Monday, May 08, 2006

A Tale of 2 C-Stands, 4 Sandbags, and the Truth.

Today we address the question of equipment.

A tale of how the genius of Mark Solter allowed us to make a movie with two C-Stands and four Sandbags.

As many of you are aware off is the colossal amount of equipment necessary to make a 30 second commercial never mind a full blown Feature. The large HMI lights, the 10 Ton Equipment Trucks, the Grip Truck, blah, blah. And yet on our Epic Homage to Bad Dancing we had not as much as a Push bike armed with equipment.

Now you could ask, was this an Asiatic choice? An Anti Equipment Dogma Manifesto to use only the bare minimum? A tribute to natural light, taking Gordon Willis approach to Cinematography to the next level?

We would love to agree with any of the above suggestions yet the simple truth was this. We had No Money! Equipment was what we had, not what we wanted or needed for that matter.

The lights were a Lowell 1000k kit; Shane Finnertys light kit, some bits and pieces, and some reflectors. The Camera was a Canon X1 with a Zoom and a Wide Angle lens. No Dolly, a tripod that didn’t balance correctly and a shopping cart for a dolly.
With this measly offering of Lights, Mark had to create Movie Magic. Every day he had to figure out a way to light a dark cave with the equivalent of a wet box of matches.

To make matters messier, the Director/Writer decided he needed some Green Screen footage. In order to make this happen we had to break down and Rent..2 C Stands and 4 Sandbags.

So on the very last day of the movie, I arrived with the 2 C Stands and 4 Sandbags to an almost tearful Mark Solter. As he cried “We need more lights…” I smiled and ran away.

He was doing so well with so little, one certainly didn’t want upset the balance.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

The Historic 'Dine And Dash!'

An historic moment was about to happen. It would be the first time the “Manband!” aka Parazone where to be all together in a scene.

Parazone had 5 talente…5 individuals of distinctive ability…characteristics.

The band consisted of

Bartender, an ex HeveyMetal singer moonlighting as a Bartender. The nearest thing he had ever been to a Boysband was when his old Deathmetal band “Satan’s Stepchild” stole the tour bus of a certain band from Boston in the late 80’s.

Baerrelman is an out of work Opera Singer who despises pop music. He’s only in it for the fame and fortune, a true artist!

Mild Bob, Is a Tupperware Salesman who auditions by accident. A sweet man who had dedicated his life to World Peace and making the World aware of the power of Tupperware.

Bosco Barret, is an Irish Lunatic traveling the world to escape some unpaid bar bills back home. Classic Pop star scenario if the truth be told.

R.Smothskin is a Pretty boy with no ability, talent, or dance moves. A dazzling smile, shiny skin and sings like an out of tune car muffler. A continuation of the historic Pop front man one could say.

The civilian names are as follows. E.E. Bell, Michael Wallot, Kurt Scholler, Kevin Kearns, and Tim Murphy.

E.E. Bell (Bartender) had played Bob Ronny in “Married With Children” and is ironically enough a very good singer of light Opera.

Michael Wallet (Barrelman) is a renowned Opera singer and Director. This Project would present quite a change in style and attitude from what he was accustomed to. Michael was more than a match for it.

Kurt Scholler (Mild Bob) comes from an Improve Comedy background. A native of the great state of Wisconsin he has also played parts in many a fine commercial. Surprisingly Kurt had quite a good voice and could dance a bit. Rumor is that he’s allergic to Tupperware.

Kevin Kearns (Bosco Barret) had also been in Paddy Takes A Meeting’ Probably one of the finest Actors I’ve had the pleasure to work with. He claims that he was a prize-winning dancer. The crew and I are not still not exactly sure of what type or style of dancing he spoke of.

Tim Murphy(R Smothskin) was a heartthrob/Sexpot in an Irish Soap Opera “Glenroe” in the 90’s. He played Paddy in my short movie “Paddy Takes A Meeting”. A gifted Actor, Gaelic Footballer; Sophisticated man about town... Some might say CHALLAGED in the areas of Song and Dance.

The historic first shot consisted of the band Drinking to excess, then Dashing from the bar as to escape paying the Bar Bill. This is called “Dine and Dash” in certain criminal circles.

The Band performed it like they had been doing it all their life.

The Power of Acting!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Meanwhile Back At the Bar!

It’s 6:30am and the first scene to be shot is missing the Thespian originally slated to play the part.

This is when I thank the Indie Film Gods for Liam Tuhy. Waking him up a little after Midnight he agreed to play the role. This was amazing when you consider he lives near Santa Barbara and the Harp Inn is in Costa Mesa. Yet Liam was the first Actor to arrive, bright eyed and filled with tales of his adventures making the movie "Titanic".

We explained to him that the budget was somewhat smaller for this movie.

Pat Towne and Jonathan arrived. Their first scene together they worked along side one of the band members, Bartender played by the legendry E.E Bell. He had been playing a gig in the Valley and had driven straight from there to make the shoot. A regular on “Married With Children” and also know in the Irish folk music circuit as the lead singer of the band the Wholligans. Ed is a larger than life personality on and off the screen.

The takes were as smooth as silk. There was a magic between them. The future appeared bright.

Yet the biggest challenge still lay ahead. It involved the Band “Parazone” the principals Louie, Joey, and Jenny doing a Dine and Dash. The Owners eyes nearly poped when he heard the AD call out the name of the scene. Time was running out. We had to till Noon to film, the time was 11:50 and we hadn’t rolled a take yet.
All eyes were on the Director.
Pressure, Baby, Pressure.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

The most Dangerous Movie Location in the World

The second day found us at that most dangerous of movie locations. An IRISH BAR.

At 6am we rolled into the infamous Harp Inn in Costa Mesa. An ideal location for some of the pivotal scenes I had checked it out as a possible location for the previous 3…YEARS.

Yes I admit it. It was my local, my den of inequity. My Island of crazy pleasing. And darn it all if it didn’t go and look great on Film. I am a fortunate man.

John Joe Lyons the owner let us into the bar. Working the night before he had had 2 hours sleep. John Joe always has a big smile on his face, this morning it was a tad diluted.

He had craceiusly allowed us to shoot there. This act of generosity was typical of the incredible help we received from people. Without it the movie would have just been an idea taking up space in some lonely hardrive.

Meanwhile back at the Bar.

The band where meeting for the first time. Also the first casting emergency was taking place. The Acting chapie who was supposed to play the bar patron in 3 pivotal scenes had decided to go to Vegas instead. And last but not least the two lead Actors Pat Towne and Jonathan Magnum would be in their first scène together.

Tune in tomorrow when we find out
(1) If we can recast in time?
(2) Will the Band break up before they get together?
(3) Is there chemistry between the two lead actors?
(4) Shall the owner of the Harp Inn throw everyone out?
(5) Can the Director spend 6 hours in his favorite bar without a drink, or a supermodel on his arm?

All this and more tales of Movies, Dreams, and Bad Dancing.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

What Supermodels look for in A Movie Director?

What Supermodels look for in A Movie Director is one of the great quistions of our time.

But first of all allow me to introduce the first people who were on the set of the Bad dancing Classic Movie "Manband!" each day.

The first two each day was Shane Finnerty and Bryon Stoughton.

Shane would help me load up the equipment, set up craft services, and shoot the behind the scenes footage. All the while chastising the Director for not likening the band “Journey”. Shane also makes his dramatic debut in one of the bigger musical moments in the Movie, a dream come through from the one time Top Radio DJ in the West of Ireland.

As precise as a Swiss watch Bryon would arrive 15 minutes before the call time, coffee cup in hand. While helping bring in the equipment he would give me an up to date account on the actors, their arrival time etc. Since the Kurasawa of North Clare did not have a Cell phone Bryan was the point man on the set.

Arriving from Los Angeles would be the Producer Lon Bixby. A professional photographer he acted as the Line Producer/Set Photographer and “Mr. Lets Keep moving here people” kind of guy. Lon’s a Texan with the charm and none of the bluster, a master of diplomacy.

From Long Beach Mark Solter the DP would drive up filled with ideas and energy. Since our movie had to put it mildly limited resources Mark’s intuition and lighting skill was been called on minute by minute. Mark had a hard time with my Irish accent. On the other hand I had no trouble understanding what he said.

Next up was Rene the Second AD. Rene had been invaluable during Pre Production. On the set he was called on to do boom, be an extra in the fight scenes, and at times be the Prop master. His mom had given us advice on Costumes, some of which we where able to incorporated into the final movie.

Mike Hallen the Script Supervisor/Van Halen Expert, and all round man of the people would arrive from Hollywood. In difficult conditions Mike brought order in how we shot the movie. Example, our budget did not allow us to have a Slate.
In fact what we used for the first two weekends was a SHEAT of PAPER. As soon as I figure out how to upload photo’s to the blog you will get a chance to see Mike’s handy work.

John Meza or “Meza!” appeared mumbling something about having to work with a bunch of "Pinko Liberal Filmmakers" He did the audio.and also played two different parts in the movie. For one of the roles he wished to use a long haired Blond wig, The DP decided it was too hard to light. John still maintains the DP was Jealous of Meza’s ability to look Marvelous!

Brett Caterina Barret would always prepare the location for the invasion of the Madcap Filmmakers. He did boom, stage lighting and one day he build a Didgeridoo for the Japanese Punk Band, “Fantasy Core” lead singer Mao.

And then there’s Mee Vaj. The steady influence, the big picture person, and most of all dear readers…A WOMAN
With all the men on the crew she was oasis in a sea of testosterone. Plus she always brought treats, cheered up the troops, and handle the behind the scenes business.

All that was left to do was for the Writer /Director to make a movie. It’s what all Supermodels look for in a man.
...I hope and pray.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The First Morning of the Movie

A plethora of mayhem, excitement, and joy sums up the first day of the Shoot.
And that was all before breakfast.
There's that awkward 5 minutes while the crew sizes each other up.
Will the equipment work? Is the Director a madman? Does anyone know what’s going on?
Some have worked together before, for others it’s a brand new venture.
The beginning was a trifle hairy. The Sound Mixer we brought failed to record the audio on the first 3 takes. We had to go directly from the Boom Mic into the Camera. This is not how it should be done. Yet it worked out great, which has to do with luck more than skill. Better to be lucky. Kids, please don’t try this at home.
Finally we got a Take that had all the technical elements in place.
The movie had begun.
We finished at 3:30 in the afternoon with 7 scenes shot, a crew finding it‘s grove and a Director happy to have a START.
All that was left was to party and dance all night with Supermodels and Midgets.
Boy!, could does Midgets Dance!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

3 Quistions 3, That are asked regarding "Manband!

The quizions are
(1) Why name a Boysband of Middle Aged men after a bleach? (Parazone)
(2) Shouldn’t people be afraid of a Boysband filled with Middle aged men?
(3) Can you catch Bad Dancing by watching this movie?
Originaly I had wanted to name the band “Manzown” It turn out that in Ireland there was a Boysband named "Boysown" which could be confusing. A friend suggested in jest the name “Parazone”
Like Eureka in the bath I instantly knew the problem the name had been solved.
Parazone is the leading selling bleach in Europe. Since our band of Middle Aged Hero's would CLEAN up in the pop world it made sense…kind of.
Should you Be afraid of Middle Aged Hipsters?
If per chance you find yourself humming along to the songs of Parazone, breaking into dance at the sound of plastic pop music, then...
YES! Be very afraid!
And last of all
Is Bad Dancing Contagious?
Not Really.
You have the same chance on catching Bad Dancing from this movie as you have of getting shot accidentally by the Vice President of the United States of America while Duck Hunting.
On second thoughts…