Having an Asocial Hermit Thanksgiving this year, mostly because I have tons of homework assignments to finish. I'm thankful that friends have invited me to their family feasts and grateful that family and friends are in good health. Mom, be careful with that cold!
As I have for AHTs in the past, I avoid any traditional holiday foods. My only concession to feasting is the store-bought key lime pie (which Mom never makes, so it doesn't count as traditional). Now, if only I could turn off the football and get some work done....
The hardest-working men on a movie set are usually the Grips, who'll haul and erect lights, lay dolly track, install car mounts, and strap everything down with gaffers tape or weigh it down with heavy sandbags -- all for a shot that might get two seconds of screen time. On a Action Movie set like ours, the talent gives them a run for their money. The protagonist of Ninja Quest, Ryan Amstutz (right) not only ran and jumped his butt off through many takes of Parkour action Friday, but sparred tirelessly on the mat with his antagonist every chance he got, preparing to do movie battle on the concrete warehouse floor.
Once on the concrete Sunday, Ryan and Jamal Alexander continued to get their choreography down perfectly. After all that and many, many takes from multiple camera angles, Ryan had bounced his elbows off the floor a few too many times and they'd begun to swell with fluid. Ryan soldiered on and delivered a great performance.
As I was helping unload the production truck, carrying heavy equipment on sore, aching feet, I thought back to Ryan's feat of endurance, gritted my teeth, and finished the job. If only I could've looked as cool as Ryan doing it.
Robyn was a real trooper when I made her up for her death scene. She even asked for a dose of stage blood in her mouth (minty Ben Nye variety) and reloads between takes. The shooter, PJ Peavy, playing a veteran police detective, was coached by the director to "Mozambique" her target, though it's kinda obvious that Sonny, the drug lab cook, wasn't wearing a vest. Hey, you try pausing while someone's shooting a shotgun at you.
I was equally impressed when Robyn drove home from the set without washing off the make up. I can imagine the expression of someone pulling up next to her in traffic. As much as I would have loved to try some explosive blood squibs, we didn't have to time or money to do it right (plus, shots were comped for frontal shots, and despite what you see on YouTube and bad Hollywood FX, entry wounds don't explode out of your chest... exit wounds explode out the back.
Young Dylan was gunned down off-screen in his pajamas by a stray bullet.
Jamal's bad guy character "Loki" got beat up by the hero and left behind in a burning drug lab. It just wasn't his day.
Eye bruising was done by our conventional Make-up Crew.
After four long days on the set, I can almost forget I ever wanted to choke out any of my crewmates/classmates during the grueling production. This pic was taken on Wrap Day, when we could finally see the light at the end of the warehouse/tunnel.
In the interest of my blog content, the young lady is holding my Winchester 1300 Lady Defender 20 gauge. Robyn was kind enough to fall with it onto the rubber mat during her death scene. Besides armorer/props, I did her special FX make-up later.
Going Nowhere (2011, Travis Ardle, Dir.) is the director's rally back into film-making after his capstone Advanced Video project fell short of the Pima Community College course's minimum time standards. Unfortunately, Travis tends to write a rather fluffy screenplay, so the industry norm of 1 page of Final Draft script = 1 minute of screen time fell to the wayside again, though some of this can be attributed to on-the-fly paring of the script to meet production time constraints. As the editor of the film, it was my job to tighten up the flow of the footage in support of the story; this tightening rendered what was a least a six-page script into less than three minutes of screen time, even with two scenes of travel montage added as transitions. Travis' screenplay was a slave to dialogue with only a little non-verbal acting depicted. Before you critique the acting too harshly, please realize that Travis cast his friends in the roles, not "actors." That being said, James Maxam turned out a journeyman performance as the lead role of Leo, a man breaking ties with a criminal gang led by the lovely Diamond (Krissa Goodin). Jeff Meyhoff turned out a convincingly menacing thug, Dirk, and Kristine Downey an understatedly sweet Beth, Leo's love interest.
Going Nowhere benefited from the cinematography of Mario Silvas' deft camera work and lighting direction; my audio mixing managed not to screw up the short, which is really all you can ask of the "invisible art."
Travis and his cast have already expressed interest in a sequel and I hope he leads them through some structured rehearsals before the shoot. That way, Krissa can master the dialogue beforehand and concentrate on emoting on-camera... she should have plenty to emote about, after what Leo did to her.
Maxam is a member of the local metal bandWe Killed the Union with Sean Raines (who voiced the police officer). Sean (WKTU's Screamer-in-Chief) gave me a copy of their latest indie CD "Bloodset Arizona" during the shoot and the next day I popped it into the Stang's player on the way to town. Holy cow, that was intense! Blasting down the Interstate with the top down, volume cranked to Eleventy to fight the wind noise, it was better than a Five-Hour Energy Drink! By the time I hit the off-ramp, the more sedate "Mud River Blood" cued up and I knew we had the soundtrack cut before Mr. Ardle even told me.
If Travis still talks to me after this review, I hope he'll keep me in mind for crewing the sequel(s).
Behold my Adobe Illustrator Mid-Term. Rather than have an in-class evaluation, our new instructor decided we should demonstrate the stuff we learned by making a get-well card for our previous instructor, who's out for the rest of the semester recovering from quintuple bypass surgery.