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Production Journal, Page 1

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18 July 2005-
Well, so much to do, so little time. I leave off for Hawaii in a couple of weeks. We're supposed to be filming "Mutants" and "The Mind" (I would prefer we get the latter done first, since it's been planned for so long), but I haven't heard any proposed schedules for the week.
In the meantime, I should get some stuff ready. Such as writing the movies-within-the-movie that Terrence, our main character, films, but also preparing the video tapes Claude has in his video collection. (yes, everyone's gone to DVD, but this is in an analog world- is it a period piece for 1998? Not really. I'm doing this for two reasons- 1. Some filmmakers don't like putting modern-day technology (like MP3 players) in their films because they're afraid it'll date the movie and be obsolete in six months; my "solution" is to use technology that's been obsolete for six years, and 2. A rack of video tapes just looks better onscreen than a rack of DVDs.)
I think my script is finalised- and this would mark the first time I'm using a first draft.
...that I'm actually happy with. (the last time I used one, which was for "Fight Ultimatum", I found how stale and dull the dialogue was- possibly a couple more revisions and handing it to someone else for script doctoring, but what's done is done. I might despise that film, but I don't believe in disowning one's own work- one of the consequences of being an artist is that you have to accept your failures, and learn from them.)

18 July 2005 (late update)-
We did some filming on the actual movie version of "Mutants", which went quite smoothly- as it turned out, we had 30 minutes of spare time left. Aniket actually asked if we could film another segment for my improvisational online series, "Customer"- indeed, this latest segment was done in true "Customer" spirit- no ahead-of-time planning, done and rehearsed spontaneously, and all in spare time (not in a planned filming session).
However, 10 minutes of it we rescued a little ducky we found in the swimming pool! (pictures on bottom ^_^)
Anyways, the series is here at this site,, the reason for the "part 1" is in the hope that there be more segments. (each tripod site can only hold 20MB in free accounts)
Well, here are the pics!

The little ducky! ...aww, ain't he cute...

Nope, ducky's not gonna be rescued so easily! VROOOOM!!!

Finally rescued. Yay!

19 July 2005-
Interesting little filming session- we filmed another fight scene in "Mutants" today. Good! Only three more to go!
Evan tried to take control (like usual), but he restrained himself around 30 minutes into filming. I insisted to Richie that this be a 2-and-a-half hour filming session (4:30-7, instead of 4:30-6), since I anticipated a highly chaotic atmosphere. (judging from the last time he and Evan did a "Mutants" fight scene, during filming of the doomed "Mutants- Promo" project (which I am eternally grateful got dumped)) Plenty of handycam shots (I HATE handycam, and I'm probably only going to use it once for this one; I prefer tripod (Aniket, director of "Mutants", tends to prefer handycam- he says you don't have to spend time setting up shots. While with me, composition really matters to me, so I prefer a tripod so it can be secured (me, of course, being the director of photography in nearly every single production I get involved in))), but fortunately I was able to use the tripod whenever I could.
Filming finished 45 minutes sooner than anticipated- I kept shutting off my camera and packing up the tripod because the three actors looked like they were wrapping up after the take, like, three times. Oh well, we did finish 45 minutes early as opposed to the usual 45 minutes late.
This morning I watched "Cecil B. Demented"- not for the ultra-sensitive (this is genuine R-rated comedy, all without a single shot of nudity but plenty of crude sexual dialogue), but an enjoyable romp for movie freaks, those who like independent cinema, and those who just want to have some nice, incredibly wierd fun for 84 minutes. What's it about?
Radical underground filmmakers out to destroy mainstream cinema, kidnapping a tired Hollywood actress, and starring her in their new movie about... people who are out to destroy mainstream cinema.

21 July 2005-
Another day, another filming session. Aniket declared we take a break from filming for a day, so I used it... somewhat... the "Garden State" soundtrack, which has to be the best compilation of non-original music for a movie EVER. And if you haven't, do rent the movie, it's great.
As well, bought a 10-pack of VHS tapes, and am bound to buy another... yes, that's right, preparing the stuff I'm going to put in Claude's video cabinet- there's a certain way I want it to look, and I do have the money to make sure. (I just have to make sure I have a box to haul all those tapes over to...) Some of these tapes are going to be duds, but some I will record actual movies on them- all the labels are going to contain real movie titles, which you might or might not be able to read onscreen. (online- don't count on it. DVD or film festival- quite possibly) All I know is that the films that Terrence and Claude talk about are NEVER referred to by name.
If I'm guessing correctly, this film is probably going to be the first in our alliance to have actual setting-up in our locations (as in, not just moving a couple of things, but actual setting-up), as well as probably the most locations. (but most of them are within walking distance of each other) well as most extras. (there's a scene which has people walking out of a film festival)
Told you it was going to be my most complex film yet. Complex-to-film, but shouldn't be complex-to-watch. (and, of course, slightly less bizzare than "another walk in the park")
Though perhaps what I should mention is that I took the opprotunity to go see "Wedding Crashers", which is an absolutely fun and hilarious film, and if you can, do go see it.
Today's filming session, we completed about 90% of what we had planned. After waiting for-freaking-ever for him, we got a mere two shots done with his scene. And then, walk over to De Anza and film a brief scene for me.
50% of the film done, and Aniket has decided that he is not so motivated with this one anymore... I still say we've done far too much work on this one to drop it like we did "Mutants- Promo", and we're still going and completing "Mutants" 100%. Aniket might think differently, but I know for sure this one's gonna be better than "Fight Ultimatum".
Hell, anything is.

22 July 2005-
Well apparently there's two distinct filmmaking styles in our group- the one with big cast lists and long monlogues, and the one with short cast lists and brief, concise lines. Guess which one is me?
Now, I'm not necessarily saying one is superior over the other, but currently, I tend to prefer the latter- more time to work with each actor and their characters, and my experiences with long monologues have not gone so well. (perhaps I'm just basing this off from my experiences with "Fight Ultimatum", which gave me a bunch of "how-NOT-tos" in filmmaking)
Does this present challenges? Sure- scenes I do have the urge to write monologues (of which there are quite a few), I can't, since I've limited myself to a maximum of two sentences per line in writing this. Which is what I do with every single project now- place limitations, and you've just opened a few more creative doorways. "another walk in the park" was to have a completely handmade sound mix with absolutely no downloaded sound effects, as well as an original composed score- no unlicensed music or even royalty-free downloadables.
My style of writing nowadays tends to be concise and to-the-point. If a conversation looks like it's dragging on, that's when I know to end it. Pacing is a very important thing to me- something Gus van Sant doesn't understand. He's taken in a supposedly artistic filmmaking style of long stretches of just plain following the character for five minutes with nothing happening, supposedly trying to make us reflect during that amount of time. Van Sant calls it art, I call it laziness. (Van Sant's directing credits include "Gerry", "Elephant" and the recent "Last Days"; his eariler films which don't use this rather dull technique include the excellent "Good Will Hunting", whose only flaw would be the screenwriter's apparent need for every line to have the F-word in it (for once, I was comfortable with the edited TV version))
The next project I'm planning to do, however, will have monologues in it; plenty of them, since it's essentially a 5-minute conversation. "the walk in another park", my follow-up to my previous film "another walk in the park" (duh), has Julian talking with another girl, Julia (yeah, go ahead, make fun of me for this stupid similarity), and pretty much reflecting on aspects of his life and relationships. (the thing I also want to do is not make this entirely about Julian (like, not almost as if Julia is Julian's shrink for five minutes), and flesh out the character of Julia as well) Mainly, not to make it boring.
I should get good practice before writing this one, since the third mini-movie that Terrence makes is essentially that- a couple having a conversation in the park. (okay, so I lied; there's monologues in mini-movie two and mini-movie three)
Yes, I do plan to have all of three of these mini-movies actually made. I like authenticity.
I might possibly delete a certain scene beforehand and write a replacement- I want to get the "editing" done in pre-production, and realise what won't work before it's too late. (it's a scene in the editing room where Terrence edits together lines from movies and decides that as the script for his next movie; the amount of fake lines I'd have to write and record, as well as variation in voices, doesn't look like a possibility in the amount of time I have)

25 July 2005-
Filming today went smoothly... and we did one more scene than planned.
"Mutants" has been delayed "due to lack of cast members", but I also think part of the reason was that Aniket felt no longer motivated to do the film, so we're starting filming on what he considers to be his masterpiece, "Leviathan"... a conspiracy thriller with plot twists. If it's executed properly, it should turn out great, but looking at the script, it's no "Code of 'Con'duct".
I might get some scenes done for this film, since we might as well use the time. Richie's gone, so obviously, do the scenes that don't have him in it. (and there are more of those in "Leviathan" than in this film)
Looking over the script, I crossed out the scenes I mentioned I'd replace in the last post- it actually looks like there doesn't need to be a scene in-between the two.
Still creating Claude's video collection, and creating these videotapes has been an interesting experience, looking at films I haven't seen for a while... such as "Before Sunrise" and "Beverly Hills Cop"; most of my laserdisc collection actually consists of films within Claude's taste in movies! ("Beverly Hills Cop", "Lethal Weapon", "Never Say Never Again", "Star Wars", "The Empire Strikes Back", "Terminator 2") ...there are, indeed, some within Terrence's tastes ("Before Sunrise", "Dr. Strangelove", "Ghost" ...all those being the discs I bought personally =P ). Occasionally, I'll run out of things I can record (and time to record these things), and just create dummy tapes by just writing out the labels. (I've actually made one dummy tape already; I don't want to see THAT film again!)
Created the package that Allison mails Terrence (which consists of a black plastic tape case, a video tape, and a post-it note)... I don't think the handwriting looked girly enough in the handwriting... no, it still looks like my handwriting. (shut up)
...also, what I want to show at the beginning of the film consists of a 10-second clip from a movie Terrence is watching... yes, I'm planning on filming a 10-second ripoff of a Hollywood blockbuster because I don't want to deal with the rights issues. I'm also planning on recording a bunch of phony movie soundtracks to play over scenes where Terrence is watching movies, so this should be fun. (the soundtrack to the film Terrence watches at the beginning plays over the opening credits (which are 45 seconds; as you know, I hate end credits. The end of the movie should be the end of the movie. At the same time, I want something happening during my opening credits so people don't skip 'em.))

26 July 2005-
Today we had Mr.Man (the "Dudes" movies) come over and we shot the final scene of "Leviathan" with him. (I still think that final line is lame; maybe the rest of you will disagree once you see it, but I think the "no duh" factor is too high in there) Well, in two sessions, anyhow.
Aniket had piano lessons for an hour, so Mr.Man and I ran over to Safeway, then at KFC where I saw Kristi's little sister! (who immediately said "Kristi's not here.")
Since we had a half-an-hour left, we ran over to Richie's house and talked for about ten minutes until Aniket dialed my cellphone (...that one day where I had it... and had it on). I pretty much came there to apologise for blurting out to his car window "I SAW 'EVERYTHING YOU'VE ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT SEX', SO YOU DON'T NEED TO GET IT FOR ME!" while crossing the street. (needless to say, Mr.Man immediately commented on my stupidity; I could see everyone in the other cars staring at me)
Yeah, I went to Costco today and, while I didn't find any videotapes, I found Costco-exclusive Woody Allen boxsets, so I bought two of them. (out of three) Collection two having all the films I really liked (including the very two which influenced me to create this project, "Stardust Memories" and "The Purple Rose of Cairo" ("Stardust" for the semi-autobiographical-on-the-filmmaker element, "Cairo" for the escapism-through-film element (there's one direct homage to "Cairo" in this film, none for "Stardust", since it's not a direct influence))), Collection three having most of the films I haven't seen. (including the aforementioned, which is absolutely hysterical (and far less explicit than its title would imply; the film is raunchy, no doubt, but isn't about sex- it's a film that makes fun of everything sex-related))
After we finished the "Leviathan" scene, we shot one brief scene for this film, and I like how it looks. (just from the camera, I like how it looks)
Aniket said that we could possibly film more for this tomorrow, so I've got to prepare some stuff needed. This could be interesting...

28 July 2005-
We had our first ever late filming session. I had said "6", but wasn't able to arrive until 6:40. Aniket had decided, in the meantime, to invite Richie over to convince us "Leviathan" wasn't a piece of crap. (showing us what he edited so far)
For this film, we did bits and pieces of certain scenes, but only one real full scene. I'll need to re-do some shots due to lighting problems. (brightness, contrast, gamma boost, whatever tools I have don't fix it) I really hope this film doesn't turn out to be a piece of crap. (the finale looks great, though)
I created two fake documents (complete with watermarks), so if nothing else, I'll be damn proud of the production design on this film. (there's that and Claude's video cabinet... and I still haven't decided how I'm going to set up Claude's 100% analog editing room...)
With "Leviathan" and what he showed us, it's definitely that the musical score makes the movie. It contains his best originally composed music yet- made a crappy ending pretty decent. (...just... that... final... line... is... *grooooooooooan*)
Today is pretty much our break from filming. ...I might get the interior shots (and reshoots) of Terrence's place finished up tomorrow, but I don't know yet.

1 August 2005-
Filming today was quite hectic... especially near the end. More "Leviathan" filming, I don't know how much useable footage we got done, but there were plenty of messups. Far from being the most frustrating filming session, but me not having any lunch today sure didn't help. (and perhaps magnified the misery to near "Fight Ultimatum" extremes)
Today wasn't half as bad for me as it was for Aniket, though. Near the end of filming today, he recieved a cellphone call that Katie won't be able to be in this film. This is a major blow to the production since she was one of the leads... so now it's an amount of time until he can find a replacement. (he's considering using Jessica Warner, but I'm advising him to find his drama classmates' phone numbers- while sure we can use our total lack of actors as a justification, two Aniket-and-Jessica movies around the same time really doesn't sound right. (and people might start suspecting something))

2 August 2005-
We seemed to have several shots today that were "The most important shots in the film". Later in the scene, we took more of a "Bourne Supermacy" angle, with chaotic handheld camera movement. (personally, I liked the effect- transitioning from stable tripod shots to rickety chaotic handheld camerawork)
Me, personally, when I start filming dialogue scenes for this movie, I'm not going to use up so many takes on a line. If it sounds like it's done right after so many, then we'll move on. I don't want to torture my actors with retaking a shot so many times- I'd prefer to be like Woody Allen or Clint Eastwood, not Stanley Kubrick. Allen doesn't necessarily stick to the script, but prefers to go with the flow. (that doesn't stop him from being stuck to his vision, oh no, nobody else has control over how his film comes out other than him) Eastwood tends to print first takes, but manages to get damn good performances. (my guess is, he does rehearsals; Allen doesn't, preferring to capture the moment) Kubrick is a damn great director, but demands 77 takes for slamming a car door because it "doesn't look realistic enough". I think films can be great without the pretentiousness in the filming process.
Preparing a DVD for Aniket which has two versions of "Code of 'Con'duct"- the remastered version in the film's original aspect ratio of 1.33:1, and a cropped 16:9 (1.78:1) I created out of complete boredom. The reason why I even bothered was because he did boast one of the features of his editing software being that it was able to crop to 16:9, though I advised against it. However, since it's his film, I'll let him decide whether he wants an alternate 16:9 version on his DVD, or just 4:3 only, after seeing it first.

4 August 2005-
Last night, Aniket churned out ideas for a new movie, a prequel for "Code of 'Con'duct"... and after debating over alternate titles (he wanted one with three words), we decided to keep his original title of "'Con'cession" (the reason why I supported this one was because it made the most sense, and related the most to the film's plot (most of the others had as much to do with his basic plot of the film as "Fight Ultimatum" had an ultimatum in it)).
I wrote up the script for the second mini-movie that Terrence and Claude film in here... it's not as crappy as I wanted it to be. Looks like I'll have to have the actors improvise screw-ups on set. (I want some authentic performances in these filming scenes; possibly, for even more authenticity, I won't do the "movie-within-a-movie" scenes on the week of the 15th, but rather, on weekends) Ironically, their third one, which I started writing on, was complete crap- I didn't even finish, hell, I didn't even save it, I completely discarded it! I might have the two playing in that mini-movie (Aniket and Jessica) come up with dialogue, following basic topic points.
Speaking of which, we filmed a scene for "Leviathan", which was possibly our smoothest filming session for the film. Jessica is the kind of actress where you need to tell her almost exactly what she needs to do in a scene (she'll throw in input, but it's not to the point of being irritating), and it further proves my theory that girl actors are MUCH easier to work with than male actors (which is why I'm continually writing scripts that include female characters; if I had enough actresses, I'd probably write one with an all-girl cast ("...though it's somewhat controversial... let's just say it's an all-female cast and it's titled 'The Castration Sonata'"... sorry, had to get the Woody Allen quote out of my system)).
That's NOT to say I haven't had my easy male actors, because I have. Timothy Yung and Philipe Arquie were extremely cooperative actors for the filming sessions I had with them. (during the filming of "Fight Movie 3", I repeatedly apologised to Philipe for repeatedly yelling at the other actors)
Aniket has regained his confidence on "Leviathan", which is good, since the last thing we need is another half-filmed project being dropped like "Mutants" was. (I hope it's not dropped for sure, but I definitely didn't have fun making that half of the film we did)
Beautiful shot compositions all around today's scene, I had the easiest time coming up with framing ideas (when Aniket didn't have any ideas as to where to position the camera). Lots of over-the-shoulder stuff, and very rare 2-shots. (which seems to be a horrible habit of mine; I'm planning on kicking it out of my system (I planned to have a bunch of over-the-shoulder shots in this film, anyway), but honestly, I think a 2-shot is WAY better than a close-up, which I've happily avoided for the most part (except for that zoom-in on "another walk in the park"))
Well, I'll be gone for Hawaii, and will come back on the 15th, and hopefully, by then, we can start filming this film!

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