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Blog Posts

SURVIVING CINEMA - Confessions Of A Working Director


This past weekend, we grabbed a few pick-up shots for Ratline.  These pick-up days are always enjoyable, because instead of haulin' ass trying to shoot entire sequences, we're only doing single shots.  These shots will be plugged into sequences that were shot months ago (kind of like a final piece being put into a jigsaw puzzle).  On pick-up days, we can really take our time with the lighting, the set dressing, and everything else.  These pickup shots can sometimes be the best lit and best looking shots of the sequence they are plugged into.  Also, this kind of shooting day tends to be a bit more relaxed. 

On the downside, these shoots are not very efficient, because almost every shot requires a re-light and all new set dressing, wardrobe, etc.  This past Saturday, the shoot went about 13 hours, and the footage we shot will likely amount to only 10 or 12 seconds scattered throughout the finished movie.

On a bigger budget film, these kinds of shots would typically be the responsibility of a 2nd unit.  But I'm happy to do them myself.  I really enjoy these pick-up days - and this past Saturday was no exception.  The crew was in top form, making the shoot run very smoothly.  We got great footage, and everyone had a good time - there was lots of laughter on set.  And to top it all off, Doc Brown grilled up some excellent bar-b-q for cast and crew.

One of the shots we did on Saturday was of a decapitated couple.  There is a sequence in Ratline where a series of naked, decapitated bodies are seen, and we grabbed one of the shots for this sequence last Saturday.  A husband and wife couple came in to play the victims in this shot.  They were to strip naked and lay on the ground, pretending to be dead, somewhat tangled together as if the corpses had been haphazardly tossed there.

The wife was experienced working on indie movies.  The husband was not.  She had no hesitation in taking off her clothes, laying down on the floor, and getting splashed with fake blood.  He, on the other hand, was a bit nervous.  He expressed his concern by saying "What if I get a boner?"  This was funny, because that would indeed be a problem - corpses don't get boners.  And it was sweet, because he was very honestly (and rather graphically) expressing the attraction he felt for his wife.  See?  Marriage isn't the end of romance!

Well, we got the shot of the naked male and female decapitated corpses with no problems - and no boners.  Both of my decapitation victims were great to work with and very nice.  The couple do not have children, but we talked about how, if the couple decides to procreate, what a crazy story they'll have to tell their kids (when they're old enough, of course).  "See those two naked dead people in this movie?  That's us - mom and dad!"  Most likely response from the kids:  "Gross!" ...and then comes years of therapy.

On the post-production front, Ratline editing has had a difficult time getting up to full speed.  Technical issues and rapidly-drying-up funds have bogged down the process.  We're fixing the problems, and always moving forward, but the slow pace has ramped up the stress I’m feeling.  By the end of March, I think Jim, Trevor, and I will have cleared the way for full-steam-ahead Ratline post-production.

By the way, if you want to keep a closer eye on how Ratline is going - and be intimately aware of my every move - you can follow me on Twitter.

I successfully avoided the whole MySpace and Facebook thing.  Wicked Pixel Cinema has MySpace pages, but Jim Wayer and Jason Christ run them (thankfully). 

I do not have a personal MySpace or Facebook page.  Partly because I can't seem to find the motivation to maintain such pages, and partly because I've always been a bit reclusive.  Not that I hate interacting with people - I am just someone who can only stand being in the spotlight for so long before I start feeling very uncomfortable.  Also, I just prefer to Do It instead of Talk About It. 

However, Jim, and others on my team, are doing a good job of forcing me to show my face and express myself more in public.  And this blog has been great at getting me more comfortable in talking about myself - a necessary ingredient in marketing my product and earning a living - so I am grateful to for inviting me to be here.

Anyway, I skipped right over MySpace and Facebook and jumped right to Twitter.  It was actually my suggestion that I do so, and my team was a bit shocked to hear that I was willing to routinely send out updates as to my current whereabouts and activities.  Jim called it "one of the signs of the apocalypse." that's a little harsh, don't you think?

Thanks for reading.

Eric Stanze