It’s not you, it’s me

Dear Columbus,

We have to talk. Don’t get me wrong, the last three years have been great. We’ve shared some good times and some even better food. That’s right, I’m looking at you, Northstar Cafe! Anyway. The thing is, I think I should be seeing other cities. There’s somewhere else: Chicago. Now I know what you’re thinking — so maybe it’s the third biggest city in the country instead of #16, but trust me, it’s not stuck up about it. It’s cool. Really cool. Freezing, actually.

You’re going to be fine without me; there will be other unemployed journalism majors! Lots of them, probably. You’ll find someone else to explore Clintonville and the Short North, and try out all the OSU campus pizza places. I’ll never forget all the times we had together, or the baked goods from Mozart’s. And tomorrow morning before I leave you, I’m stopping at Spinelli’s on my way out the door.

I’m not sure how much I’ll miss OSU game days. I’m sure you understand. And if it’s any consolation, I am told Chicago has zero good college teams.

I still love you like a mid-sized city in the midwest. And don’t worry, we’ll always have Surly Girl. Hugs,

-Meryl

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John Cunningham for mayor

Paid for by John Cunningham

Tonight we went to Weinland Park in Italian Village to shoot John Cunningham’s response ad, which we will air a week from tomorrow on our Facebook page and YouTube channel. It was a lot of fun and Bill did great as usual. He’s so funny and he really gets the character, even though John Cunningham is nothing like Bill. He ad-libbed a really funny bit at the end that I left in, with some text running over top of it advertising the show’s website. It’s done and edited but we aren’t airing it until Friday, after Aryeh’s first one hits Monday morning.

Aryeh purchased http://www.CandidateSeries.com just now, and Stacey’s been hard at work designing the site. I wrote some content last night and we should be pretty well on track with that before Oct. 1, our series premiere.

On Sunday, we’re filming Aryeh’s two campaign ads back to back at Owen and Jamie’s house, on their porch. I wrote the scripts last night and Aryeh made some small changes to them today. He seemed pretty happy with them. If his turn out like Bill’s did, we’ll have some pretty amazing promotional material to run before the show starts up.

Meanwhile, I’m taking the plunge and purchasing Final Cut Express tomorrow. As soon as that sucker comes in I’ll be shut up in my room editing on no sleep for days. I can’t wait!

Day 3 of filming for “The Candidate”

This means WAR

We filmed a guy willingly getting hit with a water balloon Thursday night. Steve, who is playing Matthew, was braced for it and took it like a champ. My brother got caught in the crossfire/aftermath but being the pro he is, he didn’t stop rolling despite the shock (or the droplets of water on the lens).

We had 11 people on set last night, and it was kind of crazy, including two extras, the talented Sean Eaton on Camera 2, our producer, assistant director, crew and actors. It started off on a frightening note when I realized I’d told Becca to be there at 7:45 instead of 7. Fortunately, we had a scene we could shoot while we waited for her and she got there as soon as she could. She was really nice about my mistake, too. We shot one interview scene in my office, a scene with Becca and Matt in Stacey’s office and the rest over on the other side of our building. The later scenes were the first ones actually in the campaign office. While Owen, Sean and Steve shot a quick scene outside before it got dark, everyone else teamed up and set up the office set in less than ten minutes. It was pretty impressive. The IKEA panel curtains we purchased last week seemed to suffice as a way to block off the long hallway we wanted to hide and Aryeh pointed out they could pass as window shades, merely covering a giant window in the office.

What the....?

The water balloon scene was tricky; we only had one chance to hit Steve with the balloon so it had to be good. To make things more complicated, it was dark by the time we got to that scene so we couldn’t show Steve entering the door as we’d planned. We worked around this by instead showing the office employees (Becca, Matt, extras Christine and Samantha) going nuts in all-out Nerf gun warfare before showing Steve step into the frame. So instead of him getting hit with the balloon the second he entered, he stood shocked for a few seconds watching the chaos and THEN getting pelted. I think the end result ended up being funnier than originally planned so it all worked out. Also we ended up having three cameras on Steve when the balloon hit. Action shot to the max.

I heart my actors

I love all the actors because they totally get their characters. I feel like the ones I wrote for this are more developed than ones I’ve written in the past and they seem more real. I am really happy with our casting and how everyone seems to be getting along.

Tomorrow the scariest scene of my life takes place, with every cast member on set and lots of craziness going on. It’s a good thing we now have three cameras, but we’re kind of going to need people behind them. Also, my dad will be there, yay! Hooray for the most supportive dad on the planet who randomly agreed to come to Columbus on a Monday night to be in a very silly production with me, my brother and our friends. It’s just like when we were kids, right?

Day 2 of filming for “The Candidate”

I’m learning a new lesson with this project, and it is that delegating is very important for one’s sanity. Paul did a much better job with last night’s photo shoot than I would have, and his being there freed me up to help test the new light kit and assist Bill with wardrobe selections. It also gave me a few minutes to enjoy just being on set for a change. Tonight Aryeh helped me out with lighting and ran the clapper board while Stacey found time to finish an important part of our set design. Since I can’t be in three places at once, this was good news for me.

We finished our second night of filming, which means we are now 1/3 of the way through production. That was quick. We wrapped in under an hour tonight, which can happen I guess, if you don’t change the set, lights or frame. Oh, and if your actors have their lines down perfectly like our two did tonight. That made my life easier.

Steve, playing Matthew

Becca, playing Lauren

I’m a little concerned about the sound quality of tonight’s footage. There was a lot of white noise going on in my office so we’ll see if it’s enough to constitute a re-shoot. I hope not, because it will mean having to find a different office, but we’ll see. Keep your fingers crossed.

Tomorrow, the more complicated scenes begin, but we can handle it. My brother and I were discussing some of the shots tonight and I think we’ve got a decent plan of attack. I am so glad he is our director of photography. He’s going to be behind Camera 1 an I’ll be at the monitor with the headphones. Someone else will operate Camera 2 but needs to avoid a large part of the room as well as getting caught in Camera 1’s frame. Should be interesting.

Here we go…

Filming began this evening on “The Candidate.” It’s late, so I can’t say a whole lot about it. Just know that it was awesome, and we are 1/6 of the way through production. That is more than 0/6, and that is important. Everyone was awesome, the shots looked and sounded great and I feel awesome right now. One of the scenes was pretty complex and involved an unusually large prop, but our actor pulled it off perfectly and we got the shot. Pictures to come, but not until tomorrow night.

Speaking of tomorrow night, we’ve got our photo shoot with our candidate, played by Bill, my improv instructor from earlier this year. He is naturally hysterical and has the skills we felt we needed in someone to pull off this absurd character well. I am glad he is such a good sport and is willing to go through with my silly photo shoot ideas. I’ll likely post those tomorrow as well.

Day 2 of filming is Wednesday, but it’s just some simple interview segments that will be shot in a chair in my office, one by one. The heavy-duty stuff picks up Thursday, but my brother will be our DP that night (and the following week) and my friend Christine has volunteered to work crew. We still need someone to run Camera 2 (aka, my Flip Cam) but we’ll figure that out in due time.

The magic of filmmaking begins

Today, a lot of problems got solved. We have yet to have a director of photography commit (we have at least three noncommittals) but we found sound equipment and a lighting director. The Summit Workshop, the sweet local recording studio I’ve done a couple videos and a blog for, will be loaning our group a couple of mics and a world of expertise we didn’t have otherwise. As for lights, Stacey’s sweet flier caught the attention of an OSU theatre student who does lighting at school. Also, Stacey and I met with our Lauren and Alice and they are just as we had hoped they’d be in person. We couldn’t be happier.

We also scouted out our first filming location, Stacey’s street and front yard, which we’ll be using Monday night. We have a plan of action, so that makes me feel a whole lot better. We also checked out the backyard, where a photo session with our candidate will take place the following evening.

The only thing that didn’t happen today that was supposed to was the purchase of our lighting equipment, but maybe that will turn out to be for the best if our student has equipment of her own. Hopefully I’ll find out tomorrow and we can go from there. If it ends up being that we do have to get our own lighting, this is what I want:

Lots and lots of light

It’s a full lighting kit intended for filming, and it’s less than $250. That may sound like a lot, but it seems to be a good deal for this many pieces. Plus, it includes an instructional DVD. This kit would be ideal, but Aryeh has to agree. He did say he wanted better quality equipment for the long term rather than my ghetto flood light and white poster board options. Hopefully he still feels that way.

Read all about it

This weekend will be busy. Stacey has agreed to help me out and mount the giant Mowry sign onto some foam core and wooden posts while I’m in Caldwell. Then on Sunday, I’ll be driving to Cincinnati to go to IKEA, which has these panels we need as part of our set design. I’ll explain more about that in a future post.

I cannot wait to start filming. You have no idea.

Full cast at last

As of today, we have people committed to each role in “The Candidate”. Took long enough, sheesh. “Beacon Alley” and “Paper Cuts” spoiled me, I realize now. I am meeting with our Alice and Lauren actresses tomorrow at a coffeeshop near the photography supply store where Aryeh and I will be picking up equipment after work. He’s been in Chicago for the past few days but Stacey and I have been keeping things going with pre-production. I sent out a copy of the production schedule as well as wardrobe requirements to everyone and we got our VistaPrint materials ordered just in time.

Back when I was doing my other productions, I was only filming on weekends and maybe once during the week, but with this baby, we’ll be be shooting four nights in a row, twice. Previously, I was able to write epic blog posts like this one or this one, since I had time in between filming days. However, now that I only blog on weeknight evenings and that’s exactly when we’ll be filming, who knows? I’ll try my best because I love those posts and maybe someday they’ll be part of a book I’ll write about shoestring budget filmmaking for broke-ass college students or something. I don’t really need to sleep for two weeks, right? It was also nice having Brandon around to take all the awesome photos he did, but hopefully I’ll remember to ask someone to do that each night on set.

YouTube stripped a video I just posted of its audio and I’m pretty mad about it. I shot some footage of my dad’s friends and family annual softball game over the weekend and edited it tonight. I added a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song as the soundtrack and YouTube immediately deleted the audio track as a result. Whatever, YouTube. You and me, we used to be friends.

Production Schedule for “The Candidate”

All shooting will start no earlier than 6 p.m. and wrap no later than 9:30 p.m. each night.

Monday, Aug. 23:
6:30 p.m.: 20. EXT., Dennis, extras, Stacey’s street/yard
7:30 p.m.: 22. EXT., Brittany, Dennis, Stacey’s yard
Location: Italian Village

Tuesday, Aug. 24:
7:00 p.m.: Photo session with John Cunningham for fake campaign materials
Location: Italian Village

Wednesday, Aug. 25:
7:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.:
1. INT. Matthew, interview room
8. INT., Matthew, interview room
13. INT., Matthew, interview room
24. INT., Matthew, interview room
26. INT., Matthew, Lauren, interview room
3. INT., Lauren, interview room
7. INT., Lauren, interview room
Location: Westerville, OH

Thursday, Aug. 26:
6:00 p.m.: 4. INT., Matthew, extras, Lauren, campaign office (setting up framed documents)
6:15 p.m.: Unscripted, INT., Matthew, looking at Cunningham’s site on laptop
6:30 p.m.: 5. INT., Alice, Dennis, extras, Lauren, campaign office (Alice speaking)
7:00 p.m.: 2. Ext. Matthew, outside campaign office
7:30 p.m.: 2A., INT. Matthew, Dennis, Lauren, 3 extras (water balloon fight), campaign office
8:00 p.m. – 9 p.m.:
16. INT., Dennis, interview room
11. INT., Alice, interview room
19. INT., Alice, interview room
Location: Westerville, OH

Monday, Aug. 30:
6:00 p.m.: 9. INT., John Cunningham, interview room
6:30 p.m.: 25. INT., Matthew, Dennis, Lauren, Alice, Brittany, Councilman Philips, Chad, John Cunningham, campaign office
8:00 p.m.: 6. INT., Matthew, Alice, Lauren, John Cunningham, campaign office
Location: Westerville, OH

Tuesday, Aug. 31:
6:00 p.m.: 11. INT., Alice, interview room
6:15 p.m.: 19. INT., Alice, interview room
6:45 p.m.: 10. INT., Alice, Lauren, Matthew, Chad, campaign office
Location: Westerville, OH

Wednesday, Sept. 1:
6:00 p.m.: 23. INT., Alice, Lauren, Dennis, Matthew, Brittany, Judy Cunningham
7:00 p.m.: 14. INT., Lauren, Matthew, Dennis, Brittany, campaign office
8:00 p.m.: 18. INT., Lauren, Dennis, Matthew, Brittany, Alice, campaign office
Location: Westerville, OH

Thursday, Sept. 2:
6:00 p.m.: 12. INT., Dennis, Matthew, Alice, Lauren, campaign office
7:00 p.m.: 15. INT., Lauren, Dennis, Lauren’s office
7:30 p.m.: 17. INT., Lauren, Dennis, Lauren’s office (15, cont’d)
8:00 p.m.: 21. INT., Matthew, Lauren, campaign office
Location: Westerville, OH

Who wants to come hold sound and lighting equipment any of these nights?