I don't think I've ever been this sleep deprived in my life.
Three whole days of 16-hour shoots and we were able to blown through about 16 pages in our script. We're on track to finishing principle photography on Sunday after we film the ending. Making movies is hard!
The biggest thing that has been keeping us from breezing through our production days has been continuity. We have a dedicated person on set to watch for continuity. They take pictures and carefully watch where we move objects so that they can reset them after a take has been completed. Needless to say, I wish I didn't write so many scenes with props and such.
Aside from that, the shoot has been nothing less than fun and interesting. From trying to shoot in 90 degree weather while waiting for clouds to pass, to infiltrating a hospital parking lot t o get some shots, Code Monkey is coming together rather nicely. I was able to compile a Behind The Scenes video which shows the evolution of some of our shots. First we rehearse the scene, then set it up with lights and the film camera. We then record the scene and review it in our monitor. All of which are shown in the video. The last part is reviewing the dailies. I've inserted some of the rough cut footage in so you can see how the process works.
Only one more day until we cross that line from Production to Post-Production and I couldn't be more excited! To everyone following this project, thank you! It means the world to me, and I hope we can deliver on the promise of making a truly fun and exciting musical based on the works of JoCo!
For those of you who are following me on here, thank you. For those of you who are not, I am in the middle of production for a movie I wrote. It is a musical that uses the music and ideas of Jonathan Coulton. I've been keeping a blog on here to track the progress of it all. I'm happy to say that after our first 16-hour day of filming, nobody has died. But who knows, we're still very early on in production. This blog will cover how we're dealing with having a very limited budget.
So making movies is expensive. Who’da thunk it? Going into pre-production we knew we’d be forking over some amount of money to have this project see the light of day but the question was how we could finance it with little to no cash.The answer? Lots and lots of phone calls and favors being called in.
First off, the camera. We’re using a pretty expensive camera, the shell alone without any special features costs around $1,200. When you add on a 35mm lens and all the little doohickies that we wanted, you’re getting to around $2,000. That’s a ton of smackos. Luckily we had friends at the Art Institute in Pittsburgh who were willing to let us use their equipment on one condition: we advertise the $h!t out of them. No problem, I mean we’re getting an awesome camera right?
Secondly, the lights. Normally in a perfect world you’d be looking to spend a few grand on lights to make everything look pretty when viewed through the lens of the camera. Instead we went with a very simple route. When you attach china bulbs around some halogen lightbulbs, you get a very nice lighted-area effect. Cheap, efficient, and they aren’t throwing off an extra 15 degrees of heat on set. We bought about 5 of those and we were good to go.
Third, we are all working for free. Everybody on set is an actor who would normally get paid for their work. Whether they be union, or a union-candidate, nobody on set works for free unless there’s a good reason. Luckily we decided to do this just for the pure love of the source material and the fact that we really wanted to give the fans something out there they could call their own. The world of geekdom doesn’t really have a ton of musicals out there besides Dr. Horrible, although the Street Fighter High School musical looks reeeeeally cool. Instead of taking a paycheck, we’re throwing all of that money into food. If everyone donates 3 dollars a day, we can have lunch and dinner quite easily if we order pizza. Problem solved.
Well those are just three ways we’re saving money on the set of Code Monkey. There’s a few more that deal with our audio problems that I will probably save for another day (recording on set, dubbing, ADR, etc) cause that is a field all its own. Below is our 3 behind the scenes video that will show you how we’re using a wheelchair as our dolly. You know it is going to be a good project when you utilize handicapable transportation as film rigging.
As some of you may know, my production company and I are working on our biggest project yet. A 40-minute movie musical based on the ideas and songs by Jonathan Coulton.
I drove to Pittsburgh last Saturday night to check in with my cast and crew and we sat around making piles of whatever we needed for the next day. A full crate of extension cords, new memory cards for our cameras, every last piece of our costumes and the pre-requisite junk food we'd be chowing down on between takes. After sleeping for a minimal amount of time (see: an hour or two) we loaded up our cars and drove to our location at 4 AM.
Setting up everything you need to film on location can be a pain sometimes, especially because oftentimes you'll need to reset the location back to whatever it looked like beforehand when you're done. By about 6 AM our full cast and crew had arrived and gotten into costumes and we were ready to get our first shot in.
Fast forward to lunch at noon and we had knocked out a good 3 pages of the script and were looking over the dailies. Everything looked fantastic! I was pretty pleased at our progress. For mainly having acted on stage my whole life, repurposing my talent for film was quite the experience but a very fun one at that. One thing I learned was that shooting outside can be a nightmare when you have to contend with hot humid weather and clouds taking away your natural sunlight. Add in the fact that you have to eat multiple PB&J sandwiches so that the editor doesn't have a nightmare cutting scenes together and you've got yourself a fun experience on your hands. Yikes.
The day progressed and spirits remained high throughout. At 10 PM our director "called it" and we began to strike our sets and put everything back in its place. All in all we shot about 8 pages, which isn't bad for 16-hour shoot. We had survived our first day and we have 4 more days on our schedule to finish up. I can't help but feel this is going to turn into something pretty fun when all is said and done and edited. I've included some stills from our dailies so you guys can see everything.
EDIT: Including a link to our first Behind the Scenes video so you guys can see what we worked on before this. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S5T03H_MCXY
So, if you've talked to me in the past few months, I've probably hinted at the fact that I was working on something big. In December of 2009 I completed a short musical script titled Code Monkey using the music of Jonathan Coulton and felt like it was a pretty decent piece of theatre. I'd often sit and write a variety of different things like one-acts, comedy sketches and such but I felt like they always became heady and complicated, so with Code Monkey I tried to make it as simple as possible. The story is pretty basic and follows several themes that JoCo uses in his music: low-grade computer programmer hates his job but has a crush on a pretty girl who works in his building. After the pretty girl gets screwed over by the programmer's boss, he sees an opening to make a connection and tries talking to her.
Well what began as a 52 page script whittled down to a 40 page script, until eventually we were left with a 25 page script. It was all about simplifying. What was needed, what wasn't necessary, and so on and so forth. I'm not sure if anyone else here in the GB community likes to write, but if you do then you know how difficult it can be to trim the fat out of your first/second/third drafts of things.
Anyway, that's besides the point. This is the first full-length movie my production company has ever backed so I am pretty excited/anxious/antsy about getting it started. Cameras start rolling on July 11th for 7 full days of principal photography! Working on little to no budget is daunting but we were able to secure a full cast/crew without any headaches, and everyone involved in the project has taken a real shine to JoCo's music. The whole team is committed towards working on this as a pure passion piece. I wish we had the funds to pay for equipment and give people paychecks but we can't. But who knows, the big idea is that hopefully we can get backed by bigger companies so that we can work on bigger and better projects in the future so we will see what happens.
We've been taking turns filming stuff for B-Roll footage and I was able to compile a short behind the scenes reel for our eventual DVD. I thought it'd be fun to share with everyone here, hopefully you all can have fun with the end result as much as we're having fun making it for you.
We are gearing up for a few shoots over the course of the summer as well as our very first feature length musical movie based on the works of Jonathan Coulton. Just figured it'd be worth posting here. This is my very first blog here at Giant Bomb and I'm actually looking forward to whether or not I'll complete a quest doing this...
SUPER EDIT: Well, in order for this to be more legit, I've decided to expound upon the vid. Keep in mind I never intended for this to be seen as Spam and in the future I will use better judgment. First off, I'm part of a performance group called "Imaginary Trends," we have been together for a little more than a year now and we aim to produce content that is geeky in nature. LAN'ded is one of our biggest projects. LAN'ded is a musical (we're all theatre majors BTW) about a geek who is getting ready to explore the outside world. For the past few months I've been producing and uploading vid diaries, game reviews, and stuff of that nature to a YouTube channel dedicated to LAN'ded's main character, Christian (seen below). We've just hit 500 subscribers and momentum seems to be working in our favor. We also do some other sketch comedy (like seeing what happens when a Nazi falls in love with a Jew) and I'm hoping to experiment more with that later this summer.
About 2 months ago we decided it'd be funny for us to spoof Felicia Day's music video cause well, we all loved the original and "The Guild" is what inspired us to do some of our work online in the first place. Keep in mind, NONE of us are getting paid to do ANY of this. it's all a labor of love. The other difficult part about all of this is that as a group we are all scattered across the United States. Two of our three main people are on broadway tours right now, and I'm gearing up to make a move to Chicago very soon. All of the work we do is discussed and collaborated upon via the internet.
SO! We wrote up lyrics, mixed the track, and we had a viable audio source with which to make the video with. The difficult part now would be filming, editing, lighting, and performing everything by myself. I don't know if you've ever tried to make a music video before, but it can get tedious. I'd have to set up lights, do a few takes to see if it worked well, and if so, then I could continue. If the lights were off or it didn't look right, then I had to re-set. Doing it all by yourself is pretty lonely, gotta admit. However, after spending two nights editing it together I feel like it didn't turn out half bad. I know I'll get flamed for this, but we all use Macs. Furthermore, we only use the software that came with the Mac in the first place. Theatre Majors + not getting paid to do work = using your limitations creatively.
One part Garageband. One part iMovie. One part dangling light bulbs. Many parts trying to be a rap star.
Next time I feel compelled to try out this crazy new blog feature I'll be sure to wax poetic for more than 3 lines. :) Thank you to all who gave constructive criticism for how I can not spam in the future.