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The Crawl shoot ... somehow!
After weeks of trying to schedule days where I could get the most people together, it looked like 6/9 and 6/11 were a go. I seriously thought about cancelling the whole mess when Jim called me 2 days before the shoot to say he couldn't get saturday off, since that was the one day everyone else was available. Crazy frustrating.  

The Crawl shoot ... day one (6/9/05)
I headed over to Andy's house at 7:30am. I know he didn't really want us there when he was at work, but this was our only option for the day. Rob (DP) showed early on that he knew how to set up nice crisp shots, and he brought a compact pro lighting kit that made a huge difference. We had just Jim at first, so we did the "just Jim" shots and the "no actor" shots while waiting for more folks to show up. Jeff Hart (PA) was late, after spending "hours" riding a bike around the neighborhood looking for the wrong address. But then he pitched in and helped Rob for most of the day.
Sarah (hair/makeup) showed up, and was shy, mostly kept to herself upstairs while we were under the house filming Jim frantically searching for the bad guy. Scotty & Deb showed up around 1pm. We were looking forward to seeing them, so we could get more done, but they were terribly depressed after getting some bad personal news just an hour ago, and Scott didn't want to do the part. Trouble is, we were all counting on him, and the whole afternoon would be scrapped without him. So walking on some eggshells, we got him to run home, grab his gear, and do the shots. He was in good spirits when he came back and seemed to need the distraction.
So, we got a chunk of Scott & Jim inside dialog, Scott & Jim on the porch, Scott & Jim reacting to the doorbell. Odds & ends. About 28 shots, but by 8 the light had changed too much, and it was a wrap. When I called Carmen at the end of the day, she said she'd been in another fender bender ...


The Crawl shoot ... between days (6/10/05)
Not a shoot day. But I had to get some flip-flops because my new shoes were tearing up my ankles and I could barely walk. Tried to get some database work done, but their connection was down.
Then I had to stop at the winery I was hoping to film at, and make sure we could shoot there on saturday. The guy was trying to be helpful, but didn't sound happy. Saturday was a busy day for them. But he agreed we could use two of the rooms.
Had a massage at 7:30, but right before leaving to get relaxed, I had a call from (brother) Jim saying that mom had been in the hopsital for a few days.

The Crawl shoot ... day two (6/11/05)
Here's a funny way to start the day: I woke up seeing a picture of an email I had sent the night before, telling Rob and Al how to get to my house. And it had the wrong address! I gave them (for some wild reason) my old old 1080 AVocado address, even though we haven't lived there in 9 years. I got a hold of them luckily...
The gang got to my house by 9-9:30, and by 10 we were setting up at the Belle Marie Winery just up the street. They have a little castle-shaped building on the premises, and we set up the "museum flashback" scene in the upstairs balcony with the suits of armor in the background. Rob found a cool reverse angle that gave the balcony the illusion of an L-shaped hallway with a big piece of armor at the end of it. In fact the room wasn't nearly as big as he made it look.
We moved downstairs and set up the restaurant scene. These were both tricky scenes, with subtext, subtle body language, avoiding eye contact, a lot to keep an eye on.
We cleared out of the winery at 1:30 and went to Killer PIzza from Mars. The place was packed, and a little league club had reserved most of the tables. So it was a little funny when I went up to the register and told Brandy that it looked like I picked the Perfect day to bring the whole cast & crew ...
We got back to Andy's house by 2:30. Tara was there, and she pitched in with slate & PA tasks. Jeff couldn't make it today. But we had scott & Jim & Alveraz - the core cast, together for just this one day. We did all the fight shots and under-the-house madness. I wanted to be done with that by 6pm, so we could shoot the Scott/Jim/Tara scenes, but there were too many shots and some lighting glitches. Scott & Al went at it with too much fury. We sure packed a lot of anger into that little corner of the crawlspace! But aside from slipped & sliding & everyone bumping heads on things, it went off with no injuries. You'd be surprised how much noise there is under a house. Every footstep; every toilet flush, running sink & shower, washer & dryer -- you name it.
The final scene where Jim shoots Al was powerful. More intense than originally planned, a tricky combination of restraint, madness, denial & confession. Al wrapped at about 8pm, and everyone sounded happy at how it went, even though we mostly ached and hurt all over.
I headed home at 10pm, and now that the hardest part is done, we're planning a short shoot tomorrow with the final footage on the 4th of July (the next day that everyone seems to have off).
So far, so crazy. Sometimes it feels like everything going as planned, other times it seems like barely reigned chaos.
Rolling right along ... shoot day #3 turned out to be the 4th of July. Everyone was psyched and ready to help out on the holiday, which was great.

The Crawl - post production blues (7/26/06)
Time flies when you're a one-man production studio with no time to work on productions ...
Right after the shoot, I went down to Comic-Con, passed out, ended up in the hospital with no insurance and just like that the whole budget was gone eight times over. The video capture went well, then I originally had two guys who were interested in doing the video editing, but each took their time not responding once the actual work was ready. Then I had a hard-drive meltdown that blew off all my audio/video editing software. Then it looked like we needed a quick reshoot of a few scenes, but it was winter time, the days were short and gloomy and all the shadows were wrong. And Jim had shaved his head for some reason.
I wrangled a rough cut in November. But I was still trying to get out of a financial hole, so there wasn't much "fun" time. Eventually, in my spare hour or two a week I got a near-final cut a few weeks ago. By then my original music guy was too famous and too busy, and I wouldn't be able to afford to get his help.
I had a flash of inspiration and remembered a guy from wayyyy back. I'd always said that his music was like the soundtrack to invisible films. I found him on the web but had only an email address for contact. And it might not have been the right one ... but it worked out. He liked the script and offered the perfect mood music.
You know, it's possible to spend one's entire life editing a single project over and over again. But at some point it must be finished. There will always be minor flaws, things you'd like to change. I don't have that problem with my writing, just with films there are a lot of elements right there in full color. So, I'm shooting for a final cut in mid-August, and then this chapter will be over. Of course, my DVD burner died, just to make sure the expenses never end ... argh already!
By the way, the film has been renamed to "Vincent". Short, sweet and a bit of misdirection.
= scott V

Vincent - finished (11/11/06)
Well, after two more rounds of watching it all the way through and filling a whole notebook page full of "things that need fixing," I got what feels like the final cut. Sure, given a real budget, we could have gone into a sound studio and looped all the voices, but I think the raw audio is more honest. Since I couldn't wipe every trace of background static without making the actors sound like robots, I actually had to blend in and smooth out the static so the audio cuts weren't so obvious.
On to the DVD. I wanted to include my original photographic storyboards in the "making of" segment, but they were completely lost in that hard drive crash. Figured, the one folder I hadn't added to my backup scheme. Full video renders (3.6 gig AVI files) tied up my one-and-only computer for over an hour each time, and the high-quality MPEG compression took up to 2 hours at a pop. Yet I had to make a living off of this computer, doing contract websites for customers, so it just wasn't available too often. Also during this time, I had a new book of poetry and a new book of short stories published, edited a poetry collection, did a complete overhaul of a novel, did graphics/design for books & other projects, and had 6 conventions to go to, up to 450 miles away. Some weeks there were no hours left over at all.
The DVD extras came out a little shorter than I wanted, but like I said earlier ... at some point a project needs to end. That point is now.
Naturally, I went to print some DVD labels for the contributor copies I'm trying to send out and the printer is acting up. I'd like to get everyone together for a release party, but with holidays, I think that's just going to add another 2 or 3 weeks of delays.
Overall, I think this is easily our best film yet. But I'm sick of looking at it, and I'm sure everyone is disappointed at how long it took. Future films need to be shorter, and I have to work on my post-production team. I can't do them myself anymore, although that does limit the arguments, I supposed.
Well, that's what the indie film life is like. Exciting and frustrating at the same time. I hope you enjoy the film. It's a weird length, but time to look at the festival deadlines anyway ... onwards!
= scott V

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