Sunday, February 28, 2016


What a day Saturday, the 27th was!  

I spent a few hours on Thursday putting the set together.  I had to take out the carpet in that area of the studio and then the dance mat that had been underneath that for a long time.  It gave us the floor we needed and helped create the feeling of confinement in an old abandoned place.  Added wooden crates, an vent from a dryer, and girder to make it look good.  I think it came together really well.  Last thing I did was scatter book ashes around the room before I left.

The first thing we did was just sit down and read through the script.  That way we had one definitely good soundtrack of the dialogue in case there was any loss or contamination that we missed on the set.  It also worked out some of the kinks in the script and got everyone in to the flow.
After that it was make up and costume work for a few minutes.  I felt bad because we had talked about putting stage blood on Chelsea's hands.  I was just going to smudge a bit but it all came pouring out and completely covered her right hand with blood.  Holy shit!  It was all over the place.  Luckily we were outside so it didn't stain anything but it'll look like something really bad happened for a few days.  Had a green army jacket for her to wear.  It was a bit big but it fit the character and gave the nice feel of someone on the run.  Alice gave herself some bruises with the make up and it looked like she took a hit or two on the way down.  Yes, she wore it home when we were done.  I'm not surprised how many actors do that.  Honestly, I would do.
We started shooting on the set about noon and just kept going.  Josh took over the camera work, he's forgotten more about the tech side then I will ever know, so I could concentrate on the performers and we covered a lot of territory.  It's much easier when I can trust someone on the camera side.  This was the most experienced cast with professional television and stage work.  They knew that there were times you just kept going.  It also was a benefit because Danny, who plays the State, knew to keep his locations continuous so he's saying the same thing in the same place every time.  He also kept the actresses on guard and I remember Tera admitted being actually frightened the way Danny grabbed her hair at one time.  Perfect.

I had divided the filming in to four blocks.  The second and biggest block was the actual interrogation.  We spent most of the time on that one so there are lots of opportunities for editing choices.  Then we set up a dolly and just went through it once non stop slowly moving the dolly back and forth for establishing shots.  One point I thought it looked so good I just let it sit there awhile to film them.  There are very few shots with all four characters on the screen at the same time but I wanted to make sure there was at least one.  I purposefully want to hold of an establishing shot to give it a nice Hill Street Blues feel.
About 3:00 or see we finished the actresses and cut them loose.  Literally.  As prisoners they spent most of the day zip tied to the chairs.  They really gave it their all putting up with it being uncomfortable for much of the day.  They were really professional.
After that there were just a few shots with Danny.  We had talked about how the State would react to everything and we shot it several ways so I'll have more choices in editing.  Danny also gave it a lot as we don't see his face so 99% of his performance is in his voice.  
Finished the last shot about 3:30 and spent 20 minutes tearing the set down, transferring footage, packing everything up etc.  We ran a bit long but I had spoken to Ray, who had the studio after us, and he was really cool about things.  There might be a few pick up shots to get later but I think they will just be details of the set.  It's just be close ups and easy to do without having to build the entire room.
Off to editing!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


I've realized that my favorite part of film making is editing.  I love that point of putting the story together so much that a few months ago I got Adobe Premiere Pro so I could work at home instead of having to go to Iowa City.  This has made things easier and it's given me the chance to work on things I normally wouldn't get to do.
After I finished the "More Than A Performance" documentary I was cleaning files and got rid off all the interviews and excess footage but kept all the footage I got during rehearsals and the one performance I was allowed to shoot clips from.  To get used to the new program I just started editing one of the scenes and thought it turned out pretty good.  So good I did another scene, then another, then another.  I've finished it and have the entire play now.  Every word of it.
I'll admit it's not perfect.  Some times the actor speaking is off camera, the darker moments are grainy and sound can be kind of wonky as the actors were facing away from the mic.  Still, considering it was three different cameras, three mics, three performance and three audiences it's at least 90% good.  There are great moments that are crystal clear and have just as much of the power and emotion as the live performance.
I've watched it several times in the past week and it's really impressive.  To make it a complete, watchable piece I even added opening and closing credits including actors, designers, stage managers, author and director.
I can show a small clip.  I had to put this on youtube because that way I can keep it private so only the link from here will get you there.  Youtube quality isn't as good as Vimeo but you'll get the idea of what the final product looks like.

Introducing the Mustangs

The challenge now is finding something to do with it.  It's a bit complicated because, right now, there are three owners of the piece.  Naomi Iizuka owns the script, UI Theatre owns the production, and I own the film version.  What can I do?
I contacted the director of the play and UI Theatre to see what he thinks and he's very excited about it.  He wants to see it and then will check with Naomi and see what they can come up with.  I'm hoping I can at least make it available o the actors.  
Deep down inside I hope there is some way we can get this seen.  Personally and professionally I think this is a very important play.  To important to be forgotten.  I also think having it seen would be a big win for everyone involved.  I keep asking myself what the downside of having this shown be?  So far nothing has come to mind.

Sunday, February 14, 2016


While fiction isn't going well film making is working out quite well.  I've got several short films in various stages of production and casting   The biggest we will shoot on the 27th called The Burning Room.  It's a very politically charged film with lots of things going on.  All of the cast, Chelsea Wing, Alice Doherty, Tera Cooling and Danny Peterson are experienced performers.  It's the most experienced cast I've ever had and it shows.  It's really unique in the rehearsal process for this one.  Lots of times rehearsal and take one have been the same thing.  Also got Josh Goding to take over the camera work and invited a few others to join us.  I've learned the more eyes you have on a film set the better.
Yesterday I went in and built the set.  I don't want to leave anything to chance so I put everything together.  I had been worried about the floor a lot.  I didn't want the carpet of the studio and considered shooting elsewhere even though that would mean lots of equipment getting moved, or not being used.  It was a big move put I was able to pull back the carpet in the studio and the floor mat underneath it so I could get the cement floor.  I added some rusty bits of metal and a chain for details and it gives the feel of a dark and dangerous place.
I've reserved the studio on the evening of the 25th so I can get in and build the set again.  That way when we get in on the 27th to film it's be ready to go.


It's really slow going writing fiction this time around.  I don't know what it is.  I'm excited about it, I want to do it, but it's just difficult for me to sit down and write.  I'm going to try and improve things with dictation software again.  I've done that before and it worked a lot.  Now the problem is Windows 10 and the Nuance software don't play well together. 

Sunday, February 7, 2016


I've realized how bad it has been just letting the Starpoint Mountain series fall by the wayside since I started doing films.  I really am embarrassed by it.  I should have been smarter and I better get my ass in gear and make up for things.
I'm back up to writing every day.  Some days I get out a sentence, some times, a word, but at least I'm working on it.  It's harder than I expected to get back in to the flow of things but I'm forcing myself to get moving.  When I am sitting and working on it I 'm very excited about it.  It's just sitting down and doing it that takes lots of concentration.
To help jump start I've started advertising again, ordered some promotional items, and changing everything over to Create Space.  This will help me get in to Barnes and Noble in some ways.