Knee-Deep in Movie Making

We have shot three days so far. Here’s a recap of what’s happened since the first day:

Our Kickstarter was a horrible failure. We did achieve 57% of our goal, but since Kickstarter is an all-or-nothing type thing, we get nothing. As the Executive Producer, it’s my responsibility to find money. Montetré is also an Executive Producer, so at least we get to share this burden. As an additional fundraiser, we organized a party. We got donations of artwork, gift certificates, books, and DVDs to hand out as prizes in the raffle. We hoped that through selling drinks, raffle tickets, and the good-will of strangers and friends, we’d be able to raise enough to cover the gap in Kickstarter. Oh, how it would be nice not to worry about the money. While fun, the fundraiser didn’t meet our expectations, but we were able to show a rough-cut of the Day 1 shoot.

Wah-Wah. Just another of life's little challenges.

Wah-Wah. Just another of life’s little challenges.

The same day as the fundraiser, I determined that due to logistical and financial constraints, the location we had secured for Day 2 and 3, Oliver’s Café, was a no-go. I didn’t want to pass on this added stress to the rest of the crew during the party, so I waited until after to inform Montetré. As with any production, there are going to be challenges. Perhaps with a 5 or 6 digit production budget things would go more smoothly, but this is indie film-making… bordering on guerrilla filmmaking. At the end of the fundraiser, I was left with less cash on hand than I wanted, and no location for a shoot that was happening in less than four days.

With all challenges come opportunity. The Day 2 and 3 location is a restaurant. The shoot hours were 4pm until 2am. Oliver’s Café is a breakfast and lunch joint, so we wouldn’t have had to worry about interfering with normal business hours during our shoot. But finding the appropriate setting that’s not open during the evening is tough. I figured the best hope was to find an out-of-business restaurant that still had all the tables and chairs. I hit Craigslist and searched for restaurants for sale. I found one called Bravo Lounge. I called the owner, Stefan. I believe the place is still in business, but mainly does special events and music nights, and thankfully, was free for our two shoot days. I drove over to the location, and it looked way better than Oliver’s for our purposes. It was perfect. I headed over to Montetré’s to tell him the news and arrived just as the Kickstarter was counting down the seconds to our big failure. Seeing your major source of funding evaporate and knowing you are without a location is shitty, and Montetré was in low spirits. I saved the news about the Bravo Lounge until after the Kickstarter ended, and that instantly raised the mood. We celebrated with some drinks at Dean’s Scene, and I unveiled our new fundraising concept, High-Five.

What is $5? Not a lot really. It’s a drink, a pack of cigarettes, and less than 1/1000th of our production budget. It’s also the idea that if we can reach 1005 people (1005 being Montetré’s magic number), we can fund this project. It’s also a rejuvenation of our enthusiasm for this film. We set up a pay portal directly on the website, and offered similar prizes as the Kickstarter. $5 for a ticket to the premier, $25 for a DVD, etc. We contacted all of our backers on Kickstarter and asked them to give us a High-Five. Thus far, several have.

Day Two of shooting began at 4pm. Five principal actors, 11 extras, 9 crew. Lights, three cameras, sound, makeup.. an entire restaurant scene to dress. Montetré and I had a lot to do before the shoot. We needed to get plates, prop food, a wheelchair dolly, lights, catering, coffee, artwork, wine glasses, faux-wine… somehow we managed to get it all done and show up on set right on time. The added pre-pro work came thanks to one of the producers dropping out the night before. One of the additional charms of this style of filmmaking is the stress it puts on individuals. While we are paying the crew, we’re also asking a lot of them. Long shoots, rapid pace, not to be cliché, but it is a labor of love. Without the total dedication by everyone involved, the film won’t be the best it can be. I feel now, we have solidified the crew and they are all invested in the project and truly care about the final product. Everyone is working in complete sync, and the challenges of the ambitious shooting schedule are being met by the crew. They blow my mind, really. It’s amazing to see.

Evan Hays and the Cast and Crew

Evan Hays and the Cast and Crew

Day 3 went nearly as smoothly as day 2, although it did have its own challenges. Some of the crew had commitments that prevented them from showing up at the call-time, but Montetré used that time to rehearse shots, shoot some MOS stuff, and in the end, things were fine. I had to work, so I showed up to dress the set (which fortunately didn’t require much since we could leave the setup overnight). I went to work (which sucked), and returned for the end of the shoot. Pushing our midnight deadline, we still had to complete the pivotal scene in the film. It sucks to watch the clock without compromising the scene. As a producer, I hate to piss people off, and I was worried that Stefan would be pissed off. Shortly after midnight, Stefan showed up amongst the chaos of finishing the scene and tearing down. He disappeared again as Montetré set up for a couple of additional shots that needed to be done. I knew it would take at least an hour to break down the set and clean up, so we were already over an hour behind schedule, but not to compromise the film, I felt it would be best to finish the shoots and deal with a pissed off restaurant owner. Once everything was about cleared out, Stefan returned in a seemingly good mood. He asked for photos of the shoot and took a shot with Montetré. He really didn’t seem to mind we went over schedule, and was pretty interested in what we were doing.

Montetré with Stefan

Montetré with Stefan

The final exterior shots were filmed outside, which happens to be a lot full of concrete lawn statuettes. At 2am, with exactly 24 hours before the bar scene filming, we were done. A long two days, yes, but an amazing amount of work was accomplished. Can we get a High-Five?

Exterior scene

Exterior scene

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