered around to watch. We do 3 takes and get what we need. I call for two more because we’re having too much fun.

Here’s some statistics from the script supervisor’s reports after half of our shooting schedule: 321 slates, 160 setups, 38 completed scenes (of 102), almost 40 pages (of 96) completed, and roughly 33 minutes, 19 seconds of monster movie in the can (of an estimated 95:30).

Data provided by extraordinary script supervisor Reagan Brandon. I’ve had to omit only one scene from our schedule, which is covered in another scene with a quick line of dialog. While we have the majority of our work ahead of us, we’ve had an enormously successful first week of shooting.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Day 5 recap

Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be editing the film as much as I can, so instead of detailing that, I’ll be catching up on the daily recaps.

DAY FIVE (Saturday, October 9)
Location: Stockbridge Citgo / the garage
Today is the day we shoot all of our dialog scenes at the garage. I have shot lists for each scene, but on location those often get drastically changed. Looking at the script for a particular scene, I plan for an establishing wide shot, close ups for certain lines and dolly moves to get the characters from one side of the garage to the other, etc. When we get to the garage and start blocking with actors, we invariable start running up against limited amounts of film and time. What I usually end up with is an establishing shot that dollies into a 2 shot for dialog and maybe a cutaway or reverse angle. Maybe. The fewer shots, the fewer setups, the faster we can move. For the really long dialog scenes, we dolly along with the actors in the classic walk ‘n’ talk, then have them stop walking when we run out of track. It’s these times where I have to find the critical elements of a scene and accent those and drop everything else. And I won’t know how successful I was until the whole film is put together. All an indie director can do is get the best crew and the best actors they can find and hope it works, hope that they made the right compromises.

The most complicated scene for the day is where Theodora meets Hector. Actor Travis Young was cast as Hector exactly one week ago, but I’m not worried about the actor’s performances. They’ve worked together before and they rehearse on-set incessantly up to the time we shoot. In this scene, Hector is toying with Theodora, only doling out information bit by bit to extend their interaction. She eventually get pissed and is about to storm out, when he starts singing one of her songs, the theme song of the movie. He just keeps singing, rather poorly, and smiling at her until she is charmed. Travis and Claire’s performance is great. I can really feel Theodora’s frustration and Travis has great eyes that really can charm anyone. We start the scene with Hector under the hood of the band’s station wagon. He doesn't come out until several lines into their dialog and crosses the garage. The camera and Theodora follow him and we end with an over-the-shoulder (OTS) shot looking at Hector. Theodora gets angry and turns to exit, right toward the camera, and stops in a close-up (CU). We’ve just covered 90% of the scene in one shot/one setup: the establishing WS, dolly to the OTS, and Claire walks into a CU for her emotional reaction. Our coverage is a Hector CU from the same camera position as the OTS and the reverse angle over Hector’s shoulder of Theodora’s dialog. The biggest hurdle is that the weather had changed and the reverse angle looking at Claire has dark, cloudy skies in the background. The grips put up a big silk on a metal frame to tone down the clouds and I hope we can color correct it to match the rest of the scenes later. We get all of our angles and move on to the next scene, next set up.

One of those setups includes Ned Hastings (out of his Skunk Ape costume) and Dana Snyder (voice of Master Shake on Aqua Teen Hunger Force) as two customers driving a classic car in the establishing shot of the Garage. I think Dana’s only line is “Thanks, we wouldn’t miss the party.” Being the consummate profession, he and I discusses at length his character’s back story and motivation, but the fact that everything that comes out of his mouth makes me laugh, I’m not too worried about it.

Sunday, December 5, 2004

ready to Edit, Day Off Recap

After a couple of weeks off from journaling (Thanks Arma & Ed), I’m back with an update on Stomp! Shout! Scream! It’s almost two months since we ended shooting the film and I have yet to make my first official edit of the film. That’s part procrastination, part trepidation, part some other –ation, I’m sure. That’s not to say the nothing has been done. I have synced my audio and video (with much help from PA/editor Juston Rindlesbach), edited a teaser trailer, and edited a short behind-the-scenes clip for the song “Back off My Baby” which is performed in the film. All this stuff will be available here soon. Getting something for investors and potential distributors to see has been the top priority. I’ve settled into the fact that writing, directing, & editing the film is only a portion of my work. I’m also going to have to find a way to market and sell the film, too. As far as getting the film edited, I’m waiting for an extended chunk of time to really dive into the cutting. And now that I’m almost out of things to procrastinate with, I guess that’ll be very soon.

Here’s another recap from the shoot:
Friday, October 8
Our only day off.
That is, the crew has a day off. I spend the day catching up on sleep, organizing the plan to feed the cast and crew in Florida with my mom, and making shot lists for Saturday & Sunday with Evan for 4 or 5 hours. We have over 13 pages to cover in 2 days, plus pickups from Tuesday. I spent my only night off during the shoot going out to dinner and catching, appropriately, John Waters’ Dirty Shame.