Friday, November 14, 2014

The Tragedy at Emmitt Whistle's: Production Part 3

What a whirlwind! We had our first two day shoot!  Long hours, lots of fun, lots of stress.

Things I learned:
•It's colder outside of the city where the trees and buildings are gone from blocking the wind. 
•Planning in advance is important, but flexibility in the moment is golden.
•Mistakes happen and being able to move forward with grace and a clear head helps smooth the bumps. 
•Beds break, but teamwork and quick thinking/problem solving let us get back on track. 
•The actors always surprise me. Ali designed a strap so pulling Dan across the floor would be more comfortable/ help keep his pants up, but turns out it was just hindering the process! So he insisted on just getting pulled by his ankle.  
• Communication on every side is imperative, being organized and transparent would solve most issues.
• Filming sex scenes is like designing with typography. People get freaked out and panic because it's typography and they've never worked with something like this before! It has a stigma attached. When really, let's say you're making a poster, the typography is just one element in the poster that works with the other elements to create the poster. You have to look at it just like the other elements, it's just a shape, just another piece to the puzzle. It's no different with a sex scene. 
• Snapping back to reality after a great weekend of filming is like entering the Twilight Zone. 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Tragedy at Emmitt Whistle's: Production Part 2

We have actors! But not costumes! Ali and I have been shopping all weekend for costumes and she's going out tomorrow to get the last pieces. She'll also be making Emily's dress which I'm really excited about.

We had a read through with the talent Tuesday night and got to see the Stranger outfit on, but it just isn't working. I chose a dark green color for the shirt because Emmitt and Emily both have very light colored shirts and so that each character had a different color palette. However, I didn't take into account being able to see the blood on the shirt, I was only thinking about the pants, since he gets dragged by the legs. I have to fix my mistake so that means more shopping/time spent on this. I should have gone over the stranger's outfit with Drew before I went out shopping, because I thought I had a clear idea of who the stranger was supposed to be, but I didn't. So here is the new inspiration for the stranger:

Stranger Inspiration

Drew, Heather, and Phil went to Westerville Antiques to get the last of the props and start dressing the set. I was unable to go, but I'll be headed out tomorrow to get it ready for Saturday. 

I've been trying to gather some production assistants for the art department too and I think we've got a few. I'm really excited to work with some underclassmen who are eager to work on film productions. Everyone has to start somewhere and this is such a low risk environment for them to start out in. They'll get to start building their network earlier, which I wish I could have done. 

Lots to do tonight to get ready for our weekend shoot! 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Tragedy at Emmitt Whistle's: Production Part 1

We had our first day of filming! I spent the day before with Phil, quickly trying to pull everything together. We only shot exterior scenes so that made my life a little easier.

This house that we're using is terribly great. The inside is old and a little stinky, but the roof, the front door, the door knobs, and the windows are all super modern. To make the windows look old, Phil suggested we adhere wooden dowels/moulding on the windows to look like window panes and it worked! We just used spray adhesive. I couldn't believe it was so simple.

My mom and sister were in town and they got to help out in the art department. I'm actually really glad they were there because I was short staffed in the art department. Ali, the costume designer, was also a huge help on set.

This is my first time being a production designer on a larger production. I've only ever worked in the art department on bigger productions or been the production designer on tiny films. I didn't really know how to do it, frankly. I wanted to keep looking in the camera monitor to see what everything looked like, but I wasn't sure if I should be doing that and I didn't really want to get in the way. I'm also always second guessing myself.

For the next shoot, my goals are to be more confident and communicate with Hunter (DP) and Drew (Director) more efficiently and even stick my nose in the monitor more.

Here's a behind the scenes film Eric Homan made from the shoot:

Pictures to come!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Tragedy at Emmitt Whistle's: Pre-Production Part 7

What a week! Last week at this time, we had a messed up blue room, no props, no wardrobe, no nothing! I'm happy to announce that we have the right color blue in the bedroom, most of our props and wardrobe for Emmitt! This was brought to us in part by Drew's family, my family, an antique shop whose name I need to get, teamwork and collaboration! I was getting pretty nervous about getting everything, but it's falling into place.

Last week, when Naomi and I went out to the house to finish painting, I made the blue room worse instead of fixing it. I tested the blue on an illustration board then I did a brown wash over it, I thought it was going to work out pretty well! I forgot to take into account the texture of the plaster walls...I also did not apply the wash very evenly, making it a hot mess. I fixed my mistake by repainting the room because my mistake shouldn't affect the project. All my actions must serve the project.

On Wednesday, we set out to work on the house. Heather and I painted the front door, started the exterior windows, and linoleum-ized the nasty counter.

Ali and I went thrifting a few times over the weekend and week trying to get Emmitt's clothes together. Ali is a master thrifter. She can spot the perfect pieces across the store. I'm so glad she was with me. Teamwork wins again! 

We're still missing work boots/wife beater in terms of Emmitt's costume.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Tragedy at Emmitt Whistle's: Pre-Production Part 5

We painted most of the house last Friday and I saw way too many spiders. Here's a photo Phil Garrett, our professor, took of Heather (Art Director) and me when we were painting the kitchen:

Now that I've seen the space and received a floorplan from Drew, I was able to draw up some sketches of the space. I'm starting to map out where different props will go.

The first go around of sketches:

Quick color studies I did last week: 


The blue paint I picked out was deceiving! It was a lot brighter than anticipated. I tried some test swatches at home this week to see if we can stain the wall with tea or do a brown wash over it to neutralize it. 

I grew up living in an old farmhouse and when we moved in, we found an old refrigerator in the basement. I fell in love with it. I had so many plans for this fridge! I was even going to turn it into a bookshelf at one point. However, my parents always wanted to get rid of it, but I begged them to keep it because I would use it someday I promised. We had that conversation many times throughout my life and a couple weeks ago, I called up my Mom and told her I finally had a use for the refrigerator!

 So in a few weeks, my mom and sister will be coming to Ohio with the beautiful refrigerator in tow. 

We have the fridge and now just need everything else! 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Tragedy at Emmitt Whistle's: Pre-Production Part 4

We have a location and it's perfect!! I am SO happy. It needs some loving though. I went out with our Director, Drew Theiss, on Wednesday to the location to get some measurements, pick paint colors, and keep cleaning everything.

I made a budget or a guess-timation really. I've made plenty of budgets before, but none so vague as this one. It's unsettling. I don't like the ambiguity of it. 

We have a costume designer now who assures me she's great with a small budget! She's very passionate and I think she's a great addition to the team. 

Balancing time is definitely hard for me, actually that's not the real problem. I have a hard time setting limits for myself. I don't like to say no to opportunities and I've had to do that quite a bit lately, but this project is the most important thing to me and I won't sacrifice it at the expense of anything. I'm sacrificing other things instead, but I think it's worth it.

A few weeks ago I started gathering images for reference boards because visual reference is the best kind of reference. It'll make our lives easier when out shopping for furniture and props, we'll know exactly what type of styles and shapes to look for. It can also be posted and shared with friends and families because I think if we can borrow a lot of the props it would be best. If I say, "we need a table," everyone is going to come up with a thousand different styles of tables, but if I show you a picture and say, "I need a table that looks like this," we're going to have much more consistency. 

The Art Department has to kick it into full gear these upcoming weeks. Here are the tasks I've assigned us to do for the weekend:

Art Department Game Plan

Mood Board for Jasper
Mood Board for Stranger
Mood Board for Doctor
Mood Board for Fabrics: curtains, rugs, blankets, sheets (look at 40s and 50s patterns & styles)

Heather:  Light fixtures are the most important for Friday. 
Reference sheets for props & sets
   Living room: toys, light fixtures, 
   Kitchen: utensils, appliances, dishes, (stuff that would be in the kitchen, patterns and shapes of the dishes, etc.) 
   Study: bookshelves,  chairs
Budget Estimate
Breakdown Files into Movie Magic 
Finalize paint colors (talk to Phil after budget approval about purchasing)
List of repairs for house

For Monday:
Storyboard progress? (I know you're working on them, but I would talk to Hunter about them.)
Location Reference (take the photos from Facebook and arrange them in a collage)
Reference sheets for prop & sets 
  Dining room: tables, kitchen table/chairs, 
  Entrance: Picture frames, curtains

Set design sketches for each room (top, perspective- 2 angles)
  Dining room
  Living room
Finish Breakdown Files into Movie Magic

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tragedy at Emmitt Whistle's: Pre-Production Part 3

The breakdown has been finished and I'm learning Movie Magic which is a software designed for the production files. I'll be plugging in the files this weekend. The software will make the paperwork and organizational aspect of the film streamlined and efficient.

Breaking down a scene takes time, but is enjoyable. First, I go through a mark all the props named in the script, then note the wardrobe and hair, and then specific special effects. After I have all the obvious items listed I start to think about smaller details.

I'll start with Emmitt. I know he is around 40 years old, married, has a 6 year old, works in a mill, and is fixing the roof. If the story takes place let's say around 1950, that means he was born around 1910. This means he was too young to fight in the first world war, was a teen during the roaring twenties, an adult during the Great Depression, and probably fought in World War II. His son, Jasper,  is 6 or 7 years old, so that means Jasper was born in '44 or '45, right when WWII ended. Jasper is a Baby Boomer.

Does Emmitt have any injuries from the war? How would have living through two world wars, a time of excess, and a time of disparity have an effect on someone? Maybe he is very frugal, hard working, and bitter or maybe not.  What would a child born around 1910 be taught? What kind of environment was he raised in? How were women treated, what were proper manners, what types of things would he carry on him? All questions I ponder. I also take into consideration his economic status, class, race, etc. all things that make Emmitt, Emmitt.

This led me to add additional props to the breakdown like a wedding band (never stated, but a major detail), a war medal or something to signify his participation in the war, his handkerchief, etc. It's the little background elements that really bring the character to life, I think.

I also watched Raggedy Man, which really embodies the look we're aiming towards. It also stars Eric Roberts (Julia Roberts's brother) when he is young.