Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Scouting Party

I went location scouting last week. I both love and hate location scouting. Why they used to be called scouting parties is beyond comprehension. There was no cake at all! But it is an essential chore. On the one hand, I have to see with my own eyes how close the locations are to what has been written in the script. This is especially true when Jon is directing. After working with him for many years, I know exactly how much leeway I have with his needs to get the scene just right. I also know how many angles Jon needs in photographs for each location. I usually have a lot of questions to ask like how much can we alter the location (move things around or re-dress the location as something else). I love location scouting, because it makes me excited about what is going to happen next with the film. It's second to casting in making the project more real. Finally, as a woman, I have to make sure there are decent bathrooms nearby and that there is a place to eat and rest for the cast and crew. The hate of location scouting comes from the walking. When I set up a scout, I pick a very narrow area in which there is a hub where I can rest and get my bearings. When others set up scouts, there usually isn't a hub. There is a lot of walking hither and yon. I put in six miles in one day. And it was not a good day for that. We were having a spate of really cool days and one that was blistering hot. Guess which one was the one we scouted? Blistering! The upside is that I know where to find the cooler spots for that location. And then there are the stairs. I always manage to avoid locations with stairs. Even one flight can seem like Everest after ten hours. After 12 hours, it might as well be Mt. Doom. Yes, including the fire. Elevators help, but crew always find themselves taking stairs because they are always faster. They are exhausting when everyone is healthy. I really try to avoid them now. But the area is perfect in so many ways. I can forgive one set of stairs. It could be worse. We've always
wanted to film on Vasquez Rocks. That involves a cliff!

With that little scouting trip, we believe we now have all the locations we need that do not have permit or insurance issues. They will not be secured until the script is locked down. That should happen very soon as well. The location will actually help in finishing the script, because we had an issue with night shoots. One of our actors has a play this summer, so we wouldn't be able to do the number of night shoots that we would need to to for these scenes. This issue was becoming a real source of tension as we tried to finalize the script. This location always looks like night even in broad daylight. For the first time since the end of the fundraising campaign, I am actually visualizing scenes in my head. This has not been an easy process – re-tooling the script in light of the much smaller budget. I know what fans have been clamoring to see regarding Joe and Simon over the years (Is Joe a frightened prisoner or a willing accomplice? Do they fight over Simon's feeding? Have their been others who knew what Simon was?) We also wanted to explore the theme of vampire fans throughout the ages. I felt that the script we had really explored all of those in a fun way. But I am also reminded of a saying in screenwriting. A writer must be willing to 'murder your darlings.' That means, so save a script, a writer must be willing to 'kill' scenes that they love because they aren't feasible for some reason. That's never easy even though the scenes or plots or whatever gets killed can come back in another script. It sure shan't been here. I'm really liking the results here.

Note: Donors who do not fear major spoilers will be given a link to the new synopsis and episode outline in the next blog.

Our next big challenge is casting the two new characters that are in this script. I plan to put the actors among others on the case.

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