Return to Sender: Storyboard

Due to some shuffled plans, I was able to start on pre-visualization for my next short film sooner than I was expecting. With my particular team, we have developed a way to start pre-production that runs very smoothly. It happens in stages.

During the first stage, I go through my script, and I think about how I’d like to see it transfer from page to screen. I pull out my own storyboard template, and I draw it out on paper. Now, I’m definitely not the best artist in the world, so my drawings really help no one out but me. (We figured this out while in production on Lights).

In the second stage, we take my drawn storyboard, and we turn that into a 3D visualization. To do this, I work with my cinematographer, and we figure out exactly what I’m trying to say, and we translate that into something that he can understand. In the end, my storyboard is a plan, and his 3D visualization ends up being the actual storyboard.

Return to Sender Shot 23

This process makes production run so smoothly. We can make a plan for shoot days and know approximately how long each shoot day will take. We can factor in set up time, lunch breaks, and factor in room for error. It helps to put together a production schedule, find locations, use time efficiently, and don’t even get me started on how well it works as a plan of attack for editing.

As I mentioned above, this is the process that I’ve developed for my films with the people I work with consistently. I’ve worked as a producer for other filmmakers, and they don’t all do the same thing. It really depends on the filmmaker.

With all that being said, the storyboarding process is now complete for my next short film, Return to Sender. The images included above are examples from that.

We’re still in pre-production, just moving on to the next phase of that. We still have location scouting to do and casting. I’m considering doing casting differently this time around than what I’ve been doing, but that will entirely depend on scheduling. I’m still up in the air about that.

Stay tuned for more updates on Return to Sender as the process continues!

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2017, New Reel

One of the items that has been on my to-do list for nearly two years is making a new production reel.

The last one I made was in 2013, and over the years I have grown embarrassed of it. At the time, it was my first one. I had done a lot of work in the first year of my career, and I wanted to show all of that off. I put in every little thing I had done. It was sloppy. It didn’t hold up well. It’s been put on private at this point. We do not speak of it.

When it came to making a new production reel, I wanted to really focus it on what I do now. I wanted to focus it on what I want to do in the future as well. While I do camera work, for example, that’s not necessarily something I want to put in my overall reel. I would rather make a reel just for my camera work at that point.

What I wanted to do with my new reel was make it centered toward my work as a producer. I wanted to highlight the television shows I’ve produced and the short films I’ve self-produced. My skills lie more on the creative, storytelling side than the technical side, and over the years, I’ve come to accept that.

I still haven’t uncovered the perfect formula for a production reel, but for right now, this works.

Lights: Official Trailer

The time has come for the release of the official trailer for my upcoming short film, Lights.

in this trailer, we get to see a little more of at least part of the conflict of the film, and I’m hoping that it helps spark some interest with audiences. So far, test audiences have been pretty enthusiastic. There have been plenty of squeals and chill bumps from those that have seen the full film so far. I consider that a job well done.

Take a look at the official trailer below, and let me know what you think!

ms and me: Production

I’m not new to production. I’ve done quite a few. I’ve made a film that took 8 months to create, and I’ve made a film that took 3 days. What I’ve never had to deal with before is having to make a 10-15 minute short film in just over a week.

Many people reading this will probably think that this is my fault, but let me tell you, this quick deadline has nothing to do with procrastination. It was just planned in the syllabus this way. I’m sure I wouldn’t have too much of a problem with this deadline if I had absolutely nothing else to do, no other responsibilities of any kind. Unfortunately, that’s just not how it is.

That’s the situation I’m in with ms and me right now. I feel like I have a really solid script. I have a wonderful actress who is doing a wonderful job conveying the emotions I’m looking for. This film has the potential to be really good. I’m just worried that this deadline, when paired with everything else on my plate right now, is going to put a massive damper on it.

Production for ms and me started this past Sunday, April 5th. I was free. My actress was free. My camera guy was free. Everything seemed like it was going to go great. I would finish filming it that day (since it’s decently simple), and I’d be able to jump into the edit and have plenty of time to finish it in time. I had completely forgotten, of course, that Sunday, April 5th was Easter Sunday. Locations were closed. Last minute parties and brunches were created. A second shoot date was necessary.

Unfortunately (You’ll find that this word will crop up a lot in this post), due to my schedule and my camera guy’s schedule, the next available shoot day wouldn’t be until the following weekend. This worked fine for my actress. I’m confident that we’ll have everything filmed that day. My problem here arrises with the time that I’m leaving myself to complete a satisfactory edit before the due date. The film is due Monday night, April 13th. I’ll finish shooting Saturday April 11th. I will be working at a different job all day Sunday the 12th, and I have other responsibilities on Monday April 13th. When can I edit?

There will most likely be at least one all-nighter involved. I’ve pretty much resolved myself to the fact that I will most likely not have the music that I want. I fear that I’ll be handing in an unfinished product. This is even more unfortunate when I consider that this will technically be my first film entered in a film festival. (I was entered by default because of the course syllabus)

It’s all just very overwhelming. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry about it. Things just didn’t work out the way I was hoping they would.

On a more positive note, the production is going very well when you forget about the deadline. As I mentioned, the actress in the film is phenomenal. She is just amazing. I really have no words. I’m very happy that she agreed to be in this film with me. I have an amazing production assistant who is helping me with locations, set designs, costumes and assorted tasks. She is brilliant. My camera guy and I have figured out a system to minimize communication problems due to visual differences. Overall, the actual production is going smoothly, almost too smoothly which is a scary thought. I hope I didn’t just jinx myself.

Due to the quick turnaround, I may not have time to make another post regarding the production or post-production of this film. We’ll see how that goes though.

Lights: Fourth and Fifth Shoots

Since so much time has passed, and I’m sure to not remember all of the details I would have wanted to write, I’m combining the fourth and fifth shoots for Lights into a single post. It’s also important for me to do this before I start the sixth shoot tonight so I don’t start blending details together.

The fourth shoot for Lights was on a Friday night (January 30th). It was a make up shoot to finish off some of the scenes that were unable to be finished the week before. Overall, I think it was a success. We finished three scenes in about 5 hours. The fifth shoot was to start the next morning and extend all day.

I had intended on having all cast and crew stay the night at our location to cut back on gas and allow more time for sleeping, but unfortunately my lead actress still had to leave early in the morning for a last minute work emergency. She had more time to sleep before heading out which was a good thing, but she still had to make the same trip back home as she would have regardless.

The fifth shoot for Lights began at 11:00am on January 31st. We had a decently hefty day of shooting ahead of us, including a few scenes where I had to direct and act at the same time. After seeing some problems in the edits from the last time I acted and directed at the same time, I was careful to make sure that I had what I wanted before the scene was done. I’m sure I’ll find more things I’m not entirely happy with, but I feel like I did a better job this time.

These shoots were very eventful. We officially finished all scenes that took place during the day. We finished all scenes that took place inside. We finished all scenes in which my lead actress had speaking lines. It was definitely an accomplishment.

If I had written this post earlier, I’m sure there would have been more details to share. Now my mind is concerned with the sixth shoot which should be the final large-scale shoot for Lights. I hope it goes well.

Lights: Third Shoot

It’s been a few days since the third shoot for Lights took place. I made a post earlier about some of the events leading up to the shoot, and I alluded to some problems.

The third shoot was an incredibly long day. I was awake for about 24 hours, and we ended up calling it quits for the night because everyone was so exhausted. We completed 5 scenes, but fell behind on schedule again. Lighting is still proving to be a really large undertaking for my crew, and this sets us back on schedule. That’s what happens when you set most of your movie at night though.

We started off the morning at 6am. There was a scene that was set at sunrise, and for that day the sun rose at 7:11am. Shooting at sunrise is incredibly interesting. We were moving so fast. I have really never seen a production move about so quickly. Once the light of the sun started showing up, there was really no going back. If we missed it, we couldn’t try again. We had to film some of the first shots for that scene over again because the light had changed so dramatically, but we were able to get everything accomplished. I think it’s going to look great.

Our next order of business was to head out to the college campus where I needed to film the next three scenes. Everything started out decently. I had to step into an acting role of course which I felt made things very difficult. It takes so much time to act in a scene and then review the footage to see if it went the way you wanted it to. My wonderful extras were there, and one of them was even able to help with the production. The sun was completely risen now, so he was able to help out with reflectors. That was a massive help.

The scene after that though is when I encountered problems. I had originally intended for my scene to be shot in a cafeteria setting, but every door to that building was locked. This was pretty peculiar to me since I usually recall that building being open.  Since we couldn’t get into that location, we had to find another, so we ended up filming in an ordinary building’s lounge area.

This building was much more confined than what I was intending to work with, so my extras weren’t as necessary. In order to utilize them, we set up a tracking shot to show the scene, but then I sent them on their way. This was probably a good thing because if I had been in my original setting, I would have found myself in a difficult situation. I only had my extras until 12:30, but it took us until 1:30 to finish the dialogue in the scene.

After finishing that scene, we broke for lunch and resumed around the time the sun was starting to set. We went back to the campus and filmed that scene, which I felt went off without any problems. We grabbed some driving b-roll on our way back to the next location, and then we had a decision to make.

I knew at this point that we were going to be unable to film every scene that I had planned to shoot that day. There were 5-6 scenes left on the to-do list for the day, and it was 7pm. It had taken us 13 hours to get through 4 scenes, so I knew the full workload that I wanted to get done was not possible.

We decided to move on to scene 20. Overall, the production of this scene went over smoothly, but we did have some hiccups at the beginning. It had been a long day. We were all exhausted. I know I was getting confused easily. There was some confusion over the pacing, continuity and the overall story which needed to be cleared up. The temperature had dropped drastically, and in my determination to finish things, I ignored the signs of frost bite that I was apparently getting. Production halted until I put on more items of clothing. Once we got past that, the scene was a nice way to end a really long day. It was somewhat fun.

I got to drive fast.

Since we did fall behind schedule, I have put another make-up shoot on the calendar. Hopefully we will be able to wrap up principle photography this coming weekend. If not, filming will definitely be completed by the first week of February.

Spartan Interview

Another thing I brought up so long ago but never followed up on was the potential of having a job with the Spartan Media Organization at my university.

Since my last update, I was able to look at the job postings and actually fill out my resume and cover letter. I applied for the position of cultural programming director, and I was pretty confident that I would be able to get that position. I had my interview this week, and it went well, but not in the way I was expecting.

I walked in all dressed up because, in my mind, if I dressed professional I’d be more confident to answer my interview questions. My interview morphed into more of brainstorming session very quickly though.

Apparently, only 5 or 6 people applied to be on the cultural programming team to begin with, so that means that a lot of the bigger productions that were originally planned would be impossible. My professor and I were talking about some of the more field production oriented things that we could do, and then insert into the news broadcast.

At the same time, no one applied to be the cultural programming producer, and my professor felt that I would be more qualified for that position (a higher position) than what I had applied for. I knew that I was more qualified for the producer role, but I hadn’t applied for it because I had some worries about my pull on campus. I didn’t think that I would be able to produce a big production show without knowing everyone on campus. With the small amount of people I would be managing though, those worries don’t really matter as much.

I haven’t gotten the official email with my professor offering me the position of cultural programming producer yet, but I’m about 95% certain that’s the position I’ll be hired for. It will be a really good thing for me, and it will be a great line on my resume when it comes to applying for jobs after graduation.