Monday, August 26, 2013

On Being Crafty and the List of Impossibles

It gets real for me when I start buying things like clothes hangers. That means that a shoot is nigh more than anything else. Of course, there is a script and a vague kind of schedule, but beyond that, there is an agreement between all of the disparate parties we've assembled that this will happen relatively soon. When I know this is a certainty, my mind jumps to things that have been a source of problems during past shoots.

I can't say it often enough. If a film has a tiny budget, it behooves producers to make sure that there are some amenities that make the actor feel like they are appreciated. We don't have a wardrobe person, but we should still have their costumes set up in their changing space in the best way possible so that they can be easily seen and used in proper order. That means clothes on hangers in the order worn. There should absolutely be dressing rooms available. Barring that, there should be a comfy room to hang out and run lines.

And then, there is the crafty and food issues which brings me to toasters. On both The Privateers and DemonUnder Glass, we didn't have the right or enough appliances. We had great coffee makers, but no electric kettle for hot water. We had a microwave but no toaster oven. You really need something to toast bagels or properly reheat a slice of pizza. These items seem unimportant compared to the script – and in some ways, they are not as important. Yet, I was still running around like crazy in drug stores in the middle of the night to make sure we had them on the craft service table the next day. Thus, I am picking up hangers and pricing small appliances for pick up very soon. It's great that it is back to school time. The sales are fantastic. What happens to the appliances after the shoot? We used to give them away to a member of the cast or crew or to a thrift shop and write it off. But now that we have a home for the production company, we'll just store it in our trash barrels (one for glass, one for paper and one for plastic and one for garbage) until the next shoot. I also must address the List of the Impossible ®.

The List of the Impossible is my own name to the elastic, seemingly trivial yet vitally important list of items that an actor, a director or various crew people may need. No one has this disparate grouping of items normally. No one. But film is a strange environment and sometimes requires a sack of goodies that would rival any in a video game. It can be a highlighter (you must have a variety of colors because the actor may hate yellow). I've been asked for cough drops (also keep a variety from the candy type to the all natural), band aids, antacids, herb tea, tooth brushes or dental floss, safety pins, mints, gum (mint and cinnamon for both of those and the dental floss). I had a lot of those items during the last shoot I worked on though it was not my job to be the List Keeper. I don't mind wearing this hat. I am a maniacal list keeper anyway, so this is easy. It's just weird when the bags of strange stuff start piling up around the apartment. There is only one item that I refuse to stock from the List and deliberately make difficult for actors to get – cigarettes. I feel almost as strongly about energy drinks, but I won't not carry them – yet. If they continue to make the crew cranky and a little crazy, I may ban them from my sets.

I assemble these things well in advance, because once the train gets going, there is very little time to think about anything more than the stuff that is on camera. Please note, that this is true only when it is a tiny budget. In big budgets, there are people assigned to fill these lists and get these appliances for Craft Services. The list for Craft Services itself is a whole other matter. I deal with that as a function of feeding the cast and crew. Since I am now a pro-am chef (I am being paid to cook on a limited and exclusive basis), I will be feeding them as well as running sound and other production tasks.

Next Time – What is in the new script?!

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Updates from a Hollywood Mansion!

I don't like to be too personal when I write on this blog, but the personal has intruded in the progress of the web series in the last few weeks, so I thought I share some of the mayhem that's been going on. We've had some set backs with the production that coincided with some personal issues that caused us to seriously think about pulling the plug on the productions. But our leads told us to wait, take a breath and look at the problem on another day. We did and some amazing things began to happen those amazing things lead to some other amazing things. Within a few weeks, we were back on track. I also got to meet some Trek stars. Usually, that would be for my personal blog. But this may be relevant to Demonspawn as well. That part of the story is still unfolding..

I look back on the last two weeks with excitement and exhaustion. I've had trouble doing a blog about it, because I still don't know how I feel about it. Let's start with the good stuff. I survived almost a week on shoot that was 12 hours overnight (6pm to 6am) in a 4 story location where use of the steep staircase was mandatory. The whole prospect was frightening. I can have so many issues that can keep me from really getting out of bed on any given day. I still never know when that day will be. But there were many reasons that I very much wanted to work this shoot. The most important reason was to prove to myself that I can do the work in some fashion. I knew that I couldn't run around as I once did, but I could do some things. I was very grateful to the producers to be given the opportunity.

No Place Like This Home

Some of the crew remarked that it would be cool to live in that mansion way up in the Hollywood Hills. I was not among them. It wasn't a house that was built to live in, actually. It made absolutely no sense as a house that one lives in. I later found out that it was built as a location. I mean, even the most vain individual would not have a four station professional make-up room with a pro wardrobe room attached. There were even two private toilets off the make-up room. It was set up for actors. But that's good, because there was a lot for the director to work with. The setting even made me want think about how we could do bits of Demonspawn there. Most of the rooms that faced the east had these gigantic electronic black out shades. I could see Simon Molinar totally renting a place with that many large windows as a lark and because no one would think of him renting such a place. I actually had a chat with the very nice young men who were running the location about a short shoot there. That kind of location can really sell the notion of a hero with deep pockets. One scene goes a very long way. Here is the house in all of its glory though there are many rooms not shown. Where the sister property is the one I think would be more to Simon's tastes because it has more woods and darker colors. I just see Simon as liking that more.

Our Director of Photography was also working the shoot. He agreed that those houses had possibilities. He also told me about a location just up the block from the houses that could solve our long standing problems
with where to do certain scenes that required a more isolated location. The Los Angeles Reservoir was just up the hill from where we were shooting. It is an astonishingly beautiful vista in such an urban location. And there were little hiking paths that were ideal for part of the script. We could use one of the houses as a home base for that part of the shoot. That would save us from renting trailers. We'll have to see though which is cheaper.The house has the advantage of kitchen space and many, many bathrooms. I'm a girl. I can't help thinking about these essentials.

The big development is that we have a stable location for casting, rehearsals and for some parts of the shoot that are well within our budget! It can double for any number of places we need, and we have a professional space to work out of for the duration. Of course, we still have scheduling issues. Our leads are busy in one direction. Our crew is busy in another. The next few days will be spent coordinating schedules that bring us all together. Doing that though will be far easier with these new assets and this bitchin' new script.

We hope to introduce you to new actors filling the open roles very soon.  Meanwhile, Check out these photos from the house!

My 'office' for the shoot.

The kitchen is bigger than our apartment!

The view from my 'desk' in my 'office' at the shoot.

The Living Room!