Episode Three of “Dying Alone”

Earlier this summer I mentioned that an episode I submitted to Chicago Sky View Productions had been accepted and was being produced. It premiered Saturday night at Blokes & Birds and went live online Monday morning. I had a crazy summer and wasn’t super involved in the production of the episode, but I am so happy with how it turned out. Kaitlyn Majoy, the lead, just nailed the main character and I love how it was tightly edited.

Take a look here (it’s only four-and-a-half minutes):

If you liked it, please vote for it over at Funny or Die here!

I was lucky enough to catch one day of filming and took some quick photos of cast and crew:

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Photo blog entry, producer’s iPhone edition

Here are some fun pictures Aryeh took on set Thursday night.

Sean, me and Owen

From l to r: Christine, Brittany, Matt, Ashely, Becca and Sean

Me, Owen, Steve

Me, Stacey, Owen, Steve, Christine and Brittany

Matt (Dennis) messing with Ashley (Alice)

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 1 of filming for “The Candidate”

Clint, an extra, at the door with Matt (Dennis)

We had a great night last night, completing our two exterior shots outside Stacey’s apartment. They revolved around Dennis (played by a very talented improv contact named Matt), the douche baggy character who tries to usurp power from another character, Alice. Alice sends him out on a literature drop in an unfriendly neighborhood for revenge. We shot several scenes of him knocking on Stacey’s housemates’ outside doors and having them slam them in Matt’s face. I got my director cameo in! And Stacey, now officially called assistant director after weeks of doing half the work of this production, got to slam a door on camera as well. Without giving too much away, one of the production’s more complicated scenes was filmed last night involving that giant yard sign with Aryeh’s face on it and Matt ending up appearing unconscious on the sidewalk. Think you can connect the dots there? I’m glad it went well and that it’s wrapped.

This is my serious face

Matt had never acted before in his life until last night. He didn’t seem nervous but he admitted he kind of was when I asked. Despite that, once he got into character he really performed well. I’m looking forward to his office scenes coming up with the rest of the cast.

This was some of the first hand held camera work I’ve done for any of my projects and I have to say I think it’s much more interesting to look at than just your standard tripod shots. We’ll be using a tripod for the interview sequences, but that’s all. We watched the 10 minutes or so of footage we got last night and it looked pretty good. Stacey said she could see the “Office” influence on the camera work, and that’s the style we’re going for.

New Delaware's favorite mayor

Having a budget and people to help you rocks. A lot. Stacey took total charge of the giant sign (among other things), planned where it would go at her place and rallied her housemates to work as extras. Aryeh didn’t argue when we said we wanted to order said giant sign and it turned out more professional looking than it would have if I’d tried to make one on my own for a few bucks. Our production value is going to be all the better for this, and I am really excited about the final product.

SIGN ATTACK

Another really great thing about shooting “The Candidate” is the better equipment we’re being given the opportunity to use. I am very thankful for the connections I made with The Summit Workshop, whose proprietors have been extremely generous in agreeing to let us borrow some of their sound equipment. Noah John of the Workshop gave me a crash course yesterday and let me test a couple different mics to see which would work better and gave me tips on how to best use them for our purposes. He asked questions I probably wouldn’t have thought of and was really cool about letting us operate the mic on our own. RJ (playing Chad), my good luck charm and willing participant in everything I film, helped us run sound last night to great success. I am really glad he was there to assist and bring his LA-learned skills to the table.

Tonight we had a photo shoot with Bill, who is playing John Cunningham, a.k.a., the candidate. My cousin Paul is 19 and a far more accomplished photographer than I am, and he agreed to shoot our photos for us. Here’s a teaser of what we had going on this evening:

A real straight shooter

...With a softer side

The two best shots by Paul will be used in a scene as some fake campaign mailings. They’re meant to target two very different voter demographics but the mailing lists get mixed up.

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.

Special delivery

Our Vista Print materials showed up Thursday!

Well, most of them. We were still waiting on a stray coffee mug until Friday morning. But it’s not like you couldn’t guess what was going to be slapped on the side of it.

A coupla sexy mugs

And of course, our biggest piece, a giant banner for incumbent Mike Mowry, as portrayed by executive producer Aryeh.

Here’s our expenses thus far:

Vista Print, total: $122.79 ($88.43 + $34.36 rushed S&H)
-4 yard signs, 2 holders
-1 coffee mug
-8 stickers
-1 ginormous banner

Clapper board app for the iPhone: $3

IKEA panels for set: $53.08 (inc. tax)

15″ Dynex flat screen TV: $139.99 (plus $19.99 two-year protection plan)

Sound equipment: Donated

Talent and crew’s time: Donated

For benevolent family and friends who are concerned I’m being taken for, here’s a photo of our executive producer reimbursing me for the above, save the TV:

See? Not shady at all

And yes, this weekend I broke down and bought myself the tiniest, least expensive flat screen TV I could find. I’ve been meaning to get one since October, when I saw Plum Street’s in action and couldn’t deny how huge of a help it was on set. They could see exactly what the frame looked like, how the lighting needed adjusted, etc. And even if I never make another movie again I’ll at least own a TV that will fit in any room, no matter how small. Or, more importantly, I will own a TV, period. I’ve never had one of my own before.

Tonight I’ll be compiling binders for myself, Stacey and Aryeh and getting together all that boring paperwork we’ll need on file. Fun, fun. No, really. I think that stuff’s fun. But not as fun as filming, which begins TOMORROW. Commence panic attack.

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?

Set location coming along

As I mentioned, my friends and I are fortunate enough to be allowed to film at our work place as long as we aren’t bothering anyone or interrupting any previously scheduled events. Or tear the place apart. The area we’ll be filming the majority of our scenes in is free at least six out of the eight weeknights I want to film there between Monday, Aug. 23 and Thursday, Sept. 2. The other two nights we’ll use for our exterior shots and one interior shot that will be filmed in my own office.

In other words, we may actually be able to film this thing in under two weeks.

We’ve got a couple obstacles in terms of set, but I have Stacey helping me brainstorm ways to creatively solve problems as we come across them. It sure is nice having someone to worry and think fast along with you. Of course, with Paper Cuts, that role was filled by Brandon, who was incredibly supportive and a huge help. I guess what I mean to say is, as much as I’d like to claim I am a one-woman-show when it comes to filmmaking, it’s a largely collabortative process. And thank God for that.

I still need people to be willing to work as crew. Since it looks like we’ll be getting our own equipment after all, can I entice anyone to stand in to use it? I can’t stress enough that there is no experience necessary.

This could be your experience.

Slowly recovering from a summer bug thing

No haircut for me before the wedding. I’ve been home sick since Tuesday. Luckily I slept most of the day today and woke up feeling better. The DayQuill probably didn’t hurt, either.

It sounds like attendance at last night’s audition was not awesome, either. I don’t know how to cast this thing if the usual method isn’t working. Hopefully since I’ll be back at it tomorrow we can brainstorm some ideas on how to get this done. It sounds like we have a location for our campaign office, as the guy who asked me to do this got permission from the right people to film at our work location. I have to say, it’s pretty awesome they’re letting us do that. So, we’ve got all of our locations taken care of, which means once we have a full cast we can make a production schedule.

Meanwhile I’ve been spending a lot of time with my family this week, since I’m not going out or, in the last two days’ case, to work. My sister-in-law unfortunately lost her job last week so she’s been home with her daughter during the day since then. It is a blow to their plans, but I think they see it as a blessing in disguise. I hope everything works out for her and my brother. They are probably the most financially conscious people I know, so it’s definitely a slap in the face that something like this has to happen to them.

This week’s flown by, but that’s probably only because I slept through most of it.