Filming starts tomorrow!

At long last, tomorrow at 9 AM I officially become a director.  I figured I’d be excited or nervous, but mostly I’m tired.  I expect I’ll be more tired still by Monday, but building a house and greenhouse/pool has prepared me for finding weekends exhausting.

My poster artist is almost done taking the images of the actors and incorporating them into the poster she made for me, using stock images she found.  Pretty amazing stuff she’s able to do, and I can’t wait for it to be complete so I can show it off to all and sundry.

Last Sunday we were scheduled for some rehearsal time.  It’s been remarkably difficult to get everyone scheduled, which has made me think that if I do any future projects I’ll want to make them full-time for the duration so there’s less of that headache.

Anyway, we had a few hour window where everyone was available and I picked out several scenes I felt would benefit from practice.  Not only for the actors, but for the DP and sound guy (Nate and John, respectively), so they could think about issues they’d need to address.

It didn’t start off well.  The start time was 7:30 AM, but weather was lousy and the first person to arrive (John) was on-time, which translates to being late in the world of movie making.  Then Nate made it a few minutes later, then the actors started to straggle in.  The last one didn’t get in until almost 9:30 and we had to wrap up by 11 because one of them had another prior commitment.

We wound up doing very little rehearsal, but we did get them to try on their wardrobe (my beautiful wife enjoyed shopping the second-hand stores to get a collection) and got the pictures for the poster.  We discussed a number of logistical items. And it became clear to me that most, if not all, people making movies are insane, as several were there with barely any sleep.  And they that considered normal!

I also learned something very important about myself: I can’t act.  I had a very simple video to record, for the opening and closing of the crowdfunding video plea (the rest is voice over while I show images/video of the cast), yet it took me nearly 20 takes to get the single sentence done.  And even when I was _reading_ (as opposed to memorizing) for the voice over, I still struggled to get the damn thing done.  I can talk extemporaneously for hours without any problems, but I can’t read a prepared speech.  What a moron!

This is important because up until that moment I was intending on playing the part of Ken, the property owner where the students are digging.  That was primarily a liability issue, as Ken is scripted to use the backhoe for digging and I didn’t want anyone else to operate it.  After my debacle of ‘acting’ for the crowdfunding video, I knew I couldn’t handle the real deal, so started to think how I could use movie magic to make it look like the actor was driving/operating the backhoe while I was doing the actual work.

Then I remembered an obscure comment my sister-in-law’s husband (brother-in-law once removed?) made the night before at a birthday party.  Something about which was his best side for the poster or something.  I have trouble hearing when the ambient noise level is high, and in any case was focused on stuffing my face, so probably just smiled and nodded (though in the past I learned that can be dangerous).  But once I realized I was incompetent as an actor, I figured I’d see if he was interested before I went and started advertising.  Lo and behold!  My BIL (once removed) used to do theater in high school and college.  He had to be at least 1,000x better than I would ever be, so he was hired on the spot.  The only wrinkle is that role was scheduled to be done over two days and he could only make one, so I needed to re-shuffle the schedule.

Speaking of reshuffling the schedule… Hurricane Florence was threatening to run up the east coast and, at a minimum, drown us under several feet of rain. And I had several outdoor scenes scheduled for right when she was to arrive.  Fortunately (for me and my neighbors), Florence decided to terrorize North and South Carolina instead (not so fortunate for them; sorry).  Anyway, originally the first day of filming was only slightly less than the highest number of pages we were going to try and film in one day and I’d read in many places to try and make the first day the lightest, so the cast and crew can get used to how everyone operates.  And the permit was going to cost me $350 for the location.  So, after some research and head scratching, I decided to try and squeeze those scenes in next Saturday, at the expense of making that day even longer (logistically, I think it will work, but it’s intimidating to schedule nearly 18 pages when the typical average is 3-5 per day).

I rejiggered the schedule and will no doubt do some rejiggering on the fly (I can’t shake the thought that, despite my extensive efforts, I’ve forgot some scenes and will get bit on the ass when I’m doing editing).  I thought about adding onto the dates for filming, but beyond that reducing the cast and crew’s daily rate (since they’re being paid at a flat rate for the job), it seems getting everyone with another free day, let alone weekend, might take this into November.  I really hope we can get everything filmed without it looking like I yelled ‘Print it!’ to every first take.

Next week I really need to buckle down and figure out how to use the editing software.  I elected to start with Kdenlive (if I struggle I may try something else).  I played with it for about a half hour before accepting I’m going to have to follow a tutorial to get started, I’m not able to intuit the interface.

Tomorrow is going to be interesting…

Author: mitusents

Biochemist, MBA, then programmer. Now novelist, screenplay writer and hopefully director. What a strange trip it's been.