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Final Rehearsals Tonight

Last Day of Rehearsals and Lighting Practice :/

I am holding one last rehearsal with my actors tonight at Houlihan’s at 9 p.m. Shane and I will also be running through how we are going to light the booth where Jack serves the family that he gets into a confrontation with. Lighting this booth is not going to be easy because the booth is up against a wall, which doesn’t allow for any lights behind it. This should be interesting. After we figure out how to light the booth, it will be much easier to know where we are going to move the lights for other booths in the scene.

Also during rehearsals tonight, I am going to have Jack and Don practice the moment where Jack spills the pop all over him. I figured out last night during rehearsals that it is important to not have the glass break when Jack “knocks” it over. I definitely do not want to have to worry about glass breaking all over Don. I think rehearsals will go very well tonight and I am sure I will have some video footage up for everyone to see within the next few days 🙂


Evidence that I actually did have a test lighting shoot out on the patio! These stills are of Jared as a stand in for “Jack”. They are shot with the Canon 5D (which I have decided I am going to use to shoot my film) and they look amazing! When comparing with the footage outside using the SONY EX1R, there is NO comparison!

Time to Panic

I received some news today that will potentially put quite the damper in my senior film. Due to some personal issues, my female lead who was playing the role of Lindsey had to pull out of my film. With a week until filming, I am on a mad scramble to try and find someone to take her place. I am searching around and will exhaust all options in hopes that I can fill the role in time for rehearsals on Wednesday and Thursday night!

I will hopefully be viewing some auditions tonight through youtube and will let you all know if I make a decision.

As far as the footage from the SONY camera, I am having trouble downloading the log and transfer XD CAM. All of this electronic stuff is starting to jumble my brain so please bear with me 🙂

Test Lighting Footage

Here is a short 2 minute clip of the lighting that Jared, Shane and I have been working on. This footage that I have is just a few short clips using the SONY EX1R camera. This is the opening scene of the script and is going to use quite bit of lights in addition to what is already shown in these shot. I also attached the ambient restaurant noise that I recorded with the Fostex a few weeks ago.

More video footage with the Cannon 5D to follow!

Table Read

1st Table Reading

On Wednesday May 11th, I called my actors together and set-up our first table reading! I was meeting with my characters, Jack, Lindsey and Don, the dad that gets into the confrontation with Jack. I was so excited to finally be able to get all of my actors to meet for the first time. We all arrived at the shooting location around 8 p.m., I gave introductions and then grabbed a table. We all sat down and I basically asked if we could run through the script and read it as they thought it should be read. I also asked if anyone had any questions and then we began.

Overall, I was very pleased with the way that the first reading went. As we began I read each scene description and the small character lines that followed. Along the way I would stop everyone to explain little details of the script to make sure that all of the actors knew what each line means as well as how I want them to read it. The emotion that Jack, Lindsey and Don put into the lines for a first reading was really great. I can tell that once they have the lines memorized and we start rehearsals, they are really going to fulfill the vision I have for these characters.

After we read through the script once, I decided to do a quick run through/blocking with the actors in the section of the restaurant where the filming will take place. As each actor was introduced in the film, I made sure that they all knew what they would doing when they weren’t speaking. I realized that my three main actors are all going to be on camera almost the entire time. While Lindsey is talking to her tables, Jack will be seen in the background interacting with his, and vis versa when Jack is interacting with his table. Whenever Jack is not at the table where Don will be seated with his family, Don and the other booths around him will be making small talk. The last thing of importance that I covered was the moment when Jack walks out of the restaurant. Because I am going to be cheating and making it appear as though Jack is really walking out the front doors of the restaurant, I wanted to bring both Don and Jack out to the patio to block how their interaction is going to happen. I was able to get a feel for where I want Jack to be when he bursts out the patio door, which lead Don to the throw the change in his path. Now when I go back to the restaurant next Wednesday with Shane and Jared, I will know exactly the area to light on the patio.

The first rough blocking rehearsal is out of the way and I am definitely happy with what we accomplished. I thanked all of my actors very much for making the drive out to my location, being that two out of the three live in Minneapolis. I also quickly asked the actors if they had any suggestions or comments for me, being that this is my first film I have had complete creative control over. The feedback I received was very positive and I felt really good at the end of the night leaving the restaurant.

Next I will be figuring out when to schedule a full rehearsal and will also try to have some extras sit in as the customers so that the actors can get a real feel for what the filming process will feel like!

Until next time, I hope everyone is enjoying the progress I am making. I am getting very excited and also a bit nervous because I feel as though I still have a lot to accomplish in two weeks before the cameras start rolling :/

Test Lighting Shoot #2

On Tuesday night I had Shane Lattie and Jared Wolterstorff meet me at my film location to practice lighting set-ups. We met around 9 p.m. and mainly worked on lighting the opening scene when the camera enters the restaurant and travels up to the host stand. It is here that we see Chris, the host, on the telephone. The entry way to the restaurant has very low lighting at this time of night and we knew that we would have our work cut out for us. I brought a long a small ARRI light kit and two Tota lights, little did we know that it would not be enough. In an hour and a half all accomplished was figuring out the lighting set-up for the opening scene! That scares me but we decided that going to location two more times and we should have all of the lighting set-ups nailed down. After we figured out to the light the host stand we made a rough drawing so that we are able to remember where and how to set everything up. The next thing that came up in discussion was whether Jack is still going to leave out the front doors or out the patio door. Deciding that when it comes time to filming, I am going to cheat having Jack leave out the front door and have him exit out the patio door where the Dad will follow him. When we stepped out to the patio we walked around and tried to map out exactly where the dad will be standing when he throws the change at Jack. I am going to have an ARRI light set up out there with a blue gel on it to try and create a little bit more of a subtle moonlit effect.

The next time we are going to meet is next Wednesday night and try to figure out how to light the corner booth where Jack is serving the family that he gets into a confrontation with. It is going to be one the hardest set ups of my film to figure out because there is a brick wall behind the booth. Shane, Jared and I are going to have to figure out how to light the table without getting the lights in the shot. I am still wanting to shoot as continuously as possible, only cutting when I absolutely have to. Once we figure this set up out, the rest of the booths will be a piece of cake. Next time I am going to come prepared with as many lights and stands as possible. I will post an example of the lighting set up for the host stand so you all can get a feel for what I am talking about

Photo Story Boards

Delving further into my senior project pre-production process, I went to my location site and shot a number of photo storyboards with a stand in actor, (The lovely Katherine Wood who I work with.) Ideally I would have loved to have had my actors there but I made do just fine. I went through my script in order and shot a variety of different angles. My camera did die right at the end of shooting so I will be going back to get the rest of those at later date. My next step in the pre-production process is to now watch all of photos in a slideshow to see if there are specific angles that I like more than others. If I do not like any of them, I may have to go back and reshoot completely! Here are some examples of my storyboards.

Here are a few more shots of the initial walk/introduction into the restaurant.

These pictures represent when Lindsey and Jack will be at the computers having their conversations.

These last few screen shots I am posting show Lindsey frantically running around in her section going back and forth between tables. In this first one Lindsey is dropping off the check at one of Jack’s tables and thanks them again. She then turns to a table of impatient ladies who expectedly have a list of needs.

The last one is of her walking away from the man whom she thought needed something. He is walking back to the computer expecting another terrible tip, only to be surprised by his generosity.

Final Scene storyboard photos to follow!

On Thursday night I brought my cinematographer Jared, and my director of photography Shane, to my shooting sight so they could get a feel for the space where my story takes place. I brought with me a large Arri light kit that had a 300, 650 and an Arri soft box light inside. When Shane, Jared and I first got to the restaurant, I showed them around the area/space that I will be using for filming and explained the vision I have. We then sat down in one of the booths, we began talking about different camera angles for specific character movements and actions. I decided that I want to try and film my story as continuously as possible. The less cutting the better. From here, I think that my next step is going to be figuring out if it is in fact in my best interest to shoot my scenes in order. Through discussing character movements we began thinking about establishing shots and the opening sequence of the film. Shane asked me if I am going to be taking any outdoor footage of the restaurant to set-up the story. I had honestly not thought about doing that at all. I had decided on beginning my filming in the doors of the restaurant. I do have to be careful to not get the name of the restaurant in any of the shots if I decide to do this. The next thing that was brought to my attention is why I decided to follow the dad out of the restaurant with the camera and not Jack. Why am I putting the focus on the dad? I am deciding the follow the dad out of the restaurant simply because of a camera choice. I like the vision that I have for following the dad out to meet Jack, rather than having the camera behind Jack waiting for the dad. To get a feel for exactly how this would go down, we stepped outside the restaurant and mapped out the actions of the actors. After we did this we realized that the front of the building is really nice aside from all of the parking signs. Jared then offered up himself to change the restaurant sign and parking signs if need be. I could even get people to park in front of these signs to cover them up for the shoot which would help a lot. Then we took it one step further and tried to figure out if there was some place nicer that Jack could bust out of the restaurant rather than into the parking lot because it just isn’t very visually pleasing. The restaurant that I am filming at does have a patio which backs up to a pond and a wooden bridge with much prettier scenery. What if Jack appears to be walking out of the front doors and just ends up on the patio. He doesn’t actually leave. He hangs out there and just doesn’t come back into the restaurant. Not sure if this is a good idea or not, but it is definitely something to play around with. This would give an opportunity to build character development even more for Jack instead of just having him take off from the restaurant and have that be it. While we did not have any cameras around on Thursday night, a lot was still accomplished! Both Jared and Shane were able to get a feel for the area and we talked about a lot of different ideas. All three of us will be going back this Thursday with cameras and lights to shoot some video footage and test everything out!


Background Restaurant Noise

A few weeks ago I took a Fostex recorder to the restaurant I work at and recorded the sounds on a Saturday night for roughly 3 hours. I did this because when it comes time to start my filming, the restaurant will not be busy at all. It will be after hours. I will only be filling up a small section with actors, extras and people that I work with. I decided to set up the recorder in the front entry way of the restaurant between the host stand and the bar area. I knew this was where I was going to be able to get the most variety in noise. Noise not only from people coming into the restaurant to be sat, but also from customers eating and walking in and out of the bar. During these three hours of audio that I captured, we were not as busy as I had hoped. Of course something like this would happen on a night when I am recording sound. To start off I put the Fostex recorder and the microphone facing the host stand. This way I was able to capture the hosts talking, customers coming in, and still some background noise from bar. After about an hour and a half, I rotated the microphone to face the bar. As the restaurant was not as busy, there were a few tables of parties of eight or more that were being quite loud. I covered the entire Fostext recorder up with a few black napkins and only let the head of the microphone stick out. At the end of the three hours, around eight o’clock, the bar was not getting any busier, so I decided to stop the recording.

Overall, the sound that I captured is great. The environmental noise is great and sounds like a casual restaurant on a somewhat busy night. I can hear faint voices up at the host stand, dishes clanking here and there amid the usual conversation. About ten minutes into the audio footage I can hear the distinct laugh of a woman in the bar that continues throughout the audio. I have a lot of sound that will be great for casual dining, as well as the commotion from customers when they are leaving the bar. I am definitely excited to start filming now so I can see how the sound will match up with the film!

I’m Back!!!

I have been gone for way too long and I apologize! Since my last update I have accomplished quite a bit. I have been working on scene breakdowns, scheduling and even held several auditions!

Scheduling has been interesting to say the least. My film is set to start production on May 31st at 9 p.m. and finish by June 8th. Being that I am filming in a restaurant, (at an undisclosed location), we will have to be done by 1:30 a.m. at the latest. That is if everything works out the way it should.

Scene breakdowns went pretty well and I realized while I do not need that many props, it’s the extras, as in customers, that I am going to need the most of. Upon doing my 9th level review to teachers and fellow students, it was brought to my attention multiple times that my film is going to be the most complicated to film, because I will have the most people to direct. It was also brought to my attention that it may be a good idea to think about getting a food stylist. I am going to have a lot of food that is ordered and I just need to make sure that it is food that can sit out a while without going limp. For example, sandwiches, chicken fingers, house salads, soups, etc.

Auditions were a lot of fun. I out out a casting call for my film on Craigslist as well as Walden Entertainment, and the responses I got were incredible. I had so much talent interested in auditioning. Getting them to come in; however, was the problem. I had a few people come in for afternoon auditions. It was very cool hearing the words I have written come to life! After my first round of auditions, I was pretty sure I had found the character to my dad in the film. Then I just needed to find Jack and Lindsey. So, my second round of auditions I held in the evening as more people were able to make. I had two people show up 😦 Out of all the responses I get, two people. However, out of those two people, I found my Jack and I changed my mind on the role of the dad. Now I am just stuck without anyone for the role of Lindsey. Hopefully this will be solved soon. Overall, the rest of my pre-production process has been quite fun. You all know how frustrating writing the script was for me….:/ I am going to post my casting call below for you to look and will post more sooner than later. I PROMISE!!

Casting Call