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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Becoming a Final Cut Express Pro

Isn't it pretty?

I love, love, love Final Cut. Tonight I’ll finish editing the final scene of “The Candidate” and then visually, it will be complete. But then I’ll have to delve into the audio and edit it too, because unfortunately the sound is all over the place. Fortunately there’s a tool in Final Cut that allows you to even out the overall sound of a project, and then you can go into it and mess with the levels after that. For example, one of the characters is a little softer spoken than we realized while filming, so I’m going to go in and raise the volume on that person’s lines.

All weekend I sat in front of my laptop, intermittently watching “Gilmore Girls” and editing. As a result, I’ll have edited pretty much the whole show in four days after tonight. It was a good weekend for someone who more often than not runs around like a crazy person for days on end without getting enough sleep.

I’m really excited for the wrap party this Saturday, when I’ll get to show off the finished product, or at least a rough cut. My college friend Jessi and her roommate (who also went to college with us but whom I didn’t meet until after we graduated) will be coming to visit this weekend too, so it’s basically going to be the best weekend ever. There may also be red velvet cake balls involved and I know I better save some for my aunt. Especially since I’ll be making them at her own house while she’s not there. I’m house sitting/cousin watching while she and my uncle go on a weekend getaway.

I can’t wait to show off our first episode Oct. 1.

The campaign season is just getting started

Yesterday Aryeh, Stacey and Stacey’s boyfriend Shane shot Aryeh’s two campaign ads back to back. We aired the first one this morning:

Chalk me and Stacey’s cameo appearances to two each. That’s right. My second one comes this Friday, in John Cunningham’s ad, a response to the above one of Mowry’s. We have almost 50 fans of “The Candidate” on Facebook and Stacey made us this helpful short url for the page, facebook.com/CandidateSeries. Owen made a sweet Flash intro for the show and once Final Cut comes in (hopefully tomorrow) I will see how it looks with the show’s footage. It’s hilarious, I love it. I can’t wait to learn my way around Final Cut Express and I wish it was here already, grrr. My dad encouraged me to enter a film festival in Marietta, near my hometown. Since “The Candidate” wasn’t done I submitted a DVD of “Paper Cuts”. The festival had two categories: under 50 minutes, and over 50 minutes. It said nothing about entering a web series, but I decided to enter it in the former category. We’ll see what happens.

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.

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.