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The Siberians

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THE SET:
How did we fit a log cabin in a cluttered garage?  

Scott V: Well, we looked at one cabin up in Julian, and I looked at many old farm buildings from a distance. Nothing looked like I wanted it to. The nutty part of me said that if I really wanted the look, I would have to build something myself. My garage was already packed with junk, but it theoretically had enough space for a small set.
 
So I talked to Doug (Nicoll), who had built many sets for school stage productions. He sketched out standard 3x6-foot stage flats, and when I found a total of 9x12 feet of space in the garage, he drew a layout that would work. It looked like it could be done. I just had to throw a rickety rental truck full of lumber at the situation. I think it took 4 days where a few people showed up to help, plus lots of evenings after work, but it got done!
 
Now, there was a chance that the whole thing could blow up, too. When we started construction, Anatole was in China (of all places!) and would only be back in town for 2 weeks before going off to college on the east coast. And when he got back we couldn't find a chunk of time that would work. But finally, we had one Sunday morning we could all agree on. We got rolling by 7am and were done around 1pm. Which makes this our fastest filming session yet ... did we miss anything??
 
No. The rough cut same together, and has a unique look to it. My hand-painted planks somehow looked real on camera. No matter how much potato flakes we threw around we couldn't quite get the snow to show up the way I wanted, but the whole thing is a surreal crack up. A bunch of warped people trying to deal with a crummy situation. Stay tuned for more info!
 


POST-PRODUCTION:
This should be easy to edit, right?  

Scott V: Hmm. Not really. I added smoke to almost every scene, using Illusion. Some scenes needed little flames at just the right moment. I added a touch of digital snow to the fake potato snow, and cleaned up a few stray shadows on the walls. I couldn't any of my research photos, since they weren't mine, and the Siberians said they had no neighbors. After trying all kinds of opening sequences, I went back to the snowy cabin shots that Cohen took, and found that when I deleted one window and added more snow, it was a reasonable match for the exterior of our set. Music was an issue. I could have gotten guys into studios and made lots of silly noises and chants hoping something would come out good. But I found an old drunken drum/bongo/slap track from my garage band days - it seemed to fit with the snow and add to the loneliness of the opening shots.
 
On April 28, 2005, I finished what feels like the final cut. I also edited together the outtakes. I'm working on a featurette about the building of the set, thinking it will be helpful (or at least entertaining) to other filmmakers.

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