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.

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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.

Lots and lots of video

I am editing a couple videos for the Summit Workshop tonight as well as a video of Christina’s bridal shower from a couple weeks ago. The thing about video editing, which I love to do, is that if you don’t edit something right away, it kind of bogs you down when you finally get around to doing it. It catches up with you, weighs you down and when you think about how MUCH you have to edit you feel too overwhelmed to begin. And so, something you love becomes a chore. And that’s pretty much defeating the point. In other words, I am going to try to be better about editing stuff very shortly after I shoot it. I don’t want another “Beacon Alley” on my hands; I waited until all the footage was shot (about six hours) before editing a frame of it. What a nightmare.

On the other hand, with “Paper Cuts,” I pretty much edited as I went; the downside was, I was so excited to finish an episode that I’d almost immediately post it to YouTube. Then I’d watch it later and notice some editing flaws and wish I’d waited a day or two so I could go back with fresh eyes and get it right before sharing it.

That said, the other day I edited a better (and shorter) version of “Where Are Eileen, Liz and Meryl?” and sat on it for a couple days before uploading. Check it out if you get the chance.

I am also excited about a new writing project that has come my way; a friend at work wants to produce a short or web series with me, so we are working together on a political satire. It’s probably going to be about a campaign worker who moves to a small town to help elect a mayoral candidate only to discover the campaign office is in complete disarray and the candidate is an idiot. It should be fun. I want to write it and cast it by the end of July. We’ll see if that actually happens.

I have not been to my writer’s group since before I went on vacation. I really didn’t see myself keeping up with them after I moved but I still feel like a flake. Moving has changed my scene a little bit since I’m a lot farther from campus/Clintonville, but on the other hand I’ve got to spend so much time with my family. I’ve even gone to Caldwell twice this month and it looks like I’ll be going back for Saturday night. I had to make a list of my priorities recently and I knew some stuff had to go; the writer’s group seems to be a casualty of this decision, sadly. Maybe I’ll go back and visit one night.

Spending time at the Summit Workshop

I shot some more video last night at the record studio. Should be some pretty good pieces coming out of it, at least two. Once their blog goes live I’ll be linking to it here. I’m hoping they’ll get themselves a couple Flip Cams so they can soon add video without me and have a little more independence there.

A couple members of Kinetic Psyche

This is a couple of the guys from my friend Amy’s band. I got to hear (most of) them last night, they’re fun. They’re performing this Friday at Scarlet & Grey Cafe at 9 p.m. with some other hip hop acts.

On a side note, has anyone had trouble getting your Macbook Pro to recognize your video camera? I plug in my Canon HV30 and nothing happens. I googled it, and the only people who’ve had the same issue agreed the camera at least showed up their desktop – mine doesn’t even do that. It makes me wonder if there’s something wrong with the firewire cable. Anyway. Just throwing that out there.