Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Flickmaking Part 3 - Prep!!!

Be Prepared.

Yeah, I've said this before, but do it. And while you're prepping your epic indie flick, go re-write it again. Because it needs it. Trust me. The movies I made (3.5 features, 5 shorts, on either film or DV) could have used another re-write. Would that have made them sell to Miramax at the time? No, my shitty-ass budgets killed me there, but it would have made them better.

A story that comes to mind when I think about my past productions is the one with the most turmoil, the debacle that was West River Drive.

The movie was personal for me, it had a lot of family strife in it that mirrored my life growing up. I felt it was important to make. I was wrong. Not to make it but how I made it.

No prep.

Well, certainly not enough.

I hired a kid (see past posts about how he would not stop looking into the camera once we called "Action!") for the lead who I thought was good enough. I was settling. Rule #1 - Don't settle.

Then I hired a girl to play his neighborhood crush/love interest. Amazing, she was actually, but funny thing is, by the time we went to shoot, this chick had grown several inches and TOWERED over my lead.
Rule #2 - Cast the shit out of your movie.

(They were both around 10 years old.)

I couldn't replace her though, her mother was doing a lot for the production (setting up some locations, etc) and as for the kid, well, I should have dropped his ass but I felt I could work around his quirks. Yeah, I was a dumbass.

So we tried to make it work, but for scheduling reasons we had a nother problem. We had to shoot a pretty big scene first that takes place at a carnival.

The scene of their first kiss. On our first day of shooting.


We stormed the carnival (it was actually called a grange fair) it had all sorts of rides, as well as horsies and monster-jam loving yokels, and shot it guerllia style. Which was all fine and good, except of course, for the kiss.

In the script, it's a magical moment. Life-changing for this kid....and he wouldn't stop looking at the camera. It was a situation where we had to lie and tell him we weren't shooting just to get a half-decent take out of him. Plus when they kissed it looked like 2 doors bonking into each other, absolutely no chemistry.

What was supposed to be an amazing scene ended up as part of a montage, a footnote basically.

We shouldn't have shot the movie. At all.

Another funny tale came later. We were shooting on a neighborhood street in my old hood, when the guy who was playing Grandpa decided to chat with the gathering crowd of kids that were watching. I didn't mind, I was busy with the DP setting up the scene.......until I turn to see Grandpa ATTEMPTING TO BOUNCE ON ONE OF THE KID'S POGO STICKS.


An old man. On a pogo stick.

Everything seemed to unfold in slo-mo.

It went how you think it would, he got about a bounce-and-a-half off and then down he went, into a tree & curb. Luckily we had a first-aid kit handy to bandage him up....Rule #3 - Don't hire loopy old folks.

I could write a friggin book.


Robert Hogan said...

I know it's not nice, but I'm laughing my ass off. It's so funny becuase I've been in your shoes. We should write a book.


writebrother said...

An old man on a pogo stick is comedic gold. You need to toss that into one of your scripts.